Category Archives: Baruch

Bibledex – Baruch

Another fine entry. Baruch, especially the 3rd and 4th chapters, are especially important in early Christological debates.

God did not choose them, or give them the way to knowledge; so they perished because they had no wisdom, they perished through their folly. Who has gone up into heaven, and taken her, and brought her down from the clouds? Who has gone over the sea, and found her, and will buy her for pure gold? No one knows the way to her, or is concerned about the path to her.

But the one who knows all things knows her, he found her by his understanding. The one who prepared the earth for all time filled it with four-footed creatures; the one who sends forth the light, and it goes; he called it, and it obeyed him, trembling; the stars shone in their watches, and were glad; he called them, and they said, “Here we are!” They shone with gladness for him who made them. This is our God; no other can be compared to him. He found the whole way to knowledge, and gave her to his servant Jacob and to Israel, whom he loved. Afterward she appeared on earth and lived with humankind. (Bar 3:27-37 NRSV)

From Hippolytus,

5. But what is meant, says he, in the other passage: “This is God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him?”7 That said he rightly. For in comparison of the Father who shall be accounted of? But he says: “This is our God; there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him. He hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved.” He saith well. For who is Jacob His servant, Israel His beloved, but He of whom He crieth, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him?”8 Having received, then, all knowledge from the Father, the perfect Israel, the true Jacob, afterward did show Himself upon earth, and conversed with men. And who, again, is meant by Israel9 but a man who sees God? and there is no one who sees God except the Son alone, the perfect man who alone declares the will of the Father. For John also says, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared10 Him.”11 And again: “He who came down from heaven testifieth what He hath heard and seen.”12 This, then, is He to whom the Father hath given all knowledge, who did show Himself upon earth, and conversed with men.

Psalms of Solomon, Psalm 11 – Analysis

Psalm 11 – Pertaining to Salomon. Regarding Expectation.

Nickelsburg does not see a reference to a Davidic King in this Psalm[1], roundly missing the first and the sixth verse in which we have a reference first the Elijah anti-type and then to Psalm 5.19, where a personified Glory is said to be the King of Israel. We find that the δόξης θεοῦ αὐτῶν presents an image of Exodus 33.20-23 in which Yahweh is said to allow Moses only to see his glory. Here, that same Glory will be God’s visitation to Jerusalem, which is given instructions mimicking that of a bride who is preparing herself (v7) for her groom. In the first verse, we see a commendation to φωνὴν εὐαγγελιζομένου, a hallmark of Messianic Expectation[2] during this era[3]. Coupled with a reference back to Psalm 5.19, the superscription makes sense then, in that this Psalm pertains strictly to the expectation of the Son of David, Solomon.

This Psalm is also about the gathering of the tribes of Israel from the Diaspora, finding a parallel in Baruch 4.36-5.9. Both passages speak of the gathering of the lost tribes, the garments of Jerusalem, ordering Jerusalem to the high place to watch for her children returning and the leveling of the mountains. Further, Baruch also mentions the τοῦ θεοῦ δόξῃ (Bar 4:37) as a divine attribute. For the author of the Psalm, just as the author of this section of Baruch, a divine agent accomplishes the reunion of the sons of Jacob.

Psalms of Solomon 11:1 Of Solomon; in anticipation. Blow in Zion on the trumpet to summon (the) holy ones. Proclaim in Jerusalem the voice of him who brings good news, for God has had pity on Israel in visiting them.

2 Stand on the height, O Jerusalem, and behold your children. From the east and the west, gathered together by the Lord.

3 From the north they come in the gladness of their God. From the isles afar off God has gathered them.

4 High mountains has he abased into a plain for them. The hills fled at their entrance.

5 The woods gave them shelter as they passed by. Every sweet-smelling tree God caused to spring up for them,

6 in order that Israel might pass by in the visitation of the glory of their God.

7 Put on, O Jerusalem, your glorious garments. Make ready your holy robe; for God has spoken good concerning Israel, forever and ever.

8 Let the Lord do what he has spoken concerning Israel and Jerusalem. Let the Lord raise up Israel by his glorious name.

9 The mercy of the Lord be upon Israel forever and ever.

36 Look toward the east, O Jerusalem, and see the joy that is coming to you from God.

37 Look, your children are coming, whom you sent away; they are coming, gathered from east and west, at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing in the glory of God.

NRS Baruch 5:1 Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God.

