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What Do We Mean by "First-Century Jewish Monotheism"? <1>


L. W. Hurtado

University of Manitoba

Winnipeg , Manitoba , Canada


The following article was originally published as:

"What Do We Mean by 'First Century Jewish Monotheism?'" Society of Biblical Literature 1993 Seminar Papers, ed. E. H. Lovering (Atlanta:  Scholars Press, 1993), pp. 348-68

It is available for download here:




     The nature of first-century Jewish religion is an obviously important question both for the history of Judaism and for Christian Origins.  In recent years especially, there has been a lot of attention given to the monotheism of first-century Jewish religion, especially (but not exclusively) among scholars discussing the emergence of "high christology" and the reverence given to Jesus in early Christianity.  In my 1988 book, One God, One Lord:  Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism, I urged that first-century Jewish religious commitment to the uniqueness of God was the crucial context in which to approach early Christian devotion to Christ.  I emphasized two characteristics of ancient Jewish religiousness: (1) a remarkable ability to combine a genuine concern for God's uniqueness together with an interest in other figures of transcendent attributes described in the most exalted terms, likening them to God in some cases; and (2) an exhibition of monotheistic scruples particularly and most distinctively in cultic/liturgical behavior.

     In this paper I wish to return to the question of "ancient Jewish monotheism," engaging some others who have written on the subject recently, and offering some further reflections and additional evidence on the nature of first-century Jewish religion.  I wish to argue that first-century Jewish religion characteristically exhibited a monotheistic scruple.  I also wish to make the methodological point that our understanding of ancient Jewish monotheism needs to be inductively formed and sufficiently sophisticated to take account of the variety, flexibility and changes in the way it was manifested in the Greco-Roman world.



     Before we look at the evidence of ancient Jewish religion, I want to offer some critical reflections on some recent studies alluded to above in which the question of Jewish monotheism plays a major role.  There are significant differences distinguishing them from one another, but for our purposes they can be classified into two major groups.  One group portrays first-century Jewish religion as monotheistic, and the other group questions the validity of doing so.  I tend to support those who attribute monotheistic scruples to first-century Jewish religion, but I think that studies on both sides of the issue reflect the need for more careful thinking about the data and how we deal with them.

     In his 1982 study Jesus and the Constraints of History, A.E. Harvey devoted a chapter to "the Constraint of Monotheism." Harvey 's discussion of Jewish monotheism here is, however, in fact quite limited.  I mention his study more on account of the importance he attached to Jewish monotheism than for the contribution he made to understanding it.  He did address the honorific language used to describe figures other than God, insisting, for example, that reference to Moses as "divine" (theios) in Josephus (e.g., Ant. 3:180; 8:34, 187; 10:35) and Philo (e.g., VitaMos. 1:158) "is not so much a religious as a linguistic phenomenon" indicating "the exceptional nature of his gifts" but never intended or taken as qualifying "in any way the unique divinity of the Creator of the world".<2>

      But for Harvey, Jewish "monotheism" was more a premise than his subject.  Having posited as the controlling influence upon early Christian thought about Jesus a firm Jewish monotheism manifested essentially in a refusal to attribute real divinity to figures other than God, Harvey then sought to use this to determine what the christological thought of the NT could have allowed.  His stated as his aim "to show that there is no unambiguous evidence that the constraint of monotheism was effectively broken by any New Testament writer," insisting that the NT documents "show no tendency to describe Jesus in terms of divinity . . ."<3>   In Harvey's view, it is not until Ignatius of Antioch that we have the "first unambiguous instances" of Jesus being described as divine.

It was not until the new religion had spread well beyond the confines of its parent Judaism that it   became possible to break the constraint and describe Jesus as divine . . .<4>

     Both in his description of ancient Jewish monotheism and in his portrayal of the reverence for Christ reflected in the NT Harvey is subject to criticism.  Our interest here, however, is the former matter.  I single out two things in particular about his view of Jewish monotheism.  First, he refers to it consistently as a "constraint" that might or might not be "broken," giving the impression of a fixed doctrinal system with little adaptive capacity.  Second, Harvey focuses on conceptual and linguistic phenomena, giving insufficient attention to the critical importance of cultic/liturgical practices emphasized by ancient Jews as boundary-markers that distinguished the true God from other divine beings, and that set apart right devotion from its idolatrous counterfeit.

     In Maurice Casey's recently published Cadbury lectures we have another study of the development of NT christology that employs Jewish monotheism in a manner similar to Harvey's treatment.<5>  As does Harvey, Casey invokes a Jewish monotheism that limited and restrained reverence for Jesus so long as early Christianity was dominated by this mindset, making it impossible for Jesus to have been regarded as divine.  In Casey's view, however, the restraint was effectively (and lamentably) removed earlier than Harvey thought, within the Johannine community after 70 C.E., when Gentiles came to dominate the community ensuring that "Jesus was hailed as God," a second deity alongside the God of the Bible.<6>  At the risk of some oversimplification, they let the Gentiles move into the Johannine community and there went the neighborhood!  Casey's programmatic portrayal of the development of NT christology requires more attention than I can give it here.<7>  I restrict myself to a few comments about his references to Jewish monotheism.

     As with Harvey, Casey is mainly concerned to offer an analysis of NT christology, and he postulates a firm Jewish monotheism primarily as the crucial device which allows him to determine the possible limits of early Christian reverence for Jesus so long as the Christian movement was mainly Jewish in makeup.  In other words, as with Harvey, Casey's view of Jewish monotheism drives his exegesis of NT christological texts. Postulating a Jewish monotheism with fixed and powerful restraints, Casey is then able to insist in case after case that pre-Johannine NT passages that might at first appear to reflect a reverence for Jesus as divine cannot in fact be taken that way. It is handy way of doing exegesis, though not always persuasive, in my view at least.

     Casey's discussion of Jewish monotheism is mainly in chapter six, where he analyzes the place of messianic and intermediary figures in second Temple Jewish religion, granting that they are given an "unusually elevated status" in various ancient Jewish sources, but insisting that it was impossible for any such figure to be really regarded as divine within Jewish monotheism.<8> Though he describes the impressive roles given to divine agents in various Jewish texts, I am not sure that he has adequately presented the rather flexible ability of ancient Jewish monotheism to incorporate a plurality in the operation of the sovereignty of the one God.  Like Harvey, he sees the restraining force of Jewish monotheism manifested primarily in the way God was conceptually distinguished from other honorific figures, that is, in the language used to describe God and other figures.  But I am not sure that the rhetorical distinctions were quite as firm as Casey claims.  Also, he gives scant attention to the importance of cultic practice in understanding Jewish religion.  Further, in consistently posing the question as to whether Jews or Christians thought of any figure as a second deity fully distinguished from the God of Israel, he shows a disappointingly simplistic and wooden grasp of the complexities and possibilities of ancient Jewish and Christian beliefs.

