Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jesus, Hell, the Seventy and Much More (Video+More on Sunday's Readings)

Sunday, September 27, 2009: Liturgy Reflection from JP Catholic University on Vimeo.

Moses, the Seventy and Jesus
In the first reading, Moses commissions 70 elders to prophesy. Notably, nowhere are we explicitly told that these elders were Levites. Here then it seems then that we have a kind of charismatic role which is extended to lay Israelites (i.e., non-priests), who exercise a prophetic responsibility which compliments the divinely established office of the priests.

We might also add here that, while the details are a bit sketchy, it seems that Sanhedrin, the governing Jewish body in Jesus’ day, was associated with this tradition. In the Mishna we are told that the Sanhedrin that there were two Sanhedrins, a greater and lesser one. The greater Sanhedrin was composed of “one and seventy judges” (m. Sanh. 1.6). Why seventy? The Mishna directly quotes from Numbers 11―Moses appointed seventy elders.

Finally, we might also note that there is a certain New Testament fulfillment of Moses’ commissioning of the seventy. In the Gospel of Luke we read that Jesus himself appointed seventy. Since this was not the Gospel this week I decided to focus on other things in the video, but I thought I'd elaborate on the significance of Jesus' appointment of seventy in Luke here. In fact, my co-blogger, New Testament scholar Brant Pitre, presented an incredible paper at last year’s Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting in which he showed the parallels between the arrangement of Israel under Moses and the description of the concentric circles of disciples Jesus gathers.[1] Here I want to recap what Brant presented.

First, we can note that Peter’s prominence―he is also listed first among the apostles. Second, we note that among the twelve three are typically singled out: Peter, James and John (cf. Mark 5:36; 9:2; 14:33). In fact, these three are the only ones ever explicitly said to be renamed by Jesus (cf. Mark 3:14, 16–17: “And he appointed twelve. . . 16 Simon whom he surnamed Peter; 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, whom he surnamed Bo-anerges, that is, sons of thunder”). Third, of course, there are the twelve disciples themselves. Fourth, as noted above, Luke tells us that Jesus appointed seventy disciples (Luke 10:1).[2]

As Brant explained in his paper, these concentric circles around Jesus seem to correspond with the description of Israel's leadership under Moses. In particular, Brant highlighted Exodus 24. There, as elsewhere, Aaron seems to have a kind of prominence. Likewise, as Jesus singled out three, God tells Moses to specifically take with him Aaron and two brothers, Nadab and Abihu (cf. Exod 24:1, 9). Interestingly, Jesus also takes aside Peter and two brothers, James and John. Furthermore, Moses has young men offer sacrifices on twelve pillars--it seems possible that here twelve are here envisioned (cf. Exod 24:4-5). Finally, in Exodus 24 Moses is specifically told to bring with him seventy elders (cf. Exod 24:1, 9). The parallels with the arrangement of disciples around Jesus is really quite amazing. Look forward to read about all of this with even greater depth and sophisitication in his new book on the Last Supper, which is due out next year. (I can't wait!) If you can't wait for the book, I suggest obtaining the audio from his Eucharistic Theology class lectures--they're dynamite.

The parallels here would all seem to underscore Jesus’ role as the New Moses, through whom the New Exodus is realized.

What the Hell?
As I explain in the video, the term originated as a reference to the “Valley of Hinnon” (גֵֽי־הִנֹּם֙, cf. Josh 15:8; 18:6), which was known as the site where children were offered as human sacrifices to the god Molech (2 Chron 28:3; 33:6; 2 Kgs 16:3). Because of its association with Molech worship the prophets had uttered condemnations of the valley and described how it would be a place of carnage and devastation in the coming divine judgment (Jer 7:30–33; 19:1–13; 32:34–35; cf. also Isa 31:9; 66:24; 2 Kgs 23:10; Lev 18:21). In later Jewish literature it is identified as the place of God’s eschatological judgment (cf. 1 En. 27:1–5; 54:1–6; 56:1–4; 90:26) and as the place of torment for the wicked dead (Apoc. Abr. 15.6; Sib. Or. 1.100–103; 2.292–310; 4.184–86; 4 Ezra 7:36; m. ʾAbot 1:5; 5.19; b. Šabb. 33a; 39a; 104a; b. ʿErub. 19a; b. Beýah 32b; b. Taʿan. 5a; b. Hag. 15a; b. Yebam. 63b; b. Sotah 4b; 41b; 10b; b. Qidd. 40a; b. B. Bat. 74a; 84a; 78b; b. ʿAbod. Zar. 18b; b. B. Meýiʿa. 59a) from which no one ever escapes (b. Roš. Haš. 16b-17a; b. B. Meýiʿa 58b), and even as the place of everlasting torment (Josephus, A.J. 18.14; B.J. 2.163; Sib. Or. 2.292–310; though see m. ʿEd. 2.10; b. Šabb. 33b; b. Roš. Haš. 16b-17a). In the Gospels, Jesus uses the term to describe the place to which the wicked will be condemned, emphasizing that those who are sent there will experience bodily punishment (cf. Matt 5:29; 10:28).[3]

