伊甸園:死亡與生命樹的政治神學寓意

Related image

古猶太教中,一方面將死亡看作生命的自然終結,一方面又視之為罪惡招致的咒詛,這樣的神學矛盾張力最早可以追溯至創世記前三張關於伊甸園的記載:

吃了知識樹的禁果必定死亡,但即使亞當夏娃吃下去的時候,他們也依然有機會吃下園中「生命樹」的果子而永遠活著。

James Barr (1992)注意到這個問題:是直到上帝將亞當夏娃逐出並封鎖伊甸園,明確為了阻止人類接觸生命樹果而永遠不死後,「必定死」才成為人類生命無法逃避的終局。

N.T. Wright (2003)進一步指出,我們可以區分四種永生不滅:1)亞當夏娃在原初創造下獲得生命樹果賜福的不死不滅;2)人與生俱來存在不滅的部分,如柏拉圖所主張的靈魂永存;3)人在肉身「沈寂睡去」,經過一段居間時期,出於特別的神恩(聖靈)得以甦醒——從頭到尾是同一個人生命的延續。4)永生不滅作為一種描繪復活的狀態,如保羅的觀點。

從這樣看來,伊甸園的寓意,在搭配同屬於摩西五經的申命記之約的應許和警告,就再清楚不過:

#伊甸園的政治神學
摩西將生與死、祝福與詛咒陳明在百姓面前,勸勉以色列人選擇生命。摩西五經定稿於猶太亡國被擄巴比倫的時期,對這些對被擄歸回的猶太人而言,意指讓人選擇在應許之地(伊甸園)的守約生活,而非被擄流亡(被上帝逐出樂園)的羞恥光景。

Related image
來源

但在申命記30章也早應許,表示即使流亡也不會是終局:只要悔改,就能與這位守約施慈愛的神恢復關係,回到應許之地重享靈魂的復甦與安息。

「你和你的子孫若盡心盡性歸向耶和華,…耶和華─你的神必憐恤你,救回你這被擄的子民,…從分散你到的萬民中將你招聚回來。你被趕散的人,就是在天涯的,耶和華─你的神也必從那裡將你招聚回來。」

申命記 30:2-4

這表示在基督教所繼承的古猶太神學中,「生命」與「土地」的祝福、「死亡」與「亡國」咒詛,「復活永生」與「復興」的盼望,都是緊密應和的。

這份信仰既是給此世的政治與社群帶來道德的力量與充權,也以盼望擔保了來生的、靈性的、永恆的實存。 #公共神學

▍參考資料
James Barr, The Garden of Eden and The Hope of Immortality, London:SCM, 1992, ch.1

N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of The Son of God, London:Fortress, 2003, ch.3

[書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine (2001) by Catherine Hezser 希羅時期的巴勒斯坦猶太人識字率

[書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part13_1

[書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part2_1 [書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part3_1 p.21-23

William Harris has been the first to write a monograph on Graeco-Roman literacy from a historical point of view.

He suggests that preconditions for the existence of a large proportion of literate people among the populace are

  1. a wide distribution and easy availability of texts,
  2. an extensive and subsidized school network which offers elementary education free of charge,
  3. an economic need for a large quantity of people able to read and write,
  4. a connection between literacy and social mobility, and
  5. a religious or other ideological motivation for becoming literate.

These conditions were mostly lacking in the ancient world, even at its most advanced stage.

The time when the usage of texts was no longer limited to a few people who derived practical advantages must have taken place by the end of the 4th century B.C.E.  But even from the 4th c. B.C.E. onwards the literacy rate will not have surpassed 10-15 percent of the population.

Though high degree of literacy can be assumed for the urban upper classes, only a few artisans and merchants and even less farmers and rural workers will have possessed that skill. [書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part4_1 p.24

Mary Beard and Richard Gordon: Writing turns a religion into an ideology and helps to maintain the social domination of an elite. Beard agrees with Gordon that the preservation and interpretation of otherwise unintelligible religious traditions could foster the religious leaders’ power.

These considerations  might be applied to the writing down of rabbinic traditions as well.

Alan Bowman: Scholars who believed in a high level of literacy seem to have been misled by their focus on the written remains: the classical ancient world has a literate ‘feel’ to it, for illiterates could participate in it through intermediaries [書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part5_1 [書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part6_1 p.27

a formal elementary school system did not exist at the biblical time; ancient Israelites lived in an « oral world » which made only spare use of writing.

Allen R. Millard (1972): most of the extant texts seem to have been written by professional scribes and fall into the categories of monumental and professional inscriptions;  professional scribes were responsible for the bulk of Hebrew written documents.

c.f.

  • Millard, Allen R., ‘The Question of Israelite Literacy’, Biblical review, 111/3 (1987), pp. 22-31.
  • Millard, Allen R., Readin and Writing in the Time of Jesus, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002.

[書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part7_1

p.31

Menahem Haran (1988): Scholars and educated people, among whom the scribes were included, were probably to be found within a fairly thin layer of the population, the representatives of which underwent long years of study in schools », whereas the majority of the population lacked any such schooling and must be considered entirely illiterate or barely literate with a rudimentary knowledge of letters only.

