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Hagar and Ishmael sent away: an exegesis of Genesis 21:8-21

Hagar and Ishmael sent away: an exegesis of Genesis 21:8-21

Abraham’s expulsion of his wife and firstborn son is a significant event in the Patriarchal family. The exploration of this story will unveil many implications for the nations surrounding, for Ishmael as well as Isaac personally as well as shed light on the importance of election for the sake of national identity.

 

Introduction

The story of Abraham banishing Hagar and Ishmael is located in Genesis 21:8-21.  It presents as a necessary occurrence to safeguard Isaac’s inheritance.  In exegeting this passage, however, it is evident that this story possesses more significance than the expulsion of Ishmael, but also emphasises the separation of Abraham’s treasured sons and the subsequent election of the ancestral family from other nations.  This essay will explore the themes of Genesis that contextualise this passage, while also examining the narrative link with Genesis 22:1-19, in which God directs Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.  This essay will suggest that God’s blessing was upon Ishmael, but the promise he made to Abraham resulted in the election of Isaac as the son to inherit the covenant, demonstrated through progeny and land.

 

Background of Genesis

In chronologically examining Genesis, the writings can be dated to the second millennium BC.[1]  Despite its ancient language, recent scholarship has altered the dating of Genesis and the entire primary history (Genesis-Kings 2) to the post-exilic Persian period.[2]  The Persian empire began in 550AD and extended to 330AD and was both expansive and expertly administrated.  This period saw the blossoming of Greek culture including literature, philosophy, medicine, democracy, and architecture. During the Persian empires dominance, a global cultural exchange ensued that encouraged the emergence of thought and innovation from the likes of Archimedes, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.[3]  The authors use of Greek histography in Genesis appears to be influenced by this and contributed to by sources including law, epic poetry, and exilic prophets that add interpretive depth to its composition.[4]  In order not to be consumed by these sources or the Greco-Persian culture, the redactor produced a distinctly Jewish theology within the historical narrative of Israel’s origin and early development.  The authorship, although unknown, has been suggested to have been a school of priest historians centred around the Jewish temple.[5]  At this time the authors audience, the Jewish diaspora, were scattered throughout the Persian empire without land or temple.  The origins of Israel and God’s promises to his chosen people would have provided them identity and security, especially through the ancestor narratives that commence with Abraham.

 

Genesis themes

The title Genesis in Hebrew is beresit, translated as ‘in the beginning’.  The themes contained in Genesis are an appropriate introduction to the history and theology of Israel.  Whilst scholarly opinion varies regarding the overview of the book, the history of Israel is undoubtably a significant theme.  Israel’s history is recounted from Abram’s calling in Genesis 12, followed by Isaac’s biography, and is finalised by the long Jacob novella that stretches to Genesis’ conclusion.[6]  Brodie suggests two meta-themes for Genesis including the history of Israel and human life.[7]  According to his view, the description of origins and the sequential documentation of history are tied to the permanent realities of life that are experienced by humans.  The theme of human life, however, is suggested by Brodie to supersede that of history.  Whilst history is an important record of events, the patriarch narratives communicate to the Jewish people the realities and significance of human life including generational cycles, human environments, and individuals’ responses to challenging events.[8] Arnold cautions that when read in the context of Genesis 1-11, the focus upon Israel’s history and identity as God’s chosen people should not drown out God’s divine blessing on all nations and that they, along with the elect nations, are enveloped in God’s plans.[9] 

The Jewish genealogy detailed in Genesis is found in its eleven toledots.  Toledot is translated as family or generations and creates a structure for Genesis with each section commencing with a genealogical list.[10]  The distinction of Israel from other nations becomes apparent following the Terah toledot.  In Genesis 12:1-3, Abram is called away from Haran and his father’s household to a new land.  It is here that the Abraham journey begins as the first novella (Genesis 12-25) of the ancestral narratives (Genesis 12-50).  The call to a new land is the first of Abraham’s three ‘promise’ encounters with God.  In Genesis 12, Abram is promised by God that he will become a great nation and that all the people of the earth will be blessed through him.  The primordial history as recorded in Genesis 1-11, transitions to God’s revised plan to use Abram to father a family that will multiply and become God’s chosen people.  In Genesis 15:1-21, God reaffirms this promise with a covenant and the assurance of a biological son for Abram.  Finally, in Genesis 17:1-22, God introduces circumcision as the sign of the covenant and changes the ancestors’ names to Abraham and Sarah.  In examining Abrahams encounters with God, it can be suggested that the blessing of God is evidenced through descendants inhabiting the land of Canaan, which should be considered when examining Genesis 21:8-21.

 

The context of Genesis 21:8-21

The events concerning the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael in Genesis 21:8-21 immediately proceed the birth of Isaac and his entrance into the Genesis storyline.  It is noteworthy that these events are encompassed within the account of Abraham’s interactions with King Abimelech, which commence with the second of three sister-wife stories involving the patriarchs recorded in Genesis.  In this event, Abimelech responds kindly to Abraham’s deceit,[11] acknowledges that Abraham’s God is with him in all that he does, and resolves with the pair’s treaty at Beersheba.[12]  The second component of this interaction reveals that Abimelech is a Philistine.  Importantly, they are not the only national representatives in the storyline.  The birth stories of Lot’s sons, Moab and Ben-Ammi, the fathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites respectively,[13] also form a broader context for the arrival of Isaac.  While Lot’s children are born in disgrace and as a consequence of incestuous manipulation,  presenting a stark contrast to the miraculous birth of Isaac[14], it can also be seen that Abraham’s family of promise is surrounded by other nations such as the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, and Egyptians.  This is important for consideration because the separation of Ishmael from Isaac detailed in Genesis 21:8-21 is representative of the broader election and distinction of Israel from all other nations.

 

The separation of the promised son from the firstborn son

Genesis 21:8-18 documents the separation of Ishmael, Abraham’s first-born son, from Isaac, God’s promised son.  Many commentators consider Ishmael’s dismissal occurred in order to remove him as a challenger to the son-elect.[15][16] [17] [18]  Blum highlights that in verse 10 of this passage, gares, translated as ‘drive out’ (NASB) or ‘get rid’ (NIV), is the same word utilised for the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden in Genesis 3:24, and Cain in Genesis 4:14.[19]  Despite the similarity in language, when considering the promise of blessing to Ishmael from God, it may be that the dismissal of Ishmael could also be contextualised as a necessary separation to bring God’s promise into fulfillment for both sons.  Despite Sarah‘s desire to banish Hagar and Ishmael, examination of the passage in context of the Abrahamic narrative reveals a pattern of amicable divergence of the non-elect lines,[20] similarly observed with Lot and Eleazar the servant.[21]  Therefore, the passage can be considered as necessary in tracing Israel’s genealogy but also in clarifying how Ishmael came to a life separate both geographically and socially from God’s chosen family.[22]  It is possible that this event does not just concern the expulsion of Ishmael and the protection of the elect line, but also highlights the inevitability of separation, which both Genesis 21:8–21 and Genesis 22:1–19 illustrate.  Chung suggests the maidservant and her son to be heroic characters rather than secondary figures.[23]  This assertion is supported by Yahweh, the angel, Abraham, and Hagar all viewing Ishmael as treasured.[24]  Chung’s description may be overstated, however, as although Hagar and Ishmael respond to their circumstances with courage, they are secondary figures when understanding the narrative as predominately concerning God’s chosen family.

The passage of Genesis 21:8-21 commences with a feast celebrating Isaac’s weaning and that the fulfilment of God’s promise of a son.  Bruggerman captures this stating that, “The text holds together the word of God and the birth of the child.”[25]  From the introduction of Abram and Sari in Genesis 11:30 as unable to conceive, God’s word that Abraham would be the father of many nations has rested upon the miracle of a son and the more distant reality of land.  Arnold states that, “Abram must depend on Yahweh’s divine decree rather than his own ability to navigate his journey.”[26]  The unfolding elements of God’s promise in the three covenant passages emphasise this.  God speaks and Abraham responds by obeying the initial call in Genesis 12:4, believing the Lord in Genesis 15:6 when he is promised an heir, and finally by  obeying the circumcision directive in Genesis 17:23.  God’s promise is fulfilled and the divine word becomes a reality in Isaac.  Through the apparent theme of promises fulfilled as evidenced by progeny, the diaspora would have been encouraged to obey God’s word as Abraham did and reminded that Israel’s covenant with Yahweh will be fulfilled spiritually and in reality, through descendants and land.

