@Chris_Falter, that was very kind of you to provide me that citation. It abounds in the amazing!
On p. 92 of Larry W. Hurtado’s book, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity, footnote 33 includes this mention:
"J.J. Collins, “A Throne in the Heavens, Apotheosis in Pre-Christian Judaism,” in Death, Ecstasy and Other Worldly Journeys, ed. J.J. Collins and M.A. Fishbane (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), 43-58[;] Collins surveys references to heavenly ascent and exaltation in canonical texts (Exod. 24:9-10; Dan 7:13-14; 12:3) and Jewish extracanonical writings (1Enoch 13-15; 3Enoch; Exagoge of Ezekiel; and 4Q491:frag.11, col. 1,II.10-18). As Collins notes, the scenes function to claim an authorization/authority for the figures given such exaltation, but there is no cultus devoted to these figures.
Even here, we can see the ghosts of Church Fathers hurrying the commenter to get off the topic: "… but there is no cultus devoted to these figures.**
Chris, I think my point is being well made in all these circumlocutions. Apotheosis was not a novel theme in the time of Jesus. And it became a metaphysical doll and plaything in the hands of creative thinkers! Moses and Elijah are in the transfiguration because they are figures in the Enochian tradition that have already been raised up to the bosom of God, and they are extending their status to the newcomer, Jesus. But at the last minute, a cloud appears and says to those attending, listen to Jesus! - - trumping the voice of Elijah and even the words of Moses!
It is my working hypothesis that this was how divinity first attached itself to Jesus, to be quickly followed by those who saw the story as conflicting with the idea of Jesus being divine from birth. Hence the stripped down treatment of the Transfiguration. What was once probably fully explained is now mysteriously left standing a little bare - - to a baffled audience (in the story and those reading the story). But we certainly know it means something really cool…
Most of those in this forum can certainly attest that the average Westerner has no common awareness that the Enochian literature provides a special and illuminating status (< pun intended!) to Moses and Elijah. In this side literature, Moses and Elijah never died. In fact, In the Book of Enoch, when Enoch returns to Earth, “… he tells his children that although they see him as the earthly, human Enoch…,” he is “… likewise an angelic Enoch (Metatron) that has stood in the Lord’s Presence.”
More from Hertado:
On p. 33 Hertado’s footnote 16 includes: "Margaret Barker, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God (London: SPCK, 1992). In a m ore recent essay, Barker proposes that the worship of Jesus is to be explained by alleged traditions of the real apotheosis of divine kings and priests in ancient Israel, who were worshipped by Israelites as human embodiments of the God of Israel… "
On p. 51, footnote 71 includes: “As we will see later in this book, there appear to be forms of early Christianity that show little or no monotheistic concern, especially at least some examples of what are called “gnostic” Christians with their elaborate3 mythologies of multiple divinities.”
But just above the footnote is a wonderful text extending onto p. 52: “Granted, the exclusivist monotheism of Roman-era Judaism characteristically operated as a constraint against anything fully comparable to the Jesus-devotion we are examining in this book. So, are we to think of this constraint only as maintained or as “broken” in early Christian circles, as some scholars mentioned above have formulated the question?”
“In light of the continuing monotheistic professions and evident scruples in these Christian circles, I propose that we also consider as a third possibility whether their Jesus-devotion constitutes an apparently distinctive and variant form of exclusivist monotheism, and that we inquire then how monotheism helped shape this devotional stance. Later in this chapter I will say more about how such a variant form of tradition can arise, and I will defend further the view that the Jesus-devotion evident already in the New Testament constitutes such a development. To anticipate that discussion, my point is that the constraining effect of monotheism may not have prevented this variant form from emerging, though it may have contributed significantly to the particular form that it took.” << Wow!, @Chris_Falter , that’s a great description!!!
The form that Hurtado describes is one where Jesus is completely elevated to the divine, but clearly in subordinate status to Yahweh. The author says: “This is why I have referred to this Jesus-devotion as a “binitarian” form of monotheism: there are two distinguishable figures (God and Jesus), but they are posited in relation to each other that seems intended to avoid a ditheism of two gods…”
Connection to the Carthaginian Hamilcar?
How does all this relate to my earlier discussions of Carthage’s annual celebration of the apotheosis of Hamilcar? I think I have the answer to this. What makes Judaism especially fertile in devising new and interesting configurations of the Godhead is that, according to some researchers, all the other divinities of the ancient Hebrew were either scrapped, or converted to Angels! - - as per the even more eccentric metaphysics of Zoroastrianism. It is alleged that Angelology abounds within Judaism as it makes full contact with the Magi of the Zoroastrians.
In the Phoenician context, when a man experiences of apotheosis, there is not much quibbling about what he has become. There were immortal gods and there were mortal humans. And if you were raised up to the company of older gods, you were a god as well. And so, in connection to Hurtado’s “binitarianism”, and apotheosis of Moses and Elijah, they have all joined the ranks of the angels - - an elite community that is already munificently “ranked” into choirs and choirs of choirs. Jesus, to some, is easily fitted to this gorgeous Hebrew gold-work of the divine: he is now Chief of the Chiefest Angels.
Son of God
Or you can say he is the Son of God - - whatever that is supposed to mean as compared to (or contrasted with) the ancient world’s intimate familiarity with the Son of Zeus, the demigod Perseus, the founder of Mycenae… the etymology of his name being so Greek as to perhaps have been a proto-Indo-European gem: “the Ravager”, or, as Robert Graves suggests the Destroyer [of-Cities] “a fitting name” for the founder of Mycenae, the biggest toe of the Greek foot on the neck of the pre-Greeks. Perseus rues wisely and dies of old age. “The gods whom he had served loyally, placed him in the skies, among the stars. And there he still shines…” - - immortal.
Stars - Realm of the Saints and Angels
Enter, stage right, the work mentioned on page 92 of Hertado’s book: Morton Smith’s “Ascent to the Heavens and Deification in 4QM”, in Archaeology and History in the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. L.H. Schiffman (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1990), 181-188. In this work, the most deserving and saintly of the Essenes ascend into the sky, and become Earth’s newest stars!