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Neues Testament


Rivkin, Ellis


What crucified Jesus ? 1987


Wiefel, Wolfgang

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Theologische Literaturzeitung 112. Jahrgang 1987 Nr. 5


and into religio-historical and traditio-historical questions regarding

The present work, building upon the preceding works, is a religio-
historical investigation into the origin of SM Christology in the Early
Church. The Book falls into two parts. Part One is a study of the original
content found in the structurc of the SM tradition. while Part Two
consists of a study of the oldest alterations in the structure of the SM

The first part opens with a discussion of the problem. Some of the
past discussions are presented (e. g. Lietzmann. Meyer, Colpe). Key
SM logia are traced to the Hellenistic Church. The A. finds himself in
substantial agreement with Meyer's and Lietzmann's position that
five synoptic occurrences of the SM title are traceable to an originally
non-titular Aramaic brns. which had no genealogical connections
with the titular use of SM. He rightly rejects Vermes' thesis as a
„Kuriosum", claiming that SM does not mean simply any man, but
(approximating Lindars' position) man in a definite socio-historical
role. Such a role, he holds, is generic including the Speaker, and argues
that texts like Mt8:20 and Mk2:10 present Jesus in his socio-
historical role as a charismatic wandering Teacher. But contra Lietzmann
he thinks that the titular use is not merely a Greek phenome-
non, but had its roots in an originally titular Aramaic four-lettered
word, Brns, which through a pseudo-etymology was resolved in Imperial
Aramaic into br and 'ns. The title Brns was an epitheton of Hadad
in cultic-mythical tradition, but following a Palestinian eschatologiza-
tion of this tradition, the epitheton was applied to the eschatological
epiphanic Figure with the sense of "(World)-Ruler". The continuity
between the apocalyptic Hadad tradition and the tradition about the
SM is clear: the World-Ruler is the immediafe ancestor of the SM.

What here is presented as the apocalyptic Hadad tradition is the
material found in Dan 7 and IV Ezr 13. This Hadad tradition, which
was concerned with a transcendental-eschatological epiphany of the
World-Ruler, owing to a traditio-historical break, gavc rise to a this-
worldly epiphany in the structure of the SM tradition. Thus there are
two stages of traditions: a „thematisierte Überlieferung eschatolo-
gischen Inhaltes" and a „thematisierte Überlieferung welthaften Inhaltes
". The latter implies that the SM's epiphany is his incarnation /
becoming human (Menschwerdung), while the former implies the
cancellation of the SM's incarnation.

The second part dealschiefly with Egyptian political prophecy. The
pattern is set by the prophecy of Neferti. who, to legitimize Amencm-
het I, prophesied of chaotic times in Egypt. brought to an end by a king
of rigtheousness from the South (i. e. Amenemhet I). This prophecy
functioned as a prototype for future political propagandas. Especially
in Ptolemaic times and after nationalistically-minded Egyptians sei-
zed the tool to deliver their oracles against the Greek and Roman (e. g.
Nero) dominations. Oracles like the Sibyllines, the Apocalypse of Elijah
, the prophecy of the Lamb, the oracle of the Potter, and the oracle
of Hystaspes are treated in some detail. Common to most of them is
the well-known four-period scheme of antiquity as reflccted in the
Potter's oracle: a) a Chaos period, followed by b) an intensification of
injustice and suffering. This. in turn, gives place to c) a time of divine
providence, which prepares the way for d) the appearance of the
Saviour-King who restores peace and prosperity. The prophecy of the
Potter is in its structure and content dependent upon the political prophecy
of Ptolemaic stamp while the political prophecy has its origin in
the prophecy of Neferti. There are. however, differences: while the
political prophecy of Ptolemaic stamp understood the period of chaos
as past, and the period of deliverance as present. the oracle of the Potter
understood the present (i. e. the Greek period) as chaos, and the
period of deliverance as future. 1t was from this new perspective that
the eschatological view of history developed.