The aforementioned celebration of Isaac’s weaning was interrupted by Sarah as she observes Ishmael mocking Isaac.  She subsequently demands that Abraham send Ishmael and Hagar away.[27]  This event was the final episode in the rivalry between Abraham’s two wives.  The poor treatment of Hagar reveals her secondary status to the covenantal family but greater than status, rivalry, or the mocking of Isaac, is Sarah’s desire to protect Isaac’s rightful claim to the inheritance.   It is important to note in Genesis that the matriarchs, such as Sarah and Rebecca, and later Bathsheba during the monarch period, play a crucial role in determining the line of blessing and inheritance.[28]  This is observed in Genesis 21 as Sarah appeals to Abraham and influences the future and succession of her son.

 

Parallels with Genesis 22, the sacrifice of Isaac

The separation of Ishmael caused Abraham great distress as Ishmael was the first born son and he was treasured by his father.[29]  The distress concerning Ishmael parallels with the distress Abraham experienced when directed by God to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22.  Abraham treasured both of his sons and twice he is confronted with the unimaginable request to let them go.  Genesis 22 echo’s Abraham’s pre-Isaac pleading with God that Ishmael might live under his blessing.  God assures Abraham that the Egyptian, despite being the non-elect son will be blessed, but that Isaac the younger brother will be the son of the everlasting covenant.[30] The younger brother as blessed by God and usurping the firstborn’s birthright exemplified in this passage is an intriguing and pervasive theme in Genesis.  One example of this is when Esau, Isaac’s firstborn, also becomes the non-elect son and the younger brother Jacob carries the covenantal promises.[31]  Expanding on this pattern, Genesis depicts Israel as chosen from among the nations, while other nations are still to be blessed by God as Ishmael was.  The redactor ensures this motif brings great hope to the diaspora, reminding them of God’s everlasting covenant that cannot be compromised despite the existence, prosperity, and apparent dominance of other nations and surrounding people.

Abraham, reassured by God that Ishmael will remain blessed and become a great nation, sends Hagar and Ishmael away in Genesis 21:14.  In this passage Abraham loaded water upon Hagar’s shoulders, which parallels with the wood he loaded upon Isaac in Genesis 22:6.  Both of these materials represent the upcoming threat to his sons lives; a lack of water for Ishmael and wood for Isaac’s sacrifice.  Hagar finds herself wandering the desert for a second time, but unlike the initial escape from Sarah’s mistreatment towards her recorded in Genesis 16, there is no immediate divine intervention.  Consequently, Hagar wanders unprotected and without direction.  This experience for Hagar contrasts to Abraham’s three-day journey in the wilderness to Moriah, in which he is afforded a plan from God and possesses clarity regarding destination.  For Hagar and Ishmael, the food and water are exhausted and Hagar sets Ishmael under a tree to die.  The suffering experienced by Hagar in this passage parallels with Abraham’s at Moriah, as both characters believed they would lose their sons.[32]  The narrative link between these passages appears to be intentional.  Both Genesis 21 and 22 culminate with the future and the promise of blessing afforded to each son being brought into question.

 

Promises kept by God

God intervenes at the crying of Ishmael and fulfills Ishmaels name meaning, God hears.  God then reaffirms the promise he made concerning Ishmael in Genesis 16:10 and Hagar sees the well and water that offers salvation for both her and her son.  The story then progresses to Ishmael as a grown man, blessed and successful as God promised.   Ishmael’s story concludes in Genesis 21:21 with Hagar, depicted similar to a patriarch, reassured of God’s promise and securing a wife for her son.  This concluding scene possesses similarities with Hagar’s angelic encounter in Genesis 16:7-13, where God intervenes on behalf of the vulnerable, provides relief, the character sees what offers timely deliverance, and God reaffirms his promise.  Likewise, as Abraham prepares to sacrifice Isaac, the angel intervenes providing relief and Isaac’s salvation is confirmed upon Abraham seeing a ram caught in the bushes.  In these aforementioned accounts the deliverance offered by God is acquired once the character in the story sees, which conversely along with blindness (for example the men at Lot’s door[33] and when Jacob does not see Leah[34]), can be considered an interesting motif in Genesis. 

It is apparent that there are a number of themes relevant in the interpretation of Genesis 21:8-21 including human life, Israel’s history, God’s promises, the value of progeny, election, and the blessing of non-elect people and nations.  The narrative link between Genesis 21:8-21 and Genesis 22:1-19 reveals both Isaac and Ishmael are treasured by Abraham.  Additional parallels include God’s intervention on behalf of the vulnerable and those in distress, his provision, and the reaffirming of his promises.  Despite the similarities between the passages, there exist contrasts such as in Hagar’s and Abraham’s journey in the dessert and to Moriah respectively.  In exploring Abraham’s banishment of Ishmael, it can be concluded that not only was this course of action necessary for the affirmation of Isaac as heir of the covenant, but it also enabled Ishmael to emerge as another blessed son and nation. For the Jewish diaspora, Isaac’s and Ishmael’s story offers reassurance concerning God fulfilling his promise to them as the chosen nation, while also revealing God’s value and concern for all nations. 

 

 

Bibliography

Arnold, Bill T. Genesis. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Barry, John D., David Bomar, Derek R. Brown, Rachel Klippenstein, Douglas Mangum, Carrie Sinclair Wolcott, Lazarus Wentz, Elliot Ritzema, and Wendy Widder, eds. The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016.

Blum, Edwin A., Trevin Wax. CSB Study Bible. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017.

Brodie, Thomas L. Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Bruggerman, Walter. Genesis. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1982.

Chung, Il-Seung. “Hagar and Ishmael in light of Abraham and Isaac: Reading Gen. 21:8-21 and Gen. 22:1-19 as a dialogue.” The Expository Times, 2017: 573-582.

Dockery, David S. Holman Concise Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998.

Gore, Charles, Henry Leighton Goudge, Alfred Guillaume. A New Commentary on Holy Scripture: Including the Apocrypha. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1942.

Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.

Longman, Tremper, III. How to Read Genesis. Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 2005.

Shectman, Sarah. “Israel’s Matriarchs: Political pawns or powerbrokers?” In The Politics of the Ancestors: Exegetical and Historical Perspectives on Genesis 12–36, by Jakob Wöhrle Mark Brett, 151-165. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2018.

Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.

[1] Blum, Edwin A., and Trevin Wax, eds. CSB Study Bible: Notes (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 3.

[2] Thomas L. Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 81.

[3] Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary, 51.

[4] Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary, 71.

[5] Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary, 82.

[6] Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary, 89.

[7] Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary, 89.

[8] Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary, 95.

[9] Bill T. Arnold, Genesis (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 132.

[10] John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 22.  

[11] Genesis 20:1-18

[12] Genesis 21:22-34

[13] Genesis 19:30-38

[14] Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary, 255.

[15] Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax. CSB Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 2.

[16] Charles Gore, Henry Leighton Goudge and Alfred Guillaume. A New Commentary on Holy Scripture: Including the Apocrypha (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1942), 22 .

[17] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 22.

[19] Blum, Edwin A., and Trevin Wax, eds. CSB Study Bible: Notes. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017, 42.

[20] Bill T. Arnold, Genesis, 71.

[21] Genesis 15:3

[22] Bill T. Arnold, Genesis, 71.

[23] Chung Il-Seung, “Hagar and Ishmael in light of Abraham and Isaac: Reading Gen. 21:8-21 and Gen. 22:1-19 as a dialogue.” The Expository Times (2017): 573.

[24] Walter Bruggerman. Genesis (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1982), 183.

[25] Walter Bruggerman. Genesis, 180.  

[26] Bill T. Arnold, Genesis, 131.

[27] Genesis 21:9-10

[28] Sarah Shectman, “Israel’s Matriarchs: Political pawns or powerbrokers?”, in The Politics of the Ancestors: Exegetical and Historical Perspectives on Genesis 12–36, ed. Jakob Wöhrle Mark Brett (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2018), 153.

[29] Walter Bruggerman. Genesis, 183.

[30] Genesis 17:18-19

[31] Genesis 25:23

[32] Chung, “Hagar and Ishmael in light of Abraham and Isaac: Reading Gen. 21:8-21 and Gen. 22:1-19 as a dialogue”, 581.

[33] Genesis 19:11

[34] Genesis 29:25

God’s names and characterisations in Genesis

God’s names and characterisations in Genesis

The book of Genesis is considered foundational to both Jewish and Christian faiths. Subsequently it introduces God with numerous names and varying portrayals of His character and conduct. This short essay attempts to unveil the God of Genesis as the author intended within the context of the book alone.

