What’s Next?

As I noted in the introductory chapters of The Unseen Realm, I view the book as a starting point. I have plenty of material for a follow-up book. Lord willing I will be able to produce that at some point.


Aside from developing some topics and trajectories in more detail, there are many new items to cover. As with the content for the first book, each one of these topics has solid, often copious, peer-reviewed scholarship behind it. Here’s the list in no particular order.


The concepts of Chaos and Chaoskampf (“struggle against chaos”)


Herem as war against chaos (Crouch)


cosmic mountain and trees


Propp, Water in wilderness motif


Sukkot’s Seventy bulls – http://thetorah.com/sukkots-seventy-bulls/


Israelite cosmology

  • The three-tiered universe of pre-scientific ancient near east
  • Earth as temple or heavens and earth as God’s temple
  • Whirlwind / storm imagery


Wisdom as co-creator

  • Implications for both testaments, Christology


Divination and sympathetic magic as divine activity




Maṣṣebot (standing stones) and elohim


Adam as priest and king


Adam’s sin and Romans 5 in ancient Near Eastern context

  • I do not take the traditional view of this verse. It never mentions guilt, only that all humans sin. No human can be saved apart from the work of Christ (in any degree) because of our own sin, not because of someone else’s. Since Rom 1:3 has Jesus being a descendant of Adam “according to the flesh,” and he is a direct descendant of Adam, the traditional view of Romans 5:12, that all are guilty because of Adam (as opposed to their own sin) creates a significant theological problem for Jesus as a direct lineal descendant of Adam “according to the flesh.” The virgin birth doesn’t solve this, because Mary is fully human and descended from Adam like everyone else, and because if Jesus is a son of David “according to the flesh” he wasn’t just inserted into Mary’s womb with the effect that he was biologically unrelated to either Joseph or Mary. This quandary was why Roman Catholicism invented the doctrine of Mary’s sinlessness. I reject that idea as unbiblical. I believe Jesus is insulated from this problem by a better (text-driven) view of Romans 5:12. There is a better way to interpret Rom. 5:12 for what it specifically says — not for what tradition has read into it — a way that is also consistent with ANE backgrounding to paradise stories.
  • Note that my view isn’t unique to me in Christian tradition. But this is an item for a future book.


Pre-existence of the soul; Job 15:7-8


How Adam = Israel and Eden = Promised Land


Nimrod identification and traditions


Gen 15:5 – the idea that this is a qualitative promise as well as a quantitative one (i.e., believers will be made as the stars – glorified, exalted to divine status; gods were spoken of in astral language all the time in the ANE, so this is a motif associated with humans becoming divine and divine council members).


Genesis 14, Abraham, and the Rephaim


Melchizedek episode (Gen 14) and its typology in both testaments


Job as an Edomite issue (are Transjordanian descendants of Abraham Gentiles? Implications for “Promised Land” and Israel’s wars?)


“Be holy as I am holy” = “Be holy ones” (it’s plural in Hebrew)  – “Behave like human representatives of the divine council, because you image me, the ruler of the council.”
Recent work on imaging and election, tied into the concept of “bearing the name” (or not “bearing” the name of the Lord in vain – the word translated “take” in that command is נשׂא, which is frequently translated “bear” or “lift up”)

  • The command about “taking” (Hebrew: bearing) the name in vain
  • Relationship between imaging and bearing the name
  • Unbelievers bearing the name of the beast
  • Acts 4:12 – no other name
  • Naming the name of Christ


Divine co-regency (Ugaritic background) and Christological co-regency


Exile motif; is Israel still in exile (good indications that’s the case); how the Pentecost event is was the beginning of the end of the exile; how the ending of exile is related to the idea of tribulation (the gods opposing the end of exile)


Ezekiel 1 vision and “astral theology”


Jesus birth as astral prophecy (see The Portent for how this moves beyond Rev 12)


Jesus as the bridegroom

  • Marriage supper
  • OT antecedents; Ugaritic divine feasting connections


Jesus’ genealogies and links to Enochian literature; “divine begetting” and Deut 32 (cf. Deut 32:18 – Matt 1:20)


Jesus as temple


The crucifixion as Chaoskampf

  • The Day of the Lord in the Death and Resurrection of Christ


Purification of the Temple: Preparation for the Kingdom of God


Ezekiel’s temple and New Testament temple language (Jesus and Church)


The Angelomorphic Spirit


Jesus and exorcism – Solomon, Exorcism, and the Son of David

  • There’s no OT messianic profile element that suggests messiah will cast out demons — so where does the idea come from? Why did it make sense to NT people that the messiah would have this power?


