The Terms "Angel" and "Spirit" in Acts 23,8
Information concerning the identity and beliefs of the
Sadducees is fragmentary. Since none of their own writings survive, scholars
must rely on material about them preserved by their religious rivals, the
Rabbis, the Christians, and, most importantly, Josephus. Nevertheless, the few
statements about them from these disparate sources fit together to provide a
fairly consistent portrait of the group. For instance, these texts agree that
the group had a foothold in the governing class, rejected the oral Torah of the
Pharisees, denied final judgment, and denied the resurrection as well as all
other forms of afterlife.
However, the enigmatic statement concerning Sadducean belief
recorded in Acts 23,8 is a piece of the puzzle that does not fit well with
established findings. In this gloss, the author informs his reader: le/gousin
mh_ ei]nai a)na/stasin
mh/te a!ggelon mh/te
pneu=ma. The first part of the phrase, "they
say there is no resurrection", poses no problem, for the Sadducean denial
of the resurrection is well established by the principle of multiple attestation
(Josephus, BJ 2.163-65; Ant. 13.297-98; 18.16-17; San 90b; Mark
12,18-27). In fact, almost identical wording is used to describe their views in
Luke 20,27 (le/gontej a)na/stasin
mh_ ei]nai). The second
part of the phrase, "neither angel nor spirit", is where problems
abound and our exploration begins.
Four broad positions have emerged in an attempt to account
for the meaning of "angel" and "spirit" in this passage1.
These views are that the Sadducees rejected: 1) belief in the existence of
angels and spirits altogether2; 2) excessive speculation in the area of
angelology, but not the existence of angels and spirits3; 3) belief in the
existence of the righteous dead in the form of an angel or spirit in the interim
between death and resurrection4; and 4) belief that humans would be resurrected
in the form of either an angel or a spirit5. The first portion of this paper
will critique each of the theories proposed above, while the second part will
offer some new perspectives.
I. Review and Evaluation of the Theories
1. Sadducean Rejection of the Existence of Angels and Spirits
A few scholars believe that Acts 23,8 indicates a wholesale
rejection of angels and spirits on the part of the Sadducees. Although scholars
within this group are in agreement that "angel" refers to a
supernatural heavenly being, they sometimes differ over whether the word
"spirit" refers to preternatural beings or to the disembodied souls of
human beings6. The strength of this theory, as Meier puts it, is that "the
natural sense of the statement is the denial of any angel or spirit
Despite the simplicity of this theory, the consensus of
scholarship is that the Sadducees could not have entirely rejected the existence
of these supernatural beings. Several weighty objections that seriously call
this view into question are: 1) the singular is used to describe these beings
("angel or spirit") where the plural is expected ("angels or
spirits")8. Although the collective singular of a noun is attested in both
classical and biblical literature9, the usage here is a break from the usual
plural in Synoptics employed to describe angels as a class of beings (e.g. Mark
12,25; Matt 22,30; Luke 20,36; cf. Acts 7,53). The use of the singular raises
the possibility that something other than the description of a class of beings
might be intended, as some will argue in a later section; 2) if this minor
difference between Pharisees and Sadducees is included in this passage, why are
some of the more significant differences omitted?10; 3) the Sadducees" high
regard for the Torah, and probably a larger corpus of scripture, makes it
inconceivable that they would have rejected belief in the existence of angels,
for these documents are replete with stories of angels11; and 4) the Pharisees
and Christians neither criticize nor debate with the Sadducees because of the
latter"s views concerning angels in biblical or extra-biblical literature12.
Even when angels are discussed on the periphery of debates with the Sadducees,
the existence of these beings is never questioned13. These arguments are not of
equal weight, but the last two alone are enough to undermine the credibility of
Before passing on to the evaluation of the next theory, the
fourth point mentioned above requires an additional comment. There is only one
instance in which a Sadducee seems to deny the existence of angels (San 38b).
In this passage, an unnamed Sadducee interrogating R. Idith concerning his views
of the angel Metatron, asks whether Metatron or God was the speaker in Exod
24,1. The Sadducee contended that the speaker was God, not Metatron, for
otherwise one would end up praying to an angel. This debate seems to have arisen
because some Jews believed that Metatron was the "angel of the Lord"
(Exod 23,20-23), of whom God said, "my name is in him" (Exod 23,21).
