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American Academy of Religion

Theios Aner in Hellenistic Judaism: A Critique of the Use of This Category in New Testament Christology by Carl H. Holladay Review by: Birger A. Pearson Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 47, No. 2 (Jun., 1979), pp. 332-333 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 06/03/2012 03:24
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Europeans, "even when they had been Christians for several generations" (p. 37). Because the Church Militant was a slave-holding institution on a massive scale, few clerics attacked even the abuses of the slave trade. There were no demands for abolition of slavery. Convinced of white racial, moral, and intellectual superiority, the missionaries in many frontier areas were the mainstay of colonial rule" (p. 75). Assuming that adherents of pagan faiths were inspired by the devil, they actively supported "search and destroy" campaigns "to eradicate pre-Christian beliefs and practices" in the New World (pp. 105-106). "The dedicated missionaries of the Church Militant" were successful in winning many converts, but I am doubtful that "the mere survival of these Christian minorities through the vicissitudes of over three centuries"is reason to suppose the mass of slaves, mullatos, or meztizos in any colony enjoyed a meaningful religious life (p. 121). John F. Stephens St. Mary's College of Maryland

Theios Aner in Hellenistic Judaism: A Critique of the Use of this Category in New Testament Christology (SBL Dissertation Series 40). By Carl H. Holladay. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1977. xiv+284 pages. $7.50 ($5.00). L. C. No. 7720712. As the author candidly states, "this study began as an inquiry into New Testament Christology, but, as sometimes happens, one small detour became the main road" (p. 237). The result of this "detour"is, in fact, a very substantial piece of scholarship in which the works of Josephus, Philo, and Artapanus (the most "syncretistic"of the Jewish apologetic writers)are thoroughly combed for evidence of the use of the "divine man" (theios aner) category in Hellenistic Judaism as possible background for a "theios aner Christology" in early Christianity. The fact that Holladay's conclusions are essentially negative is likely to have a positive effect on discussions of New Testament Christology in that an historically unfounded theological construct ("theios aner Christology") will all the more likely come to its well-deserved demise. The "theios aner hypothesis" (cf. pp. 15-18) assumes that the theios aner was a recognizable figure in the Hellenistic world, noted for such "divine"traits as miracleworking, oracular utterances, rhetorical ability, and the like. It also posits that Diaspora Judaism-as a result of the impact of Hellenization-reinterpreted Biblical heroes such as Moses and the Patriarchs to conform to the theios aner image. Thus the groundwork is laid in the cultural background of Christianity for the rise of a "theios aner Christology," in which Jesus and sometimes the apostles are presented as "divine men" in conformity with this (alleged) existing ideal type. Holladay presents these notions in a very succinct way in his first chapter ("The Theios Aner Debate," pp. 145), and takes up for special investigation the views of those scholars who argue for the appropriation of the "divine man" construct in Hellenistic Judaism. The rest of the book is an exceedingly thorough study of the use of theios aner and related terms and concepts in Josephus (ch. 2, pp. 47-102), Philo (ch. 3, pp. 103-98), and Artapanus (ch. 4, pp. 199-232). Holladay is especially interested in finding out to

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what extent these Jewish writers were willing to "deify"the biblical heroes, and what he finds in the sources is a surprising degree of reserve in this respect. Josephus uses the term theios aner only once, of Moses as lawgiver (Ant. 3.180-Holladay translates the term as "man of God," p. 55). Philo uses it three times, once of a hypothetical case ("Absolute sinlessness belongs to God alone or possibly to a divine man"-- Virt. 177; cf. p.174), and twice in his early De Providentia (2.39 and 2.48) where the two conversants in the dialogue- in good Platonic style-refer to Xenophanes, Parmenides, Empedocles, and other theologians as divini viri/divi homines = theioi andres (cf. pp. 183 f.). The term does not occur at all in Artapanus. In his concluding chapter (pp. 233-42) Holladay summarizes his results and their implications for the study of New Testament Christology. Especially of interest is his observation that the term theios aner, whatever complex of meaning it might have in the Hellenistic world, does not mean "miracle worker" (at least it doesn't in the first century). Hence he is absolutely right in arguing that theios aner is "an unsuitable expression for Christological discussion" (p. 241). This solid book is heartily recommended. Birger A Pearson University of California, Santa Barbara

Gersonides, The Wars of the Lord Treatise Three: On God's Knowledge. A Translation and Commentary by Norbert M. Samuelson. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1977. xii+323 pages. $15. ISBN 0-88844-268-8. Gersonides (Levi ben Gershom, 1288-1344) was a ProvenqalJew whose scholarly and literary interests included astronomy, mathematics, biblical exegesis, and philosophy. In deciding to offer a translation of Gersonides' treatise on divine cognition Professor Samuelson has chosen wisely; this theory is both philosophically interesting and historically important. Gersonides accepted the validity of the dilemma between divine foreknowledge and human freedom and claimed that God has no knowledge of particulars, especially of future contingent events. Yet, although Gersonides clearly opted for human freedom, he did not abandon altogether divine omniscience. The latter notion is redefined as: God knows all that which is knowable; but future contingent events are not knowable. Professor Samuelson's book consists of two parts: a long introduction and a translation with commentary. The introduction provides a detailed analysis of Gersonides' theory of divine cognition and a general account of Gersonides' views on other philosophical matters. The former is most useful, since Gersonides' argumentation is not always transparent; the latter is informative, although it raises several questions. Professor Samuelson imputes to Gersonides several doctrines whose provenance in Gersonides is either dubious or debatable. For example, he attributes to Gersonides a distinction between individuals and particulars, which he claims is expressed in Gersonides' philosophical Hebrew by two conceptually distinct terms. But this is false: Gersonides uses these terms indiscriminately. Sometimes Samuelson suggests that Gersonides advocates a certain theory (e.g., a theory of modal expressions), but he does not indicate where such a theory can be found in Gersonides' writings. Nevertheless, his introduction is quite helpful and philosophically interesting.