     In several publications J. D. G. Dunn also has invoked Jewish monotheism as crucial in his effort to analyze early Christian reverence for Jesus.  In a 1982 essay Dunn poses two main questions:  (1) Was pre-Christian Jewish monotheism "threatened" by beliefs about "heavenly redeemer figures and intermediary beings"?  (2) Did earliest christology constitute a threat to or departure from Jewish monotheism?<9>  Both questions he essentially answers in the negative, but we are concerned here primarily with the way he deals with the first question.  It is interesting to note the subtle shifts and developments (of a positive nature, in my judgment) in his views over the past decade or so.<10>

     Though the general drift of Dunn's analysis is that there was no significant threat to Jewish monotheism in pre-Christian Jewish conceptions of redeemer and/or intermediary figures, he seems to allow for development and change in Jewish traditions of the Greco-Roman period, implying more than Harvey or Casey a flexible Jewish monotheism able to stretch and bend a good deal without breaking.<11>  In his 1982 essay he granted potential threats to Jewish monotheism in the vivid language of personification of divine attributes (such as Wisdom and Logos), and, more seriously, in "one strand of esoteric mysticism" involving a human-like figure, a principal angel and/or patriarch described as bearing the divine name and/or glory.<12>  In the pre-Christian period the former was "kept under control and would not have been perceived as a threat" to monotheism.<13>  Dunn initially saw speculations about a second figure like God becoming a danger to Jewish monotheism in the early second century,<14> but more recently has emphasized "strains" from various speculations about principal agent figures becoming apparent by the end of the first century.<15>  His suggestion that the "high" christology of Hebrews, the Gospel of John and Revelation may be one strand of a larger number of speculations about the divine in Jewish groups of the late first century that

distended or threatened monotheism is worth further consideration.

     There are also slight shifts in the way Dunn approaches Jewish monotheism.  In his earlier comments on the significance of secondary figures in Jewish monotheism, Dunn dwelt entirely on the descriptions of them and the concepts held about them.<16> More recently, he has also taken some account of the importance of cultic practices (worship) as indicators of religious scruples, both in Jewish and Christian circles.<17>

     Over against the view that first-century Jewish religion was strongly monotheistic, there are recent claims directly to the contrary by Peter Hayman and Margaret Barker especially.<18> There are striking similarities in their views, along with distinguishing features also.  Although both could be subjected to strong criticisms, the claims both advance encompass such a breadth of material that it is not possible here to offer a detailed examination.  It will have to suffice for this essay to give some limited critical observations.

     Taking as his subject "the pattern of Jewish beliefs about God from the Exile to the Middle Ages," Peter Hayman states as his aim "to assess whether or not it is truly monistic."<19> Hayman claims that down to the Middle Ages Jewish religion retained a "dualistic pattern" from the ancient Canaanite background and that "functionally Jews believed in the existence of two gods."<20>  He invokes five things in support of his case: (1) indications that a doctrine of creation ex nihilo is not found until well into the Middle Ages; (2) references to the possibility of mystical unity with God and to ideas of metamorphosis of human figures (e.g., Enoch) into heavenly/angelic beings;<21> (3) the prominence of angels in ancient Jewish texts, and prohibitions against worshipping them; (4) evidence of Jewish practice of magic involving the invocation of a variety of heavenly figures (usually named angels) along with God as sources of magical power; (5) the alleged survival of a divine consort of Yahweh in post-exilic references to Wisdom and Logos.  Hayman illustrates that ancient Jews were not unitarians, but it is not clear that his data shows them to be di-theistic.

     Barker gives a book-length case for a somewhat similar point of view.  Ranging over "an enormous amount of material from ancient Canaan to mediaeval Kabbalah,"<22> Barker's discussion is certainly provocative.  It is also frequently infuriating in its almost cavalier handling of ancient evidence and modern scholarship.  Her view seems to be that Greco-Roman Jewish religion included a both monotheistic strain (the heirs of the Deuteronomistic reformers) and, as a kind of underground theology, another strain or line of religious tradition which resisted the reforming, purging efforts of the Deuteronomistic school and its heirs, and in which there were always two deities. Unfortunately, the wide range of Barker's discussion results in a wide range of dubious claims.<23>

     Moreover, it is clear that Barker's real aim in alleging a di-theistic Judaism in the first century is to provide a ready

explanation for the rapid ease with which Jesus was treated as divine in first-century Christian groups.<24>  According to Barker, Jesus was quickly and easily regarded as divine by Jewish Christians because they were well accustomed to thinking in terms of two deities.  But I confess to wondering if Barker's sharply polemical purpose has controlled too much her handling of the Jewish and Christian evidence.<25>  In any case, though Barker's discussion is longer than Hayman's, it basically elaborates a very similar position, and I therefore treat their views together.<26>

     I suggest that on both sides of the issue (to varying degrees among the individual studies) there has been a tendency to proceed deductively from a priori presumptions of what monotheism must mean, instead of building up a view inductively from the evidence of how monotheism actually operated in the thought and practice of ancient Jews.  There seems to be an implicit agreement on both sides that more than one transcendent being of any significance complicates or constitutes a weakening of or threat to monotheism.  Those who see first-century Jewish religion as monotheistic tend, therefore, to downplay the significance and attributes given by ancient Jews to any transcendent beings other than God.  For these scholars often, ancient Jewish monotheism must mean that the descriptions of such

beings are largely rhetorical.  Though I am convinced regarding some examples, I am not sure that the descriptions are always purely rhetoric, as we shall see later in this paper.

     Those on the other side of the issue tend to emphasize the honorific ways in which transcendent beings other than God are described and the prominent positions they occupy in the religious conceptions reflected in ancient Jewish texts, alleging that first-century Jews were not really monotheists after all. It is clear that ancient Jews were not characteristically monists or unitarians, but does this mean that they were not monotheists? That is, on both sides there is a tendency to proceed as if we can know in advance what "monotheism" must mean, which turns out

to be a very modern, monistic form of monotheism, and can accordingly evaluate ancient Jewish texts and beliefs as to

whether or how closely they meet an a priori standard of "pure" monotheism.  Interestingly, Hayman disavows any such intention, but it seems to me that he in fact winds up doing this very thing.<27>

     In place of this rather Aristotelian approach, I urge us to work more inductively, gathering what "monotheism" is on the ground, so to speak, from the evidence of what self-professed monotheists believe and practice.  In fact, I suggest that for historical investigation our policy should be to take people as monotheistic if that is how they describe themselves, in spite of what we might be inclined to regard at first as anomalies in their beliefs.  Such "anomalies," I suggest in fact are extremely valuable data in shaping our understanding of monotheism out of the actual beliefs of actual people and traditions who describe themselves in monotheistic language.

     Moreover, with a few exceptions, scholars on both sides (but perhaps especially those who have portrayed ancient Jewish religion as strongly monotheistic) have tended to give insufficient allowance to the flexibility and variety in forms of monotheistic religion.  In previous work I have emphasized how early Christians such as Paul were quite able to refer to their beliefs in monotheistic language while accommodating devotion to Christ in terms and actions characteristically deemed appropriate for God (e.g., 1 Cor. 8:4-6).  Though I have not found another fully analogous example of quite such a robust and programmatic binitarian monotheistic devotion in first-century Jewish tradition, with other scholars I have illustrated the sometimes astonishingly exalted ways divine agents can be described in Jewish texts which exhibit a strong monotheistic orientation.<28> In particular, we should note the cases where a principal angel is given God's name (e.g., Yahoel) and is visually described in theophanic language, sometimes causing the human who encounters

the angel to confuse the angel initially with God.<29>  These data illustrate the variety and flexibility in ancient Jewish

monotheistic tradition, especially the ability to accommodate "divine" figures in addition to the God of Israel in the belief

structure and religious outlook.

     In addition to variety, we should allow for change and development.  In his proposal that Jewish monotheism may have undergone some significant changes and developments in the late first and early second century, whether or not one finds his proposal persuasive in all specifics, Dunn seems commendably to allow for a more flexible and dynamic Jewish monotheism than many other scholars on either side of the debate I have been surveying.

     As a final observation in this section reviewing recent statements about ancient Jewish monotheism, I wish to criticize the tendency among scholars to focus on describing concepts and doctrines, with inadequate attention given to religious practices, especially cultic and liturgical practices and related behavior.  Thus, for example, scholars argue largely about whether ancient Jews conceived of more than one figure as divine, and seek to answer the question almost entirely on the basis of semantic arguments, without studying adequately how ancient Jews practiced their faith.

