In heaven as it is on earth : the development of the interpreting angel motif in biblical literature of the neo-Babylonian, Persian and early Hellenistic periods.




Melvin, David Paul.

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The motif of angelic interpretation of symbolic visions is a major feature of late prophetic and apocalyptic literature, yet the development of this literary motif has remained largely unexplored within biblical scholarship. This study fills this gap in scholarship by tracing the development of the interpreting angel motif from its first appearance in Ezek 40–48 through its maturation in Dan 7–8. Following the introductory chapter which reviews previous scholarship and lays out the goals of this study, each chapter focuses on the development of the interpreting angel motif in a different historical period. In each period, new developments of the motif appear, as angelic interpretation replaces prophecy as the primary means of divine revelation, accompanying the shift from prophetic literature to apocalyptic literature. Each chapter also considers external influences on the development of the interpreting angel motif. These include the mirroring of political intermediaries in the empires of the ancient Near East and a divinatory religious context which emphasized the interpretation of signs and symbols to discern the plans of the gods. Each chapter begins with an overview of the historical context of the period and evidence for imperial administration which relied on intermediaries acting on behalf of the king. Next follows analysis of the primary texts, beginning with a discussion of major historical-critical concerns and proceeding with a detailed analysis of the interpreting angel motif in these texts, noting especially continuities and discontinuities with earlier forms. Examination of extra-biblical parallels and the broader religious context of the period follows, and the chapter concludes with a brief summary of its findings. The final chapter synthesizes the findings of the study and traces the development of the motif. It also notes the role of external influences (imperial administration and divination) on the development of the motif and offers an interpretation of the function of the motif. Finally, it offers areas for further research on the topic and related issues.



Hebrew Bible., Old Testament., Angelology., Apocalyptic literature., Second Temple Judaism.