Paper given at the International Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls, St. Andrews, Scotland, on 28 June, 2001
Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Recovering the "Glory of Adam": "Divine Light" Traditions in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Ascetical Literature of Fourth-Century Syro-Mesopotamia.
As early as the late 1950's, once some of the Dead Sea Scrolls had begun to appear in print, Arthur Vööbus suggested possible links between them and early Syrian ascetics, the bnai qei~m~, or "sons of the covenant", whose first recorded appearance is in the works of Aphrahat of Persia (fl. 330's-340's), Ephrem of Nisibis (+373), and a mid to late fourth-century, anonymous collection of ascetical sermons, the Liber Graduum, or Book of Steps. Vööbus, however, simply stated a connection with the "Essenes", rather in the manner that Jean Daniélou did a few years later in his Jewish Christianity with regard to other early Christian writings. In neither case was there an effort to establish possible lines of transmission, nor generally to speak with the care required nowadays, though I should note in fairness that the matter of transmission, if there were indeed any, remains entirely up in the air. One can, however, find more circumspect and thus more useful discussion of the striking similarities between these two groups of ascetics, the Jewish from around the turn of the era and the Syrian-Christian from three to four hundred years later. Antoine Guillaumont in the early 1970's, basing his argument on Aphrahat's defense of consecrated celibacy against what appear to have been contemporary Jewish objections to it, provided a rationale for Qumran celibacy grounded in the Levitical code for priestly ministry which still appears to have currency in such recent literature as Joseph Baumgarten's article on the same subject during the past decade. In the 1970's and 80's, Robert Murray touched on a number of subjects which bear on what appear to be concerns in common between the two sets of writings, including celibacy, holy war, preoccupation with the Temple, or at least the common and prominent use of temple language, and fellowship with the heavenly priesthood of the angels. The suspected or proposed origins of Mesopotamian Christianity in first or early second-century Palestine might further enhance the possibilities of links with Qumran, particularly since this theory has advanced from its first, tentative proposal in the 1960's to become today, as in the translation and introduction of Aphrahat for Sources chrétiennes by Marie-Joseph Pierre, virtually a given of scholarship, as has the assumption of some continuing contacts -- and tensions -- with the large Jewish population of Sassanid Mesopotamia.
What particularly struck me when I sought to compare some Dead Sea Scrolls materials with early ascetical literature from Christian Syro-Mesopotamia was a kind of constellation or cluster of themes which the Scrolls, in particular certain texts that are normally associated with the sectarians themselves and thought to be their own composition, share with fourth-century, Christian writers. The Scrolls I have in mind include the Manual of Discipline, the Damascus Document, the War Scroll, the Temple Scroll, the Hodayot, and the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, while the Christian authors include the three sources already mentioned, together with another anonymous author, whose ascetical homilies and letters survived in four medieval collections which for centuries bore the distinguished -- and posthumously awarded -- name of Macarius the Great of Scete. Both of these literary developments, Christian from Syro-Mesopotamia and Jewish from Qumran, seem unified by the common theme of the Divine Glory bestowed at the beginning on the first humans in the Paradise. All these materials are also related to the notion of recovery of the Adamic likeness, given, as appears often in Jewish and early Christian exegesis of Gen 1-3, the first humans' fellowship with or even superiority to the angels, and also given the parallelling of Eden with the Temple that we find explicit as early as Jubilees, and which Moshe Weinfield and others have argued is built into the Hebrew scripture's account of creation in Genesis, as well as into both the construction of the tabernacle in Exodus and of Solomon's temple in I Kings. This last point also underlines the necessity for a certain caveat regarding my several themes and accompanying proposal for some kind of relationship between the Scrolls and my Syrian ascetics. The caveat is quite simple: that all the above-mentioned themes, taken severally, appear in early, post-biblical Jewish sources other than just the Dead Sea Scrolls, e.g., in the pseudepigrapha, rabbinic midrash, and targumim, on the Jewish side, or in Christian literature from the New Testament through the early martyrologies, to the encratite library of apocryphal gospels and acts popular throughout early Christianity, perhaps especially in Syria, to the Gnostic writings of the Nag Hammadi trove, and on to early Manicheanism. It is not, then, the appearance of any single one of these motifs in both the Scrolls and my four Syrian writers that I find especially intriguing, but rather the appearance of all of them together in both, that is, precisely in that cluster that has been noted above. This cluster of themes and its intensity suggests that the Syrian Christian ascetics may have gained their knowledge of certain Qumran themes not via the long chain of the early Christian materials preserved through the various Greek sources, but rather directly through the Semitic environment common to the Qumran sectarians and the Syrian bnai qeiama. The following will try to supply evidence for this thesis through a presentation -- necessarily abbreviated and incomplete -- of the divine glory traditions in the DSS and in the Syro-Mesopotamian Christian materials.
"All the Glory of Adam"
The phrase "All the Glory of Adam" (kol kevod adam) occurs three times in the scrolls, once each in 1QS iv 23, CD iii 20, and 1QHa iv 15. In the Manual of Discipline 4:22-23 we find the following:
He [God] will instruct the upright with knowledge of the Most High, and teach the wisdom of the sons of heaven to the perfect of way. For those God has chosen for an everlasting covenant, and to them shall belong all the Glory of Adam.
