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Jewish and Christian Cosmogony in Late Antiquity
 3161519930, 9783161519932

Table of contents :
Preface
Table of Contents
Abbreviations
In the Beginning: Cosmogony in Late Antiquity • LANCE JENOTT AND SARIT KATTAN GRIBETZ
Part I: Scripture and Interpretation
Made to Order: Creation in Jubilees • JAMES C. VANDERKAM
The Rabbinic Ban on Ma 'aseh Bereshit: Sources, Contexts and Concerns • YAIR FURSTENBERG
Constructing a Christian Universe: Mythological Exegesis of Ben Sira 24 and John's Prologue in the Gospel of Truth • GEOFFREY S. SMITH
Part II: Theology and Anthropology
The Emergence of Monotheistic Creation Theology in Hellenistic Judaism • MAREN R. NIEHOFF
The Archangel Michael in Ophite Creation Mythology • TUOMAS RASIMUS
Constant Creation: (Pro)creation in Palestinian Rabbinic Midrashim • GWYNN KESSLER
Corpus Hermeticum, Tractate III: The Genesis of a Genesis • CHRISTIAN WILDBERG
Part III: Pedagogy and Ethics
Moses the Pedagogue: Procopius, Philo, and Didymus on the Pedagogy of the Creation Account • RICHARD A. LAYTON
“Humanity came to be according to three essential types”: Anthropogony and Ethical Responsibility in the Tripartite Tractate • ALEXANDER KOCAR
Recovering Adam's Lost Glory: Nag Hammadi Codex II in its Egyptian Monastic Environment • LANCE JENOTT
Part IV: Space and Ritual
Rock Over Water: Pre-Historic Rocks and Primordial Waters from Creation to Salvation in Jerusalem • NAOMI KOLTUN-FROMM
Darkness Upon the Abyss: Depicting Cosmogony in Late Antiquity • MIKA AHUVIA
The Ritualization of Creation in Jewish and Christian Liturgical Texts from Late Antiquity • OPHIR MUNZ MANOR
Bibliography
Contributors
Reference Index
Subject Index

Citation preview

Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism Texte und Studien zum Antiken Judentum Edited by Peter Schäfer (Princeton, NJ/Berlin) Annette Yoshiko Reed (Philadelphia, PA) Seth Schwartz (New York, NY) Azzan Yadin-Israel (New Brunswick, NJ)

155

Jewish and Christian Cosmogony in Late Antiquity Edited by

Lance Jenott and Sarit Kattan Gribetz

Mohr Siebeck

Lance Jenott, born 1980, is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Oslo. He studied History, Classics, and Religion at the University of Washington (Seattle) and Princeton University, and holds a PhD in the Religions of Late Antiquity from Princeton University. Sarit Kattan Gribetz, born 1984, is a post-doctoral fellow at the Jewish Theological Seminary and Harvard University. She studied Religion, Jewish Studies, and Classics at Princeton University, where she earned an AB and PhD in the Religions of Late Antiquity.

978-3-16-158725-2 Unveränderte eBook-Ausgabe 2019

ISBN 978-3-16-151993-2 ISSN 0721-8753 (Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism)

Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliographie; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at http://dnb.dnb.de. © 2013 by Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, Germany, www.mohr.de This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form (beyond that permitted by copyright law) without the publisher's written permission. This applies particularly to reproductions, translations, microfilms and storage and processing in electronic systems. The book was printed on non-aging paper by Guide-Druck in Tübingen and bound by Großbuchbinderei Spinner in Ottersweier. Printed in Germany.

Preface This volume presents essays that emerged from a colloquium on the topic of cosmogony (the creation of the world) among ancient Jews and Christians held at Princeton University in May 2010. Funding for the program was generously provided by Princeton's Department of Religion, Program in Judaic Studies, and Program in the Ancient World. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to Peter Schäfer, under whose guidance the colloquium took shape. We would also like to thank the other faculty of Princeton's Religions of Late Antiquity program for their support: John Gager, Martha Himmelfarb, AnneMarie Luijendijk and Elaine Pagels. Baru Saul provided expert administrative assistance that made the colloquium a great success, and we thank her deeply. The staff of the Religion Department - Lorraine Fuhrmann, Pat Bogdziewicz, Kerry Smith, Mary Kay Bodnar and Jeff Guest - should be recognized for their devotion and hard work. Many thanks to Mika Ahuvia, Abraham Berkovitz, Jonathan Gribetz, David Grossberg, Alex Kocar, and Geoff Smith for proofreading drafts of the essays, and especially to Ginny Clark for providing invaluable aid with the indices. Finally, we thank Henning Ziebritzki, Katharina Stichling, Tanja Idler and Susanne Mang at Mohr Siebeck for their care in seeing the volume through the press. Citations throughout the volume adhere closely to the SBL Handbook of Style (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999). Princeton, New Jersey, 2013

Lance Jenott Sarit Kattan Gribetz

Table of Contents Preface Table of Contents Abbreviations

V VII IX

LANCE JENOTT AND SARIT KATTAN GRIBETZ

In the Beginning: Cosmogony in Late Antiquity

1

Part I: Scripture and Interpretation JAMES C . V A N D E R K A M

Made to Order: Creation in Jubilees

23

YAIR FURSTENBERG

The Rabbinic Ban on Ma 'aseh Bereshit: Sources, Contexts and Concerns

39

GEOFFREY S. SMITH

Constructing a Christian Universe: Mythological Exegesis of Ben Sira 24 and John's Prologue in the Gospel of Truth

64

Part II: Theology and Anthropology M A R E N R . NIEHOFF

The Emergence of Monotheistic Creation Theology in Hellenistic Judaism

85

TUOMAS RASIMUS

The Archangel Michael in Ophite Creation Mythology

107

GWYNN KESSLER

Constant Creation: (Pro)creation in Palestinian Rabbinic Midrashim ... 126

VIII

Table of

Contents

CHRISTIAN WILDBERG

Corpus Hermeticum, Tractate III: The Genesis of a Genesis

139

Part III: Pedagogy and Ethics RICHARD A . LAYTON

Moses the Pedagogue: Procopius, Philo, and Didymus on the Pedagogy of the Creation Account 167 ALEXANDER KOCAR

"Humanity came to be according to three essential types": Anthropogony and Ethical Responsibility in the Tripartite Tractate .... 193 LANCE JENOTT

Recovering Adam's Lost Glory: Nag Hammadi Codex II in its Egyptian Monastic Environment 222

Part IV: Space and Ritual NAOMI KOLTUN-FROMM

Rock Over Water: Pre-Historic Rocks and Primordial Waters from Creation to Salvation in Jerusalem

239

MIKA AHUVIA

Darkness Upon the Abyss: Depicting Cosmogony in Late Antiquity .... 255 OPHIR MUNZ MANOR

The Ritualization of Creation in Jewish and Christian Liturgical Texts from Late Antiquity 271 Bibliography

287

Contributors Index of References Index of Subjects

311 313 328

Abbreviations AB ABR ACCS AGJU AJSR ANF ANRW APF ArBib BBA BCNH BZ BZAW CBQ CCSG CP CSCO DJD DSD DSSR FC GCS GRBS HeyJ HR HTR HUCA JAJ JBL JECS JEH JJS JJTP JQR JR JSJ JSJSup JSQ MHR

Anchor Bible Australian Biblical Review Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture Arbeiten zur Geschichte des antiken Judentums und des Urchristentums Association for Jewish Studies Review Ante-Nicene Fathers (ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson) Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt (ed. H. Temporini and W. Haase) Archiv für Papyrusforschung Aramaic Bible Series Berliner byzantinistische Arbeiten Bibliothèque copte de Nag Hammadi Biblische Zeitschrift Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fur die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft Catholic Biblical Quarterly Corpus Christianorum: Series graeca Classical Philology Corpus scriptorum christianorum orientalium Discoveries in the Judaean Desert Dead Sea Discoveries Dead Sea Scrolls Reader Fathers of the Church Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies Heythrop Journal History of Religions Harvard Theological Review Hebrew Union College Annual Journal of Ancient Judaism Journal of Biblical Literature Journal of Early Christian Studies Journal of Ecclesiastical History Journal of Jewish Studies Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy Jewish Quarterly Review Journal of Religion Journal for the Study of Judaism Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism Jewish Studies Quarterly Mediterranean Historical Review

X NHMS NHS NovT NovTSup NRSV NTS PEQ PG POC OrChrAn OTL OTP RE REG REJ RHR RSR SA SAC SBLDS SBLSymS SBLWGRW SBT SC SHR SJLA SPhilo ST StOR SVF TSAJ VC WUNT WZKM ZPE

Abbreviations Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies Nag Hammadi Studies Novum Testamentum Supplements to Novum Testamentum New Revised Standard Version New Testament Studies Palestine Exploration Quarterly Patrologia graeca = Patrologiae cursus completus: Series graeca (ed. J.-P. Migne; 162 vols. Paris, 1857-1886) Proche-Orient Chrétien Orientalia Christiana analecta Old Testament Library The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (ed. J. Charlesworth; 2 vols.) Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft (ed. A. F. Pauly; Stuttgart, 1893-1957) Revue des études grecques Revue des études juives Revue de l'histoire des religions Recherches de science religieuse Studia anselmiana Studies in Antiquity and Christianity Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series Society of Biblical Literature Symposium Series Society of Biblical Literature Writings from the Greco-Roman World Studies in Biblical Theology Sources chrétiennes Studies in the History of Religions (supplement to Numen) Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity Studia philonica Studia theologica Studies in Oriental Religions Stoicorum veterum fragmenta (ed. H. von Arnim; 4 vols. Leipzig, 1903 1924) Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism Vigiliae Christianae Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik

In the Beginning: Cosmogony in Late Antiquity L A N C E JENOTT A N D SARIT K A T T A N GRIBETZ

In 1584, in the Italian village of Montereale, a poor miller named Domenico Scandella, known more commonly by his nickname Menocchio, described his view of the world's creation: I have said that, in my opinion, all was chaos, that is, earth, air, water, and fire were mixed together; and out of that bulk a mass formed - just as cheese is made out of milk and worms appeared in it, and these were the angels, and among the number of angels, there was also God, he too having been created out of that mass at the same time, and he was made lord, with four captains, Lucifer, Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. That Lucifer sought to make himself lord equal to the king, who was the majesty of God, and for this arrogance God ordered him driven out of heaven with all his host and his company; and this God later created Adam and Eve and people in great number to take the places of the angels who had been expelled... 1

Menocchio's vivid cosmogony is preserved in records of his inquisitorial trial, which resulted in his execution a few years later. The miller imagined that the world had formed from a mass of primordial elements from which worm-like creatures crawled and became angels, and he invokes the metaphor of milk fermenting into cheese to illustrate the process. While Menocchio's cosmogonic ideas caused the authorities to doubt his sanity, his culinary imagery is actually resoundingly similar to ancient ideas about the world's creation. The fifth-century rabbinic midrash Genesis Rabbah describes the formation of the heavens out of an expanse of water: "This may be compared to milk that was placed in a bowl. Before one drop of resin is placed in it, it quivers, but after a drop of resin is placed in it, it immediately curdles and stands still." 2 The midrash extends its metaphor by referencing a verse from Job (26:11), "the pillars of heaven quiver": "When the drop of resin was put into it, 'There was evening and there was morning the second day' (Gen 1:8). As Rav said, '[God's work] was liquid

1 Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller (trans. John and Anne Tedeschi; Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980), 5-6. 2 Gen. Rab. 4:7 (ed. Theodor-Albeck, Midrash Bereshit Rabba, 31).

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on the first day and on the second day it solidified.'" 3 Though Menocchio's cosmogony sounded preposterous and blasphemous to sixteenth-century ears, it has precedents in ancient religious traditions and scientific lore. His notion that God was created from the primordial mass, rather than having created it himself, evokes ancient debates about the world's origins and God's agency in the creation. Carlo Ginzburg begins his study, The Cheese and the Worms, with Menocchio's fanciful cosmogony. It is not surprising that this part of Menocchio's worldview serves as Ginzburg's point of departure for exploring the cultural universe that Menocchio and those like him inhabited. Menocchio's cosmogony molded how he regarded the world, how he understood his place within it, and how he conducted himself as a result. It mattered to Menocchio how the universe came into being, and by what forces. His idiosyncratic views also characterized him as a quirky member of his small village, someone with unorthodox opinions, and eccentric charm. The inquisition, though, soon deemed him a heretic with dangerous ideas. For the church authorities, Menocchio's description of the world's origins and most importantly of God's role in creation posed a significant threat to great theological and ecclesiastical principles. Much hung in the balance. Debates about the proper understanding of the world's origins are ancient, and creation stories often became the focal point of disputes long before Menocchio's time. 4 Among the ancient Greeks, the question of creationism was debated by Thales and the pre-Socratics, Plato and Xenophon, the Epicureans, Aristotle, and the Stoics. 5 In his work on creation, Philo of Alexandria attempted to reconcile Platonic and biblical perspectives in response to Jewish and pagan critics who posited insurmountable

3

Gen. Rab. 4:7. For an overview of the term and concept of "cosmogony" in religious traditions, see Charles H. Long, "Cosmogony," Encyclopedia of Religion (ed. Lindsay Jones; 2 nd ed.; Detroit: MacMillan Reference USA, 2005), 3:1985-91, and on cosmogony in the Hebrew Bible and subsequent Jewish interpretation, see "Creation and Cosmogony in the Bible," Encyclopedia Judaica (ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik; 2 nd ed.; Detroit: MacMillan Reference USA, 2007), 5:273-80, and the collections of essays in Richard J. Clifford and John J. Collins, eds., Creation in Biblical Traditions (Washington, DC: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1992) and Bernhard W. Anderson, ed., Creation in the Old Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984). 5 David Sedley explores such debates in Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007); see also M. R. Wright, Cosmology in Antiquity (Sciences of Antiquity; New York: Routledge, 1995); Arthur Stanley Pease, "Caeli Enarrant," HTR 34.3 (1941): 163-200. 4

Introduction

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tensions between the two worldviews and the communities that espoused them. 6 The rabbis regarded proper interpretations of problematic biblical verses that could be used to argue against God's singular power in creation (e.g. Gen 1:1-2, 1:26-27) as litmus tests for acceptable belief. 7 Disagreements about details in the creation story also distinguished different rabbinic schools from one another. 8 Christian heresiological treatises often identified the cosmogonic myths of "the heretics" as examples of their dangerous attitudes towards the world, while patristic debates were particularly concerned with the problems of creatio ex nihilo, the origins of matter, and the eternity of creation. These themes challenged the reconcilability of Greco-Roman philosophy and Christian doctrine and became significant concerns for Clement, Origen, Basil, Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome, among others. 9 Cosmogony lay at the center of debates about communal 6 Roberto Radice, "Philo's Theology and Theory of Creation," in The Cambridge Companion to Philo (ed. Adam Kamesar; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 124-45, and David T. Runia, Philo of Alexandria and the Timaeus of Plato (Leiden: Brill, 1986). 7 See for example Peter Schäfer, The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012); Maren Niehoff, "Creatio ex Nihilo Theology in Genesis Rabbah in Light of Christian Exegesis," HTR 99.1 (2006): 37-64; Michael Fishbane, Biblical Myth and Rabbinic Mythmaking (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); and Gary Anderson, "The Interpretation of Genesis 1:1 in the Targums," CBQ 52.1 (1990): 21-29. On the other hand, see John C. Reeves, Jewish Lore in Manichaean Cosmogony: Studies in the Book of Giants Traditions (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1992) for an example of early Jewish traditions being incorporated into later Manichaean cosmogony. 8 Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai argued about the order of the creation of heaven and earth as well as whether the act of creation occurred during the day or also at night (e.g. Gen. Rab. 1:15, 12:14). According to a passage in the Palestinian Talmud, the schools of R. Ishmael and R. Akiva disagreed about whether creation could be studied, Rabbi Akiva maintaining that it was forbidden but Rabbi Ishmael permitting interpretation of Gen 1 (y. Hag. 2:1, 77c), though this dispute is not attested in tannaitic sources and may reflect contemporary debates rather than historical ones. 9 See Paul M. Blowers, Drama of the Divine Economy: Creator and Creation in Early Christian Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), and his earlier essay, "The Doctrine of Creation," in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies (ed. Susan Ashbrook Harvey and David G. Hunter; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 9 0 6 31; Karen King, The Secret Revelation of John (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006); Simo Knuuttila, "Time and Creation in Augustine," in The Cambridge Companion to Augustine (ed. Eleonore Stump and Norman Kretzmann; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 103-15; Gerhard May, Creatio ex nihilo: The Doctrine of "Creation out of Nothing" in Early Christian Thought (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1994); Richard Sorabji, Time, Creation, and the Continuum: Theories in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983); Sorabji, The Philosophy of the Commentators 200-600 AD, Volume 2: Physics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005), 162-95.

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inclusion and exclusion, legitimate scriptural interpretation, and proper theological opinions. Galen, writing in the second century CE, recognized the great amount of ink spilled on these debates, but provocatively disregarded inquiry into the origins of the world as fruitless and ultimately irrelevant to one's conduct in the world. He summarizes a plethora of speculative questions about creation asked by philosophers: whether this world is self-contained; whether there are more worlds than one; whether there are a huge number of them; and likewise whether this world is created or uncreated; just as also whether, if it had a beginning, some god acted as its craftsman, or no god did, but some irrational and unskilled cause by luck made it as beautiful as if a supremely wise and capable god had supervised its construction. But questions like these contribute nothing to running o n e ' s own household well or minding out appropriately for the affairs of o n e ' s city, or dealing justly and sociably with relatives, fellow-citizens, and foreigners ... For these and many other such questions are perfectly useless for 'moral and civic' virtues and activities, just as they are for the cure of mental ailments. 1 0

Despite the fact that Galen devoted substantial energy to defending the idea of divine craftsmanship, in works such as his treatise On the usefulness of parts and his commentary on Plato's Timaeus, he nonetheless insisted that speculation about the origins of the universe led nowhere beyond intellectual and scientific musings. They did not, in his view, affect domestic activities or political affairs. Yet in contrast to Galen, the Epicurean philosopher Lucretius maintained that truly understanding the world required a firm grasp of creation since all things followed from it. "For I now begin," he says, "to make my discourse on the lofty law of god and heaven above, and shall reveal the building blocks from which all things are fashioned ... since it is from these that all proceed." 11 For Lucretius, what people believed about the origin of the world shaped the way they behaved in the world. "Therefore we must consider well celestial happenings, and by what principle the sun and moon run on their courses, and all phenomena upon the earth ..."' 2 Following Lucretius, the essays in this volume demonstrate that wonderings about creation featured prominently in the ancient world and penetrated into social, political and ethical spheres far beyond the abstract musings of philosophers. 13 The diverse ways in which Jews and Christians im10 Galen, On the doctrines of Hippocrates and Plato XI 7.9 ff., cited in Sedley, Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity, 242. " Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 1.53-61, trans. A. E. Stallings, The Nature of Things (New York: Penguin Classics, 2007), 4 - 5 , slightly modified. 12 Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 1.127-31 (Stallings, 7). 13 On the reception of Gen 1 among Jews, Christians and Greco-Roman philosophers, see the collection of essays in George H. van Kooten, ed., The Creation of Heaven and Earth: Reinterpretations of Genesis J in the Context of Judaism, Ancient Philosophy,

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agined the world's creation informed their conceptions of past, present and future, the interpretation of their sacred texts, their understanding of the relationship between the divine and human worlds, their ethics, space, art and ritual practice - in short, how they constructed their own worlds and chose to live their lives. 14 By exploring a broad range of texts and contexts, from the Second Temple period through the emergence of Christianity and rabbinic Judaism, this volume underscores how thinking about creation contributed to a wide spectrum of attempts at articulating the relationship among God, the cosmos, and humanity. For fourth-century inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and newly-built Church of the Holy Sepulcher were not only sites of devotion and worship but also sat on the exact location of the world's origin where the tehom of Gen 1:2 lay subdued beneath a magical rock. In synagogues and churches throughout the region, the weekly liturgy reenacted the creation story, inserted worshippers into the history of salvation, and reminded them of the fragility of human existence in contrast to the permanence of God's work. In Egypt, ascetics strove to attain the original glory of Adam, and interpreted the union between Adam and Eve as a symbol for the renunciation of sexuality. For Valentinian Christians, the belief that humanity was originally divided into three classes supported their community's ethical expectations. In Christian schools, the placement of the creation story at the beginning of Moses' Torah reinforced a range of pedagogical functions and communal identity markers in and out of scholastic settings. Rabbinic conceptions of procreation and the formation of the fetus were modeled on accounts of the world's creation, while bans against the study of creation highlighted the rabbis' fear of blaspheming God, revealing secrets, and testing the limits of human knowledge. It is a basic contention of this volume that for ancient thinkers knowledge of origins - aitia - was key for making sense of their own experience of the world. Several central texts and traditions form a common backbone for discussions about cosmogony in antiquity. There are, of course, the foundational sources from the Hebrew Bible - the creation stories in Gen 1-2, the agonistic elements preserved in many of the Psalms, and the cosmogonic themes in Wisdom literature, including Job, Proverbs, Ben Sira, and the Wisdom of Solomon. Greco-Roman philosophical writings such as Plato's Christianity, and Modern Physics (Leiden: Brill, 2005); Gerard P. Luttikhuizen, ed., The Creation of Man and Woman: Interpretations of the Biblical Narratives in Jewish and Christian Traditions (Leiden: Brill, 2000). 14 Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History (trans. William R. Trask; Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005); Eliade, The Sacred and Profane: The Nature of Religion (trans. William R. Trask; New York: Harper & Row, 1961).

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Timaeus offered compelling theories with which Jews and Christians felt compelled to contend and reconcile the biblical traditions. Texts from the New Testament, especially the Gospel of John, Romans, and 1 Corinthians, added additional layers of meaning to the Jewish scriptures. These complex webs of creation narratives provided Jews and Christians with an overlapping cosmogonic vocabulary from which to draw and upon which to build. We have organized the volume into four thematic sections: I. Scripture and Interpretation; II. Theology and Anthropology; III. Pedagogy and Ethics; and IV. Space and Ritual. While each contribution touches upon many interrelated themes, the divisions are intended to highlight the several spheres of life in which creation theories played a role.

Part I: Scripture and Interpretation In "Made to Order: Creation in Jubilees," James VanderKam analyzes Jubilees' creative rewriting of Gen 1-2. He suggests that the author looked in two directions as he composed his account of creation: backwards, to his base text in Gen 1-2, and outwards, to discussions and debates about creation present in his own time. Through an analysis of Jub. 2, in which the narrative departs significantly from the text of Genesis, VanderKam considers whether the author was responding to contemporary cosmogonic traditions popular in the Hellenistic world. VanderKam demonstrates how the author took great care to write his narrative in such a way that would prevent potential misinterpretations of Genesis concerning agents of creation other than the God of Israel (e.g., Gen 1:20 "Let the waters bring forth..."; 1:24 "Let the earth bring forth..."; 1:26 "Let us make man..."). The author of Jubilees sought to show beyond doubt that God alone was responsible for creation. His careful rewording of such passages subtly emphasized that God had no help from anyone or anything in the process of creation, neither primordial earth, nor waters, nor angels - all possibilities left open in the text of Genesis. VanderKam cautiously suggests that in denying any creative agency to forces other than God, the author was consciously responding to traditional notions in Greek cosmogonic thought about the generative roles played by earth (e.g. in Hesiod's Theogony) and water (e.g., in the philosophy of Thales), two of the four constitutive elements of Hellenistic science. Furthermore, VanderKam analyzes how Jubilees' treatment of the Sabbath highlights the election of Israel and bars any possibility that the Sabbath could be seen as a special day intended for all people. Jubilees draws

Introduction

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a parallel between God's twenty-two creative works before the Sabbath, and the twenty-two generations from Adam to Jacob. By implication, Jacob and the Sabbath are both blessed, and it is Jacob's descendants who celebrate the Sabbath with God and the angels (2:20-21). VanderKam suggests that the author's exclusivist view of Sabbath observance may hint at a contemporary debate over "the wisdom of such segregation." Ancient anxieties over proper interpretation of the Genesis creation account also lie at the center of Yair Furstenberg's essay, "The Rabbinic Ban on Ma'aseh Bereshit: Sources, Contexts and Concerns." The ban on speculating about creation is first recorded in tannaitic sources of the second and third centuries (the Mishnah, Tosefta and Tannaitic Midrashim), and yet most previous scholarly attempts to uncover its origin and purpose have relied on elaborations of the rule in later sources (the Talmuds and Genesis Rabbah). These sources suggest that the rabbis were anxious about the proliferation of specific heretical interpretations that involved multiple primordial powers and potentially negative creative forces present before the world's creation. While such concerns do indeed seem to have preoccupied later rabbis, just as they did the Christian heresiologists, Furstenberg finds no traces of such concerns in the earlier rabbinic texts that first set forth the prohibition. By turning, instead, to sources from the Second Temple period, Furstenberg argues that the initial rabbinic impulse to curtail study of biblical verses about the world's creation stemmed from a widely-held concern about properly understanding the mysteries of creation, and not questioning the logic of the created world or the Creator. Maintaining God's honor, not the potential of competing heretical sects, initially motivated the rabbis in the tannaitic period to limit the study of creation. Rabbinic sources are not the only Jewish texts that warn against inquiring into the unknown realms of existence. The Wisdom of Ben Sira (3:2122) urges its readers not to search out "what is hidden from you," for one has "no business with mysteries." For Ben Sira, such mysteries involve the world's past and future, which are generally only accessible to and thus also concealed by God. In the Mishnah's formulation of its prohibition, it too forbids inquiry into "what is ahead and what is behind." Furstenberg thus locates the Mishnah's ban within the context of Ben Sira's anxiety about accessing knowledge that ought to remain beyond human comprehension. Several texts from Qumran that appropriate Wisdom literature also provide a helpful context for locating the Mishnaic prohibition. In contrast to Ben Sira, who discourages the quest for unattainable knowledge, multiple references among the Dead Sea Scroll texts to the raz nihyeh, "the mystery that is to be," urge the study of these mysteries precisely in order to attain a better appreciation for God, the creation, and the trajectory of world history. Through these sources, again, it becomes clear, according to

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Furstenberg, that the Mishnah has in mind such inquiry into the secrets of creation, which was promoted in the esoteric circles at Qumran but deemed potentially dangerous and blasphemous by Ben Sira and the rabbis who banned it. Rather than expressing anxiety about what preceded the world's creation or that which lies beyond the created world, the mishnaic ban as it is presented in the Mishnah and associated tannaitic midrashim is most concerned with maintaining respect for human fate and God's governance of the universe from the moment of its creation. It was only in later interpretations of these sources, in subsequent centuries, that the rabbis became alarmed by the threat of inappropriate inquiry into primordial times and speculation about the cosmos, its origins, and its creator(s) by those whom they considered heretics. While VanderKam and Furstenberg focus on attempts to curtail exploration of creation beyond what is found in Genesis, Geoffrey Smith studies a text that uses the biblical narrative to develop a complex cosmogonie myth. In "Constructing a Christian Universe: Mythological Exegesis of Ben Sira 24 and John's Prologue in the Gospel of Truth," Smith analyzes the biblical underpinnings of the creation story from a Gospel that most scholars believe reflects the theology of a Valentinian Christian. Unlike other Valentinian creation stories, which involve characters such as Wisdom (Sophia) and a demiurge, the Gospel of Truth relates that the world was produced by Error (Plané), personified as female. Its cosmic drama begins with the pre-existent heavenly beings searching for God, their maker; yet because they existed within God, they could not find him. Their ignorance of the Father led to fear, and as they became terrified, the power of Error exploited their situation. Error created the material world to entice them into a dreadful life, and finished her deception by enshrouding humanity in a perpetual "mist" of ignorance. While previous studies of the Gospel of Truth have attempted to explain this unique creation story by reference to other Valentinian myths, Smith emphasizes the need to read it on its own terms, and not as a cryptic variation of an assumed Valentinian ur-myth. He therefore asks, "How would someone with no knowledge of 'the Valentinian myth' interpret the myth of Error in the Gospel of Truth?" In answering this question, Smith investigates the author's interpretation of two foundational stories from scripture, namely the prologue to the Gospel of John, and the tale of Wisdom's descent as a "mist" in Ben Sira 24. In light of the textual fluidity of John's prologue in the second century and the wide range of its interpretation by Christian exegetes, Smith demonstrates that the author had a text of John 1:3 before him that read "apart from him nothing came about." The author identified "him" with the Father himself (not with the Logos), and inter-

Introduction

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preted "nothing" substantially, as a reference to the phantasmal world of deception created by Error, which, as Smith shows, the Gospel of Truth frequently associates with the abstract concept of nothingness. Therefore this Gospel's creation myth explains that "all things" (the heavens) were created by the Father, while "nothing" (the world of Error) did indeed come about apart from him - that is, apart from his will. Yet if all heavenly things were created by the Father, why, then, does John say that no one has ever seen him except the Son (John 1:18)? And from where did "the darkness" arise (John 1:5)? The author of the Gospel of Truth sets forth his mythological explanation, including the myth of Error, to resolve these theological problems. Smith offers an intriguing suggestion regarding the scriptural inspiration for the Gospel of Truth's description of Error enveloping humanity with a mist. He points to the same, rather rare metaphor of "mist" used by Ben Sira 24:3 to describe the descent of Wisdom to the earth, and suggests that the author may have deliberately adapted the image in a creative inversion by applying it to his own feminine personification of Error. Thus, in keeping with the prologue of John, life in this world is marked by ignorance of the Father, rather than the experience of his wisdom. Finally, Smith discusses how the soteriology of the Gospel of Truth's myth takes seriously John 1:18's teaching that the world did not know the Father until the Son revealed him. The Gospel of Truth does not criticize the world of matter per se, but rather Error who created it. Despite the usual scholarly generalizations about Valentinian views of the created world, the theology set forth here is not anti-materialistic or anti-cosmic, but rather offers hope, through the arrival of Christ, for the improvement of a world in which most people live in ignorance.

Part II: Theology and Anthropology In "The Emergence of Monotheistic Creation Theology in Hellenistic Judaism," Maren Niehoff examines the genesis of a novel theological concept - that the Creator alone is the only true god - in the writings of Philo and Josephus as they responded to the fluctuating philosophical currents and political realia of the first century. Niehoff argues that the city of Rome, with its marked preference for Stoicism, was the setting in which both authors first encountered the need to harmonize Judaism with Stoic natural theology. In a climate in which anti-Jewish sentiment was on the rise, Philo and Josephus hoped to convince their Roman audiences that Judaism offered the best, and most original, exposition of Stoic ideals regard-

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ing God's eternal care for creation and humanity's ability to know God by studying nature. Niehoff traces a shift in Philo's views on creation theology from the treatises of his earlier Allegorical Commentary on scripture, composed in Alexandria, to those of his later Exposition of the Law, written after his extended stay in Rome (ca. 38-41 CE). 15 In the Allegorical Commentary, Philo rejects Stoic theories that identify God with creation itself, or which speak of God's immanence therein. Instead, he emphasizes the Platonic doctrine of God's utter transcendence, his existence beyond creation, and the latter's total dependence on God. Accordingly, the "young" Philo taught that people cannot know God through the creation, by observing its orderly movements, as the Stoics believed. The only way to find the transcendent deity is to leave nature behind altogether, to "fly away from earth to heaven as quickly as we can," as Plato famously prescribed in the Theaetetus. However, one sees a change in Philo's attitude toward Stoicism in the later treatises of his great Exposition of the Law, which were written after his visit to Rome. Here, Philo emphasizes views that are compatible with Stoic natural theology, especially the idea that God's providence is eternally active in creation, and, as a consequence, that one can know God through creation, that is, by observing and studying natural phenomena. Philo thus presents Abraham as the philosopher par excellence, since it was he who first formulated monotheism by studying the movements of the heavens and, in contrast to the Chaldean astrologers of his era, inferred that there is one true God, a divine intelligence, who created and continues to maintain their order. Moreover, Abraham realized all this long before his visit to Egypt, lest anyone be misled by the claims of critics who say that Judaism is a mere permutation of Egyptian religion. According to Philo, quite the opposite is the case. Abraham anticipated the very theories of both the Stoics and the Egyptians. Niehoff then identifies nearly the same exposition of Abraham in Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews. Why the shift in Philo's theology and its whole-hearted adoption by Josephus? Niehoff suggests an answer that accounts for both intellectual and socio-political trends in the first century. She argues that Roman sympathies toward Judaism present in the age of Augustus gave way to hatred and slander in subsequent generations. Varro and Strabo had showed a rather open-minded attitude toward the customs of Judaism because they sought to find philosophical wisdom embedded in the ancestral traditions of ancient peoples. But the post-Augustan age witnessed a nasty turn. The 15 For a list of the treatises which belong to each collection, see Maren Niehoff, Jewish Exegesis and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), xiii-xiv, 7 - 8 .

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ethnic tensions in Alexandria, which erupted in pogroms against the Jewish inhabitants of the city, were followed by a failed Jewish revolt against Rome which was bitterly drawn out for several years in the land of Israel. The new socio-political climate manifested itself in the intellectual sphere, with writers such as Apion and Charaemon (Nero's tutor) criticizing Jews and relegating the value of their writings and customs to the waste bin of history. It was in response to such criticism, Niehoff suggests, that Philo and Josephus shaped their expositions of the biblical creation story. They hoped to persuade their less than sympathetic Roman audiences that the ideals of Stoic natural theology were embedded in Moses' account of creation, and, in fact, that it was Abraham, the ancestor of the Jewish people, who first introduced the concept of monotheism into religious discourse long ago. Tuomas Rasimus' essay, "The Archangel Michael in Ophite Creation Mythology," investigates the origins of Yaldabaoth, the malicious creatorangel and parody of the God of Israel who figures prominently in the mythology of the Christian Ophite sect. Rasimus argues that Ophite depictions of Yaldabaoth as a lion and serpent were likely adapted from speculation about the archangel Michael already present in Second Temple Jewish thought. The essay traces traditions in three key sources of Ophite mythology: the Ophite Diagram described by Origen in Contra Celsum, which identified Yaldabaoth with Michael and depicts him as a lion; Bishop Irenaeus' epitome of Ophite exegesis of Genesis, where Michael is portrayed as both the offspring of Yaldabaoth and the serpent in Eden; and the Apocryphon of John, where Michael largely recedes from view, and Yaldabaoth himself is depicted as a hybrid of a lion and serpent. According to Origen, the Ophite Diagram revealed the identities of the seven demons whom the soul encounters on its ascent to heaven. Each of them has two names - an archon name and an angel name - as well as an animal shape. The principle curiosity is that the diagram identifies the chief ruler as Michael and Yaldabaoth, and describes him as a lion. Rasimus argues that the association between Yaldabaoth, Michael and the lion may have been inspired by earlier merkabah speculation, which identified the four traditional archangels with the zoomorphic creatures of God's chariot and assigned the lion's face to Michael. The same underlying tradition, Rasimus suggests, may also have ascribed four prominent names of God (Yao, Elohim, Adonay, Sabaoth) to each of the archangels, with Michael bearing the tetragrammaton, YHWH or Yao. The origins of the obscure name Yaldabaoth, then, may be found in an amalgamation of God's four names, perhaps arrived at through liturgical repetition, which rendered "Yao-Elohim-Adonay-Sabaoth" as Yaldabaoth. Rasimus argues that the Ophites inherited these traditions, but demonized the creator-God, Yal-

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dabaoth, by demoting him to the status of an apostate angel and by identifying him with the archangel who bears his name, Michael-Yao, the traditional prince of the Jews. Furthermore, Rasimus shows how the Ophite Diagram reflects a positive endorsement of anthropomorphic theology. The animal shapes of the demons in the diagram correspond, with only one exception, to the four creatures of God's chariot in Ezekiel's famous vision - a man, lion, bull, and eagle. The difference between Ezekiel and the diagram, however, is that the latter replaces the face of the man with the face of a serpent. Rasimus offers the intriguing suggestion that the discrepancy reflects an Ophite commitment to anthropomorphic conceptions of God. Ophites imagined God himself as the "First Human," the archetype after whose image and likeness Adam was created (Gen 1:26). Therefore in order to reinforce the stark contrast between the true, divine Human and the bestial demons, the Ophites replaced the human face of Ezekiel's vision with that of a snake. Rasimus observes that while many ancient exegetes struggled with anthropomorphic descriptions of God, and sought to explain them away, the Ophites embraced God's human qualities as positive characteristics of true divinity, and marked the demonic pretenders as monstrous animals. In the next essay, "Constant Creation: (Pro)creation in Palestinian Rabbinic Midrashim," Gwynn Kessler explores the relationship between anthropology and theology in rabbinic cosmogonies by examining rabbinic texts that compare God's creation of the cosmos to the creation of a human embryo. Her essay investigates earlier streams of rabbinic tradition that fed into Midrash Tanhuma's idea that "the creation of an embryo is like the creation of the world." Despite rabbinic bans on cosmogonic speculation found in Mishnah Hagigah and Genesis Rabbah (as discussed by Yair Furstenberg in this volume), Kessler observes that rabbinic sources do not share the same reservations when discussing human procreation. Paying close attention to rabbinic explanations of an embryo's creation, then, provides a new avenue for understanding rabbinic attitudes about the creation of the world. Passages in both Genesis Rabbah and Leviticus Rabbah use the same metaphor, anchored in an exegesis of Job 10:10-12 (of the curdling of milk with a drop of resin), to describe the biological formation of the embryo in a woman's womb and the creation of the world. According to Leviticus Rabbah's interpretation of Job 38:8-11, God creates each human embryo and protects it during the nine months of gestation just as he originally contained the primordial sea as it burst forth from the womb of the cosmos. In this midrash, each element of the sea stands in for an element of procreation: the womb, the amniotic sac, the placenta, the three trimesters of pregnancy. Moreover, Kessler demonstrates how Leviticus Rabbah re-

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moves procreative agency from people, women and men, and instead places it in the hands of God, the true source of all creation. God's creation of the first man (adam ha-rishon) alongside the heavens and the sea anticipates God's intervention in the formation of each human embryo in future generations. Thus, rather than presenting creation as a mysterious act of the past, and procreation as a fundamentally human activity, these rabbinic sources portray creation and procreation as ongoing processes in which God's creative powers are continually made manifest. Not only did God create the world and form the first man at the beginning of time, but God has continued to create and recreate the world at each moment by providing life to humanity. Indeed, according to one rabbinic passage, "each person is a small world." By comparing creation and procreation, cosmogony is presented not as something beyond human speculation, but as something that is both searchable and knowable. At the same time, the creation of the embryo is elevated from the realm of the mundane and becomes as divine as the creation of the cosmos. The interplay between these two discourses merges rabbinic theology and anthropology, inserting God into the very center of the human sphere and projecting each individual back into the original, mysterious moment of creation. In "Corpus Hermeticum, Tractate III: The Genesis of a Genesis," Christian Wildberg provides a fresh interpretation of an obscure Hermetic cosmogony, the text of which has long been regarded as hopelessly corrupt and therefore subject to a host of conjectural emendations by editors caught in "philological desperation." Wildberg investigates this cosmogony's own genesis by the application of a theory that emphasizes the fluidity of manuscripts as they were handled by authors, readers, and copyists in different circumstances. On the one hand, Wildberg's text-critical approach is conservative in so far as it adheres as closely as possible to the text preserved in the manuscripts and keeps emendations to a minimum; on the other hand, it is radical, as it seeks to account for corrupt passages with the hypothesis that they originated as the marginal glosses of an ancient reader who responded critically to the text in hand by jotting down notes in the margin (not unlike many modern readers). Finally, according to Wildberg's hypothesis, these marginalia were, at some later point, accidentally incorporated into the main text by a scribe who had little care for, or understanding of, what he was copying - a process Wildberg describes as mechanical interpolation. Thus, Wildberg concludes, "C.H. Ill is the genesis of not only one world, but of two parallel worlds, radically different from one another, yet tortuously intertwined." Through a detailed analysis of the Greek text, Wildberg unravels the otherwise convoluted cosmogony into two individual voices - that of the

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original author, and that of the later reader and glossist. The author of the cosmogony wanted to celebrate the unique relationship between God, cosmos, and humanity, and to highlight the immortality of human beings. Thus he placed the creation of Man directly after the creation of the cosmos - itself a living creature - and then proceeded to the topic of astrology, which he described in entirely positive terms as a god-given gift for discovering God's will and obtaining prosperity on earth. However, according to Wildberg's hypothesis, a later reader, well-versed in the story of creation from Gen 1, and with a keen interest in astrology, reacted strongly to what he saw as the text's naive optimism. In the margins of his own copy, he scribbled out his response to the text's focus on humanity by commenting on the creation of all different sorts of animals and plants (indeed, according to Genesis, God created man last of all). Then, in reaction to the author's vision of an enchanted universe replete with goods things, he insists on the importance of astrology for the discovery "of good and bad things..." For this reader, astrology was not only for discovering favorable events and profiting from them, but also a tool for learning about the malevolence of Fate, and trying to avoid it. Corpus Hermeticum III offers "snapshots" of a cosmogony on the move, from the author to a reader, and eventually to a scribe who thoughtlessly combined the two voices. Wildberg's hypothesis thus suggests a new understanding of the kind of people who read Hermetic literature in antiquity. Instead of members of liturgical brotherhoods engaged in the pious reading of Hermes' sacred discourses, the evidence suggests readers who reacted to and argued with the ideas they found expressed therein.