 

Introduction: God equally transcendent and imminent

The first book of the Bible, Genesis, offers the reader an introduction to the primary history (Genesis-Kings 2) of the Israelites and to its main character, God.[1]  God may be considered unfathomable in description; however, the authors of Genesis offer a variety of names and characterisations for the God of Israel.  The most utilised names for God in Genesis, include Elohim and Yhwh are introduced in Genesis 1 and 2, respectively.  These names present a depiction of God as being a transcendent but imminent, omniscient but then inquisitive, a cosmic ruler while also a modest gardener.  Additionally, God is described as an anthropomorphic deity as evidenced most noticeably in theophanies to the characters in Genesis.  This essay will explore these characterisations of God as described in Genesis and evaluate the importance and value of a multifaceted portrayal of God. 

 

Elohim revealed in the first creation story

The God revealed in Genesis 1-2:3, is a divine authority whose presence is portrayed through a collection of concise verbal commands that create the universe.  The first of the two creation accounts detailed in Genesis has been accepted to be a Priestly source,[2]  in which God is named Elohim, whilst the second creation story commencing in Genesis 2:4 names God as Yhwh.[3]  Speaking from a transcendent position of absolute power, the Priestly account describes God as first speaking into the darkness, commanding, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).  Miraculously and without delay, God’s command results in the appearance of light and he proceeds to name the light day and the dark night before the conclusion of the first day.  The author clearly portrays in the text a God of divine supremacy, who orders the world through infallible commands.  Furthermore, God is also characterised as being separate from creation and the earth, with the only connection between the omnipresent ruler of the cosmos and the material world being his spoken word.  Brown correctly observes that, “God’s presence from the priestly perspective is primarily verbal. Palpable, overwhelming, glorious presence is entirely lacking”.[4]   

 

El Shaddi, almighty God

God characterised as a divine commander continues to appear throughout Genesis.  Another portrayal of this is located in Genesis 17:1-22, where God appears to Abraham and reveals himself by a new name, El Shaddi, which means ‘God of the mountains’ or ‘The Almighty God’.  Arnold states, “Abram speaks hardly at all but hears five divine speeches, in which God emphasizes again how vast will be Abram’s offspring, changes his and Sarai’s names, institutes circumcision as a sign of their covenant relationship, and announces the birth of Isaac”.[5]  The introduction of God as El Shaddi further emphasises God’s authority and continues the Priestly depiction of a highly verbal God deficient of physical characteristics.  As with Elohim in Genesis 1, El Shaddi appears and speaks what is to be, before returning to his heavenly abode.

The Priestly source is recognised by the sequential prose describing the six days of creation, which follows a predictable pattern of God speaking, creation occurring as instructed, and the creator describing His work as good.  The author presents a deity who is measured, decisive, and omnipotent, whilst simultaneously remaining distant and lacking physicality.  As God commences his final creation, mankind in Genesis 1:26, the English translation records God addressing himself three times, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…”.  Elohim is the plural form of El, the Canaanite name for god.  In its original context, Elohim does not describe a trinitarian God or polytheism, but rather the infinite and incomprehensible nature of God.  Humankind is created theomorphic, bearing the imago Dei, reflecting Godly characteristics.[6]  As God shares his likeness with human beings the author conversely reveals the anthropomorphic characteristics of God, humanising the divine authority.[7] 

 

Yahweh (Jehovah) revealed in the second creation story

The second creation account commencing in Genesis 2:4 is recognised as a Lay or non-priestly source (L).[8]  This account of creation, in conjunction with the temptation and fall narrative of Genesis 3, typify God as a grounded gardener with a fatherly presence that comprises both intimacy and authority.  Through these stories in Genesis, the redactor successfully reveals another aspect of God’s character and conduct.   It is in the L account of creation that the transcendent and highly verbal God depicted in Genesis 1 and named Elohim, is given another name in Genesis 2:4, Yhwh. Brown describes the Genesis 2 account as the “drama of the dirt”[9] and Yhwh as the “down-and-dirty deity”.[10]   In stark contrast to Genesis 1, God is the divinity on the ground, who makes the earth and heavens (v 4), plants a garden (v 8), makes all kinds of trees (v9), separates great rivers (v 10), and takes the man and places him in the garden (v 15).  Yhwh is clearly portrayed as a present, practical, and participatory God who is comfortable being seen at the epicentre of his earthly creation.  The transition from the God of Genesis 1 to Genesis 2 is aptly summarised by Brown who states, “God exchanges the royal decree for a garden spade”.[11]

The second creation story unfolds quickly with the entire cosmos, including the earth, appearing to be created in one day.  Yhwh acts rapidly with perfect competence. The authors emphasis is on God as particularly active in making and shaping the garden and its inhabitants.  God appears distinctly anthropomorphic and is portrayed as a visible deity in close proximity to his creation.[12]  The anthropomorphic presence of Yhwh is most obvious early in the creation account.  In Genesis 2:7, Yhwh forms the man from the dust, metaphorically revealing him as the master craftsman constructing and shaping a complex human by his own hands.  Interestingly, the earthling is merely ornamental until Yhwh appears face to face with his human creation and breathes his divine breath into the man bringing him to life.  This face to face close encounter with God is consistent with accounts recorded later in Genesis. In Genesis 16:13, Hagar expresses, “I have now seen the one who sees me,” and subsequently Hagar names God, El Roi. In Genesis 32:30 where Jacob, upon realising he has wrestled with a deity  exclaims, “I saw God face to face.”  Through these passages the redactor characterises the God of Genesis as tangible, personal and at times face to face with his highly treasured humanity.

 

Yahweh’s Fatherly concern

The Genesis 2 creation account not only depicts Yhwh as an active gardener cultivating creation who possesses supreme authority, but also as a fatherly God with deep care and concern for his creation.  Yhwh reveals this affection for Adam by placing him at home in the garden and providing him with meaningful work (v 15).  God also endows Adam with the authority to name the animals as he seeks to find Adam a suitable helper (v 18-19), another act revealing fatherly interest.  God’s concern for and participation in earthly affairs does not stop with Adam.  In Genesis 18:17-33 the interactive and involved Yhwh includes Abraham in his intimate thoughts and his deliberation concerning the grievous sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Yhwh’s authority as judge of all the earth (v 25) is abated by his decision to not hide from Abraham his destructive intent (v 17), but collaborate face to face with the patriarch.  This characterisation of God as both intimate and relational with humankind, whilst simultaneously being the ultimate judge, interplay throughout Genesis.  Genesis 3 contains the account of Adam and Eve’s temptation by the serpent and the consequences of which render Yhwh imminent once more.  In Genesis 3:8-9, God’s afternoon stroll is disturbed by the unusual absence of Adam and Eve.  At this point, Yhwh is illustrated as investigator and judge, where inquiry leads him to judge and punish the three culprits, Adam, Eve and the serpent.[13] Yhwh’s all-powerful authority is clearly portrayed to the disobedient characters, however, L’s explanation does not end the narrative with God as judge and condemner. Rather, despite exiling the first humans from their garden sanctuary, God, like a father graciously clothes Adam and Eve (v 21), generously helps Eve birth Cain (4:1-2), and in his mercy protects the murderer Cain in his exile (4:15).  Yhwh proves to be both ‘shield of protection’ and ‘very great reward’ to the characters of Genesis, just as he self-identified when he appeared in a vision to Abram in Genesis 15:1.

 

Adonai, the elusive God

The three visitors to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre recorded in Genesis 18:1-15, describe God’s manifest presence to be somewhat mysterious and elusive.   In this story, Abraham addresses the three strangers and in turn God as Adonai, which is translated as ‘lord’.   Adonai is not exclusively a title for a deity and is often utilised throughout Genesis in the addressing of a superior individual, such as a master.  For example, Jacob addresses Esau as Adonai in Genesis 33:8 in their reconciliation dealings.  The emphasis of the aforementioned passage concerning Abraham, revolves around the identity of the visitors and their intention.[14]  Genesis 18:1 reveals that the passage is a theophany, however, Yhwh is represented as three and the dialogue in the narrative vacillates between a singular and a plural Yhwh.  In this narrative, Yhwh is clearly depicted as a man or men who are walking, talking, eating, and enjoying Abraham’s hospitality, all the while remaining unidentified.  The three visitors appear to talk as one until Yhwh is unveiled by the supernatural nature of the promise in verse 10 where he states, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”  Brown captures this stating, “The narrative gradually builds to an unveiling of the divine identity from “three men,” to “one” to Yhwh”.[15]  The intent of the ambiguous visitors is revealed, the delivery of the promise, a son for the aging Abraham and barren Sarah. Yhwh is revealed as a prophetic voice and a broker of the miraculous.  The portrayal of Yhwh as the three visitors in Genesis 18 contrasts with Abraham’s other visions, words and theophanies recorded in Genesis 12, 15, 17, 19, and 22.  Despite the differing context or manifestation, however, Yhwh’s promises provide reassurance of his covenant on each occasion.  Yhwh is revealed to be unmistakably without equal, however, in Genesis 18:1-18 appears casually, unannounced, and without formally revealing his authority, hence the label Adonai from the unsuspecting Abraham.  Despite the humanness of God and his unspectacular manifestation, his promise supersedes Abraham and Sarah’s unbelief, altering their future, and further revealing Yhwh as a covenantal, involved, and concerned God.   