Two details of this description are important. First, there is the association of this protological glory, which I take to be associated with the theme we shall consider below, the clothing or robes of light present elsewhere in Second Temple and Rabbinic-era literature, with the "knowledge of God" and the "wisdom of the sons of heaven", that is, the angels. Second, while the "glory of Adam" appears in this passage, and in its equivalent in the Damascus Document, as something that will be given in the age to come, in the Hodayot, God is praised as "casting away all their iniquities" and "giving them as a legacy all the glory of Adam", which seems to indicate that the latter is available in some sense even now. The passages found in the Hodayot and in the Damascus Document recall another document, known under the title of the Words of the Luminaries (4Q504), where we find the following passage about the glory of Adam in the Garden of Eden:
...[ ... Adam,] our [fat]her, you fashioned in the image of [your] glory [...] [... the breath of life] you [b]lew into his nostril, and intelligence and knowledge [...] [... in the gard]en of Eden, which you had planted. You made [him] govern [...] [...] and so that he would walk in a glorious land... [...] [...] he kept. And you imposed on him not to tu[rn away...] [...] he is flesh, and to dust [...] ...
In the Christian Syrian writers, the glory of Adam is a recurrent theme. For example, Macarius links it sequentially with, first, the divine splendor with which the first man was clothed in Eden; second, with the glory on Moses' face in Ex 34:29-35; which, third, is read in turn, following and often citing 2 Cor 3:7-4:6, as a type or foreshadowing of Christ in the Incarnation; fourth, as the divine radiance "now" (apo tou nyn) present inwardly in the believer; which, fifth, "then" (tote), that is, at the eschaton, will shine forth openly from the believer's transfigured body. This sequence is found most completely in Homily 3 of Collection I, which I quote in my own translation:
But I think that when he saw the glory of Adam on the face of Moses, the enemy was wounded...[for] with Christ it [i.e., the kingdom of Satan] was truly abolished...[Exalted at the right hand, Christ] is full of glory, not only just in his face, like Moses, but throughout his entire body and being...and from that time [i.e., Christ's exaltation] true Christians carry in the inner man that [same] glory, and thus within [themselves] the [power of] death is abolished...[and] the glory of the Spirit shines perfectly in their souls. And so, at the Resurrection, death shall also be done away with completely from the very bodies of those who are glorified in the [divine] light.
Elsewhere in the homilies, Adam saw the glory, doxa, in Paradise. He was covered with it as with a kind of robe, endyma; dwelt among and was like -- or even higher than -- the angels; and was intended to become God's own dwelling-place, katoikëtërion, on the earth, a temple in short. At the Fall, he was "stripped" of the divine glory, lost the "heavenly" or "true image" (autën tën eikona), together with his fellowship with the angels, and was left "naked", mortal, subjected to the passions and the rule of the "usurper", the devil, often equated in Macarius, as in the Pauline corpus (cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 2:14), with death. In Christ, the glory is recovered. He sends to the faithful the "image of ineffable light", the "deïform and living image," such that the believer's soul becomes what Adam was intended to be: the "great world" sufficient to hold God himself in the form of "the image of the ineffable light of his divinity." Thus here, too, we find the recovery of protological glory and fellowship with the heavenly powers as at once present reality and eschatological hope.
The same notes also appear in the three Syriac writers, if not in such concentrated dosage as in Macarius. Aphrahat devotes a number of lines to Adam's vocation to "become a temple (haikl~) for his Creator." In Demonstration 23, he writes that Christ provided his human body with "a glory greater and more wonderful than that which Adam stripped off" in Paradise, while earlier on, in Dem. 6.18 on the reception of the Spirit, he argues that the grace-filled Christian is clothed "with the image of the heavenly Adam." The Liber Graduum touches on the pre- and post-lapsarian Adam particularly in Discourses 20, 21, 23, and 28. Passages in the last three of these dwell on the first man's commerce with heaven and loss of that communion with the Fall. He was made like the angels and was to have lived among them, but fell away both from them and from the food of heaven, losing as a result his "ministry", teshmesht~, or heavenly priesthood. In Discourse 20, the author dwells especially on purity of heart, holding that the acquisition of this virtue makes the ascetic like Adam before the Fall, and thus signals the recovery of, or return to Eden. My third writer, Ephrem, places the first man higher than Paradise itself in the following verses from Sebastian Brock's translation of the Paradise Hymns:
In its [Eden's] fair beauty I beheld / those who are far more beautiful than it;
and I reflected, / if Paradise be so glorious [shbih],
how much more glorious [shbih] should Adam be / who is in the image [b-tsalm~] of its Planter?
Indeed, "it was for Adam alone / that Paradise had been planted, // for to its buds Adam's heart was superior, / to its fruits his words". The notes of glory, image, and the heart are present here as in Macarius, the Liber Graduum, and Aphrahat. Likewise, Ephrem understands an anticipation of the eschatological recovery of Paradise in the "planting" of the Church, and especially in the virtues of the righteous ascetics: "The flowers of Paradise took the victory, / but then were vanquished // at the sight of the blossoms / of the celibate and chaste."
Crowns and Robes of Light
As Steven Lindemann and Sebastian Brock, among others, have pointed out with regard, respectively, to post-biblical Jewish and Syrian Christian literature, the robes and crowns of light accorded the righteous in the age to come are a frequent theme, and tied as well to the clothing of glory covering Adam in Paradise, clothing which indicated the first man's royalty, priestly vestment, and shared exercise of priesthood with the angels. The phrase, "a crown of glory with majestic raiment in eternal light", occurs only once to my knowledge in the Scrolls, in 1QS iv 7-8, where it forms part of the description of eschatological beatitude. There is one other reference to radiant crowns, in 1Q34 fr.14 ii 2-5, but the fragment is not well preserved. It seems to have in mind vestments attached to the restored Temple cult. The passage from the Manuel of Discipline is both clearer and more significant, at least for my purposes here. The crown and "majestic raiment" are the reward of those who walk in the Spirit, just as the citation quoted above from the Manual on the "glory of Adam", coming a few lines later, also deals with the results of the lustration of the Spirit of holiness and truth.
