Sunday, November 14, 2004
"Under the law": The background of a Pauline expression
(ProQuest Information and Learning: foreign text omitted)
THE PHRASE "under the Law," ..., appears eight times in the Pauline corpus and is especially prominent in Galatians (Gal 3:23; 4:4-5, 21; 5:18; cf. Rom 6:14-15; 1 Cor 9:20). This prominence becomes even more significant when it is realized that the numerous instances of the phrase in Galatians are probably the first in any Pauline letter.1 Aside from these occurrences in Galatians and the other Pauline letters, ... never turns up elsewhere in the New Testament. Nor does the exact same form occur in the Septuagint or any other Jewish text, nor for that matter in any non-Jewish text-aside from a couple of more-or-less fortuitous parallels that do not refer to the Torah2-until the Church Fathers begin using it in passages that usually allude to Pauline texts in an obvious way.3 It has no equivalent, moreover, in ancient Jewish literature in Hebrew or Aramaic.4 '... ... is thus a Pauline expression which, although referring to an aspect of Jewish existence, has no exact equivalent in Jewish texts known to us. What conclusions concerning the origin of the phrase can be drawn from these statistics?
I. From Paul or His Opponents?
The priority and prominence of the phrase ... in Galatians offer the first major clue. Either, it would seem, ... is a phrase that Paul himself coined in response to the Galatian crisis, in which the Christian's relation to the Law was the central issue, or it was an expression that he picked up in Galatia from his Christian Jewish opponents,5 who insisted that the Gentile Galatians must commit themselves to full observance of the Torah.
Of these alternatives, the thesis of Pauline coinage at first seems to have a lot going for it. If, on the contrary, the phrase is inherited from Paul's Christian Jewish opponents, why are there no exact Jewish parallels to it? Moreover, the instances of ... fit so well into the argument of Galatians, constituting the leitmotif in a pattern of bno mvc expressions in chaps. 3-4,6 that one could easily form the impression that the phrase was tailor-made for the argument of this section of the letter.7 And the negative nuance that...gains from this parallelism with the other ... expressions is at variance with the usual Jewish attitude toward the Torah8 but consonant with Paul's polemical attitude toward the Torah in Galatians.
The conclusion that Paul invented the phrase, however, would be overly hasty. The arrangement of ... expressions in Galatians 3-4 might be explicable by the thesis that Paul inherited the phrase ... from his opponents and decided to weave his own pattern of... expressions around it. The lack of exact Jewish parallels is not a convincing argument for Pauline coinage since so much ancient Jewish literature has been lost, and in particular most of the traditions of ancient Christian Judaism. And the negative valence of ... might result from the spin that Paul puts on a Christian Jewish phrase.
There are, moreover, several positive indications that Paul may have inherited the phrase from his Christian Jewish opponents. Although the exact phrase "under the Law" does not occur in any extant Jewish literature, the plural form "under the... laws" does turn up in Josephus Ap. 2.28 sec 210.9 And there it occurs in a context having to do with encouragement of Gentile conversion to Judaism-- exactly the sort of missionary pitch that Paul's opponents would have made.10 Josephus's usage here, moreover, is similar in both theme and vocabulary to rabbinic texts that link the act of bringing converts to the Torah with that of "bringing them near under the wings of the Shekinah," a common image for conversion.11 The plausibility of a prior usage of ... by Jews or Jewish Christians is increased by another rabbinic locution, "taking upon oneself the yoke of the Torah,"12 which implicitly associates entering into the sphere of the Torah with coming "under" a yoke of slavery,13 although the rabbis would have asserted that this slavery is, paradoxically, the path to freedom.14 Some Jewish literature, therefore, makes an implicit association between the preposition "under" and the idea of coming into the sphere in which the Torah holds sway.
Besides this evidence from parallels in the history of religions, there is one indication from Galatians itself that Paul was not the coiner of the phrase "under the Law." In Gal 4:21 Paul addresses his Galatian readers as ... ..., "you who wish to be under the Law" (Gal 4:21). Although it is possible that Paul is here reformulating the Galatians' position in his own words, it is also possible, and indeed, in view of the above, more likely, that he is reproducing their terminology. In that case, the Galatians would be demanding: "We wish to be under the Law!"