 

Laying the foundations for Monotheism

The God of Genesis is afforded a diverse range of names and representations.  This may indicate an attempt by the redactor to convey and establish a monotheistic Israelite theology.[16]  Monotheism, the belief that only one God exists, is not specifically stated throughout the Genesis story.[17]   As previously mentioned, it is evident that the numerous characteristics of God reveal him to be multifaceted in nature and definition, including a cosmic creator, a practical gardener, a caring father, an obscure three in one stranger, and a divine covenant keeper.   Given the differing names and explanations for God in Genesis, it could be considered that the God of Israel is not one but many indicating Polytheistic Jewish origins.  Furthermore, P’s name for God in Genesis 1, Elohim, is derived from El, the chief God in the Canaanite pantheon.  The multiplicity of God’s name and character is prominent in Genesis 14:18. Abram, on his return from victory over the five Kings meets Melchizedek, the King of Salem and Priest of El Elyon.  Melchizedek blesses Abram in the name of his god, El Elyon, who like Elohim and Yhwh also holds the title of creator of heaven and earth.  It appears in this interaction that Abram is comfortable to amalgamate Yhwh with Melchizedek’s God, when he abruptly states to the seemingly manipulative King of Sodom that he has sworn an oath to Yhwh El Elyon.  This may suggest that Abram’s allegiance to Yhwh is not subdued by his acknowledgment of El Elyon.  The redactor may be indicating that Israel’s one true God and creator can possibly be understood by many names, including foreign designations.  Whilst not explicitly stated, the theology of Genesis does appear to align to monotheism as opposed to monolatry, an exclusive and Israelite only God among many other gods.[18]  The many names and characterisations of God in Genesis, rather than imply polytheism or monolatry, may instead be a product of an intricate procedure to shape an Israelite identity and nation, promoting a theology of a singular God who is above all nations and has many names and forms.

Despite the apparent theological polytheism, the Genesis redactor appears to be constructing the foundations for a monotheistic God. The redactors ambition does not appear to be construct a monolatry for Israel. This can be evidenced by the inclusion of many foreign characters such as Melchizedek in the plot of Genesis. Inclusivity not exclusivity is a character trait of Yhwh. In Genesis 16:7, Hagar, the runaway slave is graciously encountered by Yhwh’s messenger beside the road to Shur and the son in her womb is promised to be a great nation. Likewise, Yhwh appears in Abimelek’s dream in Genesis 20:3 to warn him of Abraham’s deceit in the sister-wife incident. Genesis presents a belief in one true God not only for Israel but for all peoples and nations.[19]  The God of Genesis is depicted in a wide range of names and forms that do not explicitly outline a monotheistic Israelite theology or communicate allegiance to a single deity. However, the God of Genesis is Creator of heaven and earth, his dominion is cosmic, what he says happens, foreigners are included in his care and concern and Israelite worship is exclusive.[20]

 

Conclusion: All-powerful yet personal God

The God of Genesis is known by differing names such as Elohim and Yhwh and according to the text is characterised in a multifaceted manner. God is portrayed as both king and landscaper, transcendent and imminent. God commands from on high and also comes down to eat and wrestle like a human being. God is both elusive and near, he is depicted as all powerful while also portrayed to the reader as a concerned protector and gracious judge. The significance of God’s multiple names and descriptions could be suggested that the redactor’s intention in Genesis is to introduce the all-powerful cosmic Creator to the Israelite people as a God who is also eager to be known in a meaningful and personal way. In addition the text  suggests that the monotheistic God is God of all nations. This essay has not been exhaustive in its approach to the names and characteristics of God in the Genesis text. The names mentioned along with El Olam (21:33) and Yhwh Jireh (22:14) could be explored further for their significance. In addition, place names involving the appearance of God like Bethel (28:19), Peniel (32:30) and Jacob’s new name, Israel (32:28) contain further opportunity to understand the nature of the God of Genesis.

Bibliography

Arnold, Bill T. Genesis. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Brodie, Thomas L. Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Brown, William. “Manifest Diversity: The Presence of God in Genesis.” In Genesis and Christian Theology, edited by N. McDonald et al, 3-25. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012.

Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis. Louisville: John Knox Press, 2010.

Carr, David M. An introduction to the Old Testament. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2010.

Clements, Ron. “Monotheism and the God of Many Names.” In The God of Israel, edited by                                                  Robert Gordon, 47-59. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Knafl, Anne Katherine. Forming God: Divine Anthropomorphism in the Pentateuch. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2014.

[1] Thomas L. Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 35.

[2] David M. Carr, An introduction to the Old Testament (Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2010), 195.

[3] Anne Katherine Knafl, Forming God: Divine Anthropomorphism in the Pentateuch. (Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2014), 47.

[4] William, Brown, “Manifest Diversity: The Presence of God in Genesis.” In Genesis and Christian Theology, edited by N. McDonald et al, 3-25 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 22.

[5] Bill T. Arnold, Genesis (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 167.

[6] Brown, “Manifest Diversity: The Presence of God in Genesis,” 22.

[7] Knafl, Forming God: Divine Anthropomorphism in the Pentateuch, 62.

[8] Carr, An introduction to the Old Testament, 189.

[9] Brown, “Manifest Diversity: The Presence of God in Genesis,” 23.

[10] Brown, “Manifest Diversity: The Presence of God in Genesis,” 24.

[11] Brown, “Manifest Diversity: The Presence of God in Genesis,” 23.

[12] Knafl, Forming God: Divine Anthropomorphism in the Pentateuch, 52.

[13] Brown, “Manifest Diversity: The Presence of God in Genesis,” 24.

[14] Walter Brueggemann, Genesis (Louisville: John Knox Press, 2010), 157.

[15] Brown, “Manifest Diversity: The Presence of God in Genesis,” 9.

[16] Knafl, Forming God: Divine Anthropomorphism in the Pentateuch, 51.

[17] Ron Clements, “Monotheism and the God of Many Names.” In The God of Israel, edited by Robert Gordon, 47-59 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 48.

[18] Clements, Monotheism and the God of Many Names,” 52.

[19] Clements, “Monotheism and the God of Many Names,” 56.

[20] Arnold, Genesis, 218.

The connection between sin and death in Genesis 2-3

The connection between sin and death in Genesis 2-3

This essay suggests that Genesis 2-3 is not saying what we often assume. The narrative of Genesis 2-3 is often understood as a catastrophic fall account where Adam and Eve’s sin result in a loss of immortality and subsequent physical death for all humankind. However, the story does not mention sin let alone original sin, accentuate a fall, or understand God’s Genesis 2:17 death punishment as literal physical death.

The narrative of Genesis 2-3 details the story of God creating a perfectly ordered world, which included Adam, and his union to Eve.  The story describes how Adam and Eve are deceived by a serpent and subsequently reprimanded by God, a punishment that results in their banishment from the Garden of Eden.  Often identified as the ‘fall account,’ Genesis 2-3 are thought to accentuate the connection between sin and death.  A common deduction made concerning this connection is that disobedience of Adam and Eve resulted in their loss of immortality and ensuing physical death.  This essay will attempt to examine the relationship between sin and death, while concurrently providing a rationale for the sermon presentation piece that addressed the connection.