The crown and, as we saw above, robe of glory make more frequent appearances in the Macarian Homilies than in any other of my quartet of Christian sources. It ranks among his favorite expressions, such that crown and/or robe, more frequently the latter, occur around two dozen times by my rough count. On occasion, like the passage from the Manual of Discipline, the robe is clearly associated with -- or even identified as -- the Holy Spirit. At other times it is equated with Christ, the "heavenly man," while in one passage Macarius speaks of the First Person of the Christian Trinity, the Father, as giving his own raiment or, more precisely, "vestment" (stolë), to the believer's soul. The last in particular reminds me of the vestment of light robing the "Great Glory" in I Enoch 14:20, or the later but related haluq, the divine robe, which appears in the hekhalot texts which, interestingly enough, were quite possibly roughly contemporary with Macarius. The latter is in any event very clear that the crown and robe "are not created things," "not made with hands," "of divine light," and indeed "the divine glory" itself, which even now shines within the soul for whomever is given the grace to see it.
The other Syrians all display the same motif, if, with the exception of Ephrem, not so often as Macarius. In Demonstration 6, addressing the subject of the ascetic "single ones" (ihid~ye), Aphrahat speaks of the heavenly wedding garment, playing on Mt 22:11-12, and a few paragraphs later of the "robe not made with hands," presumably the same garment as the "robe of Glory" which he identifies in Demonstration 14 with Christ. The Liber Graduum, in Discourse 3, contrasts the just person clothing the physically naked with visible raiment, with the perfected ascetic whose teaching clothes the spiritually naked with "the uncreated robe (lebush~) of light", which the writer then identifies with the Spirit through an allusion to Jn 7:38: "out of his belly shall flow streams of living water". In Discourse 20, he insists that there can be no entry into "the bridal chamber of light", no "crown or robe", without purity of heart, a remark which follows on the heels of a citation of Jn 14:21 on Christ's indwelling and manifestation.
Ephrem makes frequent use of the robe of light, and of clothing imagery generally, throughout his oeuvre. In his Commentary on Genesis, God "wraps" Adam originally "in glory", and accords the first man "reason, thought, and an awareness of the Majesty (rabbut~)." In the third of the Paradise Hymns, Adam would have been "robed in glory", and would "have acquired glory upon his limbs", had he obeyed the command not to eat, but was "stripped" of what glory he had when he transgressed. It is perhaps of some interest to our theme that Ephrem presents Adam's sin as like that of King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26, a prideful usurpation of the high-priestly privilege of entering beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies. Doing so before his time, the first man indeed "beheld the Glory [shubh~] of the Holy of Holies / and trembled", but "he beheld, too, his own shame [i.e., his nakedness] and blushed, / groaning and lamenting". Had he but waited, he would have entered in due time, an event Ephrem describes with imagery borrowed from Aaron's entry behind the curtain of the Tabernacle in Lev 16:12-13. Adam had been commanded to refrain from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, presented in the Paradise Hymns as the temple veil:
so that first he might prove pleasing / in his service of that outer Tabernacle;
like a priest / with fragrant incense,
Adam's keeping of the commandment / was to be his censer;
then he might enter before the Hidden One / into that hidden Tabernacle .
Presumably, too, he would by then have been fully attired with the heavenly vesture. If Adam lost his original glory, the robes of light are still held out for the future age, and this offer for Ephrem holds particularly for the ascetics. In the seventh Hymn, he dwells on the eschatological gifts granted those who struggle in ascetic labors -- literally, the "mourners", abile, and the poor, virgins and the chaste, fasters, and martyrs -- and declares early on:
Both men and women / are clothed in raiment of light;
the garments provided to cover their nakedness / are swallowed up in glory.
These protological and eschatological manifestations of the robe of glory are also, elsewhere in his work, respectively renewed or anticipated by the "clothing with Christ" at Baptism, a note which not only reflects the Pauline corpus, but which in Ephrem and the other Syrian writers provides what is for them a ruling image for the entire drama of salvation: as Adam was stripped of glory, so the Son of the Father stripped himself of his own glory -- an echo, surely, of the ken«sis of Phil 2:6-7 -- in order to restore the vesture of light to fallen humanity, such that the saints "have found, through our Lord, / the robe that belongs to Adam and Eve." The baptismal clothing, continued sacramental life in the Church, and especially the life of asceticism provide as well a present-day anticipation of the eschaton. Thus we find Ephrem in his sixth hymn, on the Eucharist:
The assembly of the saints / bears resemblance to Paradise,
in it each day is placed / the fruit of him who gave life to all.
To this we might add his statement, cited above, on the virtues of the ascetics as superior to the "flowers of Paradise".
Vision of the Divine Light
Since, in particular, Carol Newsom's publication, with accompanying commentary, of a critical edition of the fragmentary Songs of the Sabbath Sacrific (4Q400-407), a number of scholars, including Newsom herself, have noted the vindication these compositions afford Gershom Scholem's thesis of a continuity in Jewish mystical literature stretching from the apocalypses of the later Second Temple era through the hekalot texts of the Amoraic (and perhaps Tannaitic) period to the nascence of medieval Cabbalism. Joseph Baumgarten thirteen years ago pointed out similarities with themes in Rabbinic literature, especially elements of merkavah mysticism that included the following: the "curtain (prkt)" of 4Q405 ii 16, the living structures of the heavenly temples in the Songs (cf. 4Q405 19 A-D), and the appearance of the divine chariot-throne (mrkvh) itself in the arguably climactic thirteenth Song:
...the glory [kbwd] in the te[nt of the God] of knowledge...the voice of divine silence is heard, and there is the uproar of excitement when they raise their wings...they bless the image of the throne- chariot [mrkvh] above the vault of the cherubim...