Part III: Pedagogy and ethics In "Moses the Pedagogue: Procopius, Philo, and Didymus on the Pedagogy of the Creation Account," Richard Layton analyses the scholastic context in which the famed rhetor, Procopius of Gaza (c. 460-530 CE), wrote commentaries on the Octateuch, the prologue of which dwells on the significance of the creation story for the education of Christians. The reading of Gen 1 at the beginning of Lent, when many new catechumens were baptized, offered an opportunity to consolidate the Christian community around the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, an affirmation of God's total sovereignty over all creation, and therefore combat threats posed by rival Christians and pagan philosophers who taught that the cosmos was coeternal with God. Layton shows how theories regarding creation played an important role in the polemics between Christian and pagan intellectuals in late antiquity.

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In the mid-fourth century, Emperor Julian criticized the quality of Christian beliefs, and so the integrity of the Christian community, by contrasting Moses' brief creation story with Plato's lengthy and elaborate account in the Timaeus. In the Emperor's eyes, Moses gave an obscure and inadequate explanation of the world's origins, even omitting such important topics as the creation of angels. In contrast, Christian intellectuals maintained that the pagan notion of a cosmos co-eternal with God was simply an impious denial of God's total sovereignty over creation, and a threat to the Church's solidarity. By Procopius' time, tension between Christians and pagans was further aggravated by the fact that while Christians had risen to prominent positions in government, pagans remained influential as professors in the universities where young Christian elites were educated. There, the vulnerable minds of the youth could be lured into the deceptions of human wisdom. Procopius therefore used the prologue to promote an alternative education for young Christians, a Christian "school" in which they would surpass human wisdom and progress to the divine wisdom set forth by Moses in the Torah. Layton shows how Procopius draws upon, revises and refocuses the arguments of two important Alexandrian predecessors. First, Procopius builds upon the work of Philo Judaeus, who in his Life of Moses and On Creation sought to represent Moses as the best of all possible Law givers, whose Torah conforms to the natural law woven into the fabric of creation, and exceeds the inadequate legal theories advocated by pagan philosophers for the inculcation of civic virtue. Second, Procopius adapted Didymus the Blind's commentaries on Zachariah and Genesis so as to elucidate the meaning of Moses' vision of God's "back" (Exod 33:23), not in an anthropomorphic or eschatological sense, but rather as a reference to the creation of the world. When Moses sees God's "back," Procopius explains, he witnessed those things that come "after" God, that is, the works of creation. The creation story therefore becomes a moment of theoria in which Moses advances beyond mundane education. Thus the placement of the creation narrative at the start of the Torah serves as a propaedeutic, to wean the young Christian mind off idolatrous reverence for creation, and instead to point to God the creator. Moses' cosmogony, which emphasizes God as the cause of all things, and the contingency of all things on him, is the foundation for true education. Moving from the scholastic setting of Layton's study, the next essay focuses on the relationship between cosmogony and ethical lifestyles among Valentinian Christians. In '"Humanity came to be according to three essential types': Anthropogony and Ethical Responsibility in the Tripartite Tractate," Alexander Kocar responds critically to the traditional scholarly view that Valentinians had no concern for ethics since they believed that

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they, as spiritually endowed people, were "saved by nature." In antiquity, critics accused Valentinians of elitism because of their teaching that humanity was created in three distinct classes - pneumatics (spiritual people), psychics (ensouled people), and hylics (material people). The most vehement critic of the Valentinians, Bishop Irenaeus, argued that since they believe that they are saved by nature, they ascribe no value to ethics or to the ministry of the savior in the world. Kocar compares the Tripartite Tractate's solution to the problem of determinism to the way Stoics answered similar accusations. Stoics posited that people cannot control the stream of events in which they are swept along, but they can choose how to respond to those events. Furthermore, they believed that the way one chooses to respond has a bearing on one's moral character, for better or worse. Kocar argues that the Tripartite Tractate maintains a similar view: moral character depends on how one responds to the arrival of the savior. Pneumatic people are saved because they rush to Jesus and embrace him immediately; hylics are damned because they reject him straightaway. The psychics, however, are in the middle, and can be swayed toward the direction of the pneumatics or the hylics. How they live reflects what kind of person they are. The importance of ethical behavior in the tractate is clearly seen in its exhortation to live in accordance with the Father's will. Thus Kocar argues that the boundaries between the spiritual, psychic and hylic classes of humanity appeared fixed in theory, but were actually fluid in practice. Changing one's behavior could change one's class. Movement from one class to another was understood as possible because of the tractate's cosmogonic principles: the three types of humanity were originally patterned after the three dispositions of the Logos, and the first human being was created with the essence of all three types within himself. Finally, Kocar explores the biblical underpinnings of the Tripartite Tractate's notion of the three classes of humanity and the role ethics plays in its view of human salvation. The way the text describes the hylics as utterly condemned by their outright rejection of the savior reflects an interpretation of John 3:17-21, where those who "believe in him are not condemned, but those who do not believe are condemned already." The tractate's notion that each type of humanity can be identified "by their fruit" clearly reflects Jesus' preaching in the synoptic tradition that "You will know them by their fruit" (Matt 7:16; cf. Luke 6:43^15). Its view of the final judgment and eschatological apokatastasis draws on Matt 25's teaching that humanity will be divided between those on the right and those on the left depending on the quality of their works in this life. And the final obliteration of distinctions among people in the apokatastasis is clearly

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inspired by Pauline formulas ("no male and female, nor slave and free," etc.). In the last essay of this section, "Recovering Adam's Lost Glory: Nag Hammadi Codex II in its Egyptian Monastic Environment," Lance Jenott discusses the monastic goal of returning to humanity's original condition in Adam before the Fall, and how Nag Hammadi Codex II encourages its readers to pursue that goal through a life of sexual asceticism. Jenott departs from traditional approaches to the Nag Hammadi Codices that view them as sources for Gnosticism in the second and third centuries, and instead focuses on the Coptic readers of the manuscripts in the late fourth and early fifth centuries. Codex II contains Coptic versions of some of the most famous non-canonical Christian writings from antiquity, such as the Gospels of Thomas and Philip and the Apocryphon of John, which have long been recognized for their strongly encratic teachings that exhort readers to renounce human sexuality and pursue a spiritual marriage with Christ. How do these texts relate to the religious culture of late antique Egypt? Who would have been interested in collecting them? And what difference would it make hermeneutically if they were read together in a single volume? Jenott analyses how several of the texts in Codex II use the original union between Adam and Eve as a symbol not for marriage between man and woman, but for the soul's marriage to Christ in a life of celibacy. Codex II's exegesis of Genesis and encratic ethics supported monastic ideals regarding Adam in Coptic Egypt. By renouncing sexuality and receiving Christ as one's bridegroom, the ascetic could recover the glory Adam once possessed in Paradise, even transforming his or her body into a divine light. The three papers in this section thus highlight the centrality of themes about the creation of the world and the first human in texts that were used to instruct their readers in proper conduct, whether pedagogical, ethical, or spiritual.

Part IV: Space and Ritual Naomi Koltun-Fromm's essay, "Rock Over Water: Pre-Historic Rocks and Primordial Waters from Creation to Salvation in Jerusalem," examines competition between Jews and Christians to establish cosmogonic significance in the sacred topography of Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem was considered a holy place because of the sanctuary it once housed and the historical events believed to have taken place on the Temple Mount, including Abraham's binding of Isaac and God's appearance to David. For the Letter of Aristeas and Jubilees, the mount was the very center of the

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universe and the cosmic navel from which the world emerged. Yet after the destruction of the temple in 70 CE, as Jewish attachment to the city's holiness intensified, new rabbinic traditions emerged about a natural rock, called even shetiyah in Hebrew, that served as the foundation stone not only of the temple but of the entire world. It was from this rock that God began to create the world. A targumic tradition insists that this very rock served not only as the source of the world's freshwater but also as a plug that prevented the chaotic waters of creation (the tehom) from flooding the world. According to this tradition, the Holy of Holies had been located directly above this rock. The fact that the temple was now in ruins and unable to keep the waters at bay made the world all the more vulnerable. At precisely the time that Jews were developing traditions about the even shetiyah, Christians were also ascribing significance to sacred rocks in the holy city. Eusebius records Constantine's discovery of Jesus' rockcut tomb, which was believed to be hallowed from the very beginning of time, and the rock of Golgotha came to be associated with Adam's skull and the waters of creation. These sacred rocks added a mythological dimension to the churches constructed in the new Christian topography of Jerusalem. Koltun-Fromm shows how many of the cosmogonic themes associated with the Jewish temple were transferred to Constantine's new sanctuary built in a different part of town as a physical replacement of the former Jewish sanctuary with its primordial foundation rock. Thus two communities, Jewish and Christian, developed parallel mythologies grounded in the geography of Jerusalem, and claimed the location of their holiest sanctuaries as the very spot of the world's creation from which lifegiving waters flow. Implicit in these simultaneously developing traditions was a sense of competition, a rush to claim specific sites as sacred not only in the past, but also in the present, as potent places of access to the divine, now and in the eschatological future. While Koltun-Fromm identifies the role that cosmogonic themes played in efforts to mark the geography of Jerusalem, Mika Ahuvia's essay, "Darkness Upon the Abyss: Depicting Cosmogony in Late Antiquity," focuses on creation motifs on the interior of Christian churches and the effect they had on worshippers. Ahuvia examines images of the abyss (the tehom of Gen 1:2) found in fifth- and sixth-century churches in the Transjordan region. Congregants would have been familiar with the abyss not only from passing reference to it in the opening passages of Genesis, but also from its frequent appearance in the Psalms, which played a central role in Jewish and Christian liturgical prayers. The Psalms preserve traces of cosmogonic myths from ancient Babylon that depict the abyss as a threateningly powerful source of water that once covered the earth before God contained it during his work of creation. In later periods, it was be-

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lieved that the abyss and its waters were accessed through temple rituals and libation ceremonies during the Feast of Tabernacles, while the Gospel of John (7:37-38) presents Jesus as a substitute for the temple's primordial living waters. Other texts, including a prayer from the Apostolic Constitutions, a rabbinic dialogue preserved in Genesis Rabbah, and a homily by Basil of Caesarea, highlight the continued centrality of the abyss in liturgical as well as exegetical and heresiological contexts. Ahuvia argues that the ambiguity of the abyss in the cosmology of the Hellenistic Near East was key to its enduring resonance. Congregations may have incorporated visual abyss motifs into their sanctuaries to remind viewers of God's providential care of the cosmos, his subordination of chaotic waters to divine order, as well as to promote the typological understanding of Jesus as the living water, already present with God at creation. Rather than dismissing images of the abyss as merely decorative, Ahuvia shows the ways in which these depictions convey a community's values and anxieties within a space - the church - that served as a site of cultural formation. As she puts it, "What better place to raise a theological knot and unravel it properly than in the church?" Ahuvia reminds us that grappling with cosmogonic themes was not limited to educated elites, as symbols adorned the spaces of ordinary people in areas both rural and urban. They reminded people of the fragility of life and the dark forces that lay dormant in the world from its very beginning. Finally, Ophir Miinz-Manor's essay, "The Ritualization of Creation in Jewish and Christian Liturgical Texts from Late Antiquity," continues the analysis of space through a discussion of ritually-recited poetry on the theme of creation. Like Ahuvia, Munz-Manor attempts to access more diverse audiences than those of exclusively scholarly milieus by analyzing liturgical texts. Through the recitation of these texts, entire communities placed themselves within a salvation history that began at the inception of the universe and continued into their own lifetimes and beyond. Rituals that invoke cosmogonic moments in history "make present primordial times" and highlight the link between the moment of creation and the present. Miinz-Manor focuses on creation themes in rituals of atonement and the consecration of holy places, and highlights intriguing parallels between Jewish and Christian poetry in the late antique East. He first presents sources from West-Syrian and Byzantine anaphoras concerning Jesus' deeds in the Last Supper, and piyyutim describing the temple ritual of the Day of Atonement. In both these groups of prayers, the retelling of the creation story appears to be associated with the atoning deeds of Jesus and the temple cult. In a second set of Jewish and Syriac-Christian poems, the desert tabernacle is presented as a microcosm of the created order. The taber-

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nacle, and by extension the space of the church or synagogue in which each poem was recited, corresponded to the entirety of the cosmos; its construction completed the process of creation, a theme complemented by the temple and tabernacle imagery that adorned synagogue and church floor mosaics. In synagogues and churches, where these texts were performed, a powerful ritual experience was thus created that molded individual and communal identities through the ritual narration of creation. We welcome the reader into this journey through ancient visions of the world's creation. In the diversity of these visions, as in the diversity of approaches employed by the authors of these essays, we hope the reader will discover new insights on Judaism and Christianity in antiquity.

Scripture and Interpretation

Made to Order: Creation in Jubilees JAMES C . V A N D E R K A M

The author of the Book of Jubilees assigned a prominent place to the account of creation but did not locate it at the very beginning of his book. Rather, the story of creation follows a chapter that introduces the situation in which the book's contents were revealed and reproduces an extended conversation between God and Moses. On the day after concluding the Sinai covenant, the Lord explains to the great leader that Israel will stray from the binding agreement and eventually suffer the penalty of exile for it (1:5-18). Moses urges that the nature of Israel be changed now to avoid that awful future (1:19-21); the Lord agrees only in part and insists that history will run its course as he predicts (1:22-25). Once the exchange concludes, an angel of the presence receives orders to dictate to Moses from the heavenly tablets. The first section that he dictates from those tablets is the creation account (2:1-16; vv. 17-33 are closely tied to it). In Jubilees therefore the creation report is a retrospective one given to Moses on Sinai by the high-ranking angel. 1 The multiplex topic of the creation of the world or universe is treated in a number of Second Temple texts, suggesting that the subject may not have been one simply of antiquarian or exegetical interest. 2 Creation figures frequently in the Wisdom literature (e.g., Prov 8; Job 38; Sir 42-43) and is a feature of poetic texts such as Ps 33 and 104. Philo treated it more than once and at some length. Cosmogony was also a topic of discussion among philosophers of the period. A fountainhead of teaching about creation in the Jewish tradition was, of course, the first part of Genesis, though other ideas on the subject are evident elsewhere in the scriptures. Despite the reflexes of Gen 1 in the Hebrew Bible and the presence of variant traditions about beginnings, Jubilees seems to offer the first extended rewriting of the creation material in the older text. Its account may be said to point in two directions. One is 1 The term "retrospective" comes from Odil Hannes Steck, "Die Aufnahme von Genesis 1 in Jubiläen 2 und 4. Esra 6," JSJ 8 (1977): 159-60. 2 For a brief survey, see Geza Vermes, "Genesis 1 - 3 in Post-Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic Literature before the Mishnah," JJS 43 (1992): 221-25.

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backwards, that is, Jubilees looks back to Gen 1:1-2:9 and rewrites them in ch. 2. The influence of the Priestly creation section is undeniable, as is the writer's use of elements drawn from the J story that begins in Gen 2:4b. As he often does elsewhere, here too he enhances the base text with information drawn from other parts of the scriptures. The other direction in which the writer looks, I will suggest somewhat hesitantly, is outward, toward the contemporary world and discussions of creation in it. It is not necessary or even helpful to read all the differences between Jubilees and Genesis/Exodus as directed toward what were contemporary realia for the author, but at times his work can be clarified by such comparisons. That is, it may be a mistake to think that Jubilees as it rewrites scriptural creation material is motivated only by exegetical issues, with finding textual triggers for the author's ideas, and the like. Those assuredly were weighty factors for him, but some features of his report make one wonder whether other kinds of issues or claims circulating in his day shaped his presentation. Or, perhaps stating the same point in another way, the writer was anxious that the reader not draw the wrong conclusions from Gen 1:1-2:9, conclusions that some of his contemporaries may have drawn from the scriptural material regarding creation under the influence of what they had learned elsewhere in their Hellenistic world. In this paper I will examine what appear to be the major emphases in Jubilees' rewriting of the Genesis creation texts (that is, features in which it significantly differs from its base text in Genesis) and also consider whether contemporary or near contemporary discussions of creation are likely to have exercised influence on the author.

Emphases in Jubilees 2 1. The Pattern of Creation: God's creation of the world in six days in Gen l:l-2:4a is marked by a familiar and consistent literary form. The deity accomplishes the task of creating everything in six days, each of which is described in highly structured, schematic fashion. The familiar pattern is: 1. And God said (the phrase appears for all six days) 2. A command (all six days) TP (1, 2, 4) another verb (3, 5, 6) 3. Verb of action ( 1 , 2 , 5) 4. And it was (so) (1?, 2, 3 [twice], 4, 6 [twice]) 5. And God saw that it was good (1, 3 [twice], 4, 5, 6 [twice]) 6. And it was evening and it was morning, the Nth day (all, with 1 worded slightly differently)

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In this account God created eight phenomena, which are distributed over the six days in a consistent fashion: one act of creation on days 1, 2, 4, 5, and two on days 3 and 6.3 Items created in days 1, 2, and 3 have correspondences with what is made in days 4, 5, and 6. As commentators note, there is no conflict in Gen 1, no force opposing order. 4 Any such mythological theme has been effectively suppressed. At the end the almighty creating God could rightly declare the entire result of his orderly procedure extremely good (Gen 1:31). Jubilees adopts the six-day structure from Gen 1 but radically reconfigures it. 1. On the Nth day 2. A verb of making 5 he created (1, 5; cf. a second verb in 3) he made (2, 3 [first verb], 6) the Lord made (4) 3. List of created items (all) 4. Number of works (all) 5. that he made on the Nth day (all). 6

There is a remarkable contrast between the two units despite the same overall six-day structure. In fact it has been said that Jubilees preserves from Genesis little more than the six-day frame and (usually) what is made on the particular days. 7 Among the noteworthy differences between the two creation accounts is the absence from Jub. 2 of Genesis' characteristic "God saw that it was (very) good." It is present for every day but the second in Gen 1 and repeated and supersized at the end of the process ("God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good" [1:31]). 8 It would be foolish to infer that Jubilees did not believe God's creative work was good, but the writer makes the point in other ways than outright declarations. For exam-

3

See, for example, Claus Westermann, Genesis 1-11: A Commentary (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984), 85-88. 4 Westermann, Genesis 1-11, 80. 5 The frequency with which verbs of action appear in Jubilees' creation section has led some to consider it a witness to a pre-P version of the story in which deed-creation prevailed, while another version (attested in 4 Ezra 6) embodied command-creation, with P later combining the two approaches to creation. For a summary of the debate as it relates to Gen l : l - 2 : 4 a , see Westermann, Genesis 1-11, 80-88. Steck has effectively refuted this implausible thesis (see his "Die Aufnahme," 154-82 for the references and his arguments against the proposal). Jubilees 2:5-6 (for the third day) combines deed and word though differently than in Gen 1:9-13 (see below). 6 See James VanderKam, "Genesis 1 in Jubilees 2," DSD 1 (1994): 304. 7 See Steck, "Die Aufnahme," 172. 8 Biblical quotations are from the NRSV.

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pie, after the first day the angels praise him for his great works (2:3), and at the end of 2:7 the four works of the third day are called "great." 2. Sabbath: A second noteworthy difference is that for the writer of Jubilees it was important to detail how many items were created each day, with the total reaching 22. Genesis 1 never numbers how many phenomena God created on a day. The reader of Jubilees familiar with Gen 1 might soon ask why the author felt a need to report the number of works. In a sense it is helpful that the text discloses exactly how many items God created each day ( 7 + 1 + 4 + 3 + 3 + 4) because it is not always easy to elicit from the individual paragraphs which ones they might be (days 1 and 3 are examples). The answer to the question about the number of creative acts is related to another significant difference, and that is the amount of space and attention devoted to the Sabbath. Genesis 2:1-3 is the section that deals with the blessed and sanctified day when God rested from all his labors. The noun Sabbath is not used, though the corresponding verb is. Jubilees reproduces the sentiments of these three verses but also much more. The Sabbath is the subject of discussion from at least 2:17 through 2:33, and the writer anticipates it at earlier points in the creation pericope. The following are ways in which he anticipates the Sabbath, the climactic seventh day of the first week. According to Jub. 2:1, Sabbath concerns were the very first words Moses heard from the mouth of the angel of the presence. "On the Lord's orders the angel of the presence said to Moses: 'Write all the words about the creation - how in six days the Lord God completed all his works, everything that he had created, and kept sabbath on the seventh day. He sanctified it for all ages and set it as a sign for all his works.'" 9 In this one verse the author highlights the creation sequence - six working days + Sabbath - and the significance of the Sabbath for the entire process of creation: the Lord appointed the Sabbath as a sign for all 22 of the works he made in the six days. He has taken the scriptural associations between creation week and Sabbath expressed in Exod 20:8-11 and particularly those in Exod 31:12-17 and set them as a heading over the account. As Exod 31:12-17 related the Sabbath to the six days of creation and called it a sign, so Jubilees does at the beginning of the section. 10 Alluding to the Exodus context served up another benefit for the writer: there 9 Jubilees citations are from my The Book of Jubilees (2 vols.; CSCO 510-11, Scriptores Aethiopici 87-88; Leuven: Peeters, 1989), vol. 2. Some of the words of Jub. 2:1 have survived on 4Q216 col. 5:1-3. 10 Steck thinks the entire angelic address in Jub. 2 should be understood as an expansion of Exod 31:12-17 ("Die Aufnahme," 160). See also the summary in Lutz Doering, "The Concept of the Sabbath in the Book of Jubilees," in Studies in the Book of Jubilees (ed. Matthias Albani, Jörg Frey, and Armin Lange; TSAJ 65; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1997), 180-81.

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"the sabbath is the 'sign' of the peculiar relationship between God and people by which the whole world is to recognize the existence of this relationship (v. 13b) which makes Israel 'holy', i.e. which marks Israel off from the other nations." 11 One might conclude from Gen 1:1-2:3 that the Sabbath was for all humanity, all the descendants of the first couple; Jubilees effectively jettisons that idea before getting to day 1. We have here a reminder that as in ch. 1 so in ch. 2 Israel is the focus in Jubilees, not all peoples. Hints of Sabbath also arise in the account of the first day of creation. As commentators have observed, Jubilees draws the phenomena the Lord created on the first day from Gen 1:1-5, not only from vv. 3-5 which are, formally speaking, the account of day 1. The larger base text allows the author to claim that the angels blessed and praised God for his accomplishments "because he had made seven great works on the first day" (2:3). It is likely that the seven he intends are: heaven(s): mentioned in Gen 1:1 earth: 1:1, 2 waters: 1:2 spirits (rrn): 1:2 depths: 1:2 darkness: 1:2, 4, 5 light: 1:3, 4, 5. 12

It is no accident that the writer arrives at seven works - by far the largest total for any day - on day 1. Having seven at the beginning nicely balances the seventh day, the blessed and holy Sabbath, that comes at the end. In Jubilees, therefore, the number seven bookends the creation account. The symmetry thus produced came at a bit of a price, since, by placing heaven and earth on the first day the writer had to do a little adjusting in days 2 and 3 when, according to Gen 1, God is said to have made entities called heaven and earth,13 " Martin Noth, Exodus: A Commentary (OTL; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1962), 241. One could say that Jubilees understands the Sabbath as a sign in a similar sense in that it is associated with the number (22) that points to Israel (see below). 12 As commentators have seen, Jubilees is not the only source to place seven creations on day 1 ; Philo did the same, although the seven for him are the intelligible creation, not the sense-perceptible one (Creation 16-35, esp. 29 where the number is explicit). The parallel was noted by Abraham Epstein, "Le Livre des Jubilés, Philon et le Midrasch Tadsché," REJ 21 (1890): 8 3 - 8 5 (Midrash Tadshe also mentions seven on the first day and 22 in the six days). See also Adolphe Buchler, "Traces des idées et des coutumes hellénistiques dans le Livre des Jubilés," REJ 89 (1930): 323; Robert Henry Charles, The Book of Jubilees (London: Black, 1902), 11-12. 13 Their second mention on these days may have been what suggested to Philo that these latter were the corresponding elements in the sense-perceptible world. See David T.

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Yet the echoes of the Sabbath are more pronounced. Again, not by accident, the writer takes the middle one of the seven items - number 4, the spirits - and elaborates seven kinds of angels, the first two classes of whom will join the deity (and Israel) in celebration of the Sabbath (2:1721). To make the spirits fourth on the first day, he had to switch the order of several of the terms from Gen 1:1-5. There the order is heaven, earth, darkness, depths, spirit/wind, waters, and finally light - leaving spirit/wind in the fifth position. Jubilees places depths after spirit/wind, so the move is deliberate. The seven kinds of angels are described at considerable length and betray important elements of the writer's teachings about creation. Establishing the list of angels and their realms of competence is not a simple task, though there is ample textual evidence to assist in the process. From the evidence of the Ethiopic manuscripts and the relevant bits of 4Q216 5:5-9, the following is the likely list: Angels Angels Angels Angels Angels Angels Angels

of of of of of of of

the presence holiness the spirits of fire the winds that blow the spirits of clouds, darkness, ice, hoar-frost, dew, snow, hail, and frost sounds the spirits of cold, heat, winter, and summer. 1 4

It can hardly be coincidental that there are seven classes of angels situated as the middle creative act on day 1 - a day that included seven of them. The writer of Jubilees has, then, taken several steps to imprint the stamp of the number seven and thus of the Sabbath on his presentation of God's work in creation. For the sake of completeness we should also note that the Sabbath shows up in day 4 where the functions of the sun are said to include serving as "a great sign above the earth for days, sabbaths, months, festivals, years, sabbaths of years, jubilees, and all times of the years" (2:9). We meet or have hints of the Sabbath therefore before day 1, on day 1, on day 4 (the middle day of the week), and of course at the end on day 7, to say nothing of the large-scale amplification in 2:17-33.

Concern: God as Sole Creator Among the differences between the accounts in Genesis and in Jubilees are several that make the reader wonder whether a special motivation, perhaps a contemporary one, lies behind the rewriting the author has fashioned. Runia, On the Creation of the Cosmos according to Moses: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series 1; Leiden: Brill, 2001), 174-75. 14 See VanderKam, "Genesis 1 in Jubilees 2," 306-7.

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The primary point under this heading is that Jub. 2, even more than one finds in Gen 1, stresses that God alone acted in creation. He was not simply the prime mover; he was the only mover. There are several places where the theme comes to the fore in Jub. 2. 1. Genesis 1:2 in Jubilees: As is well known, Gen 1:2 has occasioned much comment as readers have attempted to determine its place in the scheme of things in the chapter. If Gen 1:1 is taken as a when-clause, then Gen 1:2 becomes a description of the conditions and phenomena present when God set out to impose order. Such a conclusion raises interesting questions regarding the phenomena mentioned in the verse (what was their origin? what are imi inn?) and the message of Gen 1, but the writer of Jubilees avoids such problems or rather handles them in his own way. 15 He was, as we might have expected, familiar with Gen 1:2 since he took from the verse four of the seven entities that, he says, God made on day 1: waters, spirits, depths, and darkness. The simple fact that he listed these as among God's creations on the first day answers the question regarding their origin: God made them. The writer does not specifically mention inn imi (although he does use the plural mainri for the fifth creative act). Whatever one might conclude about Gen 1:2 and whether there was any negative element present when God began to create - or even about possible opposition to God's purpose of imposing order - Jubilees makes clear that that is not what the text means. Nothing opposes God and everything is dependent upon him. Nothing exists independently of him, certainly no amorphous mass present already at the beginning and awaiting his creative command to assume order and shape.16 As Kister says: "The motive for adding the creation of all the elements mentioned in Genesis 1:1-2 to God's creation on the first day is the feeling that it must be emphasized that there were no uncreated primordial elements. The existence of primordial elements was felt by the author of the Book of Jubilees to be a theological problem." 17

15

See Menahem Kister, " T o h u wa-Bohu, Primordial Elements and Creatio ex Nihilo," JSQ 14 (2007): 229-56. Kister surveys the treatments of the issue in a wide range of ancient texts, including Jubilees. 16 It is likely that Jubilees was not the first to address the problem, as some passages in Second Isaiah (e.g., 45:7, 18) apparently speak to the same issue (see Moshe Weinfeld, "The Creator God in Genesis 1 and the Prophecies of Deutero-Isaiah," Tarbiz 37 [1968]: 120-26; Michael Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel [Oxford: Clarendon, 1985], 325). 17 Kister, " T o h u wa-Bohu, Primordial Elements and Creatio ex Nihilo," 244 (see 233). Kister notes that both Jubilees and Philo actually have nine items in their lists of creations on the first day (Jubilees adds "dawn and evening" after "light" ["light and evening" in the Hebrew fragment]), but it may be that "dawn and evening" are an explanation

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2. The Angels: A second point at which the author shows that God was the only creator comes at the fourth creative act of day 1 - making the angels, the seven kinds of spirits. Genesis does not speak explicitly about the creation of such creatures, though a passage such as Job 38:7 (cf. Ps 104:4) declares they were present when the deity created the earth, that is, at the very beginning (see also "and all their multitude [DiOX]" in Gen 2:1). So there was speculation about when it was that God brought them into existence, and readers searched the text of Gen 1 for clues. The writer of course attaches their position in the sequence of creation to the word n n in Gen 1:2, as have others. But by so doing he faced a serious risk - a danger highlighted by some ancient exegetes. The danger in a polytheistic world was that one might infer that the angels helped God in creation. A clear expression of this point of view is found in Gen. Rab. 1:3: "When were the angels created? R. Johanan said: They were created on the second day, as it is written, Who lay the beams of your upper chambers in the waters (Ps 104:3), followed by, Who make the spirits your angels (v. 4)." R. Johanan understands the first part of the Psalms passage to be dealing with the division of upper and lower waters - an event of the second day of creation. The second part then mentions the angels; hence, R. Johanan infers that they were made at the same time as the division of the waters. In the sequel, the discussion continues: "R. Hanina said: They were created on the fifth day, for it is written, And let fowl fly above the earth (Gen 1:20), and it is written, And with two he flew (Isa 6:2)." The opinion rests on the inference that angels are, according to scripture, winged beings, and winged beings were made on day 5. The conclusion of the debate is especially pertinent to Jubilees' placement of angelic creation on day one: "R. Luliani b. Tabri said in R. Isaac's name: Whether we accept the view of R. Hanina or that of R. Johanan, all agree that none were created on the first day, lest you should say, Michael stretched [the world] in the south and Gabriel in the north while the Holy One, blessed be He, measured it in the middle; but I am the Lord, who makes all things; who stretched forth the heavens alone; who spread abroad the earth by Myself - me-itti (Isa 44:24): mi itti (who was with Me) is written: who was associated with Me in the creation of the world?" 18 of what is meant by "light." At least the writer is explicit that there were seven creations on the first day. 18 The passages (and others from Genesis Rabbah in this paper) are cited from Harry Freedman, Midrash Rabbah: Genesis (vol. 1; London/New York: Soncino, 1983), 5. I have modernized his archaic translation of biblical texts and have omitted diacritical marks from the names of the sages quoted. The rabbinic discussion shows that modern scholars are not the only ones to bring creation language in Second Isaiah into contact with Gen 1, although the sages, of course, did not regard them as opposed to each other but as mutually clarifying.

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Jubilees offers the sort of dangerous interpretation that "all agree" was wrong: God made the angels on day 1 so that, one could conclude, they were available to help with the work on the remaining days. But the author is very careful at this point and also consistent in his method of clearly and definitively subordinating everything and everyone to God's creative power. There is no mistaking that the angels are simply one in a lengthy list of entities created by God. They are the first living creations but nothing is made of this feature (note that in the section on day 5 he calls the sea monsters "the first animate beings created by his hands"). The writer distinguishes the first two classes of angels elsewhere; in 2:2 their distinctiveness is that they receive no function. The other five classes are associated with natural phenomena - mostly meteorological ones. They are placed in charge of them but are not said to have created them. Later (2:17-21) one learns that the angels of the presence and the angels of holiness, the first two classes, join God and Israel in celebrating Sabbath; the others, in charge of natural phenomena, apparently remain on duty even on the seventh day. But the point is that angels are creations, not creators. 3. The Image of God: Jubilees' handling of angels and their roles feeds naturally into the next example: chapter 2 lacks a reference to and thus any elaboration of the creation of humanity in God's image. Genesis 1:26 famously reports: "Then God said, 'Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion ..."' One traditional interpretation of the cohortative plural form is, of course, that God was addressing the angels. According to Targum Pseudo-Jonathan Gen 1:26, the verse should be rendered: "And God said to the angels who minister before him, who were created on the second day of the creation of the world, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them have dominion ,..'" 1 9 Genesis Rabbah 8:4 (cf. 8:3, 5), in presenting a dispute between God and the angels about whether to make humanity, quotes R. Hanina as saying: "... when He came to create Adam He took counsel with the ministering angels, saying to them, 'Let us make man' ..." The author of Jubilees knew about creation in the divine image; he refers to it in 6:8 (// Gen 9:6; see also b. Sanh. 38b). The fact that he reproduces the mention of the image in the passage about the covenant made with Noah and not in the creation account is instructive: in Gen 9:6 the text says only "for in his own image God made humankind." It says nothing about his proposal to another being or beings that they together make people. This suggests that it was precisely the "Let us make ..." language that concerned our writer: the scriptural phrasing leaves open the possibility that God had help in cre19

Translation of Michael Maher, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis (ArBib IB; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992). The italics in this series indicate departures from the scriptural text.

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ating.20 That idea was anathema for Jubilees where God has and needs no help of any kind. 21 4. The Earth: A fourth place where the writer clarifies the text of Genesis to make his point about God as sole creator is in the paragraph about the third day. Here it is helpful to place the wording of Jubilees and Genesis side-by-side. Jubilees located creation of the earth on day 1 and thus does not follow Genesis in saying that earth is a creation of day 3; it reports merely that God commanded the waters to gather in one place and the land to appear - an unexpressed order with which they complied. But the important difference for our purposes is the role played by the earth once it appears. Genesis 1:11-13 Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: 22 plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it." And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

Jubilees

2:7

On that day he created for them all the seas - each with the places where they collected - all the rivers, and all the places where the waters collected in the mountains and on the whole earth; all the reservoirs, all the dew of the earth; the seed that is sown with each of its kinds - all that sprouts, the fruit trees, the forests, and the garden of Eden (which is) in Eden for enjoyment and for food. These four great types he made on the third day.

