Saturday 11 August 2018

Gods and Creation

Elohim and Creation
Gods and Creation

"there are many powers in heaven" Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5 - Sefaria. 

Early Christian Gnostic sects were accused of heresy for teaching that the Deity, is not immediately the creator of our world, nor of our race. The Valentinians taught that creative agency called the Demiurge (meaning "craftsman" or "artisan") and the archons created and oversees the physical universe. The Demiurge and the archons are subordinate gods (Elohim), or angels to the spiritual Logos.

Where does this teaching come from is it biblical?

Well obviously these teachings must have a biblical foundation which we will look at later. But first we will look at the historical tradition of this teaching

First a look at the Tripartite Tractate which shows conflicting interpretations among Jewish sects as pairs of opposite views. Three such pairs are listed:

By interpreting them, they established many sects which exist to the present among the Jews. Some say that the God who made a proclamation in the ancient scriptures is one. Others say that he is many. Some say that God is simple and was a single mind in nature. Others say that his activity is linked with the establishment of good and evil. Still others say that he is the creator of that which has come into being. Still others say that it was by the angels that he created. (The Tripartite Tractate)

"that which has come into being" presumably "created things"

Those who attribute to the angels a mediating role at creation seem to be identical with those who "say that he is many."
Jewish Views From Palestinian  
The first historical text we will look at is the Book of Jubilees (the Oxford Annotated Bible and the Mercer Bible Dictionary conclude the work can be dated to 160–150 BC)

The Book of Jubilees claims to present "the history of the division of the days events of the years, the year-weeks, and the jubilees of the world" as revealed to Moses by angels while he was on Mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights.

Chapter 1:25 And do thou write down for thyself all these words which I declare unto thee on this mountain, the first and the last, which shall come to pass in all the divisions of the days in the law and in the testimony and in the weeks and the jubilees unto eternity, until I descend and dwell with them throughout eternity.'
26 And He said to the angel of the presence: Write for Moses from the beginning of creation till My sanctuary has been built among them for all eternity.

Angels were used to send down the Quran to Muhammad; it was not sent down directly from God. And this seems to apply in every context that We is used in the Quran.

Chapter 2 of the Book of Jubilees gives us information about the creation of the elohim who are called spirits and angels in the manuscripts of the Ethiopic texts which we have from 15th and 16th centuries. However I believe if we could see an Hebrew original manuscript text the word for angel would be elohim spirits of powers or Mighty Ones.

The spirits and the angels are the ones who serve before the Deity there is an hierarchy to the spirits/elohim the angels of the presence and sanctification would seem to be the archangels, other angles control the natural world each group controls different forces of nature: .

The “heavens and the earth”  were created in a beginning before the first “day” of creation began. (Gen. 1:1)

In the book of Jubilees the pronouns "we"  and "us" is always used of the angels who act on behalf of the Deity:

chapter 2:17 And He gave us a great sign, the Sabbath day, that we should work six days, but keep Sabbath on the seventh day from all work.

Chapter 3:1 And on the six days of the second week we brought, according to the word of God, unto Adam all the beasts, and all the cattle, and all the birds,

chapter 3:4 And the Lord said unto us: 'It is not good that the man should be alone: let us make a helpmeet for him.'

Chapter 3:15 And in the first week of the first jubilee, [1-7 A.M.] Adam and his wife were in the garden of Eden for seven years tilling and keeping it, and we gave him work and we instructed him to do everything that is suitable for tillage.

Chapter 10:22 And the Lord our God said unto us: Behold, they are one people, and (this) they begin to do, and now nothing will be withholden from them. Go to, let us go down and confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech, and they may be dispersed into cities and nations, and one purpose will no longer abide with them till the day of judgment.'
Chapter 14:20 And on that day we made a covenant with Abram, according as we had covenanted with Noah in this month; and Abram renewed the festival and ordinance for himself for ever.

Surah 50:16 And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein (Surah Qaf [50:16])

According to Shia Islam God does not always do works himself directly he uses the angels to do them.

According to one 
French orientalist and scholar "we" refers to both God and Gabriel the Archangel.

So in the 
book of Jubilee  "We" is used of the angels it is never used as the "Royal WE" (just as in English for royalty). This is how Christians should understand the "We"  and "Us" used in the book of Genesis 1:26, 3:22; 11:7

Next we come to the book of Enoch which lists seven archangels. The Life of Adam and Eve lists the archangels as well: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael and Joel. Although this passage does not speak about the angels involed with the creation it does show again an hierarchy among the angels Uriel is in charge of the world and Tartarus, 
Raphael controls or rules over the spirits of men, 

The understanding of seven archangels is also the foundation of the understand about the Hebdomad a group of seven archons which rule over the world and the physical universe

The book of Enoch chapter 20

1. And these are the names of the holy angels who watch.
2. Uriel, one of the holy angels, who is over the world and over Tartarus.
3. Raphael, one of the holy angels, who is over the spirits of men.
4. Raguel, one of the holy angels who †takes vengeance on† the world of the luminaries.
5. Michael, one of the holy angels, to wit, he that is set over the best part of mankind ⌈⌈and⌉⌉ over chaos.
6. Saraqâêl, one of the holy angels, who is set over the spirits, who sin in the spirit.
7. Gabriel, one of the holy angels, who is over Paradise and the serpents and the Cherubim.
8. Remiel, one of the holy angels, whom God set over those who rise.

