The high priestly office and Jewish messianic hope

In late October last year I gave a paper at a conference at the University of Gloucestershire dedicated to 1 Enoch and Contemporary Theology. My topic was the political theology of the Similitudes of Enoch (1 En. 37–71) in its ancient context. The paper will likely appear in a published volume from the conference before too long. In the meantime I have posted a copy on my page

Building on an earlier publication in which I had argued that some of the distinctive features of theSimilitudes’ messianism is a response to patterns of Greco-Roman ruler cult (at the end of the C1st B.C. or the early decades of the C1st A.D.), I argue that it is also indebted to an older and well-established, biblically-based, distinction between the priestly office and the person of the king. The high priest is an office not a person. The office transcends the identities of those who hold it. The way that works is especially clear in Ben Sira 50. The office pre-exists each incumbent and it will continue to exist after their death. The Similitudes, I contend, projects that distinction on to a mythological, eschatological, horizon. The Son of Man-Messiah (and Elect One) in 1 En. 37–71 is almost wholly devoid of personhood. He is simply the one-God-made-manifest with no separate, individual, identity (or personality) that would threaten the identity of the one God. He is, then, to the eschatological scenario what the high priestly office is within the liturgical context of the temple-as-microcosm.

This argument will make a small contribution to the account of biblical and Jewish theology that I will lay out in volume 3 of my Jesus Monotheism.

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