Baumgarten links the frequent references to streams of fire, in their manifestation of the divine, as well as elsewhere in the Songs, to Ezk 47:1 ff., on the one hand, and, on the other, at once to the hekhalot literature, and to other Rabbinic sources which tie together Eden and Temple in a very similar way to what we have seen our Syrian Christian sources doing, especially Ephrem. Elsewhere in the scholarly literature, Devorah Dimant and Joseph Strugnell, severally and together, have drawn attention to merkavah elements both in the Songs and in other Scrolls, with the latter not necessarily being works of the sectarians and so indicative of wider, Second Temple era interest in esoteric interpretations of Ezekiel's chariot. More recently, C.R.A. Morray-Jones and C. Fletcher-Louis have offered interpretations of, particularly, the Sabbath Songs, arguing in the former's case for very strong ties with later merkavah mysticism, and in the latter's for a collective or congregational reading which accorded its participants "a ritualized ascent" and visio gloriae.
The last point, if not in every respect the interpretation Fletcher-Louis argues (whose case I am in any event not competent to judge), is widely held and important. The Songs do not present us with an esoteric, individualized mysticism of the chariot, but rather with what appears to have been a liturgical experience. The congregation is invited to look upon or, if Fletcher-Louis is correct, actually to embody the heavenly liturgy, with its ranks of angelic priests, the seven heavenly "princes" or high-priests, seven sanctuaries (4Q403), and finally, as quoted above, the manifestation of the divine kavod itself upon the merkavah. While I can, and will briefly, note parallels to this collective act of mystical mimesis or recitation in the ecclesial piety of my Syrians, my focus will be on texts which emphasize the individual, or which seek to merge the individual and collective. In both -- or, rather, all three -- cases, however, what I want to underline overall is the interest these fourth century, Christian writers share with the Scrolls in, generally, the heavenly liturgy, and, specifically, in the vision of the divine throne and Presence, together with the themes of fire and light associated with the heavenly court, as in the "splendidly shining vault" of the sanctuary, the lightening and fire of the debir, the veils as a "stream of light," the radiance of the angelic vestments, and of the "spirit of glory." To the Songs we might thus add 1Q 34 3 ii 8-9, referring to the renewal of the covenant (with the Teacher of Righteousness?) "in the vision of [Glory]," presumably part of the ground for the sect's claim to be true Israel, the War Scroll's eschatological "shining of God's greatness" reflected in "all the sons of justice," and two passages of admittedly debated nature and scope which appear to speak of individual ascent to the presence and equality with the highest angels.
Light and glory (doxa) are for Macarius essentially equivalent and, as we have already seen, they appear often in the homilies. What is striking is, as we have also seen, his insistence on them as uncreated, truly divine. Second, he is on at least two occasions, in Discourses 17 and 58 of Collection I, quite specific that the light is neither a metaphor nor a purely subjective illumination of the intellect. Neither is it a product of the latter, a noëma, but a "divine and essential light [theion kai ousi«dës ph«s]...which appears in the soul and shines more than the light of the sun." Each of the two passages is supported by a long catena of scriptural references, chiefly from the NT, which feature the visio dei luminis/gloriae, e.g., Paul's conversion by heavenly light in Acts 9 and 22, the glory in 2 Cor 3:18 and 4:6, "the image of the heavenly man" of I Cor 15:49, and "the body of his [Christ's] glory" of Phil. 3:21. What emerges throughout his writings is thus, third, a thorough-going and, as I have argued elsewhere, conscious effort to "interiorize" the biblical glory language. Nowhere does this effort appear more obviously than in his handling of Ezekiel's merkavah vision. At the beginning of the first homily in the collection of Fifty Spiritual Homilies, he provides a paraphrase of Ezekiel 1, and then offers his interpretation:
The prophet truly and assuredly saw what he saw, but [this vision] also suggested something else...a mystery truly hidden from eternity...and made manifest in the epiphany of Christ. For Ezekiel beheld the mystery of the soul that is going to receive its Lord and become his throne [thronos] of glory, since the soul...which has been illumined by the beauty of his [i.e., Christ's] ineffable glory after having prepared itself for him as a throne [kathedra] and dwelling-place [katoikëtërion], becomes all light and all face and all eye. [II.1.2].
It is the soul, then, which is the "throne" and "temple", or "dwelling-place", of God. "All face and all eye" points also to the hayyot, the living creatures, which Macarius goes on also to identify with the soul, together with the merkavah itself:
The four living creatures which carry the chariot [arma] were also carrying a type of the four
governing faculties of the soul...I mean the will, conscience, the intellect, and the power to love, for through them the chariot of the soul is steered, and upon them God takes up his rest [epanapauetai].
