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The Heavenly Council
in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament

  The Hebrew Bible is a book of concrete images. Its writers speak of God in terms of everyday “creation reality,” not philosophical abstractions.

I believe that symbolical imagery conveys theology. And the imagery of the Heavenly Council conveys a great deal of important theology about God and about the Messiah, and their co-rule of the universe.

The concept that God is surrounded by a council (Heb. edah or sod) or host (tseva) of divine servants runs throughout the Hebrew Bible, from Genesis to Daniel. And its imagery spans all of time, from the primeval moments of creation to the enthronement of the Son of David as king over “all the peoples, nations, and language. ”

Let us make Adam in our image,
according to our likeness. (Genesis 1:26)

I saw YHVH sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right and on his left.
(1 Kings 22:19)

Who among the sons of the divine beings is like YHVH,
A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones,
And awesome above all those who are around him?
(Psalm 89:6-7)

The Ancient of Days took his seat…
Thousands upon thousands were attending him
And myriads upon myriads were standing before him.
(Daniel 7:9-10)

One like a son of man…came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and language might serve him.
(Daniel 7:13-14)

This imagery actually pervades the New Testament. It lies behind statements
such as:

God…seated him [Yeshua] at his right hand
in the heavenly realms,
far above all rule and authority and dominion
and every name that is named. (Eph 1:20-21a)

When [Yeshua] had made purification of sins,
he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
(Heb 1:3)

I charge you in the presence of God and of
Messiah Yeshua and of the holy angels. (1 Tim 5:21)

We see this imagery in the vision of New Jerusalem in Hebrews 12:22-24 and the throne visions in Acts 7:55-56 and throughout the book of Revelation (5:11-14; 6:16; 7:10; 11:15; 12:10; 22:1,3).

Orthodox Judaism and orthodox Christianity eventually abandoned this biblical imagery because it undermined the theological formulas by which each chose to define themselves. They chose "unitarian monotheism" and "trinitarian monotheism." As a result, today most people within these traditions do not see this meaning-laden biblical imagery in context.

The imagery is further obscured by romantic, fantasized and even pagan depictions of angels in medieval Christian art and modern culture.

Click HERE to open and download my summary article: "The Heavenly Council in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament." It's a 13 page PDF.

You can also read two key chapters from my original thesis, written at Pepperdine University:

Chapter 2: The Divine Council in the Hebrew Bible. PDF (24 pages)

Chapter 5: The Divine Council in Second Temple Judaism and the New Testament. PDF (23 pages)


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"Le Conseil Divin dans la Bible Hébraïque et dans le Nouveau Testament" [PDF]