II. Jewish Traditions About the Exalted Sinai
The view that it was Paul's judaizing opponents who introduced the ... ... terminology can be strengthened by considering a Jewish midrashic tradition concerning Mount Sinai that may also have played a role in shaping the phrase. It is intrinsically plausible that the image of Sinai has something to do with this terminology. Not only is Sinai ubiquitously linked with the Torah in Jewish traditions, but in the one place in Paul's letters in which he mentions Sinai, Gal 4:24, it occurs in proximity to an instance of ... and this in a section of Galatians (4:21-31) that probably reflects a midrash by Paul's Christian Jewish opponents.15
The Sinai tradition in question has its root, as Jewish midrashic traditions often do, in a linguistic peculiarity within the Hebrew Bible.16 In Exod 19:17 Moses leads the people of Israel from their camp to Mount Sinai, and they end up standing ..., an expression that is usually rendered with something like "at the foot of the mountain" (RSV, NJPSV) or "in the lower part of the mountain." 17 In Deut 4:11 Moses looks back to this earlier scene and reminds the Israelites of the way in which they drew near to Sinai and stood ..., a phrase that is normally translated with terminology similar or identical to that used for the passage in Exodus.18 Translators, then, usually take the expressions in Exod 19:17 and Deut 4:11 as equivalent,19 and certainly the author of the latter, who had access to the former, thought they were.
In both passages, however, the words in question may be translated more literally as "under the mountain," a fact that some ancient and modern translators recognize. The Septuagint, for example, reads ... in both Exod 19:17 and Deut 4:11, and Everett Fox's literalistic modern English translation ("beneath the mountain") follows suit.20 This sort of literal interpretation of Exod 19:17 and Deut 4:11 seems to have ignited the imaginations of some ancient Jewish exegetes, who were inspired by it to paint a graphic picture of the Israelites standing not just at the foot of Mount Sinai, but actually beneath it. But how can a whole people stand under a mountain? An individual might perhaps fit into a crevasse in the mountain's surface (cf. Exod 33:21-22), but how could a people several million strong do so? The ancient interpreters thought of an ingenious solution to this exegetical difficulty: the mountain itself was lifted up by divine power, and the people stood under it. This solution may have been encouraged by the next verse of the Exodus account, in which Sinai shakes violently, a detail that could have been interpreted as the mountain breaking loose to ascend.21
The mountain thus uplifted might express either the benignant or the threatening aspect of the God responsible for its elevation. A relatively early example of the former nuance occurs in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Exod 19:17, where we read:
And Moses brought all the people out of the camp to meet the Shekinah of the Lord, and immediately the Lord of the world uprooted the mountain and lifted it up in the air, and it was transparent like glass, and they stationed themselves under the mountain.22
Here the purpose of the elevation of the mountain seems to be the positive one of enabling the people "to meet the Shekinah of the Lord." The mountain, which is transparent, permits the people to discern, from their vantage point beneath it, the God who has just raised it and who now stands above it. The scene thus becomes a democratized version of Exod 24:9-11, in which Moses, Aaron, and the other members of the Israelite elite are permitted to see the God of Israel through "a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness" that hovers over their heads; in our passage the whole people enjoys a similar privilege. In both cases, God is glimpsed through a medium, albeit a transparent one, and this circumstance may be meant to reassure readers that the visio Dei does not violate the principle that humans are forbidden to see God directly (Exod 33:20).23 And since in the present instance the glass through which the glory of the Lord is seen is Mount Sinai, the mountain associated with the Torah, the implication is the existentially relevant one that the Torah is the medium through which the people of Israel will experience the vision of God.24
But the image of Mount Sinai hanging in the air over the people of Israel, which is based on the peculiar wording of Exod 19:17 and Deut 4:11, can also assume a more threatening aspect. The mountain may be lifted up, not in order to function as a window into the heavenly world, but in order to threaten the people with destruction if they refuse to accept the Torah. This is the import of the startling midrash in b. Shab. 88a:
"And they stood under the mountain" (Exod 19:17). R. Abdimi b. Hama b. Hasa said: This teaches that the Holy One, blessed be he, overturned the mountain upon them like an [inverted] cask, and said to them, "If you accept the Torah, well and good; if not, that place will be your grave."25
Here the exaltation of Sinai over the heads of the Israelites has become a dire warning about the consequences of refusing God's revelation of the Torah: those who do so will be punished by death, presumably the same death that is threatened in the Torah's covenant curses (Deuteronomy 27-28). Israel's agreement to take the covenant upon itself, in consequence, is not a matter of free, joyful obedience but a fearful response to a threat of destruction. There is, therefore, some justice in R. Aha b. Jacob's protest: if Abdimi is right, Israel has an excuse for noncompliance with the Torah since the Torah was forcibly imposed on it. And what is forcibly imposed cannot be legally binding (b. Shabb. 88a again).
