Religious Studies 015
Prof. Robert Kraft
Week #14 (22-24 April 2003) Notes
by Paula Castilho and Allison Myers
Option for final = Oral Exam (to be scheduled with Prof. Kraft)
Any question is fair game, complete knowledge of anything discussed/read for
class is assumed
What we need to start noticing:
-What the details do within a bigger picture (ex: Luke-Acts -> general pic.
-> importance of Jerusalem) e.g. How would our views of Jesus' life differ
on the basis of each Gospel by itself?
-Overall topic = learning how to make "connections" between the details
(the "trees") and the overall theme (the "forest"): "the
devil in the details" or "God is in the details"
- How can some Christians have made such a big deal in criticizing the Harry
Potter films when Revelation is filled with similar symbolism and
Ans: Perhaps Harry Potter is thought to paganize the
imagery. OR these Christians probably didn't even read the Bible to know what's
in it. ALSO, Revelation is considered sacred, whereas other books like H.P.
- Did early Christians have fasting traditions like Native Americans (that
would result in 'trip' or 'drug effect' causing them to have visions like
those described in the book of Revelation?
Ans: Yes. E.g. Didiche = Teaching of Jesus through
the Apostles includes instructions to fast ("don't fast like the
hypocrites do"), how to pray, etc. No Biblical fasting was like it is
in Islam, where one fasts for many days without eating during the daylight
hours. Also, ancients who were into herbology were aware of the effects of
certain foods/practices that would result in extra-sensory experiences.
- How can anyone be considered superior to Abraham (context = discussion of
Melchizedeck-- see Hebrews)?
Ans: Melchizedek ("king of righteousness") is viewed
as "priest of most high God," while Abraham is presented as a key
genealogical and geographical link (in Genesis, Abraham is not depicted
as the founder of "monotheism," and Abraham's God is known to others
in earlier times and outside the Hebrew group).
- What is diadem?
Ans: basically a crown
- What is the significance of the number 7 (context = see Revelation)?
Ans: Especially significant within Jewish tradition, although
Babylonia also had 7 day week.
- What about the number 12?
Ans: 12 tribes of Israel, 12 signs of the zodiak, 12 apostles
of Jesus, etc. (note that 72, as a multiple of 12, also appears in various
connections -- number of nations on earth, number of translators of pentateuch
into Greek, number of followers sent out by Jesus in Luke).
Hebrews (looking at New English Translation (NET) = not an attempt to
be a very literal translation)
Running Notes on Hebrews:
Overview on Hebrews:
- 1.1 -- assumes we know about prophets (gives before & after scenes),
thus expect some reference to prophets later on.
- 1.2 -- eschatological wording: "in these last days" = specific
to end times
- 1.2 -- Jesus as an agent of creation ("son -- through whom he created
the world"). Similar to the author of John, this book shows an explicit
connection between the Son of God and the beginning of world
- 1.3 -- "Essence" vs. "accidents" -> that which is
crucial to what something is vs. that which is incidental (e.g. color, size,
weight, etc) [Philosophical distinction already developed by Aristotle (student
of Plato), teacher of Alexander the Great in 330 BCE]. Aristotle was also
responsible for categorizing many things in science and other subjects into
hierarchies and can be viewed as the "father of modern science."
-> Hebrews might or might not have these philosophical overtones
in view; the unidentified author was also very much into abstraction.
- 1.3 -- "word of power" in text -> philosophy/theology of God's
word, God's voice speaking
- compare John 1.1: greek word "logos" = process of expressing
things in words.
- "word" has a close association with word "nomos" = "law"
(e.g. stoicism = saw the world as held together by law and reason, with "God"
as the totality of what is)
-> Don't know if in Hebrews it is this second sense (comprehensive
rationality) as opposed to specific "word" or "words"
(Hebrews actually uses a different Greek word here)
- Throughout Hebrews there is a philosophical, religious, and eschatological
- 1.13 -- Son is superior to Angels -- note use of quotations from Hebrew
- 3.1 -- Jesus as "apostle" and "high priest"
-"apostle" means "ambassador" or "one sent,"
and isn't normally used of Jesus by other authors; the use here may reflect
a period of flexibility before the standard terminology became established.
- 5.1-6 -- Melchizedek (name = "king of righteousness," called "priest
of the most high God") is used as prefiguration of Jesus who is superior
high priest above all others (this is one of the earliest references
made to Jesus performing priestly duties).
- 4:3 -- the word "rest" = creation (on the 7th day) & conquest
of Canaan (by Jesus/Joshua) connections, brings rest to creating and warfare;
Jesus/Joshua is the fulfillment of these expectations and brings rest by bringing
his people to eternal life.
- 6.1 -- author yells at his readers = wants them to be a bit more sophisticated
than just elementary teaching.
- 8.6-7 -- new covenant with God through Jesus (note the explicit reference
to book of Jeremiah about prophecy of new covenant)
- 9.1ff -- detailed analogy about what went on with Jewish cultic worship;
Jesus brings fulfillment (the law was a shadow of what was to come, 10.1)
- 11-13 -- historical consciousness of God from creation to last people (heros
of faith) + ethical & community kinds of instructions
Revelation, written by someone named "John" (1.1, traditionally
called "John the theologian" as distinguished from "John the evangelist"),
can be divided into two main parts:
- strong historical consciousness about how God has been active since the
- topical and rational organization of a treatise, but does end with elements
like an epistle -- probably this kind of detail helped connect it with Paul
- can see how it is both like Paul (focus on faith, use of Jewish scriptures)
and also unlike (high priest, diff. style, etc.)
- First three chapters -> John is in prison for some reason on the island
of Patmos off the coast of Asia minor
and delivers messages to 7 churches in Asia Minor -- Jesus reveals himself
- reference to persecution of early Christians(1.9)
- reference to the "Lord's Day," which apparently means Sunday (day
of Jesus' resurrection)
- reference to Jezebel (condemns group doing unacceptable things)
- Chapters 4-22 -> Different revelations that author gets: seals, martyrs,
- 5.1 -- "opisthograph" = scroll that has writing on both sides
-> later tells John to eat a scroll (10.9)
- 17.5 -- "Babylon" referred to as the "sinful woman"
- general themes: beasts and "the beast," final plagues, God's wrath,
whore woman (city/kingdom), Psalm of
triumph, millennium (symbolic vs. spiritual debates)
- 22.19 -- threatens anyone that tries to change the book; came to be refered
to the entire New Testament because it is put in the end of the collection,
perhaps both because it speaks of the "last things" in some detail,
and as a strategic closing warning.
On 24 April, the class did a quick tour of relevant areas in the University
Museum -- Canaan, Egypt, the Etruscan exhibit, Greece; unfortunately, we did
not get to Sumeria and Mesopotamia.
//end of final class notes//