Aside from the rather stunning marriage of Ezekiel with the Phaedrus here, a number of other points deserve underlining. First, as Gershom Scholem himself pointed out sixty years ago, there is the indication of a variant of merkavah mysticism, here of Christian provenance, evident in Macarius' intention at once to affirm the reality of Ezekiel's vision -- the prophet "truly and assuredly saw" the Glory -- and to interpret it as pointing toward an experience now available within the soul. I read that effort, second, as directed to a readership of ascetics who were interested in obtaining a much more literal equivalent to the prophet's vision, perhaps along lines that would include an ecstatic journey to heaven. There are certainly indications elsewhere in the Macarian Homilies of the mystical, indeed frankly visionary interests of Macarius' interlocutors, including references to heavenly "palaces" (palatia, so hekhalot), seeing the "camps of angels" and "the bright land of divinity," just as there is that broad interest in Adamic speculation which we have already noted. Third, the second of the two words Macarius uses above for "throne", kathedra, has a distinctly and, I think, deliberately ecclesiastical ring to it, recalling the bishop's chair in the local church. This indicates another of this writer's concerns, one which puts him moreover in roughly similar territory to the Sabbath Songs: he wishes to reconcile the individually mystical longings of his correspondents with the liturgical and sacramental life of the Christian Church. There were certainly ascetical movements afoot in the Christian Syro-Mesopotamia of his day, such as those of the Audians and the much-debated (and little-understood) Messalians, which did lay great emphasis on visions, and which also tended to sit lightly to the Church's common worship, sacraments, and -- perhaps most importantly -- to the authority of the bishops. The definitive study of these early monastic sects has yet to be written, particularly in their relation to similar and parallel trends in Jewish mysticism, although there have been a very few, tentative beginnings along such lines. The author of the Homilies occupies something of a mediating position between, on the one hand, ascetical enthusiasts, and, on the other, episcopal insistence on the sacraments. He clearly affirms visionary experience. It is real, as in the divine light which shines in the soul. He also argues, however, for this experience as necessarily mediated to the soul by the liturgy or, perhaps better, for the liturgy as shaping the soul for encounter with God, thus the following:
Because visible things are the type and shadow of things hidden, and the visible temple [a type] of the temple of the heart, and the priest [a type] of the grace of Christ, and all the rest of the sequence [akolouthia] of the visible arrangement [oikonomia] [a type] of the rational and hidden matters according to the inner man, we receive the manifest arrangement and administration of the church as a pattern [hypodeigma] for what is at work in the soul by grace. [I.52.2.1].
The public worship, in particular of the Eucharistic assembly, is for him a double icon, at once of the heavenly liturgy and of the soul. The first is a very old idea, arguably adumbrated by the "pattern" [tabnit, LXX: paradeigma] of the tabernacle which God unveils to Moses at the climax of the Sinai revelation in Ex 25:9 ff. The sequence, akolouthia, of the Christian liturgy, divided between scripture readings and sermon, the synaxis, and the offering, consecration, and communion in the bread and wine, the anaphora, provides Macarius with an image of the relationship between human effort, askësis, and divine grace. Neither is complete without the other. Synaxis and anaphora require each other in the same way as do human action and God's own action. The miraculous change, metabolë, of the Eucharistic elements is real, to be sure, but it is also an image, icon, of both the inner change, within the soul, and of the eschatological transformation of the body. Likewise, the visible order or arrangement, oikonomia, of the church building and the worshipping assembly at once mirrors and assists the believer's ascent to heaven in order to join the "ministers and assistants" of Christ, and so to participate in the liturgy of the angels. "Ministers and assistants", leitourgoi kai paredroi, here refers at once to the deacons and presbyters standing beside the bishop's throne in Macarius' neighborhood church, and to the angels who serve, together with the Princes of the Presence who stand beside, the divine throne in the heavenly temple. This threefold coördination of heaven, the church, and the soul will also appear in both Ephrem and, especially, in the Liber Graduum, and will achieve its most striking and influential expression in the hierarchies of yet another anonymous Syrian a century later, who chose to write under the sub-apostolic pseudonym of Dionysius the Areopagite. At the same time, however, and less much of the emphasis on the "inner man", Macarius also displays what I think is a decided continuity with the intimations of merkavah mysticism, and the explicit assurances of fellowship with the angels (of which more anon) that we find in the Scrolls.
Aphrahat displays similar interests, though without the specific emphasis Macarius places on expressly reconciling the liturgical and the mystical. The Persian Sage's Demonstrations certainly betray a strong sacramental presence, but rejection of the liturgy does not appear to have been a problem that he was obliged to confront. Aphrahat is, however, quite concerned to emphasize the inner aspect of the visio dei gloriae to his "proto-monastic" readers. This interest appears throughout his oeuvre, most strikingly in his description of the perfected wise man in Demonstration 14.35. The latter begins with a series of questions borrowed from Job 28:12: "Who has perceived the place (atr~) of knowledge...who is fit for the place of understanding?" and answers as follows:
She [i.e., "wisdom"] dwells in the acceptable man, and is implanted in the heart of the sage [hakim~].../.../...in her he possesses a hidden treasure. He flies in his thought to all the heights, and his pondering descends to all the depths. She inscribes within his heart a wonderous thing...all things created are enclosed wihin his thought, and his inclination (yatzer) to receive becomes still more vast: he becomes the great temple of his Creator. Indeed, the King of Heaven enters and dwells in him, and lifts his intellect up to the heights. His thought flies to his sanctuary (beit qudsheh), and the treasure of everything within is shown to it. His mind is absorbed in visions and his heart is rapt in all its perceptions. A thing he never knew is shown [mhawe] to him. He gazes (h~'ar) on that place and contemplates it, and his mind is stupefied by everything that it sees: all the watchers hastening to his ministry, the seraphim chanting the qedushah [mqadshin] to his glory [iq~reh], flying swiftly with their wings, and their vestments white and shining, hiding their faces from his radiance [ziweh], their courses swifter than the wind. There is the throne [tr~wn~s] of the Kingdom established: the Judge makes ready the place of judgement; the chairs of the righteous are arranged for them to judge the wicked on the Day of Judgement...