[1] Brant Pitre, “Jesus and the Messianic Priesthood” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, 2008).
[2] There is a textual difficulty here. Some sources describe Jesus appointing “seventy-two”. As Marshall explains, the confusion may have emerged because in the Old Testament it is unclear if Moses simply appointed seventy or seventy-two, since Eldad and Medad, who were not enrolled with the seventy elders who were taken outside the camp were still given the gift of prophecy. Indeed, the LXX has Moses appointing seventy-two. Moreover, it should be noted that there number seventy is significant in that according to Genesis 10 the world is comprised of seventy nations. Again, the LXX diverts from the MT here, indicating that there were seventy-two nations. The mission of the seventy then can be taken as a prefiguring of the Church’s mission to evangelize the world. For further discussion see I. Howard Marshall, Gospel according to Luke (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 415.
[3] For a fuller discussion, see J. Lunde, “Heaven and Hell,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (eds. J. B. Green, S. McKnight, I. H. Marshall; Downers Grove; InterVarsity Press, 1992), 310–11 [307–21]; Joachim Jeremias, “γέεννα,” TDNT 1:657–58.


Randy said...

FYI: The video is the same as last weeks!

Michael Barber said...


Thanks! Oops! I fixed it.

Anonymous said...

Ours is an envionment where evil is perceived to be rewarded while good is punished. As with everything the Gods have a reason for creating this perception::::
People who fall on the good side of the good/evil scale have more favor, and when they do something wrong the Gods punish them BECAUSE THEY WANT THEM TO LEARN. The Gods want them to receive this feedback in hope they make corrections and begin to behave appropriately. The Gods DON'T like evil and refuse to grant this feedback.
EVERYBODY pays for what they do wrong, only evil people must wait until their next life before they will experience the wrath of the Gods, manifested in their reincarnation as a lower form of life into environments with increased/enhanced temptations.
Sadly, this allows the Gods to position this perception of evil rewarded as temptation, one which they use as an EXTREMELY effective corruptor.

Both Africa and the Medittereanean are regions which have sexual issues. This is a sign of morbid disfavor once you understand that females are the God's favored gender. Muhammad's (Mohammed's) polygamy halfway through his life as a prophet was preditory. Now a huge percentage of Muslims believes in male superiority and that the abuse of women is God's will. Female genital mutilation is still practiced in Africa. Black misogyny is the most eggregious example in the recent past.
Black member size is temptation to a predisposed population.
The patriarchal cancer spread throughout Europe because of Christianity, of which the majority of policy makers were Italian men. Expect the largest landowner in Europe and the continent's original superpower also played a major role in African slavery.

Militancy in Africa is consistant with the Iraqi example, as was slavery and the KKK here in America:::Fear enforces proper behavior. Without it we see what happens as a result of gross/morbid disfavor:::::AIDS, crack babies, dead young men in gangland retaliation killings. This is the purpose behind many black's historical tendancy towards resistance.
The same principle was true in Europe and throughout the world for centuries:::People whom lived under iron fists were conditioned to think the right way. As a result they experienced higher numbers of children accend into heaven because they were taught to think and behave appropriately, which they passed on to their children. Our preditory envionment of "freedom" was the primary purpose the Gods had when implimenting this strategy that is the United States, one which they used to spred the cancer of democracy and westernization throughout the world. And the Gods use this tool that is America to prey on the disfavored both at home and abroad:::Much like the ghetto, America in general experiences a heightened level of temptation due to the people's disfavor.

Even the Old Testiment is not to be taken literally, but the Gods do offer clues throughout to help the disfavored:::The apple is a tool of temptation used to corrupt Adam and Eve and cast them out of the Garden of Eden.
There is another lesson to be learned from this passage, and it is quite similar to the vailing issue and the discourse over women's attire which ultimately died in the 70s:::Women are responsible for and control the fate of mankind.

Think about what I say. Consider what I teach. Society is going to become disturbingly ugly as we approach the Apocalypse due to spiralling, runaway disfavor.
I do not know when this will occurr, but it is the God's way to grant some time before they end on Planet Earth.
Make the decision to always be good and never look back. Until you do this technology will employ tactics to test your resolve:::Ridicule, beligerance, doubt and refusal to abandon what people perceive to be their "investment".
Pray daily. Think appropriately. Too many are confident, unaware of the God's awesome powers or their status as antients. Others may fall prey to their positioning.
Be humbled, God-fearing and beware of the God's temptations, for everyone is tested to evaluate their worthiness.
Search rest

Rudy said...

A question for Mr. Barber:

Is the group of 70 identified with those who in the New Testament are called disciples but not apostles? Are we to think of them as lay members of a charismatic group or are they to be identified as ordained "priests". In the NT Jesus uses the "you" and "they" for these followers. Were the 70 in the OT more in the line of juridical judges and military leaders since the ordained ministry belonged only the Levites?

Would they be considered in the same level as under the authority of the Apostles in the NT? I guess the questions boils down to this: Did Jesus envisioned an ordained priesthood with a division between laity and clerics or was his vision more in line with a lay priesthood similar to the protestant model?