Some Jews prayed to Metatron14, while others regarded him as "the lesser
YHWH" (3 Enoch 12,5). The heretic Acher may have gone so far as to identify
him with God (Hag 15a)15. This encounter between the Sadducee and R. Idith seems
to be an isolated case and too much should not be made of it. Such a reaction to
excessive veneration of a specific angel on the part of one Sadducee does
not imply a rejection of the existence of the entire angelic world by all
Sadducees. Moreover, the concerned Sadducee does not deny the existence of
angels, but merely argues that one should not pray to them. In this view the
Sadducee is not alone. Indeed several talmudic texts also discourage the cult of
angels and prayer to them16.
2. Sadducean Rejection of Angelic Speculation
The claim that Sadducees rejected excessive speculation about
angels and spirits, attested among many other Jews of that time, is more
difficult to analyze. Several plausible reasons have been proposed in order to
account for why the Sadducees might have rejected these views: 1) they may have
been generally resistant to change. As Saldarini points out, the dominant class
in a society tends to be conservative17. This is certainly true of the
Sadducees, who were part of the governing class, for they resisted the new
customs (e.g., oral Torah) and new beliefs about the afterlife (e.g.,
resurrection) introduced by the Pharisees18. Perhaps this conservative spirit
also led to disdain for the fascination of many Jews in the names, roles, and
nature of angels after the time of the Babylonian exile19; 2) they may have
regarded angels as integral to the apocalyptic worldview. The Sadducees probably
endorsed a more "this-worldly" eschatology20 and, therefore, rejected
apocalyptic eschatology along with its accompanying "luxuriant angelology
and demonology that supplied the drama of the end time with a huge cast of
characters"21; 3) perhaps they believed angels no longer appeared as they
once did. Angels do not play much of a role in the Prophets (with the exception
of Zechariah) and the Writings (with the exception of Daniel). The few times
they are mentioned in the Prophets, they do not usually serve as messengers with
a mission, but rather as the guardians of the ark of the covenant (Ezek 1,10),
the temple of God (Isa 6,1-6), or as figures of the distant past (Hos 12,4 [Gen
32,24-32]; Isa 64,9 [Exod 23,20-23; 32,34])22. Zeitlin"s explanation of this
trend is that, "with the advent of the prophets the functions of the angels
were dispensed with", thus giving rise to Sadducean disbelief in the
continued intervention of angels23; or 4) perhaps they rejected angels along
with their rejection of providence or fate, for angels could be construed as
interfering with free will, a belief which the Sadducees cherished (BJ
Although the picture above is plausible in many respects,
there are several difficulties with Zeitlin"s views. His attempt to link
angels with providence, so that the Sadducees would have justification for
rejecting belief in angelic activity, is unconvincing. Despite his citations of
passages in which angels are appointed over Israel and the nations (Dan 10,13;
12,1), he was unable to link angels to the idea of providence or fate. His
suggestion that the Sadducees believed that angels had been superseded by the
prophets also fails, for it is largely an argument from silence25.
3. Sadducean Rejection of the Intermediate State
In a brief article in 1990, David Daube broke ranks with
traditional interpretations of Acts 23,8 when he argued that "angel"
and "spirit" were virtually synonymous terms describing the state of
the righteous dead in the interim between death and the resurrection26.
According to Daube, this passage indicates that the doctrinal matter with which
the Sadducees took issue was the survival of the soul after death (Josephus, Ant.
18.1.4; BJ 2.164-165), not the existence of angels and spirits. Thus,
in Acts 23, the Sadducees denied that the spirit (i.e., angel) of Jesus could
have appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus and later in the temple (Acts
22,6-10; 17-21), because of their belief that the soul perished with the body at
death. The Pharisees, on the other hand, affirmed both the survival of the soul
and the resurrection, but could not bring themselves to acknowledge the
appearance of the resurrected Jesus to Saul.
Daube"s argument hinges on his ability to prove that
"angel" and "spirit" were synonyms describing the interim.
Although Daube makes a good case for "spirit" serving as a description
of humans during the interim27, he is unable to show that the term
"angel" was also used to describe this state28. The majority of the
passages that he cites that depict the righteous dead being like angels are in
reality concerned with the resurrection instead of the interim29. The only
passage he lists that unambiguously associates angels with the righteous dead in
the intermediate state is Hen(aeth) 39,5. Yet, the passage does not indicate
these terms are synonyms: dwelling "with the holy angels" is
not tantamount to being holy angels.