Implications of Acts 17:26-27 – a theology of the nations


“Binding” and “Loosing”: The Matthean Authorizations


Apostasy and eternal security


Patterning of recovery of the nations in Acts – Judea, Samaria, Ethiopia, Damascus


Head covering 1 Cor 11 “because of the angels”

  • This one you could never do in church; it has to do with ancient conceptions of sexual fidelity and fecundity (cp. the Enochian violation


Romans 8 – creation groans; sons of God; eschatology


Revelation 666 and Israel’s tribes


The Watcher story as the backdrop to the 144,000 in Rev 14


Angel Christology and Revelation; angels in Revelation


Gematria – dove, sons of God


Hebrews 11-12 and Num 13 (new exodus); Hebrews and the End of the Exodus


Zion Symbolism in Hebrews


Pseudepigrapha (esp. Enoch’s Watcher story) as backdrop to Galatians 2-3 and the coming of the son of God

  • “the law was added because of transgressions” (whose transgressions is Paul talking about?)


Ezekiel 38


In regard to the burial of Gog and his hordes, there is a conceptual and geographical backdrop to what is described in Ezek 39:11, 15 that is quite consistent with the lake of fire / hell imagery of Rev 20 — diverting our attention away from earth-bound literalistic interpretation of the description in Ezekiel. In Ezek 39:11, 15 Gog and his hordes are buried in “the Valley of the Travelers, east of the sea, also called the valley of Hamon-gog.” Viewing the passage this way makes the connection to Rev 20 pretty obvious. In Rev 20 Satan and his hordes are cast into the lake of fire — hell, the eschatological underworld, now void of believers via the resurrection at the return of Christ. So in Ezek 39, Gog, the symbol of cosmic darkness, and all his hordes, go down into the valley of the oberim, the ones who have passed into the Underworld before them, the abode of the Rephaim.

Temple of Ezekiel 40-48


“The purpose of this paper is to pick up and develop a suggestion originally made by Walter Zimmerli—one of the greatest modem commentators on Ezekiel—that the dimensions of the restored Temple envisioned by the prophet in Ezekiel 40-48 were focused around the number fifty, and that the number fifty symbolized the Israelite institution of the jubilee, the “year of liberation” which was to be celebrated every fifty years.. . . . My intention in what follows is to develop the argument that Ezekiel builds his temple on jubilee dimensions, and to explore the theological implications of such a proposal for the understanding of Ezekiel’s vision of restoration in chs. 40-48.”


Given the fact that no significant event in biblical history associated with the city corresponds to this date, Bergsma notes: “The phrase ‘the twenty-fifth year of our exile’ begs to be interpreted symbolically, but twenty-five is neither a common nor symbolic number in the Hebrew Bible. The best—and 8.perhaps only—suggestion for its significance has been as half of a jubilee cycle of fifty years.” (76)


If this indeed is the symbolic significance of Ezekiel’s chronological marker, it accords well with the interpretation of the return from exile as a jubilee event also found, for example, in Isa 61:1-4. . . . The identification of twenty-five years as half a jubilee is strengthened by the phrase “at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month.” . . . . [T]he only other passage in the Hebrew Bible which indicates that the year began on the tenth day of the month is Lev 25:9-10, in which the jubilee year (and, I would argue, the cultic/agricultural year in general) began in the seventh month (Tishri) on the tenth day of the month, the Day of Atonement. Why the year would begin on the tenth day of the month has been the occasion for some discussion, but there is reason to think that the first nine or ten days of Tishri were a New Year’s festival and considered “liminal time”—neither the old year nor the new. The New Year began in earnest only at the end of the festival, the Day of Atonement. Thus, Ezekiel seems to be following the old “ecclesiastical” calendar represented in the Holiness Code, in which the cultic year begins on the tenth of Tishri. . . . Only the association with the jubilee year text (Lev 25:8-10) makes meaningful sense of both the figure of ‘twenty-five years’ and the ‘beginning of the year’ on the ‘tenth day of the month’.” (76-77)


