Inclusive Chronicler, Metaphor and Worldview, Christian Allegory Rooted in Palestine, Symmachus Contra Anthropomorphism

1.  Sara Japhet, The Ideology of the Book of Chronicles and Its Place in Biblical Thought, pages 349-350:

Since the purpose of [the Chronicler’s] genealogies is to portray the composition of Israel’s tribes by family, we must understand the above verses in this context.  They point out that large segments of the Israelite tribes, in Judah and Manasseh especially, and perhaps also in Benjamin, are descended from foreign women; likewise, the male head of individual fathers’ houses may be a foreigner.  Taken together, the various comments in the genealogies testify to Chronicles’ view of intermarriage: marrying a member of the people transforms a foreigner, whether man or woman, into an Israelite, and the offspring of that marriage are, unquestionably, Israelites.  Chronicles’ position is all the more unusual for its period when compared to the reverse, extreme outlook of Ezra-Nehemiah, which denies the legitimacy of intermarriage and demands the expulsion of foreign wives.

2.  D.A. Russell, Criticism in Antiquity, page 144:

[Aristotle] believed that the capacity to invent metaphors was an index to the author’s understanding of the world, because it showed that he could discern likenesses between dissimilar things.

3.  R.P.C. Hanson, Allegory and Event, pages 125:

It seems reasonable, then, to look for the sources of Christian allegory not in Alexandria but in Palestine.  Its origins are to be traced in the tendency to see situations described in the Hebrew Scriptures as fulfilled in events of the present or of the immediate past which we can discern in the literature associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls, a tradition of interpretation obviously influenced by Messianic interpretation.  Other roots of allegory can be found in the practice of Rabbinic allegory, a practice which undoubtedly existed and indeed may have flourished quite strongly in the first century A.D., even though later generations of Judaism discouraged it and tried to efface its traces…Christian allegory, derived from these roots and relying on these examples, was in addition supported and nourished by Christian typology, a kind of scriptural exegesis which was a natural consequence of the Christian conviction that with the coming of Jesus of Nazareth the Messianic Age and the Last Time had been inaugurated, and which itself had its roots in Jewish allegory and Jewish exegesis.  Indeed Christian allegory first appears as a by-product, rather tentative and sparse, of Christian typology.  Allegory in the Christian tradition, however, soon becomes strongly developed and widely used by Christian theologians, who find it a serviceable instrument in their task of discovering references to Jesus Christ thickly scattered all over the Old Testament.

4.  N.F. Marcos, The Septuagint in Context, page 131:

On Symmachus, who translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek sometime in the second-third centuries C.E.: He tones down anthropomorphisms and other expressions in connection with the deity.  He avoids comparisons between man and God.  He does not accept the existence of other gods so that the expression “other gods” in Dt. 31:20 is translated “false gods”.  Similarly, he tends to eliminate the presence of angels: in Gen. 6:2 neither “the sons of God” nor “angels” couple with the daughters of men but the “powerful ones”…

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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1 Response to Inclusive Chronicler, Metaphor and Worldview, Christian Allegory Rooted in Palestine, Symmachus Contra Anthropomorphism

  1. James Pate says:

    On my blogger blog, there’s been the following discussion:

    John Valade said…
    The outlooke in Ezra-Nehemiah may have been conditioned by something not present in the Chronicler’s account. It is likely that in Ezra’s time Israelite men were divorcing their Israelite wives in order to marry into the more prosperous Gentile families around them. They seem to have been abandoing their Israelite children to do so as well. Can’t recall my sources for this offhand, but I remember doing the research for a hermeneutics class at CTS a few years back. If this was the case, it would certainly have been a tragedy worth expending a lot of effort to correct.

    April 12, 2010 9:08 PM

    James Pate said…
    Hi John. I agree with you that those were probably issues. That’s what many have argued is behind Malachi’s “I hate divorce.” But I think that there’s a degree of xenophobia in Ezra-Nehemiah, since Ezra talks about the “holy seed,” and Nehemiah makes a big deal about the Deuteronomy passage that excludes certain foreigners from the congregation of Israel.

    April 12, 2010 10:30 PM

    John Valade said…
    As Israel was about to enter the Promised Land, certain neighboring nations conspired to lure them into idolatry (Midian, Moab and Amon if I remember correctly) by marriage to women who had no intent to convert. I think this may have been part of what was going on in Ezra-Nehemiah. It may have been a deliberate attempt to undermine their faith by the means that had been so devastating to Israel before. Without the stabilizing influence of believing mothers, the children would probably not be believers, hence not “holy seed.”

    April 12, 2010 11:18 PM

    James Pate said…
    I agree. That’s explicit in the text—or at least the fear that Israelites would be lured into idolatry through intermarriage is. And there was also a fear of the children losing their Israelite identity, since many of them couldn’t even speak the Israelite language.


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