Daube"s second line of argument is to list several texts
that say the righteous dead are "like" the angels. He correctly notes
that the words w(j and k@;
can have a broad range of meaning, such as "resembling", "equal
to", or even "having the nature of"30. However, other details
within the context of a passage sometimes shed further light on an author"s
intended meaning of "like" the angels, as the following examples cited
by Daube illustrate: 1) according to Hen(aeth) 104,4, the resurrected righteous
will "be making a great rejoicing like the angels of heaven" (cf.
25,6). The comparison here seems to be to how the angels rejoice (Hen[aeth]
35,12; 40,3), not to being transformed into their likeness; 2) in ApcBar(syr)
51,12, the righteous will be changed "into the splendor of the angels"
(51,5) and will also be "like" them in some other respects (51,10),
but the righteous will also be "greater than the angels" in excellence
(51,12). Thus, absolute identity between the righteous dead and angels cannot be
maintained; and, 3) Luke 20,36 and Matt 22,30 indicate the raised will be
"like" or "equal to" the angels in specific ways: they too
will be immortal and will not marry with a view towards procreation. So, it is
fair to conclude from these texts that the resurrected righteous will have some
of the attributes of angels, but not that they will be changed into angels31.
Thus, the word "angel" is not a synonym of human "spirit",
whether one is speaking of the interim or the resurrection of the dead
Daube also employed Peter"s angel (Acts 12,15) as further
proof for an angelic interim. In this passage, Peter had just been delivered
from prison and stood knocking at the gate of a house where a group of
Christians was praying for him. When a servant girl, in her excitement, left him
outside and informed those praying inside that he was at the gate, they told her
that it was his angel (o( a!ggelo/j
e)stin au)tou=). Some
commentators believe this is evidence of the belief in a special type of
guardian angel "who is the exact image of his protégé"32. Daube
proposed instead that these Christians understood this to be Peter in his
angelic, interim state. His reason for rejecting the guardian angel
interpretation was because the rabbinic evidence for this notion is
"thin". He is correct that this particular type of guardian angel
(i.e., a celestial double) is not well attested. Be that as it may, the biblical
and extra-biblical evidence is thick with the notion of guardian angels (Gen
48,16; Dan 3,28; 6,22; Matt 18,10; Heb 1,14; Tob 5,22; LAB 15,5; 59,4;
Test. Jacob 1,10). Perhaps this was Peter"s guardian angel or perhaps this
figure was designated "his angel" simply because it had delivered him
from prison before (the same a!ggeloj kuri/ou;
Acts 5,19, 12,7). Whatever the correct interpretation is, in the absence of more
compelling evidence, this example cannot serve as proof for an angelic interim
Probably the most compelling reasons for rejecting the
identification of "angel" and "spirit" is that Luke himself
does so. His use of "neither ... nor" (mh/te
a!ggelon mh/te pneu=ma;
Acts 23,8) and "or" (pneu=ma ... h@
a!ggeloj; 23,9) distinguishes between
"angel" and "spirit" and thereby indicates they are not
regarded by him as synonyms33.
In summary, Daube"s theory is untenable because he: 1)
failed to locate texts that specifically used "angel" and
"spirit" as synonyms for disembodied humans during the interim
period34; 2) failed to demonstrate that being "like" an angel was the
same as becoming an angel; and 3) the author of Acts indicates by his language
that these words are not synonyms. Therefore, it seems unlikely that the
Sadducees were being portrayed as rejecting the belief in the intermediate state
in Acts 23,8, even though that was one of the beliefs they did deny elsewhere
(e.g., BJ 2.165).
4. Sadducean Rejection of Resurrection as an Angel or Spirit
This theory concerning Acts 23,8 maintains that the words
"angel" and "spirit" stand in apposition to the word
"resurrection" and, therefore, describe two modes of resurrection:
resurrection as an angel or as a spirit. There are two major proponents of this
view. Samuel Tobias Lachs seems to have been the first to propose this
interpretation in an article in 197735. In 1990, Viviano and Taylor, in an
attempt to give this line of speculation "wider publicity", revived
the theory with some refinements of their own.
Lachs raised five important objections to the older proposal
that the Sadducees denied the resurrection and the existence of angels and
spirits, which appeared above in the rebuttal of the first theory:
1) Why are angels and spirits not mentioned in either
Josephus or in the tannaitic literature as points of controversy between the
Sadducees and Pharisees?
2) If the latter two, i.e., angel and spirit, are
separate entities, not connected with resurrection, and are cited presumably
only to show further differences between the sects, why are not more
important differences mentioned?