How old is this image of Sinai looming over the Israelites and threatening them with destruction if they refuse the Torah? David Daube dates it late, partly because he thinks that the implication that God forced the Israelites to accept the Torah is anomalous within the rabbinic tradition;26 usually the stress is, to the contrary, on Israel's free and joyful acceptance of it.27 While acknowledging that a rabbi to whom an idea is attributed may not be its original author, Daube thinks that in this particular case the interpretation does reflect an event in the lifetime of its tradent, Abdimi, who, according to Daube, lived during the persecution of the Jews by Constantine II from 337 C.E. on.28 Abdimi formulated the tradition in order to provide a legal loophole for those who transgressed the Torah under the pressure of this persecution. Because their forefathers had been forced into accepting the Torah, Abdimi thought, these transgressors had not been legally bound by it and, therefore, were not culpable for having violated its provisions.
As Joseph Heinemann points out, however, there are serious problems with Daube's reasoning.29 For one thing, there is no convincing evidence that Jews were persecuted under Constantine II. Daube, moreover, assumes that Aha's interpretation of Abdimi's statement is the correct one, i.e., that if God had forced Israel to accept the covenant, it would not be binding on them. As Heinemann notes, however, this consequence does not necessarily follow; elsewhere in the rabbinic tradition, in fact, the opposite is assumed. Indeed, in b. Abod. Zar. 2b the nations at the Last Judgment use the circumstance that God forced only Israel to accept the Torah as an excuse for their own noncompliance with it: "Lord of the Universe, did you suspend the mountain over us like a cask, as you did to Israel, and did we still decline to accept it?" The implication is that if the Gentiles, like Israel, had been forced to accept the Torah, they would have been bound by it; God, however, did not force it upon them, so they were not bound. Here, then, God's coercion of the Israelites to accept the Torah does not contradict the primal notion that his bestowal of it is an act of grace, but in fact supports that idea; like a physician who compels a mortally ill patient to take life-saving medicine, God employs strong-arm tactics with his people's best interests in view, namely, to bring them into the salvific sphere of the Torah.30
Daube's arguments for a late dating of the tradition about a suspended Sinai threatening Israel, then, themselves fall to the ground, and it may be that the tradition is considerably older than R. Abdimi. After all, the basic idea of an exalted Sinai is earlier, being already attested in Palestinian traditions, namely, the Mekhilta and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Exod 19:17, which are cited above.31 And it probably goes back farther still; indeed, it could have arisen as soon as alert exegetes noticed that Exod 19:17 and Deut 4:11 literally speak of the people standing "under" the mountain. The development of this image of an exalted Sinai was probably assisted by, and may even have contributed to, the portrayal of Moses' ascent of this mountain as a heavenly journey, which definitely predates the Christian era.32 Moreover, the early rabbinic terminology about legal enactments that are "like mountains hanging by a hair" (m. Hag. 1.8; t. Hag. 1.9; t. Erub. 11.23-24), which seems already to be echoed in Matt 22:40,33 may have something to do with the picture of a suspended Sinai.34
If, then, the basic picture of Sinai suspended over the heads of the Israelites was in place from a very early stage, it would not be surprising if the idea soon developed that this suspension contained not only an element of promise but also one of threat. After all, the Law that was given at Sinai included both aspects, and the Sinai episode is described in the Bible and in Jewish tradition as a terrifying event;35 the image of a mountain suspended over one's head, moreover, has something intrinsically threatening about it.36 This reconstruction, to be sure, cannot be proven; we do not have in our possession any pre-Pauline exegeses of Exod 19:17 || Deut 4:11 that speak of an elevated, threatening Sinai. But the creation of such a line of interpretation would be a logical development and one consonant with the way in which Jewish midrashim evolve elsewhere; and it would help explain Paul's otherwise anomalous phraseology, "under the Law."