Susan Niditch (1996): The epigraphic evidence of writing in ancient Israel, such as short texts and letters on ostraca and papyri, shows that writing was used « for circumscribed purposes » only: « The vast majority of texts and letters are pragmatic and brief – military, military-commercial, or commercial in nature ». Texts for military and commercial purposes were commonly written by scribes and may have been read by secretaries only. The types of literacy which some artisans and traders may have possessed and the literacy necessary for the formation of the biblical tradition are different. Israelites live in a world heavily informed by the oral end of the continuum.

[書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part8_1

[書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part9_1

p.34-5

Albert Baumgarten (1997): « Literacy often goes hand in hand with urbanization. »

Jewish sects from Maccabean times until 70 C.E.  can best be compared with members of Graeco-Roman philosophical schools; originated from the literate and urban sectors of society, they considered themselves a chosen elite,  « standing above society » and distinct from the unlearned ‘ ‘people of the land ».

Meir Bar-Ilan (1992) on the illiteracy of the Palestinian rural population in the first centuries C.E: « With increasing urbanization the Jewish literacy rate will have slightly increased, but one must not forget that ancient Jewish society remained an agrarian society.

In some rural towns and settlements the literacy rate will have been below 1%, and some villages may not even have had one single individual who could read.271 Accordingly, « if there were towns with 1% literacy, then the literacy of all the towns was not higher than 5% (at most) ». In cities such as Tiberias the literacy rate may have been double or triple that of the smaller towns, that is, 2-15%. With the illiterate rural population constituting approximately 70% of the total population of Roman Palestine, the 20% of urban population with a literacy rate of 1- 5% and I 0% of highly urban population with a literacy rate of 2-15% will not have changed the overall picture much.

It is no exaggeration to say that the total literacy rate in the Land of Israel at that time (of Jews only, of course), was probably less than 3%« .

[書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part10_1

p.36

[書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part11_1 [書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part12_1

p.44-45

All scholars agree that if girls were educated at all, they were educated at home, by their parents or other relatives. 33 Girls are unlikely to have attended the schools which boys frequented.

Josephus (and and within Talmudic sources), by claiming that the Jewish educational system was successful, that at places where schools existed almost all parents did send their sons to them in Second Temple and rabbinic times, falsely assumes that mnemonic Hebrew knowledge of the Torah could be equalized to literacy.

Louis Ginzberg: that Josephus’ boasting statement concerning Jewish education may have applied to  the cities only, and after the destruction of the Temple and the Bar Kokhba Revolt, primary education were taken up again by Palestinian rabbis in the third century only.

Birger Gerhardsson (1961): only toward the end of the Amoraic period  (circus. 500 C.E.)  was school attendance quite general among the Jews.

S. Safari: The phenomenon of a social stratum with a separate Am Aratzuth (people of lands) consciousness, … , did disappear during the period of the Amoraim (circus (cf. 200-500 C.E.)

[書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part13_1

p.48

The Mishnah, Tosefta, and tannaitic Midrashim (around Jesus era) – just like Josephus and other Jewish writings from Second Temple times- never explicitly mention schools. They only mention parents and (less frequently) individual teachers engaged in instructing children.

[書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part14_1 [書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part15_1

p72-3

ln the elementary school context the Aramaic-speaking pupils seem to have needed to acquire a passive knowledge of Hebrew only.

His father teaches him the Shema (Deut 6), the Torah, and the holy language », does not necessarily imply that the child learned spoken Hebrew. The speaking of Hebrew was probably limited to -the loud reading of the Torah,

The ability to speak Hebrew, which a child acquired in this way, would be very limited nad largely be restricted to the religious realm.

Nathan Morris (1937):  ln Graeco-Roman society, a general education consisted not only of basic reading and writing skills, but also of the ability « to count, weigh, measure and calculate ».178 Morris has emphasized the absence of these subjects from Jewish elementary education, at least in the form in which rabbis discuss it, and considers this absence « the chief characteristic of the Jewish school, distinguishing it both from the contemporary Hellenistic as well as from the modem school ».

—————————

Critical review of Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine by George Snyder on Journal of Biblical Literature (2002):

[書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part16_1

The main result is easily stated: Jewish society in Palestine, in both the early and late imperial periods was characterized by lower literacy and more restricted use of texts
than the Greco-Roman society of which it was a part. Rabbis can certainly be classed as literate intellectuals, though Hezser believes that this intellectual effort took place more
on the oral than on the written level.

While certain hellenized elites in Palestine would have schooled their children broadly, after the Greco-Roman model, education among Palestinian Jews generally was a very spotty affair. Hezser finds very little evidence of systematic attempts to educate children from an early age, and she considers views by an earlier generation of scholars- Aberbach, Safrai, among others-as much too optimistic about the existence of Jewish schools. Even when such education did exist, emphasis was placed on reading the Torah, and this narrowly focused skill would have had less utility for participation in literate society than a more general education that included attention to writing and calculating skills.