3) How could the Sadducees, who were slavishly wedded to
the literal meaning of the biblical text, deny the existence of angels who
are mentioned throughout the Bible?
4) If three points were intended, how is the phrase
"the Pharisees acknowledge them both" to be understood?
5) If (a!ggeloj) and (pneu=ma)
are separate entities unrelated to (a)na/stasin),
then one would expect the plural, i.e. (a!ggeloi)
and (pneu/mata) respectively36.
These are excellent points. They have undermined the
credibility of the first position (i.e., the denial of angels) and even have
ramifications for the second position (i.e., the denial of excessive speculation
about angels and spirits). I will attempt to answer these queries at this point
before moving on to some objections of my own. The points are not addressed in
the same order in which they were asked. Points one and three will not be
addressed, since they have been treated earlier in this article.
In response to point two, the intention of Acts 23,8 does not
seem to be just a catalogue of the major differences between Sadducees and
Pharisees. Nor is its purpose to list various types of afterlife, as they
suggest. If that were so, the traditional formula, "who say there is no
resurrection" (Luke 20,27; Act 23,8a), would have sufficed to cover
anything falling under the rubric of resurrection, including the various modes
of resurrection proposed by Lachs, Viviano, and Taylor.
Rather, the purpose of this gloss is to introduce the beliefs
necessary for the reader of Acts to make sense of the controversies that have
arisen and will soon arise in the passage, as the following chart illustrates:
Paul raises Issue One: "Brothers, I am on trial
concerning the hope of the resurrection (a)nasta/sewj)
of the dead" (Acts 23,6)
Luke explains Issue One in retrospect: "The
Sadducees say there is no resurrection (a)na/stasin).
. ." (Acts 23,8)
Luke explains Issue Two in advance: "... or angel or
spirit (mh/te a!ggelon
mh/te pneu=ma) but
the Pharisees acknowledge them all" (Acts 23,8)
Pharisees raise Issue Two: "What if a spirit (pneu=ma)
or an angel (a!ggeloj) has spoken to him?"
The reader is reminded that the Sadducees say
"there is no resurrection" (23,8; cf. Luke 20,27; Acts 4,1.2) and that
the Pharisees affirm it after Paul cried out that he was on trial for the
"hope and resurrection of the dead" (23,6). The reader is also forewarned
that the Sadducees reject both "angel" and "spirit" (23,8).
This is a pertinent detail, for in the following verse, the scribes of the
Pharisees ask: "What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him [i.e.,
Paul]?" (23,9), an allusion to the events of Acts 22,6-21. Thus, in answer
to point five, the use of the singular forms "angel" and
"spirit" becomes clear. It is not merely a rejection of the general
belief in the appearance of angels and spirits, but the denial that a particular
being, Jesus as either "an angel" or "a spirit", appeared to
Paul with a message37. However, if the Sadducees denied that this particular
angel or spirit served as a messenger, then this suggests that they also denied
such messenger activities on the part of all angels and spirits. Thus, the
"more important differences" (point two) between the Pharisees and
Sadducees are in reality mentioned, since these are the issues pertinent to this
The argument of point four is that ta_
a)mfo/tera should be translated "both",
and that it refers to the two words "angel" and "spirit"
standing in apposition to "resurrection". In other words, according to
this theory, the Sadducees deny both resurrection as angel and resurrection as a
spirit. It is possible to understand the adjective in this manner, but dogmatism
must be avoided here. Several scholars have likewise argued for the translation
"both" in this passage, but have concluded that the first belief was
the resurrection and the second was belief in angels and spirits38. Others argue
that ta_ a)mfo/tera can
mean "all" and that it refers to three items in this passage: the
resurrection, angels, and spirit39. The latter view is substantiated not only by
extra-biblical usage, but also by Acts 19,16 where it refers to seven items.
The remainder of this section consists of an examination of
several objections to the resurrection theory. The first issue plaguing the
scholars arguing for this view is that they fail to discuss how their
definitions of "angel" and "spirit" in Acts 23,8 would make
sense in 23,9, where these words appear in the pericope for the second time. It
seems reasonable to think that these words should have the same meaning in both
of these passages40, that is, according to the resurrection theory, they should
signify modes of resurrection in both verse 8 and 9.