Philo, commenting on the scriptural formulation ("Let the earth put forth"), compared the earth to a mother and referred to Plato in support (Creation 133; see below), but he does not suggest that he sees a problem here for the idea that God alone is the creator. Genesis Rabbah 5:9 preserves a conversation about the work of the earth, with the subject being whether it obeyed the divine instructions to it, since it was later cursed (Gen 3:17). That dis-

20

This is another place in which Second Isaiah may be responding to Gen 1: see Isa 40:13-14, 18, 25; 44:24; 46:5 (Weinfeld, "The Creator God in Genesis 1 and the Prophecies of Deutero-Isaiah," 125-26; Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation, 325). 21 The implication of Gen 1:26 was not lost on early exegetes. Philo devotes a section to it in Creation 72-76, admitting God did have help creating humanity "so that whenever the human being acts rightly in decisions and actions that are beyond reproach, these can be assigned to G o d ' s account as universal Director, whereas in the case of their opposite they can be attributed to others who are subordinate to him" (trans. Runia, On the Creation of the Cosmos; see also his comments, 236-44). In Gen. Rab. 8:8 R. Jonathan says: "When Moses was engaged in writing the Torah, he had to write the work of each day. When he came to the verse, And God said: Let us make man, etc., he said: 'Sovereign of the Universe! Why do you furnish an excuse to the heretics?'" God in effect tells him not to worry about it. The point is often elaborated in patristic exegesis. 22

See Westermann, Genesis 1-11, 87.

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cussion does not really pertain to the point made by the author of Jubilees who insures that the reader not conclude that the earth generated the vegetation as Genesis declares it does. 23 God was the one who made everything that grows; the earth is simply the place that he uses for this purpose. It is not a creating entity. 5. The Waters: Jubilees' rewriting of the section about the third day does not seem an accident because the author proceeds in the same way in connection with day 5 (Gen 1:20).24 In this case one could say that Jubilees is simply making clear what Genesis says in the next verse (v. 21), but the writer still must have thought it worthwhile to remove any doubt about the implications of v. 20. Genesis 1:20-21 And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky." So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Jubilees

2:11

On the fifth day he created the great sea monsters within the watery depths, for these were the first animate beings made by his hands; 2 5 all the fish that move about in the waters, all flying birds, and all their kinds. The sun shone over them for (their) wellbeing and over everything that was on the earth - all that sprouts from the ground, all fruit trees, and all animate beings. These three kinds he made on the fifth day.

A reader could infer from Gen 1:20 that the sea was the creator of the swarms of living creatures in it, though that reader could be faulted for not continuing far enough because v. 21 specifies that it was actually God who made them. Jubilees, however, leaves no opportunity for drawing such a theologically challenged conclusion, not even for a moment. It simply asserts that God created them and fails to reproduce any command to the sea. We could extend the list by pointing to the wording of God's initial creations on day 6. Where Gen 1:24 reads "And God said, 'Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind ...,"' Jubilees skips over the passage 23

Cf. Steck, "Die Aufnahme," 169; VanderKam, "Genesis 1 in Jubilees 2," 311. I have not found a similar concern in rabbinic texts. Later, Rashi commented (on Gen 1:14 and 24) that everything had been created on the first day, so that all that was needed afterward (e.g., on day 3) was to call the respective creations forth. Among Patristic commentators, Basil the Great said regarding the command to the earth to bring forth vegetation: " . . . it did not produce plants that it had hidden in it; nor did it send up to the surface the palm or the oak or the cypress that had been hidden somewhere down below in its womb. On the contrary, it is the divine Word that is the origin of the things made." (Hexaemeron 8.1, cited from Old Testament I: Genesis 1-11 [ed. Andrew Louth in collaboration with Marco Conti; ACCS; Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2001], 14). 24 25

VanderKam, "Genesis 1 in Jubilees 2," 313. The expression is interesting in light of the creation of angels on day 1.

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and favors the wording of v. 25: "God made the wild animals of the earth ..." Thus Jub. 2:13 says: On the sixth day he made all the land animals, all cattle, and everything that moves about on the earth." Many readers have come away from Gen 1 with the impression that the one almighty God created the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them, as the explanation of the fourth commandment declares (Exod 20:11; see also Gen 2:1). But the writer of Jubilees systematically excises from a pretty clear text any hint of cooperation in the acts of creation. Why did he do this?

Some Implications The preceding points suggest some important inferences. 1. The Sabbath focus: Only when one reaches the end of the six-day survey in Jub. 2 does one learn the reason for the number of works God made. The book is the earliest extant witness to the notion that there is a correspondence between the number of God's creative works (22) and another group of 22 - the generations from Adam until Jacob. 4Q216 7:15 demonstrates that the Ethiopic text has preserved the original very carefully: "There were 22 leaders of humanity from Adam until him; and 22 kinds of works were made until the seventh day" (2:23). 26 The parallels to which the writer points are these: 22 creative works + Sabbath 22 generations + Jacob.

Jacob and the Sabbath are parallel with one another: both are blessed and holy. The descendants of Jacob receive the privilege of celebrating Sabbath with God and the highest classes of angels (2:20-21). While the comparison has a nice quality to it and we can applaud the writer or his source for ingenuity in working it out, the parallel has weightier consequences. Because the election of Jacob is related to the 22 works of creation followed by the Sabbath, it follows that the election of Jacob/Israel out of the nations is built into the fabric of reality. God did not choose Jacob because he turned out to be a fairly decent person - if we overlook some deceit here and there; Jacob's election was tied to the actions and then inaction of God in the first week. Israel practices Sabbath observance not because it worked out well in keeping society and the 26 These are the words that survive on the Hebrew fragment: ]a ¡Tirol Q'ttn l^N 72 m x a ("from Adam until him; and twenty-two k[inds"; note that the letter nun was omitted from crau?). The text and translation are cited from Donald W. Parry and Emanuel Tov, eds., Parabiblical Texts (DSSR 3; Leiden: Brill, 2005), 52-53.

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economy running smoothly or as a historical contingency; Israel ceased labor on the seventh day because they (and the world) were made that way. The author thus maintains that Israel's separation from the nations dates back to creation - perhaps addressing a contemporary debate about the wisdom of such segregation. 27 Jubilees, in telling the creation story from a Sabbatarian perspective, falls squarely into the approach to Jewish law that Daniel Schwartz calls realist in distinction from the rabbinic nominalist angle. 28 Israel does not celebrate Sabbath because the law says to do so; the law says to do so because that is the way things are. There is nothing contingent or negotiable about Israel's observance of the Sabbath; it is built into the fabric of creation. 2. God as sole agent of creation: Why would the writer of Jubilees be so concerned about the point to make the changes in the text that were sketched above? The theological value of his editorial labors is obvious, and in formulating his view he was only echoing what others had said. As seen earlier, Second Isaiah cited the Lord as saying: "I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who by myself spread out the earth. ..." (44:24). Or one could appeal again to Exod 20:11. So there is nothing original in the fundamental assertion of God as sole creator, the one who did all the work by himself. This makes one think that the author was worried about the implications daring thinkers might derive from parts of Gen 1. It can hardly fail to attract attention that the two creations to which the author denies a generative role are the earth (twice) and the sea. Both are suggestive entities that were divinized in several cultures and that could easily be regarded as sources of life and creation for what is in or on them, and both were so regarded in various places in the Near East and around the Mediterranean Sea. We should recall that in the Classical world since Empedocles in the fifth century many writers accepted the notion that the 27

See VanderKam, "Genesis 1 in Jubilees 2," 319-21. Daniel Schwartz, "Law and Truth: On Qumran-Sadducean and Rabbinic Views of Law," in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Forty Years of Research (ed. Devorah Dimant and Uriel Rappaport; Leiden: Brill, 1992), 229-41. I do not wish to suggest any more general point than that the Sabbath law in Jubilees is a parade example of the category; how widely the realist/nominalist distinction is applicable is a debated point. I am grateful to Martha Himmelfarb for discussing the subject with me and for allowing me to read her essay '"Found Written in the Book of Moses': Priests in the Era of Torah," now published in Was 70 CE a Watershed in Jewish History? On Jews and Judaism before and after the Destruction of the Second Temple (ed. Daniel R. Schwartz and Zeev Weiss; Leiden: Brill, 2012), 21-41. Doering has commented on the realist nature of Jubilees' understanding of the Sabbath (Lutz Doering, Schabbat: Sabbathalacha und -praxis im Antiken Judentum und Urchristentum [TSAJ 78; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1999], 116). 28

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four basic elements were earth, air, water, and fire. 29 As air and fire are not mentioned in Gen 1, we see that the two that are mentioned there - earth and water - are the elements to which Jubilees denies a role in creation. Earth: We can gain something of the aura surrounding earth from Hesiod who, in The Theogony (e.g., 106, 108), spoke of earth being the first, after unformed chaos; earth then gave birth to heaven and the two became the ancestors of the gods associated with all parts of the creation (144210). In 116-17 he refers to her as "wide-bosomed earth, the ever-sure foundation of all" (LCL [trans. H. G. Evelyn-White]). Plato among others embraced Empedocles's theory of the four elements, and he operates with them in the Timaeus (e.g., §§31-32) where he calls the earth "our nurse" (§40). Earth and heaven gave birth to the next pair Ocean and Tethys (§41). The work also contains an explanation of how humans are composed of the elements (§§42-46) and a long treatment of the nature of the four (after §48). Philo too deals with the earth in his work Creation and cites his dependence on Plato. It seems that the earth too is a mother. For this reason the first humans decided to call her Demeter, combining the words for mother (meter) and earth (ge). For, as Plato has said, it is not earth who has imitated woman, but rather woman who has imitated earth. The race of poets are quite correct in calling it 'mother of all' and 'crop-bearer' and 'giver of all' (Pandora), since for all living beings and plants alike it is the cause of birth and continuing existence. It was quite reasonable, therefore, that nature equipped the earth, as oldest and most fertile of mothers, with flowing rivers and springs like breasts, so that it could both water the plants and provide a generous supply of drink for all living beings. (Creation §133 [trans. Runia])

Water: Water was also suggestive and centrally important in cosmogonical contexts. In the mythological texts found at Ugarit, Yamm is divine and frightening. Water's primordial role is familiar from texts such as Enuma Elish in which Tiamat and Apsu are the first pair and progenitors of the gods. Moreover, it is Tiamat whose corpse supplies the building blocks of the universe. Whatever may be the relation between that version of origins and Gen 1, Enuma elish was available in the Hellenistic period because Berossus recounted it in Greek (ca. 290; frg. 1). In the classical world, Thales is remembered for, among other things, declaring water to be the beginning of everything. As noted earlier, Empedocles included it among his four elements. Even a writer such as Xenophanes, who approached these matters quite differently, said "for all things are from earth and into earth all things end" (frg. 23). Indeed, the same Xenophanes is credited with combining the two elements, claiming

29

Philo refers to people who deify the four elements (Decalogue

52-54).

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that "all that have generation and growth are earth and water" and "we all have our generation from earth and water" (frgs. 29, 33).30 We could add that the Hebrew Bible supplies some exciting glimpses of the frightening face of sea at the time of creation. Job 38:8-11 (see also Jer 5:22; Ps 46:3, 74:12-15; 77:16-19; 89:9-10; and Isa 51:9-11) is especially gripping. 31 There God asks: Or who shut in the sea with doors / when it burst out from the womb? - / when I made the clouds its garment, / and thick darkness its swaddling band, / and prescribed bounds for it / and set bars and doors, / and said, "Thus far shall you come and no farther, / and here shall your proud waves be stopped?"

Earth and water were not just ordinary parts of reality. There is no firm evidence, but I wonder whether some of the associations borne by earth and sea in the wider Hellenistic world had some influence on the way in which the author of Jubilees refashioned Gen 1. I am not the first to broach the wider question whether Jubilees' retelling of the creation account owes a measure of debt to Hellenistic influences, although no one, so far as I know, has suggested precisely the possible influences underscored above. Cana Werman has maintained with appropriate caution that Jubilees, in emphasizing God's role in history and the centrality of Jewish laws, was written in response to Jewish philosophical literature. This becomes evident from comparison of its Creation story to what is related in Hellenistic Jewish literature. Jubilees stresses that the world was created not by speech but by action. Though in Genesis 1 speech and action appear together ..., the expression "And God said . . . " does not appear in the Creation story in Jubilees 2, which stresses only action. ... An obvious effort is made to reject the idea that it was G o d ' s "Word," not his "Hands" that operated. 32

She then goes on to highlight some of the uses of the number seven in the passage (though, as she notes, 22 is more important) and adduces references to its significance in Aristobulus and Philo. 33 It seems to me she is on the right track in discerning a connection between the creation section 30 The citations of Xenophanes are from M. R. Wright, Cosmology in Antiquity (Sciences of Antiquity; London and New York: Routledge, 1995), 60. 31 Michael Fishbane's Biblical Myth and Rabbinic Mythmaking (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 31-92, details the interplay of the ancient Near Eastern and biblical themes regarding water's primordial role. 32 Cana Werman, "Jubilees in the Hellenistic Context," in Heavenly Tablets: Interpretation, Identity and Tradition in Ancient Judaism (ed. Lynn R. Lidonnici and Andrea Lieber; JSJSup 119; Leiden: Brill, 2007), 156. A subject often mentioned as a borrowing by Jubilees from Hellenistic sources is its map of the world (e.g., Werman, "Jubilees in the Hellenistic Context," 136-41, who cites earlier studies). 33 Werman, "Jubilees in the Hellenistic Context," 156-57.

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in Jubilees and contemporary thought about origins, but she has not dealt with the treatment of earth and sea in the book - items that just may be responses to their associations in the wider world of the second century BCE. The above amounts to less than an overwhelming case in support of the idea, but I think it is a reasonable inference that the writer of Jubilees, who is usually regarded as quite narrow in his outlook, was aware of current discussions about creation - perhaps among fellow Jews, perhaps even among non-Jews - and shaped his rewriting of the scriptural material to address claims he found dangerous or at least to prevent anyone from drawing them from Gen 1 as rightly understood.

The Rabbinic Ban on Ma 'aseh Bereshit: Sources, Contexts and Concerns Y A I R FURSTENBERG

Early rabbinic writings - Mishnah, Tosefta and Tannaitic Midrash - explicitly restrict the exploration of the creation story or the investigation of the period before "God created man on earth" or beyond "owe end of heaven to the other." The date and origin of this ban, however, is shrouded in fog, and much of our knowledge of this issue, including debates, examples and justifications, derives only from later amoraic sources: the two Talmuds and Genesis Rabbah. In the case of a sensitive issue such as creation, anxieties may change and new religious and intellectual challenges arise. We cannot therefore assume that the concerns of the third and fourth-century Amoraim represent the original meaning and purpose of the ban, and research of its origins inevitably necessitates a separate inquiry into the earliest sources at our disposal. The tannaitic sources are extremely slim, however. 1 Therefore, any such inquiry depends first and foremost on the choice of a corpus against which these rabbinic sources are to be read. Prima facie, a most relevant text, which can arguably elucidate the rabbinic apprehension, is Irenaeus' attack against the heretical practices of Genesis exegesis, as he spells out the disastrous results of unrestrictedly expounding the creation story: Every one of them [the heretics] generates something new, day by day, according to his ability; for no one is deemed 'perfect' who does not develop among them some mighty fictions. Moses, then, they declare, by his mode of beginning the account of the creation, has at the commencement pointed out the mother of all things when he says 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth'; for, as they maintain, by naming these four: God, Beginning, Heaven and Earth, he set forth their Tetrad. 2

According to Irenaeus' description of Valentinian theology, By thus and Sige, Nous and Aletheia, which stand at the head of the creation story,

1

Alon Goshen-Gottstein, "Is Ma 'aseh Bereshit part of Ancient Jewish Mysticism?" JJTP 4 (1995): 185. 2 Irenaeus, Haer. 1.18.1 (ANF 1.343).

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dominate the root of all things and precede creation. 3 In response, Irenaeus restricts the investigation of Scripture, and demands to leave some questions in the hands of God: If, for instance, anyone asks, 'What was God doing before he made the world?' we reply that the answer to such a question lies with God Himself. No Scripture reveals to us what God was employed about before this event ... and it is not proper for us to aim at bringing forward foolish, rash and blasphemous suppositions in reply to it; so as by o n e ' s imagining that he has discovered the origin of matter, he should in reality set aside God himself who made all things. 4

Not surprisingly, scholars have tended to understand the rationale for the rabbinic ban as similar to Irenaeus' attitude. Seemingly, the rabbis too were concerned lest some "heretical" views of creation involving multiple primordial powers and negative entities should penetrate into their pure monotheistic worldview. 5 Thus, Ephraim E. Urbach, in his chapter on creation in rabbinic thought claims that "ideas and motifs borrowed from the cosmogonic teachings of the Persians, Greeks and Gnostic sects infiltrated into the circles that came in contact with the rabbis. All these were sufficient to make this study of the 'work of creation' an esoteric doctrine." 6 According to Urbach, the rabbis were defending their monotheistic worldview specifically against "Gnostic" descriptions of creation, and therefore much of their exegesis was geared towards the rejection of these interpretations. Such a view has also been put forward more recently by Philip Alexander, who claims that specific heretical doctrines were rejected by the rabbis from the creation story: "A reading would be absolutely unacceptable if it claimed that the angels assisted God in the creation of the world, or that there was a plurality of divine powers, or that the created world is evil." 7 As a legitimate substitute, the rabbis created an "orthodox" 3

Irenaeus, Haer. 1.1.1 (ANF 1.316). Irenaeus, Haer. 2.28.3 (ANF 1.400). For a similar view, see Tertullian, Prescription against Heresies 7 (ANF 3.246). 5 The comment of Gershom Scholem is revealing in this respect. Scholem claims that in contrast to Gnostic literature and to medieval Kabbalistic speculation of the divine, Merkabah mysticism shows no interest in cosmogony, but only in cosmology (Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism [New York: Schocken, 1961], 73-74). However, in reference to m. Hagigah he adds: "nevertheless it is possible that there was a speculative phase in the very beginning and that the famous passage in the Mishnah which forbids the questions: 'What is above and what is below, what is before and what is after?' refers to theoretical speculation in the matter of the Gnostics." 6 Ephraim E. Urbach, The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1975), 184. See also Alexander Altmann, "Gnostic Themes in Rabbinic Cosmology," in Essays Presented to J. H. Hertz (ed. Isidore Epstein, Joseph Herman Hertz, Ephraim Levine and Cecil Roth; London: E. Goldston, 1942), 19-32. 7 Philip Alexander, "Pre-Emptive Exegesis: Genesis Rabba's Reading of the Story of Creation," JJS 43 (1992): 243 n. 17. On all these issues see for example Gen. Rab. 1:3 4

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view of creation, rejecting any kind of speculation and containing only the elements suitable to their view of Torah, morality, and redemption. 8 In a similar manner, Alon Goshen-Gottstein points to one major element in the creation story with which the rabbis must have felt uncomfortable: the nature of the primordial elements. In Genesis Rabbah, the tohu vabohu (Gen 1:2) is compared to sewers, dunghills and garbage upon which the world was founded, thus threatening to undermine the quality of God's creation. 9 Although this issue appears explicitly only in the later Genesis Rabbah, Goshen-Gottstein assumes that it inevitably troubled early authorities who restricted exegesis of Gen 1. Hence, much of rabbinic exegesis should be seen as an attempt to grapple with these primal negative elements, which disgrace God by casting a shadow on God's creation. 10 At the same time, Goshen-Gottstein's suggestion discloses the problematic assumption that, as with Irenaeus, it was pre-creation that generated rabbinic anxiety. Seemingly, the rabbis feared that "heretical" views, which impinge upon God's honor, would penetrate through this point. However, as scholars have pointed out, the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo was established only towards the third century CE as a response to the increasing impact of Greco-Roman physical thought on biblical exegesis." This specific doctrine is not known from Second Temple writings, and generally no anxiety about the world before creation is detected in this lit-

(ed. Julius Theodor and Chanoch Albeck, Midrash Bereshit Rabba [Jerusalem: Wahrman, 1965], 5): "All agree that none (of the angels) were created on the first day, lest you should say, Michael stretched the world in the south and Gabriel in the north"; Gen. Rab. 1:7 (p. 4): "and no person can dispute and maintain that two powers gave the Torah or two powers created the world"; Gen. Rab. 1:10 (p. 9): "Why was it created with the letter beth, why not with an alef? In order not to provide justification for heretics (minim) to plead, ' H o w can the world endure seeing that it was created with the language of cursing?' (the word arur, curse, starts with an alef}." 8 Alexander attempts to overcome the apparent contradiction between the Mishnah, which prohibits the learning, and Genesis Rabbah, which deals with it quite extensively. This idea was developed in much detail by Peter Schäfer, "Bereshit Bara Elohim: Bereshit Rabba, Parashah 1, Reconsidered," in Empsychoi Logoi: Religious Innovations in Antiquity (ed. Alberdina Houtman, Albert de Jong, and Magda Misset-van de Weg; Leiden: Brill, 2008), 267-89. 9 Gen. Rab. 1:5 (p. 3). 10 Goshen-Gottstein, "Is Ma'aseh Bereshit part of Ancient Jewish Mysticism?" 199; and in detail, Goshen-Gottstein, "The Myth of Ma 'aseh Bereshit in the Amoraic Literature" [in Hebrew], Eshel Be 'er Sheva 4 (1996): 58-77. 11 David Winston, "The Book of W i s d o m ' s Theory of Cosmogony," HR 11 (1971): 185-202; Maren Niehoff, "Creatio ex Nihilo Theology in Genesis Rabbah in light of Christian Exegesis," HTR 99 (2005): 37-64. For a different view see Menahem Kister, "Tohu wa-Bohu: Primordial Elements and Creatio ex Nihilo," JSQ 14 (2007): 2 2 9 - 5 6 .

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erature. 12 Indeed, Josef Dan has recently downplayed the significance of heretical or foreign cosmogonies for understanding rabbinic conceptions of creation. 13 After all, he claims, plenty of sources refer to previous worlds and even negative entities, but none of these are ever claimed to be heretical. 14 The question then remains: why does the Mishnah, prior to the amoraic refutation of heretical views on this issue, already express anxiety with the creation story? Dan admits his inability to adequately explain the mishnaic prohibition. In what follows I suggest an alternative path of inquiry. Instead of speculating about the reasons for the ban as part of an assumed struggle with heretics, I link it to Second Temple attitudes towards the mysteries of creation. Although this issue is not fixed within one context (after all, concerns shift and intellectual trends change) we can discern within the tannaitic sources threads from Wisdom literature and Qumran writings, to which popular Hellenistic notions were later attached. I argue that the scope of the ban in the tannaitic sources is a product of an ongoing process in which the fields of restricted knowledge were crystallized. These mysteries of creation are not those of protology or, in the words of Irenaeus, what God was doing before he made the world, but rather the underlying structure of creation that embodies history, fate, and human action.

The Mysteries of Ben Sira and Mishnah Hagigah 2:1 Mishnah Hagigah 2:1 is the earliest rabbinic source to restrict the study of ma'aseh bereshit. As scholars have previously noticed, the Mishnah is composed of three parts, even though the relationship between these parts is unclear: 15 12

This seems also to be the case with Philo in his description of the creation of the world, which closely follows Plato's Timaeus. As David Runia claims, "Philo does not seem to give a clear answer to the question of the origin of matter because, unlike later Christian thinkers challenged by Gnosticism, he is not constrained to take a radical position against any form of dualism with regard to the question of the origin of evil" (Philo of Alexandria, On the Creation of the Cosmos according to Moses: Introduction, Translation and Commentary [trans. David T. Runia; Leiden: Brill, 2001], 153). 13 Joseph Dan, History of Jewish Mysticism and Esotericism: Ancient Times [in Hebrew] (vol. 2; Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center, 2008), 4 0 1 - 3 1 , esp. 410. 14 For example, R. Shimon the Hasid refers to the generations that were ordained to be created before this present world, but instead were planted as the insolent people of every generation (b. Hag. 13b-14a). Apparently, he too imagines the world before creation in negative terms. 15 Urbach, Sages, 193: "This sentence [part B] emanates from a different source from that of this mishna, which permits exposition of maaseh bereshit before one disciple"; David J. Halperin, The Merkabah in Rabbinic Literature (New Haven, CT: American

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The biblical division on illicit sexual relations (arayot) may not be expounded by three, nor the creation story (ma 'aseh bereshit) by two, nor the chariot (merkabah) by one alone, unless he was wise 16 and understood on his own accord. Anyone who gazes at four things, it would be merciful for him had he not come into the world: 1 7 What is above and what below, what is ahead and what is behind. Anyone who has no concern for the honor of his owner it would be merciful for him had he never come into the world. 18

This mishnah is first and foremost a curricular statement. After the previous mishnah (1:8) discussed the scriptural basis for various fields of study, this mishnah goes on to set the modes of study, or instruction, 19 regarding specifically problematic pericopes: illicit sexual relations (arayot, Lev 18 and 20); the whole creation story (ma'aseh bereshit, Gen l:l-2:3); 2 0 and Ezekiel's vision of the divine chariot (merkabah, Ezek 1). As Halperin has shown, the ban on publically expounding these passages stands in close relation to the list of problematic passages not to be publically read or translated in the synagogue. 21 Indeed, the two sources seem to reflect similar educational concerns in the academy and the synagogue over reading, translating and expounding Scripture. 22

Oriental Society, 1980), 22: "These considerations lead me to treat M. Hag. 2:1 as a compilation of three distinct sources, whose original relation to one another is unclear"; Peter Schäfer, The Origins of Jewish Mysticism (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 181. 16 Alternatively, "scholar" (cf. m. Yoma 1:6; Halperin, Merkabah, 26). 17 Translation according to Rashi (b. Hag. 1 lb) who explains the verb ' l r n in the sense of mercy. Alternatively, the Mishnah here is using the same idiom as Jesus when he refers to the fate of his betrayer (Matt 26:24): KotX.öv rjv atixcp ei OÜK eyevvf|9TI 6 ävOpoiitoq F.KEWOC, "It would be better for that man if he had not been born." 18 The translation is based on the MS Kaufmann version. 19 Halperin, Merkabah, 3 5 - 3 6 claims that the setting of the interdictions has been revised. What was initially a demand for solitary study of the merkabah was transformed to limit the instruction of these three subjects. It seems however that the Mishnah is referring to an academic setting, which includes both modes of learning. 20 That the term ma'aseh bereshit applies to Gen 1:1-2:3 is evident, inter alia, from the sources on the Maamadot gatherings parallel to priestly worship in the temple. In the course of these public gatherings, which lasted a week, the corresponding unit of ma 'aseh bereshit was read each day (m. Ta 'an. 4:2-3). 21 m. Meg. 4:10; t. Meg. 3:31-38 (ed. Lieberman, pp. 362-63). 22 Halperin (Merkabah, 5 2 - 5 9 ) surveys all fifteen passages in Megillah and the problems posed by each: sexual content (including the incest laws), concealment of the shame of Israel, and fear of prohibited speculation. The portions included in m. Hagigah, according to Halperin, are publically read during the holidays and were therefore of special concern for the rabbis. Schäfer, in contrast, chooses one underlying principle to explain m. Hagigah, to safeguard the honor of God (on this motif see more in GoshenGottstein, "Is Ma 'aseh Bereshit part of Ancient Jewish Mysticism?" 200). According to Schäfer (Origins, 185), arayot was not an original component of this mishnah and it had been added only due to its appearance in the previous mishnah. Schäfer establishes his

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At the same time, the Mishnah here is clearly not interested only in defining an appropriate curriculum. In the subsequent sections it warns against gazing in all directions [B], and then follows with a general warning against neglecting the honor of God [C], The reader is thus left to wonder what the exact relationship is between the restrictions in part [A] and the concerns in parts [B-C]. This is especially puzzling in respect to the restriction on ma 'aseh bereshit, which seems to echo in part [B] ("what is ahead")- Does the Mishnah suggest that improper exegesis of the creation story includes, is equal to, or at least can lead to a prohibited gaze? This, at any rate, is the Talmud's assumption as it explains the fear of publically reading the creation story: "lest they come to inquire, what is above and what is below, what is ahead and what is behind." 23 In addition, some Talmudic passages identify all four dimensions in section [B] within the realm of ma'aseh bereshit. For example, the Tosefta, to which we shall return, concludes that one is not to inquire into the days of creation: "From the day that God created man upon the earth and on you may expound. You may not expound upon what is above, what is below, what was in the past and what is in the future." Noticeably, the Tosefta links sections [A] and [B] of the Mishnah by changing the terms nnN17\n,]D17, ahead/back, into definite temporal terms nvn1? TruArrn, past/future. Such correspondence between ma 'aseh bereshit [A] and the dimensions mentioned in section [B] is also assumed in the following homily: "R. Yona in the name of R. Levi: the world was created with the letter bet. As the letter bet is closed from all sides and open from one side, so you do not have permission to expound upon what is above, what is below, what is in front and what is in back." 24 Then again, one might suggest that the restrictions in [A] are caused by the fear of offending God's honor [C]. Such an interpretation may reflect back on the dimensions mentioned in [B], Perhaps this section is directed against intruding on God in his own external spheres, beyond the boundaries of the created world? These readings are indeed possible; however, it should be noticed that they are merely conjectured from the juxtaposition

claim on the surprisingly similar list of prohibited biblical passages mentioned by Origen: Genesis, Ezekiel (and Song of Songs) but not arayot. 23 b. Meg. 25a-b; b. Tamid 32a. In this vein, Schäfer suggests that parts [ B - C ] deal with the question of creation alone and they emanate from ma'aseh bereshit in unit [A], Thus, according to Schäfer (Origins, 181), "What is above and what is below" is cosmology, "what is before and what is after" refers to cosmogony and eschatology. 24 y. Hag. 2:1 (77c). Goshen-Gottstein points out the anomaly of this homily, since the letter bet does not actually represent the complete blockage of all four directions; see Goshen-Gottstein, "What is Above and What is Below, What is in Front and What is in Back" [in Hebrew], Proceedings of the World Conference for Jewish Studies 3.1 (1990): 61-68. He therefore asserts that the formula in [B] did not in fact refer originally to ma'aseh bereshit (see following note).

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of the three sections. After all, in contrast to merkabah study, 25 one would hesitate to claim that the halakhic field of arayot is also restricted in [A] for the reasons spelled out in [B-C], What, then, is the place of ma'aseh bereshit in the mishnah as a whole? In order to better understand the relationship between the different parts of the mishnah and the role of ma 'aseh bereshit in the mishnah as a whole, I suggest turning to the foundational source dealing with hidden knowledge, namely the Wisdom of Ben Sira, which the Mishnah seems to follow at this point. Evidently, Ben Sira's warning against inquiring into the mysteries (3:21-22) was known, in one version or another, in rabbinic circles. The Hebrew version found in the Geniza reads as follows: 26 m o n ^ r D'ra1?! npnn "|»a noisai m-ino:n poy Y? TNI

' a m ¡ran '3 an-nn bx -|»a mx^s p m r u irtimn® nan

For abundant is the mercy of God, and to the humble he reveals his secret. What is too sublime for you, seek not; what is hidden from you, search not. What has been permitted to you, look upon; have no business with mysteries. 27

As part of Ben Sira's humility, and you will warns of pretentiously not disclose the exact 25

exhortation on humility, "In your riches, 28 walk in be loved more than a giver of gifts" (3:17), he also claiming hidden knowledge. At this point, he does content of this knowledge, only its presumptuous

Indeed, Goshen-Gottstein contends that [B] has nothing to do with the creation story, but rather to the merkabah itself, and to the faces of the chariot. Above, below, before and behind are all sides of the merkabah or even of God himself. Although the Tosefta explicitly coins this same phrase in temporal terms, and connects it to the creation story, Goshen-Gottstein claims on the basis of external sources that it is a secondary interpretation of the early Mishnah ("Is Ma'aseh Bereshit part of Ancient Jewish Mysticism?" 187-93). 26 For the sake of comparing this Ben Sira logion to the statements in the Mishnah, I quote the Hebrew versions of these verses, which are documented already in the talmudic literature (see next note). I do not however claim the supremacy of the Hebrew version at this point over the Greek one. 27 The two Genizah fragments differ slightly. For our current purposes it is important to note that both witnesses (and the version in b. Hag. 13a) include the two synonymous verbs I t m n and Tlpl"11"1 (although they change positions) and the verb pi3nn. In y. Hag. 2:1 [77c]), on the other hand, the verb a m is omitted (after Ps 139:6): ,jnn na nx,l7S m-inoia poy i1? r x nrpamniz? naa \ n p n n na ^INIPB npiau. Gen. Rab. 8:2 (p. 58) seems to conflate the two versions. This version adds a sense of a powerful and strong knowledge: \-nprw "73 i a a noi3a3 ,inn "73 naa s^Diaa Vnpnn "73 naa p r m ,un-nri "73 i a a VTH3 .nnno33 poi? i"? I'N ,pi3nn nrniniTO na3. Compare the Greek: XA^ETWXEPD GOD ni) ¡^TEI KAI iaxupoxepa aov jarj E^exa^e- a jtpooEtayri csot, xauxa Siavooii, ot> yap Eaxiv aot XP E i a T(BV KpUJtXCOV. 28 According to some of versions (Genizah MS A; Syriac), "in your wealth" ("pTO3); Greek, "in your affairs."

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nature. 29 This warning can be likened to a midrash in Genesis Rabbah: "Rab Huna said in the name of Bar Kappara, 'Let lying lips be stilled that speak haughtily against the righteous with pride and contempt' (Ps 3 1 : 1 9 ) - 'against the Righteous' who is the Life of all worlds - things that he has kept away from his creatures. 'With pride' : in order to be proud and say, 'I expound ma'aseh bereshit.,"id Both sources condemn the arrogant pursuit of concealed knowledge, which Rab Huna identifies here as ma 'aseh bereshit. Whereas the midrash mentioned in the previous section compares tohu va-bohu to sewers, dunghills, and garbage, finding fault in the specific object of examination, both Ben Sira and Rab Huna condemn the arrogant enterprise of revealing hidden mysteries. The Mishnah also seems dependent on Ben Sira, although on a more literal level. Here too we can identify a development from a general prohibition of hidden knowledge to specific problematic fields of inquiry. As mentioned above, the Mishnah juxtaposes a source [A] discussing the adequate way of studying specific subjects with a warning [B] against looking above and below, ahead and behind. In the first section the main verb is Em, translated here as "expound," and in the second section the verb is 'jDnon (gaze, look unto). Since the verbs t£H7 and Morion do not frequently appear together in rabbinic literature, it is noteworthy that this literary structure corresponds closely to Ben Sira's logion quoted above: it opens with a n n n (and its synonym npnn) then shifts to the verb imnn. Since the biblical verb piann is interchangeable with the Mishnaic Hebrew "7Dnon,31 we have here the same pair of verbs. As this can hardly be a coincidence, I would argue that the Mishnah's formulation follows the literary shape of Ben Sira's fundamental statement. In spite of some differences - most notably the transformed meaning of the verb S'~n from general inquiry into rabbinic study - the traces of the early literary pattern are still patent.

29 Some have found here a reference to the rejection of Greek learning. Cf. Martin Hengel, Judaism and Hellenism (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974), 139; Patrick W. Skehan and Alexander A. di Leila, The Wisdom of Ben Sira (AB; New York: Doubleday, 1987), 160. In contrast, others see these verses as a response to Jewish groups that propound esoteric teaching. For a synthesized view see Angelo Passaro, "The Secrets of God: Investigation into Sir. 3:21-24," in The Wisdom of Ben Sira: Studies in Tradition, Redaction and Theology (ed. Passaro; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2008), 155-71. 30 Gen. Rab. 1:5 (pp. 2 - 3 ) . 31 This pair of verbs is brought by Bendavid as an example of what he terms "automatic replacements" from Biblical Hebrew to Mishnaic Hebrew (Abba Bendavid, Leshon Mikra ve'Leshon Chakhamim [Tel Aviv: Devir, 1967], 340). For example, in Avot R. Nat. 1:2 (pp. 12-13): " T have covenanted with my eyes not to gaze (pisnN) on a maiden.' We learn that Job was stringent and did not even gaze (^DriDJ) on a maiden."

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But there is more to it. The last term that Ben Sira uses to denote the hidden knowledge, m~ino], actually has a very specific meaning elsewhere in his text. With regard to God's knowledge, Ben Sira writes nis^n mnn n n n o j ^ n rfnm n r n n , "He makes known the past and the future and reveals the deepest secrets" (42:19). And again, speaking of the prophecy of Isaiah: ixin ^s1? rn-inon .nvna Tin n^is? is, "He foretold what should be till the end of time, hidden things that were yet to be fulfilled" (48:25). Mysteries (rmrio]) appears synonymous with past and future (nrmi m s ^ n ) or at least with the future (nvru), and that knowledge is concealed with God. Ben Sira's prohibition of looking at mysteries (3:24) can therefore be understood to refer specifically to uncovering past occurrences and revealing in a prophetical manner future events, all presumably within the scope of world history. With this specific meaning of ni~in03 in Ben Sira we return to m. Hag. 2:1. Lowenstamm, in an article dedicated to the phrase "what is above and what is below, what is ahead and what is behind," has discussed at length the question of whether to interpret "ahead and behind" as spatial or temporal. 32 He understands this mishnah as reflecting a biblical and Mesopotamian notion, that God alone is present in and oversees all corners of the world. 33 Of special import is an Akkadian letter that includes a similar pattern: "He oversees what is in front and what is behind, what is to the right and what is to the left, what is above and what is below, the most exalted king of Gods." According to Lowenstamm's interpretation of the mishnah, humans, in contrast to God, are restricted from exploring all edges of the cosmos. 34 However, we should notice the development of this notion, of God's allencompassing knowledge, from its biblical, spatial usage to later sources. 35 This is again reflected by Ben Sira, who explicitly adds God's knowledge of future and past. Thus we read in the very first verses of the book: "All wisdom comes from the Lord, and is with him forever. Who can number the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of eternity? Who can find out the height of heaven, and the breadth of the earth, and the deep, and wisdom?" And again: "He searches out the abyss and the human heart; their secrets he understands; for the Most High possesses all 32 Samuel E. Lowenstamm, "What is Above and What is Below, What is Ahead and What is Behind" [in Hebrew] in Yekhezkel Kaufmann Jubilee Book (ed. Menachem Haran; Jerusalem: Magnes, 1961), 112-21. 33 "For He sees to the ends of the earth" (Job 28:24); "If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I descend to Sheol, You are there too. If I take wing with the dawn to come to rest on the western horizon, even there Your hand will be guiding m e " (Ps 139:9-10). 34 Subsequently he asserts that section [B] of the Mishnah was initially directed against a Gnostic speculation of creation (Lowenstamm, "What is above," 119). 35 See also Job 11:8; 38:18.