III. The Teachers' Midrash About Standing "Under the Law"
The suggestion being advanced here, then, is that Paul picked up the phrase "under the Law" from his opponents in Galatia, who included Exod 19:17 and/or Deut 4:11 in their arsenal of scriptural weapons for persuading the Galatians of the necessity of accepting the Torah.37 Like other ancient Jewish exegetes, these Teachers would have interpreted the Pentateuchal texts as an allusion to the people of God standing under a suspended Mount Sinai, with God threatening to drop the mountain on their heads if they did not accept the Torah.38 Certainly the element of threat we have seen in some rabbinic interpretations of these Pentateuchal passages is consonant with Paul's designation of the Teachers as "those who are frightening you" (Gal 1:7; cf. 5:10) and "those who are troubling your mind" (5:12; cf. "they want to shut you out" in 4:17).39
If, however, the Teachers did use the picture of the uplifted Sinai derived from Exod 19:17 || Deut 4:11 in the threatening way described, we can be reasonably confident that they themselves would have interpreted those threats in a positive way, and thus would have stood closer to b. Abod. Zar. 2b than to b. Shab. 88a in their exegesis. That is, they would have emphasized not only that God threatens human beings with punishment if they disregard the Torah he offers them, but also that those very threats are for their own good since they are designed to drive them into the pathway of life. The Teachers, in other words, would have interpreted the tradition about the exalted Sinai in line with their position as theologians of covenantal nomism.40
One final observation needs to be made about the Teachers' hypothesized interpretation of Exod 19:17 || Deut 4:11 before attempting to gather the strands of the argument together and offering a reconstruction of their midrash. The second of the Pentateuchal texts, Deut 4:11, speaks not only of the Israelites' standing under the mountain, but also of their drawing near to it in order to do so ... ...). The text thus employs a verb that, in the postbiblical period, became a technical term for conversion to Judaism: a proselyte (a word that itself derives from ..., the Greek verb employed here) was one who had come near to the God of Israel and to the Torah that manifests his will.41 We can easily imagine that, if the Teachers did employ Deut 4:11 in their attempts to win the Galatians over to a Torah-observant position, they would not have been slow to seize on the passage's usage of this verb for "bringing near."
Perhaps, then, the Teachers' midrash on Exod 19:17 11 Deut 4:11 would have gone something like this:42
"And Moses brought the people out of the camp to God, and they stood under the mountain" (Exod 19:17). "And you came near and stood under the mountain" (Deut 4:11). You too, dear friends, have been led by Moses out of the camp of the ungodly and have been brought near to Sinai, the mountain where God reveals his will for humanity in all its glory and all its completeness. You have taken the initial step along this glorious road by embracing Moses' successor, the Messiah Jesus, and you have thereby demonstrated your desire to become a part of the renewed people of God. But now a further and final step is necessary.
For now you, too, like Israel of old, stand under Mount Sinai, under the Torah,43 and this position of yours has a double aspect. On the one hand, Sinai is the place where God unveils his mysteries, and so your position under that mountain means that you stand on the spot where the majesty of God's truth will be revealed. But positioning yourself under Sinai also means standing in the place where the mountain looms menacingly over your head and threatens to crush you if you refuse God's life-giving offer of the Torah.
You thus stand at a critical juncture, poised between salvation and destruction. Now, therefore, is the time to take the final step; now is the time to flee from the coming wrath and commit yourself to the Torah-commit yourself to remaining under this mountain, "under the Law," for the rest of your mortal life. And you will find that, once you have done so, the threatening aspect of Sinai will suddenly vanish, and it will turn into a clear glass through which you will gaze upon the glory of God.