     I suggest that, for ancient Jews, Christians and pagans, the primary exhibitions of what we would call their religiousness were in cultic and liturgical behavior, and that Jewish and Christian monotheistic commitment was exhibited most sharply in scruples about worship (as I shall argue more extensively later in this paper).  Consequently, if we wish to understand ancient Jewish and Christian monotheism, if we wish to measure its intensity, if we wish to know how it operated and what it meant "on the ground" in the lives of adherents, we should pay considerable attention to the way their commitment to the uniqueness of one God was exhibited in their practice with regard to granting cultic veneration to other beings or figures.

     As I have argued in One God, One Lord, and as I shall reiterate again below, it is precisely with reference to worship

that ancient Jewish religious tradition most clearly distinguished the unique one God from other beings, even those

described as "divine" and clothed with god-like attributes.  And I add in passing here that this makes the early readiness of monotheistic Christians to accommodate public cultic veneration of Jesus the most striking evidence that Christian devotion quickly constituted a significant innovation in Jewish exclusivist monotheism.



     I have suggested for a working principle that we should take as "monotheism" the religious beliefs and practices of people who describe themselves as monotheistic.  Otherwise, we implicitly import a definition from the sphere of theological polemics in an attempt to do historical analysis.  Protestants, for example, might find some forms of Roman Catholic or Orthodox piety involving the saints and the Virgin problematic forms of monotheism, and this might constitute a fully valid theological issue to be explored.  But scholars interested in historical analysis, I suggest, should take the various Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions as representing varying forms of Christian monotheism.  If we are to avoid a priori definitions and the imposition of our own theological judgments, we have no

choice but to accept as monotheism the religion of those who profess to be monotheists, however, much their religion varies and may seem "complicated" with other beings in addition to the one God.

     With reference to first-century Jewish tradition, then, two initial questions naturally arise.  Did Jews of the period

characteristically profess their religious commitment in monotheistic terms?  What was the monotheistic rhetoric they

used?  Fortunately, these are rather easy questions to answer, on account of the work of several other scholars who have given quite detailed attention to these matters.  I shall, therefore, restrict my discussion here to a few illustrations of ancient Jewish monotheistic rhetoric and point the reader to the studies in question for more full presentations of the evidence.

     I note in passing that monotheistic rhetoric, e.g., the use of heis and monos formulae in references to the divine, can be found in non-Jewish sources of the Greco-Roman period as well, as Erik Peterson has shown.<30>  But in religious practice, this pagan "monotheism" amounted to the recognition of all gods as expressions of one common divine essence or as valid second-order gods under a (often unknowable) high god, and, as such, as worthy of worship.  This was categorically different from the exclusivist monotheism of Jews who rejected the worship of beings

other than the one God of the Bible.<31>  That is, apparently "monotheistic" rhetoric may represent quite different conceptions and may be employed by people with quite different commitments and patterns of religious behavior.  We have here a dramatic example of the necessity of complimenting a study of religious rhetoric and concepts with adequate attention to religious practice in taking the measure of a religion.  But, before we turn to key religious practices of ancient Jews, we may consider evidence that they did express their faith emphatically in monotheistic rhetoric.

     In a lengthy article from 1955, Samuel Cohon surveyed references both in ancient Jewish and non-Jewish texts

illustrating Jewish self-affirmation and their identification by others in clearly monotheistic rhetoric.<32>  Of non-Jewish

writers, we may note Tacitus as an example: "the Jews acknowledge one God only, and conceive of Him by the mind alone,"<33> reflecting Jewish monotheism and rejection of cult images.  Among non-rabbinic texts of Jewish provenance, Cohon surveys affirmations of God's uniqueness in Sibylline Oracles ( 3:11 -12, 545-61; cf. 4:27-32; 5:172-76, 493-500), Aristeas (132-38), Wisdom of Solomon (13-15), and references in Philo (e.g., Quest.Gen. 4:8; Vit.Mos. 1:75; Decal. 52-81; Spec.Leg. 1:1-52; Leg.Alleg. 3:97-99, 436-38) and Josephus (e.g., Ant. 2.12:4;

Apion 2:33ff.).<34>

     We may also cite Ralph Marcus' frequently overlooked but very valuable compilation of theological vocabulary from Jewish Hellenistic texts (excluding Josephus and with only illustrative citations from Philo).<35>  Marcus' main point was to indicate the degree to which Greek-speaking Jews maintained traditional expressions for God and the degree to which they adopted religious and philosophical vocabulary of Greek literature. Marcus listed some 470 expressions, attributing about twenty-five percent as borrowed from Greek literary tradition, the remaining, overwhelming majority coming from the Greek Bible.<36>  Marcus' summary of the theological themes reflected in these expressions

shows the strongly monotheistic nature of concept of God they reflect.


God is variously represented as one and unique, as creator, ruler and king, residing in heaven, all-powerful, all-seeing, omniscient, as father of Israel, as savior, as judge, as righteous, terrible, merciful, benevolent and forbearing.<37>

     Marcus left Josephus out of his study because Schlatter had earlier devoted two publications to an in-depth analysis of Josephus' language and conception of God, showing Josephus' indebtedness and fidelity to the Jewish emphases on the uniqueness and sovereignty of the God of Israel.<38>  Schlatter's studies were supplemented by Shutt in an article investigating whether Josephus' ways of referring to and describing God "show any appreciable influence of Greek language and culture."<39> Though he concedes that Josephus' expressions show the influence upon him of non-Jewish terms and ideas (e.g., references to "Fate" and "Fortune"), Shutt concludes that "fundamental

theological principles of Judaism" remained dominant in Josephus' writings, including the belief in the sovereignty of the God of Israel over all.<40>

     H. J. Wicks conducted a still valuable study covering Jewish apocryphal and apocalyptic literature of the second-Temple period, analyzing the language and doctrine of God reflected therein.  He gave persuasive evidence of strong monotheistic beliefs throughout the period and of a lively religious sense of God's sovereignty and accessibility.<41>

     Surely the most wide-ranging analysis of second-Temple Jewish monotheistic rhetoric, however, is in the recent  dissertation by Paul Rainbow.<42>  Working from a database of 200 passages where he finds monotheistic expressions (including about twenty-five passages from the NT), Rainbow offers some sophisticated linguistic analysis of the "ten forms of explicit monotheistic speech" characteristic of Greco-Roman Jewish texts.<43>   These are: (1) phrases linking a divine title with adjectives such as "one," "only," sole, alone, etc.; (2) God pictured as monarch over all; (3) a divine title linked with "living" and/or "true"; (4) positive confessional formula, "Yahweh is God" etc.; (5) explicit denials of other gods; (6) the glory of God not transferable; (7) God described as without rival; (8) God referred to as incomparable; (9) scriptural passages used as expressions of monotheism, e.g., the Shema; (10) restrictions of worship to the one God.

     As the studies I have cited here lay out the data in considerable detail and can be consulted, it would be tedious to

burden this discussion with a host of additional references to the primary texts.  I submit that the religious rhetoric of

Greco-Roman Jewish texts indicates that Jews saw themselves as monotheists.  If their willingness to include other heavenly beings in their beliefs may cause problems for modern monistic or unitarian definitions of monotheism (as Hayman and Barker complain), the problem is in imposing such definitions.  If we follow the principle I advocate of taking people as monotheists who proclaim such a commitment, then ancient Jews must be seen as

characteristically monotheists.

