Divine Name and “your God” Texts for Exalted Agents

Posted by David Barron January - 15 - 2010 - Friday 1 COMMENT

The New Testament authors’ application of Old Testament passage about God or others to Christ is not uncommon.  I discussed this with moderate detail in God and Christ.  When the second edition is complete (this is still some time away) I intend to explore this in greater detail (as with most every topic discussed, along with a host of others not).   One early Jewish text highlighted in the book on a couple of occasions is 11Q13, The Coming of Melchizedek.

As I did not spend any significant time developing the concept of agency or focus on too many extra-biblical passages where others are granted the appellation “g/God” outside of the Bible, a couple of significant portions of 11Q13 deserve mention.  This is especially important for those who have not had the opportunity to read this document and consider the implications of early Jewish interpretation on the outlook the New Testament authors carried in writing about Jesus.  Consider the following, written about the heavenly Melchizedek, whom many scholars identify with Michael the archangel.

“as is written about him in the songs of David, who said: Elohim will stand up in the assem[bly of God,] in the midst of the gods he judges.” 11Q13 2:9-10

This portion of text, highlighted in God and Christ, is significant for demonstrating the acceptable nature of applying passages to certain key individuals when the text had originally referenced God.  Further demonstrated is the allowance of calling certain others God when they were exalted and appointed by the Almighty to be so termed.  Finally, we find God’s ability and willingness to assign certain divine prerogatives to his agents without contradicting the notion of their uniqueness to him.

“And about him he said: Above it return to the heights, God will judge the peoples.” 11Q13 2:10-11

There is no doubt that “God” in the above is Melchizedek.  Not only is he the God judging from Psalm 82:1, but this is something said “about him.”  Most significantly, “God” is here in place of the divine name Jehovah from Psalm 7:7-8.  Either the name is attributed to Melchizdek as God’s exalted agent in judgment, or the substituted “God” carries the term’s traditional meaning and is understood in that way apart from the original reference.  Either interpretation is significant to the Christology presented in the New Testament, for it demonstrates such application without equating Jehovah in the original text with the new referent.

Just as important is the following:

“in truth […] […] it has been turned away from Belial and it […] […] in the judgments of God, as is written about him: Saying to Zion, ‘your God rules’.  [Zi]on is [the congregation of all the sons of justice, those] who establish the covenant, those who avoid walking [on the pa]th of the people.  Your God is [… Melchizedek, who will fr]ee [them] from the hand of Belial.  And as for what he said: You shall blow the hor[n in every] land.”  11Q13 2:21-25

As Thomas could identify Jesus as ‘his God’ (John 20:28), Melchizedek was ‘their God.’  He stood appointed by God over them, he was his agent and so bore the identification.

This one document provides significant insight into the early Jewish mind when contemplating exalted agents and the application of Jehovah’s name, titles and prerogatives to them.  To simply appeal to Old Testament divine name texts in the New Testament with reference to Jesus is not persuasive.  Neither is the display Jesus carrying out God’s unique prerogatives.   As Jesus’ exalted name, position and authority are given to him by God, closely corresponding to early exalted divine agents and not Trinitarian theology.