Scholars have noted the numbers and dimensions of the temple are consistently multiples of 25 (half a jubilee) and fifty (a jubilee).

# 25 = 8x in chs 40-48
# 50 = 10x in chs 40-48
#100 = 13x in chs 40-48
#250 = 4x …
#500 = 8x … (walls)
#1,000 = 4x
#5,000 = 2x
#10,000 = 7x
#25,000 = 14x (land allotments)

= 60 references to jubilee numbers and their multiples


(Levenson, “The Temple and the World”; pp. 284-) commenting on both verses:
The word here translated “in the midst of” (betok) can have either a general significance (“inside,” “amidst”) or a precise one (“in the very center of”), as in Num. 35:5, where the city stands in the mathematical center (tawek) of the Levitical patrimony. The rearrangement of the tribal lands in Ezekiel 48 argues for the latter interpretation, for there Jerusalem, renamed “YHWH is there,” is put almost in the center of the tribes, whereas, historically, eleven tribes were to its north and only one to the south. In other words, the utopia in the school of Ezekiel seems to take literally the assertion of centrality in Ezek. 5:5. If they were correct in their literal reading, then the translation “navel” for the very rare word ṭabbur in Ezek. 38:12 is most likely. . . . In Josephus, we find the cosmic conception of the Temple in an enhanced statement: not simply that the shrine is the center, but that it is a microcosm. . . . Josephus tells us regarding the Mosaic Tabernacle, “every one of these objects is intended to recall and repre-sent the universe, as [the reader] will find if he will but consent to examine them without prejudice and with understanding.” (Josephus Jewish War 3, 7:7)

Interestingly, there is language in Ezek 40-48 that apparently casts the temple in cosmic mountain terms …


The altar in the temple (Ezek 43:13-17)
ESV: “from the base on the ground” = Hebrew מֵחֵ֨יק הָאָ֜רֶץ
“bosom of the earth” – the altar

Recall one of the items in Solomon’s temple that wasn’t in the Tabernacle, possibly indicating that the earlier temple was thought of as the cosmic center / mountain:

“copper sea” / “bronze sea” / “molten sea”
(יָם מוּצָק)]. Designations for a spectacular bronze appurtenance that is said to have stood in the courtyard of Solomon’s temple. It is described in the temple text of 1 Kings (1 Kgs 7:23–26) and in the parallel account in Chronicles (2 Chr 4:2–5).
Note Meyers’ conclusion:
“One of the features of ANE temples was their utilization of artistic and architectural elements relating to the idea of the temple as the cosmic center of the world. The great deep, or cosmic waters, is one aspect of the array of cosmic attributes of such a holy spot. The temple of Marduk at Babylon, for example, had an artificial sea (ta-am-tu) in its precincts; and some Babylonian temples had an apsû- sea, a large basin. Such features symbolize the idea of the ordering of the universe by the conquest of chaos; or they represent the presence of the “waters of life” at the holy center. Ancient Israel shared in this notion of watery chaos being subdued by Yahweh and of the temple being built on the cosmic waters. The great “molten sea” near the temple’s entrance would have signified Yahweh’s power and presence.”

Take note of Ezek 43:15 “the altar hearth” = הַֽהַרְאֵ֖ל


Azazel in biblical and extra-biblical sources

Cosmic conflict in Peter

Adam Christology motifs in the gospels

Adam, humanity, and angels Early Jewish conceptions of the elect and humankind

Concept of the Wilderness Intertestamental Period