 

THE ASSUMPTION OF LITERAL DEATH

The command from God refrain from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis 2:17 is ascribed the consequence of ‘certain death’.  The text is not explicit concerning the common assumption that Adam and Eve’s sin assigned them to mortality and literal death.  However, the relationship between the pre and post sin state of humans appears more ambiguous than assumed.[1] The inevitability of physical death appears to be an accepted certainty of human existence from the beginning.  God formed Adam from the dust and the dust is also his final destination.[2]   God also named the first man, adama, meaning earth.  The connection between humans and the land beginning with the first person is a continual theme in Genesis. The redactor appears eager to remind the exiles of their connection to the land. This ongoing theme introduced in Genesis 2-3, that humans are created from the earth, to cultivate the earth, and finally return to the earth,[3] may suggest that despite the warning from God of certain death should his command be broken, Adam and Eve’s sentence may not be physical death as a returning to the earth had previously been recognised as their final destination.[4] 

 

SIN RESULTS IN THE DEATH OF SEPERATION FROM GOD

Rather than the consequences of sin resulting in physical death, Genesis 2-3 may illuminate the association of sin with an alternative concept of death, namely separation from God.[5] Expanding further, separation from God is the demise of the intimate relationship between the creator and his created at the intrinsic level of the heart or the soul, rather than the body.[6]  Inter-testament Jewish literatures’ response to Genesis 2-3 appears comfortable holding the notion of death in a multi-perspectival way.[7]  The point of humanity’s deviation from God commences in Genesis 3:1-5.  The serpent appeals to Eve’s independence, casting doubt on God’s motive for commanding they refrain from eating from the tree and rejecting the notion that they would certainly die.  While the first humans reside in intimate proximity to God, they lack knowledge, the acquisition of which Eve perceives as an attractive prospect.  The serpents appeal to eat from the tree offers Eve the one thing she doesn’t have.[8]  The forbidden tree, however, while increasing knowledge, does not further the bond with God but causes alienation from him.[9]  The narrative implies that taking responsibility for good and evil does not result in immediate physical death but rather a divorce from God and banishment from his presence.[10] This separation as a notion of death is further illustrated in Genesis 4. Cain appeals to God concerning his sin punishment, equating his exile from God’s presence and the land to death.[11]  The redactor is a forthright in suggesting to Israelite exiles the connection between disobedience and the curse of toil as well as the punishment of exile.[12]

 

HUMAN FALLIABILITY ENSURES WE ALL COMMIT AN ORIGINAL SIN

As can be seen, the connection between sin and death can be interpreted as an association between human fallibility and banishment from God’s presence.  While Genesis 2-3 does not use the word sin, it first occurs in Genesis 4:7, it is implied due to the disobedience to God’s command.  Arnold summarises the purpose of Genesis 2-3 to be, “an explanation of the common experience of all humans in alienation, guilt and death.”[13]  The nature of humanity possesses a proclivity for error that subsequently results in separation from God, culpability, and predictably death.  This same tendency is witnessed in Adam and Eve, they appear as ordinary mortals and the template of humankind.[14]  This approach to the text reduces the likelihood of interpreting Genesis 2-3 as a catastrophic fall that subsequently cursed all humankind.  Importantly, the human proclivity for wrongdoing does not mitigate the reality of the consequences that ensue.  God judge’s the serpent, the woman and the man in Genesis 3:14-19 with punishments including male dominion, painful toil, painful childbearing, and exile from the garden.  Despite the penalising, God extends mercy and offers protection.  Genesis 2-3 reveals that estrangement from the creator may alter the relational intimacy and proximity to God, but it does not void the relationship.  For example, God covers Adam and Eve with garments of animal skin (Genesis 3:21).  While guilt is evident, grace is extended by God.[15]  The redactor reassures the audience of God’s continual association with his created humans despite their independence and fallibility.

 

The Genesis 2-3 connection between sin and death may pertain to more than the loss of immortality and subsequent physical death because of sin.  The relationship between sin and death may be better understood utilising an alternative notion of death, namely relational separation from God.  A deeper exploration of Adam and Eve’s error could possibly deepen the understanding of the concept of sin.  Furthermore, analysis of Apostle Paul’s writings on sin, Adam, and immortality (Rom 5:12-21, 1 Cor 15:12-58) may further illuminate the connection between sin and death, specifically while considering sin as separation from God rather than literal death and immortality as possible through Jesus, as opposed to the assumed state of humans prior to Genesis 3.

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Arnold, Bill T. Genesis. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. “Creation and Fall.” In The Bonhoeffer Reader, by Clifford Green, & Michael DeJonge, 210-260. Minnieapolis: Fortress Press, 2013.

Brodie, Thomas L. Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis. Louisville: John Knox Press, 2010.

Carr, David M, and David M Carr. An Introduction to the Old Testament. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2010.

Schmid, Konrad. “Loss of Immortality? Hermeneutical Aspects of Genesis 2–3 and its early receptions.” In Beyond Eden: The Biblical Story of Paradise (Genesis 2–3) and its Reception History, by Konrad Schmid, & Christoph Riedweg, 58-78. Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.

[1] Konrad Schmid, “Loss of Immortality? Hermeneutical Aspects of Genesis 2–3 and its early receptions.” In Beyond Eden: The Biblical Story of Paradise (Genesis 2–3) and its Reception History, by Konrad Schmid, & Christoph Riedweg (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 60.

[2] Schmid, “Loss of Immortality?”, 64.

[3] Bill T. Arnold, Genesis (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 58.

[4] Schmid, “Loss of Immortality?”, 62.

[5] Thomas L. Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 140.

[6] Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue, 140.

[7] Schmid, “Loss of Immortality?”, 68.

[8] Schmid, “Loss of Immortality?”, 61.

[9] Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue, 140.

[10] Schmid, “Loss of Immortality?”, 61.

[11] Walter Brueggemann, Genesis (Louisville: John Knox Press, 2010), 62.

[12] David M. Carr and David M. Carr. An Introduction to the Old Testament (Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2010), 191.

[13] Arnold, Genesis, 73.

[14] Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue, 145.

[15] Brueggemann, Genesis, 60.

‘Four Gospels, one Jesus.’

‘Four Gospels, one Jesus.’

This short essay discusses the variations in the unique biographies of Jesus as written by the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

John described Jesus in his gospel as, “…the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  If this Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the one and only Son of God and the four canonical gospels document His story, then it can be posited that one may possess significant information and understanding concerning who Jesus was, the events of His life, and the content of His spoken message. The four gospels can therefore be understood as four accounts or biographies of Jesus’ good news message according to differing preachers.  After many decades of spreading Jesus’ gospel message through the world, the four authors recorded their gospels between approximately 45CE and 95CE.  Like any biographer, the evangelists each selected certain facts to include in their writings while intentionally omitting others.  Each author seeks to portray his point in such a way that it best captures and reflects Jesus and the message of the good news, resulting not in an incomplete gospel but a deliberately tailored narrative of Jesus’ life.[1]

This paper will discuss that a key reason for the differences between the four gospels is that each of the evangelists intended to record their own unique “gospel”.  In Romans 16:25, Paul describes his dedication to disseminating the message of Jesus, referring to it as “my gospel”.  Similarly, the evangelists took the responsibility to report the life of Jesus and his key message from four different vantage points.[2] Subsequently, their perspectives on Jesus and his message varied because they each knew their teacher differently.[3]  This paper will also show how the Greco-Roman biographical genre of the time contributed to the differences between the gospels and that concern regarding the historical accuracy of the gospels should be considered not alarming or limiting to the message of their central character, Jesus.  Finally, this paper will also show how the Synoptic Problem, which is the uncertainty concerning which source each gospel was dependent may not be a problem at all utilising Streeter’s four-source hypothesis, which promotes the uniqueness of each of the synoptics apart from the self-evident uniqueness of the Gospel of John.

 

My Gospel: Taking responsibility to record the person of Jesus Christ and his message.

The gospel can be defined as the good news or the good message and is derived from the Greek word euaggelion, which is used in the first verse of the gospel of Mark. Euaggelion is one of three words underpinning the English word evangelism.  The additional two words include euaggelizo, meaning the ministry of announcing the good news, and euanggelistes, meaning the messenger.  Jesus, the Great Evangelist, spent more than three years of ministry as the messenger of the message, which is the good news of salvation for all through faith.  He then died on the cross as the atoning sacrifice and final instalment of the gospel.  The four evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are evangelists who are modelled on the Great Evangelist, their saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ.

There is only one Jesus and one gospel message, the principia evangelii[4] found in the four gospels.[5]  Understanding the gospels as the principia evangelii however does not satisfy complaints concerning the gospel differences.  This is found in the “my gospel” intention of the four evangelists and their use of “spotlighting”[6] or utilising emphasis as a tool to highlight in their gospel account what they believed to be most important in revealing the messenger and his message. When being interview Licona explains spotlighting in the resurrection narratives,  

In Matthew and Mark, there is one angel who is mentioned at the tomb. In Luke and John, you have two. Could it be that Mark, followed by Matthew, is shining his literary spotlight on the angel who’s announcing that Jesus has been raised, even though they know of another angel who was present? Some scholars would say that Luke and John embellished the story by adding a second angel. But embellishment is certainly not a tendency of Luke. Spotlighting was a common practice and explains the difference better, in my opinion.[7]

Mark’s “my gospel” commences as an overtly evangelistic heralding of Jesus as the messenger and the good news of salvation.  His gospel follows a fast-paced, action packed expose of Jesus miraculous powers.  It was written in common language as his message for all people to meet the common man Jesus who is the Son of God.  Matthew and Luke in recording their own “my gospel”, correct much of the spelling and grammar when utilising Mark as a source.

