Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Laodikeia (3.14)


‘And write to the angel of the assembly in Laodikeia:

the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation, says this:


Jesus is identified to each assembly by attributes taken from chapter 1, generally in reverse order. Each selected attribute seems intended to tie into the message given to that particular assembly, though the meaning is not always clear. Jesus is identified by a few epithets. That he is ‘faithful and true’ may connect to how he implores this assembly to receive from him quality gold, clothes, and a salve. Jesus is called the ‘beginning of God’s creation’. The term for ‘beginning’ is , which some argue should be translated as ‘origin’ or ‘ruler’. If the author had intended ‘ruler’, he probably would have used αρχων, as had been done in chapter 1, where Jesus is called the ‘ruler of the earth’s kings’. Though Jesus being called the ‘origin’ of creation is often interpreted in favor of identifying him as God, this would not be the only possible meaning of such a translation, since many Judean theologians in the period believed God was assisted in the creative act by an obedient demiurge. I favor the translation ‘beginning’, since the passage seems to correspond to texts which describe this demiurge—including Jesus himself, very likely, in the Colossians 1 poem—as the first creation of God.



8.22–31 ‘Yhwh created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth—when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.’


24.1–11, 23 Wisdom praises herself, and tells of her glory in the midst of her people. In the assembly of the Most High she opens her mouth, and in the presence of his hosts she tells of her glory: ‘I came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and covered the earth like a mist. I dwelt in the highest heavens, and my throne was in a pillar of cloud. Alone I compassed the vault of heaven and traversed the depths of the abyss. Over waves of the sea, over all the earth, and over every people and nation I have held sway. Among all these I sought a resting-place; in whose territory should I abide? Then the Creator of all things gave me a command, and my Creator chose the place for my tent. He said, “Make your dwelling in Jacob, and in Israel receive your inheritance.” Before the ages, in the beginning, he created me, and for all the ages I shall not cease to be. In the holy tent I ministered before him, and so I was established in Zion. Thus in the beloved city he gave me a resting-place, and in Jerusalem was my domain.’ […] All this is the book of the covenant of the Most High God, the law that Moses commanded us as an inheritance for the congregations of Jacob.

Dead Sea Scrolls

11Q13 For this is the moment of the year of grace for Melchizedek. And he will, by his strength, judge the holy ones of God, executing judgement as it is written concerning him in the songs of David, who said, ‘God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgement.’ And it was concerning him that he said, Let the assembly of the peoples ‘return to the height above them; God will judge the peoples’. As for that which he said, ‘How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah’, its interpretation concerns Belial and the spirits of his lot who rebelled by turning away from the precepts of God to […] And Melchizedek will avenge the vengeance of the judgements of God […] and he will drag them from the hand of Belial and from the hand of all the spirits of his lot. And all the gods of justice will come to his aid to attend to the destruction of Belial. […] as it is written concerning him, ‘who says to Zion; your god reigns’ […] And your god is Melchizedek, who will save them from the hand of Belial.

1 Baruch

3.9, 29–30, 36–37, 4.1 Hear the commandments of life, O Israel; give ear, and learn Wisdom! […] 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? […] He found the whole way to knowledge, and gave her to his servant Jacob and to Israel, whom he loved. Afterwards she appeared on earth and lived with humankind. She is the book of the commandments of God, the law that endures for ever. All who hold her fast will live, and those who forsake her will die.

Revelation of Zephaniah

6.11–15 Then I arose and stood, and I saw a great angel standing before me with his face shining like the rays of the sun in its glory since his face is like that which is perfected in its glory. And he was girded as if a golden belt were upon his breast. His feet were like bronze which is melted in a fire. And when I saw him, I rejoiced, for I thought that the Lord Almighty had come to visit me. I fell upon my face, and I worshiped him. He said to me, ‘Take heed. Don't worship me. I am not the Lord Almighty, but I am the great angel, Eremiel, who is over the abyss and Hades, the one in which all of the souls are imprisoned from the end of the Flood, which came upon the earth, until this day.’


7.22, 25–26 Wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me. […] For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.