Jewish Views from Alexandrian 

(1.227) For the scripture says: "I have seen what Laban does unto Thee,"{53}{#ge 31:12.} namely, things contrary to the benefits which I conferred on you, things impure, wicked, and altogether suited to darkness. But it is not right for the man who anchors on the hope of the alliance of God to crouch and tremble, to whom God says, "I am the God who was seen by thee in the place of God." (1.228) A very glorious boast for the soul, that God should think fit to appear to and to converse with it. And do not pass by what is here said, but examine it accurately, and see whether there are really two Gods. For it is said: "I am the God who was seen by thee;" not in my place, but in the place of God, as if he meant of some other God. (1.229) What then ought we to say? There is one true God only: but they who are called Gods, by an abuse of language, are numerous; on which account the holy scripture on the present occasion indicates that it is the true God that is meant by the use of the article, the expression being, "I am the God (ho Theos);" but when the word is used incorrectly, it is put without the article, the expression being, "He who was seen by thee in the place," not of the God (tou Theou), but simply "of God" (Theou); (1.230) and what he here calls God is his most ancient word, not having any superstitious regard to the position of the names, but only proposing one end to himself, namely, to give a true account of the matter; for in other passages the sacred historian, when he considered whether there really was any name belonging to the living God, showed that he knew that there was none properly belonging to him; but that whatever appellation any one may give him, will be an abuse of terms; for the living God is not of a nature to be described, but only to be.

(62) Why is it that he speaks as if of some other god, saying that he made man after the image of God, and not that he made him after his own image? (#Ge 9:6). Very appropriately and without any falsehood was this oracular sentence uttered by God, for no mortal thing could have been formed on the similitude of the supreme Father of the universe, but only after the pattern of the second deity, who is the Word of the supreme Being; since it is fitting that the rational soul of man should bear it the type of the divine Word; since in his first Word God is superior to the most rational possible nature. But he who is superior to the Word holds his rank in a better and most singular pre-eminence, and how could the creature possibly exhibit a likeness of him in himself? Nevertheless he also wished to intimate this fact, that God does rightly and correctly require vengeance, in order to the defence of virtuous and consistent men, because such bear in themselves a familiar acquaintance with his Word, of which the human mind is the similitude and form. (Questions and Answers on Genesis, II)

The logos is only God’s reason, His image, the instrument by which He created the world, or in a more anthropomorphic way, His “first-born son” or His superintendent (On Husbandry 51)

and let every one in his turn say the same thing, for it is very becoming to every man who loves God to study such a song as this, but above all this world should sing it. For God, like a shepherd and a king, governs (as if they were a flock of sheep) the earth, and the water, and the air, and the fire, and all the plants, and living creatures that are in them, whether mortal or divine; and he regulates the nature of the heaven, and the periodical revolutions of the sun and moon, and the variations and harmonious movements of the other stars, ruling them according to law and justice; appointing, as their immediate superintendent, his own right reason (logos), his first-born son, who is to receive the charge of this sacred company, as the lieutenant of the great king; for it is said somewhere, "Behold, I am he! I will send my messenger before thy face, who shall keep thee in the Road."{7}{#ex 23:20.} (On Husbandry)

The Greek word logos is translated reason in 1Peter 3:15 

1Pe 3:15  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason <3056> of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

(109) For Moses says that he cannot be defiled neither in respect of his father, that is, the mind, nor his mother, that is, the external sense; {26} {#le 21:11.} because, I imagine, he has received imperishable and wholly pure parents, God being his father, who is also the father of all things, and wisdom being his mother, by means of whom the universe arrived at creation; ()

Philo had inferred from the expression "Let us make man" of the Book of Genesis that God had used other beings as assistants in the creation of man, and he explains in this way why man is capable of vice as well as virtue, ascribing the origin of the latter to God, of the former to his helpers in the work of creation

It is on this account that Moses says, at the creation of man alone that God said, "Let us make man," which expression shows an assumption of other beings to himself as assistants, in order that God, the governor of all things, might have all the blameless intentions and actions of man, when he does right attributed to him; and that his other assistants might bear the imputation of his contrary actions. Philo: On the Creation, XXIV"

The Logos or Word, (which was later manifested in the flesh of Jesus making the Christ), was the Master Worker that He used in creating all things. (John 1:1-3; Col 1:13-16; Pr 8:30) 

This Word, or Logos, was God’s only direct creation, the only-begotten son of God

Certainly the Word or Logos, whom God his Father used in bringing into existence all other creatures, was the chief or the firstborn among all the other angels whom the Hebrew Scriptures call elohím or “gods.” 