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knowledge, and he sees the things that are to come forever. He makes known the past and the future, and reveals the deepest secrets" (42:1819).36 In light of the persistence of this mystery theme in Ben Sira, it is not surprising to find a close parallel in the Mishnah too. Noticeably, Ben Sira mentions four dimensions that God encompasses: His knowledge is high (height of heaven), wide (breadth of earth), deep (the depths of the abyss and the heart), and of all times. As for the Mishnah, in addition to "what is above and what is below," high and deep, it prohibits gazing at "what is ahead and what is behind." It is therefore plausible that these are the mysteries of the past (ahead) and the future (behind) confined to God alone. 37 The points of contact between m. Hag. 2:1 and Ben Sira's sayings on hidden knowledge seem to locate the Mishnah's limitations on ma'aseh bereshit within the tradition put forth by Ben Sira 3:21-22. The redactor of the Mishnah has probably been inspired by Ben Sira's logion, as he juxtaposed the verbs, c m and ^Dnon, expounding and gazing. In addition, the specific dimensions of knowledge, which are beyond human reach, fit Ben Sira's description of God's unique knowledge. Finally, both sources are concerned with setting the boundaries between proper wisdom, or fields of study, and undesirable mysteries.

Qumranic Raz Nihyeh and Mishnah Hagigah 2:1 Qumran literature is the next stage we arrive at as we trace the development of mystery themes from Ben Sira to the Mishnah. Although the sectarian writings clearly present an opposing stance towards this kind of knowledge, concepts and elements in texts from Qumran that react to Ben Sira's view of the mysteries seem to reappear in m. Hag. 2:1. Against this backdrop, I now attempt to reconstruct further the crystallization of the specific hidden fields of study mentioned in the Mishnah. A substantial group of Qumran texts bear witness to the appropriation of Wisdom literature in sectarian circles, and to the transformation of literary motifs and sapiential ideas. 38 Specifically, scholars have pointed out the 36

Cf. Ben Sira 39:20: "His gaze spans all the ages" (D^iy 7S?l n^lifa; coco x o i aicbvoi; el; tov aicova). 37 Compare 1 En 52:1-2 (Similitudes) as he learns of all the future kingdoms: "I had been carried off in a whirlwind and they had borne me towards the west. There my eyes saw all the secret things of heaven that shall be." 38 Menahem Kister, "Wisdom Literature and its Relation to Other Genres: From Ben Sira to Mysteries," in Sapiential Perspectives: Wisdom Literature in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls (ed. John J. Collins, Gregory E. Sterling and Ruth Clements; Leiden: Brill, 2004), 13-47. Torleif Elgvin, "Wisdom and Apocalypticism in the Early Second Century BCE: The Evidence of 4QInstruction," in The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years After their

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manifold dependencies on, borrowings of, and allusions to Ben Sira in Qumran texts, especially 4QInstruction. 39 It should not come as a surprise, then, that Ben Sira's admonition against inquiring into mysteries is echoed in these texts. Fragment 4Q416 2 iii of 4QInstruction contains a set of admonitions, which deal with characteristic wisdom issues such as debt, wealth and marriage. 40 Interestingly, this fragment assembles quite a few elements reminiscent of specific verses in Ben Sira (11. 8-12): Thou art needy, do not desire anything beyond your inheritance. ... But if he restores you, in glory walk in it (i.e. your inheritance). And through raz nihyeh (rrm n , the mystery that is to be) 41 investigate his birth time (• , 7 1 7is) 42 and then you will know his inheritance/fate. ... To him who glorified you give honor and praise his name continually. For from the start 43 he has lifted your head up and with the nobles he seated you. And over a glorious heritage he has placed you in authority. Seek out his goodwill continually.

This passage is similar to Ben Sira's discussion of true honor (10:1911:9). In particular, the latter part of this paragraph clearly depends on Ben Sira 11:1 ("the wisdom of the needy lifts up his head and with the nobles she seats him"). 44 At the same time, the difference is no less striking: both texts attribute the real honor and authority to wisdom, but in very different ways. In Ben Sira, the practical wisdom of the poor man is recognized by Discovery, Proceedings of the Jerusalem Congress July 1997 (ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman, Emanual Tov and James C. VanderKam; Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2000), 2 2 6 - 4 7 . See also the references in Florentino Garcia-Martinez, "Wisdom at Qumran: Worldly or Heavenly?" in Wisdom and Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Biblical Tradition (ed. Garcia-Martinez; Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2003), 1-16. 39 Emile Puech, "Ben Sira and Qumran," in Passaro, Wisdom of Ben Sira, 79-118. For a comparative presentation of Ben Sira and 4QInstruction as roughly contemporary texts see David Harrington, "Two Early Jewish approaches to Wisdom: Sirach and Qumran Sapiential Work A," in The Wisdom Texts from Qumran and the Development of Sapiential Thought (ed. Charlotte Hempel, Armin Lange and Herman Lichtenberger; Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2002), 263-75. 40 Published by John Strugnell, David Harrington and Torleif Elgvin, Qumran Cave 4 XXIV: Sapiential Texts, part 2 (DJD 34; Oxford: Clarendon, 1999), 110. 41 For a survey of possible translations of the term and discussion see Matthew J. Goff, The Worldly and Heavenly Wisdom of 4QInstructions (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 33-34. 42 That is, the arrangement of the stars in the time of the birth. See Matthew Morgenstern, "The Meaning of d't'jib JV3 in the Qumran Wisdom Texts," JJS 51 (2000): 141-44. 43 m i m - i n n n ttfioa 'n: The editors translate "For out of poverty He has lifted up thy head." Compare, however, Ben Sira 39:25: "Good things for the good he provided from the beginning" (ttfiOtt p"7n mtf? 310). 44 This association is pointed out by Benjamin G. Wright, "The Categories of Rich and Poor in the Qumran Sapiential Literature," in Collins et al., Sapiential Perspectives,

116.

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all, who then seat him among the nobles and honor him for his true virtues. In contrast, in the Qumran instruction it is the raz nihyeh, mystery that is to be, that glorifies man. This mystery (supposedly with the use of mantic practices) 45 enables access to each person's "inheritance" according to the divine plan. Thus, the social elevation is transformed into a spiritual one. Another allusion to Ben Sira, with a similar twist, appears just a few lines later, as Menahem Kister has recently pointed out (11. 15-18): 46 Honor your father in your poverty and your mother in your low estate. For as God is to a man, so is his own father, and as the Lords are to a person, so is his mother. ... And since he had set them in authority over you and fashioned you according to the spirit, so serve them. And since he has uncovered your ear to raz nihyeh, honor them for the sake of your honor.

This unit closely parallels verses in Ben Sira ch. 3, "The fearer of God will honor his father; And like his lords one will honor his mother" (3:7); "For the honor of the man is from the honor of his father" (3:11). At the same time, whereas Ben Sira only associates the fear of God with honor of parents, 4QInstruction identifies the two. The parents, like God, have authority over man and fashion him according to the spirit. In fact, the Qumran text is mainly concerned to justify one's obligation towards his parents ontologically. Here again, it is only through the knowledge of raz nihyeh that the real nature of the parents' spiritual inheritance is revealed. In between these two issues, 4QInstruction (11. 12-15) turns to those who neglect to seek knowledge through the study of raz nihyeh. This unit alludes back to Ben Sira's warning: "Have no business with mysteries." 47 . r a i m i » [NI]1?! ')» un -idsn nnN lvnx . r m r a t i m a n r n m m i ran1? i n s [ ] "73m naaDw ¡on now "wn .D^n nbiy 'trnifi? TON 'D-n "732 pmnm a n n rr™ n mi1? pirn nm wxh -in rra snn tsi You are needy; do not say 'I am needy and I will not study knowledge.' Bring your shoulder under all discipline, and with all [ ] ... refine your heart and with abundance of understanding (refine) your thoughts. Seek the raz nihyeh, and look unto all the ways of truth and all the roots of iniquity you shall contemplate. Then you shall know what is bitter for a person and what is sweet for a man. 48

Scholars have already observed the difference between Ben Sira and 4QInstructions on this issue. The study of mysteries that is prohibited according

45

Kister, "Widsom Literature and its Relation to Other Genres," 34. Menahem Kister, "Wisdom Literature in Qumran" [in Hebrew], in The Qumran Scrolls and their World (ed. Kister; Jerusalem: Ben Zvi, 2009), 309. 47 Interestingly, as in Ben Sira, this admonition too appears in proximity to his discussion on honoring parents. 48 4Q416 2 iii (12-15) [p. 110] = 4Q418 9 (13-16) [p. 234], 46

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to the former is deliberately required in the latter. 49 Indeed, both encourage discipline and wisdom using similar terms, such as "Bring your shoulder under all discipline" etc. (compare Ben Sira 6:23-28). However, 4QInstruction adds hidden knowledge, the raz nihyeh, as the peak of wisdom. Here, at this additional stage of study (in the third line), the same two verbs familiar to us both from the Mishnah and from Ben Sira appear together: c m and pinnn, seek and look. But now, in contrast to Ben Sira, they have become positive requirements. 50 The mysteries of past and future confined to God in Ben Sira, and prohibited later on in section [B] of the Mishnah, are transformed in Qumran into a systematic field of investigation, the raz nihyeh.51 This term, I would argue, serves to advance our understanding of some of the fields of study spelled out in the curricular section [A] of the Mishnah. According to Elgvin, 52 raz nihyeh refers first and foremost to God's mysterious plan for creation and history. The significance of creation in the raz nihyeh is quite explicit in another fragment of 4QInstructions: "Day and night meditate on raz nihyeh ... understand the creatures of God in all their ways with their destiny throughout all the periods of eternity as well as the eternal visitation. Then you will discern between good and evil ... by the raz nihyeh he designed its foundation, and its creatures with all wisdom" (4Q417 i 6 9). 53 But, as Elgvin has emphasized, delving into the mysteries of creation through raz nihyeh also has direct ramifications on the everyday life of the instructed. Through this mystery the inheritance of each and every person is revealed. Thus, as we have seen, raz nihyeh is essential for understanding the nature of one's own social and family relations. At this point the comparison to the range of issues mentioned in the Mishnah is illuminating. Besides the probable association of the field of ma 'aseh bereshit with the sectarian raz nihyeh, by which God designed the foundation of creation, the comparison may illuminate additional elements in the mishnah. As we have seen, the field of arayot ( n n s , [illicit] sexual relations) is restricted in section [A] of the mishnah alongside ma'aseh 49 Garcia-Martinez, "Wisdom in Qumran," 8. Goff, Worldly, 2 5 - 2 6 surveys alternative scholarly views of Ben Sira, according to which God does indeed reveal his mysteries to people. However, as Goff stresses, Ben Sira is not compatible with the apocalyptic world view, in which there is a system of revealed wisdom. 50 One additional contrast should be noted. Whereas Ben Sira turns to the wealthy and demands humility, including a limitation on their search for concealed knowledge, the Qumran text speaks to the needy (see Wright, "Categories"), commanding them to commit themselves to the study of raz nihyeh regardless of their deprived state. 51 Kister, "Wisdom Literature and its Relation to Other Genres," 31. 52 Elgvin, "Wisdom and Apocalypticism," 234-36. 53 Goff, Worldly, 32 emphasizes the deterministic framework, which governs the flow of things and which can be perceived by contemplating the mystery of creation.

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bereshit, although there is no clear connection between these two subjects. Each of them seems to be regarded as an esoteric teaching for different reasons, and the concealment of arayot is generally attributed either to its halakhic severity or to the general tendency to cover up sexual subject matters. However, this issue deserves reconsideration in light of the scope of raz nihyeh in the Qumran Instruction. Significantly, creation and arayot are juxtaposed also in 4QInstruction, and raz nihyeh is claimed to include both the secrets of creation and the secrets of the physical sexual bond. Following the command to honor one's parents, because they rule over one's spirit, in accordance with raz nihyeh, the Qumran text turns to the mysteries of marriage. Although not all the words can be reconstructed, they seem to require that the woman be chosen according to her horoscope 54 ( • 1 7 l ? i a ) in order to fit the raz nihyeh, This selection method is an essential prerequisite for establishing an enduring bond, which will transform them into one flesh. Thereby, the mystery of Gen 2:24 can come into effect: "Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife so that they become one flesh." 55 The text goes on to state that when a woman is united with her husband and becomes part of his inheritance, her parents lose their dominion over her. Clearly, this process is perceived not only as a legal transaction, but as an ontological transformation: "But you shall be made into unity with the wife of thy bosom, for she is flesh of your nakedness ("inny -ixw)." By importing the category of rrra (Lev 18) to the interpretation of Gen 2:24 the text conveys the idea that the transformation of the couple into one flesh (rvns) is more powerful than blood relation. In contrast to other elements in 4QInstructions, which are standard in Wisdom exhortations, the issue of unity through marriage is intrinsically linked to the ultimate kind of knowledge: the mystery of creation in the Qumran raz nihyeh. I would therefore suggest, as we return back to the Mishnah, that this issue illuminates the limitation on studying arayot alongside ma'aseh bereshit. Questions such as what sexual bond is considered legitimate and who is considered to be of the same flesh (Lev 18) have been a matter of dispute in Second Temple Judaism. 56 Scholars have

54

Lines 20 f.: ] m n z n n v av "iVnnn t i t r o - a n n m mm n » [ np m i y n n nnnp1? For a Christological interpretation of the mystery of this verse see Eph 5:31-32. 56 CD 5:8-10: "And each man takes as a wife the daughter of his brother and the daughter of his sister, but Moses said: ' D o not approach your mother's sister, she is the flesh of your mother.' The law of prohibited marriages written for males applies equally for females, and therefore to the daughter of a brother who uncovers the nakedness ( m i y ) of the brother of her father, for she is a blood relation ("INK' X'm - compare 4Q416 2 iv 5 riDmiy IKE* XT! 'D)." For a detailed discussion see Aharon Shemesh, Halakhah in the Making: The Development of Jewish Law from Qumran to the Rabbis (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), 80-95. Interestingly, the rabbis themselves regard 55

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noticed that sectarian literature turned at this point to the order of creation, and even derived legal conclusions from it.57 This quality of arayot, the laws of illicit sexual relations, seems to be reflected also in m. Hagigah. On the one hand, it is mentioned as one of the pillars of halakhic study in mishnah 1:8. On the other hand, in the next mishnah (2:1) it is depicted alongside the other fields of mystery, closely associated with the creation story. Following the sectarian tendency to subdue these matters to the raz nihyeh, the rabbis limited the study of arayot as part of the presumptuous search for the secrets of creation. In sectarian circles, the knowledge of all fields of mystery, past and future, was organized within the framework of the raz nihyeh. This mystery was closely associated with the knowledge of the foundation of creation which revealed the destiny of all creatures. Interestingly, much more than Ben Sira, this system stands in close relation to the specific fields of study mentioned in the Mishnah. The mystery of creation is the root of all knowledge, and it touches upon fundamental halakhic issues regarding the mystery of marriage. The field of ma 'aseh bereshit and arayot echo these issues in the Mishnah.

Interpretations of the Ban: Tosefta and Tannaitic Midrash Read against the backdrop of Wisdom and Qumran literature, ma'aseh bereshit in the Mishnah seems to be associated with the secrets of creation, such as Ben Sira's nvnn mo^n, all days of history, and the Qumran raz nihyeh, the inheritance of each creature. Nothing in the Mishnah's adaption of these traditions hints to an anxiety about what existed prior to creation or beyond the boundaries of the created world. Although this problem indeed excited some of the earliest interpreters of the ban, a careful reading of the tannaitic interpretations of the ban reveal that they too are concerned with the excessive investigation of the structured world. In what follows, I analyze the scope of the term ma 'aseh bereshit and its perils, according to the Tosefta and tannaitic midrashim. Finally, I suggest associating these assumed threats with a new conception of creation introduced into rabbinic

the niece to be your flesh, and they apply the verse "and not ignore your own flesh" (Isa 58:7) to the case of marrying a niece (b. Yebam. 62b). 57 According to CD 4:21, "They are caught twice in fornication: by taking two wives in their lives, even though the foundation of creation (nir-Qn n o 1 ) is 'male and female he created t h e m . ' " As Louis Ginsburg has already noted {An Unknown Jewish Sect [New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1976], 19-20), the author here is also alluding to Lev 18:18 in the arayot section. For an analysis of the term "foundation of creation" in this context, see Shemesh, Halakhah, 107-28.

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literature. This thread joins the previous two, Wisdom and Qumran literature, in shaping rabbinic attitudes towards the study of ma 'aseh bereshit. Interpretations of the mishnaic ban appear in the parallel midrashim on Deut 4:32: "You have but to inquire about bygone days that came before you, ever since the day God created man on earth, from one end of heaven to the other." The two Talmuds offer slightly different interpretations of this verse: y. Hag. 2:1 (77c)

b. Hag. l i b

R. Yonah in the name of R. Ba: It is written, "You have but to inquire about bygone days that came before you."

"You have but to inquire about bygone days that came before you." One asks and two do not ask.

[1] One might think that this applies to what comes before ma 'aseh bereshit? Scripture therefore says "ever since the day God created man on earth."

[1] One might think, one may inquire before the world was created. Scripture therefore says, "ever since the day God created man on earth."

[2] One might think that this applies only to the sixth day and onward? Scripture says "bygone days."

[2] One may think, one may not inquire concerning the six days of creation, Scripture says "bygone days that came before you."

Scripture expanded and reduced, thus we learn from the sixth day: As the sixth day is distinctive in being one of the days of creation, in the same manner you can include whatever is like the sixth day (i.e, all six days are allowed). [3] One might think that he can know what is above the heaven and what is below the abyss.

[3] One might think that one may inquire what is above what is below what is ahead and what is behind.

Therefore Scripture says, "and from one end of the heavens to the other."

Therefore Scripture says, "and from one end of the heavens to the other."

However, before the world was created you expound and your heart agrees. From the time the world was created, you go and your voice goes from one end of the world to the other.

From one end of the heaven to the other you ask, and you do not ask what is above, what is below, what is ahead and what is behind.

As this synopsis shows, these two sources share one core midrash. Although the verse explicitly permits inquiry only from the time of man's creation, this midrash allows it from the very first day of creation. Consequently, the entire story of creation is permitted for study, and the limits, both spatial and temporal, are set accordingly. The midrash excludes what is before creation and what is beyond the skies and beneath the abyss. Thus the midrash understands the phrase "what is above, what is below, what is ahead and what is behind" to refer to the external spheres, outside the

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boundaries of creation, rather than the structure of creation itself (which, as I suggested, was the original intent of the mishnaic ban). Although both versions reread the verse so as to allow inquiry into the creation story, they disagree about the degree to which it is permissible. The Palestinian version ingeniously reads the end of the verse "and from one end of the heavens to the other" not only as defining the content of inquiry, but also as an adverbial phrase: in contrast to what came before, the inquiry of creation may be publicized from one end of the world to the other. 58 The Babylonian version, on the other hand, shifts the limitation on the number of participants to the next stage so as to limit the study of the creation story to one person. 59 Nonetheless, no inherent problem with the study of the creation story is raised in these versions. An opposite position is reflected in two earlier, tannaitic versions of this midrash found in the Tosefta and Midrash Tannaim, both of which prohibit the study of all six days of creation, prior to creation of man. 60

Midrash Tannaim on Deuteronomy 18:13 "You shall be wholehearted" (trail): R. Eleazer Hakappar says that you should not think ill of G o d ' s ways (mpnn '311 "ins "imnn n'TO); for it is written "Ask now about the former days. " Does this apply before ma 'aseh bereshit? Scripture says "from the day God created man on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other" you examine, you cannot examine before that. 61

Seemingly, Midrash Tannaim prohibits the entire period of creation; however, its main significance lies in its association with the verse "You shall be wholehearted."62 It is not concerned with the danger of crossing the boundaries beyond the created world, but rather to accept human fate and 58

A shorter version of this same midrash appears in Gen. Rab. 1:10 (pp. 8 - 9 ) in the name of Bar Kappara. Here we learn of R. Yehudah b. Pazi who used to publically expound ma 'aseh bereshit following this ruling. 59 The possibility of publically expounding only from the sixth day after the creation of man is presented in Gen. Rab. 8:2 (p. 57) and 9:1, 67, on the creation of humans: "From the beginning of the book up to this point '/( is the glory of God to conceal a thing' (Prov 25:2), but from this point onward ' T h e glory of kings to search out a matter.'" For a discussion on these sources and their relationship to the overall stance of Genesis Rabbah see Alexander "Pre-Emptive Exegesis," 233-36. 60 Although in the Babylonian Talmud it is quoted in the authority of a tannaitic source, the parallel midrash in the Palestinian Talmud is brought by R. Yona in the name of R. Ba, who flourished towards the end of the third century CE. 61 Midrash Tannaim on Deuteronomy, ed. D. Z. Hoffmann, p. 110. 62 For a detailed account of the different views regarding the exact scope of the prohibition, see Berachyahu Lifshitz, "Expounding the Work of Creation" [in Hebrew], Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 3 (1983/4): 513-24.

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not find fault in God's ways of government. It is assumed that by examining the works of creation one is led to question the quality of God's work. A clear expression of this attitude is found in the following parable of R. Shimon b. Yochai on Deut 32:6 "Is not he your Father who created you? Has he not made you and established you?": This may be compared to a mortal king who built a palace. People entered it and criticized: If the columns were taller it would be beautiful; if the walls were higher it would be beautiful; if the ceiling were loftier it would be beautiful. Would any person come and say: "Oh if I only had three eyes or three feet, it would suit me nicely?" Surely not! 63

The perfect creation of the human body confirms the just ways by which God rules the world. Any criticism of God's works, represented here as a palace, is thus eliminated. One therefore must conclude, as explicated by the parallel Sifre: "He sits in judgment in respect to each and every one and provides him with what he deserves." Some scholars have attempted to see these statements as a reaction to so-called Gnostic or even Marcionite criticism of the Creator (demiurge). 64 However, one need not see any such allusions here. More instructive, in my opinion, is comparing this source to another parable in which the King's palace is condemned. Whereas in this story people enter the palace and find fault in the King's architectural skills, Rav offers a somewhat different picture: Rav said: [...] In our world [it is common that a] human king builds [his palace] place of sewage, a place of garbage and a place of rubbish. Everyone who passes by says, "This palace [was built] in a place of a sewage canal, in a place of garbage and place of rubbish" disgraces (the king). Similarly, does not everyone who passes by says, "The world is created from tohu va-bohu and darkness" disgrace God? 6 5

in a and in a and

As mentioned above, this source has played a significant role in shaping the scholarly view on the rabbinic ban against studying ma 'aseh bereshit,66 Whoever looks at the King's palace will subsequently find himself examining the foundations, which should better stay out of sight. In contrast, in 63

Gen. Rab. 12:1 (p. 98); Eccl. Rab. 2:12. For fuller detail see Sifre to Deuteronomy piska 307 (Herbert W. Basser, Midrashic Interpretations of the Song of Moses [New York: Peter Lang, 1984], 9 0 - 9 7 ) on the nearby verse (Deut 32:4) "The Rock! His deeds are perfect. Yea, all his ways are just," etc. Inter alia, the Sifre reads: "His work is perfect in respect to all who have come into the world and none may criticize his works, not even in the least. And none may consider and say 'Would that I had three eyes' etc." 64 Arthur Marmorstein, "The Background of the Haggadah," HUCA 6 (1929): 146-50 discusses the homilies in this piska of the Sifre, together with their parallel form in Genesis Rabbah, as entirely anti-Marcionite. Accordingly, he understands the ridiculous claim about three eyes and three hands as a refutation of Marcion's notion of the demiurge's wrongdoings. In contrast, the rabbi here emphasizes G o d ' s perfect creation. Urbach, Sages, 202 follows Marmorstein. 65 Gen. Rab. 1:5 (p. 3); y. Hag. 2:1 [77c]; b. Hag. 16a, in the name of R. Yochanan. 66 Goshen-Gottstein, "Is Ma 'aseh Bereshit part of Ancient Jewish Mysticism?" 199.

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R. Shimon b. Yochai's parable the inspectors are not standing outside but rather inside the palace and can therefore blame God only for its interior design. 67 The two parables are thus parallel to the two versions of the midrash on Deut 4:32. Whereas the Talmud's version is oriented towards the period before creation (the palace's foundations), Midrash Tannaim is concerned with the inquiry into the creation story (the palace's columns and ceilings), lest it lead people to question the quality of the divine work and to lose their wholeheartedness.

Tosefta Hagigah 2:7 In his thorough analysis of the "mystical collection" in t. Hag. 2, David Halperin claims that the version of the midrash incorporated in this collection is a "garbled derivative" of the more original version in the Talmuds. 68 Indeed, the manuscripts of the Tosefta record different versions of the midrash, both posing fundamental difficulties, and they clearly are not as elegant as the versions in the Talmuds. However, notwithstanding their difficulty, the versions in the Tosefta reveal the earliest interpretation of the rabbinic ban. Tosefta Hagigah 2:7 (quotation of section B in the Mishnah): Anyone who gazes (^snoa) at four things, it would be merciful to him had he not come into the world: what is above and what below, what is before and what is after. Version [a] (Vienna MS and editio

princeps)

Version [b] (Erfurt and London MSS)

[I] Maybe this applies before ma 'aseh bereshit? Scripture says "ever since the day that God created man upon the earth." [II] Maybe this applies before the order of the seasons was established? Scripture says " f r o m one end of the heaven to the other."

[I] Can one inquire about what was created before the world? Scripture says "Inquire about bygone days." [II] Can one inquire about what was before ma 'aseh bereshit? Scripture says "from one end of the heaven to the other."

[III] What then is the meaning of this Scripture "ever since the day that God created man upon the Earth?"

[III] What then is the meaning of this Scripture "ever since the day that God created man upon the Earth?"

From the day that God created man upon the earth and on you may expound ( a n n ) . You may not expound upon what is above, what is below, what was in the past and what in the future.

From the day that God created man upon the earth and onward you may inquire (jNlttf). You may not inquire about what is above, what is below, what was in the past and what is in the future.

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After all, how can humans who reside inside the world be imagined as standing outside and looking at its foundations? 68 Halperin, Merkabah, 100-3.

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In contrast to what it seems at first sight, question [I] refers to the verse itself: "You have but to inquire about bygone days etc." Thus, the midrash refers back to the mishnah quoted at the head, "Anyone who gazes at four things etc." only in the conclusion [III]: "You may not expound upon 69 what is above, what is below, what was in the past and what will be in the future." The Tosefta follows three stages of the creation story. According to version [a], question [I] is whether the inquiry about bygone days applies also to the period before ma 'aseh bereshit. In response the midrash quotes the end of the verse, which explicitly mentions the days after creation. Question [II] then asks whether one is allowed to inquire about some later period after the beginning of creation, before the establishment of the astronomical periods (mDipri n70). Such an inquiry is excluded due to the words "from one end of the heaven to another," which probably represents the creation of the sun on the third day, since it establishes periods of time. 70 We learn then that it is legitimate to inquire about the events after the establishment of the astronomical periods on the third day. But if so, why is the creation of man (on the sixth day) mentioned in the verse [question III]? In reply, the midrash introduces the verb EHl, expound, in contrast to the previous biblical verb "7¡, inquire. 71 Only from the creation of man is it permitted to expound, supposedly in public, and not what is above, below, ahead or behind. Significantly, all four directions mentioned in the Mishnah [B] represent, according to the Tosefta, the six-day creation, and not what is beyond it. In addition, the Tosefta points to at least one stage in the course of creation that is problematic and should not be inquired about at all, that is, the time before the third day when God created the sun and fixed the astronomical periods. Version [b] of the Tosefta is concerned with yet another stage of creation. The term ma 'aseh bereshit in version [a] has been interpreted as referring to the very first stage of creation. This is comparable to the parallel question [I] in version [b]: "Can one inquire about what was before the world had been created (n^iyn ¡on"!!' mip)?" However, the second question poses a problem. Instead of the creation of the sun and astronomical periods on the third day, the second question [II] of version [b] refers to 69 In version [a] the verb is "expound" ( a m ) , both in MS Vienna and in the editio princeps. Version [b] is inconsistent at this point. M S Erfurt reads "inquire" (^¡W) as in the previous lines, whereas MS London reads "expound," as in the first branch. This, therefore, seems to be the more substantiated version, which was distorted in MS Erfurt through the influence of the verb in the verse. 70 Saul Lieberman, Tosefta Kifshutah, part 4: Order Moed (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1962), 1296. 71 As mentioned above, this verb is attested in both versions of the Tosefta.

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the period before ma'aseh bereshit. Is the same question repeated twice according to this version? Lieberman claimed that the term ma'aseh bereshit in version [b] actually refers to the creation of the great lights, but there seems to be another possibility. 72 In reply to question [II] in version [b], it is stated that inquiry is limited " f r o m one end of the heaven to the other."13 This answer makes sense if we assume that the term ma'aseh bereshit is associated with the structure of the heavens. Indeed, the Tosefta previously makes this exact association in the famous incident with Ben Zoma (t. Hag. 2.5): 74 R. Joshua was walking on the road and Ben Zoma was coming towards him. When he reached him he did not greet him. He said to him "From whence and whither, Ben Z o m a ? " He replied "I was gazing 7 5 upon ma'aseh bereshit,76 and there is not even a handbreadth between the upper waters and the lower waters; for 77 it says ' T h e spirit of God was fluttering over the face of the water' (Gen 1:2), and it says 'Like an eagle that stirs up its nest [that flutters over its young]' (Deut 32:11). Just as this eagle flutters above its nest, touching and not touching, so there is no more space between the upper waters and the lower waters than a handbreadth." R. Joshua said to his disciples, "Ben Zoma is already outside." Few days past before Ben Zoma passed away. 7 8

R. Joshua's incident with Ben Zoma follows the story of the four sages who entered the orchard (0"PD) of the King. Ben Zoma peeked in and was hurt from an overdose of this experience. Ben Zoma also demonstrated such behavior in the incident with R. Joshua. He was so occupied, not so

72 Lieberman, Tosefta Kifshutah, 1296. He proves that the sun, moon and stars are specifically referred to as ma 'aseh bereshit from t. Ber. 6:6 (p. 34). "He who sees the sun, the moon, the stars and the constellations, says 'blessed is the maker of bereshit' ( r r o i n n ntmy T r a ) . " Indeed, the verb HOT is used for the creation of all these celestial bodies (Gen 1:16): "God made the two great lights ... and the stars." 73 Noticeably, this verse is a stable element within the structure of the Tosefta. Whatever the question is at this stage ( J T i w n nBWO or msipn m o ) the answer refers to the structure of the heavens. 74 For parallel stories, see>>. Hag. 2:1 (77a); Gen. Rab. 1:4 (p. 17); b. Hag. 15a. 75 In most textual witnesses: DDIS. In MS Erfurt: "73noa. 76 According to most versions, Ben Zoma states that he is gazing at ma 'aseh bereshit. Only in the Babylonian Talmud is this term omitted. 77 From the usage of the term (for it says) it seems that Ben Zoma himself is alluding to the verse and is deducing the information by means of standard rabbinic analogy. However, this is a weak element in the parallel traditions and is completely omitted in the Palestinian Talmud and in Genesis Rabbah. It could therefore be understood as a comment inserted by the narrator. 78 At this point, according to MS Erfurt, the Tosefta adds the warning to only have a short peek at the king's palace (quoted hereafter). This clause appears before the Ben Zoma story in other textual witnesses.

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much with scriptural exegesis, 79 but with his vision that he neglected to respond to R. Joshua. In his gaze towards ma 'aseh bereshit he was viewing the structure of the cosmos, specifically, the relationship between the upper waters, the lower waters, and the spirit of God in the space in between. 80 Within this specific context, the phrase ma'aseh bereshit refers specifically to one basic element of the world's structure, that is, the division between the lower and upper waters. Notably, the verb ntffV, which is incorporated in the term ma 'aseh bereshit, the works of creation, appears for the first time at the creation of the heavens (Gen 1:7).81 In contrast to light, which appeared immediately as God spoke, the firmament was the first thing to be manually formed. 82 In light of Ben Zoma's reference to ma'aseh bereshit in relation to the firmament, we may better understand the role of this same term in version [b]. Whereas the first question [I] asks about the period before the very beginning, even before the verb (create) appears, the second question [II] asks about the period before the making of the heavens (rPWN-n rn^va) on the second day. To this, the Tosefta replies that one is allowed to inquire only within the limits of the heavens and not to a previous stage before the separation of the waters. We see, then, that the two versions of the Tosefta

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See n. 77 above, contra Schäfer, Origins, 208: "It may well be that this unsuccessful exegesis of Gen. 1 is the reason why R. Yehoshua predicts Ben Z o m a ' s death." I do, however, agree that this story has nothing to do with ascent to the merkabah. 80 Significantly, although Ben Zoma quotes Gen 1:2, what he actually contemplates is not the tohu va-bohu before creation, but rather the separation of the upper waters from the lower waters in the second day, and what is consequently contained between them. According to Goshen-Gottstein ("Is Ma 'aseh Bereshit part of Ancient Jewish Mysticism?" 198-99), Ben Z o m a ' s error lies in the fact that he blurred the distinction between the past condition before creation and the present. He therefore applied Gen 1:2 erroneously to describe the present reality. Goshen-Gottstein claims that this is a pointed example of the rabbinic fear lest the inquiry of the creation will lead some to contemplate the negative foundations of pre-creation. 81 Accordingly, the blessing "blessed is the maker of bereshit" (rptffioa ntfli "P"n) is said not only when seeing the great lights and the celestial constellations in their original positions (cf. n. 72), but also when the "heavens in their purity" are seen (y. Ber. 9:3 [13d]; b. Ber. 59a; Lev. Rab. 23:8 [p. 537]). The phrase "heavens in their purity" clearly alludes to Ex 24:10: "And they saw the God of Israel: under his feet there was a likeness of a pavement of sapphire, like the very sky for purity." It may therefore hint to an association between seeing the heavens in their pure and original state and the contemplation of God himself (or under his feet). 82 Here, in reference to this clause, we find another mysterious statement of Ben Zoma {Gen. Rab. 4:7 [p. 30]): " ' A n d God made the firmament,' this is one of the cases when Ben Zoma made uproar in the world: How could Scripture have said that God made!? Did he not create the world through a word, as it is written 'By the word of the Lord were the heavens m a d e ! ? ' "

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have the same structure, as each of them points towards a crucial intermediate stage after the beginning of creation that cannot be examined. In sum, according to the Tosefta, the prohibition against expounding above and below, ahead and behind is not concerned with deviating from the boundaries of creation, but only with elements contained within it. In this respect the Tosefta holds a similar view as the Midrash Tannaim does. In addition, it further specifies two restricted elements within the creation story. According to one version, it is the setting of the astronomical periods; according to the other, it is the separation of the heavens from the lower waters. But there is more to the Tosefta, as it suggests a specific source of anxiety associated with ma 'aseh bereshit. Ben Zoma died after gazing upon ma 'aseh bereshit. One element of this tragic incident is crucial for understanding the dangers of this activity, but has not yet been fully appreciated. In the space between the lower waters and the upper waters Ben Zoma sees the spirit of God. Noticeably, according to this story, ever since creation the spirit of God is contained within the structure of the cosmos. As a consequence, any contemplation into the structure of the cosmos inevitably includes exploring God's place within it. This, of course, is a risky task. Such a notion may sound surprising at first, but it is also embedded in the parable of R. Shimon b. Yochai mentioned above. The inhabitants of the world stand inside the king's palace. They censure its architecture as they stand with God in his own residence. 83 These rabbinic sources present, then, a notion unknown in earlier biblical, Wisdom or Qumran references to creation. According to this notion, in the process of creation the spirit of God did not move outward towards the Heavens, but rather confined itself from within. This semi-Stoic conception 84 of God in the cosmos, which seems to dominate rabbinic notions of

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The following midrash lays out the dire consequences of such a setting, in which people share with God the same dwelling place: "Compare this to a king who built a palace and tenanted it with dumb people. ... Thereupon he tenanted it with men gifted with speech, who arose and seized the palace, asserting 'this is not the king's palace, it is our palace!' 'Then let the palace return to its original state,' the king ordered" (Gen. Rab. 5:1 [p. 32]). The idea that the world is a common residence for humans and gods is widespread in Stoic philosophy. For example, Cicero, Nat. d. 2.154: "The world itself was created for the sake of gods and humans. The world is, in a way, the common dwelling place (domus) of gods and men, or the city that belongs to both. For they alone have the use of reason and live by justice and by law." Diogenes Laertius, Lives 7.138: "Cosmos is defined as ... a system made up of heaven and earth and the natures in them, or as a system constituted by gods and men and all things crated for their sake." 84 See Cicero, Rep. 3.14: "Xerxes thought it sacrilege to keep the Gods whose home is the whole universe shut up within walls." Cicero, Nat d. 2:90: "When the philosophers saw the w o r l d ' s defined and uniform movements, and how everything was regulated by a settled order and unalterable fixity, [they understood] that there was in this divine,

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creation, 85 awaits further study. 86 However, the few rabbinic sources we have seen in regard to the ban on ma'aseh bereshit sufficiently demonstrate the contribution of this specific notion. It shaped the rabbinic conception of the mysteries of creation and the limitation that must be set upon them. Arguably, the rabbinic portrayal of the cosmos as God's own palace shaped both their cosmology and their anxiety.