9.1–2, 4, 10 O God of my ancestors and Lord of mercy, who have made all things by your Word, and by your Wisdom have formed humankind to have dominion over the creatures you have made […] give me the Wisdom that sits by your throne […] Send her forth from the holy heavens, and from the throne of your glory send her


On Creation 139 God does not seem to have availed himself of any other animal existing in creation as his model in the formation of man, but to have been guided […] by his own Word alone […] it follows of necessity that an imitation of a perfectly beautiful model must itself be perfectly beautiful, for the Word of God surpasses even that beauty which exists in the nature

Allegorical Interpretations 1.43 [God] called that divine and heavenly Wisdom by many names […] he called it the beginning, and the image, and the sight of God.

Allegorical Interpretations 3.96 the shadow of God is his Word, which he used like an instrument when he was making the world. And this shadow, and, as it were, model, is the archetype of other things. For, as God is himself the model of that image which he has now called a shadow, so also that image is the model of other things, as he showed when he commenced giving the law to the Israelites, and said, ‘And God made man according to the image of God,’ as the image was modelled according to God, and as man was modelled according to the image, which thus received the power and character of the model.

On Dreams 229–230, 239 on which account the holy scripture on the present occasion indicates that it is the true God that is meant by the use of the article, the expression being, ‘I am the God,’ but when the word is used incorrectly, it is put without the article, the expression being, ‘He who was seen by you in the place,’ not ‘of the God,’ but simply ‘of god,’ and what he here calls god is his most ancient Word […] for as those who are not able to look upon the sun itself, look upon the reflected rays of the sun as the sun itself, and upon the halo around the moon as if it were the moon itself, so also do those who are unable to bear the sight of God, look upon his image, his messenger Word, as himself.

On Confusion of Languages 61–63 [God plants in Eden flora from] the incorporeal light which exists around him […] ‘Behold, a man whose name is the East!’ […] applied to that incorporeal being who in no respect differs from the divine image […] the Father of the universe has caused him to spring up as the eldest son, whom he calls the firstborn in another passage

Who Is the Heir of Divine Things? 205–206 And the Father who created the universe has given to his archangelic and most ancient Word a pre-eminent gift, to stand on the confines of both, and separate that which had been created from the Creator. And this same Word is continually a suppliant to the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race … and is also the ambassador sent by the Ruler of all […] saying, ‘And I stood in the middle, between the Lord and you’, neither being uncreated like God, nor yet created like you, but being in the middle between these two extremities

Life of Moses 2.134 the man who was consecrated to the Father of the world has as an advocate his son, the being most perfect in all virtue

On Providence 1 For it was impossible that anything mortal should be made in the likeness of the Most High God the Father of the universe; but it could only be made in the likeness of the second god, who is the Word of the other; for it was fitting that the rational type in the soul of man should receive the impression of the Word of God, since the God below the Word is superior to all and every rational nature

Questions and Answers on Genesis 2.62 Why is it that he speaks as if of some other god, saying that he made man after the image of God, and not that he made him after his own image? Very appropriately and without any falsehood was this oracular sentence uttered by God, for no mortal thing could have been formed on the similitude of the supreme Father of the universe, but only after the pattern of the second god, who is the Word of the Supreme Being; since it is fitting that the rational soul of man should bear it the type of the divine Word

Prayer of Joseph

‘I, Jacob, who is speaking to you, am also Israel, an angel of God and a ruling spirit. Abraham and Isaac were created before any work. But, I, Jacob—who men call Jacob but whose name is Israel—am he whom God called Israel, which means “a man seeing God,” because I am the firstborn of every living thing to whom God gives life. And when I was coming up from Syrian Mesopotamia, Uriel, the angel of God, came forth and said that I had descended to earth and I had tabernacled among men and that I had been called by the name of Jacob. He envied me and fought with me and wrestled with me saying that his name and the name that is before every angel was to be above mine. I told him his name and what rank he held among the sons of God. “Are you not Uriel, the eighth after me? And I, Israel, the archangel of the power of the Lord and the chief captain among the sons of God? Am I not Israel, the first minister before the face of God?” And I called upon my God by the inextinguishable name.’

1 Corinthians

8.4–6 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘no idol in the world really exists’, and that ‘there is no god but one.’ Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords—yet for us there is one god, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus the Anointed One, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

2 Corinthians

1.19–20 For the son of God, Jesus the Anointed One […] in him it is always ‘Yes.’ For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen’, to the glory of God.