An application of their definitions to Act 23,9 forces us to
the unlikely conclusion that the Pharisees allowed for the possibility that
Jesus had been raised from the dead in one of these two forms. It follows that
if the Pharisees endorsed belief in "angel" and "spirit"
resurrection bodies in 23,8, that they must also allow for the possibility that
someone in a "spirit" or "angel" resurrection body appeared
to Paul in 23,9. That someone who appeared to Paul was Jesus on the road
to Damascus and in the temple (22,6-21)41. Given these facts, it seems that
these scholars are compelled to accept the following paraphrase of the Pharisiac
response in 23,9: "Perhaps Jesus appeared to Paul in a spiritual
resurrection body or an angelic resurrection body". Is it really plausible
to believe that the Pharisees have suddenly become advocates of the resurrection
of Jesus?42. This is highly unlikely, since conceding his resurrection would
also entail the possibility that Jesus had actually been right about such
matters as the Sabbath and purity laws.
The second problem with this theory has to do with the time
of the resurrection. The "hope and resurrection of the dead" (Acts
23,6), which both Paul and the Pharisees affirmed43 and the Sadducees denied44,
was expected to be an eschatological event in biblical and extra-biblical
literature45. More important for the interpretation of this passage, the
resurrection is also an eschatological event in the theology of Luke-Acts. Paul"s
defense in a later passage makes more explicit the belief in a future
resurrection that both he and the Pharisees held in common: "I have a hope
in God — a hope that they themselves also accept — that there will be a
resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous" (Acts 24,15).
Having established the eschatological nature of the
resurrection, the proponents of the resurrection body theory have the burden of
addressing the following issues: First, if the Pharisees allowed for the
possibility that the risen Jesus appeared to Paul, as one must if he
consistently applies the definitions inherent in this theory to Acts 23,9, how
can this be reconciled with belief in a future resurrection? Obviously the
appearance of Jesus to Paul was not an eschatological event since it transpired
approximately two and a half decades prior to the trial recorded in Acts 23. It
is inconceivable that the Pharisees would have drawn the conclusion that Jesus
had been raised from the dead in any form (angel or spirit), for the
resurrection was yet future (Acts 24,15). In their mind, Jesus would have to
wait to be raised with the rest of humanity. They certainly would not have
thought his resurrection took place at the moment of his death. Second, if the
Pharisees endorsed the possibility of Jesus" own resurrection, does this not
put them in the position of conceding that the resurrection had already begun
and, consequently, that Jesus was "first to rise from the dead" (Acts
26,23)? It is doubtful that the Pharisees would have allowed that the
resurrection had begun before the end of the age. This, of course, is what the
early Christians believed (Acts 26,23; 1 Cor 15,20.23), but one can hardly
expect the Pharisees to have given ground to them by conceding Jesus"
resurrection as an angel or spirit merely to score points against their
The final problem with the resurrection theory has to do with
the nomenclature it employs to describe afterlife. The most unusual aspect of
this theory may be its unconventional definition of "resurrection".
Viviano and Taylor assume this term is interchangeable with various forms of
afterlife, even the survival of the "spirit" or soul "apart from
the body"46. In one passage, they suggest that resurrection should "be
understood here in a broad sense as "life after death" and certainly does
not have to be taken as implying the resuscitation or reconstitution of corpses.
What is asserted is rather the hope of personal victory over death, which in the
first century was expressed in a variety of ways"47. In similar fashion,
Lachs thinks that variety of the resurrection may have been "more
Hellenistically oriented, as pure spirit"48.
These authors correctly observe that Palestinian and Diaspora
Judaism had quite diverse views on afterlife, but "life after death"
is not the equivalent of "resurrection". Resurrection was just one
form of life after death and seems to include a body of some sort in the
majority of cases. N.T. Wright"s assessment of first century Judaism seems
though there was a range of belief about life after
death, the word resurrection was only used to describe
reembodiment, not the state of disembodied bliss. Resurrection was not a
general word for "life after death" or for "going to be with
God" in some general sense. It was the word for what happened when God
created newly embodied human beings after whatever sort of intermediate
state there might be49.
Wright"s comments are representative of the views of many
modern writers who maintain a distinction between spiritual immortality and
resurrection in their classification of Jewish beliefs about afterlife. Although
the terminology employed to classify various types of afterlife may vary
somewhat, "resurrection" is usually reserved for embodied afterlife
(in either tangible or less tangible form), whereas disembodied afterlife is
usually referred to by terms such as the "immortality of the soul
alone" or "spiritual immortality"50.