[書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part17_1 [書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part18_1 [書摘] Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine_Part19_1

Critical review of Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine by Meir Bar-Ilan

‘Literacy among the Jews in Antiquity’ , Hebrew Studies, 44 (2003), pp. 217-222.

Related Articles:

The Christological/Trinitarian significance of the Jonathan-David union

The Old Testament historical narrative is saturated with analogies and prototypes that shed light to and find their fulfillment only in the Christ event. I am not talking about explicit messianic prophesies, I am talking about narratives in the whole Hebrew Scripture.

If you cannot see this, then either your Christian faith is not « original » (historical and Jewish) enough, or your reading of the Old Testament has not been guided by the Christological lens.

One major theme in the book of First Samuel is the friendship and union between Jonathan, the prince of Israel by Saul’s line, and David, the messianic king anointed by God.

Jonathan loves David as himself, as if they were one. But the king wants to kill David.

David the son of man thus becomes a reprobate. We all know in Barth’s dialectical theology Christ is the only reprobate away from God (in order to bring the world in covenantal relationship with God). It is right to say that God has a reason to kill Jesus Christ.

But then there is Jonathan, the son of king who was with the king. He has all the intention to save David’s life.

David’s exile begins on the New Moon Festival when David was « supposed to sit down and eat with the king » (1 Sam 20:5). David asks Jonathan to let him depart under the pretext (for Saul only) that he has to make the annual sacrifice in his hometown Bethlehem, but in fact he is going to hide in the fields for three days until the third night.

Because the wrath of the King falls upon the Son of  Man, Christ descended to the Hades to make sacrifice for the world, when he was supposed to have a feast together with the King as the anointed One.

Jonathan helps David to flee away. In the fields specifically, there is a rock named Ezel (in Hebrew it means departure, alienation, estrangement, separation; in Turkish this words means ‘eternity‘) behind which David is about to hide until the third days.

The signal Jonathan is to give David consists of shooting three arrows toward/beside the rock and sending a young sidekick to get it back. If his command to the young man is ‘get the arrows on this side of you’, then David is safe to return to the palace for this means the wrath of the king is appeased. But if otherwise, Jonathan is to shout to the young man ‘look, the arrows are far beyond you’, then it is a hint for David to get away right now.

To me, it is very interesting how the person of Jonathan could function as an analogical reference to the Christ event. On the one hand, he is a mediating role between Saul (the King/God) and David (the reprobate/Son of Man).

King Saul really becomes angry when he probes into Jonathan’s intention to save David’s life. He says, « everyday Jesse’s son lives on earth you and your kingship are not secure » (1 Sam 20:30).

This makes it also impossible and meaningless to compare Jonathan with the person of the Holy Spirit. He could only be the King’s Son, who is the eternal Logos, who was with God but came to a mysterious unity with the man Jesus the Messiah.

If we persists in having this analogy in mind as we read the monarchical narrative, we will find out that how Jonathan hollows himself for David is comparable to how the divine Logos empties itself (divine kenosis) for the man Jesus Christ. This is how the covenantal union between the two gets acutalized.

The potential kingship of Jonathan the prince is eventual nullified in order to create space for the hallowing ascension of the anointed Davidic King. The Son of Man ‘becomes’ God on the « third day » and reigns in the Logo’s stead on the « last day ».

This original account (of mine) leaves us two further theo-ontological questions to consider:

  1. Against Barth who thinks « there is no hidden God in abstraction from the revealed God », an ontological ‘randomness’ seems to factored in according to Jonathan’s word in the departure theme. Jonathan is uncertain about his fathers will, as if he could have been either forgiving to David or getting angry at Jonathan’s union with David (and David’s alleged participation in the atoning sacrifice at his birthplace). In my view, this suggests that the both Father’ will and knowledge remain distinct and free from His Son’s will and knowledge. David could have saved the trip (of exile), but then his ascension to kingship would have to be otherwise and the redemption of Israel would be at stake. There is a [logical] hierarchy in the correspondence of personal wills: the King’s, then Jonathan’s and David’s. However, no single person has the total control.
  2. The Logos diminishes (as he gives himself fully to the Man), and the Man increases (as he fuses and receives fully the Logos). In postliberal actualistic ontology, this dialectical event has to be understood as taking place in eternity rather than in temporality. However, man (specifically, the human Jesus) exists only in temporality, while the Logos can be present in both realms. The way actualistic ontology solves this issue is to create a corresponding form of humanity in eternity as the « humanity in anticipation of its historical actualization », which I consider correct and helpful. But if there is any thing analogical to Christology in the fact that Jonathan is still with the King/his father when David is hiding/separated from them and in exile, then it is extra calvinisticum we will get. Extra calvinisticum is horrendous to both Lutherans and many postliberals, because it teaches that the Logos was also outside (literal meaning of the Latin extra) or beyond the physical body of Christ.

    It is hard for me to say, but it seems traditional Calvinistic Christology is more consistent with the biblical narrative.

 

Anyhow, if you can ponder through at least for a moment how the very being and event of God’s own life is conveyed through the revelation of profound analogy and rich narratives to which we are capable to infer, you cannot help conclude that the gay interpretation of the Jonathan-David union is totally misguided and away from the point.