Thirty years ago Juana Raasch suggested an echo of I Enoch 14 ff. in this passage, and twenty years later Robert Murray favored 3 Enoch for comparison with it. In either case, the echo of the ascent and visio gloriae themes of apocalyptic literature and the later hekalot texts is affirmed, and so, too, by extension is the linkage at once with Macarius two generations later and with the Scrolls long before. All three, the sectarians of Qumran, the Mesopotamian Christian sage writing in Syriac, and the Greek-speaking monk, partake of the same current of interest in mystical ascent and vision, based on Ezekiel 1 and continuing in the apocalypses which begin with I Enoch 1-36. Like Macarius, however, and unlike the Scrolls, Aphrahat interiorizes. He does so, in fact, rather spectacularly in the passage just cited. As Murray pointed out, the third-person, masculine singular pronomial suffixes attached above to the words "ministry" (teshmesht~), "glory" (iq~r~), and "radiance" (ziw~), all have the sage as their closest antecedent. The "place of wisdom", "that place", which Job 28:23-24 locates in God, Aphrahat, playing here as well on the biblical (and perhaps contemporary) resonances of hammaqom, particularly the link between "the place" and the Temple, sites in the heart of the Christian sage. The latter becomes "the Great Temple of his Creator", the topos theou, and in consequence the object of the angels' ministry, the locus of eschatological judgement, radiant with the presence within of the Glory -- in short, the restored image of God. Heaven and all its company are within, and ascent to the throne on high becomes thus the journey ad intra.
There is much to say here, but for purposes of this essay I must content myself with a few, selected points. First, there is Murray's suggestion of a comparison to be drawn with 3 Enoch, which I think most interesting, though oddly enough Murray does not draw what I take to be the obvious comparison between Aphrahat's sage and the transformed Enoch-Metatron of 3 Enoch 9-15. Like the latter, the sage "ascends" to heaven in order to become the likeness of the kevod YHWH, served by the angelic priests in the heavenly temple, shining with divine splendor, possessor of a throne, endowed with the secrets of creation and all the treasury of heaven, knowing the beginnings and reflecting the end, and gazing on the heights and depths. In brief, like Enoch, who actually receives the title, "the lesser YHWH", Aphrahat's sage becomes a god in the image of God. Second, and more narrowly, we find a distinct echo of the shi'ur qomah traditions. The sage, at least interiorly, is obliged to become "vast", rwih, in order to accomodate not only all creation, but "the Great King of heaven" himself. I read this in parallel, first of all, with 3 Enoch 9, whose hero declares he is "enlarged and increased in stature until I matched the world in length and breadth.@ Both Aphrahat and 3 Enoch, in addition, may share this motif with a couple of intriguing passages from the Scrolls. The first, 4Q 427 fr.7 ii 9 from the Hodayot, as Crispin Fletcher-Louis has noted, speaks of the "stature", qmh, of the poor man being "exalted to the clouds", and elsewhere, as argued some time ago by Morton Smith, in 1QH xx 1-3, we find the ascent and "enlarging" of the soul which is joined to the angels "in the tents of glory."
We find another and, for Aphrahat, perhaps mediating instance of mystical expansion and ascent in an early Syriac-Christian poem, the Hymn of the Pearl, which, sometime in the early third century, was placed in the Apostle Thomas' mouth in the apocryphal, Syriac Acts of Judas Thomas. In the poem's climax, the narrator encounters the robe of light bearing the divine image and woven for him in heaven. This is the speaker's heavenly double, who addresses him at one point, telling him that its "stature (qumt~) has grown" in size, thanks to the labors of the Father. The speaker clothes himself with the robe and ascends to heaven to meet Christ, the "radiance (ziw~) of the Father", at the "gate of greeting". He then enters a second "gate", that of the princes or angels, and proceeds at last to a third, the "gate of the King of kings", in order to worship before the throne. The notes of increase in stature, of ascent, of the language of glory and light, of the "gates" to what are perhaps different heavens, and of transformation and access to the divine throne are all -- or most of them -- held in common between Aphrahat, our Qumran texts, and the rabbinic-era merkavah literature. Dating from no later than ca. 220-230, the period of the Acta Thomae's composition, and possibly quite a bit earlier since it is generally held to have been a separate composition, the Hymn of the Pearl might be taken as standing chronologically roughly midway between the Persian Sage and the Scrolls, and might thus be taken as testimony to a certain continuum of these traditions.
A third point takes us back to this essay's title, "the Glory of Adam". The Hymn of the Pearl is quite specific that the "robe of light" carries "the image of the King of kings." Likewise, the "great temple of the Creator" that Aphrahat's sage becomes is the same goal that is held out for Adam in Demonstration 17.7. The sage is clearly what the first man was supposed to have become, and I would read 3 Enoch's account of Enoch-Metatron's transformation in much the same way. Though the latter makes no mention of Adam, Rabbinic literature elsewhere certainly does include speculation -- or polemical response to speculation -- on Adam's cosmic size, radiant brilliance, and the attraction to him of the angels' (in some Rabbinic opinion, mistaken) worship, all of which appear appear to be functions of Adam as bearer of the imago dei, the likeness of the divine Glory. To be sure, the Qumran materials are not so clear along these lines. One is obliged to make do with hints, but those hints are at the least suggestive of what we find spelled out, as it were, in full in 3 Enoch and Aphrahat on the sage (together with my other Syrians).