Gnostic Views 

Irenaeus writes about the Basilides system Those angels who occupy the lowest heaven, that, namely, which is visible to us, formed all the things which are in the world, and made allotments among themselves of the earth and of those nations which are upon it. The chief of them is he who is thought to be the God of the Jews; (Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, i. 24, 4.)

menander said that the world was made by the angels the Satornilians, who believed the world was made by only seven angels Epiphanius (Bishop of Constantia in Cyprus) (2009). The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: Book I (sects 1-46)Like that of all else is the creation of mankind as well.

The spiritual Logos moved him invisibly, as he perfected him through the Demiurge and his angelic servants, who shared in the act of fashioning in multitudes, when he took counsel with his archons. Like a shadow is earthly man, so that he might be like those who are cut off from the Totalities. Also he is something prepared by all of them, those of the right and those of the left, since each one in the orders gives a form to the [...] in which it exists. (The Tripartite Tractate)

Ptolemy's Letter to Flora:

For it is evident that the Law was not ordained by the perfect God the Father, for it is secondary, being imperfect and in need of completion by another, containing commandments alien to the nature and thought of such a God.
On the other hand, one cannot impute the Law to the injustice of the opposite, God, for it is opposed to injustice. Such persons do not comprehend what was said by the Savior. For a house or city divided against itself cannot stand [Matt 12:25], declared our Savior. Furthermore, the apostle says that creation of the world is due to him, for Everything was made through him and apart from him nothing was made. [John 1:3] Thus he takes away in advance the baseless wisdom of the false accusers, and shows that the creation is not due to a God who corrupts but to the one who is just and hates evil. Only unintelligent men have this idea, men who do not recognize the providence of the creator and have blinded not only the eye of the soul but also of the body. (Ptolemy's Letter to Flora)

Biblical Interpretation

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth

Mr. Parkhurst, in his lexicon under the word alah, cites many passages where Elohim is associated with other plurals. Upon close examination there will be found no goood reason to question the conclusion, that Elohim [translated God in Gen. 1:1] is a noun plural, and signifies "gods" (Elpis Israel Dr. John Thomas)

 (Christopher Maddocks)

In the light of this revelation I understand the Mosaic record of the creation. It pleased the King Eternal nearly six thousand years ago to add a new habitable province to His dominion; not by an original creation of a globe, but by the re-constitution of one already existing as one of the solar planets. He commanded His angels to go and execute the work according to the order detailed by Moses. They hearkened unto the voice of His word; and in six days finished all they were commanded to do. (Elpis Israel Dr. John Thomas)

But among all these there was not one fit to exercise dominion over the animal world, or to reflect the divine attributes. Therefore, the Elohim said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the living creatures." So Elohim created man in His image; male and female created He them. Further details concerning the formation of the human pair are given in the second chapter of Genesis, verses 7, 18, 21-25. These passages belong to the work of the sixth day; while that from verse 8 to 14 pertains to the record of the third; and from 15 to 17 is parallel with chapter 1:28-31, which completes the history of the sixth. (Elpis Israel Dr. John Thomas)

Ge 3:5 For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil.

In the Hebrew the word rendered "gods" is Elohim, the same as occurs throughout the first chapter. From what other source but the sight of its eyes, unless by divine inspiration, could the serpent have derived information about the "gods"? It spoke of what it had seen and heard. But the animals were still without a king; therefore, said the Chief of the Elohim, "Let us make man in our image." There was none like the Elohim of all the creatures they had made; therefore, they determined to make an animal after their form. They shaped him with head, limbs and body like their own; so that he stood before them the earthly image of the celestial Elohim. As much their image as Seth was the image of his father Adam. (Gen 5:3) (Elpis Israel Dr. John Thomas)

GOD... US: Elohim. Plural: "sons of God", ie angels (Job 38:7; Gen 3:22; Psa 8:5; cp Num 12:8; Act 7:38; Gen 32:30 with Hos 12:3,4; 1Ki 22:19). The plural prob relates to angels, although the verb here is singular. So God prob entered into consultation with His surrounding hosts and conferred with them on the creation of man in their joint image. Angels involved in creation: Job 38:4-7; Psa 148:2 (describing creative acts of Gen 1); Psa 104:4,5 -- again in a creative context.

