Creating Jesus 12: The Glory of the Lord

Jesus was not conceived to be exalted to the status of any angel of any rank. He was conceived to be the Angel of the Lord who bore the Name YHWH. This conception did not stand alone. The YHWH Angel was read alongside the GLORY by the early Jews and Christians. There are a number of passages in Jewish scriptures which describe YHWH as a bodily manifested god. His manifestation is called in Hebrew "the KAVOD of YHWH" which literally means "the weightiness of YHWH." It was translated by the ancients into Greek with the word "DOKSA" which means "reputation, honor, glory." When it refers to one's external appearance, it means that it is a splendid or glorious appearance. In English it is translated "GLORY." This figure is described by Ezekiel as humanlike, radiant, and enthroned. It acts as YHWH, and he interacts with it as YHWH. This manifestation of YHWH, the KAVOD, is also called in the literature the "IMAGE" of God and the "FORM" of God.

Of course those of my readers who know the Christian literature will realize that this application to Jesus was made very early in the tradition. He has the NAME of YHWH, he is the FORM of YHWH, he is the IMAGE of YHWH, he is the GLORY of YHWH. He has not only been identified with the ANGEL YHWH, but also the KAVOD, identified with the seated figure in Ezekiel's vision and the YHWH of HOSTS seen by ISAIAH.

As I said in my last post on the subject, this is the key to understanding the development of early Christology. Once the identification was made between Jesus, the YHWH Angel, and the KAVOD, there was no turning back. The Christian Jews had begun to understand Jesus as equivalent with YHWH.

As far as worship, it appears that our earliest sources tell us that they were calling upon Jesus' NAME in intercessory ways, including healings. Now there is ample (and I mean ample) evidence in Jewish literature and magical objects from the period that show that there were Jews who were calling upon angels to intercede for them and to facilitate healings. The magical evidence from amulets and gems shows that the use of the angels' names were considered to be very powerful indeed.

Many scholars in the past have tried to explain away this evidence and to impose modern rabbinic and christian orthodoxy on the past in order to state that the Jews were not really venerating angels or practicising angel intercession because we all know they were monotheists. This is anachronistic and apologetic. The evidence both in the literature and the physical objects matches. The late second century rabbis generally disapproved and tried to stamp it out and write down their oral traditions in such a way that their ancestors would appear to be monotheists. But what the rabbis were doing was creating monotheism themselves, perhaps in response to the rise of Christianity from the Jewish sources, and I might add, the rise of Gnostic systems from these same sources which also relied upon the YHWH Angel and KAVOD traditions to develop the Demiurge.

In my opinion, the academic discussion is usually backwards. The discussion should not be how monotheistic Jews could or couldn't have worshiped Jesus.

The discussion should be along these lines: what must Judaism have looked like at the time of Jesus to allow his Jewish followers to conceive of him as YHWH and begin praying to him and using his NAME for intercession?

The impulse to divinize Jesus was an impulse within Judaism, and the later Rabbis knew this and reworked the traditions to try to shut it down and create a post-temple Judaism, which was a revival of the type of Judaism embraced by the group of post-exilic priests who put together the pentateuch and tried to rewrite their old polytheistic ancestral traditions along monotheistic lines. It didn't work in post-exilic Judaism mainly because the YHWH Angel and KAVOD traditions survived, allowing for exegetical interpretations to develop in which GOD remains hidden while he operates through his manifestation, his equivalent enthroned in heaven.