2 Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God; put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting;

3 for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven.

4 For God will give you evermore the name, “Righteous Peace, Godly Glory.”

5 Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height; look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them.

6 For they went out from you on foot, led away by their enemies; but God will bring them back to you, carried in glory, as on a royal throne.

7 For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.

8 The woods and every fragrant tree have shaded Israel at God’s command.

9 For God will lead Israel with joy, in the light of his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.

(Bar 4:36-9 NRS)


[1] Nickelsburg, 241

[2] See Malachi 3.1 and Mark 1.2-3

[3] Matthew 17.10-12

Patristic Interaction with Logos and Sophia

Continuing our discussion on John’s Prologue (which originally started on the topic of gender in translation, but I have taken the oppurtunity to move into the discussion of Logos and Sophia), we make a brief side step into the Patristic Interaction in which it was a common thought to united Word and Wisdom (Logos and Sophia) into the Incarnation.

Wisdom

Origen, himself a root of heresies, states ‘and they call this Word and Wisdom and the very Power of God’ when speaking about the ‘second substance (ousia)’ (PE VII 12.1.2) (See John 1.1; Wisdom 7.26)

In Alexander’s letter to all the bishops regarding Arius, he calls Christ the Word and Wisdom of God (asking of Arius that if Christ is such, how could there be a time when He did not exist). In the letter, he quotes John 1.1, 3; Ps 45.2 (lxx), 110. 3 (lxx); Wisdom 7.26, Colossians 1.15; ebrews 1.3, and Malachi 3.6 (lxx).

In the creed promulgated at the Council of Serdica, the Western Bishops used Wisdom 7.22 (feminine), connecting it to John 1.3 (neuter, masculine?).

Baruch

In Athanasius’ defense of the Nicene Definition, he quotes Baruch 3.12, allowing him to call Christ Wisdom and Life, connecting it to the Father as source of the Son.

Ambrose (18.222) quoted Baruch 3.37 to promote the idea that Christ did indeed take on human flesh.

I intended for this to be brief because there are more important things to do, and many do not take the Deuterocanon as worth studying – yet, we know from the Christological controversies in the 3rd and 4the century, both Wisdom and Baruch played a part along side of John in defending the deity of Christ. While the defenses were, for the most part solid, it shows us these many years later that the early Church Fathers had no qualms in combining the feminine Sophia (Wisdom) to the masculine Logos (Word.) It further shows us that the wisdom tradition found in the Old Testament was co-opted into the New with the use of Logos.

Why is this important to a conversation started about grammer?

Perhaps, just perhaps, it shows that the Church Fathers regarded the Logos in John’s prologue as an ‘it’, or at the very least, found the feminine compatible with the masculine. For another excellent post, please see here.

From the Bible that is rarely read: Sirach 24:1-12

Wisdom shall praise herself, and shall glory in the midst of her people. In the congregation of the most High shall she open her mouth, and triumph before his power. I came out of the mouth of the most High, and covered the earth as a cloud. I dwelt in high places, and my throne is in a cloudy pillar. I alone compassed the circuit of heaven, and walked in the bottom of the deep. In the waves of the sea and in all the earth, and in every people and nation, I got a possession. With all these I sought rest: and in whose inheritance shall I abide? So the Creator of all things gave me a commandment, and he that made me caused my tabernacle to rest, and said, Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thine inheritance in Israel. He created me from the beginning before the world, and I shall never fail. In the holy tabernacle I served before him; and so was I established in Sion. Likewise in the beloved city he gave me rest, and in Jerusalem was my power. And I took root in an honourable people, even in the portion of the Lord’s inheritance.
(Sir 24:1-12 KJVA)

One of the first things that must be stated is that in Greek, the word sophia is feminine gender; therefore in many translations, all pronouns are translated in the feminine. We can understand this as a primitive way of expressing the economy, as the (not so) lesser Emanation from the One Source. Or, we may dismiss the gender in the translation and simply replace ‘she’ with ‘it’.

Just as in Baruch, Sirach speaks prophetically of the Incarnation of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Here, instead of the Logos of John, we see the Sophia of the Deuterocanon. Here, as a Word would be described, we see Wisdom coming out of the mouth of the Most High God.

and covered the earth as a cloud

She is pictured here as the creating Force, the channel by which Creation took place. Here also is a remembrance of Genesis 1.2,

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.
(Gen 1:2 RSVA)

The earth was covered with water until the great continents separated it and formed the Land. If we compare Sirach with Genesis, we see that the writer sees Wisdom as the same attribute as the Spirit of God.