These distinctions are not a modern construct, for many in
the ancient world used similar categories. Josephus distinguishes between those
who believe in no afterlife (i.e. Sadducees; BJ 2.165), in the
immortality of the soul apart from the body (i.e. Essenes; BJ 2.154-158),
and in the immortality of the soul in a body (i.e. Pharisees; BJ 2.163).
The early church fathers also distinguished between the immortality of the soul
and resurrection of the body51. Justin Martyr mentions those "who say that
there is no resurrection from the dead, but that immediately at death their
souls would ascend to heaven" (Dial., 80)52. Augustine wrote that
while, "on the immortality of the soul many gentile philosophers have
disputed at great length and in many books they have left it written that the
soul is immortal, when they came to the resurrection of the flesh, they doubt
not indeed, but they most openly deny it, describing it to be absolutely
impossible that this earthly flesh can ascend to heaven" (Enarr. in
Psalm 88,5)53. Even Luke distinguished between a resurrection body which had
"flesh and bone" and a spirit that had none (Luke 24,37-39). Thus,
there is ample justification for making a distinction between immortality of the
soul and the resurrection based on ancient literature.
In closing our argument, there are three general points that
need to be made about the concept of resurrection. First of all, to define
"resurrection" in the form of a spirit as being "without a
body" is out of line with most Jewish, Christian, and even Greek54 thinking
of the day, as we have just seen. Although the ways in which Jews and Christians
envisioned the resurrection body could vary greatly, most have in common the
belief in some sort of body. Resurrection could entail a simple restoration of
the body to life (Sib 4.181-182; ApcBar(syr) 50,2; LAB 3.10, animam et
carnem), a transformation of the body (ApcBar[syr] 51,1; 1 Cor 15,51; Phil
3,21), or the soul"s migration to a new body (Ant. 18.14; BJ
3.374; Ap. 2.218). It could involve a solid body or a less solid one.
But, "resurrection" is not an appropriate term to describe the
survival of the spirit without a body.
Second, texts mentioning the resurrection of the soul or
spirit are rare55. One might even inquire as to how well Lachs, Viviano, and
Taylor provide textual evidence for the "resurrection" as a spirit as
a major category of afterlife, for: 1) some texts speak of the immortality of
the soul rather than resurrection (Wis 3,1-3; 4,7; 5,16; 7,20; Jub 23,31; 4 Macc
9,8.22; 10,15; 14,5; 15,2; 16,13; 17,5.18; several texts from Philo)56. None of
these texts use the word resurrection, but rather speak of the immortality and
incorruption of the soul (e.g.Wis 2,23; 9,15). Some texts indicate that at the
death of the body the soul is granted immortality and is immediately taken into
heaven (4 Macc 9,22; 13,17; 14,5; 16,13.15; 17,18; Josephus" description of
the Essenes, BJ 2.154-55). In others, particularly the works of Philo
where Platonic influence is strong, souls are portrayed as immortal by nature
and will escape their bodies at death57; 2) in some texts it is unclear whether
resurrection of the soul alone is implied. For instance, Hen(aeth) 103,3-4, says
that the spirits of the righteous "shall live". Is this an allusion to
resurrection of the spirit alone or to the raising of the soul from the
underworld for reunion with its body?58; and 3) more often, the resurrection of
souls refers to conjuring the dead59.
Third, if resurrection is the survival of bodily death, as
Viviano and Taylor would have it, from whence is the immortal soul
"raised"? It would not be raised "from the dead", for it
never died. It would not be raised from the tomb, for it never went there.
Rather, the immortal soul sloughs off the body at death (e.g., Wisdom; Philo) or
it is made immortal at death and assumed into heaven (e.g., 4 Maccabees). So
then, in what sense is it meaningful to speak of the "resurrection" or
"raising" of the immortal soul when it merely survives death?
In summary, the attempt to explain "angel or
spirit" as forms of resurrection in Acts 23,8 fails because: 1) the meaning
for the words "angel" and "spirit" in Acts 23,9, as modes of
resurrection, places the Pharisees in the unhappy position of acknowledging the
possibility of the resurrection of Jesus and perhaps the onset of the age to
come; 2) the theory of Viviano and Taylor uses an unusual definition for
"resurrection" which does not fit well with the ancient or modern use
of that term.
II. A New Proposal on an Old Theme
In the review and evaluation of the literature, several key
items have emerged that help to formulate rudimentary criteria for explaining
the significance of "angel" and "spirit". A theory should
fit well with known facts about what the Sadducees deny and the Pharisees affirm
(which goes without saying, since all the contributors have attempted to do
this). It should maintain a distinction between "angel" and
"spirit", as Lachs, Viviano, and Taylor pointed out. And, as Daube and
Le Moyne indicated, it should consistently apply any assigned definitions of the
terms "angel" or "spirit" in Acts 23,8 to the appearance of
Jesus to Paul mentioned in 23,9.
