Date of Award

1985

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Theology

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, Old Testament Studies PhD

First Advisor

William H. Shea

Second Advisor

Lawrence T. Geraty

Third Advisor

Gerhard F. Hasel

Abstract

Problem. Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 have been used, since the times of the Church Fathers, to explain the origin of sin in the universe, and interpreted as depicting the fall of Satan from heaven. However, through the years--especially from the end of the nineteenth century and on--theologians have affirmed that those passages report historical events, making use of mythological material in their narratives; and therefore have not to do with the origin of sin or Satan. It is the aim of this dissertation to verify these claims.

Method and Results. Chapter 1 reviews the interpretations of the passages from the first centuries of the Christian Era till the present. Until the end of the nineteenth century, both passages were interpreted in two main ways: (1) referring to Satan or (2) referring to some historical figure, perhaps some Babylonian ruler. From that time the mythological view has added to the interpretation.

Chapter 2 examines the alleged origins and parallel material found in Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, Greek, Ugaritic, as well as Biblical literature. The research demonstrated that although similar motifs and imagery are present in the passages under study as well as in literature of Israel's neighbors, a myth of Helel ben Shahar and of the Guardian Cherub, which would reflect the Biblical account in its main aspects, could not be found. It seems the similarities in the use of the terms and pictures are due to cultural continuity or common elements in the ancient Near East.

Chapter 3 examines the structure of Isa 14 and Ezek 28 in relation to the immediate context and the whole books; and exegetes the passages in the light of the whole Bible.

The exegesis shows that: (1) these passages depict Helel and the Cherub in a language which transcends the earthly realm; (2) the immediate context and the whole books (especially Isaiah) shows a tension between earthly and cosmic dimensions, as well as a struggle between the forces of good and evil; (3) Isa 14 uses the words mashal and Babylon in a particular way; and (4) a comparison between these two passages shows they depict the same figure. These factors carry us to the conclusion that the two passages portray the fall of the chief angel Satan from heaven and his role in the controversy between good and evil.

Subject Area

Bible. Isaiah 14 -- Criticism, interpretation, etc, Bible. Ezekiel 28 -- Criticism, interpretation, etc

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