Conclusion Scholarship tends to associate the rabbinic ban on the study of ma'aseh bereshit with the threatening influence of heretical teachings about the origins of creation. This opinion, enhanced by the severity of Christian polemic against heretics, corresponds to the amoraic rejection of heretical exegesis, and is founded upon the assumption that "orthodox" (rabbinic as much as Christian) limitations on knowledge derived mainly from fear of deviating from the truth. In contrast, the traditions of Wisdom literature through which I have interpreted m. Hag. 2:1 offer an alternative viewpoint on concealed knowledge. Alongside the main body of desirable knowledge, whether it is Ben Sira's wisdom or rabbinic halakhah (m. Hag. 1:8), the most exalted areas are delineated and restricted to God alone. Two textual facts link m. Hagigah to Ben Sira's foundational prohibition against exploring mysteries. First, the juxtaposition of the two central verbs, 12m and pinnn, expound and look. Second, the specific meaning of nnn03, mysteries, in Ben Sira, which shaped the definition of the restricted zones in the Mishnah. Both sources add a temporal dimension to the biblical contention that God oversees all corners of the land. Since the knowledge of all times, past and future, is in the hands of God, it is out of human reach. Ben Sira supplies us, then, with the basic framework for understanding the Mishnah's linkage of rabbinic curriculum to the warning against gazing into mysterious directions. At the same time, the specific celestial dwelling place (caelesti ac divina domo) not only an inhabitant, but also a ruler, controller, and, so to speak, architect of a work and structure so vast." 85 Most noticeable is the dispute over the question of what was created first. According to Bet Shammai the heavens were created first, and they compare it to a king who first made himself a throne and later a footstool, as it is written "The heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool" (Isa 66:1). According to Bet Hillel, it is compared to a king who builds a palace; after he builds the ground floor he goes on to build the attic (Gen. Rab. 1:15 [p. 13]). 86 Urbach (Sages, 6 6 - 7 9 ) discusses G o d ' s nearness according to tannaitic theology which is reflected in his standard attribution as "The Place" in this literature. This name signifies that the world is his place. In contrast, the standard appellation during the Second Temple period, IV^V, Most High, has been completely ousted.

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fields of study laid out in the Mishnah correspond to a large degree to the Qumran revision of the Ben Sira tradition. In Qumran writings, the study of mysteries is much valued and is systematically structured within the unique sectarian instruction of the raz nihyeh mystery that is to be. This all-encompassing teaching is explicitly seen as the tool through which God established and structured the world, and by which he set the destiny of each creature. The knowledge of raz nihyeh is therefore comparable to the study of ma'aseh bereshit. Furthermore, the Qumran instruction ties the mystery of creation to the mystery of the sexual bond, thus illuminating the position of the laws of arayot among the concealed fields of study with ma 'aseh bereshit. Notwithstanding the fundamental differences between the rabbis of the Mishnah and Qumran, the two corpora demonstrate a parallel adaptation of earlier traditions. Both depend literarily on Ben Sira as they incorporate his statements into their teachings. At the same time, both rework these traditions into new frameworks. For Qumran sectarians, the study of astrology, physiognomy and mantic practices was both practical and enabled access to ultimate knowledge. The rabbis, on the other hand, integrated the fields of mystery into their own system of knowledge, the halakhic study of Torah. But rabbinic innovation is manifested not only in that they incorporated the mystery of creation into the system of Torah learning, but in the theological significance it assumed. According to the Midrash Tannaim and Tosefta, the rabbinic anxiety with exploring ma 'aseh bereshit seems to emanate from God's imminent presence in the creation. Therefore, by inspecting the world one not only learns of God's acts but one encounters God himself in his Palace. This concept completely reframes the significance of ma 'aseh bereshit and the risks attached to it, as it links this activity to the vision of God in his chariot. Noticeably, the Tosefta blurs the distinction between the two subjects, and in the Mishnah ma 'aseh bereshit is immediately followed by the study of the merkabah.

Constructing a Christian Universe: Mythological Exegesis of Ben Sira 24 and John's Prologue in the Gospel of Truth GEOFFREY S. SMITH1

"The gospel of truth is a joy for those who have received grace from the Father of truth, in order to know him ..." 2 Thus begins the untitled third tractate from Nag Hammadi Codex I. Scholars have designated this tractate the Gospel of Truth on the basis of its opening line, though many suspect that this was its ancient title as well. 3 This point becomes important in light of Irenaeus' awareness of a text entitled the Gospel of Truth in circulation among some followers of Valentinus. 4 Unfortunately, he offers little detail about this Gospel of Truth, only that "it was written not long ago" (non olim conscriptum est) and that it "accords in no way with the gospels of the apostles" (in nihilo conveniens apostolorum euangeliis) - hardly enough information to establish a connection with our Gospel of Truth, even if one finds the arguments for the antiquity of the title persuasive. 1

I am grateful for the helpful comments I received both from the participants of the cosmogony conference in Princeton and from members of the 2011 meeting of the Nag Hammadi and Gnosticism Network at Yale University. 2 Gos. Truth 16.31-33: ney^rreXioN HTMHG' OYTGXHX ne NNeei ni?N^T' giTOOTq HnicDT irre THHR' ^TpoycoycDNgq. Translations throughout are my own unless otherwise noted. 3 Hans-Martin Schenke, however, remained unconvinced of this identification. See Schenke, Die Herkunft des sogenannten Evangelium Veritatis (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1959), esp. 29. 4 Irenaeus, Haer. 3.11.9: Hi vero qui sunt a Valentino iterum existentes extra omnem timorem suas conscriptions proferentes plura habere gloriantur quam sunt ipsa Euangelia. Siquidem in tantum processerunt audaciae uti quod ab his non olim conscriptum est "Veritatis Euangelium " titulent, in nihilo conueniens apostolorum euangeliis, ut nec Euangelium quidem sit apud eos sine blasphemia. "Those from Valentinus, who live without any reverence and bring forth their own reports, take pride in having more gospels than there are. They have advanced in such audacity that from them [a gospel] has been written not long ago, entitled 'The Gospel of Truth,' though it accords in no way with the gospels of the apostles, so that the gospel that is among them is not without blasphemy."

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Nevertheless, the contents of our Gospel of Truth resemble what we know about second-century Valentinian theological reflection and exegetical practice, 5 and so even if we cannot establish a certain connection between Irenaeus' testimony and our text, we can presume with confidence that this text or a similar version circulated among the Valentinians sometime in the second half of the second century. 6 5

The Valentinian character of the Gospel of Truth is seldom questioned in recent scholarship. See for example Michel Desjardins, "The Sources for Valentinian Gnosticism: A Question of Methodology," VC 40 (1986): 3 4 2 ^ 7 , esp. 342; and Ismo Dunderberg, "The School of Valentinus," in A Companion to Second-Century Christian "Heretics" (ed. Antti Marjanen and Petri Luomanen; Leiden: Brill, 2005), 64-99, esp. 8 4 - 8 5 . Philip Tite's view on this matter is less clear. He first claims that the "Valentinian character of the tractate is not really in question." Then he exhibits less confidence in a footnote on the following page: "it is perhaps best to simply see it as a product o[f] Valentinianism or holding some affiliation with Valentinian theologizing." See Tite, Valentinian Ethics and Paraenetic Discourse: Determining the Social Function of Moral Exhortation in Valentinian Christianity (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 218 and 219 n. 7. Einar Thomassen's extended discussion of whether or not the Gospel of Truth is a Valentinian text constitutes an exception to this recent trend in scholarship. He expresses some doubt as to the Valentinian character of the text, though in the end his doubt is only enough to reduce the Gospel of Truth from "certain or very probable," his highest tier, to "probable," one level down. See Thomassen, "Notes pour la délimitation d ' u n corpus valentinien à Nag Hammadi," in Les textes de Nag Hammadi et la problème de leur classification (ed. Louis Painchaud and Anne Pasquier; Québec: Les Presses de l'Univeristé Laval, 1995), 2 4 3 59, esp. 251-53. Schenke ( H e r k u n f t ) remains one of the few scholars to reject thoroughly the classification of the Gospel of Truth as Valentinian. He prefers instead to associate the text with the community responsible for the Odes of Solomon. 6 Some scholars think that the Gospel of Truth underwent changes sometime after its composition. These theories are based upon 1) the presence of what appear to be Trinitarian glosses in the text (see Gos. Truth 24.9-14; 26.34-27.1), and/or 2) a comparison with the fragments of a Sahidic version of the Gospel of Truth from N H C XII. In my opinion, the first point need not cast too much doubt on the integrity of the text as a secondcentury work, since the glosses are brief, occasional, and isolatable. See Kendrick Grobel, The Gospel of Truth: A Valentinian Meditation on the Gospel (New York: Abingdon Press, 1960), 92-95, 108-9. The second point, however, poses a more significant threat to the reliability of the text as we have it. The two versions diverge at several points, making it likely that one of the two versions underwent redaction sometime after the time of composition. Though the fragmentary nature of the version in N H C XII makes a detailed comparison between the two copies a challenging task, my own study suggests that N H C I preserves the more ancient text, even if the translator of the version in N H C XII often rendered the Greek more accurately into Coptic. Einar Thomassen arrives at a similar conclusion, though he leaves open the possibility that "the text of Codex I may have been reworked in places." See Thomassen, The Spiritual Seed: The Church of the 'Valentinians' (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 147. Thomassen also discusses this matter in "Notes pour la délimitation d ' u n corpus valentinien à Nag Hammadi," 251-53. Jorgen Magnussen informs me that with the aid of Stephen Emmel, he has conducted his own investigation into the relationship between the two versions of the text and has also arrived at the con-

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Two key features of the text preoccupied early scholarly treatments of the Gospel of Truth: 1) the author's commitment to biblical interpretation; and 2) the so-called myth or Error, i.e. the unique story of Error's role in the creation of the world and imprisonment of humanity. Appearing on the Gospel's first page, the myth establishes the nature of the universe in which God will eventually intervene: When the totality began searching for the one from whom they had come forth - indeed the totality was inside of him, the incomprehensible, inconceivable one who is beyond every thought - ignorance of the Father produced anguish and terror. The anguish thickened like a mist so that no one was able to see. On account of this Error became powerful. She worked on her matter in that which is empty since she did not know the truth. She set about with a creation, preparing in power and beauty the substitute for the truth. 7

The account tells of a primordial totality that searches for God in vain and becomes filled with and blinded by passion. Error then capitalizes on the totality's state of ignorance and begins work on a deceptive creation. Even if some of the details are unclear, such as the precise origin of Error, the general sequence of events remains apparent. Although these two trajectories in scholarship emerged, flourished, and attenuated contemporaneously, they nevertheless led independent lives and never mutually informed one another in any significant way. This study attempts to draw together these two lines of inquiry by demonstrating that the cosmogonic presentation in the Gospel of Truth, which has long troubled scholars because of its many features that lack precise parallels in other Valentinian cosmogonic accounts, is best understood as a sustained, mythological interpretation of the prologue of John, especially verses 1:3, 1:5, and 1:18, and Ben Sira 24:3. For this author, the opening lines of the Fourth Gospel and Ben Sira 24 provide answers to life's most basic and persistent questions: What is the relationship between God and humanity?

elusion that some later editor likely shortened the text of N H C XII. At the close of Raoul Mortley, "The Name of the Father is the Son (Gospel of Truth 38)," in Neoplatonism and Gnosticism (ed. Richard T. Wallis and Jay Bregman; Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), 2 3 9 - 5 2 , Michel Tardieu adds the following addendum: "A careful comparison of the two extant versions shows that the Sahidic version (Codex XII) is based on a short text, on which the Akhmim version (Codex I) appears to be a commentary" (250). For Frederik Wisse's edition of the fragments see Nag Hammadi Codices XI, XII, XIII (ed. Charles Hedrick; Leiden: Brill, 1990), 2 3 9 - 4 7 . 1 Gos. Truth 17.4-21: eniAH' rtTHpq \yK\Toy uc\ neuT^y ei ^b^X NgHTq &ya> Nepe

riTHpq gi civNgoyN iin\q m^TOjiaiq H^THeeye ¿.p&q rteei erevrit ^ney nim e+MNT^tc{'n'}oycdn nicDT- \cp oyNoyapn nu oygpxe rmoyapn A6' ^Hiop-X. finpHTe iioygXiarru k^^cr- xe Neqp\a.ye Key ¿.b^X eTBe neei ^csms^m hVvi tviXmih' ^cp ¡>(db \fgyXH fiTec gNN oyneTajoyeiT' eMneccoycrm N-t-THNTHHe' Mxycnrte gun oynX^cn^ ecc^BTe ?iT gN OYHNTC^eie NtXbBICD N-t-THNTHHe.

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What is the nature of life in this world? What are the origin and meaning of suffering? And what awaits humanity after death? We will begin with a survey of two currents of early scholarship on the Gospel of Truth: biblical interpretation and the myth of Error. Then we will turn to the Gospel of Truth itself and proceed with our analysis in three parts. We will first discuss the wandering of the totality in light of John 1:3 and 18. Then we will turn to the emergence of Error and the creation of the world in the context of verses 3 and 5 and Ben Sira 24:3. And finally, we will briefly examine the eschatological vision of the Father in the Gospel of Truth in the context of the pattern of exegesis established in parts one and two.

Biblical Interpretation in the Gospel of Truth Following the initial publication of the Gospel of Truth in 195 6,8 a wave of scholarship on the text focused on its unwavering commitment to biblical interpretation. By the end of the 1960s, no fewer than ten studies, including a monograph, two dissertations, and several scholarly articles dedicated to biblical exegesis in the Gospel of Truth had appeared, while other related studies frequently noted this aspect of the text.9

8

Michel Malinine et al., eds., Evangelium Veritatis: Codex Jungf. Vlir-XVf (p. 1632) / / XIX-XX1T (p. 37-43) (Zürich: Rascher, 1956). 9 See for example, C. K. Barrett, "The Theological Vocabulary of the Fourth Gospel and of the Gospel of Truth," in Current Issues in New Testament Interpretation: Essays in Honor of Otto A. Piper (ed. William Klassen and Graydon F. Snyder; New York: Harper and Row, 1962), 2 1 0 - 2 3 , 297-98, repr. in Barrett, Essays on John (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1982), 50-64; Lucien Cerfaux, "De Saint Paul à 'L'Évangile de la Vérité,'" NTS 5 (1958/1959): 103-12; C. R. Christensen, " J o h n ' s Christology and the 'Gospel of Truth,'" Gordon Review 10 (1966): 2 3 - 3 1 ; Bertil E. Gartner, "Evangelium Veritatis och Nya Testament," Religion och Bibel 16 (1958): 5 4 - 7 0 ; Seren Giversen, "Evangelium Veritatis and the Epistle to the Hebrews," ST 13 (1959): 8 7 - 9 6 ; Robert James Hempfling, "The Gospel of Truth and Its Affinity with the Hermetic Corpus and the Fourth Gospel" (PhD diss., Illif School of Theology, 1961/1962); J. Davis McCaughey, "The Gnostic Gospel of Truth and the New Testament," ABR 6 (1958): 87-108; W. R. Nelson, "The Interpretation of the Gospel of John in the 'Gospel of Truth': A Study in the Development of Early Christian Theology" (ThD diss., Princeton Theological Seminary, 1963); K. H. Schelkle, "Das Evangelium Veritatis als kanongeschichtliches Zeugnis," BZ 5 (1961): 9 0 - 9 1 ; W. C. van Unnik, Het kortgelden ontdekte "Evangelie der Waarheid" en het Nieuwe Testament (Amsterdam: Noord-Hollandse Uitgevers Maatschappij, 1954), English trans.: "The Recently Discovered 'Gospel of Truth' and the New Testament," in The Jung Codex: A Newly Discovered Gnostic Papyrus (ed. and trans. F. L. Cross; London: Morehouse-Gorham, 1955), 81-129. Cf. David M. Scholer, Nag Hammadi Bibliography 1948-1969 (Leiden: Brill, 1971), 115-28.

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Most of these early treatments make use of a common method that first posits two early Christian interpretive communities, those who understood scripture correctly and those who did not, and then places the Gospel of Truth into either camp based upon its reading of particular biblical passages. Noteworthy in this respect is C. K. Barrett, who claimed that "it is even clearer and more certain that the Fourth Gospel, whatever its origin may have been, passed quickly into the hands of Christian Gnostics before it was recovered by the orthodox as their most powerful weapon in the struggle against gnostic heresy.'" 0 In his evaluation, Barrett colors the author of the Gospel of Truth as a heretical thief who defrauds orthodox Christians of a prized possession. Yet even those who place the Gospel of Truth closer to the Orthodox camp nevertheless maintain this two-community model. For example, A. D. Nock claims that the Gospel of Truth preserves interpretations "very close to the central tradition,"" a favorable assessment that nevertheless assumes the existence of two coherent interpretational camps, "central" and "peripheral." But this model ignores a crucial historical reality, namely that no "orthodox" or "central" interpretation of John, or any other New Testament writing, existed by the middle of the second century. This model also takes an unnecessarily evaluative approach to biblical interpretation. More interesting than whether or not early Christians "got it right," and indeed more evaluable, are the questions of how and why interpreters arrived at different meanings of the same biblical texts. As part of this early interest in biblical interpretation in the Gospel of Truth scholars began to catalogue recognizable scriptural allusions. W. C. van Unnik was the first to draw up a list of biblical quotations and allusions in the Gospel of Truth. He was later followed by Jacques-E. Ménard and others who found evidence of the use of still more biblical texts by the author of the Gospel of Truth. By Jacqueline Williams' count, the most detailed and comprehensive to date, the Gospel of Truth makes no fewer than sixty "probable" or "possible" biblical allusions, drawn from thirteen separate tractates: Genesis, Matthew, John, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 2 Timothy, Hebrews, 1 John, and Revelation.12 Her count is made all the more impressive when we recognize that it is not a compilation of all allusions set forth by scholars such as van Unnik

10

Barrett, "Theological Vocabulary," 50. A. D. Nock, "Gnosticism," HTR 57 (1964): 255-79; repr. Essays on Religion and the Ancient World (ed. Zeph Stewart; 2 vols.; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), 2:940-59, at 956. 12 These and the following statistics are taken from Jacqueline A. Williams, Biblical Interpretation in the Gnostic Gospel of Truth from Nag Hammadi (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988), 179-83. 11

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and Menard, but a distillation of such a comprehensive list into only the surest of literary parallels. There can be little doubt that the author of the Gospel of Truth was an ardent interpreter of biblical texts. Williams' list also reveals a certain predilection for the Johannine tradition by the author of the Gospel of Truth. Out of sixty confirmed allusions, twenty-four are either from John, 1 John, or Revelation - forty percent of all allusions! From the twenty-four allusions to gospel texts in the Gospel of Truth, fifteen, over sixty-two percent, are from the Gospel of John. In addition to these allusions, the Gospel of Truth often makes use of uniquely Johannine vocabulary. Terms such as grace, life, light, way, logos, and truth appear frequently throughout the text and further confirm the influence of the fourth Gospel on the Gospel of Truth. But even in the Johannine tradition, the author of the Gospel of Truth drew from certain passages more than others. Three of the fifteen allusions to John, or twenty percent, are to the prologue, a statistic that becomes significant when we note that this eighteen-verse preface comprises only about two percent of the entire Gospel (excluding the pericope adulterae). All these numbers add up to this simple conclusion: more than any other text, the author of the Gospel of Truth had a special interest in Johanine literature, especially John's prologue.

"The Valentinian System" in the Myth of Error? The second major aspect of the Gospel of Truth that received scholarly attention in the years just after its discovery and publication is the so-called myth of Error. As we have seen, the cosmogonic scheme in the Gospel of Truth begins with the totality drifting in a futile search for the Father. Eventually this search gives rise to passions, which leave the totality in a state of blindness and ignorance. Error then capitalizes on the totality's compromised state and begins work on a deceptive creation. Scholars were quick to note the apparent differences between the Gospel of Truth's creation story and what we find in Irenaeus' presentation of Valentinian first principles in Against the Heresies Book I. Indeed, this account differs significantly from that of Irenaeus. The chief discrepancies include the appearance of Error instead of Wisdom, the complete lack of a narrative of transgression and redemption in the heavens, and the portrayal of the demiurge as a deceptive and powerful ruler of her world. For this reason scholars labored to explain the myth of Error in the Gospel of Truth and its relationship to the more familiar Valentinian cosmogonic account. In 1955 W. C. van Unnik set forth the first theory about the cosmogonic material in the Gospel of Truth and its relationship to Irenaeus' account of

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Valentinian cosmogony. He concludes that the Gospel of Truth evinces a "stage in Valentinian doctrine which is prior to its later development ...'" 3 Van Unnik keenly notes the many differences between the two accounts, including the Gospel of Truth's lack of "an elaborate doctrine of aeons, whereby these aeons emanate from the Godhead in a procession of thirty forms" and the fact that the '"primal sin' ... is described not, as in the previously known forms of the doctrine of the Valentinians, as the fall of the aeon, Sophia, but as proceeding from a not-knowing, a forgetting of the Father." In addition, van Unnik suspects that Valentinus himself composed the Gospel of Truth, and points to Tertullian's statement that Valentinus did not maintain a doctrine of aeons external to God.14 So for van Unnik the myth of Error in the Gospel of Truth prefigures the classical Valentinian myth reported by Irenaeus. Hans Jonas developed his understanding of the myth of Error in reaction to van Unnik's early assessment. In the expanded edition of his influential work, The Gnostic Religion (1963), Jonas argues that the cosmogonic teaching in the Gospel of Truth is not "intelligible as it stands.'" 5 In fact, even when the myth of Error is read in conjunction with the other cosmogonic material scattered throughout the text, the uninformed reader is left with little more than vague allusions to an uncertain ur-myth. Thus Jonas concludes that the intended reader of the GT must be supposed to have been on familiar ground when meeting, abruptly in our text, with those opaque terms like 'Anguish,' 'Terror,' and so on, his familiarity stemming from prior acquaintance with some complete version of the Valentinian myth which enabled him to read the speculative passages of the GT as a mere condensed repetition of well-known doctrine. 16

Jonas is less interested in speculating about the specific myth underlying the Gospel of Truth than he is in pointing out a summary statement, what he calls the "central principle of Valentinianism" or the "common denominator [that] agrees with any version of [the Valentinian myth]'" 7 found in both the Gospel of Truth and Irenaeus 1.21.4. According to Irenaeus' wording, this so-called formula reads, "since through 'Ignorance' came about 'Deficiency' and 'Passion,' therefore the whole system springing

13

van Unnik, "Recently Discovered 'Gospel of Truth,'" 98. Tertullian, Val. 4.2. 15 See Hans Jonas, The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity (Boston: Beacon Press, 1963), 315. For Jonas' comment on van Unnik's earlier treatment, see 317 n. 49. The original edition of this work appeared in 1958, at a time when many of the Nag Hammadi materials were not yet available. 16 Jonas, Gnostic Religion, 316. 17 Jonas, Gnostic Religion, 316 n. 47. 14

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from the Ignorance is dissolved by knowledge." 18 For Jonas, this "formula" lies at the heart of every iteration of the Valentinian myth, and thus the myth of Error in the Gospel of Truth, however incomplete, idiosyncratic, and even incongruent with other Valentinian accounts of the creation of the world, conforms to the spirit of Valentinianism. Like Jonas, R. B. Finnestad argues that the Gospel of Truth's myth of creation is incomplete and must presuppose a fuller version of a Valentinian myth. However, unlike Jonas who is careful not to introduce material from other Valentinian sources into the text, Finnestad "reconstructs" the cosmogony of the Gospel of Truth "with the aid of known Valentinian myths," a process she calls "putting the pieces together.'" 9 She introduces subtle additions to the myth of the Gospel of Truth that bear weighty interpretative implications. By "supplementing" the text, Finnestad shifts the blame from Error, the clear villain in the myth, to the totality by assuming that the totality in the myth of Error is identical with the aeons discussed in Irenaeus 1.1-3. She then proceeds to characterize the primordial search of the aeons as if it were the presumptuous and ignorant act of Sophia carried out en masse. Thus she claims that "their wish [to know the Father] has arisen from ignorance." 20 In this way Finnestad considers the cosmogonic material in Gospel of Truth to be the fragmentary remains of the myth found in Irenaeus 1.1-2. However, the Gospel of Truth suggests that the totality's desire to know God gave rise to ignorance: "When the totality began searching for the one from whom they had come forth ... ignorance of the Father produced anguish and terror." 21 The ignorant state of the aeons does not lead them to transgress the heavenly economy, as it does for Sophia in Irenaeus' account; it comes about as a natural and inevitable consequence of the Father's utter inaccessibility. The Gospel of Truth protects the aeons from blame at all costs, even at the risk of impugning the character of God for establishing a primordial ontological gap between himself and the aeons. This becomes clear later when the author of the Gospel of Truth feels compelled to preempt what he considers to be a natural objection to the myth by saying that "the deficiency did not come about at the instigation of (g^TH) the Father, because in fact it came about on account of him (eTBHHTq)"(18.1-3).22

18

Jonas, Gnostic Religion, 312. Translation is Jonas' sans italics. Ragnhild Bjerre Finnestad, "The Cosmogonic Fall in the Evangelium Veritatis," Temenos 1 (1971): 38-49, at 39. 20 Finnestad, "Cosmogonic Fall," 40. 21 Gos. Truth 17.4-11. 22 The use of ?VTM here poses something of a challenge. Literally meaning "under the hand of," J^TH here probably carries the sense of "at the instigation of." See Grobel, 19

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Despite their differences, van Unnik, Jonas, and Finnestad share a common approach to the myth of Error in the Gospel of Truth.21 In offering their respective conclusions - that the mythic material in Gospel of Truth is pre-Valentinian, consonant with Valentinianism in spirit, or the fragmentary remains of the Valentinian myth - they evidence a certain compulsion to relate, in one way or another, the myth of Error to "the Valentinian myth." Yet this hastening toward comparison has given rise to a chronic inattention to the mythological account of the Gospel of Truth on its own terms. Before we compare the myth of Error to other Valentinian cosmogonic accounts, we should first consider - carefully consider - what the Gospel of Truth says about the origin of the universe. Or to put it baldly, how would someone with no knowledge of "the Valentinian myth" interpret the myth of Error in the Gospel of Truth?24 In the second half of this article I will attempt to answer this question by drawing together these two strands of scholarly interest and allowing them to inform one another mutually. In particular, I will show how the author of the Gospel of Truth draws upon biblical texts, especially the Gospel of John and Ben Sira, to construct a Christian universe that is uniquely his own.

Gospel of Truth, 49; and Harold Attridge, Nag Hammadi Codex I (The Jung Codex): Notes (Leiden: Brill, 1985), 46. Admittedly, f^TH "from," or giTH "through (lit. by the hand of)" would fit better here. Nevertheless, the author's distinction remains clear: ignorance does not arise out of any direct act or command from the Father, but as a natural result of his ontological superiority. This distinction exculpates the Father in the estimation of the author of the Gospel of Truth. 23 For other treatments of the myth of Error in the Gospel of Truth, see Robert Haardt, "Zur Struktur des Plane-Mythos im Evangelium Veritatis des Codex Jung," WZKM 58 (1962): 24-38; Jan Helderman, "Isis as Plane in the Gospel of Truth?" in Gnosis and Gnosticism (ed. Martin Krause; Leiden: Brill, 1981), 2 6 - 4 6 ; and Jacques-E. Ménard, "La plane dans l'Évangile de Vérité," Studia Montis Regii 7 (1964): 3 - 3 6 . 24 One attempt to interpret the myth of Error without recourse to "the Valentinian myth" is offered by Helderman, "Isis as Plane in the Gospel of Truth." Helderman argues that the mythic material in the Gospel of Truth represents the trace remains of a fuller myth presupposed by the text (26), and that this ur-myth is a subversive rereading or "rebellious allegorizing" (40) of something like the myth of Isis presented by Plutarch in De Iside et Osiride. However, in his analysis Helderman does not succeeded in putting forth convincing linguistic and conceptual parallels between the two mythic accounts as much as he demonstrates how the story of Isis could be read into the laconic myth of error in the Gospel of Truth. So while Helderman should be lauded for interrupting the scholarly preoccupation with the location of the myth of Error vis-à-vis "the Valentinian myth," in my opinion his argument is not entirely convincing.

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The Myth of Error in the Gospel of Truth The Gospel of Truth's creation story begins by describing how the totality came to exist in a state of ignorance and was then seduced by the power of Error: W h e n the totality began searching for the one from w h o m they had c o m e forth - indeed the totality w a s inside of him, the incomprehensible, inconceivable one w h o is beyond every thought - ignorance of the Father produced anguish and terror. T h e anguish thickened like a mist so that no one w a s able to see. On account of this Error b e c a m e p o w e r ful. She w o r k e d on her matter in that which is empty since she did not k n o w the truth. She set about with a creation, preparing in p o w e r and beauty the substitute for the truth. 2 5

The cosmogonic scheme of the Gospel of Truth does not unfold systematically, nor does it begin at the absolute beginning, as do Genesis and John. Instead, the myth opens with the totality in a desperate search for the Father, "the one from whom they had come forth." This initial scene dramatically illustrates a dynamic tension intimated by John, which the Gospel of Truth accepts and attempts to explain. On the one hand "all things were made through him" (John 1:3a RSV), but on the other "no one has ever seen God" (1:18a). The totality is the creation of the Father, but at the same time has never beheld him. So the Gospel of Truth attempts to explain the conditions that brought about this state of "intimate ignorance." Let us now examine the cosmogony in greater detail, keeping in mind the proposed program of Johannine interpretation. The prologue of John became an important and hotly contested passage in the second and third centuries among Christians interested in the details of creation. Despite its brevity interpreters found in it support for various, and often radically divergent, cosmogonic accounts. Variation in the text of John itself contributed to this interpretational diversity. The version of John's prologue known to the author of the Gospel of Truth evidently differs from the text printed in the twenty-seventh edition of Nestle-Aland (NA 27 ) in verses 1:3 and 1:18. At 1:3 the Gospel of Truth preserves the reading ot>8ev instead of ou8e ev given the allusion to this verse in 37.2123 ("Nothing comes about apart from him...") and the frequent use of "nothing" (X^ye, with various negations) throughout the text. The same reading also appears in P 66 , N, and interestingly, the Valentinian Excerpts of Theodotus, among other sources. Further, the Gospel of Truth reads John's phrase o yeyovev with the following clause, ev «trap ^oof) scmv, and not with the previous one. This is suggested by 31.13-16: e^qcpe^te ^b^X gN pcoq TTryi n o y ^ e i N o y ^ p H -f-CMH HTOOTq UT^cnice Mmomeg, "When light had spoken out of his mouth and his voice, which gave birth to life ..." In

25

Gos. Truth 17.4-21. See n. 6 above for Coptic text.

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short, life is a thing produced. That the author of the Gospel of Truth would divide the sentence in this way is unsurprising since this was the uncontested reading among the earliest Christians (both "orthodox" and "heterodox") until the Arians used it to argue that the Holy Spirit is not coeternal with the Father.26 Next, in John 1:18, the Gospel of Truth appears to have known the variant reading |iovoyi:vfiq uioq (rather than (xovoyevfn; 0coq) given its interest in the Savior as "the Son." This reading of John also appears in the writings of Clement of Alexandria, including his Excerpts of Theodotus. The Gospel of Truth 37.7-12 also alludes to this variant: "Now the name of the Father is the Son. It is he who first gave a name to the one who came forth from him, who was himself, and he begot him as a son." In summary, the text of John 1:3 and 1:18 known by the author of the Gospel of Truth was as follows: (v.3) "All things came about through him, and apart from him nothing (ou5ev) came about"; (v. 18) "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son (^ovoyevfiq uioq), who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him." Irenaeus was well aware of the circulation of various versions of John's prologue and considered his own version to be the authoritative version of the text.27 Still even if Christians could agree on the specific wording of John's prologue, they often disagreed over the meaning of the Gospel's opening lines. One matter of contention was the precise nature of "all things" in 1:3. While interpreters such as Irenaeus and Clement took the phrase to mean all things in heaven and on earth, others read the verse less comprehensively. Heracleon and Theodotus, two Valentinian exegetes from the middle of the second century, argued that the heavenly Logos worked through two lower beings, Wisdom and her Demiurge, to bring about "all things," a designation restricted to the material world alone.28 The anonymous third-century Valentinian treatise designated the Tripartite Tractate holds a similar interpretation, though here the Logos is also a lower being, the "structural equivalent" of Wisdom in the cosmogonies of Heracleon and Theodotus. 29 Others, such as some followers of another second-century Valentinian teacher named Ptolemy, argued that the verse makes no claims

26

See the helpful discussion of the role of John 1:3-4 in the Arian controversy in Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (2 nd ed.; Stuttgart: German Bible Society, 1994), 167-68. 27 Irenaeus, Haer. 1.8.5. 28 See Heracleon's commentary on John 1:3 in Fragment 1 (Origen, Comm. Jo. 2.14:102-3) and Clement, Exc. 45.3. For a discussion of these two passages, see Thomassen, Spiritual Seed, 123-24. 29 Tri. Trac. 114.8-9. See Thomassen, Spiritual Seed, 124 n. 14.

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about the material world. Instead "all things" refers to the creation of heavenly aeons through the Logos.30 Such interpretational variety frustrated Irenaeus and led him to add this clarifying note after quoting the verse: "There is no subtraction or addition; but the Father made all things by Him [i.e. his Word], whether visible or invisible, sensible or intelligible, temporal, on account of a certain character given them, or eternal; and (he did) not (make these) by angels, or by any powers separated from His thought."31 Irenaeus' mention of all "things visible or invisible" (siue uisibilia siue inuisibilia) recalls Col 1:16 ("For by Him were created all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, rulers or authorities. All things have been created through Him and for Him"), a verse commonly brought into the discussion by Christians who advocated the more comprehensive sense of "all things" (see Origen, Princ. 1.7.2 and 4.4.3). To add to the bishop's anxieties, the Gospel of Truth preserves yet another interpretation of John 1:3. Like the followers of Ptolemy, the Gospel of Truth takes "all things" to mean heavenly aeons, also called the totality, though the aeons in view here are not attributes of the divine, but the souls of humanity prior to the creation of the world, a notion that comes closer to the cosmos in John 1:10 than to Valentinian aeonic conceptions. Another difference is that the Gospel of Truth takes "through him" not as a reference to the Logos, as did all of the aforementioned interpreters, but as a reference to the Father, the agent of creation in the heavenly realm of fullness. In this way the Father creates and orders the totality without assistance from the Logos.32 Yet after the Father orders the totality things quickly go awry. Since the Gospel of Truth takes seriously John l:18's two-fold claim that "no one has ever seen God" and that the Father was not known until the Son arrived, the text offers a mythological explanation for the onset of the totality's blindness to the Father. At first the totality is simply lost and goes about in search of its creator. Its quest is ill-fated, however, since it is already inside of the Father, whose incomprehensibility, inconceivability, and utter superiority renders him unattainable. Ignorance and blindness quickly follow: "ignorance of the Father brought about anguish and terror; 30

Irenaeus, Haer. 1.8.5. See Thoraassen, Spiritual Seed, 2 1 3 - 1 4 . Irenaeus, Haer. 1.22.1: Ex omnibus autem nihil subtractum est, sed omnia per ipsum [i.e. per Verbum suum] fecit Pater, siue uisibilia siue inuisibilia, siue sensibilia siue intellegibilia, siua temporalia propter quandam dispositionem siue sempiterna et aeonia, non per angelos neque per virtutes aliquas abscissas ab euis sententia. 32 T h o u g h in the initial c o s m o g o n i c presentation we are told only that "the totality" ( T H p q ) c a m e forth f r o m the Father (¿orei u ? H T q 1 8 . 3 3 - 3 4 ) , later in the text we learn that the totality is the creation of the Father (neei HT^gTeNO M r r r H p q 1 8 . 3 3 - 3 4 ) , and that the Father ordered (TC6NO) the totality (19.7). 31

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and the anguish grew solid like a mist, so that no one was able to see" (17.9-13). And so the Gospel of Truth explains how a qualitative difference between the Father and his creation gives rise to the utter separation mentioned in John 1:18. The totality's plight is both tragic and ironic, for it is lost within the one whom it desperately seeks.