Do you not wish to witness this magical transformation of the fearsomeness of divine fury into the beauty of divine love? Do you not wish to become a full partaker in the mysteries of God? Then draw near as God's beloved; draw near, O dove; take up the place reserved for you "in the cleft of the rock" (Cant 2:14).44 Position yourself securely under the Law, under the protection of Sinai; take upon yourself the yoke of the Law, in which you will find perfect freedom. Do you not wish to live out your life under this secure divine rampart? Don't you wish to come to rest beneath the sheltering wings of the Shekinah? How can you hope to escape from God's righteous wrath and death-dealing curse if you neglect such a great salvation?45
For the Teachers, then, ... would have been shorthand for a midrash based on Exod 19:17 and Deut 4:11 that spoke of the glory and joy of the revelation, as well as the necessary risk of the destruction, that are involved in taking up a position under Mount Sinai and becoming part of God's ancient people. In this midrash curse and blessing, threat and promise, divine wrath and divine love were held together in a delicate tension that is well described by Sanders's phrase "covenantal nomism." Paul, however, as is his custom in Galatians-a custom doubtless conditioned by the polemical situation of the letter-emphasizes only the negative side of the Teachers' midrash, ignoring the covenantal aspect of their nomism. In his hands ... loses its double edge and becomes a term exclusively associated with sin, oppression, slavery, and the curse.
Presumably Paul's Galatian audience, previously attuned to the phrase by the Teachers' exegesis of the "under Sinai" passages, would have recognized this transformation as the polemic it was and would have known how to read it accordingly. The tragedy is that so many subsequent generations of Christians, unaware of that background, have taken it as an objective description of the position of the cursed, sin-enslaved Jews under the demonic power of the Law.
Appendix: Categories of Rabbinic Passages Dealing with the Exalted Sinai
1) In passages that simply record the miracle of the mountain being lifted up in the sky (without implications for God's attitude toward Israel), the connotation may be that Sinai was exalted to heaven, as in
Pirqe R. El. 41: On the sixth of Sivan the Holy One, blessed be He, was revealed to Israel on Mount Sinai, and Sinai was uprooted from its place, and the heavens were opened and the top of the mountain entered heaven, and thick darkness covered the mountain. The Holy One, blessed be He, sat on his throne and his feet stood on the thick darkness, as it is said: "He bowed the heavens and came down, and thick darkness was under his feet" (Psalm 18:9; here there is no explicit reference to Exod 19:17 or Deut 4: 11).
See also Gen. Rab 68.12, where Exod 19:17 and Deut 4: 11 are cited.
2) Passages in which Israel is spoken about in a positive way, as being loved by God, experiencing a vision of him, etc., include Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Exod 19:17 (see above, at n. 22), plus:
Mek. R. Ish., Bahodesh 3 (on Exod 19:17):46 "Under the mountain" (Exod 19:17). This teaches that the mountain was plucked up from its place, and they came near and stood under it ... [The passage goes on to speak of Israel as "my dove that is in the clefts of the rock," citing Cant 2:14.1
Cant. Rab. 8.5. 1: "Under the apple tree I awakened you" (Cant. 8:5). Paltion, a man of Rome, said in a discourse: The mountain of Sinai was uprooted and stood in the height of heaven, and Israel were placed under it, as it is said, "And you came near and stood under the mountain" (Deut 4: 11).
In both of these passages the positive nuance emerges from a linkage with a verse from Canticles; the linkage implies that "under Sinai" Israel became God's beloved.
3) Passages in which it is implied that God used the suspended Sinai to force Israel to accept the Torah: b. Shab. 88a (see above, at n. 25); b. Abod Zar: 2b (see above, p. 79); also Tan., Noah 3, where it is said that Israel was willing to accept the written Torah but not the oral one, which had to be forced on them with the threat of being crushed by Sinai.
1 On Pauline chronology, see R. Jewett, Dating Paul's Life (London: SCM, 1979); J. L. Martyn, Galatians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 33A; New York: Doubleday, 1997) 222-28. These reconstructions agree that Galatians is the first of the three Pauline letters that contain bao v6gov.
2 Pseudo-Plato Definitiones 415.c.3; Longinus De sublimitate 33.5.4. The former passage is simply a definition of a city as a group of people living under the same law ... ...). The latter is more interesting, since it broadly parallels the Pauline antithesis between the Spirit and the Law by referring, in a context having to do with poetic inspiration, to "that eruption of the divine spirit that is difficult to subject to law" (...). Though there is no question of direct influence here, this passage at least suggests that the Pauline antithesis between an existence lived in the grip of the Spirit and one lived "under the Law" (see Gal 4:4-6, 21-31; 5:18, 22-23) would resonate with some Hellenistic readers.