Fourth and last, I am obliged to underline a difference I have already suggested in Aphrahat's treatment of the themes of imago dei, shi'ur qomah, and visio gloriae, a difference which he shares with the other Syrian Christian writers under consideration here. For one, he avoids any use of the term "stature", qumt~, in his account of the sage, and I take this omission as deliberate, part of a conscious interiorization of the older traditions. Rather thus, while the "heart" or "thought" (mehshabt~) of the sage expands to include the universe and even God, his external form, as Aphrahat puts it a little further on, remains "earthly", "small", and in fact the sage "makes himself smaller still." In addition, there is the fact that the phrase, "make oneself small", carries for the Persian Sage, as well as for Macarius and the others, an expressly Christological freight. As Guy Stroumsa has pointed out, it is a play on the ken«sis of Phil 2:6-7, itself a passage very likely dependent on the Glory traditions of biblical and post-biblical Israel. In the case of the believer, the same phrase signals humility, as Aphrahat is at pains to point out at length elsewhere, and is thus part of the process of assimilation to the likeness of Christ. Here we touch on the peculiarly Christian appropriation of motifs from Jewish antiquity (though still quite alive -- thus 3 Enoch itself -- in the contemporary Judaism of the period) which would take me outside my subject were I to pursue it. Let it then suffice me here merely to note that for Aphrahat, as for Macarius and my other Syrians, the recovery of the "Glory of Adam" means, first and foremost, being assimilated to Christ, though not simply by way of ascetic exercise and the acquisition of his virtues, which certainly do feature in their understanding, but as well through consciously perceiving him within themselves such that they, too, "in Christ", might become for others as well as for themselves the locus -- indeed, as here, the "throne" -- of the same Glory which appeared to Moses and the prophets, and which these Christian writers understand as having descended from heaven to take flesh and appear on earth as Mary's son. Put another way, they all express, if in a different idiom, what Athanasius of Alexandria summed up as the Christian hope only a few years before Aphrahat wrote on the sage: "God became man that we may be made god."
Turning briefly to the Liber Graduum and Ephrem, the former touches several times on the visio gloriae in the pure heart, twice citing in accompaniment from 2 Cor 3:18, and twice more from Paul's ascent to heaven in 2 Cor 12:2-4. Once the Liber states expressly that the vision of glory is available in this life as well as in the next: bh~n ~lm~, literally "in this age," and a couple of discourses later adduces Stephen in Acts 7:55-56 and, again, Paul in the apocryphal Acta Pauli as exemplars. In Discourse 12, we find an argument functionally identical to the one we saw Macarius making for the public liturgy of the Church as the divinely-given pattern for the soul's transformation, thus:
It is not without purpose that our Lord...estalished this church, altar, and baptism which can be seen by the body's eyes. The reason was this: by starting from these visible things and provided our bodies become temples and our hearts altars, we might find ourselves in their heavenly counterparts which cannot be seen by the eyes of the flesh, migrating there and entering in while we are still in this visible church...the heavenly church and the spiritual altar will be revealed to us...
that revelation, as the author remarks toward the end of the same discourse, consists of both the heavenly temple and of its liturgy, and, more importantly still, of the light of the face of the glorified Christ:
Blessed is the person who has entered that church in heaven, in which our Lord shines out openly in the same way that the visible sun does over this visible church...Those who have fought with Satan and vanquished him become worthy of this church which is above all, in which our Lord shines out openly, and they receive the glorious light of his countenance.
The last closes with quotations of Mt 5:8 and Ps 24:3-5, the first of which suggests an eschatological reading of the passage I just cited, but, given the assertion elsewhere of the visio dei luminis in this life, I think we may take it as including both eschatological hope and present possibility, putting the Liber Graduum thus in the same company as Aphrahat and Macarius. Finally, there is the interesting passage in Discourse 28 where, after declaring that "the Glory of God Almighty appeared to Moses... like a human being [shubh~ d-m~ry~ ahid kul... a(i)k bar n~sh~]", presumably a reference to Ex 33-34, but surely carrying a hint as well of Ezekiel's explicitly humano-form kavod, the Liber underlines the importance of the revelation of the tabernacle as enabling Israel to see corporeally what Moses had seen spiritually.
Ephrem has little in the way of explicit references to the visio luminis. In the Paradise Hymns he mentions, as we saw, Adam's precipitous vision of the Glory. Twice he refers to Moses' feeding on the light of the Glory, and in another work draws an interesting comparison between Moses' shining face in Ex 34:29 ff., Christian Baptism, and the Virgin Mary:
The brightness which Moses put on / was wrapped on him from without,
whereas the river in which Christ was baptized / put on light from within,
and so did Mary's body, in which he resided, / gleam from within.
I note, first, the importance of the sacraments for Ephrem, who is ever the homo ecclesiae. Second, however, there is the note of the light within, as indicated by the lines on Mary, which puts the poet of Nisibis in generally the same camp as our other Syrians. True, unlike them he does not anywhere, to the best of my knowledge, speak unambiguously of direct access to, or experience of the Presence in the soul or heart. Still, one could perhaps argue this as implicit in his thought, first, in his use of Mary who, in other works of his and certainly in later Syrian writers, is held out as the model of every Christian, and, second, in the set of parallels which run throughout the Paradise Hymns. The latter set alongside each other, as overlapping images, the following: the Paradise Mountain (based on Ezk 28:14), Sinai, the Temple, the worshipping assembly of the Christian Church, and the individual Christian. Implicitly, then, the innermost part of the baptized human being answers to the place of the Tree of Life, the peak of Sinai, and the debir, in each of which the Glory makes its abode. Something very similar is obviously assumed by the other Syrians, though in each of them the visio dei luminis is explicitly held out as possible in this life, while Ephrem, for whatever reasons he may have had, is content to leave it unspoken.