The Egyptian eschatological view of history is rccognizablc in Lac-
tantius' work, which made use of the oracles of Hystaspes and of the
Potter. Of special interest is the tradition of a coming Elijah, widely
used among Jews. The two witnesses of Rev 1 l.identified with Enoch

and Elijah, are to be found in many works, and the death and resurrec-
tion of a returning Elija originated within the framework of the Jewish
reworkingofthe eschatological view of history of Egyptian Hellcnism.
recognizable in the Gospels in the combination of "kill" and "rise
again " with "after three days".

1t was within the tension between the native-Hellenistic original
form and of the Jewish re-form (reworking) of the eschatological view
of history of Egyptian Hcllenism that the structure of the SM tradition
was contaminated. The two types of SM epiphany were disconnected
from one another and contaminated with wholly different Figures.
The this-worldly epiphanic SM was contaminated with the future-
coming Elijah, while the transcendental-eschatological epiphanic SM
was contaminated with the divine humanlike Figure. a conflation of
the Saviour-King with Yahweh.

The book closes with a discussion and comparison of Mk 13 / par.,
which the A. regards as Coming from an "anonymous oracle", with
the Potter's oracle. The purpose is to show the relation between the
two and how the SM takes the place of the Saviour-King in the latter
work. Thus „Durch die Vermengung des Heilskönigs mit Jahwe im
anonymen Orakel wurde die cschatologischc Gestalt zu einer göttlichmenschenähnlichen
Gestalt. Durch die Einbeziehung der thematisierten
Überlieferung cschatologischen Inhaltes in das anonyme Orakel
wurde der Menschensohn in die göttlich-menschenähnliche Gestalt
umgedeutet, und die Traditionselemente aus dem Traditionsgefüge
um den Menschensohn wurden auf sie übertragen" (p. 191).

This is a broad investigation into the religious and especially the
socio-political climate ofthe Near East, which is understood as having
created the conditions for the traditions discussed and brought to bear
upon the SM question in this book. To the 'Solutions' of Mowinckcl.
Morgenstern, Emerton and Colpe we can now add the new avenue
opened by the present A. The A. commands our respect for his wide
acquaintance with source material, for his assiduity and zeal in pur-
suing his thesis and for his ingenuity in synthesizing such disparate

But here is also the Achilles' heel of the work. For example. to
postulate the Hadad tradition for IV Ezr 13 might sound plausible, but
to do so also for Dan 7 is clearly far-fetched. And since IV Ezr is evi-
dently depended on Dan 7 (and probably on the Parables as well) the
Hadad theory is unnecessary even for IV Ezr. The methodology em-
ployed appears problematic. Texts of disparate Charakter, place and
date are marshalled to support the theory. What is there that one
could not prove this way! But what chances did those makers ofthe
Judeo-Christian tradition have to bc acquainted with that variegated
material? What such texts witness to is that in times of turmoil a long-
ing was feit for a rightcous Ruler, but can such a general 'back-
ground' aecount for the SM traits of the Jewish and especially Christian
tradition? Often the A. seems to assume that his reconstruetions
are beyond question, and hence the expected evidence for them is
nevergiven. while not too infrcqucntly it taxesthe readcr's willihgness
to follow the A. in his 'conclusionjumps'. And finally, what is the evidence
for the 'anonymous oracle'? Is this not demanded by the embar-
rassment that would otherwisc be feit in face of the theory that the
synoptic material is inspired by the eschatological view of history of
Egyptian Hellenism as rcflected in the Potter's oracle? But is this sup-
position - one of the cornerstones of this work - more natural than
that the synoptists - not the 'anonymous oracle' - were drawing upon
e. g. Daniel?

However. dispite the criticism indicated briefly here. the V has
enriched our knowledge ofthe currents of the times when the SM tradition
was being developed.

London ChrysC. Caragounis

Rivkin, Ellis: What Crucificd Jesus? London: SCM Press 1986. XII,
79 S.8'. Kart. £3.95.