The Emergence of Error and the Creation of the World How was the totality's momentary ignorance of the Father formalized into a lasting condition? Or to restate the question: What ensured the totality's total separation from the Father in the period of time after its protological wandering but before the incarnation of the Son? In order to answer these questions, the next stage of the cosmogony narrates the emergence of the demiurge and the creation of the material world that holds the totality in isolation from the Father. Many aspects of the emergence of the demiurge in the Gospel of Truth remain uncertain. This is due in part to ambiguities in the Coptic text, but also to the fact that this story is unique among Valentinian cosmogonies, which generally agree that the demiurge is a somewhat deficient creation of Wisdom. Clement, for example, paraphrases this common Valentinian conception of Wisdom's generation of the demiurge as follows: They say that when Christ fled that which was foreign to him and was drawn into the fullness, after he had been begotten from his mother's thought, the Mother again produced the ruler of the dispensation as a type of him who had deserted her, according to her desire for him, in that he was better, for he was a type of the Father of the universe. Therefore, he was made less, as if he was created from the passions of desire. Indeed in view of his harshness, she was disgusted, as they say. 33

In this version of the myth, Wisdom (the Mother) creates Christ as a type of the Father, but creates the demiurge as a type of Christ. Thus the demiurge is inferior because he is a copy of a copy and a product of Wisdom's passions. As a result he is "harsh" and scorned by his mother. But the story in the Gospel of Truth is quite different: "ignorance of the Father produced anguish and terror. The anguish thickened like a mist so that no one was able to see. On account of this Error became powerful. She worked on her matter in that which is empty since she did not know the truth." The order of events is clear, even if their relationship to one another is not. First, the passions of the wandering totality thicken and encase it in a blinding mist. Second, Error becomes strong. And finally, Error sets to

33 Clement of Alexandria, Exc. 33.3-4, trans. Robert P. Casey, The Excerpta odoto of Clement of Alexandria (London: Christophers, 1934).

ex The-

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work on her matter in an empty space, probably a reference to the void, which is the realm outside of the heavenly fullness according to some demiurgical accounts.34 As we have seen, some scholars suggest that this brief presentation of the emergence of Error presupposes a more elaborate and traditional Valentinian myth involving familiar characters such as Wisdom and the demiurge. However, the personification of Error in the Gospel of Truth has less in common with other known Valentinian myths than it does with biblical depictions of Wisdom such as that found in Ben Sira. The image of Error as a mist calls to mind Ben Sira 24:3, where Wisdom proclaims: "I came from the mouth of the Most High, and as a mist (¿nix^ri) I covered the earth." To be sure, there are significant differences between the two passages. In Ben Sira 24, Wisdom covers the earth as a mist and thus illustrates the availability of God's Wisdom to all of her people (cf. 24:1); in Gospel of Truth 17.11-15 and 30-31, on the other hand, the mist encompasses the primordial totality so that Error can preserve it in a state of ignorance regarding the Father and begin work on her world of deception. However, the fact that these contrasts appear to be deliberate - Wisdom versus Error, earth versus primordial totality, and knowledge versus ignorance - suggests that the author of Gospel of Truth does in fact know Ben Sira 24 and is drawing upon its imagery in order to offer its own account of the creation of the world. That the Gospel of Truth knows Ben Sira directly is suggested by the fact that the uncommon term gX^CTN ("mist") translates onixXr] in Ben Sira.35 It remains unclear in Gospel of Truth whether the mist of ignorance is to be identified with Error herself (17.30-31), or only makes possible Error's work (17.11-15). Yet in either case, there is a close association between Error and the mist of ignorance that enshrouds the totality. Another uncertainty about Error in the Gospel of Truth is her precise origin. She emerges

i . c p gcDB i f T f t c gun o Y i i e T i y o y e r r . Cf. Irenaeus, Haer. 1.21.4; 2.4.3. See Attridge, Nag Hammadi Codex I (The Jung Codex): Notes, 44. 35 See Crum, Coptic Dictionary, 671b. Many themes of Ben Sira 24 appear elsewhere in the Gospel of Truth as well: Wisdom who moves around the ring of heaven and walks in the depth of the abyss (Ben Sira 24:5; cf. Gos. Truth 22.20-27; 37.7-12); the notion of a resting place (Ben Sira 24:7; cf. the many references to "rest" in Gos. Truth, e.g. 40.30-41.3); God as the creator of the all (Ben Sira 24:8; see discussion above for parallels in the Gospel of Truth)', the interest in fragrance (Ben Sira 24:15; cf. Gos. Truth 34.1-34). These parallels alone do not suggest literary dependence; however, they function as corroborating evidence in light of the more remarkable "mist" parallel. For a thorough treatment of possible Jewish precedents for demiurgical Sophia traditions, see George W. MacRae, "The Jewish Background of the Gnostic Sophia Myth," NovT 12.2 (1970): 86-101. However, MacRae (esp. 95-97) does not note the "mist" language common both to Ben Sira 24 and Gospel of Truth. 34

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just as the totality becomes enfeebled and vulnerable, but the author provides no other details about her activities prior to this. Here too the author of the Gospel of Truth may have in mind the prologue of John (1:5), where darkness appears also as an ill-defined and menacing agent. Although the Gospel of Truth lacks specific verbal parallels with John 1:5, it does establish a clear relationship between darkness and the world of Error.36 Unfortunately, the account of the creation of the world is just as abbreviated and enigmatic as the account of Error's emergence. After Error begins to work on her matter (uAri), the text reads: "She set about with a creation, preparing in power and beauty the substitute for the truth." A few lines later we find the world identified as the "creation of deceit" and we learn that Error molded it in order to entice and capture the befogged totality. The creation of the world serves a rather peculiar purpose in the Gospel of Truth. Error draws the totality out of its ethereal drift into her counterfeit world, thus establishing the conditions for the totality's persistent separation from the Father. The totality is now encased in the material deception of Error, where it will remain until the coming of the Son. This pessimistic view of creation may seem at first blush to be a marked departure from the prologue of John, which affirms that God created the world through the Son. However, as the Gospel of Truth itself evidences, these interpretive questions were not yet settled in the second century. As we have seen, the Gospel of Truth understands "all things" in John 1:3 (and perhaps also the "cosmos" in vv. 9 and 10) as a reference to the heavenly totality and not the earthly creation. Where, then, in the prologue of John does the Gospel of Truth locate the creation of the terrestrial world? In order to answer this question, we should note a cluster of terms used to describe the creative work of Error and the nature of life in her world. As we have already seen, Error begins working on her matter in a void and she fashions a substitute for the truth. These details characterize the work and domain of Error as one of absence or lack. In fact the notion of Error's vacuity reappears frequently throughout the text and is expressed through a variety of formulations and metaphors. Deficiency, lack of knowledge, lack of sight, darkness, empty vessels, and immaterial dreams all describe life in Error's realm. Still, the most common characterization of Error and her material realm is "nothingness": "For they were nothing (NeoyX^ye r^p ne), the anguish and the oblivion and the creature of deceit" (17.2425); "Error knows nothing" (CHH6 G N ¿ A ^ Y E 26.22-23) and is "empty having nothing inside" (ccpoyeiT ei-m x^ye NgHTC 26.26-27); Jesus teaches in the world, a place termed the "empty spaces of fears" ( N I M M S I T E T C P O Y E I T

36

See Gos. Truth 18.17-21; 24.32-25.19.

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NTs NigpTe 20.34-36); "when the light shines on the terror ... he knows that it is nothing" (oyX^Ye ne 28.28-31). How are we to understand this nothingness? Bentley Layton offers an interesting suggestion: The system of GTr is strongly antimaterialist, even illusionist, as regards the reality of material structures. One consequence of acquaintance (gnosis) with the all-containing divine Father is to see the illusion that there are material things - indeed the illusion of distinction and structure - fade away into nothingness. 3 7

However, Layton does not further clarify what he means by "illusionist." Is this an ontological or an epistemological claim? If it is ontological, then what is the nature of illusory material? If the claim is epistemological, then why does the Gospel of Truth insist that knowledge of the Father comes through the incarnation of the Son - i.e. his material manifestation? 38 John 1:3 ("apart from him nothing came about") 39 presents us with an alternative interpretive option for understanding the Gospel of Truth's concept of nothingness. I suggest that the Gospel of Truth draws upon this verse both for its account of creation of the world and for its understanding of the nature of this creation in its initial state prior to the incarnation of the Son. Apart from the Father, or as this verse is later understood in the Gospel of Truth, apart from the Father's will (37.21-24), "nothing" namely, the material world - came about. The Gospel of Truth is not alone in its interpretation of John, since we know that already by the secondcentury other Christians read it in this way.40 Nothingness permeates all aspects of Error's work. She works in the void without knowledge of the Father on a terrestrial substitute for the truth that is like a nightmare for those who inhabit it. "For this reason," asserts the Gospel of Truth, "ignore Error.'"" Thus its repeated expressions

37

Bentley Layton, The Gnostic Scriptures (New York: Doubleday, 1995), 250. Gos. Truth 31.4-6. 39 See the discussion above about the Greek text of this verse known by the author of the Gospel of Truth. 40 See Hippolytus' report on the Nassenes in Haer. 5.3. Cf. Elaine Pagels, The Johannine Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis: Heracleon's Commentary on John (New York: Abingdon Press, 1973), 21. The same interpretation also appears in a much later treatise written by the Cathars in the second decade of the thirteenth century. See Roelof van den Broek, "The Cathars: Medieval Gnostics?" in Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern Times (ed. R. van den Broek and Wouter J. Hanegraaff; Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997), 91. 41 Gos. Truth 17.28-29. The verb Katacppovsiv, frequently translated "to despise," can also carry the sense of "ignore" in the Patristic period. Cf. Lampe, Patristic Greek Lexicon, 726a. For this point regarding its meaning in the Gospel of Truth, see Jorgen Magnusson, "Rethinking the Gospel of Truth: A Study of Its Eastern Valentinian Setting" (PhD diss., Uppsala University, 2006), 78-79. See also Robert Grant, Gnosticism (New 38

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of nothingness are not claims of cosmic docetism or anti-materialism, but persistent reminders that an entire world came into being apart from the will of the Father. The charge is properly against Error and her dominion, not against matter per se. But dominions can change hands. The incarnation of Christ, who is a manifestation of the divine will, demonstrates how this realm of nothingness can indeed become something meaningful once it is inhabited by the will of the Father. Or in the words of the Gospel of Truth: "Since oblivion came into existence because the Father was not known, then if the Father comes to be known, oblivion will not exist from that moment on."42 Life in the world is a nightmare only as long as one remains asleep.

The Final Vision of the Father When we read the Gospel of Truth as an interpretation of John's prologue, we not only gain a better understanding of its cosmogony, but we also gain a clearer conception of the imagery of salvation employed throughout the text. Since the Gospel of Truth teaches that undesirable passions and ignorance of the truth ultimately stem from the totality's inability to see the Father, salvation is unsurprisingly depicted as beholding the face of the Father.43 According to John 1:18, the Son explains or interprets the Father and in so doing makes Him visible. The Gospel of Truth explicitly links the teaching activity of Jesus to vision of the Father: In schools [Jesus] appeared (and) he spoke the word as a teacher. There came the men wise in their own estimation, putting him to the test. But he confounded them because they were foolish. They hated him because they were not really wise. After all these, there came the little children also, those to whom the knowledge of the Father belongs. Having been strengthened, they received teaching about the countenance (moynT n?o lit. "forms of face") of the Father. They knew, they were known; they were glorified, they glorified. 4 4

In this passage, those who hear Jesus' teaching are divided into two camps based upon their response. First are the wise. They do not receive his message, but choose instead to put him to the test. We are told elsewhere that those who dismiss the message are blind to Jesus, who is the Father's imYork: Harper Brothers, 1961), who translates the sentence as " D o n ' t take error too seriously." 42 Gos. Truth 18.7-11. 43 The author of the Gospel of Truth likely also has Matt 18:10 in mind here. See esp. the reference to the "little children" in 19.28-29. 44 Gos Truth 19.19-34.

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age (eme).45 But the little ones, on the other hand, are more receptive. Jesus teaches them about the face of the Father. Having for the first time received sight of the Father's countenance, they become participants in the Father and share in his knowledge and glory. The Gospel of Truth also teaches that this earthly vision of the Father's face will one day repeat itself on a cosmic level. Just as Jesus reveals the face of the Father to his children, so too does he reveal the faces of the children to the Father. In doing this, Jesus mediates the totality's eschatological return to the Father. In this final cosmic return, however, the totality does not wander aimlessly in the Father, but participates in his face "as if by means of kisses." 46 This somewhat erotic depiction of communion with the divine moves well beyond the sensibilities of most early Christians such as the author of the Tripartite Tractate, other Valentinian sources, and Clement of Alexandria, who argue vehemently that one can only encounter the Father through the Son. The possibility of unmediated participation in the Father's face was more than most Christians were willing to grant. But for the Gospel of Truth it is the culmination of a cosmic drama that begins with ignorance and wandering, but ends with knowledge and rest - a drama the Gospel of Truth finds intimated in Ben Sira 24 and the opening lines of the Fourth Gospel.

45 46

Gos. Truth 31.1-4. Gos. Truth 41.33-34.

Theology and Anthropology

The Emergence of Monotheistic Creation Theology in Hellenistic Judaism MAREN R . NIEHOFF 1

In the first century CE a philosophical formulation of religious dogma, based on the creation of the world, emerged in Judaism. This dogma, which I have termed "monotheistic creation theology," is particularly concerned with the notion of the Creator's existence as the only true deity. In this paper I shall argue that such a theology developed among Jewish intellectuals who had come into close contact with Hellenistic philosophy and consequently conceived of their religion in more theoretical terms than those who had previously written about the creation. 2 In particular this theology is discernable in the writings of Philo and Josephus, both of whom engaged with broader intellectual trends. Moreover, I hope to show that a specific historical and cultural context can be identified for the emergence of monotheistic creation theology: Rome and its distinct intellectual discourse and prominent tendency for Stoicism. Indeed, this theology appears first in Philo's Exposition and Josephus' Antiquities, both of

1 I wish to thank the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 435/08) for supporting the research on which this paper is based, and Peter van Nuffelen for sharing the as yet unpublished manuscript of his new book. I also wish to thank the members of the interdisciplinary reading group in Hellenistic culture, gathering colleagues and students from the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University. Orna Harari felicitously suggested reading Plutarch's criticism of Stoic thought, thus initiating a rich discussion in the context of which I developed many ideas for this paper, especially in response to the questions of Yakir Paz. Peter and Orna also offered useful remarks on a draft of the paper. 2 Regarding the fusion of religion and philosophy as well as the much fuzzier reality of daily practice, see Peter van Nuffelen, "Monotheism as a Religious Phenomenon," in One God: Pagan Monotheism in the Roman Empire (ed. Stephen Mitchell and Peter van Nuffelen; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 16-33; Christoph Markschies, "The Price of Monotheism: Some New Observations on a Current Debate about Late Antiquity," in Mitchell and van Nuffelen, One God, 100-11. Yehuda Liebes, Ars Poetica in Sefer Yetsira [in Hebrew] (Tel Aviv: Schocken, 2000), 73-79, already argued convincingly that monotheistic notions in ancient Judaism resulted from contact with Greek philosophy.

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which were composed with Roman audiences in mind. 3 During his stay in Rome, lasting at least from 38—41 CE, Philo introduced to Judaism a new combination of theology and physics, which was characteristic of contemporary Stoic theology in Rome and came to be adopted by Josephus as well. 4 These intellectual developments must be appreciated against the background of significant differences between Alexandria and Rome, which have recently been noted by scholars. While Alexandria is characterized by an overwhelming adherence to the Aristotelian and Platonic heritage as well as a strong tendency for science and textual commentary, Rome stands out by virtue of its innovative and highly influential interpretation of Stoicism as well as a preference for historiography and moral philosophy over commentary. 5 Philo and Josephus must be interpreted in light of this cultural axis. Both of them were acutely aware of Roman discourses and situated themselves in relation to current intellectual trends. This is especially visible in the writings of Philo, whose trajectory from Alexandria to Rome can be retraced. His stay in Rome as the head of the Jewish embassy had a tremendous, yet thus far largely overlooked impact on the style and contents of his writings. 6 The Allegorical Commentary, written for a Jewish audience in Alexandria thus differs markedly from the Exposi-

3 See Maren R. Niehoff, "Philo's Exposition in a Roman Context," SPhilo 23 (2011): 1 - 2 1 ; Steve Mason, Josephus and the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2003), 100-3; Mason, "Introduction to the Judean Antiquities," in Josephus Flavius: Translation and Commentary (ed. Mason; 10 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 2004), 4:11-21. 4 Regarding Philo's prolonged stay in Rome as the head of the Jewish embassy, see Andrew Harker, Loyalty and Dissidence in Roman Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 9 - 4 7 . 5 Regarding Alexandria, see Peter M. Fraser, Alexandria (3 vols.; Oxford: Clarendon, 1972); Rudolf Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship: From the Beginnings to the End of the Hellenistic Age (Oxford: Clarendon, 1968); Manfred Clauss, Alexandria: Schicksale einer antike Weltstadt (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 2003); Tobias Georges, Reinhard Feldmeier and Felix Albrecht, eds., Alexandria: Stadt der Bildung und der Religion (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013); Maren R. Niehoff, Jewish Exegesis and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011). On R o m e ' s philosophical climate, see Gretchen Reydams-Schils, The Roman Stoics: Self, Responsibility, and Affection (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2005); Reydams-Schils, "Authority and Agency in Stoicism," GRBS 51 (2010): 296-322; Brad Inwood, Reading Seneca: Stoic Philosophy at Rome (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). 6 1 shall further explore this subject in an intellectual biography of Philo (forthcoming from Yale University Press). In the meantime see Erwin R. Goodenough, An Introduction to Philo Judaeus (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1940); Niehoff, "Philo's Exposition"', Niehoff, "The Symposium of Philo's Therapeutae: Displaying Jewish Identity in an Increasingly Roman World," GRBS 50 (2010): 95-117; Niehoff, "Philo's Role as a Platonist in Alexandria," Etudes Platoniciennes 1 (2010): 37-64.

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tion, which addresses a non-Jewish readership attuned to topical issues in Rome. 7 Philo characteristically formulated his monotheistic creation theology in the Exposition. While he does not comment on Gen 1 in his earlier Alexandrian writings, Philo makes it a central motif in the Exposition and uses it to celebrate a wedding of theology and physics. 8 He uses the creation account in order to reject "the propounders of the polytheistic doctrine" (xrjt; 7toXA)0eoi> 56^rn;) because Moses showed that the Creator is one God and exists forever ( O p i f . 170-72). That is, by discussing the creation account in Genesis, Philo emphasizes the role of the single Creator God and formulates explicit dogmas that derive in his view from the biblical account. As we shall see, this position reflects Philo's increased awareness of Stoic theology popular in Rome, such as that reflected in the works of Cicero and Seneca. Josephus, too, engaged in this Roman discourse, producing a surprisingly similar version of Jewish creation theology. While his account is much shorter than Philo's, it inscribes Jewish thought in some respects even more thoroughly into Roman culture. Josephus went so far as to send Abraham, who discovered the monotheistic creator god, to Egypt in order to inquire "what their priests said about the gods," willing to accept their theology should it prove superior to his own {A.J. 1.161). Studying the late Philo as well as Josephus in their respective Roman contexts, I shall also draw attention to the role of apologetics in the emergence of Jewish creation theology. 9 Both writers faced not only the general intellectual climate of Rome, but also specific political situations, Philo 7 On the Jewish-Alexandrian audience of the Allegorical Commentary, see Niehoff, Jewish Exegesis, 133-51. 8 On the lack of commentary on Gen 1 in the Allegorical Commentary (AC), see esp. Leopold Cohn, "Einteilung und Chronologie der Schriften Philos," Philologus Suppl. 7 (1899): 392-93, 406-7, who showed already that it is unwise to assume the original existence of such a commentary which was subsequently lost without leaving any traces in the manuscript tradition or ancient records of Philo's works. See also more moderately James R. Royse, "The Works of Philo," in The Cambridge Companion to Philo (ed. Adam Kamesar; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 39. Moreover, it is likely that Philo did not include the creation account in the AC because he did not want to endanger the notion of a literal creation by his allegorisations of the text. Contra Thomas H. Tobin, "The Beginning of Philo's Legum Allegoriae," SPhilo 12 (2000): 2 9 - 4 3 , who pointed to a few references in the AC to previous interpretations, which he took as evidence of a lost commentary on Gen 1. Such references, however, are better interpreted as allusions to other passages within the AC. 9

Since Victor Tcherikover's seminal article "Jewish Apologetic Literature Reconsidered," Eos 48 (1956): 169-93, it has become clear that Jewish literature in Greek must first be interpreted as internal literature for Jews unless otherwise indicated. In the present article I argue that there are good reasons to consider some of Philo's writings and Josephus' Jewish Antiquities as having been written mainly with outsiders in mind.

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dealing with the aftermath of the pogrom in Alexandria, Josephus with the failure of the Jewish revolt and the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. 10 Apion and the Stoic philosopher Chaeremon, who were most probably members of the Egyptian embassy to Gaius, left works of such influence that Josephus still felt compelled to refute them a generation later." Moreover, Josephus indicates that a powerful connection between politics and religion was drawn in these works. Apion and Chaeremon aimed at excluding the Jews from citizenship in the Roman empire by pointing to the anomaly of their religion. While Apion stressed that they did not share the Alexandrian gods and thus failed to pay due honors to the Roman rulers, Chaeremon followed Manetho and insinuated that the Jews had been expelled from Egypt for the purpose of purifying the country theologically.12 Josephus moreover tells us that Philo as the head of the Jewish embassy to Gaius "was ready to proceed with the defense (èjt' àîio^oyia) against these accusations [of Apion]" (A.J. 18.259). In my view, Josephus' description is not a mere projection of his own situation onto Philo, but actually reflects the spirit of the Exposition, which was to some extent written to counter the works of the Egyptian ambassadors. 13 Interpreting the biblical creation account in terms of Stoic Nature theology, Philo and Josephus aimed at showing that their religion conformed to the current in-

10

The specific circumstances of Josephus' apologetics in Contra Apion have been stressed by Martin Goodman, "Josephus' Treatise Contra Apion," in Apologetics in the Roman Empire: Pagans, Jews, and Christians (ed. Mark Edwards, Martin Goodman, and Simon Price; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 4 5 - 5 8 . The similarity of Philo's situation in Rome has thus far been overlooked even though many of A p i o n ' s charges are best interpreted as having been produced in the context of the ambassadors' stay in Rome rather than Alexandria (Niehoff, Jewish Exegesis, 174-76). On the role of apologetics in Jewish Hellenistic writings, see also John J. Collins, Between Athens and Jerusalem (2 nd ed.; Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2000), 14-16. 11

Josephus, C. Ap. 2.2-7. On Chaeremon as an ambassador, see Victor Tcherikover, Corpus Papyrorum Judaicum (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1960), 2:39, 44; Pieter van der Horst, ed., Chaeremon: Egyptian Priest and Stoic Philosopher. The Fragments Collected and Translated with Explanatory Notes (Leiden: Brill, 1984), ix. 12 Josephus, C. Ap. 1.294, 2.66; A.J. 18.257-58. On Chaeremon's construction of ancient Egyptian wisdom and his exclusion of the Jews, see Peter van Nuffelen, Rethinking the Gods: Philosophical Readings of Religion in the Post-Hellenistic Period (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), ch. 1. On Chaeremon's and Apion's polemics more generally, see Peter Schäfer, Judeophobia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997). 13 See also Harker, Loyalty, 31-34, who argued already for some literary exchanges between Philo, Apion and Chaeremon, focusing on motifs of court scenes typical of the Alexandrian Acts of the Martyrs. P. van Nuffelen, Rethinking, ch. 10, briefly considers the possibility of Philo and Chaeremon knowing each others' works.

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sights in Rome about philosophical truth embedded in ancient religious texts. 14

Did Jewish Circles Have Monotheistic Creation Theology Before Philo and Josephus Arrived in Rome? Seeing that the biblical creation account itself does not inculcate a monotheistic creed, the question arises whether Jewish exegetes of the Second Temple period interpreted the story in such a vein. 15 Looking at the sources from the land of Israel, one is struck by a relative paucity of interest. While the story of paradise inspired diverse interpretations, the creation of the world received far less attention. 16 The author of Jubilees and Ben Sira, for example, mainly used it as an anchor for their halakhic agendas. The creation of the sun, for example, is thus praised in Jubilees, because it is taken to regulate the calendar, while Ben Sira attributes this role to the moon. 17 Ben Sira adds a eulogy of God, who effected the creation by his word and bestowed his "glory" (TUD) on the results of his action (Sir 42:15-6). "The Highest" (TP1?!?) is said to be knowledgeable about everything he created (42:18). Similarly, Enoch's visions led him to appreciate the well-ordered creation and his maker, who is acknowledged by all. 18 These rather sparse references to the biblical creation account highlight the motifs of God's glory and power, which had already been stressed in the Psalms. In Alexandria, where Jews immersed themselves from early on in Greek language, culture and thought, we discern a growing interest in the creation account. Initially, the perspective is distinctly Platonic. Already the Septu-

14

See also van Nuffelen, Rethinking, ch. 10, who shows Philo's familiarity with the Greco-Roman discourse on ancient wisdom regarding the mystery cults, divine hierarchy, and the ideal politician. 15 On the biblical story, see esp. Israel Knohl, Biblical Beliefs [in Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Magnes, 2007). While Isa 44:24 suggests a connection between the creation and a sole God, this verse was neglected during the Second Temple period. 16 For details on the interpretation of paradise, see Marcus Bockmuehl and Guy G. Stroumsa, eds., Paradise in Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). 17 Jubilees 2:9, Sir 4 3 : 6 - 8 (ed. Academy of the Hebrew Language, The Book of Ben Sira: Text, Concordance and an Analysis of the Vocabulary [Jerusalem, 1973]). On the controversy around the calendar, see Jonathan Ben-Dov, "Calenders," in Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism (ed. John J. Collins and Daniel C. Harlow; Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2010), 457-60. Cf. James Vanderkam's article in this volume, who argues for monotheistic tendencies in Jubilees' rewriting of Gen 1, contrasting it to Philo's more mythological treatments. 18 1 En. 18:1, 36:4, 75:1, 82:7, 84:2, 84:3.

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agint reflects such an interest, translating "inm inn in Gen 1:2 by the philosophical terms "unseen and un-ordered" ( d o p a i o q Kai a K a x a o i c e i j a G T o q ) . Martin Rosel has shown that the first term echoes Plato's description of the ideal realm, while the second is used in the Timaeus to describe the primordial material from which the world was formed. 19 The LXX thus suggests that the biblical creator, too, dealt with the spiritual and the material realm when shaping the cosmos. Aristobulus (second century BCE), the first known philosopher of Judaism, developed this initial impetus further and argued that Plato followed Moses in advocating the creation of the world. 20 Using LXX vocabulary, Aristobulus initially stresses that God "formed (KaTEOKEuaice) the whole cosmos" and "made (¿noir^ae) heaven and earth." He furthermore speaks of a "making of dogma" (5oy|a.aT07ioua) and points to the similarity of messages conveyed in the biblical account and Plato's Timaeus taken literally. 21 Aristobulus' awareness of dogma in philosophical treatises must be interpreted in the context of the Alexandrian tendency to oppose academic skepticism and identify a prominent teaching in each of Plato's dialogues. Eudorus and the anonymous commentator of the Theaetetus proceeded in the same way. 22 The novelty of Aristobulus' position lies in his comparative perspective: he suggests that two texts from different backgrounds, one Jewish, the other Greek, transmit the same dogma. The very partial fragments of Aristobulus' work suggest that he was concerned with showing that Plato and Moses, as well as Pythagoras, interpreted the divine voice as "creative acts," which imply "the cosmic order as something carefully created by God and permanently held together." 23 Clement, who preserved this fragment, already identified here a reference to God's speech acts in the biblical creation account. Aristobulus is likely to have recalled also the famous scene in the Timaeus, where the demiurge explains to the minor gods that he will preserve the world by his personal will, thus defying the laws of nature according to which everything created is doomed to destruction (Tim. 41A-D). The dogma implied 19 Martin Rösel, Übersetzung als Vollendung der Auslegung: Studien zur GenesisSeptuaginta (BZAW 223; Berlin: W a l t e r d e Gruyter, 1994), 31-33. 20 Aristobulus, frg. 3 = Eusebius, Praep. ev. 9.6.6, ed. Carl R. Holladay, Fragments from Hellenistic Jewish Authors (4 vols.; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983-1986), 3:158 (KaTtiKota>i>0r|Ke Se 6 n^axcov ifj Ka0' Tinä^ vonoOeaia). 21 Aristobulus, frg. 3a = Eusebius, Praep. ev. 9.6.8, ed. Holladay, 3:160. On the ancient controversy around the metaphorical interpretation of the Timaeus, which Aristobulus obviously did not share, see David Sedley, Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 98-107. 22 Regarding the Alexandrian tendency to distinguish particular teachings in the Platonic dialogues, see Niehoff, "Philo's Role," 38-40. 23 Aristobulus, frg. 4a = Eusebius, Praep. ev. 13.12.4, ed. Holladay 3:162.

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in the Mosaic and Platonic creation stories thus amounts to an assertion that the world is created, but indestructible. This view differs from the Aristotelian notion of an eternal world as well as from the Stoic assumption of ever recurring creations and destructions. It is moreover important for Aristobulus to insist on God's continuous activity and care for his creation. Rejecting certain interpretations of Gen 2:3 as indicating divine inactivity, he stresses that God permanently "holds together [his creation] and presides over it." 24 As far as the extant fragments reveal, Aristobulus thus introduced a philosophical dimension to the discussion of the biblical creation account by aligning it with the Timaeus. Whether or not he ever explored the Platonic notion of an ideal model for the material world can no longer be known. However, given his Aristotelian tendency in his biblical exegesis this prospect is rather unlikely. 25 Philo was the most outspoken Platonist in the Jewish community of Alexandria. 26 In the Allegorical Commentary, most probably written at the beginning of his career for Alexandrian Jews, Philo advocated a strongly transcendental theology. 27 His starting point for theological contemplation is Exod 3:14, where God says of himself "I am He that is" fEyd) eijxi o signal the insertion of words not in the original, and curly brackets { } mark words regarded as unintelligible or problematic. 5 A sacred discourse

of Hermes

[1] God is the glory of all things, as also are the divine and the divine nature. God, as well as mind and nature and matter, is the beginning of all things that are since he is wisdom meant to show them forth. The divine is also a beginning, and it is nature and energy and necessity and completion and renewal. In the deep there was boundless darkness and water and fine intelligent spirit, all existing by divine power in chaos. Then a holy light was sent forth, and elements solidified [ ] 6 out of liquid essence. And all the gods {divide the parts} of germinal nature. [2] While all was unlimited and unformed, light elements were set apart to the heights and the heavy were grounded in the moist sand, the whole of them delimited by fire and raised aloft, to be carried by spirit. The heavens appeared in seven circles, the gods became visible in the shapes of the stars and all their constellations, and the arrangement of corresponded to the gods contained in it. The periphery rotated the air, carried in a circular course by divine spirit. [3] Through his own power, each god sent forth what was assigned to him. And the beasts came to be - four-footed, crawling, water-dwelling, winged - and every germinating seed and grass and every flowering plant; {within them they had the seed of rebirth. The gods sowed} the generations of humans to know the works of god; to be a working witness to nature; to increase the number of mankind; to master all things under heaven; to discern the things that are good; to increase by increasing and multiply by multiplying. And through the wonder-working course of the cycling gods they created every soul incarnate to contemplate heaven, the course of the heavenly gods, the works of god and the working of nature; to examine things that are good; to know divine power; to know the whirling changes of fair and foul; and to discover every means of working skillfully with things that are good. [4] For them this is the beginning of the virtuous life and of wise thinking as far as the course of the cycling gods destines it, and it is also the beginning of their release to what will remain of them after they have left great monuments on earth in works of in-

3 Brian P. Copenhaver, Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a new English translation with notes and introduction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 13-14. 4 A. D. Nock and A.-J. Festugière, eds., Hermès Trismégiste Corpus Hermeticum (3 vols.; Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1946-1954), vol. 1, 4 4 - 4 6 . 5 Cf. Copenhaver, Hermetica, lxi. 6 At this point, Copenhaver, following Festugière, decided to excise the words û(p' &nm>, 'beneath the sand.'

The Genesis of a Genesis dustry. {In the fame 7 of seasons they will become dim, flesh, from the sowing of crops and from every work will be renewed by necessity and by the renewal that course of nature's measured cycle. For the divine is the entire combination of cosmic nature has been established in the divine.

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and, from every birth of ensouled of industry,} what is diminished comes from the gods and by the influence renewed by nature, and

A detailed discussion of the Greek original on which this translation is based will follow in due course. At this point, it should merely be noted that despite its concision and apparent simplicity the narrative does not leave a clear and straightforward impression in the reader's mind. Even a cursory reading suggests that this particular account of the beginning of the world is rather muddled, and the frequent use of all kinds of brackets in both the translation and the Greek (see Nock's edition) betrays serious problems on the level of the text. Worse, there are actually even more textual difficulties lurking in these few paragraphs than modern translations suggest. In order to understand more fully the cosmogony of C.H. Ill, it is necessary to consider some broader historical and philological issues that form the background for the interpretation proposed here.

Two Problems of Hermetic Hermeneutics The Corpus Hermeticum is a collection of seventeen treatises 8 of widely differing lengths; with the exception of the last treatise, they are loosely connected in various ways, both formally and substantively. On a formal level, most of the treatises are didactic works, sometimes composed as dialogues between a teacher (Hermes) and his pupil (Tat, Asclepius, or an 7 Sic! I suspect that the non-sensical 'in the fame of seasons' for ev ¿vollem xpövcov is a typographical error and should be, more literally, 'in the name of seasons,' but cf. C. H. Dodd, The Greeks and the Bible (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1935), 213, commenting on this passage: "For övo|iu in the sense of 'renown,' 'reputation,' 'name and fame,' there are numerous Old Testament parallels: e.g. Gen 11:4, where the generation after the Flood propose to build the Tower of Babel - Kai 7ioii|ao|i£v eauxoov övo(xa (which in view of the context might conceivably have been in our author's mind)." 8 The numbering of the Hermetic treatises is itself an arcane sort of affair. The 1554 edition by the French Hellenist Adrien Turnebe (Turnebus) counted eighteen treatises; the fifteenth was composed of three extracts from Stobaeus. Subsequent editors left that treatise out, but did not change the numbering of the remaining tractates XV1-XVIII. In addition, of one tractate, II A, we have only the title "Universal Discourse of Hermes to Tat," whereas of II B we have a text but no title. On the early collections and editions of the Corpus, see Festugiere, L'Hermetism (Lund: C.W.K. Gleerup, 1948), 5 - 6 ; Copenhaver, Hermetica, xl-xlv; and the particularly detailed account in Richard Reitzenstein, Poimandres: Studien zur griechisch-ägyptischen und frühchristlichen Literatur (Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1904), 190 ff.

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anonymous disciple); sometimes the reader is addressed directly in the form of a homily; sometimes the narrative resembles philosophical exposition. By and large, the texts seem to be carefully written, in a language that is reminiscent of the Septuagint; not infrequently, they aspire to a recognizable level of literary refinement in word choice, structure, and balance. Laconic nominal sentences abound; the same goes for participle constructions as well as the ponderous use of the passive voice. Subordination is kept to a minimum; one hardly encounters rhetorical effect accomplished by means of syntactically complex periods. Over all, the style resembles an elevated and self-conscious Kunstprosa that was evidently regarded as appropriate for the scale of the treatises' grand cosmic and eschatological themes. Although the Corpus Hermeticum is full of local contradictions and tensions, any reader will get the impression that the authors shared, broadly speaking, a common view of the world - a view that seems to coincide neither with Hellenic paganism, nor Judaism, nor Christian religion, nor indeed Gnosticism. With its majestic clauses the text evokes sweeping images of a divine universe: embraced and cared for by astral gods, the kosmos is the creation of an entirely transcendent and benevolent god; nature teems with exuberant beauty, and mankind occupies a privileged place in the world given to us by the gods, so that we may enjoy nature's goodness, behold the benevolent power that encompasses all life, and realize, with unequivocal certainty, that we ourselves are the offspring of the divine source and therefore, in principle, immortal. Within this scheme of things, a sense of history is almost entirely absent. Hermetists know of no fall, no golden age, no political struggles or wars. Or if they did, they did not think that these events needed to be announced to anyone embarking on the road to immortality. Salvation itself is a matter of the individual person, achievable exclusively through the firm grasp and understanding of Hermetic truth. 9 Part of the continuing cultural fascination with the Corpus Hermeticum stems from the enigma of its origin. Although scholars have tended to assume that the texts originated in Hellenized Egypt in the first centuries of the common era, we have in fact no good evidence whatsoever to shed

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Moreover, Hermetists "offer the vision of God to which the ritual of the mysteries seems to have been directed, not through any sort of ritual observance, but through the discipline of an ascetic life and meditation upon high themes. Or (to put it short) in Hermetism we find 'no baptism, no communion, no confession of sins, no laying up of hands, no purifications, no ... actions meant for bringing about a divine epiphany.'" Gerard van Moorsel, The Mysteries of Hermes Trismegistus (Utrecht: Drukkerij Kemink en Zoon, 1955), 34 with reference to Nock-Festugiere, vol. 1, vi.

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light on the early history of Hermetism. 10 But not only are we in the dark about the original provenance of Hermetism, we also know nothing about the more specific historical development of the movement in the course of late antiquity. That is to say, there is no archeological record we can link to Hermetism; apart from one or perhaps two inscriptions that mention the name of Hermes Trismegistus, 11 we have no material cult objects that we can connect with that figure; there is virtually no independent information regarding cult practices, social structure, or the legal constitution of Hermetic communities, if in fact such communities ever existed. All we have are texts, and quite a few of them: apart from the aforementioned collection of seventeen treatises, we possess excerpts from the hand of the fifthcentury anthologist John of Stobi; in addition, we have three Hermetic texts in the Coptic Nag Hammadi Library, 12 snippets of papyri 13 and, finally, a handful of testimonia from various Christian and non-Christian authors. It may therefore be somewhat unsurprising that some five hundred years or so of scholarship and research have done little to lift the impenetrable veil covering the cultural provenance and intellectual roots of Hermetism. This is the first problem. The second problem is that our most important evidence, the collection of Hermetic texts in the Corpus Hermeticum, is in ruins, or at least partially so. A brief glance at the edition produced by Nock and Festugiere over fifty years ago clearly shows that the texts are in a much poorer literary condition than nearly any other classical, Hellenistic or late antique text. The present paper is part of a larger project that sets out to tackle this second problem in order to shed light, eventually, on the first. The aim is to 10 One way to approach this particular question would be to survey the entire evidence of the early reception of Hermetism, a task that lies beyond the scope of the present paper. 11 See Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae (OGIS, ed. Dittenberger), 716, a thirdcentury inscription from Panopolis set up in honor of the great god Hermes Trismegistus. In the other inscription, the reference to Hermes Trismegistus is conjectural. See Jules Baillet, Inscriptions grecques et latines des tombeaux des rois ou Syringes à Thèbes (Le Caire: Institut français d'Archéologie Orientale, 1926), 1054b. 12 There are three complete treatises in NH Codex VI, one of which, the so-called Prayer of Thanksgiving (its modern title), is rather short and probably the scribe's afterthought to the Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth (also a modern title). The third and final Coptic Hermetic tractate in that Codex corresponds to a lengthy section of the Latin Asclepius. Since 2007, we know of some very small Coptic fragments with the name "Trismegistus" on them, stemming from the Tchacos Codex, which J.-P. Mahé believes to be from a Coptic translation of C.H. XIII that was once in that Codex. These fragments are transcribed and published in Rodolphe Kasser and Gregor Wurst, eds., The Gospel of Judas together with the Letter of Peter to Philip, James, and a Book of Allogenes from Codex Tchacos: Critical Edition (Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2007). 13 See Anna van den Kerchove, "Redécouverte de fragments hermétiques oubliés: le P. Berol. 17 027," APF 52 (2006): 162-80.