3 See, for example, the usages in Clement of Alexandria Paedagogus 1.6.30, 33; Stromata 1.1.15; 1.26.167, etc.; Origen Contra Celsum 2.7.25; De Principiis 4.2.6, etc. See also the usages with
the definite article, bnb Tbv v6gov, without a difference in meaning, in Justin Dialogue 45.3; 95.1; Origen De Principiis 4.1.6; 4.2.6, etc.
4 No parallels are listed in standard commentaries or in the relevant passages from Str-B, and a search of The CD ROM Judaic Classics Library Deluxe Edition (CD-ROM; Chicago: Institute for Computers in Jewish Life/Davka, 1991-95) under ... (the rendering in Delitzsch's old translation of the NT into Hebrew) and ... (the rendering in the new U.B.S. translation) yielded nothing.
5 On the terms "Christian Jews" and "Christian Judaism," see the index under these terms in D. C. Sim, The Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism: The History and Social Setting of the Matthean Community (Studies of the New Testament and Its World; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1998).
6 In addition to the ... expressions in Gal 3:23; 4:4-5, 21, see ... ("under a curse") in 3:10; ... ("under sin") in 3:22; ... ("under a custodian") in 3:25; ... ("under guardians and overseers") in 4:2; and ... ... ("under the elements of the world") in 43; cf. Martyn, Galatians, 370-73. This seems to be the opinion of Martyn, ibid.
On the "joy of the Law" in Jewish thought, see S. Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology (New York: Schocken, [orig. 1909] 1961) 148-69.
9 John Barclay, who is preparing a commentary on Contra Apionem, called this passage to my attention. Josephus is using a known Greek idiom; for other instances of im6 rob v6gou;, usually in combination with &-(Etv, see Demosthenes Orationes 24.131; Aristotle Politica 1270a; Eusebius Demonstratio evangelica 6.20.20; John Chrysostom De prophetiarum obscuritate 56.167.
10 "Our legislator ... took the best of all possible measures at once to secure our own customs from corruption, and to throw them open ungrudgingly to any who elect to share them. To all who desire to come and live under the same laws with us (... ...), he gives a gracious welcome, holding that it is not family ties alone which constitute relationship, but agreement in the principles of conduct. On the other hand, it was not his pleasure that casual visitors should be admitted to the intimacies of our daily life" (Josephus Ap. 2.28 20910, trans. by H. S. J. Thackeray, Josephus I [LCL; London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1926] 377-79).
" See, for example, Mek. R. Ish., Yitro 2, in which Abraham says: "I am going to my land, and I will convert all the people of my country and lead them to study of the Torah and bring them near under the wings of the Shekinah" (...). Cf. y. Sanh. 13a: R. Jose said: "[Solomon loved foreign women] in order to draw them to words of Torah and to bring them near under the wings of the Shekinah." On the "bringing near" terminology, see n. 41.
12 ...: e.g., m. Abot 3.5; Midrash Mishlei 22.4; cf. H. D. Betz, Galatians: A Commentary on Paul's Letter to the Churches in Galatia (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979) 176 n. 126. For the equivalent expressions "taking upon oneself the yoke of the commandments" and "taking upon oneself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven," see b. Ber l3ab, 61a; y. Ber. 12b and cf. Str-B 1.608-9. The antiquity of these expressions is attested by two NT passages, Matt 11:29 and Acts 15:10, which seem to echo them. On Matt 11:29 see W. D. Davies and D. C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew (3 vols.; ICC; Edinburgh: T & T. Clark, 1988-97) 2. 289-90. On Acts 15: 10 see J. A. Fitzmyer, The Acts of the Apostles: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 31; New York: Doubleday, 1998)548.
"3 For examples of the standard Hellenistic association between the yoke and slavery, see K. H. Rengstorf, "Zygo.s in the NT," in TDNT 2. 898-901, esp. 899 n. 20. Becoming a slave could be termed "coming under the yoke"; see, for example, Theognis 1023: ... ...) ("I will put the neck of my enemies under the yoke"), and cf. "Zygon," LSJ 757 (12).
" See b. B. Mey. 85b; m. Abot 6:2; Gen. Rab. 53:7. The positive valuation given to slavery is congruent with the biblical image of the pious Jew as God's slave or servant (see W. Zimmerli, "The `Ebed Yhwh in the OT," in TDNT 5. 659-73).