"It is credible that they [the Elohim] were once animal men of other spheres; that in a former state they were made subject to vanity not willingly; that while in the flesh they believed and obeyed God; that they succumbed to death as mortal men; that they rose from the dead, and so attained to immortality as the Elohim of the Invisible God. ..."

"Mortal and corruptible beings like ourselves become Elohim, mighty in strength, and framers of new worlds."

"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them;" and the Yahweh Elohim, on reviewing the stupendous and glorious creation elaborated by the Spirit, pronounced it "VERY GOOD." Then the Elohim, or "Morning Stars sang together, and all the Sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:4-7).

so that creation is not the work of ONE GOD only, but of many gods.

Brothers, behold, then, your Gods and Creators

Many early Jewish and Gnostic Christians taught that the work of creation was done by the angels or the logos some groups call these beings the Demiurge and and his angelic servants

Chapter 2:1 And the angel of the presence spake to Moses according to the word of the Lord, saying: Write the complete history of the creation, how in six days the Lord God finished all His works and all that He created, and kept Sabbath on the seventh day and hallowed it for all ages, and appointed it as a sign for all His works.
2 For on the first day He created the heavens which are above and the earth and the waters and all the spirits which serve before him -the angels of the presence, and the angels of sanctification, and the angels [of the spirit of fire and the angels] of the spirit of the winds, and the angels of the spirit of the clouds, and of darkness, and of snow and of hail and of hoar frost, and the angels of the voices and of the thunder and of the lightning, and the angels of the spirits of cold and of heat, and of winter and of spring and of autumn and of summer and of all the spirits of his creatures which are in the heavens and on the earth, (He created) the abysses and the darkness, eventide <and night>, and the light, dawn and day, which He hath prepared in the knowledge of his heart.
3 And thereupon we saw His works, and praised Him, and lauded before Him on account of all His works; for seven great works did He create on the first day.

The angels themselves are ordered in hierarchical fashion and have been since their creation.

Three levels or ranks may be distinguished: the angels of the presence and the holy ones; the angels appointed over the elements and natural phenomena; and the angels appointed over the powers and other created entities (2:2). 

From the names of the two groups—the angels of the presence and the holy angels—one learns how closely related they are to God and why they are rightly styled the two great kinds (2:18). 

Most of the author references to angels are to these two elite classes.

41:1 2-3 record the creations of the first day, seven in number, viz. heaven, earth, the waters, spirits, the abysses, darkness, light.

According to our Book the angels were created on the first day, and this probably represents the view of earlier Judaism.

18 And all the angels of the presence, and all the angels of sanctification, these two great classes -He hath bidden us to keep the Sabbath with Him in heaven and on earth.

Cf. ii. 18, xv. 27, xxxi. 14. These are the two chief orders of angels. The "angels of sanctification" sing praises to God.

41:4 The various classes of angels that follow constitute the third or lowest order. They preside over the elements and natural phenomena; cf. 1 Enoch lx. 12-21, lxxv., lxxx.; 2 Enoch xix. 1-4, For the "angels of the winds," cf. Rev. vii. 1 f.; 1 Enoch xviii. 1-5, xxxiv.-xxxvi., lxxvi.

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth

"God created" — The Hebrew is bar a Elohim: a verb in the singular number combined with a noun in the plural : "Mighty ones he created" (J. Thomas, Phanerosis p. 51). The use of a singular verb with a plural noun suggests one motivating power manifested through a multiplicity of agents. The one motivating power in creation was the "Spirit of God" (v. 2) or Yahweh Who worked through the angels to bring the creation into existence. 

This intimate relationship, so intimate as to constitute a Unity in plurality, (but not a plurality in the absolute and primary Power the source of all) is expressed in Isaiah 45:18, "Thus, saith Yahweh, that created the heavens hu ha-Elohim, He the Elohim that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it. He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited. I Yahweh, and none without." In this text Yahweh is twice repeated. This expresses one, being in the singular number; but Elohim is plural expressing two or a multitude; 

and this noun of multitude is prefaced, not by they as they the Elohim; but by 'He', as He the Elohim. This unusual feature is doctrinal not accidental, nor an arbitrary custom of language, but designed. It teaches that the creation was produced from one power ex ou, out of which, are all things, and that this one power operated through a plurality of agents, or Elohim, who are the spirit-embodiments of its rays" {Phanerosis p. 52).

SPIRIT OF GOD: Heb "ruach Elohim": "The spirit strength of the Mighty Ones". "Spirit" = the "wisdom" of Pro 8:22-26

“By the Word of Yahweh were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Psa. 33:6).

Yahweh gave the command, and the Angels obeyed. He said: “let there be light, and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). “He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (cp. Psa. 33:9). So it was that the Angels (Hebrew: Elohim—see Psa. 8:5) were the agents through which the Almighty accomplished His Will in creating the Heavens and Earth. So it is that we read in Genesis chapter 1: “In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).

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