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resolve a large number of the hitherto intractable textual difficulties, and to explain the corruption of the texts in the light of a new hypothesis that sees the history of this text not so much as a familiar story of gradual deterioration in the process of reproduction, but as a story of intentional and unintentional interpolations that occurred at an early stage in the texts' history. Any hypothesis is only as good as its explanatory power. If the hypothesis proposed here proves to be persuasive and explanatory in the right sort of way, it will enable us to uncover, at a minimum, an original layer of Hermetic doctrine, and to witness how the initial teaching was modified in the course of ancient Hermetic activity, whatever that may turn out to be. Under ideal circumstances, this novel reading of the Hermetic tractates will not only dramatically increase our level of understanding of the extant Hermetica; it might also shed new light on the culture of intellectual interchange and discourse operative in early Hermetic communities, revealing that they were possibly little more than dysfunctional textual communities. But all this is cura posterior, first it is necessary to prepare the way for a new understanding of the early history of Hermetic texts.

The Problem of 'Mechanical Interpolation' The texts brought together in the Corpus Hermeticum have undoubtedly, in the course of a millennium of manual reproduction, suffered from textual alterations due to the usual repertoire of unintentional scribal errors as well as physical deterioration of all kinds (that is to say, haplography, dittography, water damage, book worms, and so on). We may also suppose that the texts have undergone the occasional intentional change when, for example, a scribe-scholar felt it necessary to cut, rearrange, amplify, or explain a word or phrase (redaction). Such redactions, if they are carefully executed, are now nearly impossible to identify and reverse, unless they show up clearly in the course of manuscript collation. The important point to realize is that the assumption of these sorts of corruptions alone does not suffice to explain the oftentimes bewildering state of corruption encountered in Hermetic texts in general and C.H. Ill in particular. Careful examination of the readings of the extant manuscripts (as reported by Nock and Festugiere) suggests that a more satisfactory explanation might reside in the assumption of the presence of another sort of corruption, one that by itself would suffice completely to undermine the integrity of any piece of writing. 14 This is the process of conscious or unconscious mechanical interpolation. By this I mean textual changes that could 14 For the following, compare the discussion of interpolation in F. Blass' contribution to the Handbuch der klassischen Alterums-Wissenschaft 1 (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1892), 254-58.

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occur when pre-professionalized scribes were asked to make fresh copies of annotated scrolls or, more likely, codices that once served as working exemplars for their owners, without any form of corrective supervision. By "pre-professionalized scribes" I mean commercial copyists who earned their living by supplying their clients with clean reproductions of whatever copy-text was handed to them - without any special knowledge about, nor interest in, the text's content; and without taking the trouble, or possessing the means, of comparing different originals (presumably because no more than one original was available at the time of copying); and without the scribal ethos and supervision that was the hallmark of later, monastic scriptoria. What could happen in these cases is that a scribe, either on account of insufficient training (incompetence) or an exaggerated sense of respect for the written word (reverence), merged marginalia with the main text roughly at the point where the former appear next to latter, and he would do so mechanically, without paying any attention to logic, meaning, grammar, and syntax. It is clear that such a process of fusion of main text and marginal notes would invariably undermine the intelligibility of a text completely, and in virtue of this fact spawn further alterations and attempted corrections elsewhere in the text. Evidently, such a process would contaminate the entire subsequent transmission of the text. As Alan Cameron observed: "It only takes one bad copy that no one corrected to ruin all later copies that derive from it." 15 That ancient texts were annotated stands in no need of demonstration. 16 The practice continued in Byzantium and well into the Middle Ages. 17 We 15 Alan Cameron, The Last Pagans of Rome (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 445. 16 For extensive evidence in Greek and Latin papyri see Kathleen McNamee, Annotations in Greek and Latin Texts from Egypt (New Haven, CT: American Society of Papyrologists, 2007). Apart from that, of course, we have to reckon also with instances of responsible scholarship; the sixth-century chronicler John Malalas reports that in the time of the emperor Gratian (367-383) the mathematician Theon of Alexandria, the father of Hypatia, commented in his lectures on the writings of Hermes Trismegistus; see Chron. 13, p. 343, 11 (Bonn): eiti 8e xfji; fSaaiXeicu; aiixou (scil. rpaxiavoC) ©ecov o aocpwxaxoi; (piXoaocpoc; E8i8aaK£, Kai r|p|if|V£ue xa aaxpovo|JAKa Kai xa 'Ep^ou xoO xpiansyiaxou ouyypawmxa Kai xa 'Opcpecoi;. 17 With reference to Reitzenstein, Poimandres, 323, Garth Fowden points out that "Byzantine disapproval of certain aspects of Hermetism is vividly conveyed by the abusive epithets - Wjpoi;, (pXvapia - that spatter the margins of one of our manuscripts." See Fowden, The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986), 8; cf. also Fowden, Egyptian Hermes, 9: "And, conversely, extraneous material might be introduced into the tradition. One can see the process by which this came about in the fourteenth-century manuscripts Parisinus 1220 and Vaticanus 951. In the former, a later hand has added a lengthy and aggressive marginal scholium on C.H. 1.18, with the superscription xou 'FeM.ofi - the author, in oth-

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also know (from Basil for example) that scribes were judged, unsurprisingly, by the aesthetic impression given off by the space on the page they filled with ink, as well as general readability; 18 and we learn from Strabo that it was, even in metropolitan centers like Rome, at times difficult to find scribes that were up to the task. 19 If a well-worn 'working text' needed to be copied, and if the client expected the final product to look 'neat' (in a way specified by Basil), what was a scribe supposed to do with the marginalia? If he wanted his product to look 'professional' he could not very well reproduce them as marginalia, although this (or reproducing them as scholia) would have been the right thing to do. Instead, he might choose to incorporate the notes into the main text. And there is good evidence that this happened on more than one occasion, especially in the early history of scribal reproduction. 20 Depending on the acumen and care of the scribe, such notes could be woven into the fabric of the original text in an intelligent fashion; but sometimes quite the contrary happened, as for example in the following text, taken from Epicurus' Letter to Herodotus (as preserved by Diogenes Laertius, X 40.8): Kai nf]v Kai TCOV TOUTO Km ev xfj 7tpam| ITepi (pvasax; Kai xfj 18' Kai ie' Kai xfj MeyaXr| ¿71iT0p.fi AFFLNDXCOV ia (XEV ¿ A I L auyKpiasii;, xa 6 ' EE, >' n e n obéit pas moins au maître qui n ' a pas encore imposé le bon ordre à l'absence de lieu et d'ordre." 23 Cf. the apparatus criticus ad loc. in N o c k - F e s t u g i è r e .

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the master) withholds the character of order, it too is under a master, (viz.) the one who has not yet imposed order on it.

The thought is that even if disorder is not something that has a maker, it is still part of a hierarchy since it is deprived of order, and in need of it. Thus, it has a master, i.e. the one who will eventually bestow order on it. That, at any rate, is a clear thought, and somebody understood it well enough, since he wrote into the margin, quite appropriately: xa^iq toftio ecm ("This is order!"). The textual and interpretive problems of this vexing passage have vanished. A preliminary survey of about one third of the seventeen Hermetic treatises has yielded a successful identification of some twenty-four interpolations, most of them attributable to rather mindless activities of scribes. In those cases in which such intrusions resulted in largely unintelligible Greek, the removal of the mechanical interpolation succeeds in solving the textual problem completely while at the same time fully respecting the (often unanimous) readings of the manuscripts. This last point is important: The text-critical treatment of the Corpus Hermeticum proposed here is at once radical and conservative: in the vast majority of cases the separation of main text and marginalia works best if and when the (under conventional editorial suppositions) objectionable readings of the manuscripts are retained! It is hardly ever necessary to adopt any one of the many emendations proposed by scholars over the centuries of scholarship on the Hermetic corpus. The important question of when this sort of corruption by intrusion of marginalia occurred cannot be answered in the context of this paper. There is a certain amount of evidence, however, (which would require a great deal of philological discussion to lay out) that the Macedonian polymath John of Stobi (early fifth century CE) was already dealing with a severely impaired text. The main reason why the Hermetic fragments preserved in his writings read so much more clear than our manuscripts is not that he had access to an unspoiled tradition, but rather that he doctored, corrected, and emended for the benefit of his own readers, not at all unlike what modern editors have done. If this is true, we may infer that already before Stobaeus' time, in the centuries in which most Hermetists were supposedly active (second to fourth century), the treatises now in our collection had already undergone quite dramatic changes. Moreover, as has been suggested above, such alterations likely occurred when annotated working copies owned by "Hermetic scholars" were copied out by rather irresponsible scribes whose charge it was to produce clean and legible copies. Either on account of their lack of training or an overly developed reverence for every single written word, they incorporated the marginal notes into a new continuous text without regard for sense and syntax, by a process best de-

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scribed as mechanical interpolation. We can also infer that the Byzantine textual transmission of the Corpus Hermeticum was no more problematic and detrimental than the transmission of any other literary product of antiquity.

The Genesis of a Genesis: A New Reading of C.H. Ill With these observations and inferences in mind, let us now turn to the Hermetic cosmogony of C.H. III. The tractate's narrative is as bold as it is brief. It consist of just 326 words, but Nock and Festugiere indicate in their edition that the text is more or less irreparably corrupted in at least seven instances: they place seven pairs of daggers, sometimes enclosing substantial amounts of text, assume a lacuna once, and delete one article. What they do not do, to their credit, is adopt any of the countless emendations proposed by various scholars and previous editors (Cumont, Einarson, Dodd, Ferguson, Flussas, Puech, Reitzenstein, Scott, Tiedemann, and Turnebus, in alphabetical, not chronological order). If one translates the text as it stands, the result can only be a pretty confusing story that adheres to no clear progression of thought; it remains vague what precisely is going on, what is being created when and for what purpose. 2 4 Still, the rela•yc

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tively smooth renderings into French, English, German, Italian and, most recently, Norwegian 2 9 typically mask the fact that the text is beset with an extraordinary amount of difficulties, even more difficulties and puzzles than Nock was willing to acknowledge. My proposal is, of course, to understand C.H. Ill as a compound of at least two texts: an original Hermetic genesis and another text that consisted 24 Walter Scott, Hermetica: The Ancient Greek and Latin Writings which Contain Religious or Philosophic Teachings Ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus (4 vols.; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924-1936), vol. 1, 145, remarked in a footnote: "The text of Libellus III, as given in the MSS, is almost entirely meaningless, and sense can be made of it only by altering it largely" - which he did! 25 Festugière in Nock-Festugière, Hermès Trismégiste, vol. 1, 4 4 - 4 6 . 26 Clement Salaman et al. The Way of Hermes: The Corpus Hermeticum (London: Duckworth, 1999), 30-31. 27 Maria M. Miller, Die Hermetischen Schriften: Corpus Hermeticum (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 2009), 153-58; Jens Holzhausen, Das Corpus Hermeticum Deutsch (2 vols.; Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Friedrich Frommann Verlag, Günther Holzboog, 1997), vol. 1, 37-42; Karl-Gottfried Eckart, Das Corpus Hermeticum: einschliesslich der Fragmente des Stobaeus (Münsteraner Judaistische Studien 3; Münster: LIT Verlag, 1999), 4 6 - 4 7 . 28 Paolo Scarpi, La Rivelazione Segreta di Ermete Trismegisto (2 vols.; Rome: Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 2009), vol. 1, 68-71, 4 3 3 - 3 5 . 29 Christian H. Bull, Hermes Trismegistos: Gresk-egyptiske Visdomstekster (Oslo: Norske Bokklubbene, 2010), 2 7 - 3 0 .

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of thematically (though not necessarily syntactically) connected notes that were originally put into the margin at some early point of the text's transmission and subsequently found their way into the main text by way of mechanical interpolation. To recapitulate the tractate's content, its overall structure is as follows: A proem states that god is the principle of all things, and that all things the entire realm of nature, the cycle of all natural events, as well as (human) wisdom - are divine (section 1). Then the text narrates how a holy light arose above the abyss; the elements separated from one another, and the celestial bodies were formed (sections 1-2). These celestial bodies are gods who then complete the creation by bringing forth flora and fauna and, importantly, man, who is supposed to flourish upon earth, and to bear witness to the divinity of nature by the cultivation of astronomy (section 3). In section 4 the text deteriorates to near incomprehensibility: astronomy is apparently conducive to particularly grand achievements of mankind, and the text ends with a reiteration of the divinity of the entire cosmos (ring composition). In the following running commentary, I shall discuss each section in turn and in the end offer a revised translation that separates what I take to be the original Hermetic text from the intrusive marginalia. The result will be a clear and concise cosmogony (the presumed original Hermetic account) flanked by marginal notes that supplement that account with elements taken from other Hermetic treatises and the Bible. It will emerge, moreover, that the ancient reader who added his 'clarifying' comments insisted on the importance of astrology for the cultural development of mankind, advertising a proud commitment to astrological divination and perhaps magic.

'EPMOY IEPOI Aoroi 1 Ao^a Ttctvxtov o 9eoi; icai Gstov Kai cpuan; 0eia. ap/i] xcov ovxcov o Seoi; Kai voui; Kai qyuaic; Kai ia eiq 8EI^IV ajtavicov (ov- apxr) TO 9etov Kai cpuoi^ Kai svepyeia Kai avayKr| Kai TEXO and filled with hatred against the Lord because he revealed himself. (Tri. Trac. 118.29-119.16) 4 8

How people respond to the Savior is also important for their salvation. For the three types of responses correspond to three types of salvific ends: the spirituals will receive complete salvation, while the material kind will perish entirely. Psychics, however, insofar as they are disposed towards both good and evil, have an uncertain fate which may lead to either salvation or destruction depending on whether they make good or evil choices in life. 49 Recalling Irenaeus' allegations against the Valentinians, does the anthropogony of the Tripartite Tractate preclude ethics? The anthropogonic section (Tri. Trac. 118-19) has two striking structural parallels to the Stoic psychological solution to the problem of determinism. 50 The advent of the Savior is like an impression to which people respond, and the way an individual responds to this impression indicates his or her character. Also simi48 The tripartite division of humanity was not unique to the Valentinians. The Shepherd of Hermas also divides humanity into three soteriological ends on the basis of their response to the Angel of Repentance, and these responses are described in language remarkably similar to that of the Tripartite Tractate: "All those who have repented have a dwelling place in the tower. All those who repent more slowly will dwell within the walls. But those who do not repent but remain in their deeds will certainly die" (Herm. Sim. 8.7, trans. Bart Ehrman, The Apostolic Fathers [LCL; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003], vol. 2, italics added). 49 Tri. Trac. 119.16-24: "Now the spiritual kind will receive complete salvation in every respect. The material kind will perish in every respect, as happens to an enemy. The psychical kind, however, since it is in the middle by virtue of the way it was brought forth as well as by virtue of its composition, is double, being disposed to good as well as to evil . . . " 50 My argument does not depend upon a rigid or direct line of intellectual dependence by the author of the Tri. Trac. upon Stoicism - it is enough to observe the structural and functional similarity. However, the technical use of the Greek loan-word diathesis suggests that the author of the Tripartite Tractate may have been aware of contemporary philosophical discussions about the development and articulation of human psychology and behavior.

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lar to Stoic thought, the Tripartite Tractate explains that ethical praise or censure depends upon giving or withholding assent to an external cause, i.e., the advent of the Savior. Yet, in contrast to the internal and cognitive focus of Stoicism, the essences of each person in the Tripartite Tractate are externally visible and identifiable by his or her ethical conduct, or "fruit." Harold Attridge and Elaine Pagels refer to this enactment or conduct as the "actualization" of the dispositions of the three kinds of humans, and this actualization occurs at the moment of their responses to the Savior. 51 Einar Thomassen similarly links the tripartite division of humanity with differences in behavior and argues that it is conduct that reveals one's essence or nature. 52 In her insightful work Why this New Race?, Denise Kimber Buell argues that in practice the three types of humanity are fluid, and that the identification of an individual with a particular class indicates that his or her actions are a "distillation" of an expectation for behavior. As Buell observes, however, it is always possible to alter one's conduct in order to join another class. 53 Therefore, two of Irenaeus' criticisms against Valentinian soteriology do not accurately represent the Tripartite Tractate. It is not ethically indeterminate, nor is the Savior superfluous to the salvation of humanity. Instead of the alleged lack of moral responsibility arising from the notion that one is "saved by nature," the Tripartite Tractate contains parallels to the psychological formulation of ethics in Stoicism that locates responsibility in the way one reacts to external causes. 54 Thus, so far as we are accountable for our dispositions, which determine our responses, ethical culpability remains possible. 55 Moreover, although the Tripartite Tractate's conception and function of the Savior is different from that found in Ire51

Attridge and Pagels, Nag Hammadi Codex I, 2:447. Thomassen, Traité tripartite, 428-29. 53 Buell, Why This New Race?, 83-84, 126-28. Michael A. Williams and Elaine Pagels have also argued for sociological fluidity between the three types of humanity in Valentinan anthropology, and have contended in particular that psychics could train and transform themselves into pneumatics. See Williams, Rethinking Gnosticism, 189-212; Pagels, "Conflicting Versions." 54 Interestingly, both Clement (Strom. V, 1) and Origen (Princ. Ill, 1) similarly cite the Stoic concept of assent (sunkatathesis) to defend human freedom and responsibility against the deterministic notion that "one is saved by nature." Lôhr, "Gnostic Determinism," 384-85. 55 Accounting for our disposition or "essence," however, is a complicated issue in the Tripartite Tractate. If we are not causally responsible for our dispositions, then we are internally determined and thus are not responsible for our choices. As we will see, responsibility for our dispositions emerges from a perspectival re-reading of the Tripartite Tractate. On "internal determinism," see Susanne Bobzien, "Did Epicurus Discover the Free Will Problem?" in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy XIX (ed. David Sedley; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 287-337. 52

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naeus' summary, the Savior is anything but superfluous since he acts as the catalyst for the tripartite division of humanity that that leads to the ultimate soteriological goal of reunification with the Father. 56 In the second part of this article, I will expand on these observations by investigating how the Tripartite Tractate's, expectations for ethical conduct relate to Irenaeus' third criticism, that the Valentinians' soteriology is internally inconsistency. What was the impact of biblical interpretation on the Tripartite Tractate's language of ethics? What did the ethical "fruits" of the three classes most likely involve? How and by whom were ethical admonitions to "obey the will of the Father" enacted in practice? As we will see, the tripartite division of humanity, as well as the roles of the three classes in the interrelated timelines of salvation history, arose by merging disparate scriptural passages, especially from the Gospel of Matthew and the letters of Paul.

2. Valentinian Biblical Exegesis and Ethics When Irenaeus criticized the Valentinians for allegedly misusing scripture (Haer. 1.8), he observed that they justify their tripartite division of humanity with a wide range of biblical passages, especially the letters of Paul: Paul, too, very plainly set forth material, psychical, and spiritual, saying in one place, "as is the earthly, such are they also that are earthly" (1 Cor 15:48); and in another place, "but the psychic man does not receive the things of the Spirit" (1 Cor 2:14); and again: "he that is spiritual judges all things" (1 Cor 2:15). {Haer. 1.8.3)

It is clear that the Tripartite Tractate's anthropogonic section (pp. 118-19) reflects a commitment to scriptural exegesis as well. As I noted above, the advent of the Savior is a crucial moment in salvation history as it reveals the tripartite division of humanity that conveys the soteriological outcomes for specific groups of people. By linking one's moral quality and salvific end to the manner in which one responds to the Savior, the Tripartite Tractate is likely interpreting John 3 wherein an individual's response to the light of the Savior indicates whether he or she has already been saved or condemned:

56

Tri. Trac. 117.3-23: "For the Will kept the All under sin, in order that by Will he might show mercy on the All and they might be saved, because a single one has been appointed to give life, whereas all the rest need salvation ... Because seed of the promise about Jesus Christ had been deposited, whose revelation and unification we have ministered to, this promise now enabled instruction and a return to that which they had been from the beginning - that of which they possessed a drop inciting them to return to it - which is what is called the redemption."

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Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God. 5 7 (John 3:17-21)

Furthermore, the manifestation of the moral quality of an individual differs from the internalization of ethical responsibility found among the Stoics. The Tripartite Tractate's idea that the "essences of the three kinds can each be known by their fruit" (118.21-23) is most likely an exegesis of Matt 7:16 ("You will know them by their fruit") and Luke 6:43-45. 58 Thus, it is clear that the three classes rely upon preconceived notions of soteriology that are derived from biblical exegesis, and that these salvific ends depend upon expectations for human conduct that are externally manifested. In this way, the Tripartite Tractate's commitment to three salvific ends entails the establishment of three patterns of conduct, and the manifestations of these three patterns reconfirm the soteriological organization of the text. The interaction between the predetermined soteriological ends for classes of people and the types of behavior linked to these ends 59 is an example of the dynamic relationship described by Buell between fixity and fluidity in notions of ethnicity. 60 In the Tripartite Tractate, this dynamic of fixity and fluidity occurs at the intersection of theory and practice: in theory, the salvific organization depends upon fixed soteriological categories, but in practice membership in these classes is more fluid because it is con-

57 The fragments of Heracleon's Commentary on John provide a similar exegesis and pattern of response by the pneumatic ( § § 1 7 - 3 0 and 37) as well as the psychic (§40) to the advent of the Savior; see Elaine Pagels, The Johannine Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis: Heracleon's Commentary on John (Nashville; New York: Abingdon Press, 1973), 83-97; Einar Thomassen, "Heracleon," in The Legacy of John: Second Century Reception of the Fourth Gospel (ed. Tuomas Rasimus; Leiden: Brill, 2010), 173-210. 58 "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart." This passage may have also been key to Marcion's rejection of the creator-god. See Adolf von Harnack, Marcion: Das Evangelium vom fremden Gott (2 nd ed; Leipzig: Hinrich, 1924). Cf. Attridge and Pagels, Nag Hammadi Codex I, 2:447; Thomassen, Traité tripartite, 428-49. 59 Tri. Trac. 119.28-122.12; 129.34-136.5. 60 Buell, Why This New Race?, 6 - 7 .

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tingent upon and signified by the continuous enactment of patterns of conduct. 61 Consequently, not only is the salvific organization of the Tripartite Tractate not deterministic and a-ethical, but, by reminding its audience of the high-stakes involved in its three classes and their soteriological ends, the Tripartite Tractate also contains a subtle yet compelling exhortation to ethical behavior through its tripartite hierarchy that is meant to ensure the continuation of conduct that represents one's salvific status. 62 Yet two questions remain unanswered: Why is the author of the Tripartite Tractate so committed to a soteriology shaped by these three classes? And what characteristics (e.g., types of conduct and sociological position) can be ascribed to each class? In the remainder of this article, I will investigate these two questions. I will begin with an examination of the Tripartite Tractate's explicit expectations of conduct for the various classes, focusing especially on doing the "will of the Father" and other "action guides." 63 Then, I will consider in more detail the Tripartite Tractate's idealized portrait of the social practices of the three classes of humanity and how these practices reflect the Tripartite Tractate's use of biblical exegesis and relate to its view of salvation history. In Michel Desjardins' ground-breaking work Sin in Valentinianism, he challenged the then dominant scholarly view of a Valentinian movement that was indifferent to concerns about ethics. Desjardins demonstrated that Valentinian literature contains a consistent interest in ethical conduct, and that this interest was often expressed by re-directing the attention of the audience towards obedience to the "will of the Father." Desjardins observed that these Christians - all of them - are intent on "doing the Father's Will." They are definitely not gnostics for whom actions have no significance and sin is of no concern whatsoever. Sin for them is an action not in keeping with the heavenly Father's will. They are worried about their salvation ... and struggle to remain sinless in the hope that this will make the difference when they die. 64

61

Buell, Why This New Race?, 127. In his study on the allegedly deterministic designation "immovable race," Michael A. Williams similarly concluded that the rhetoric used to formulate and distinguish a community of "elect" is instead indicative of idealized modes of conduct that are in principle open to all. See Williams, The Immovable Race: A Gnostic Designation and the Theme of Stability in Late Antiquity (Leiden: Brill, 1985), 158-85. 63 I borrow the term "action guides," meaning "moral directives or imperatives," from Wayne Meeks' survey of early Christian morality (Origins of Morality, 65-90). 64 Desjardins, Sin in Valentinianism, 116. 62

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Frequently in Valentinian texts, this injunction to do the ther" is connected to "action guides" or directives towards conduct. 6 5 The Gospel of Truth, for instance, presents an ethically minded imperatives motivated by doing the "will

"will of the Faspecific types of extensive list of of the Father":

Make firm the feet of those who stumbled and stretch out your hands to those who are ill. Feed those who are hungry and give repose to those who are weary, and raise up those who wish to rise and awaken those who sleep, for you are the understanding that is drawn forth. If strength acts thus, it becomes even stronger. Be concerned with yourselves; do not be concerned with other things which you have rejected from yourselves. Do not return to what you have vomited to eat it. Do not be moths. Do not be worms, for you have already cast it off. Do not be a (dwelling) place for the devil, for you have already destroyed him. Do not strengthen (those who are) obstacles to you who are collapsing, as though (you were) a support (for them). For the lawless one is someone to treat ill rather than the just one. For the former does his works as a lawless person; the latter as a righteous person does his works among others. So you do the Will of the Father, for you are from him. (Gos. Truth 33.1-32) 6 6

The Tripartite Tractate repeatedly links the "will of the Father" to the divine oikonomia or salvific organization of past, present, and future events. For example, the Tripartite Tractate conflates the oikonomia with the will of the Father in its description of the Logos' fall (76. 23-77.11), the splintering of the aeonic image of the Pleromatic realm into individuals (94.1095.16), the establishment of human mortality and suffering (107.20108.12), and the Father's premeditated road towards "the concord and the preexistent" (125.24-127.25). As a result, its expansive salvific narrative that describes the initial emergence of plurality from unity and concludes with an eschatological reunification is also the story of the Father's guiding will. In this way, the Tripartite Tractate's idea of a guiding ethical principle or exemplar has striking parallels with similar models found in both philosophical 6 7 and biblical writings. 68

65

Although his focus is on explicating the term and concept of "sin," Desjardins' survey of the Nag Hammadi materials is also extraordinarily sensitive to the phrase "will of the Father," and its connection to ethical directives. See Desjardins, Sin in Valentinianism, 67-116. 66 For the Coptic text and translation of the Gospel of Truth, I rely upon Harold W. Attridge, Nag Hammadi Codex I, vol. 1. 67 In arguing for his view of philosophy as a "way of life," Hadot proposed a correlation between the study of the physical world and ethical conduct. According to Hadot (What is Ancient Philosophy?, 134-39, 172-233), the study of physics enabled the philosopher to learn about the rationality of Nature and consent to whatever Nature/Zogos (i.e., the divine) wills. Through this consent to Nature, an action could be classified as being ethical, i.e., having good moral intent. In this way, the discursive and spiritual exercises of philosophy were intended to train the philosopher to consent to the divine and rational will of Nature.

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Consequently, the types of conduct allotted to the three types of humanity not only reflect the salvific ends of each class, but also correspond to each class' predetermined role in the dynamic process of salvation. Thus, the conduct associated with each class, such as the hylics' enmity against the Church (121.38-122.12), the pneumatics' behaving like the "Apostles" who care for the fallen (116.7-20), and the psychics' choosing between sharing in the afflictions of the Church or pursuing vainglorious but temporary power (119.28-121.38), is expected and even mandated by the divine oikonomia. Therefore, the three classes of humanity represent impersonal but required roles in the ongoing drama of salvation. Since, as Buell has observed, the first and paradigmatic human was created with a "mixed" nature of all three types (Tri. Trac. 106.18-25), there is a fluid potential that could be appealed to at a later date in order to accommodate and explain movement between roles. 69 A person who at a later stage in life changed his or her role in the drama of salvation could appeal to this fluid potential in order to account for this apparent change. Thus an individual who is committed to locating him or herself in the Tripartite Tractate's narrative will move backwards from conduct to disposition in order to locate which essence best explains his or her current situation and practices. In Desjardins' analysis of the biblical passages that inspired the Valentinian connection between entire classes of humanity and specific roles in salvation history, he argued that the injunctions to do the "will of the Father" were grounded in an exegesis of Matt 7:21: "not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the Will of my Father who is in Heaven." 70 The Tripartite Tractate is consistent with Desjardins' proposal of an exegetically based framework for ethical discourse insofar as it too connects ethical injunctions structured by salvific oikonomia (133.9) with the promised reward of eschatological reunification in the "eternal kingdom" (132.16-133.15): And even those who were brought forth from the desire of lust for domination, having inside of them the seed that is lust for domination, will receive the recompense of good 68 In his overview of early Christian morality, Meeks dedicated a whole chapter to the rhetoric of discerning and doing the "Will of God/Father" in early Christian ethical discourse. According to Meeks (Origins of Morality, 150-73), early Christians used the phrase "Will of God/Father" to exhort individuals towards ethical conduct based upon the moral exemplum of the divine order as well as biblical commandments. Similarly, in his discussion of the will in antiquity, Dihle (Theory of Will, 6 8 - 9 8 ) argued that Paul, Philo, and other post-biblical Jews so closely linked the idea of the individual will to the commandments of God that obedience or disobedience to the will or commandments of God was the only conception of the "will" or "conscience" for these authors. 69 70

Buell, Why This New Race?, 83. Desjardins, Sin in Valentinianism,

78.

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things, if they have worked together with those who are predisposed toward good things, and provided they decide to do so deliberately, and are willing to abandon their vain love of temporary glory so as to [do] the command of the Lord of Glory, and instead of that small temporary honor, they will inherit the eternal kingdom. (Tri. Trac. 131.22-132.3)

According to Desjardins, ethics and ethical discourse among the Valentinians are indebted to and motivated by scriptural precedents such as Matthew's "injunctions" in the Sermon on the Mount as well as Pauline "speculation about sin." 71 As in the Gospel of Matthew, ethical action guides in the Tripartite Tractate that relate to the will of the Father are, unfortunately, tantalizingly incomplete due to their implicitness, so that much of their underlying content must be assumed. 72 Consequently, an examination of the exegetical foundations underlying the logic of the Tripartite Tractate will better elucidate its imagined soteriology and sociology. Tensions in the narrative of the Tripartite Tractate may indicate attempts to harmonize these exegetical commitments and accommodate them with lived experience. In turn, they may also reveal something about the day-to-day reality of the community. While the Tripartite Tractate imagines three distinct types of humanity, it posits two separate but interrelated eschatological timelines at work: on the one hand, a realized eschatology enacted through ritual for the pneumatics, and on the other, a final day of judgment for hylics and psychics. I suggest that underlying these two eschatological timelines is a blended exegesis of Paul and the Gospel of Matthew. In this vision of salvation history, the church consisting of pneumatics is set apart from the rest of humanity by ritually participating in the body of the Savior as a "preliminary" unification prior to the final restoration which will occur only after the reunification of the Pleromatic realms: 73

71

Desjardins, Sin in Valentinianism, 131. See Meeks, Origin of Morality, 2 0 0 - 1 : "Matthew provides no code of behavior. Although the risen Jesus in Matthew directs that new disciples must be taught 'to observe all that I have commanded you' (28:20), we have here no system of commandments. The rules are exemplary, not comprehensive, pointers to the kind of life expected in the community, but not a map of acceptable behavior. Still less does Matthew's Jesus state philosophical principles from which guidelines for behavior could rationally be derived. W e are left with the puzzle that while Jesus plays the role of a conventional sage in Matthew, his teachings recorded here do not add up to an ethical system." 73 In his schematization of salvation history in the Tripartite Tractate, Thomassen (Spiritual Seed, 182-86) distinguishes between a "preliminary" and "ultimate" redemptive unification. In describing the salvific goal of reunification, Thomassen concentrates exclusively on the interrelated soteriological narratives of the Pleroma and the earthly church of the pneumatics. However, this focus overlooks the delayed judgment and possible salvation of the psychics in the complex and dynamically interconnected soteriology of the Tripartite Tractate. 72

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The Fullness possesses a first mutual concord and union, which is the concord that exists for the glory of the Father, and through which the members of the All acquire a representation of him. The final restoration, however, after the All is manifested in him who is the Son - the one who is the redemption, who is the road toward the incomprehensible Father, who is the return to the preexistent - and after the members of the All have been manifested in him who is truly the inconceivable, ineffable, invisible, and ungraspable, so that the All obtains its redemption. (Tri. Trac. 123.23-124.3)

The preliminary unification is described in mystical language emerging from the use of Pauline baptismal formulae in ritual practice: "The Election is consubstantial with the Savior and of one body with him. 74 Because of its oneness and union with him, it is like a bridal chamber" (Tri. Trac. 122.12-17). Thus baptismal rituals operate on two levels: individually, by indicating a realized eschatology for the baptized, as well as collectively by which the body of the Savior, the vehicle for the redemption of the Pleromatic realms, is progressively transformed by the ritual addition of community members through baptism. 75 Comparatively, those outside this community are described in terms of Matt 25 as awaiting eschatological judgment in which the good will be separated from bad - the right from the left: 76

74

See also Tri. Trac. 122.32-123.22; 127.25-129.34. In this interpretation I am drawing upon as well as disagreeing with Thomassen's discussion of the role of the Savior-Son in the salvation history of the Tripartite Tractate. While I agree with Thomassen that there are two soteriological levels, i.e., Pleromatic and earthly, at work in the text, I disagree that there is a conflict in soteriologies, possibly indicating multiple sources. Instead, I contend that baptism, drawing upon Pauline imagery, signifies an individual transformation insofar as one becomes a participant in the body of the Savior, but also corresponds to the ongoing cosmic transformation of the Pleromatic realms which mirrors and responds to the restorative process of the earthly community. Consequently, the completion of the redemption will occur after the final consummation of the Pleromatic realms, which is ritually linked to the ongoing baptismal practices of the pneumatic community. See Thomassen, Spiritual Seed, 182-87. For good overviews of the wide spectrum of scholarly views of the relationship between corporate eschatology and individual participation in Paul's thought, see E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1977), 431-542; R. Barry Matlock, Unveiling the Apocalyptic Paul: Paul's Interpreters and the Rhetoric of Criticism (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996). 75

76

The antithesis of right v. left as signifying correct v. incorrect has a long prehistory. In Jewish and early Christian sources, the opposition of right v. left often refers to two opposing ways of life. In the Tripartite Tractate, however, right and left are clear metonyms for post-judgment soteriological ends, and this specific valence makes it likely that the judgment scene of Matt 2 5 : 3 1 - 4 6 is the exegetical foundation for its titles "right" and "left." See Margaret Mary McKenna, ' " T h e Two Ways' in Jewish and Christian Writings of the Greco-Roman Period: A Study of the Form of Repentance Parenesis" (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1981); J. M. Court, "Right and Left: The Implications for Matthew 2 5 : 3 1 - 4 6 , " ATS 31 (1985): 223-33.

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For those on the right who will be saved, the road to eternal rest leads from humility to salvation. After having confessed the Lord, having given thought to what is good for the Church, and having sung together with it the hymn of the humble, they will, for all the good they have been able to do for it, sharing its afflictions and sufferings like people who have consideration for what is good for the Church, partake of the fellowship in hope. This applies to humans as well as to angels. Similarly, the road for those who are of the order of those on the left leads to perdition - not only because they denied the Lord and plotted evil against him, but also because of their hatred, envy, and jealousy directed against the Church as well. And this is the reason for the condemnation of those who were agitated and rose up to cause for the church. (Tri. Trac. 121.25122.12)

In this way, salvation history follows a pattern reminiscent of Rom 9-11, wherein salvation first comes to Paul's insiders, his gentile addressees, and is later followed by the eschatological redemption of the Jews. In the Tripartite Tractate's view, this delayed redemption comes secondarily to individuals outside the baptized community who are "good" psychics insofar as they abide by their inner good dispositions 77 and ultimately commit to monotheism. 78 Ismo Dunderberg, in his analysis of the various characterizations of the psychics and hylics in the Tripartite Tractate, connected these descriptions to specific, ethnic-based groups. 79 According to Dunderberg, the text's reactionary tone towards political authorities and various elements of GrecoRoman education indicates protracted "socio-political defiance" and "deviance" which assumes a "sectarian" sociological model insofar as the individuals outside the initiated pneumatics are often portrayed in negative 11

Tri. Trac. 130.13-30: "Well, I said that all those who have gone forth from the Word, either from the condemnation of the things that are evil or from the rage that fought against them, or the turning away from them, which is conversion toward the superior things, or the prayers and remembrance of the préexistent things, or from hope and faith that [they] would receive their salvation from good work since they have been deemed worthy because they are beings from the good disposition, and they have as the cause of their birth a sentiment that derives from what is." 78 Tri. Trac. 110.22-113.1; 129.34-136.24. Pace Dunderberg (Beyond Gnosticism, 170) who, citing Tri. Trac. 133.16-134.31, suggests that "those on the right," i.e., good psychics, include "polytheistic traditionalists in power who are expected to become members of the church." Dunderberg's interpretation has two major difficulties. The first group mentioned in the passage is likely not referring to psychics but to pneumatics who "believed without hesitation" while the Savior was still incarnated. Furthermore, the point of the entire passage is to provide a paradigmatic example of salvific progress from deficiency to perfection in which "temple-worshippers" have turned away from their gods and converted to proper monotheism. In this way, the "many acts of worship at the temples," are mentioned only retrospectively after this conversion and do not, therefore, indicate the current practices of these converts, whether they are pneumatics or psychics. On the identification of those who "believed without hesitation" as pneumatics, see Thomassen, Traité tripartite, 449-51. 79

Dunderberg, Beyond Gnosticism,

161-88.