" See the remarks in the previous paragraph on the wording of Gal 4:21, and cf. C. K. Barrett, "The Allegory of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar in the Argument of Galatians," in Rechtfertigung: Festschrift fur Ernst Kasemann (ed. J. Friedrich, W. Pohlmann, and P Stuhlmacher; Tubingen: Mohr [Siebeck]; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1976) 1-16.
16 For the general phenomenon of midrashim arising from linguistic or exegetical difficulties in Old Testament texts, see J. Heinemann, Aggadah and Its Development [Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Keter, 1974); J. L. Kugel, In Potiphar's House: The Interpretive Life of Biblical Texts (Cambridge, MA/ London: Harvard University Press, 1990); idem, Traditions of the Bible: A Guide to the Bible as It Was at the Start of the Common Era (Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press, 1998).
17 This is the translation of the phrase in BDB 1066b.
18 E.g., RSV and NJPSV (see above); also the Septuagint, and the Schocken Bible translation of Everett Fox (see next paragraph), as well as the Vulgate, in which both passages read: ad radices montis, "to the roots of the mountain."
'9 It is possible, though, that there is a difference in nuance between the two passages in the original. Whereas at BDB 1066b the formulation in Exod 19:17, 113, is rendered as "in the lower part of the mountain," at BDB 1065a-b the formulation in Deut 4:11, 711'TI'1, is paraphrased as "at the foot of the mountain." But both could be understood as "under the mountain"; for ... cf. Neh 4:7: ..., "And I set [them] at parts below the place [where they were to work]" (BDB 1066b).
20 E. Fox, The Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (Schocken Bible 1; New York: Schocken Books, 1995).
21 I owe this idea to a suggestion of Dale Allison.
22 Translation from R. McNamara et al., Targum Neofiti 1: Exodus and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Exodus (The Aramaic Bible 2; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1994).
as Cf. E. Ruprecht, "Exodus 24,9-11 als Beispiel lebendiger Erzahltradition aus der Zeit des babylonischen Exils," in Werden and Wirken des Alten Testaments: Festschrift fur Claus Westermann (ed. R. Albertz; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1978) 138-73, here 141, who translates Exod 24:11 disjunctively: "He (God) did not lay his hand on the leaders of Israel, although they saw God" [emphasis added]. Cf. b. Qid. 49a end, which displays anxiety about the potentially blasphemous implications of Exod 24:9-11 and cites Exod 33:20 (see the notes in the Soncino edition).
24 The word for "glass" here, ..., is used elsewhere as a metaphor for prophetic vision; see, for example, b. Sukk. ..., "who contemplate [God] through a bright glass" (see. M. Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature [New York: Judaica, (orig. 1886-1903) 1982] 96). The passage goes on to contrast these fortunate seers with others who apprehend the deity only through a dim glass; cf. Paul's use of the same metaphor in I Cor 13:12. Since ti'15P DDX can also mean "mirror" (see Str-B 3. 452), this Targumic portrayal of Sinai, the mountain of the Torah, as an ... may have something to do with James 1:23-25, in which the Law is likened to a mirror.
25 Translation by H. Freedman, The Babylonian Talmud: Seder Mo'ed 1: Shabbath (ed. 1. Epstein; London: Soncino Press, 1961) 417, altered.
26 D. Daube, "Covenanting Under Duress," The Irish Jurist N.S. 2 (1967) 352-59.
27 See, for example, Mek R. Ish., Bahodesh 5 (Mekilta de-Rabbi Ishmael [3 vols.; trans. J. Z. Lauterbach; JPS Library of Jewish Classics; Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1976] 2. 234-35); Pesiq. Rb. Kah. 2.2; Tan. B., Wa'era' 1 (2.17).
Zs But Heinemann (Aggadah and Its Development [Hebrew], 171) dates Abdimi earlier than Daube does; he belonged to the second or third generation of Amoraim and should be dated as contemporary with or somewhat earlier than R. Aha, who lived at the end of the third century C.E. 29 Ibid.
30 This notion of the compatibility of pressure with grace is familiar to readers of the New Testament: "Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in" (... Luke 14:23).