     I suggest that there are two major themes or concerns that seem to come through in this monotheistic rhetoric.  I emphasize these two concerns here because I think that recognizing them helps us to get inside the rhetoric, so to speak, and also will help us in understanding better the significance of developments in Jewish monotheistic rhetoric toward the end of the period we are concerned with in this essay.<44>

     First, there is a concern to assert God's universal sovereignty.  This is reflected with particular frequency in

statements insisting that the one God created everything and rules over all, even nations that do not acknowledge this God. Even where spiritual powers of evil are pictured as opposing God, as is often the case in apocalyptic writings, their opposition is characteristically described as temporary, ultimately futile. Satan/Beliel/Mastema figures are rebellious servants of God, whose attempts to thwart God's will only serve it by exposing the wicked (who cooperate with evil) and by testing and proving the righteous (who oppose evil and remain true to God).

     Second, there is a concern to assert God's uniqueness, which is characteristically expressed by contrasting God with the other deities familiar to ancient Jews in the larger religious environment.  The classic ridicule of other gods and of the practice of worshipping images in Deutero-Isaiah (e.g., 40:18-20; 41:21-24; 45:20-21; 46:5-7) is echoed in texts of the Hellenistic and Roman periods (e.g., Wis., 13-15).  We may take Philo's comment in his discussion of the first commandment as representative of conscientious Jews of his time:


Let us, then, engrave deep in our hearts this as the first and most sacred of commandments; to acknowledge and honour one God who is above all, and let the idea that gods are many never even reach the ears of the man whose rule of life is to seek for truth in purity and guilelessness.<45>

     It is important to note that this concern for God's uniqueness also comes to expression in a contrast or distinction

between God and his loyal heavenly retinue, the angels.<46>  For example, angels can be distinguished as created beings from God who is uncreated.  In general, God is distinguished from the angels rhetorically by emphasizing that he is superior to them and is their master.  Even when we have a principal angel such as Yahoel who bears the divine name within him and in some sense may be taken thereby as "divine," as special vehicle of God's attributes (Apoc.Abr. 10:3-4, 8-17), the angel acts at the pleasure of God, and is finally a minister of God, an extension of the sovereignty of the one God.



     These two concerns, for God's sovereignty and uniqueness, are also manifested in the cultic/liturgical and larger

devotional behavior of practicing Jews in the Greco-Roman era. Indeed, these concerns come to most visible and characteristic expression in this area of religious practice, and it is here that Jewish (and Christian) religiousness was most sharply distinguished from other forms which may also have used "monotheistic"-sounding rhetoric.<47>  In our definition of first-century Jewish monotheism, I argue, we must go beyond religious rhetoric and attempts to define theological concepts, and recognize the importance of religious practice. We may begin by pointing to an obvious datum about which I assume there will be no controversy: at least in the Greek and Roman eras, Jerusalem Temple sacrifice was offered exclusively to the one God of Israel.  In other words, this central Jewish religious institution by its cultic practice reflects a strongly monotheistic orientation.<48>  For all the lofty ways patriarchs and angels were described in contemporary Jewish texts, there was no cultus to them, no evidence of them receiving liturgical honors in the Temple services.

     The Qumran texts show an apparent dissent from the administration of the Jerusalem Temple, but reflect no different

orientation of religious devotion.  The hymns (1QH) are sung to the one God.  The prayers are offered to the one God.  The Angel Liturgy shows an interest in the worship offered by the heavenly court, with the angels' worship as a pattern and inspiration for the earthly elect, but the angels are not objects of worship.<49>

     As to the nature of synagogue services, though recent studies caution us about reading too much of later material into the pre-70 C.E. period and suggest greater variety and flexibility than was later the case, nevertheless all available

evidence points to synagogue religious devotion focused on the one God and his Torah.<50>  The Nash Papyrus (second century BCE) gives evidence of the Decalogue and Shema, key traditional expressions of God's uniqueness, being used for instructional and/or liturgical purposes.<51>  Other texts suggest daily recitations of the Shema by at least some pious Jews of the Greco-Roman period, and there are wider indications of the impact of this classic monotheistic text on the devotional practices of Jews as shown in the use of tefillin and mezuzot and the custom

of daily prayers (e.g., Josephus, Ant. 4.212).<52>

     We have a good deal of material with which to form impressions of the patterns of Jewish prayer in the second-Temple period, as Charlesworth and Flusser have shown in helpful inventories of the evidence.<53>  Though the prayers recorded in the surviving texts may well be more rhetorically sophisticated than most spontaneous prayers of ordinary Jews of the time, it is likely that the basic pattern and themes are representative. Jewish readers were likely expected to see in these literary prayers only more eloquent expressions of the piety they shared

with the authors.

     In his study of the doctrine of God in non-canonical second-Temple texts, Wicks included special attention to the prayers of these writings.  Somewhat later, N. B. Johnson devoted a monograph to the prayers in these texts.  Both demonstrated that all the prayers in these writings are offered to the God of Israel alone.  Though angels may serve as bearers of prayers and as intercessors for humans (e.g., Tob. 12:11 -15), God is the object of prayers by humans and angels alike.<54>  As I have pointed out elsewhere, in those texts where angels figure prominently in the operation of God's sovereignty, God is the recipient of worship and the object of the prayers.<55>  We may also note Bauckham's study of apocalyptic passages in which a human recipient of a revelation initially mistakes for God the angel who delivers it and starts to offer the being worship, but is forbidden by the angel to proceed.<56>

     In the 1992 meeting of the SBL, Clinton Arnold presented a study of epigraphical evidence in an effort to determine the pattern of Jewish piety reflected in it, especially concerned with the role of angels.<57>   He grants that angels "figure prominently in the belief system" of the Jewish individuals or circles from which the inscriptions derive, and that angels are invoked for protection in an apotropaic manner.  But he emphasizes that the evidence does not indicate any organized devotional pattern in which Jews "gather regularly to adore, pray to, and worship angels."<58>  The inclusion of angels in rabbinic lists of prohibited objects of worship may be directed in part against such apotropaic invocations and against Jewish syncretistic dabbling in magical practices, as Mach suggests.<59> These prohibitions, however, hardly prove an actual Jewish angel cultus in operation.<60>

     In references to One God, One Lord, several scholars have demurred from my position that there is no evidence of organized devotion to angels or other figures among groups of devout Jews. Andrew Chester has recently alluded to the Life of Adam and Eve (13-16) and Joseph and Asenath (15:11-12) as possible references to such practices.<61>  But I find neither text persuasive.  The scene in Adam and Eve is surely laden with theological meaning, specifically the idea that humans are God's most favored creature, superior to the angels (cf. 1 Cor. 6:3), and that Satan's hostility to humans is rebellion against God.  But this etiological story of God's demand that the angels acknowledge the superior honor of the human creature as God's "image" hardly constitutes evidence that Jews actually offered worship to Adam.<62>  Chester's allusion to Joseph and Asenath, appears to ignore my observation that the mysterious angel who appears to Asenath in fact refuses to cooperate with her desire to offer him worship, which suggests that her request is to be taken as a misguided pagan response corrected by the angel.<63>

     Rainbow has pointed to Pseudo-Philo 13:6 (where God says, "The feast of Trumpets will be an offering for your watchers") as a possible hint of angel worship, but this is not the more plausible way to take the passage, as the translator in the Charlesworth edition indicates.<64>  Moreover, 34:2 makes it clear that the author regards sacrificing to (disobedient) angels as a forbidden practice of gentile magicians.<65>  Nor is there in fact any cogent evidence from Philo of prayer or worship being offered to figures other than God.<66>

     In short, the data largely represent faithful Jews expressing their scruples about worship and prayer to figures

other than God.<67>  We may have hints here of a concern that some Jews were not sufficiently faithful in maintaining a sharp distinction between the unique God of Israel and other figures, whether pagan gods or servants of the true God (a concern explicitly expressed in rabbinic criticism of "two powers" heretics).<68>  We certainly have evidence of faithful Jews attempting to maintain and strengthen a distinction between their monotheistic devotional pattern and the polytheistic pattern of the larger Greco-Roman world.  But we hardly have evidence of Jewish religious groups in which cultic/liturgical devotion to angels or patriarchs formed part of their open religious practice.