My survey and selection of material has been far from complete. Those familiar with the Scrolls will doubtless be able to think offhand of texts that I have left out. I am myself painfully aware of many passages from Macarius that I should like to have included, but failed to find space for, while the very considerable library of Ephrem's works would surely have provided much that I have overlooked. His Paradise Hymns will have to suffice to represent him here, as will the materials assembled here be obliged to fill in for whatever I have missed in my other sources. Yet I do venture to propose that even this modest assembly of texts should be enough to offer support for the thesis advanced in my introduction, that, at the very least, we can say that these fourth-century Christian writers were drawing on many of the same sources and currents as did the sectarians of Qumran during the late Second Temple era, and moreover that they were doing so, at least in the case of the Syriac writers, while deploying a technical vocabulary for divine glory, splendor, might, image, and likeness -- e.g., shekint~, iq~r~, ziw~, rabbut~, dmut~, tsalm~ -- that they shared more with their Jewish contemporaries than with their Greek-speaking co-religionists. There are certainly echoes of the Greek philosophical tradition in Macarius, such as the startling mating of Ezekiel with the Phaedrus that we saw above, as well as a definite trace of the Alexandrian Christian inheritance of Clement and Origen. He was a Greek speaker, after all, and a relatively cultivated one at that, but there is next to nothing of those influences at work in the Syriac writers (beyond a kind of generalized, Hellenistic "background noise" that was common to virtually all of a territory that, by their day, stretched from Ireland to the Indus), while Macarius himself, for all his Hellenic inheritance, remains soaked in the motifs common at once to his contemporaries, and to the Scrolls long before.
What are we to make of these parallels or, to speak less ambitiously, of these similarities between Jewish covenanters at the turn of the era and Christian ascetics who lived nearly four hundred years later? The evidence does not support the assertion that these later writers stem -- somehow -- directly from the Qumran sectarians. The problem lies exactly in the "somehow". No visible line of continuity connects them, at least as discrete communities. Yet to argue that there is nothing whatever that links them, other than a purely fortuitous aggregate of similar preoccupations with the inheritance of biblical Israel, would seem to me to be equally abusive. It comes back to that "intensity" I mentioned above in my introduction. We meet a "cluster" of themes in both sets of literature, and this cluster is, moreover, clearly not a simple aggregation of disparate elements, but a related and relatively unified set of themes: the Glory of God, the liturgy of the angels, and Adamic splendor, set in the imagery and theology of the Temple, promising fellowship with heaven and the recovery of Paradise, not just as an eschatological but also as a present possibility, and all of this in the context of a consecrated celibacy based, if Guillaumont was correct (and I have not yet run across an argument refuting him), on the sacerdotal holiness code of Leviticus. I cannot believe that this similarity is accidental, though I am equally obliged to admit that I cannot say exactly how it came to be. Perhaps, as a Vööbus or a Daniélou have suggested (though not to universal acclaim), some of the covenanters embraced the Christian movement, and then made their way north and east, remaining within a generally Aramaic-speaking environment and, specifically, within the extensive Jewish diaspora of Mesopotamia. Perhaps, as may be more likely given the state of our knowledge of the late Second Temple era (improved but far from complete), the Qumranites were but one particular instance of currents and/or groups extant at the time, one or a number of which contributed ultimately to the emergence four hundred years later of the writers whom we have been examining. There is certainly ample evidence of a moderately to fiercely encratite and visionary strain in early Syrian Christianity, thus the Odes of Solomon, the Gospel of Thomas (especially if the latter's original language were indeed Syriac), the figure of Tatian, the Acts of Judas Thomas, and including the literature of early Manicheanism, though I must admit that in none of these second- and third- century works do we find the "cluster" as complete as it appears in Aphrahat and the others we discussed above. Yet all these Christian (and para-Christian) texts are unmistakeably akin. All reveal something of that cluster we first discover, in the desert of Judah, among the Qumran covenanters at the turn of the era. I think it obvious that we are therefore obliged to include both the Scrolls and my quartet of fourth-century Syrians within this line of kinship. Just exactly how they came to be relatives escapes our present knowledge, but related they clearly remain.
Kinship with Jewish traditions does not stop with the Scrolls, either. I had occasion above to invoke the hekhalot texts in my discussion particularly of Macarius' handling of Ezekiel's merkavah, and of Aphrahat's portrait of the transfigured sage. I also noted the considerable efforts that both these writers put into presenting the visionary journey to heaven as an interior event. The inner and potentially celestial temple of the transformed human being might justly be advanced as the primary thrust of Aphrahat's entire program. Macarius and the Liber Graduum are on occasion at pains to keep their interlocutors within the ambit of the bishops' church. I would like to argue, and plan some day to do so at length, that these efforts are directed against fellow ascetics who were enamored of visionary hopes quite similar to what we appear to find in the hekhalot literature: ecstatic transport to the supernal realm(s) in order to share in the angelic liturgy and gaze upon the throne of God. It strikes me thus that students of Jewish mysticism might find these Syrian Christian writers worthy of a closer look than the latter appear to have received to date. If in no other way, they might be of assistance thanks to the simple fact that, unlike the hekhalot texts, they can all be dated with some precision, such as, in the case of the four whom we have been considering, to the mid or late fourth century. Aphrahat is even kind enough to tell us the exact years of his compositions (Demonstrations 1-10 in 337, 11-22 in 344, and 23 in 345). We therefore know that 344 was the year when he wrote his remarkable description of the transfigured sage. Given his sage's affinities with the transformed hero of 3 Enoch, might he then not have something to say about the latter book's possible dating? I do not offer this -- or any other -- suggestion as an expert in hekhalot studies, which manifestly I am not, but I do have some background in the Christian materials, and I trust it is not too much to suggest that those materials might be of service to others working in what I take to be, literally, a related field. Certainly, I am myself most happy to acknowledge my own profound debt to research in Jewish mysticism, in particular to the work of Scholem and others in his train. It has opened up doors, revealed connections, and pointed out directions for further inquiry that I suspect will continue to preoccupy me for the rest of my working life. I have been vastly enriched by it, and I would like to think that this essay has contributed in some small measure to returning that favor.