Matthew’s “my gospel” approach is very Jewish.  He therefore opens his book with the Jewish genealogy from Abraham to Jesus, an addition to Mark’s gospel. Matthew structures his gospel in five long discourses, possibly corresponding to the five books of Moses’ Pentateuch.[8] To fully prove Jesus as the fulfilment of the law and the prophets (Matt 5:17) he constantly quotes Old Testament prophecy throughout his gospel.  An example that is only found in Matthew’s gospel is Judas’ acceptance of 30 pieces of silver (Matt 27:9) fulfilling the Zechariah’s prophesy (although he mistakenly attributes this to Jeremiah), “So they paid me thirty pieces of silver” (Zech 11:12).

Luke’s “my gospel” is clearly outlined in verses one to four of the first chapter.  He describes his gospels as an, “orderly account” of the tradition passed onto him.  Luke’s “my gospel” is positioned to appeal universally to all Gentiles.  An example of this is the Greco-Roman literary styled formal dedication of the book to Theophilus, also found in his other book, Acts.[9]  Luke’s “spotlighting” is slanted to the Gentiles throughout his writings. His genealogy, unlike Matthew’s, goes all the way back to Adam, the father of all humankind.  In Luke 2:32 where he acknowledges Jesus as, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles…”, Luke is the only evangelist to highlight Jesus statements of Elijah and the widow in Zarephath as well as the cleansing of Naaman the Syrian’s leprosy, both miracles which were performed on non-Jews.[10]

John’s “my gospel” account is fantastically different from the other three, while remaining completely agreeable with the truth concerning Jesus and his message.  John begins with a cosmological sermon introducing Jesus as the logos and undoubtedly stating that Jesus is in fact God.  His intention for writing is found in John 20:31, which states “…these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name”.  John does not depend on the other three gospels as a source but is intent on supplementing the synoptics by accentuating his own key theological themes, such as Jesus as the “logos,” the “I am” statements, and the Father-Son relationship between God and Jesus. [11]  John includes none of Jesus’ parables in his gospel; he appears satisfied with their recording in the Synoptics, however, he is not satisfied with the seemingly short length of Jesus ministry found in the synoptics and in turn mentions three Passovers in his own gospel, showing the reader that Jesus ministry occurred over at least three years.

 

Greco-Roman biography encourages the Evangelists to reveal Jesus and promote his message.

The aim of Greco-Roman biography was to reveal the central character by weaving the persons words and actions into the narrative.[12] Licona says, “In the middle of the twentieth century, most New Testament scholars regarded the Gospels as sui generis.[13] Then in 1977, Charles Talbert proposed that the Gospels belong to the genre of Greco-Roman biography, and others made similar proposals in the years that followed… Today, a growing majority of scholars regard the Gospels as Greco-Roman biography”.[14]

Licona explores the writing of Plutarch, a biographer who wrote around the same times as the gospels were being authored. He notes that Plutarch in his own writings explains his desire to portray the life of the character while leaving the detailed description of the characters surrounds to others.[15] Licona states, “Greco-Roman biography was a broad and flexible genre. The biographies often differ from one another so much that scholars often divide the genre into various subsets”.[16] The four evangelists wrote four biographies with the intent of revealing the Jesus Christ. The differences in their biographies can be attributed to this broad and flexible genre. The elasticity of the gospel narratives is not a forgetting of the facts or a reinterpretation of what happened but an embracing of the mode of biography of the day and using it to highlight and promote Jesus’ good news of salvation. The mode fits perfectly with the authors motive spread the message of Jesus. It allowed the four evangelists the freedom to use some of the facts as they saw best to promote the message of the gospel with concern to the Jesus, Gods own Son not concern to recording history perfectly. This can be difficult for us in the modern era with our concern for accurate historical facts.

 

The concern for the historical Jesus

Prior to the eighteen century Christians understood the gospels to be an accurate historical account of the life of Jesus. The obvious problem however was the lack of harmonisation in the four gospel accounts.[17] Some early church fathers like Augustine have gone to great lengths to harmonise these textual inconsistencies. The age of enlightenment brought about a wave of questioning of the historical accuracy of the gospels built on the evidence of their inconsistencies to one another. Crossan uses a research method for interpreting the historicity of the gospels to obtain an accurate historical Jesus. Crossan uses anthropological and sociological methods for interpreting the times of Jesus to explain the Jesus but in so doing leaves little weight in the Jewish traditions of the time as well as leaning on non-canonical sources like the Gospel of Thomas.[18] The intent of scholars like Crossan is to apply an objective method of research to the earliest manuscripts of Christian writings to construct a picture of Jesus that is historically accurate. This construction is to protect the purity of the interpretation in defence of an oft subjective creation of whoever one would like Jesus to be.[19]

A huge proportion of gospel research has focused its energies on revealing this historical Jesus.[20]This approach however is some conflict with the evangelist’s intention to reveal the person and the message of Jesus therefore is to an extent limited in its ability to explain the differences in the gospel narratives. The gospels contain many facts concerning Jesus but are not intended to be historically accurate and the sequence of biography was not meant to produce a detailed work on the life of Jesus.[21] Therefore the Greco-Roman biographical genre empowered the biographer to reveal the personage of the central character, Jesus without the limitations a detailed historical account. In the four evangelist’s writings, we see the freedom to fully embrace “their gospel” and tailor the message for their intended audience in line with their perspective of Jesus.

 

The Synoptic Problem could be a help

The synoptic problem is the challenge of understanding the literary relationships between the three synoptic gospels. In understanding the differences in the intentions of the authors the synoptic problem could a help rather than a problem in understanding the evangelist’s intention to make their gospel message their own. Many hypotheses have been posed for the synoptic problem, one of the earliest being Augustine’s Matthean priority. In the late 18th century Griesbach put forth a “two-gospel hypothesis” stating Mark as dependent on both Matthew and Luke. [22] In more recent times and now and commonly accepted the “two-source hypothesis” asserts Matthew and Luke’s dependence on Mark, which therefore is assumed first authored as well as dependence on “Hypothetical-Q,” suggested to be a source lost in history.

 

All four evangelists are special

In 1924 Streeter outlined a four-source hypothesis to solve the synoptic problem. Streeter builds on the two-source hypothesis adding in “special-Matthew” and “special-Luke” as independent personal sources that these two evangelists drew on in addition to the Gospel of Mark and Hypothetical Q.[23] Streeter’s hypothesis illuminates the unique portion of each gospel, further supporting the idea that each Evangelist took responsibility for their own gospel and did not merely mimic their sources.

Mark as the first biographer of Jesus ministry and miracles relies only on the oral tradition he is privy to as his source and sets out to herald the beginning of the good news. He owns his gospel by the fact he produces it. His concern is to simply produce a ground-breaking text of the good news, it is special because it has become the first written account of the gospel. This said Streeter’s hypothesis assuming Markan priority makes sense as only 3% of Mark’s gospel is unique to Matthew and Luke and proves its writing as the first and source to the next two.    

Matthew and Luke’s gospel are special because they do only redact Mark’s gospel as their key building block but they also ensure their own unique contribution to Jesus and the good news message taken from their own unique encounters with Jesus, perspectives on the gospel message and personal preferences from the oral sources they chose to draw on for their gospel account. The gospel of Matthew contains 20% unique material (special-Matthew or M) and Luke 35% special-Luke or L. We know well that John’s gospel is almost completely unique and therefore very special.

 

Conclusion

Jesus Christ is the one and only Son who came from the Father.  The four gospels are the first books of the New Testament and are the only canonical biographies of the person of Jesus and are some of the earliest written outlines of the good news message.  The four gospels, however, differ in their biographical sequence, accounts of Jesus, and in the details describing the same events.  This paper has attributed the differences in gospel accounts to the respective evangelist’s passion to take responsibility for, “my gospel,” which was their own writing of the good news. In committing to author, the good news each evangelist has taken a unique vantage point on Jesus, highlighting their personal perspective of the gospel message.  The Greco-Roman biography of the time with its flexible narrative, empowered the evangelists to fully reveal their central character.  This subsequently weakened the historical accuracy of the writings.  The paper challenges the concern of those seeking the historical Jesus by the gospel writers embracing of the Greco-Roman genre of the time to tell their unique account.  The historical Jesus vein of theological research has much value and should be explored further to limit the readers risk of creating their own Jesus from the gospels.  The synoptic problem when seen through the lens of the “my gospel” intention of the authors becomes a help to explain the gospel differences.  Although some gospels were dependent on others as sources, each gospel contains significant unique content.  Further exploration should be undertaken to include John’s gospel in this argument, as the Synoptic problem only concerns three gospels. There is and was and will only be one central character to the good news message, Jesus. The four unique gospels provide the understanding to this one Jesus, their differences are what makes each account unique and in turn valuable in shinning more light on the messenger of the message, Jesus, the Son of God.     