     The point I wish to emphasize is that all these data show how important cultic/liturgical practice was as an expression of monotheistic scruples.  Jews were quite willing to imagine beings who bear the divine name within them and can be referred to by one or more of God's titles (e.g., Yahoel or Melchizedek as elohim or, later, Metatron as yahweh ha-katon), beings so endowed with divine attributes as to make it difficult to distinguish them descriptively from God, beings who are very direct personal extensions of God's powers and sovereignty.  About this, there is

clear evidence.  This clothing of servants of God with God's attributes and even his name will seem "theologically very

confusing" if we go looking for a "strict monotheism" of relatively modern distinctions of "ontological status" between

God and these figures, and expect such distinctions to be expressed in terms of "attributes and functions."  By such

definitions of the term, Greco-Roman Jews seem to have been quite ready to accommodate various divine beings.<69>  The evidence we have surveyed here shows that it is in fact in the area of worship that we find "the decisive criterion" by which Jews maintained the uniqueness of God over against both idols and God's own deputies.  I may also add that the characteristic willingness of Greco-Roman Jews to endure the opprobrium of non-Jews over their refusal to worship the other deities, even to the point of martyrdom, seems to me to constitute a fairly "strict monotheism."<70>  Their strictness, however, was expressed more in cultic scruples rather than in a theological monism or the kind verbal and of conceptual distinctions modern scholars might more readily appreciate.

     To summarize this point, God's sovereignty was imagined as including many figures, some of them in quite prominent roles. There was a plurality in the operation of the divine as characteristically described by ancient Jews.  God was distinguished from other beings most clearly in this:  It is required to offer God worship; it is inappropriate to offer worship to any other.



     I propose that Jewish monotheism can be taken as constituting a distinctive version of the commonly-attested belief structure described by Nilsson as involving a "high god" who presides over other deities.<71>  The God of Israel presides over a court of heavenly beings who are likened to him (as is reflected in, e.g., the OT term for them "sons of God").  In pagan versions, too, the high god can be described as father and source of the other divine beings, and as utterly superior to them.<72>  In this sense, Jewish (and Christian) monotheism, whatever its distinctives, shows its historical links with the larger religious environment of the ancient world.  There are distinctives of the Jewish version, however, both in beliefs and, even more emphatically in religious practice.  As Nilsson has shown, in pagan versions often the high god is posited but not really known.  Indeed, in some cases (particularly in Greek philosophical traditions), it is emphasized that the high god cannot be known.  Accordingly, often one does not expect to relate directly to the high god or address this deity directly in worship or petition.<73>  In Greco-Roman Jewish belief, however, the high god is known as the God of Israel, whose ways and nature are revealed in the Scriptures of Israel .  Also, as the evidence of Jewish prayer and cultic practice surveyed above shows, Jews characteristically expected,

indeed felt obliged, to address their high God directly in prayer and worship.

     Moreover, in pagan versions, beliefs about a high god were not characteristically taken as demanding or justifying a cultic neglect of the other divine beings.  In Jewish religious practice, worship characteristically is restricted to the high

God alone.  This is not simply a religious preference; it is taken as an obligation, and failure to observe this obligation is

idolatry.  Philo, for example, urges his readers to avoid confusing the "satraps" with "the Great King" (Decal. 61-65),

when it comes to worship.      These constitute chief distinctives of the ancient Jewish understanding of the nature of the divine.  In basic structure, their view of the divine involved a principal deity distinguished from all other divine/heavenly beings, but characteristically accompanied by them, a "high-god" or "monarchial" theology not completely unlike other high-god beliefs of the ancient world. But in the identification of the high god specifically as the God revealed in the Bible, and, even more emphatically, in their characteristic reservation of worship to this one God, their religion demonstrates what we can call "exclusivist monotheism." Both in theology and in practice, Greco-Roman Jews demonstrate concerns for God's supremacy and uniqueness to an intensity and with a solidarity that seem to go far beyond anything else previous in the Greco-Roman world.

     Quite a lot could be accommodated in Jewish speculations about God's retinue of heavenly beings, provided that God's sovereignty and uniqueness were maintained.  I think that we may take it as likely that the glorious beings such as principal angels who attend God in ancient Jewish apocalyptic and mystical texts were intended by the authors very much as indicating God's splendor and majesty, and not as threatening or diminishing God in any way.  The greater and more glorious the high king, the greater and more glorious his ministers, particularly those charged with administering his kingdom.

     God's sovereignty was expressed and protected by portraying all spheres of creation and all the heavenly beings, even those temporarily "disobedient" (Satan/Beliel, demons, fallen angels) as inferior and subservient to God, ultimately within God's power.  God's uniqueness was characteristically manifested and protected in religious practice, by directing prayer (especially in the cultic/liturgical setting) and worship to God alone, withholding such devotion from any other heavenly being, including God's closest ministers and agents.

     In his study of rabbinic criticisms of "two powers" heresies, Alan Segal has identified two types of heresies attacked, and has suggested that one type was Jewish Christian reverence of Jesus and the other was gnostic speculation about a Demiurge creator-god.<74>  I think Segal is correct, and that the two developments in question were considered heretical because they were seen to challenge the two fundamental concerns of Jewish monotheism.  Gnostic speculations attributing the creation to a divine being other than the high god were likely taken as

constituting a severe diminishing of the universal sovereignty of God, removing from God's purposes and control the sensory world and human history.  Jewish-Christian reverence of the exalted Jesus in terms and actions characteristically reserved for God, as described in One God, One Lord,<75> though it was initially a "mutation" within Jewish monotheistic tradition, was a sufficiently distinctive variant form to have been seen by many non-Christian Jews as compromising the uniqueness of God in the important sphere of cultic action.  Whether there were other versions of such heresies that developed within the Jewish monotheistic tradition of the late first or early second century remains an intriguing but thus far debatable possibility.

     The reactions against the known "heresies" the rabbis had in mind, Jewish Christianity and Gnostic groups, may well have produced a hardening of rabbinic monotheism in the direction away from the more inclusive and monarchial monotheism and toward a more monistic or unitarian character in some rabbinic circles, as Dunn has suggested.  But, as Mach has recently argued, we should probably also allow for other (e.g., political) factors, in accounting for rabbinic unease with angel speculations.<76>  We should also recognize that interest in angels, including principal angels likened to God and closely associated with God, may have declined in some circles and in some periods, but was

active in some devout Jewish circles after the first century, as evidenced in 3 Enoch and other texts.  There were reactions against Christian and Gnostic developments, but it is not clear whether these reactions produced a significantly and widely-embraced modification of the fundamental shape of Jewish monotheistic belief and practice.  It does seem, however, that reaction against the Jewish Christian form of binitarian monotheism, involving devotion to God and to the exalted Christ, may have had the effect of making any other such programmatic binitarian development unacceptable thereafter.



     We may summarize this discussion of first-century Jewish monotheism in the following points.      


(1) Definitions of monotheism must be formed on the basis of the beliefs and practices of those who describe themselves in monotheistic terms.  This means that there will likely be varieties within and among monotheistic traditions, and that it is inappropriate for historical purposes to impose one definition or to use one definition as a standard of "strict" or "pure" monotheism in a facile manner.


