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Mills, Mary E.
Human agents of cosmic power in Hellenistic Judaism and the synoptic tradition 1991
Horst, Pieter Willem
Theologische Literaturzeitung 116. Jahrgang 1991 Nr. 6
denen bereits Paulus wie in Rom l,4f; 3,24ff; lKorl5,3ff zweifellos
auf Traditionen zurückgreift, hat jedoch keinerlei Wahrscheinlichkeit
Der Verzicht auf jegliche Art von Literarkritik, der dem Markusevangelium
schwerlich gerecht wird, sowie auf Gattungskritik
belasten die vorliegende Untersuchung zusätzlich, deren Durchführung
und deren Ergebnisse trotz mancher zutreffender Beobachtungen
die überfällige Revision der synoptischen Formgeschichte
eher behindern als fördern dürfte.
Berlin Walter Schmithals
Mills, Mary E.: Human Agents of Cosmic Power in Hellenistic
Judaism and the Synoptic Tradition. Sheffield: JSOT Press
1990. 184 S. 8°= Journal for the Study of the New Testament,
Suppl. Series 41. Lw. £ 25,-.
"The ancient world held (and expressed in various ways in different cul-
tures) that there is in thecosmosenergy (dynamis) which shapesthe world's
ongoing life. (...) This explanation of the world forms the background for
the work of human beings who attract and use these cosmic energies. Thcy
do this for practical ends such as blessingand cursing, binding and loosing.
healing and destroying. These human beings are Channels of cosmic energy
within the everyday life of a society. By their use of power they shape or
reshape the lives of individuals and groups; that is their function. The
names by which they are called; however. vary. Some may be labellcd
magicians, some priests or prophets, wise men or sages. At one levcl we can
sce that all these wonder-workers share the same function within their cul-
tures - they are all human agents of a cosmic or divine power" (13).
By this Statement in the introductory section of her book the au-
thor makes very clear what the thesis of her study is. In the next
chapter she argues that the (ancient and modern) distinction be-
tween magic and religion is a polemical one, depending upon
where we ourselves stand, and that, for example, both the He-
brew Bible and the Greek magical papyri show a worldview
which sees religion and magic as intertwined. In a third chapter,
about Moses traditions, she deals with Philo's Vita Mosis and the
anonymous treatise The Sword of Moses, and she tries to demon-
strate that what this philosophical writing and this magical book
have in common is that Moses is regarded as being able to Channel
divine energy to human situations and thus as "a divine agent
of cosmic power". In a chapter on Solomon traditions the focus is
Qohelet, Sapientia Salomonis, and the Testament of Solomon,
and the author Stresses that the Solomonic Wisdom tradition
have as a core: true knowledge leads to true religion which leads
to true power, which in the case of Test.Sol. means power to con-
trol and exorcise demons. After his death, Solomon is assumed
into that power, so that his name can still be evoked as a Channel
for cosmic energy. Ch. 5, on Enoch in lEnoch, emphasizes that
Enoch, as the true revealer of hidden wisdom, is not only teacher
and partaker of angehe existence, but as such also a supreme
agent of cosmic power who makes available to mankind true
knowledge and true worship of God. Ch. 6 is on the book of Tobit
as a literary work "which contains aecounts of several different
agents of cosmic power, both human mediation of that power and
angehe" (79), namely both Tobit and Tobias and Raphael-
Azariah. In the light of these traditions the figures of Jesus (in
Mark) and the apostles (in Acts) are studied in chapters 7 and 8.
Jesus and the demonic forces are the two sides of a cosmic con-
flict in which Jesus is "the agent empowered by the divine side of
the conflict to effect a triumph of cosmic proportions over the
forces of destruetion" (103). The same applies to the apostles,
with this essential difference that whereas "Jesus carried out his
wonders by his own authority, the apostles, in Acts, carry out
wonders in the name of, and by the power of the name of, Jesus"
(109), because Jesus is now elevated to heaven and is seen as fully
part of the divine power. "Jesus, then, has been absorbed into the
cosmic myth within which he himself operated as a human
being" (119). Such is, in brief, the main thesis of the book.