 

Footnotes

[1] Andrew Jukes, [The Characteristic Differences of The Four Gospels.] The Differences of The Four Gospels. Considered as Revealing Various Relations of The Lord Jesus Christ (Pickering & Inglis: London, 1965), 3.

[2] Michael Licona, Why Are There Differences in The Gospels?: What We Can Learn from Ancient Biography (Oxford University Press, 2017), 2

[3] William Franke, “Gospel as Personal Knowing: Theological Reflections on Not Just a Literary Genre”, Theology Today 68, no. 4 (2012): 413-423, accessed September 28, 2017, http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.divinity.idm.oclc.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=a6bdda64-dae4-4fb9-b944-04a18290b035%40sessionmgr4008.

[4] The basic teachings of the gospel of salvation.

[5] Martin Hengel, The Four Gospels and The One Gospel of Jesus Christ (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 2000), 10.

[6] Caleb Lindgren, “Why Don’t the Gospel Writers Tell the Same Story?”, Christianity Today, 2017, accessed September 20, 2017, 46. http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.divinity.idm.oclc.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=8e2d887c-4111-4e44-9ca9-3e6d8df75047%40sessionmgr4010.

[7] Caleb Lindgren, “Why Don’t the Gospel Writers Tell the Same Story?”, Christianity Today, 2017, accessed September 20, 2017, 46. http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.divinity.idm.oclc.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=8e2d887c-4111-4e44-9ca9-3e6d8df75047%40sessionmgr4010.

[8] Robert H Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, 3rd ed. (Michigan: Zondervan, 1994), 161.

[9] Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, 206.

[10] Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, 207.

[11] The Gospel of John chapters 14-17.

[12] Licona, Why Are There Differences in The Gospels? 4.

[13] The idea that the gospels are their own unique literary genre.

[14] Licona, Why Are There Differences in The Gospels? 3.

[15] Licona, Why Are There Differences in The Gospels? 4.

[16] Licona, Why Are There Differences in The Gospels? 5.

[17] D. A Carson and Douglas J Moo, An Introduction to The New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1992), 50.

[18] A. E. Harvey, The Historical Jesus. The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant by John Dominic Crossan, The Journal of Theological Studies. Vol. 44, No. 1 (APRIL 1993), 226-228, http://www.jstor.org.divinity.idm.oclc.org/stable/23967105 (accessed 24 September 2017).

[19] John Crossan, “The life of a Mediterranean Jewish peasant, The Christian Century 108, no. 37 (1991) 1194-1200. http://www.christiancentury.org (accessed 26 September 2017).

[20] William, “Gospel as Personal Knowing: Theological Reflections on Not Just a Literary Genre”, 413-423.

[21] Carson and Moo, An Introduction to The New Testament, 53.

[22] Carson and Moo, An Introduction to The New Testament, 31.

[23] B. H. Streeter, The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins (London: Macmillian, 1924) https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/4gospels_streeter/complete.pdf (accessed 1 October 2017).

 

Bibliography

Carson, D. A, and Douglas J Moo. An Introduction to The New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1992.

Crossan, John. D. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1991.

Crossan, John. D. The life of a Mediterranean Jewish peasant, The Christian Century 108, no. 37 (1991) 1194-1200. http://www.christiancentury.org (accessed 26 September 2017).

Franke, William. “Gospel as Personal Knowing: Theological Reflections on Not Just a Literary Genre”. Theology Today 68, no. 4 (2012): 413-423. Accessed September 28, 2017. http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.divinity.idm.oclc.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=a6bdda64-dae4-4fb9-b944-04a18290b035%40sessionmgr4008.

Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of The New Testament. 3rd ed. Michigan: Zondervan, 1994.

Harvey, A. E. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant by John

Dominic, Crossan. The Journal of Theological Studies, 1993. Accessed 24 September 2017.

Hengel, Martin. The Four Gospels and The One Gospel of Jesus Christ. Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 2000.

http://www.jstor.org.divinity.idm.oclc.org/stable/23967105

Jukes, Andrew. [The Characteristic Differences of The Four Gospels.] The Differences of The Four Gospels. Considered as Revealing Various Relations of The Lord Jesus Christ. Pickering & Inglis: London, 1965.

Licona, Michael. Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?: What We Can Learn from Ancient Biography.Oxford University Press, 2017.

Lindgren, Caleb. “Why Don’t the Gospel Writers Tell the Same Story?”. Christianity Today, 2017. Accessed September 20, 2017. http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.divinity.idm.oclc.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=8e2d887c-4111-4e44-9ca9-3e6d8df75047%40sessionmgr4010.

Streeter, B. H., The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins. London: Macmillian, 1924. https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/4gospels_streeter/complete.pdf (accessed 1 October 2017).

Karl Marx and articulating God

Karl Marx and articulating God

This short philosophical essay dives into the atheistic philosophy of Karl Marx, author of the, ‘Communist Manifesto.’ In particular this paper will focus on his beliefs about Christianity derived from his 11 theses penned in response to Ludwig Feuerbach’s book ‘The Essence of Christianity’ (1881).

The 19th century philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach published his magnum opus titled ‘The Essence of Christianity’ in 1881.[1]  This prompted Karl Marx to author eleven theses in response to Feuerbach’ work, which was subsequently published as part one of the ‘The German Ideology.’[2] This essay will analyse Marx’s response to Feuerbach’s writings, namely Marx’s ‘Theses on Feuerbach,’ examining his conceptualisation concerning god.  Specifically, this essay will address Marx’s philosophical inheritance as received from Georg Hegel and Ludwig Feuerbach, before exploring Marx’s critique of religion, which in this context was Christianity that was considered to be the absolute truth and underpinned the Prussian State.[3]  Finally, this essay will attempt to analyse Marx’s idea and expression of god or idol, proposing this to be the ‘enlightened’ individual; the being that is fully aware of their own objective power and free from all class oppression as a result of revolutionary action.

Feuerbach can be understood as a philosophical link between the great German philosopher Georg Hegel and Karl Marx.  Hegelian philosophy emphasised rationality and idealism and maintained the idea that God could be defined and understood as creator, objective, distant, and greater than creation itself.  Whilst the ‘right Hegelians’ took Hegel’s philosophy in a conservative direction, the ‘young Hegelians’, including Feuerbach, explored Hegel’s ideas and developed radical critiques against religion, due to its perceived restriction upon individuals’ freedom and reason.[4]  

In Feuerbach’s analysis of Hegelianism, he denotes it to be speculative theology.[5] In his work, Feuerbach designs a more grounded approach to God, describing him as the product of human projections.  Feuerbach states, “Man is the God of Christianity; Anthropology the mystery of Christian Theology”.[6]  Here he posits that God is the product or consequence of man’s projections, suggesting that God is both man and man- made.  Subsequently, man is Feuerbach’s essence of Christianity.

Marx echoes in part Feuerbach’s reasoning concerning God, suggesting that “religion is inverted consciousness”.[7] Marx in the first thesis, however, criticises Feuerbach for not grasping the significance of human and revolutionary activity.[8]  Marx suggests that Feuerbach remains shackled in contemplation and idealism, the Hegelian mode of abstract thought.  For Marx this only further contributes to the “decomposition of the Hegelian philosophy”.[9] Marx continues to reinforce his position in the third thesis, promoting man as the agent of change.  This language of man-made revolution, change, and praxis is a consistent theme throughout the eleven theses.  Marx aspires to deracinate Hegel’s abstract-God, progress beyond Feuerbach’s projectionist-God, and replace man’s self-made religion with revolution in which “circumstances are changed by men”.[10]

It can be suggested through analysis of these writings that Marx is not what can be described as a negative theologian, the philosopher intent on negating God, as Hegel and Feuerbach may have been.[11]  Marx can be more aptly depicted as a serious atheist, as described by Kojeve who stated, “For the serious atheist God is not”.[12]  Marx directs his focus towards what can be attributed to the human being and does not debate the existence of God as would a negative theologian.  For Marx the idea of atheism was futile as Clarkson captured stating, “In other words, atheism – which asserts the existence of man through the negation of God – becomes an impossibility in the classless society, because that society is the realisation of man as a social being.”[13] 

Marx makes a rare mention of god in his poem “Invocation of One in Despair”, in which he pronounces, “So a god has snatched from me my all, Nothing but revenge is left to me!”.[14]  Although poetic in nature, these lines suggest that Marx’s view of God was as a malevolent being and therefore by default his chosen course will subsequently be revenge against God.  This may be one way in which Marx’s legacy can be interpreted.  Despite this, Marx himself presented less interested in revenge through negation of God, but rather through the criticism of religion, which he perceived to be a blight on the human being.[15]

The sixth and seventh theses deal with what Feuerbach describes as the human essence, defined as “the determination of its being-outside-of-itself”.[16] Whilst Marx agrees with Feuerbach’s resolving of the religious essence into the human essence, he criticises Feuerbach for overlooking that “religious sentiment is itself a social product.”  According to Marx, any conceptualisation of God was entirely man-made and constructed, resulting in Marx’s conclusion that “Man makes religion, religion does not make man”.[17]  

Veres’ proposed that Marx’s goal was in fact the “divinization of the human being”.[18] Whilst Marx upholds the sentiment of god to be a product of man’s own creation, he acknowledges the centrality of religion in assisting humanity’s need to survive, describing it as “the heart of a heartless world”.[19] Marx further explains religion designating it to be man’s “protest against real suffering”, and famously as the ‘opioid’ that kills the pain of life’s reality.[20]

While it is evident that Marx wanted to free humankind from what he perceived to be the restrictions of religion and the inverted consciousness of belief in god, he was also able to acknowledge the value of religion as a stage of humanity’s development.  This suggests that rather than annihilating religion, Marx’s foremost desire is to separate man from it. Veres’ idea of Marx as a militant atheist beset on slaying religion could possibly be biased due to his examination of Marx retrospectively through the lens of modern Marxism.