31 See Heinemann, Aggadah, 173. For the sake of completeness and conceptual clarity, I offer in the Appendix a tabulation of rabbinic passages dealing with the exalted Sinai.
31 Sir 45:1, for example, says that God kept Moses strong in the heavens. This is a reference to Moses' sojourn on Sinai, where God preserved him ("kept him strong") through his forty days and nights of fasting (Exod 34:28; Deut 9:9; cf. Exod 24:18). Here, then, Moses' stay on Sinai is conflated with a sojourn "in the heavens." For another example of the idea that Moses' ascent of Sinai was a journey to heaven, see Tg. Neof. Deut 30:12, and cf. W. A. Meeks, The Prophet-King: Moses Traditions and the Johannine Christology (NovTSup 14; Leiden: Brill, 1967) index s.v. "Ascensions of Moses"; D. C. Allison, The New Moses: A Matthean Typology (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1993) 175-79; Kugel, Traditions, 635-36.
33 Cf. Davies and Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew 3. 245 n. 63.
34 owe this suggestion to a private communication from Dale Allison. In favor of his suggestion is the linkage made between hanging mountains and legal enactments.
ss See Exod 19:12-24; 20:18-19; Deut 5:22-27; LA.B. 11.4-5, 14; b. Shab. 88b; cf. Heb 12:18-21.
as Although he was influenced not only by Exodus but also by Paul and by Heb 12:18-21, John Bunyan's reuse of the biblical portrayal of the towering Mount Sinai develops this intrinsic potential and is instructively similar to the imagery and threatening tone of the midrash in b. Shab. 88a: "So Christian turned out of his way to go to Mr. Legality's house for help: but behold, when he was got now hard by the Hill [= Mount Sinai], it seemed so high, and also that side of it that was next the way side, did hang so much over, that Christian was afraid to venture further, lest the Hill should fall on his head ..." (J. Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress [Oxford World's Classics; Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 1984] 17).
37 On the Jewish Christian "Teachers" in Galatia as exegetes of Scripture, see Barrett, "Allegory," and J. L. Martyn, Theological Issues in the Letters of Paul (Studies of the New Testament and Its World; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark; Nashville: Abingdon, 1997) 7-24.
sa The designation of Paul's Galatian opponents as "the Teachers" is borrowed from Martyn, Issues, 9.
39 See Martyn, Issues, 12.
40 The term comes from the influential work of E. P Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977). On the Teachers as covenantal nomists, see J. L. Martyn, "Events in Galatia," in Pauline Theology 1: Thessalonians, Philippians, Galatians (ed. J. Bassler; SBLSymS 4/1; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991) 160-79, and Martyn, Galatians, 343, 347, 587.
41 On the usage of 51ol/,Rpoa in traditions about proselytes, see K. G. Kuhn, "Proselytos," TDNT 6. 738. Kuhn alludes to the common rabbinic expression ... ..., "bringing them near (and causing them to enter) beneath the wings of the Shekinah" (see, for example, Mek. R. Ish., litro 2; b. Shab. 31a; y. Sanh. 13a; Gen. Rab. 84.5). Note the combination here of the verb "to bring near" with the preposition "under."
42 Cf. the reconstruction of another sermon by the Teachers in Martyn, Issues, 20-24 and Martyn, Galatians, 302-6.
43 For the Teachers' equation of Sinai with the Torah, see Gal 4:21-31, which, as noted above (11), probably reflects a midrash of the Teachers; cf. also n. 24 above on the possible background in Jewish traditions about Sinai for the statement in James 1:23-25 about the Torah being a glass or mirror. For the idea that, in a sense, subsequent generations still stand at Mount Sinai, see, for example, b. Ber. 63b; Tan. B., rtro 386 (76); Deut. 33; Pesiq. Rb. Kah. 12.12.
as Cf. the use of this text in Mekhilta on Exod 19:17; see Appendix, no. 2. ' Cf. Heb 2:3.
46 Translation from Lauterback, Mekilta de-Rabbi Islunael s. 219.
Boston University School of Theology
Boston, MA 02215
Copyright Catholic Biblical Association of America Jan 2001
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved
FindArticles > Catholic Biblical Quarterly, The > Jan 2001 > Article >
Posted by lmurx at 12:52 PM