(2) "First-century Jewish monotheism" represents the religious commitment to the universal sovereignty and uniqueness of the one God of Israel, a commitment widely expressed in religious rhetoric of Jewish texts of the entire second-Temple period and reflected also in the NT.


(3) This commitment to the one God of Israel accommodated a large retinue of heavenly beings distinguished from God more in degree than kind as to their attributes, some of these beings portrayed as in fact sharing quite directly in God's powers and even his name.  The monotheism of ancient Jews was thus characteristically "monarchial" and may be seen as a significant adaptation of the "high god" belief structure of the ancient world.  Among God's entourage, there is often a particular principal agent or vizier, who can be likened to God in appearance, name and attributes/functions.  This too was not apparently seen as a problem, for the principal agent was not characteristically given cultic devotion.  Early Christian cultic devotion to Christ alongside God, though indebted conceptually to pre-Christian Jewish traditions of principal agent figures, apparently represents an extraordinary adaptation of Jewish monotheistic tradition.<77>  


(4) In their own eyes, early Christians offered cultic devotion to Christ in obedience to the one God and saw their binitarian devotion as legitimate, indeed, required. As, however, rabbinic authorities sought to consolidate Judaism in the post-70 C.E. period, they succeeded more effectively in identifying the Jewish-Christian binitarian adaptation as an unacceptable form of Jewish monotheistic tradition.


(5) There are distinguishing features of Greco-Roman Jewish monotheism, over against the more prevalent religious structures of the ancient world.  There are theological distinctives:  The high god has in fact revealed himself in Scripture, is known and can be characterized, and can and must be approached quite directly in prayer and worship.  There are additional important distinctives in scruples about religious practice:  Worship is restricted to the one God and it is forbidden to offer devotion to other beings, even God's own glorious angelic ministers. First-century Jewish monotheism was, thus, an exclusivist, monarchial view of God, manifested particularly in "orthopraxy" in cultic/liturgical matters.



<1>  I gratefully acknowledge a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada .


<2>  A. E. Harvey, Jesus and the Constraints of History (Philadelphia:  Westminster Press, 1982), 157.


<3>  Ibid.


<4> Ibid.


<5>  P. M. Casey, From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God:  The Origins and Development of New Testament Christology ( Louisville : Westminster Press/John Knox Press; Cambridge :  James Clarke & Co. , 1991).


<6>  Ibid., 36. And see, e.g., 138, 144, 156.


<7>  For a critique, see J. D. G. Dunn, "The Making of Christology--Evolution or Unfolding?" in the forthcoming

Festschrift for I. H. Marshall edited by M. M. B. Turner.  I limit myself here to observing that Casey's attempt to explain

the development of christology purely on the basis of the changing social makeup of early Christianity rests too heavily upon two dubious notions.  (1) He assumes that Gentiles Christians were automatically less concerned about monotheistic commitment, an assumption Casey could have avoided by studying the literature of second-century Gentile Christians, who often seem more concerned about monotheism than christology.  See, e.g., Joseph Lortz, "Das Christentum als Monotheismus in den Apologien des zweiten Jahrhunderts," in Beitrge zur Geschichte des christlichen Altertums und der byzantinischen Literatur: Festgabe Albert Ehrhard, ed. A. M. Koeniger ( Bonn :  Kurt Schroeder, 1922), 301-27.  (2) His claim that a Gentile-dominated new religious movement would have had to deify its identification-figure (in this case, Jesus) in order to provide sufficient cohesiveness for itself, is refuted by the example of

Islam, which felt no need to deify its central revealer-figure, yet quickly acquired a quite adequate cohesion!


<8> Ibid., 85.


<9>  J. D. G. Dunn, "Was Christianity a Monotheistic Faith from the Beginning?" SJT 35(1982), 303-36.  The two questions are posed on p. 307.


<10>  See J. D. G. Dunn, Christology in the Making:  An Inquiry into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation ( London : SCM; Philadelphia :  Westminster Press, 1980); id., "Foreword to the Second Edition," Christology in the Making (2nd ed.; London : SCM, 1989), where Dunn explicitly indicates how his views have been shaped in the years since 1980.  And see also id., The Partings of the Ways between Christianity and Judaism and their Significance for the Character of Christianity ( London :  SCM, 1991), esp. chaps. 9-11.


<11>  E.g., Dunn, "Was Christianity a Monotheistic Faith," 321- 22.


<12>  Cf. ibid., 322; id., "Foreword," xxiv, xxviii-xxix.


<13>  Dunn, "Was Christianity a Monotheistic Faith," 322.


<14> Ibid.


<15>  Dunn, "Foreword," xxviii-xxix.  See also Dunn, Partings, 223-25 and 228, where he locates problematic developments in Jewish monotheism from mystical and apocalyptic groups within the period 70-132 C.E.  Dunn takes the rabbinic criticisms of "two powers" heretics as evidence that such developments were perceived as unacceptable "strains" in monotheism.


<16>  This emphasis is evident in Christology in the Making (1980) and in his 1982 essay, "Was Christianity a Monotheistic Faith."


<17>  See Dunn, Partings, 219-20, where he notes that the "clear and uninhibited worship of the Lamb" in Revelation 5 represents a significant abandonment of typical monotheistic "inhibitions" and, along with the theophanic portrayal of Christ in the visions of Revelation, shows that the "constraints of monotheism previously observed were beingchallenged".  In chapter 10 of Partings (204-6), Dunn interacts with my argument that such cultic veneration of Jesus was the decisive Christian innovation in Jewish monotheistic religion, granting that the worship of Jesus was significant but questioning whether it developed as early and as quickly as I have suggested.  Cf. L. W. Hurtado, One God, One Lord, esp. chap. 5 (93-124).  Though I agree that there was likely growth in the intensity of cultic/liturgical devotion offered to Jesus in the early Christian groups, I think that the initial steps in the cultic veneration of Jesus were more significant than Dunn appears to grant, and more rapidly constituted a significant innovation in Jewish monotheistic practice.  In a critique of Casey, Dunn affirms my emphasis on the early origins of devotion to Christ as important ("The Making of Christology:  Evolution or Unfolding?" forthcoming in the Festschrift for I. H. Marshall edited by Max Turner).


<18>  Peter Hayman, "Monotheism--A Misused Word in Jewish Studies?" JJS 42(1991), 1-15; Margaret Barker, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel 's Second God (London:  SPCK, 1992).


<19>  Hayman, 2.


<20> Ibid., 14.


<21>  This is emphasized also by C. R. A. Morray-Jones, "Transformational Mysticism in the Apocalyptic-Merkabah Tradition,"  JJS 43(1992), 1-31; id., "The Body of Glory: Shiur Qomah and Transformational Mysticism in the Epistle to the Ephesians," unpublished paper presented at the 1992 meeting of the SBL Consultation on Mediator Figures in Greco-Roman Jewish and Christian Religion.  I am grateful for his discussions but not always persuaded by his attempts to push for very early dating of the traditions and by the inferences in the direction of di-theism he sometimes draws from the evidence.


<22>  Barker, xiii.


<23>  I have expressed some more specific criticisms in a brief review of Barker's book in Theology 96(July/August 1993), 319-20. Of course, Morton Smith had sketched a case for a survival of pre-Exilic "syncretistic" Israelite religion into the post-Exilic period, but he seems to have thought that it had essentially waned by the first century C.E., except for possible traces in Jewish magical materials (Smith, Palestinian Parties and Politics that Shaped the Old Testament [ London :  SCM, 1987 reprint of the 1971 edition], esp. chap. 4.  A good deal of recent scholarly study of pre-exilic Israelite religion concludes that it was not monotheistic in that period but became so only after the exile. See, e.g., Mark S. Smith, The Early History of God.


