Date of Graduation

Spring 2018

Degree

Master of Arts in Religious Studies

Department

Religious Studies

Committee Chair

Leslie Baynes

Keywords

Judaism, Christianity, apocalypticism, soteriology, deification, priests, angels, Revelation, Christology

Subject Categories

Biblical Studies | Christianity

Abstract

Ancient Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature contains soteriological narratives of human transformation that qualify as examples of deification in antiquity. One widely exemplified type of deification in ancient Jewish apocalypses and apocalyptic literature focuses first on the analogy between priests and angels, and then the gradual assimilation of the former to the identity of the latter. In much apocalyptic thought, God resides in a celestial sanctuary in heaven where angels serve a heavenly liturgy of worship and praise, and it is this reality which the earthly priesthood, temple, and cult mimic and extend into the human world, which led to speculation that human priests would become angels either at death or in the eschaton. This narrative of transformation also accords with what Martha Himmelfarb calls a “democratization” of the priesthood to include righteous individuals who otherwise would not enjoy such privileges. The Book of Revelation, as an apocalypse written by a Christian Jew, makes use of this traditional Jewish soteriology in a uniquely Christian framework, by appropriating its imagery and logic in the context of an early Christian participatory model of deification, the communicatio idiomatum, or “exchange of attributions.” Through participation in the angelomorphic, priestly Christ, the priestly saints are also guaranteed a share in angelic, divine glory. The study adds Revelation to an ongoing scholarly conversation about the trajectory of early Christian soteriological development.

Copyright

© David A. Armstrong

Open Access

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