The theme is interesting and important and the literature dealt
with is certainly very relevant to the thesis. Nevertheless, the
book does not make for satisfactory reading. The reasons for that
are various. Quite apart from too many cases of printer's error
and sloppiness in the bibliographical data (why, e.g., consistently
Sabed for Shakedl, 140, 160, 184), the book is not well written.
Too often the reader is presented with information that is irrelevant
to the book's argument (64, 81-82, 110-112, etc.), or information
is repeated too often: at pp. 56, 143, and 144 we are told
thrice that Test. Sol., as it Stands, is in a Christian form. Someti-
mes material in the notes belongs in the main text (143-144 n.7)
or the other way round. The author has missed very important
publications (e.g. M. Black's commentary on 1 Enoch and H. W.
Hollanderand M. de Jonge'scommentary on Test. XIIPatr., both
of 1985) and editions of texts she deals with (The Sword of Moses
should no longer be consulted in the outdated Gaster edition ot
1896 but in P. SchäfefsSynopsezurHekhalot-Literaturof 1981)-
Moreover, the dating of The Sword of Moses before the third Century
AD (39) seems hardly tcnable in the light of recent research.
And what about the Statement that both the Greek magical papyri
and the Hebrew Bible drew upon "the same life setting in the
Hellenistic world" (26)? There is no better example of Moses as
human agent of cosmic power than Moses' throne-vision in Eze-
kiel the Dramatist, but it is not even mentioned (see my Essays on
the Jewish World of Early Christianity, Fribourg-Göttingen
1990, 63-71). There is too much reliance on the fanciful theories
of M. Barker in the Enoch chapter. To see Tobit as permeated
with signs of "royal background" (79 et al.) is very farfetched.
Simon Magus is not said in Acts 8:10 to have that power of God
which is called Great (118) but to be it. A work by J. H. Charlesworth
called The Book of Enoch (London 1977) does not exist.
Etc. This is too much of carelessness and lack of akribeia to in-
spire much confidence. That is not to say that one cannot learn
something from this work, but the irritation over the above-
mentioned flaws spoils the joy of it.
Utrecht P. W. van der Horst
Weaver, Dorothy Jean: Matthew's Missionary Discourse. A Literary
Critical Analysis. Sheffield: JSOT 1990. 250 S. 8°= Journal
for the Study of the New Testament, Suppl. Series 38. Lw £
Literary criticism ist natürlich das genaue Gegenteil von Literarkritik
. Mit beachtlicher Konsequenz (und Einseitigkeit) konzentriert
sich Frau Weaver allein auf die Letztgestalt des MtEv-
Da der Redaktor für die Kohärenz des Endtextes verantwortlich
ist (155), darf dieser als solcher untersucht werden, ohne nach
Quellenverarbeitung befragt zu werden. D.h. der redaktions^f-
schichtliche Aspekt wird ähnlich wie der formgeschichtliche und
weithin auch der traditionsgeschichtliche bewußt ausgeblendet.
Soweit der Rez. sich da auskennt, wird die Analyse mit dem methodischen
Rüstzeug des new criticism (bzw. literary criticism)
bearbeitet, dessen Frageraster vorwiegend an moderner Literatur
aller Art entwickelt wurden. Sie sollen helfen, den point of view
des Autors und die Strukturen der story zu erfassen, um damit
das Spiel zwischen „implizitem Autor" und „implizitem Leser"
sichtbar zu machen. - Inhaltlich will die Studie auf die Frage antworten
, warum Mt 9,35-11,1 zwar von einem Missionsauftrag an
die Jünger in Galiläa berichtet, aber die Ausführung von 11, 2ff
an nicht vermelden kann.
Nach der Entfaltung dieses Problems im ersten Kapitel wendet
sich das zweite einem Durchgang durch Mt 1,1-9,34 zu, um auf