<24> Barker, 1-3.


<25>  Barker refers to a "hidden agenda" and "an alliance between Jewish and Protestant scholars" whose purpose is "to emphasize the humanness of Jesus and to show that his 'divinity' was a later development and an unfortunate one at that," which she sets out to refute (p. 1).  Hayman says, "The fact that functionally Jews believed in the existence of two gods explains the speed with which Christianity developed so fast in the first century towards the divinization of Jesus" (14), but does not have the same stridently polemical tone and his discussion does seem so driven by this view.


<26>  In this limited survey, I have not dealt with the suggestion of Christopher Rowland that in second-Temple Jewish

tradition there had developed a speculation about a bifurcation of the divine involving God and his personified glory.  Fossum seems to take a somewhat similar view.  Traditions about the divine glory (and the divine name) are certainly important, but I do not find Rowland's or Fossum's case for a bifurcation of God convincing.  See my discussion of their views in One God, One Lord, 85-90.  On the divine glory, see now esp. Carey C. Newman, Paul's Glory-Christology:  Tradition and Rhetoric (NovTSup, 69; Leiden :  Brill, 1992).


<27>  Early in his essay Hayman says, "I do not intend to proceed here by setting up a model definition of monotheism and then assessing the Jewish tradition against this yardstick."  But then he proceeds to do exactly this in my judgment, in imposing such things as a doctrine of creatio ex nihilo as a requirement of true monotheism (3-4), and in making the question turn on whether ancient Jews were "truly monistic" (2).


<28>  Hurtado, One God, One Lord, passim.


<29>  Ibid., chap. 4.  See R. Bauckham's study of this motif of confusing angels with God:  "The Worship of Jesus in apocalyptic Christianity," NTS 27(1980-81), 322-41.


<30>  Erik A. G. Peterson, Heis Theos:  Epigraphische, formgeschichtliche und religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen (FRLANT, 24; Gttingen:  Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1926).  Morton Smith has drawn attention to the same sort of honorific rhetoric, exalting one deity above all others and even calling one deity the "only" god, across the ancient period of the Near East in "The Common Theology of the Ancient Near East," JBL 71(1952), 135-47.


<31>  See, e.g., my brief discussion of the question and references to other literature in One God, One Lord, 129-30;

Yehoshua Amir, "Die Begegnung des biblischen und des philosophischen Monotheismus als Grundthema des jdischen

Hellenismus," Evangelische Theologie 38(1978), 2-19; id., "Der jdische Eingottglaube als Stein des Anstoaes in der

hellenistisch-rmischen Welt," Jahrbuch fr biblische Theologie 2(1987), 58-75.  See also Erik Peterson's discussion of the interaction between pagan, Jewish and Christian forms of monotheistic conceptions and political ideas in the ancient world, in Der Monotheismus als politisches Problem: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der politischen Theologie im Imperium Romanum (Leipzig:  Jakob Hegner, 1935).  For a general introduction to pagan and Jewish conceptions of the divine, see R. M. Grant, Gods and the One God (Philadelphia:  Westminster Press, 1986).


<32>  Samuel S. Cohon, "The Unity of God:  A Study in Hellenistic and Rabbinic Theology," HUCA 26(1955), 425-79.


<33>  Tacitus, Histories 5.3, cited in Cohon, 429.


<34> Ibid., esp. 428-38.


<35>  Ralph Marcus, "Divine Names and Attributes in Hellenistic Jewish Literature," Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 1931-32, 43-120.


<36> Ibid., esp. 47-48.


<37> Ibid., 48.


<38>  Adolf Schlatter, Wie sprach Josephus von Gott? (BFCT, 1/14; Gtersloh:  Bertelsmann, 1910); id., Die Theologie des Judentums nach dem Bericht des Josefus (BFCT, 2/26; Gtersloh: Bertelsmann, 1932).


<39>  R. J. H. Shutt, "The Concept of God in the works of Flavius Josephus," JJS 31(1980), 171-87.  The quotation is from p. 172.


<40>  Ibid., 185-86.


<41>  Henry J. Wicks, The Doctrine of God in the Jewish Apocryphal and Apocalyptic Literature ( London :  Hunter &

Longhurst, 1915).


<42>  Paul A. Rainbow, "Monotheism and Christology in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6," (Oxford, D.Phil. diss., 1987).  See also id., "Jewish Monotheism as the Matrix for New Testament Christology: A Review Article," NovT 33(1991), 78-91, esp. 81-83 for an abbreviated citation of evidence from his dissertation.


<43>  Ibid., esp. chap. 4.  The 200 passages are listed in Appendix 1 (228-86).  They include some from the OT and NT, but are mainly drawn from extra-canonical Jewish documents, with only token citations of Philo and Josephus.


<44>  For a recent discussion of Jewish monotheistic commitment, see E. P. Sanders, Judaism:  Practice and Belief 63 BCE--66 CE (London:  SCM; Philadelphia:  Trinity Press International, 1992), esp. 241-51.


<45>  Philo, Decal., 65.  On Philo, see now Folker Siegert, Philon von Alexandrien:  ber Gottesbezeichnung "wohlttig

verzehrendes Feuer" (WUNT, 46; Tbingen:  Mohr-Siebeck, 1988), who offers a fresh study of a less well used text from Philo.  In line 57 of the text, Philo describes the God of Israel as the basis of all existence ("autos monos estin").


<46>  See now Michael Mach, Entwicklungsstadien des jdischen Engelglaubens in vorrabinischer Zeit (TSAJ, 34; Tbingen:  Mohr-Siebeck, 1992) for an analysis of material from biblical texts through Josephus and other Greco-Roman evidence.  I have not yet had a chance to examine Saul M. Olyan's, A Thousand Thousands Served Him:  Exegesis and the Naming of Angels in Ancient Judaism (TSAJ, 36; Tbingen:  Mohr-Siebeck, 1993), in which he emphasizes the Jewish creative exegetical use of the OT as a source for naming and ranking of God's angelic entourage.


<47>  This point is made persuasively by Amir, "Die Begegnung," (note 31 above).  "In diesem Sinne mchte ich die Monolatrie nicht nur, wie blich, als eine Vorstufe, sondern geradezu als den eignentlichen religsen Kern des biblischen Monotheismus bezeichnen" (4).  On Jewish devotional practice in general, see now E. P. Sanders, esp. 195-209.  Older studies include Adolf Bchler, Types of Jewish-Palestinian Piety from 70 B.C.E. to 70 C.E.:  The Ancient Pious Men ( Jews College Publications, 8; London: Jews College , 1922), whose rather uncritical handling of rabbinic traditions will now be questioned, but whose study is still worth noting, esp. for his discussion of the piety of the

Psalms of Solomon (128-95).  Schlatter, Die Theologie des Judentums nach dem Bericht des Josefus, includes a lengthy chapter on "Die Frommigkeit" reflected in Josephus (96-158).


<48>  As I have elsewhere pointed out, whatever the pattern of cultic devotion at Elephantine , the material is hardly

characteristic of the Jewish population of the Greco-Roman period an  is in any case too early to be of direct relevance.  See my One God, One Lord, 144 n. 83.  


<49>  Carol Newsom, Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice:  A Critical Edition (HSS, 27; Atlanta:  Scholars Press, 1985).  And see my comments and references to additional literature in One God, One Lord, 84-85.