4.4 the gospel of the glory of the Anointed One, who is the image of God

8.9 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.


4.4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law


2.5–11 Let the same mind be in you that was in the Anointed Jesus, who, though he was in the form of a god, did not regard equality with God as something to be seized, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus the Anointed One is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


8.3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh

Revelation of Abraham

10.3–4, 8 I heard the voice speaking, ‘Go, Yahoel of the same name, through the mediation of my ineffable name, consecrate this man for me and strengthen him against his trembling.’ The angel he sent to me in the likeness of a man came […] ‘I am Yahoel, and I was called so by him who causes those with me on the seventh expanse, on the firmament, to shake, a power through the medium of his ineffable name in me.’

17.2, 4–13 And the angel knelt down with me and worshiped. […] And he said, ‘Only worship, Abraham, and recite the song which I taught you.’ Since there was no ground to which I could fall prostrate, I only bowed down, and I recited the song which he had taught me. And he said, ‘Recite without ceasing.’ And I recited, and he himself recited the song: ‘Eternal One, Mighty One, Holy El, God autocrat self-originate, incorruptible, immaculate, unbegotten, spotless, immortal, self-perfected, self-devised, without mother, without father, ungenerated, exalted, fiery, just, lover of men, benevolent, compassionate, bountiful, jealous over me, patient one, most merciful. Eli, eternal, mighty one, holy, Sabaoth, most glorious El, El, El, El, Yahoel, you are he my soul has loved, my protector.’


1.15–20 He is the image of the invisible god, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the assembly; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.


1.1–13 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s character, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my son; today I have begotten you’? Or again, ‘I will be his Father, and he will be my son’? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’ Of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.’ But of the son he says, ‘Your throne, O god, is for ever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your god, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.’ And, ‘In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing; like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.’ But to which of the angels has he ever said, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’?


1.1–3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and god was the Word. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.

1 Timothy

2.5 For there is one god; there is also one mediator between God and humanity, the Anointed Jesus, himself human

Justin Martyr

Dialogue with Trypho 56 I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the scriptures, of what I say, that there is, and that there is said to be, another god and lord (subject to the Maker of all things), who is also called an angel, because he announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things (above whom there is no other god) wishes to announce to them.

3 Enoch

3.1–4.2 R. Ishmael said: ‘Then I questioned the angel Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence. I said to him, “What is your name?” He answered, “I have seventy names, corresponding to the seventy nations of the world, and all of them are based on the name of the King of the king of kings; however, my King calls me Youth.”’ R. Ishmael said: ‘I said to Metatron, “Why are you called by the name of your Creator with seventy names? You are greater than all the princes, more exalted than all the angels, more beloved than all the ministers, more honored than all the hosts, and elevated over all potentates in sovereignty, greatness, and glory. Why, then, do they call you ‘Youth’ in the heavenly heights?” He answered, “Because I am Enoch, the son of Jared.”’

10.1 R. Ishmael said: ‘Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence, said to me: “After all this, the Holy One, blessed be he, made for me a throne like the throne of glory”’

12.1, 5 R. Ishmael said: ‘Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence, said to me: […] “the Holy One, blessed be he, fashioned for me a majestic robe, in which all kinds of luminaries were set, and he clothed me in it. […] he called me, ‘The lesser Yhwh’ in the presence of his whole household in the height, as it is written, ‘My name is in him.’”’


Against Praxeas 13 I will therefore not speak of gods at all, nor of lords, but I shall follow the apostle [Paul]; so that if the Father and the son are alike to be invoked, I shall call the Father ‘God’ and invoke Jesus the Anointed One as ‘Lord’. But when the Anointed One alone is mentioned, I shall be able to call him ‘God’, as the same apostle says: ‘Of whom is the Anointed One, who is over all, God blessed forever.’ For I should give the name of ‘sun’ even to a sunbeam, considered in itself, but if I were mentioning the sun from which the beam emanates I certainly should at once withdraw the name of ‘sun’ from the mere beam. For although I make not two suns, still I shall reckon both the sun and its beam to be as much two things and two forms of one undivided substance, as God and his word, as the Father and the son.

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