None of the four theories examined is completely adequate as
formulated60. Yet, of all the theories, I believe that the Sadducean rejection
of angelic speculation retains the most explanatory power, even though it too
has several weak points that need shoring up. In the section that follows, I
will attempt to show how this theory fulfills the criteria mentioned in the
preceding paragraph and, with modifications, makes the most sense in
interpreting Acts 23,8.
1. Criterion One: Facts Related to the Sadducees
This criterion is satisfied by linking the Sadducees"
rejection of angels and spirits to their rejection of the apocalyptic world view
and fate. The first item is probably secure as it stands, for it is difficult to
imagine the Sadducees endorsing a world view so contrary to their own. This is
because the apocalyptic world view is characterized by determinism (e.g. Dan
2,29-45; ApcBar(syr) 27; Jub 1,29; 32,21; 1QS 11.11) instead of free will, as
well as by resurrection or immortality of the soul rather than annihilation at
death. However, the demonstration of a connection between fate and supernatural
beings, such as angels and spirits, requires a bit of demonstration, for, as far
as I am aware, this notion has been asserted but not proven.
In several passages Josephus relates the range of beliefs
held by groups of his day concerning fate: the Sadducees deny fate altogether,
favoring free will; the Essenes attribute everything to fate, and the Pharisees
allow for a mixture of fate and free will (Ant. 13.171-173; 18.13; BJ 2.162-165).
Since Josephus" view of fate has been described as "the executive aspect
of the Divine will"61, one might well ask through what agencies the divine
plan was specifically carried out in history and nature. One method was to
employ various types of messengers, particularly prophets62 and angels. The
latter group will be the focus of the rest of this section.
In the Dead Sea Scrolls, angels are administrators of
He has created man to govern the world, and has appointed
for him two spirits in which to walk until the time of His visitation: the
spirits of truth and injustice ... For it is He who created the spirits of
Light and Darkness and founded every action upon them and established every
deed [upon] their [ways]" (1QS 3.17b-24a; 1QS 3.25b-26a)63.
Thou hast decreed for us a destiny of Light according to
Thy truth. And the Prince of Light Thou hast appointed from ancient times to
come to our support; [all the sons of righteousness are in his hand], and
all the spirits of truth are under his dominion (1QM 13.9b-10).
In these texts God has predetermined that each person will be
under the dominion of the two spirits, as in the first passage, or be influenced
by them for good or evil, as in the second64.
In Josephus" reshaping of the biblical narratives, fate and
providence sometimes take over the functions previously performed by angels65.
In the story of Daniel, the angel who shut the mouths of the lions (Dan 6,22) is
replaced by "the Deity and His Providence" (to_
qei=on kai_ th_n tou/tou
pro/noian; Ant. 10.260; cf. 262)66. Likewise,
the three young men are not rescued from the flames of the furnace by one who
looked like "a son of god", as in Dan. 3,25, but by "divine
providence" (qei/a| sw/zontai
pronoi/a|; Ant. 10.214). Instead of a lying spirit
(pneu=ma yeude/j; 1
Kgs 22,22.23 LXX) entering the mouth of false prophets to "deceive" (a)path/sei)
Ahab (1 Kgs 22,20.22 LXX), fate (xrew/n)
"deceived" him (a)pathqei/j; Ant.
8.420; cf. 8.409)67. Thus, according to Josephus, fate and providence were
sometimes administered by supernatural beings.
The Talmud recounts a story of how an angel assists in
setting certain aspects of a person"s destiny just prior to conception:
The angel appointed over conception is named Lailah. He
takes a seminal drop, sets it before the Holy One, blessed be He, and asks,
"Sovereign of the Universe! What is to become of this drop? Is it to
develop into a person strong or weak, rich or poor?" But no mention is
made of its becoming a wicked or righteous person (Nid 16a)68.
Whereas health and social class are predetermined, a person"s
free moral agency is preserved69.
The Essenes, Josephus, and the Talmud endorse the concept of
predestination, even though they differed over whether or not free will exists.
They also agree that angels were sometimes involved in the inner workings of
predestination 70. This helps to explain why the Sadducees would have objected
to the operation of angels and spirits (good or evil) in the universe.