It appears for Marx that God was addressed swiftly through his early poetry and it was religion upon which he focused his concern.  This was due to the perception that the religious burden upon humankind was appropriate at a certain historical stage and necessary for the development of people groups, but had to be superseded by communism. This was Marx’s great solution to the human condition.[21]  

The final thesis composed by Marx can be interpreted as the crux of all eleven theses, which states, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it”.[22]  As discussed, Marx affirmed Feuerbach’s idea of God to be man’s projection of his own divine-like virtues.  In this final thesis, Marx depicts Feuerbach, Hegel and all his predecessors to be as interpreters, while he himself as more similar to a liberator, redeeming the human being through the means of revolution.  If Marx ever did envisage a god or being to be idolised it was that of which he viewed himself as; the enlightened individual who did not look to an outside source such as god for direction or strength, but was free from conditions of worth, fully aware of one’s own objective power and enabled to evoke change through a revolutionary consciousness.  This, Marx believed, would result in a person positioned to pursue the greatest good, that of absolute equality.

Marx proposes that for the individual to change history, he must be free not only from the shackles of guilt and self-degradation imposed by religion, but also free from the oppression of the bourgeois, the class of capitalist owners of production.[23] Marx states, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” and his adamant response to this class struggle was revolution.[24]  Most of Marx eleven theses mention the necessity of revolutionary practice and the importance of practical activity.  Given Marx’s emphasis on action, he presents as underwhelmed with Feuerbach’s emphasis on contemplation.  In thesis one, Marx specifically critiques contemplation as the “defect of materialism”.[25]  He further states that it lacks, “sensuous human activity, practice”.[26]  

Marx believed history must be reinterpreted based on production and economics, which started with addressing the alienation of man (Loy p.10).  Marx concurs with Feuerbach that religion has alienated man and applies this same idea to the alienation of man from his product. Volf describes this stating,  

“in alienated societies the products of human activity acquire an independent existence and rule their creators. Essentially, Marx’ critique of alienation is the critique of people’s dependence on their own creation which is based on Marx’ belief that human beings are their own highest beings.”[27]

This highest being, the enlightened man, must unite with a revolutionary movement of proletarians, including labourers, slaves, plebeians, and the working class.  The Communist confession of faith details the rationale for necessary revolutionary action.[28]  It is Marx’s profession of the individual as god, in which faith is in the proletariat’s ability to act in revolutionizing society and unshackling all people from the constraints of labour.  Marx descriptively declares, “Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win”.[29]

Karl Marx presents as a true Atheist.  He largely rejected the Hegelian influenced approach of god adopted by Feuerbach, opting to focus on the freedom of humanity from their alienating religion and charting a course of activity and change that would lead to the liberation of the individual.  Marx was dogmatic concerning the necessity of the enlightened man, which can be viewed as Marx’ god or idol, and Communism his belief system.  

 

 

Footnotes

[1] Feuerbach, Ludwig, and G Eliot. The essence of Christianity. (Buffalo, N.Y: Prometheus Books, 1989).

[2] Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, C J Arthur. The German Ideology. (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1974).

[3] Horii, Mitsutoshi. “Contextulaizing “religion” of young Karl Marx: A preliminary analysis.” (Critical Research on Religion , 2017), 170-187.

[4] Redding, Paul. “Georg Wilhelm Friedrick Hegel.” (The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, by Paul Redding. Santa Clara: Metaphyscis Research Lab, Stanford University, 2018).

[5] Feuerbach and Eliot. The essence of Christianity.

[6] Feuerbach and Eliot. The essence of Christianity, 336.

[7] Marx, Karl, and Joseph O’Malley. Critique of Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right’. (1970).

[8] Marx, Karl, and Fredrick Engels, “Karl Marx, ‘Theses on Feuerbach’.” (Marx/Engels Selected Works, 13-15. Moscow, USSR: Progress Publishers, 1969).

[9] Marx and Engels. The German Ideology.

[10] Marx, and Engels, “Karl Marx, ‘Theses on Feuerbach’.”

[11] Turner, Denys. “How to be an Atheist.” (New Blackfriars, 2002), 317-335.

[12] Kojeve, Alexandre, and Jeff Love (Eds.). Atheism. (New York, USA: Columbia University Press, 2018), 11.

 

[13] Clarkson, Kathleen, and, David Hawkin. “Marx on Religion: The Influence of Bruno Bauer and Ludwig Feuerbach on his thought and its implications for the Christian-Marxist dialogue.” (Scotland Journal of Theology, 1978), 533-555.

[14] Marx, Karl. Marxists Internet Archive. n.d. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1837-pre/verse/verse11.htm (accessed September 6, 2019).

[15] Marx, and O’Malley. Critique of Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right’.

[16] Gooch, Todd, and Edward Zalta (ed.). “Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach.” (The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Santa Clara: Stanford Univeristy, 2016).

[17] Marx, and O’Malley. Critique of Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right’.

[18] Veres, Tomo. “The ambivalence of Marx’s atheism.” (Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Summer 1985), 549-560.

[19] Marx, and O’Malley. Critique of Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right’.

[20] Marx, and O’Malley. Critique of Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right’.

[21] Marx, Karl, and Engels, Friedrich. The Communist Manifesto. (London, UK: Penguin Books, 2002).

[22] Marx, and Engels, “Karl Marx, ‘Theses on Feuerbach’.”

[23] Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto.

[24] Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto.

[25] Marx, and Engels, “Karl Marx, ‘Theses on Feuerbach’.”

[26] Marx, and Engels, “Karl Marx, ‘Theses on Feuerbach’.”

[27] Volf, Miroslav. “God, Freedom and Grace: Reflections on the Essentiality of Atheism for Marx and Marxism.” (Biblijsko-teoloski Institut, 1989), 213-229.

[28] Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto.

[29] Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto.

 

 

References

Clarkson, Kathleen, and, David Hawkin. “Marx on Religion: The Influence of Bruno Bauer and Ludwig Feuerbach on his thought and its implications for the Christian-Marxist dialogue.” Scotland Journal of Theology, 1978.

Feuerbach, Ludwig, and G Eliot. The essence of Christianity. Buffalo, N.Y: Prometheus Books, 1989.

Gooch, Todd, and Edward Zalta (ed.). “Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Santa Clara: Stanford Univeristy, 2016.

Horii, Mitsutoshi. “Contextulaizing “religion” of young Karl Marx: A preliminary analysis .” Critical Research on Religion , 2017.

Kojeve, Alexandre, and Jeff Love (Eds.). Atheism. New York, USA: Columbia University Press, 2018.

Marx, Karl. Marxists Internet Archive. n.d. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1837-pre/verse/verse11.htm (accessed September 6, 2019).

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto. London, UK: Penguin Books, 2002.

Marx Karl, Friedrich Engels, C J Arthur. The German Ideology. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1974.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. “Karl Marx, ‘Theses on Feuerbach’.” In Marx/Engels Selected Works, 13-15. Moscow, USSR: Progress Publishers, 1969.

Marx, Karl, and Joseph O’Malley. Critique of Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right’. 1970.

Redding, Paul. “Georg Wilhelm Friedrick Hegel.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, by Paul Redding. Santa Clara: Metaphyscis Research Lab, Stanford University, 2018.

Turner, Denys. “How to be an Atheist.” New Blackfriars, 2002.

Veres, Tomo. “The ambivalence of Marx’s atheism.” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Summer 1985.

Volf, Miroslav. “God, Freedom and Grace: Reflections on the Essentiality of Atheism for Marx and Marxism.” Biblijsko-teoloski Institut, 1989.