Re: Lucifer (Was Re: Myth)

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Mon Jan 05 2004 - 18:26:16 EST

Peter Ruest wrote:
> george murphy wrote (regarding Isaiah 14:12-20):
> >
> > Peter Ruest wrote:
> > ...
> > > Some interpreters see in this text a prophecy intended to have two
> > > interpretations, one referring to the king of Babylon, the other to
> > > Satan (as a backwards-directed prophecy). The motivation for talking of
> > > myth here would seem to be an unwillingness to consider the possibility
> > > of such a double prophecy also referring to Satan.
> >
> > I had said that the previous post would be my last on the "Myth" thread but think I should clarify
> > this particular item, partly because my too-brief comment doesn't seem to have been understood and partly because I have seen other references recently to th
> >
> > /heylel ben-shachar/ is "Day star, son of dawn," a reference to the morning star, as modern study & translations back to LXX (/heosphoros/ = Hesperus
> > assembly" of the gods, but is defeated and cast down Isaiah has used the language of this pagan myth in a taunt song directed at the King of Babylon.
> >
> > This is exactly what is meant by "broken myth." To be quite clear, Isaiah here is not thinking in mythological terms. He is deliberately using the
> >
> > Jerome & others of the fathers _re_mythologized this passage by trying to make it refer to a pre-mundane fall of Satan from heaven. There is nothing
> >
> > There are of course verses that speak of Satan falling from heaven like lightning (Lk.10:18) and the dragon and his angels being thrown down (Rev.12:
> > with the birth & ascension of the Messiah, not something before the creation of the world.) I don't deny that this idea is a powerful one and probably conta
> >
> > In any case, that's not what Is.14:12-20 is talking about. While Luther didn't know about Canaanite myth &c, his statement in his lectures on Isaiah
> >
> > I explained the motivation for speaking of the language used by Isaiah as (broken) myth. It is not an unwillingness to consider such statements bein
> >
> > Shalom, George
> George,
> thank you for this explanation. I think I can accept this now as an
> example of a "broken myth". I have to apologize that I wasn't careful
> enough in my formulation about "unwillingness". I was thinking more
> generally of theologians, particularly liberal ones, but didn't really
> want to suggest it for you, because I know you are not liberal in the
> sense of the old German movement of liberal theology. I appreciated your
> recent statement about Jesus' "I am" and similar ones very much!
> Just one more question regarding the Satan interpretation of Isa.
> 14:12-20: would you give a similar interpretation to Eze. 28:11-16?
> I agree that there is no "full-fledged biblical doctrine of the fall of
> the evil angels" (about _how_ it happened), but I think we still can say
> that there must have been a fall of evil angels (_that_ it happened).

        Yes, I think the situation with Ez.28:11-16, the 4th oracle against Tyre is
similar. A myth of the primordial human is used to speak about the fall of the prince
of Tyre. Of course here there are differences - e.g., the fact that the language here
has some connections with Gen.2-3 (but also some important differences).
        The idea of a fall of angels before the creation of the world makes contact in
some profound ways with feelings we have about the way the world is, but of course
that's what myth at its best does. In one sense I would "like" the idea to be true, but
we really have to ask what biblical support there is for it. Is;14 doesn't, as I've
said, & neither does Gen.6:1-4. It's worth noting that Karl Barth didn't accept this
view of the demonic.

George L. Murphy
Received on Mon Jan 5 18:28:25 2004

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