Creator of all things gave me a commandment, and he that made me caused my tabernacle to rest, and said, Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thine inheritance in Israel.

Instantly is seen a prophecy of the Incarnation when the Word tabernacled with man. In John 1:14, the same word, σκηνόω, is used to describe the Incarnation (Latin, in the flesh) We see here the command, the moment in time when the generation of the Son, or the Emanation of the Word as the Economy of God, took place. Here, God the Father – meaning Creator, as the Apostles and Apologists understood it – sent forth His Wisdom as a Word from the mouth of the Most Hight, to tabernacle with Man, in the flesh.

Likewise in the beloved city he gave me rest, and in Jerusalem was my power.

Here we are reminded of the awful hour of the Cross of our Lord Christ, the moment when in Jerusalem, separated by days from the adoration of the people who shouts ‘Hosanna!’. We also see the prophecy of the power of God that fell up the Church during the Jewish celebration of Pentecost.

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.
(Luk 23:46-47 KJVA)

And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
(Luk 24:49 KJVA)

And I took root in an honourable people, even in the portion of the Lord’s inheritance.

We are often reminded that the Incarnation did not end well to the mortal eye, but upon the Resurrection of our Lord, the teachings and sayings, His Spirit, His Church, took firm hold in the hearts and and minds of the Apostles.

From the Bible that is rarely read: Baruch 3:35-37

This is our God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of him. He hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob his servant, and to Israel his beloved. Afterward did he shew himself upon earth, and conversed with men. (Bar 3:35-37 KJV)

We know that the personification of Wisdom, an emanation from God, was completed in Jesus Christ, the very Incarnation of God the Father, for Paul calls Christ the Wisdom of God. (1st Corinthians 1.24). Until that time, we have but prophecies pointing to the glorious appearing of our Lord God and Saviour. We read of Wisdom lightly in Job and Proverbs in the Common Canon, but Wisdom is expounded upon thoroughly in the Deuterocanonical books of Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch. It is these books that provide a firm Christological foundation not only for the Apostles, but for the Apologists and, yes, even for us. In these books we see a foreshadowing – and for some such as myself, a prophecy – of the economy of God (οκονομαν θεο).

In this passage, we see Wisdom as being they way to the knowledge of God (John 14.6) and this knowledge is given among men. This passage in the Deuterocanonical book was used by both the modalist Noetus and the Trinitarian Thomas of Aquinas to describe the Incarnation.

John Chrysostom says,

It is not then of that we are now to speak, but of this beneath, this which took place on earth, which was amongst ten thousand witnesses. And concerning this again we will relate in such wise as it may be possible for us, having received the grace of the Spirit. For not even this may any one set forth altogether plainly, forasmuch as this too is most awful. Think not, therefore, it is of small things thou art hearing, when thou hearest of this birth, but rouse up thy mind, and straightway tremble, being told that God hath come upon earth. For so marvellous was this, and beyond expectation, that because of these things the very angels formed a choir, and in behalf of the world offered up their praise for them, and the prophets from the first were amazed at this, that “He was seen upon earth, and conversed with men.” (Homily on Mt 2)

In Cyprian’s book ‘Three Testimonies against the Jews’ he quotes this passage, giving it to Jeremiah, when he discusses that Christ is God, applying the pronoun to God, although some modern commentators (Philip Schaff) on the works of the Fathers declare that the Incarnation that is so easily understood by the Apologists to refer to ‘knowledge’. I would tend to agree with the historical and Traditional understanding of this passage would rather disagree with a man many centuries removed correcting the Apostles and Apologists.

Baruch, Jeremiah’s Scribe, spoke about a moment to come when the Word of God, which is the Wisdom of God, would tabernacle with Man, and converse with them. It is the point of Incarnation that Chrysostom spoke so beautifully about, when God came to Man, to make an atonement for the Sin that had plagued Creation since Adam’s Fall.

Further, this passage so rightly illustrates that the Jews were looking for an Incarnation of some type in order for God to converse properly with Humanity once more. The idea that Christianity took centuries to mold the idea of an Incarnation is abated with the mere fact that so many passages, especially those of the so-called Inter-testamental period point to, declare, and insist upon an Incarnation of God with Man.