Moses, Adam and the glory of the Lord in Ezekiel the Tragedian: On the roots of a merkabah text

Silviu N. Bunta, Marquette University


This dissertation is an exposition of the kabôd speculations in the exilic and Second Temple period with a central focus on vice-regent traditions, particularly as reflected in the throne scene in Ezekiel the Tragedian's Exagoge . It supports the hypothesis--advanced by Gerschom Scholem and revised by subsequent scholarship--according to which pseudepigraphic traditions about the kabôd served as a foundation for the ma'a seh merkabah speculations of rabbinic documents. It also corroborates the proposals of, among others, Gilles Quispel, Ithamar Gruenwald, Pieter W. van der Horst, and Carl Holladay, that the throne vision in Exagoge is a testimony far the continuous transmission of the kabôd speculations from biblical literature to pseudepigraphic accounts. It, however, challenges the prevailing understanding of this continuity and implicitly the traditional interpretation of the throne vision in Exagoge . It leads to a proposal that diverges from the prevailing opinion that the origins of the vice-regent traditions must be sought in the Second Temple development of angelology and disputes the general assumption that these traditions imply the appropriation of an angelic status. It is argued that the vice-regent traditions, more inhomogeneous that commonly assumed, reflect equally diverse origins in the ancient Israelite conception of YHWH's court or entourage. This exclusive and hierarchized entourage incorporated in the preexilic and exilic period net only heavenly beings, but also humans, in extraordinary figures and human institutions at first and subsequently, within a democratizing priestly anthropology in the exilic period, in humanity in general, which was portrayed as the replacement of YHWH's cultic statue. In this value humanity was associated with the kabôd , the prolongation of the numinous value of the statue. The detailed analysis of the throne vision in Exagoge leads to the conclusion that the enthroned anthropomorphic identity, that Moses appropriates, evokes the iconic paradigm. The scene even implies anti-angelic (ideologically) or anti-angelomorphic (paradigmatically) polemics. This proposal challenges the prevailing identification of the enthroned anthropomorphic identity with God and the common readings of Moses' enthronement as prophetic consecration or transformation into an angelic being.

Recommended Citation

Bunta, Silviu N., "Moses, Adam and the glory of the Lord in Ezekiel the Tragedian: On the roots of a merkabah text" (2005). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3172506.