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terms. 80 Dunderberg identified these hostile outsiders with Roman authorities. 81 While I find the suggestion of locating specific groups and peoples behind some of the mythic elements thought-provoking, I am unconvinced that the Tripartite Tractate's particular characterizations need to be connected to discrete, historical individuals as opposed to rhetorical exempla for the three types of humanity. 82 Although I disagree with Dunderberg's socio-historical identifications, I too am interested in the day-to-day reality assumed by the Tripartite Tractate. There is an apparent tension in the tripartite anthropogony and soteriology that, as Irenaeus observed, emerges around the uncertain salvific status of the psychics. 83 As I noted above, Irenaeus argued that the Valentinians' soteriological theory that one is saved by nature is incompatible with the view that the salvation of psychics depends upon merit (Haer. 2.29.1). The Tripartite Tractate compounds the friction surrounding psychic salvation with an interconnected salvation history that raises very difficult questions: are the three classes indicative of "temporary" stages of training through which each person is expected to advance? Is conversion, then, not only possible, but expected between classes? And finally, if psychics are saved, do they enjoy the same level of salvation as pneumatics? In order to answer these questions, I concentrate on the Tripartite Tractate's expectations for pneumatics regarding the salvific status of psychics and propose some possible models of conduct entailed by these ethical expectations. The Tripartite Tractate's interconnected salvation history, which I outlined above, resembles and may in fact be evoking 84 the two timelines at 80 Tri. Trac. 120.15-29: "On the other hand, those that issued from the thought of lust for domination, who originated from the assault of the ones who opposed him, are the products of that thought. Being, for that reason, mixed, the end they will get is uncertain. Those who rid themselves of the lust for domination that was given them temporarily and for short periods, who give glory to the Lord of glory and who abandon their rage, will be recompensed for their humility by being allowed to endure indefinitely . . . " Cf. Tri. Trac. 120.29-121.25. 81 Dunderberg, Beyond Gnosticism, 171-73. 82 For a thorough reply to interpretations that "intuitively" connect myth with sociology, see Williams, Rethinking Gnosticism, 9 6 - 1 1 5 , where he argues against the suggestion that anti-cosmic myths entail socially deviant conduct. See also Tite's overview of the use of moral exempla in the Greco-Roman world (Valentinian Ethics, 147-64). 83 As Peter Brown adroitly observes, "the 'friction point' of early Christian eschatology, and of early Christian pastoral care, was the fate of the non valdes - the non valde mali, the non valde boni: the 'not altogether bad,' and 'not altogether g o o d . ' " See Brown, "Alms and the Afterlife: A Manichaean View of Early Christian Practice," in East and West: Papers in Ancient History Presented to Glen Bowersock (ed. T. Corey Brennan and Harriet I. Flower; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 155. 84 The likelihood of this exegetical association is further substantiated by the conflation of psychics with Jews/Hebrews who are the children of the demiurge and among

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work in Rom 9-11 in which Israel, on account of God's trustworthiness, is guaranteed and spurred towards future redemption by jealousy arising from the salvation already enjoyed by gentiles. With compelling imagery, Paul compares the final, shared salvific fate of deserving peoples to a single olive tree onto which branches can be grafted. The Tripartite Tractate, similarly and inexorably driven towards the salvific goal of eliminating plurality, uses Pauline baptismal language to speak about the final reconciliation: If, in fact, we confess the kingdom in Christ, it is for the abolishment of all diversity, inequality, and difference. For the end will regain the form of existence of a single one, just as the beginning was a single one - the place where there is no male and female, nor slave and free man, nor circumcised and uncircumcised, nor angel and human, but all in all is Christ. For they will even obtain direct vision, so that they no longer have to believe on account only of a small word produced by a voice that this is how things are. (Tri. Trac. 132.16-133.8)

Based upon this passage and others, 85 though some hierarchy may remain, it appears ultimately that good psychics will be restored and thus, akin with the pneumatics, will be saved. 86 Yet, as Thomassen has observed, details about the underlying process of salvation are "not entirely clear." 87 How are psychics saved? And do those psychics who are saved ultimately become pneumatics? Scholars frequently divide the Valentinian tradition into two schools (Eastern and Western) based in part upon different doctrines regarding the nature of the Savior's body, i.e., whether it is pneumatic or psychic. 88 Due to the participatory nature of salvation, the constitution of the Savior's body indicates those to whom he has been sent to save. 89 Yet, as Thomassen has demonstrated, the Tripartite Tractate's process of salvation cannot whom have been those who spoke prophetically concerning the Savior (Tri. Trac. 111.614.39; 119.28-120.14). For an excellent survey of Clement's exegetical maneuvers in response to Heracleon and Theodotus, who similarly conflate psychic Christians with the portrayal of Jews in the writings of Paul, see Judith Kovacs, "Clement of Alexandria and the Valentinian Gnostics" (PhD diss., Columbia University, 1978). 85 Tri. Trac. 119.20-120.14; 121.25-38; 125.24-127.25; 131.14-133.15. 86 In Tri. Trac. 122.12-24 the Election (pneumatics) and the Calling (psychics) are differentiated by analogy to the difference between a bridal chamber (pneumatics) and those who must joyfully celebrate on account of the union of the bridegroom and the bride (psychics). In Tri. Trac. 135.25-136.5 the post-apokatastasis relationship of the saved peoples is again described, but the text is, unfortunately, too poorly preserved to be understood with real precision. 87 Thomassen, Spiritual Seed, 169. 88 The most clear and succinct overview, synthesis, and critical evaluation of the model of two schools and their essential characteristics is by Jean-Daniel Dubois, "La Sotériologie Valentinienne du Traité Tripartite (NH 1,5)," in Painchaud and Pasquier, Les textes de Nag Hammadi et le problème de leur classification, 221-32. 89 Thomassen, Spiritual Seed, 53-57.

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be reduced to a simple metaphysical correlation between the Savior and the saved. 90 Although it describes pneumatics as consubstantial with the Savior {Tri. Trac. 122.12-15), they, nonetheless, require a school for instruction and training in a salvific process that mirrors the aeons' progressive return to the Father (Tri. Trac. 123.11-22). 91 While some scholars suggest that psychics are included in the "members" of the ecclesiastical body that require a school (Tri. Trac. 123.12), this interpretation is not certain. 92 Elsewhere in the Tripartite Tractate, however, the overriding emphasis on progress and education clearly applies to all of humanity, including psychics. 93 This salvific process of advancing from deficiency towards perfection or unity is ubiquitous in the text since it is typologically enacted at higher and lower levels in its verti90

According to Thomassen, the "soteriological process can thus be variously portrayed (1) as a manifestation, (2) as an education or maturation, and (3) as a transformation from a state of deficiency to completeness." See Thomassen, "Valentinian Ideas about Salvation as Transformation," in Metamorphoses: Resurrection, Body, and Transformative Practices in Early Christianity (ed. Turid Karlsen Seim and Jorunn 0 k l a n d ; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2009), 176. 91 On the need for education and training by the pneumatics, see Tri. Trac. 116.18-20; 116.34-117.8; 117.17 - 2 4 ; and Thomassen, Traité tripartite, 437. 92 The interpretative dispute regarding this passage centers on the identity of the "perfect man" and the "members" of the Savior mentioned in Tri. Trac. 123.3-12. According to Attridge and Pagels, the perfect man refers to the pneumatic portion of the "Man of the Church" (Tri. Trac. 122.30), and so the "members" are the psychics who still require instruction after the pneumatic portion of the community "immediately received knowledge and returned to its unity" (Tri. Trac. 123.4-7). In support of identifying the perfect man with the pneumatic component of the community, Attridge and Pagels note that his "immediate" response is characteristic of pneumatics. Furthermore, the fact that the "members" need instruction demonstrates, according to Attridge and Pagels, that pneumatics who "receive gnosis immediately" - cannot be these "members" who require instruction. In contrast, Thomassen argues that the perfect man is the Savior (Spiritual Seed, 55); in addition, Thomassen ("Valentinian Ideas") provides instances in which pneumatics need and/or receive instruction. Moreover, the following section of the Tripartite Tractate, which focuses on the link between the restoration of the Church and the Aeons, sets the members of the community in opposition to the dominion of those on the left and right, i.e., psychics (Tri. Trac. 123.23-124.25), thereby suggesting that the Church community and its "members" are most easily identified as pneumatics. See Attridge and Pagels, Nag Hammadi Codex I, 2:460-64; Thomassen, Traité tripartite, 4 3 6 - 3 7 . 93 For example, the design and subdivision of types in the "world of becoming" is part of the overarching and educative purpose of creation. Tri. Trac. 104.18-30: "Now, the whole establishment and organization of the images, likenesses, and imitations has come into being for the sake of those who need nourishment, instruction, and form, so that their smallness may gradually grow, as through instruction provided by the image of a mirror. That is, in fact, why he created the human last, after having prepared and provided for him the things he created for his sake." See also Tri. Trac. 106.25-108.12 where death and mortal frailty are similarly instructive.

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cal cosmology. 94 Thus, the saving activity of the incarnated Savior's descent to humanity is a type of the saving revelation earlier delivered by the Savior-Son that led to the reconstitution and restoration of the Logos {Tri. Trac. 88.8-92.22). Based on the importance of typology in the logic of salvation throughout the Tripartite Tractate, I suggest that its expectations for the pneumatics' conduct are patterned in part after analogous types that appear at various cosmic levels. For example, the aeon of the images, which is analogous to pneumatics in the tripartite division of the aeons, and is similarly designated as a church comprised of pneumatic powers {Tri. Trac. 97.527), may represent ethical expectations for an ideal community which is "filled with everything agreeable - brotherly love and great generosity" {Tri. Trac. 96.35-97.3). The pneumatics who emerge alongside the incarnation of the Savior {Tri. Trac. 116.1-5) similarly represent a model for ethical behavior based on compassionate conduct which is characterized by caring for the fallen, teaching those who need instruction, and serving or ministering to the special revelation that enables a return to redemptive unity {Tri. Trac. 116.7-117.23). 95 As I noted above, there are unfortunately few specific details about the process and exact form of the psychics' salvation. However, one may infer from the Tripartite Tractate's overriding salvific pattern of progress from deficiency to perfection, in which the Savior is the catalyst for advancement, and from its pervasive ethical principle that more advanced peoples or aeonic entities are obligated to help the less advanced, that the pneumatics were ethically obligated to assist the less advanced, namely psychics. What this assistance might entail is difficult to say, but it is likely one of two options: If the ethics of compassion that I described above are focused within the community, then the obligation to help those less advanced would be directed primarily towards other pneumatics. According to this view, the assistance that pneumatics provide to psychics would be of a secondary and exemplary nature, i.e., just as the Savior is the paradigmatic typos for salvation and the salvific process that is meant to be copied, 96 the 94 Tri. Trac. 62.14-33; 71.7-35; 74.18-75.17; 81.26-82.9; 83.11-33; 90.14-23; 98.20-99.19; 104.18-30. 95 This compassionate concern and care for others, especially those who are less advanced, is a major, motivating force throughout the Tripartite Tractate that is responsible for promoting assistance to others on the path towards perfection/unity. For example, see Tri. Trac. 85.33-86.18: "For the Father's aeons, who had not suffered, took upon themselves the fall that had happened as if it were their own, with concern, goodness, and great kindness. ... They united and prayed to the Father with a salutary mind that help might come from above, from the hand of the Father, for his glory." 96 Thomassen, Spiritual Seed, 170: "the salvific effect of [the Savior's appearance in Tri. Trac. 118:22ff.] lies in its significance as a symbolic model {typos) to be copied.

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pneumatic community is also a model of charitable conduct and constant striving towards the Father that is meant to be observed and imitated. 97 If, however, pneumatics are obligated to provide direct assistance to the psychics, pneumatic activity would more closely resemble the missionary practices contained in Heracleon's Commentary on John in which pneumatics, represented by the Samaritan woman, are expected to engage in missionary work by proclaiming the advent of the Savior. 98 To adjudicate between these two options, I repeat a question posed earlier: Do saved psychics become pneumatics? There is no clear answer because, depending on one's vantage point, the answer could be either yes or no. 99 The three classes of humanity are salvific categories connected to specific types of conduct, but also correspond to social realities insofar as they indicate whether an individual is an insider or outsider to the community. Nonetheless, a person may become affiliated with the community, and continue on to discover, possibly after a catechism, 100 that he or she possesses the spiritual seed and is therefore a pneumatic. Though his or her earlier life was lived outside the community, this person is and always was

Finally, however, the two perspectives of the Savior as agent of salvation and as symbol of it coalesce in the notion of 'receiving': 'receiving the one who received' implies that following the model of the Savior is equivalent to receiving the Savior himself." 97 As Desjardins (Sin in Valentinianism, 78-80; 116; 131) has already noticed, the ethical material from the Sermon on the Mount in Matt 5 - 7 appears to have greatly impacted Valentinian ethical discourse. In this instance, designating the community as an ethical model for others may recall Matt 5:14-16: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp-stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." 98 "She returned to the world, proclaiming the coming of Christ to the 'Calling.' For through the Spirit and by the Spirit the soul is brought to the Savior. 'They went out of the city,' i.e., out of their former worldly way of life; and through faith they came to the Savior.'" Heracleon §27 (cf. §37), trans. Robert M. Grant, Gnosticism: A Sourcebook of Heretical Writings from the Early Christian Period (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1961), 195-208. 99 While Tri. Trac. 135.25-136.5 might have definitely answered whether psychics and pneumatics ultimately become exactly the same or retain some hierarchical differentiation, this passage unfortunately, as I noted above, is unclear. 100 In his compendious survey of baptismal practices in early Christianity, Everett Ferguson provocatively points to Tri. Trac. 128.1 as possible evidence for the recitation of previous instruction: "when they have come to believe what has been said to them." Ferguson links this possible indication of instruction from the Tripartite Tractate to Tertullian's claim from Against Valentinians 1 that "the perfect disciples" of Valentinians required five years of training and instruction. See Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 2009), 284.

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a pneumatic, and now this identity has been reified and externalized through the ritual of baptism. Consequently, there was no transformation, but simply the "discovery" of an already existing, if latent, identity. Yet as Buell demonstrates, the ability to change one's conduct indicates sociological fluidity. That is, to a third-party observer, someone from outside the community can change and elect to observe a different type of conduct - in this case, the ethical and ritual practices expected of a pneumatic - thereby altering his or her "nature," represented by conduct, as well as crossing the ritually-enacted boundaries that circumscribe the community. Based upon the theoretical tension between soteriological fixity and sociological fluidity, I conclude that there likely was a tension in the everyday reality of the Tripartite Tractate's community which emerged from attempts to reconcile the tension between a salvation history with clear "types" and the problem of sociological permeability in which people may change roles in the drama of salvation. This tension, as well as the lengthy excursus on the fate of psychics (129.34-136.24), suggests that members of the community were not only internally focused, but were also greatly concerned with individuals outside their community. 101 As a result, part of the ethical practices of the pneumatics may have involved missionary work targeted at people outside of the community of pneumatics. Consequently, the Tripartite Tractate's representation of the pneumatic community is thoroughly Pauline. An enduring commitment to the Pauline hierarchy of spiritual gifts and understanding (1 Cor 2:6-3:3) undergirds its social differentiation and anthropogony. 102 Its vision of salvation history, consisting of soteriological and ethical types, is grounded in and built upon scriptural foundations, especially that of Paul and Matthew. Similar to the literary production of other early Christian intellectuals, these scriptural commitments are expressed in a language deeply influenced by philosophical principles. Yet, as Mark Edwards rightly observes with respect to Origen: "Origen can no more be discussed without a knowledge of philosophy than a knowledge of Greek. Neither of these disciplines, however, can supply us with more than the regulative principles and conditions of thinking rather than the constituents of thought." 103 So, to repeat my original contention, the Tripartite Tractate's anthropogony provides a standard 101

Also, if I am correct in highlighting a possible Pauline foundation underlying the ongoing and interconnected processes of pneumatic baptism and aeonic transformation and restoration, then missionary activity would be especially important because expanding the community and inducting members through the ritual transformation of baptism would have a direct impact on salvation history and hastened the final apokatastasis. See n. 75 above. 102 Desjardins, Sin in Valentinianism, 124-26. 103 Mark J. Edwards, Origen Against Plato (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2002), 8, italics added.

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for ethical behavior that emerges from existing social reality, is fueled by biblical exegesis, and is explained by an ad hoc use of various philosophical concepts.

Conclusion This article contributes to the developing discussions about ethics in the Valentinian tradition. My approach has been two-fold: In the first part, I discussed structural parallels with Stoicism to illuminate the Tripartite Tractate's fundamental interest in ethical responsibility. In the second part, I examined the text's ethos and ethical expectations for its pneumatic community. By concentrating on ethical expectations, I have avoided, as much as possible, the difficulty that the Tripartite Tractate contains idealized social descriptions that may not correspond to everyday practice. I concluded that the soteriology and ethics of the text's anthropogony reflect enduring commitments to scriptural precedents that were expected to be enacted in social organization and practice. Based on recurring themes and the logical structure of the Tripartite Tractate, I finally suggested that some of the ethical practices expected of pneumatics involved missionary activity to non-pneumatics.

Recovering Adam's Lost Glory: Nag Hammadi Codex II in its Egyptian Monastic Environment L A N C E JENOTT 1

The men of the desert were thought capable of recovering, in the hushed silence of that dead landscape, a touch of the unimaginable glory of Adam's first state. - Peter Brown 2

The study of the Nag Hammadi Codices as products of Coptic Christianity rather than Gnosticism is still in its infancy. Since the thirteen books were discovered in 1945, the vast majority of studies have focused on the theology of individual texts and what scholars believe to have been the intellectual and social environments of their lost Greek originals hypothetically dated to the second and third centuries. However, even shortly after the books were discovered, scholars raised questions about who owned the texts as we discovered them - in codices dating to the fourth or even fifth century, in upper Egypt, and in Coptic translation. In 1958, Jean Doresse, in his Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics, speculated that the entire "library" belonged to a fourth-century sect of Sethians living in the Thebaid. 3 Torgny Save-Soderbergh argued that it belonged to orthodox Christians who used the books as ammunition to refute heretics. 4 Others, such as Frederik Wisse and Clemens Scholten, suggested that the books belonged

1 This essay has been written under the aegis of project NEWCONT at the University of Oslo, which is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC Grant agreement n°283741. 2 Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 220. 3 Jean Doresse, Les livres secrets des gnostiques d'Egypte (Paris: Plön, 1958); English translation: The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics: An Introduction to the Gnostic Coptic Manuscripts Discovered at Chenoboskion (trans. Philip Mairet; London: Hollis & Carter, 1960), 250-51. 4 Torgny Säve-Söderbergh, "Holy Scriptures or Apologetic Documentations? The 'Sitz im Leben' of the Nag Hammadi Library," in Les textes de Nag Hammadi (ed. Jacque E. Menard; NHS 7; Leiden: Brill, 1975), 3-14.

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to Christian monks who read them for their ethical, specifically ascetic teachings. 5 In the 1990s, researchers such as Françoise Morard and Michael Williams went beyond the question of the owners and overall purpose of the library by examining individual codices as textual collections. 6 These studies focused largely on scribal rationales for the selection and arrangement of tractates within a codex, that is, how ancient scribes might have chosen specific texts for inclusion based on what they perceived to be common religious themes and genres, such as Codex V as a collection of apocalypses. The focus on an individual codex as a collection emphasizes the hermeneutical impact of codex technology: the collection of otherwise discrete texts into a single, physical volume facilitates the way readers interpret texts in terms of one another by finding, and creating, conceptual continuities among them. As Williams observes, the technology of the codex "encouraged hermeneutical perspective(s) in terms of which works that to us seem theologically conflicting could come to be read as reflecting the same concern." 7 Studies of the selection and arrangement of material in individual codices then led to discussions of the "reader experience" of the codex, and the need for what Stephen Emmel calls a "theory of Coptic readership." According to Emmel, such a theory would involve reading "the texts exactly as we have them in the Nag Hammadi Codices in an effort to reconstruct the reading experience of whoever owned each of the Codices. This reading would have to be undertaken in full cognizance of contemporary Coptic literature, and the culture of Upper Egypt, during, say, the third to seventh centuries." 8 While previous codex studies have focused almost exclusively on the book's content, and how the physical collection itself could create a sense of conceptual continuity among its tractates, Emmel's recommendation 5

Frederik Wisse, "Gnosticism and Early Monasticism in Egypt," in Gnosis: Festschrift für Hans Jonas (ed. Barbara Aland; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1978), 4 3 1 - 4 0 . Clemens Schölten, "Die Nag-Hammadi-Texte als Buchbesitzer der Pachomianer "Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 31 (1988): 144-72. 6 Françoise Morard, "Les Apocalypses du Codex V de Nag Hammadi," in Les Textes de Nag Hammadi et le Problème de leur Classification (ed. Louis Painchaud and Anne Pasquier; Québec: Les Presses de l'Université Laval, 1995), 341-57; in the same volume: Michael A. Williams, "Interpreting the Nag Hammadi Library as 'Collection(s)' in the History of 'Gnosticism(s),"' 3 - 5 0 . 7 Michael A. Williams, Rethinking Gnosticism: An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 241, emphasis added. 8 Stephen Emmel, "Religious Tradition, Textual Transmission, and the Nag Hammadi Codices," in The Nag Hammadi Library After Fifty Years (ed. John D. Turner and Anne McGuire; Leiden: Brill, 1997), 34-43, at 4 2 - 4 3 .

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encourages us to look beyond the codex and ask how the content fits into Coptic Egypt. That is, we should not only study how readers might have perceived relationships among the tractates in a given codex, but, more importantly, we should contextualize the codex in its broader Egyptian environment by relating specific themes to what we already know about the culture of Coptic Christianity in late antiquity. Given what we know about Coptic Christians, about their theological questions and everyday concerns, what in these books did ancient readers find useful, edifying and instructional? Before proceeding, I would like to emphasize that despite an older trend of scholarship that maintains a phenomenological distinction between Gnosticism and Christianity, there can be no doubt that the Nag Hammadi Codices were produced by Christians. The Christian character of the codices is clear not only in the attribution of many of the texts to famous apostles of Jesus, such as Peter, Paul, James, Thomas, and Philip (not to mention Mary in the Berlin Codex), but also in the practices employed by the scribes who copied them, including crucifix icons and forms of Christian nomina sacra found in contemporary Christian manuscripts. The Nag Hammadi Codices should therefore be viewed as "primary sources" for Coptic Christianity, and not for Gnosticism. In this essay, I discuss how Nag Hammadi Codex II could have appealed to monastic readers who were interested in recovering the lost glory of Adam, and who sought to do so by eradicating passions from their bodies through sexual continence and combat with demons. As scholars have observed, the texts bound in Codex II offer several interpretations of the Adam and Eve episode in Genesis in ways that encourage readers to live a celibate life, not in union with a human partner, but in union with Christ and/or the Holy Spirit. 9 To be clear, I am not arguing that an interest in creation stories was the only rationale underlying the scribe's selection of material for Codex II, or that an emphasis on an ascetic lifestyle is the only edification that readers could have found in it. Nevertheless, its stories about the primordial man and woman, and the sexual continence it teaches to recover humanity's original glory, fit nicely with what we know about monastic ideals of Adam in Christian Egypt.

9 Ingvild Saslid Gilhus, "Contextualizing the Present, Manipulating the Past: Codex II from N a g Hammadi and the Challenge of Circumventing Canonicity," in Canon and Canonicity: The Formation and Use of Scripture (ed. Einar Thomassen; Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2010), 91-108; Eduard Iricinschi, "Scribes and Readers of Nag Hammadi Codex II: Book Production and Monastic Paideia in Fourth-Century Egypt" (PhD diss., Princeton University, 2009).

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The Contents of Codex II Codex II contains seven texts: 1. The Apocryphon of John-, 2. The Gospel of Thomas; 3. The Gospel of Philip; 4. The Hypostasis of the Archons; 5. a treatise called "On the Origin of the World" by modern editors, but whose actual title is probably The Exegesis on the Soul;'0 6. a second Exegesis on the Soul, and finally 7. The Book of Thomas. At the end of the codex, the scribe wrote a colophon that reads "Remember me too, my brothers, [in] your prayers. Peace to the holy ones and the spiritual." If you were to read the book from cover to cover, you would begin with the Apocryphon of John, a revelation of the resurrected Jesus to John the son of Zebedee, which provides a sweeping narrative of salvation history including a detailed account of protology and creation, the origins of demons and humanity, and salvation from demonic oppression brought by Christ through his descent, incarnation, teaching and baptism. After learning this master narrative, you read further teachings of Jesus and meditations on biblical themes in the Gospels of Thomas and Philip. The next text you find is the Hypostasis of the Archons, a treatise about the origins of demonic world rulers, which takes as its starting point the Apostle Paul's teaching that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities of the universe and the spirit of wickedness." 1 1 Then come the two treatises each entitled the Exegesis on the Soul. The first (named "On the Origin of the World" by modern editors) relates another grand story of creation, and explains how humanity came to be ensnared by erotic passion (eros) in subordination to demonic powers. The second Exegesis on the Soul presents a fascinating Christian homily on the soul's marriage to Christ, drawing on several biblical texts including Genesis and the Prophets, Psalms, the Gospels and Paul's letters, as well as passages from Homer's Odyssey. It narrates the soul's fall from her original purity, her metaphorical "prostitution" with sin, and her ultimate restoration to the merciful Father through a spiritual marriage with Christ, her 10

Because the title Exegesis on the Soul appears both before and after 11,6 (codex pp. 127, 137) modern editors have assumed that 11,5 has no title and thus named it "On the Origin of the World" due to its cosmogonic content. But this parsing creates a curious situation: 11,5 becomes the only tractate in the codex with no title, while 11,6 becomes the only tractate with a title repeated in superscript and subscript (all other titles in the codex are in subscript). Michael Williams ("Interpreting," 2 8 - 3 0 ) therefore suggests that 11,5 and 11,6 are both entitled The Exegesis on the Soul. One finds a similar arrangement in N H C V, in which two texts entitled The Apocalypse of James were copied next to each other. When hypothesizing about the ancient reader experience of Codex II, this understanding of the titles on 11,5 and 11,6 is at least worth consideration. 11 NHC II 86.20-25; cf. Eph 6:12. For the sake of "reader experience," I assume that ancient readers of Codex II believed Paul wrote the Epistle to the Ephesians.

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bridegroom. The final reading in the codex, The Book of Thomas, records a dialogue between Jesus and his brother Thomas on the theme of extinguishing the lustful "fire" with which demons ignite the body.

A Book for Combating Demons Even from this cursory overview, one can see how Codex II may have appealed to ancient Coptic readers who sought bodily purity and psychological peace through a life of sexual asceticism. Its repeated emphasis on humanity's ongoing struggle against demonic powers and the manifold ways they attack the body, especially through lust, was a preoccupation that pervaded the lives of Egyptian monks and grasped their imaginations. 12 One recalls that in the Life of Antony, Athanasius' great ascetic hero preaches a long sermon about how to fight demons. As with the Hypostasis of the Archons in Codex II, Antony begins by quoting the great Apostle, that our contest is not against flesh and blood but against "the world rulers of this present darkness." Antony focuses his lesson on the tricks that demons contrive to fool aspiring ascetics, but admits that one could say so much more on the subject: "the mob of them is huge in the air around us, and they are not far from us. But the differences among them are many. A speech about their natures and distinctions would be lengthy, and such a discourse is for others greater than us." 13 What Antony only hints at in his speech is just what a reader would have found in Codex II: lengthy discourses about the minute differences among demons, their individual names, even specific parts of the body they control. In the Apocryphon of John, Jesus specifies well over 100 names of demons along with the passions and body-parts they came to govern since the time when they fashioned Adam's mortal body, from his head made by Eteraphaope-abron, down to his toenails made by Miamai. Jesus even refers readers to the Book of Zoroaster if they are interested in "the others who are in charge over the remaining passions." 14 Later in the codex, in the first Exegesis on the Soul's description of heavenly authorities, the reader finds more lists of demons along with bibliographic references to where they can find further information about "the effect of these 12

David Brakke, Demons and the Making of the Monk: Spiritual Combat in Early Christianity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006). 13 Vita Antonii, 21. Quotations of the Vita are from the translation of Robert C. Gregg, Athanasius: The Life of Antony and The Letter to Marcellinus (Classics of Western Spirituality; New York: Paulist Press, 1980), slightly modified at times based on the Greek text in Migne, PG 26. 14 N H C II 19.6-10.

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names," their "force" and their "influences." 15 This kind of technical information about demons surely would have been of interest to readers for whom Antony's sermon was, as he admitted, only a basic introduction. The teachings inside Codex II may not have been the only aspect of the book that readers found helpful for combating demons; they may have perceived the book itself, the physical object, as an apotropaic weapon as well. For among all the Nag Hammadi Codices, Codex II is unique for the elaborate decoration tooled onto its leather cover, including different kinds of ankh crucifixes, the traditional Egyptian symbol for life and iconographic basis for the Christian crux ansata,16 It is likely that Egyptian Christians would have regarded these crucifix icons as more than mere decoration, but as powerful symbols of Christ's life-giving victory over demons - the very same victory they would read about inside the book - and as an active source of protection from harmful attacks. In late antique Egypt, making the sign of the cross to ward off evil spirits was both common practice and a topic for theological reflection. 17 Athanasius begins his Contra gentes by victoriously proclaiming that "by this sign all demonic activity is put to flight," 18 and, in his biography of Antony, depicts the hero signing the cross over himself and recommending its power to others on several occasions. 19 It is likely that readers of Codex II would have seen the same power reflected in the crucifixes adorning its cover.

The Glory of Adam The ousting of demons from the body and mind was imagined not only as the assertion of self-control, but, even more so, as recovering something that had been lost - the original, spiritual condition in which humanity was first created in Adam. By overcoming passions and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide the mind toward contemplation of the Father, one was restoring the image of God that had become tarnished by humanity's fall into spiritual paralysis. Following the popular legacy of Origen, who united l5

N H C II 102.7-11; 107.2-3, 14-17. James M. Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library in English (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1988), 18; Robinson, "The Construction of the Nag Hammadi Codices," in Essays on the Nag Hammadi Texts in Honor of Pahor Labib (ed. Martin Krause; Leiden: Brill, 1975), 175. 17 See, for example, G. W. H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon, 1961), s.v. acppäyi^to (B); axorupöi; (E3). 18 Athanasius, Contra gentes 1; cf. De incarnatione 29, 47. All quotations from Contra gentes and De incarnatione follow the edition and translation of Robert W. Thomson, Athanasius: Contra gentes and De incarnatione (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971). 19 VitaAntonii 13, 35, 53, 78, 80. 16

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Platonic acumen with Christian myth, the goal of returning the soul to God by recovering Adam's original glory in Paradise permeated Egyptian Christianity of the period in various guises. In Athanasius' Contra gentes, he explains how "the first man to be created, who was called Adam in Hebrew, had his mind fixed on God ... and lived with the holy ones in the contemplation of intelligible reality which he enjoyed in that place which Moses figuratively called Paradise." Unfortunately people fell from this blissful life of meditation when they sought "what was closer to them," namely the body and its sensations, thus forgetting God and turning to idolatry and sin. 20 According to Athanasius, only the incarnation of God's Wisdom and Son, the divine Logos, in human form could restore the image of God in all other persons; in his famous formulation, "He became man that we might become divine." 21 The theme of return to paradisical times continues in Athanasius' Life of Antony, where the ascetic hero preaches a sermon about the soul's return to its original state before the Fall. Christians, he says, need not travel abroad like Greeks to seek an education, for as the Lord instructed them, "the Kingdom of Heaven is within you." Antony interprets Jesus' enigmatic saying, found in Luke and the Gospel of Thomas in Codex II, as a reference to the dormant intellect within each individual. 22 Then, almost as a mantra, Antony repeats that one must strive to restore the intellect to its original condition "as it was made," "as it was created," "as we were made." 23 For some interpreters of Genesis, the return to Adam's original state also called for sexual renunciation. For, they believed, Adam and Eve did not possess ordinary bodies of flesh before the Fall, but received them afterward when God gave them "skin coats" (Gen 3:21). As such, they were originally unmoved by passion and suffering too—perfect models of asceticism for monks to imitate. But interpretations of Genesis that discounted the fleshly bodies of the first humans were highly controversial. Epiphanius of Salamis complains that the "mortally dangerous exegesis" issued by

20

Athanasius, Contra gentes 2 - 3 . Athanasius, De incarnatione 54 (Thompson); on the Wisdom-Son-Logos, see also 16, 19, 40. 22 Luke 17:21: 'H PaoiXsia tou 0£oi> evtoi; t>|icov eaxiv; Gos. Thorn. 3: 'H pa[ai^.Eia tou 0Eoi] evxoq i)|j.(ov [ea]xiv (P. Oxy. 654); TMNTepo CMneTMgoyN (NHC II 32.25). Note that the Vita Antonii's variant reading Paci^eia xwv oiipavwv (PG 26:873) is not attested in the critical apparatus of Nestle-Aland 27. 23 Vita Antonii 20. The theme of returning to one's original, "intelligible essence" (ousia noera) also appears throughout the genuine letters of Antony. See Lance Jenott and Elaine Pagels, "Antony's Letters and Nag Hammadi Codex I: Sources of Religious Conflict in Fourth-Century Egypt," JECS 18.4 (2010): 557-589, esp. 570-72. 21

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Origen had infected many Egyptian monks. 24 Epiphanius' concern about the popularity of Origen's doctrines in Egypt appears to be well founded. 25 A homily or exhortatory epistle discovered at the Monastery of Apa Epiphanius at Thebes, just south of where the Nag Hammadi Codices were produced, reflects very similar teachings: For until Eve [transgressed, they] kept the commandment, and they were living with each other without passion (^ANn^eoc). It was when they transgressed the commandment that they were cast out of Paradise. Then they became ashamed (Gen 2:25-3:10). For where there is transgression of the commandment, there is shame and darkness. It was at that time that they clothed themselves with mortality (TMNTpeqMoy) - I mean the garment of skin (Gen 3:21). This is the time when Adam knew Eve his wife (Gen 4:1). So then indeed, this is the way it is for us too, as long as we are in Paradise - I mean the life of monasticism (tmntmonoxoc) in which we dwell - and (as long as) we are zealous to keep the commandments of the gospel, which is the cultivation of Paradise (Gen 2:15). Let us speak with one another in what belongs to God, without passion (xo[pic n^]eoc). For it is because of this that Christ appeared [in] the flesh, so that he might turn us back... 2 6

For this monastic teacher, mortality (the garment of skin) and sexual intercourse (when Adam "knew" his wife) are hallmarks of the post-Fall world. Before then, they lived immortal, and passionless. But persevering in the monastic life takes one back to Paradise, where one lives without passion, and "cultivates" the garden by keeping the gospel. The fact that this ostracon dates to the late sixth or early seventh century shows the continuity of 24

Epiphanius, Pan. 64.3,8-4,1; 64.65,5-28, trans. Frank Williams, The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis (2 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 1987, 1994), 2:134, 192-95. In Pan. 52 (Williams 2:67-70), Epiphanius describes an alleged sect whose members "named themselves after A d a m " and aspired to imitate Adam and Eve as they lived in Paradise. They called their church "Paradise" and attended services in the nude, checking their clothing at the door. They also maintained they were "virgins" and observed strict sexual continence (though Epiphanius claims, characteristically, that they actually reveled in debauchery). It is of course likely that Epiphanius fabricated this group entirely. He admits that he got his information from hearsay, and that he has not read about them in books nor met any of them in person. Yet even if these "Adamians," as he calls them, were the mere product of Epiphanius' imagination, conjured up to arrive at the golden number of eighty heresies promised in his preface, his description nevertheless shows us how Adam and Eve could be seen as the inspiration for Christians pursuing humanity's original condition through sexual renunciation. 25 On Origen's legacy in Egyptian monasticism, see especially Samuel Rubenson, "Origen in the Egyptian Monastic Tradition of the Fourth Century," in Origeniana Septima: Origenes in den Auseinandersetzungen des 4. Jahrhunderts (ed. W. A. Bienert and U. Kuhneweg; Leuven: Peeters, 1999), 319-37; Rubenson, The Letters of St. Antony: Monasticism and the Making of a Saint (Studies in Antiquity and Christianity; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1995). 26 O.Mon.Epiph. 62; W. E. Crum and H. G. Evelyn White, The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Part II: Coptic Ostraca and Papyri (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art Egyptian Expedition, 1926), 18, 166-67.

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such interpretations of Genesis among Egyptian monks even after Origen and his teachings were condemned at the second council of Constantinople in 553. One finds further interest in recovering Adam's original glory recorded in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers (Apophthegmata Patrum), where some of the most spectacular ascetic masters are remembered for achieving such power. One tale recalls a certain Abba Paul, a resident of the Thebaid, who could grasp snakes in his hands and cut them straight through the middle. When asked how he achieved this gift, he responded, "If someone has obtained the highest purity, everything is subject to him as it was to Adam when he was in Paradise. 27 As scholars have observed, the monk's ability to pacify wild animals became a commonplace in the hagiographic tradition, and reflects the recovery of Adam's God-given dominion over the earth granted in Gen 1:28.28 Perhaps even more spectacular are the tales about Abba Pambo, who was remembered as an early follower of Antony and a teacher of the Origenist Tall Brothers at Nitria. According to the Apophthegmata, "they said of Abba Pambo that, just as Moses received the image of Adam's glory when his face was glorified, so too did the face of Abba Pambo shine like lightning, and he was like a king sitting on his throne. It was the same way with Abba Silvanos and Abba Sisoes." 29 While the ideal of returning to Adam's original glory can be found throughout Egyptian literature of the period, one is hard pressed to find stories about Adam's radiant luminosity as assumed by the tale of Abba Pambo. Indeed, the biblical texts themselves give no such description of Adam. 30 Yet Coptic readers would have found exactly that in Nag Ham-

21

Apophthegmata Patrum Kxr|ar|xai K a 9 a p 6 x r | x a , rcavxa

(alphabetical collection), Paul 1 (PG 6 5 : 3 8 0 - 8 1 ) : eav xi