<50>  For a helpful review of recent scholarship on the early synagogue service, see now Paul Bradshaw, The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship (London:  SPCK, 1992), 1-29.


<51>  See W. F. Albright, "A Biblical Fragment of the Maccabean Age:  The Nash Papyrus,"  JBL 56(1937), 145-76.


<52>  See Sanders, 196-97, for further discussion and for additional references.


<53>  James H. Charlesworth, "A Prolegomena to a New Study of the Jewish Background of the Hymns and Prayers in the New Testament," JJS 33(1982), 265-85; id., "Jewish Hymns, Odes, and Prayers (ca. 167 B.C.E.--135 C.E.)," in R. A. Kraft & G. W. E. Nickelsburg, eds., Early Judaism and its Modern Interpreters ( Atlanta : Scholars Press, 1986), 411-36.  See also David Flusser, "Psalms, Hymns and Prayers," in M. E. Stone, ed., Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period (Assen: Van Gorcum; Philadelphia :  Fortress Press, 1984), 551-77.


<54>  Wicks, esp. 122-29; N. B. Johnson, Prayer in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha: A Study of the Jewish Concept of God (SBLMS, 2; Philadelphia :  Society of Biblical Literature, 1948).  In light of the renewed interest in extra-canonical texts in recent decades, the availability of fresh translations, analyses and studies of them, and the increase in available materials since Wicks and Johnson (e.g., the Qumran texts), it is high time for a fresh and full-scale analysis of the prayers in Jewish second- Temple writings.  Agneta Enermalm-Ogawa, Un langage de prire

juif en grec:  Le tmoinage des deux premiers livres des Maccabes (ConBib, NT 17; Uppsala:  Almquist & Wiksell, 1987), studies the prayers in 1-2 Maccabees, arguing that they witness early developments in synagogue prayers.


<55>  One God, One Lord, esp. 24-27.


<56>  Bauckham, "The Worship of Jesus," (n. 29 above).  The key texts are Apoc.Zeph. 6:15 ; Ascen.Isa. 7:21-22; Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9.


<57>  Clinton E. Arnold , "Mediator Figures in Asia Minor : Epigraphic Evidence," unpublished paper presented at the SBL Consultation on Jewish and Christian Mediator Figures in Greco-Roman Antiquity, San Francisco , November 1992.


<58>  Ibid., 21.  See also his conclusions, 26-27.


<59>  Mach, 291-300.


<60>  See my discussion of these prohibitions in One God, One Lord, 31-32.  Whatever one makes of the rabbinic passages, their late date makes them questionable evidence for first-century Jewish religion.


<61>  Andrew Chester, "Jewish Messianic Expectations and Mediatorial Figures and Pauline Christology," in Paulus und das antike Judentum, eds. M. Hengel, U. Heckel (WUNT, 58; Tbingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1991), 17-89, esp. 64.  Chester does not give the exact passages but I presume these are the ones which he intended.


<62>  Cf. David Steenberg, "The Worship of Adam and Christ as the Image of God," JSNT 39(1990), 77-93.  Steenberg proposes that the idea of Adam being/bearing the image of God could have been taken as justifying worship of Adam, but admits that there is no evidence that Jews reached this conclusion and actually practiced such devotion to Adam.


<63>  See One God, One Lord, 81, 84.


<64>  Rainbow, "Jewish Monotheism as the Matrix," 83.  Cf. Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2:321 n. "e", at Pseudo-Philo 13:6.


<65>  The Midianite magician works miracles by the aid of fallen angels "for he had been sacrificing to them for a long time" (Pseudo-Philo 34:2).  This tells us how the author explained the feats of gentile magicians but is hardly evidence of a Jewish devotion to angels!


<66>  Cf. F. Gerald Downing's curious claim that in de Somn. 1.163-64 "Philo clearly takes [Abraham's appeal in Gen. 28:21] as 'prayer', addressed to the Word . . ." has no basis in this passage (cf. "Ontological Asymmetry in Philo and Christological Realism in Paul, Hebrews and John," JTS 41[1990],440 n. 28).  The Logos is not even mentioned here.  Philo takes Abraham as requesting God to be to him "bestower of kindness" and not merely "ruler".  Philo's deliberately rhetorical invocation of the "Sacred Guide" (hierophanta) in de Somn. 164 is not addressed to the Logos, but may allude to Moses in his role as great teacher of true religion who works through his sacred writings. Downing's citation of de Abr. 127 and Gig. 54 are likewise puzzling.  Neither in fact offers any historical evidence for worship directed to any being but God.  Philo merely makes distinctions between inferior and superior understandings of the nature of God, and, in somewhat elitist sounding language, claims that few of humankind achieve a higher perception of God.


<67>  Sanders (245-46) discusses Josephus' reference to Essene prayer practices connected with the rising sun (War 2:128, 148), concluding that "the Essenes really offered prayer to the sun". Solar symbolism was certainly widespread in both non-Jewish and Jewish religion, but I doubt that Josephus is to be taken as Sanders does.  But cf. Marc Philonenko, "Prire au soleil et liturgie anglique," in La littrature intertestamentaire, Colloque de Strasbour (17-19 Octobre 1983) "Bibliotheque des centres e'tude suprieures spcialiss" (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1985), 221-28 (I thank W. Horbury for this reference).  On Christian appropriation of solar symbolism, see the classic study by Franz J. Dlger, Sol Salutis:  Gebet und Gesang im christlichen Altertum, mit besonderer Rcksicht auf die

Ostung in Gebet und Liturgie (Mnster:  Aschendorffschen Verlagbuchhandlung, 1925).  On the use of solar images (and other motifs) in ancient Jewish synagogues, see Elias Bickerman, "Symbolism in the Dura Synagogue," in Studies in Jewish and Christian History:  Part Three (Leiden:  Brill, 1986), 225-44 (critical of Goodenough's interpretation); and now Rachel Hachlili, Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology in the Land of Israel (Handbuch der Orientalistik; Leiden:  Brill, 1988).


<68>  See Alan F. Segal, Two Powers in Heaven:  Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism (SJLA, 25; Leiden : Brill, 1977).  


<69>  Part of the problem in estimating what Jews made of heavenly beings other than God "ontologically" is that scholars tend to employ distinctions and assumptions formed by Christian theological/philosophical tradition.  For a helpful critique of such anachronism and an illustration of the much wider and more complex semantic field represented by "divine" and "god" in ancient Greek, see S. R. F. Price, "Gods and Emperors:  The Greek Language of the Roman Imperial Cult," Journal of Hellenic Studies 104(1984), 79-95.


<70>  In this paragraph, I lift phrasing from Chester, 64-65, whose otherwise very helpful essay shows here a failure to

appreciate these points adequately.


<71>  M. P. Nilsson, "The High God and the Mediator," HTR 56(1963), 101-20.


<72>  Smith, "The Common Theology of the Ancient Near East," shows that such conceptions and rhetoric are quite old and widespread.


<73>  Nilsson, 110-11, 115-16.


<74>  Segal, Two Powers in Heaven (see n. 68 above).


<75>  One God, One Lord, esp. chap. 5, "The Early Christian Mutation."


<76>  Mach, esp. 300-32.


<77>  Rainbow ("Jewish Monotheism as the Matrix," 88 n. 22) seems to me to overestimate the ease with which cultic devotion to a divine agent figure could be seen as logical and acceptable in the Greco-Roman Jewish tradition.  The arrival of a hoped-for figure would not so readily produce cultic devotion to him. Rainbow's larger problem lying behind his argument is the view that there can in fact be no such thing as religious innovation, a notion falsified by the history of religions (cf. Rainbow, "Jewish Monotheism as the Matrix," 86-87).