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The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord

Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of Intermediation and the Origin of Gnosticism



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The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord by Jarl E. Fossum
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The relationship among Judaism, Gnosticism,and Christianityperpetually eludes easy description. While it is clear that by the second and third centuries of the Common Era thesethree religious groups worked hard to distinguish themselvesfrom each other, it is also true that the three religious traditions share common religious perspectives.Jarl Fossum, in The Nameof Godand the Angel of the Lord,examinesthis common heritage by proposingthat the emergence of an anticosmic gnostic demiurge was not simply Gnosticism's critique of the Jewish God ora metaphysical antisemitism. The figure of thegnostic demiurge arose from Judaism itself.Fossumdemonstratesthat the first gnostic versions of the demiurgeconstituteda subordinated dualism. Fossum then turns to Judaism,in particular Samaritanism's portrayal of a principal angel. In distinction from non-Samaritan Jewish examples--where the Angel of the Lordbearsthe Divine Name but is not a demiurge,or examples where the Divine Name is said to be the instrument of creation but is not an angel or personal being--Fossum discovers a figure whobore God's name, was distinct from God, and was God's instrument for creation. Only in Samaritan texts is God's vice-regent personalized, angelic, demiurgic,and the bearer of God's name.In the end, The Nameof Godand the Angel of the Lordreveals that not all gnostic speculation was anti-Jewish and, indeed, emerginggnostic and Christian traditions borrowed as muchfrom Judaismas theycriticized and rejected.

Author Biography

Jarl E. Fossum (Ph.D., University of Utrecht) is retired Professor of New Testament at the University of Michigan.
Release date NZ
July 15th, 2017
Country of Publication
United States
Baylor University Press
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