2. Criterion Two: The Distinction Between Angel and Spirit
The distinction between angel and spirit could be accounted
for in several ways. One possibility is that angels are contrasted to human
spirits. If "spirit" refers to disembodied humans prior to
resurrection, as Daube suggested, then this fits well with the Sadducean denial
that the soul survives the death of the body. This definition also fits well in
the context of Acts 23,8-9, where it would mean that the Sadducees did not
believe that the spirit of a dead person visited Paul, whereas the Pharisees, or
other Jews of the day, would not have hesitated to believe in a message from
beyond the grave71.
Another option is that "angel" and
"spirit" are used to distinguish genera (e.g., Cherubim, Seraphim, and
Ophanim) or rank (e.g., archangel and angel) of heavenly beings72. If so, the
Sadducees might have rejected them on the same grounds as angels, that is, for
their role in the oversight of predestination.
Finally, "spirit" could refer to the Holy Spirit73.
However, this option seems somewhat less likely, due to the fact that Luke often
qualifies this use of Spirit with words like "holy"74. There are some
uses of "spirit", in the sense of "Holy Spirit", without
qualifiers. Even then, other words in these contexts frequently make it clear
that the Holy Spirit was intended by the author75.
3. Criterion Three: Relevance to the Context of Acts 23
With these facts in mind, it is time to turn to the context
of Acts in order to see why Paul"s description of his religious experiences
would have been objectionable to the Sadducees. The primary objection here seems
to be that an angel or spirit "spoke" (e)la/lhsen)
to Paul76. Why, then, would the Sadducees have had an objection to a spirit or
angel speaking to Paul? I propose that they perceived both the event of
revelation to Paul and the content of that revelation via an angel or a
spirit to be at odds with their view on fate or providence.
As for the event of revelation, Paul"s experiences
were supernatural interventions in the course of his life (i.e., against his
free will). The following details illustrate this: 1) Paul"s experiences most
closely resemble prophetic call narratives, like those found in the Old
Testament and in apocalyptic literature. This is true for the Damascus
experience (Acts 22,6-16)77 and the vision in the temple (Acts 22,17-21; cf. Isa
6,1-10)78; 2) in call narratives in general, and in Paul"s case specifically,
the person is sometimes commissioned against his will (Exod 3,10–4,17; Jer
1,6-7; Acts 26,14) or chosen from birth for this task (Jer 1,5; Gal 1,15; cf.
Acts 9,15); thus, this would be at odds with Sadducean views of free will; 3)
these prophetic calls are often presided over by angels (Exod 3,2, cf. Acts
7,30.35; Judg 6,11-17; Hen[aeth] 71,2) or at least angels are present (Isa
6,1-13; Ezek 1,1–3,11; Hen[aeth] 14–16; Rev 10,8-11). As we saw earlier,
angels were frequently regarded as playing a role in administering
predestination or providential care.
Furthermore, the actual content of the revelation
could be construed as divine interference in Paul"s life. Paul was
"appointed" to perform certain tasks (te/taktai;
Acts 22,10; cf. 13,48 and o# ti/
se dei= poiei=n
9,6). He was "appointed" (proexeiri/sato;
22,14; cf. 3,20; 26,16) to know God"s will and to see and hear Jesus.
Furthermore, he was to be privy to God"s "will" (qe/lhma
22,14), which could refer to God"s predetermined plan in history or salvation
(Luke 11,2; cf. boulh/ in Acts 2,23; 4,28)79.
Finally, the encounter demonstrates God"s awareness and control of future
events: Paul would become a witness for Jesus (Acts 22,15) and his testimony in
Jerusalem would not be accepted if he remained there (22,18). Although the
Sadducees might not have objected to the notion of angels carrying out the will
of God in some general sense, they would have objected to their doing so in the
fulfillment of a preordained eschatological program and to their interfering
with the will of an autonomous human being.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, would not have been shocked
that God might send a messenger to enforce his plan, since they believed in
predestination to some extent. So, it was at least a possibility, however remote
to their minds, that a "voice" (fwnh/) had
spoken to Paul (Acts 22,7.9.14). The voice could have been that of an angel (cf.
John 12,29) or the spirit of Jesus80. However, they were not willing to admit
that Paul has had an encounter with the risen Jesus.
In any discussion of the Sadducees, there will always remain
a certain amount of doubt due to the paucity of sources about them. Based on
what data has survived, the older theory that the Sadducees rejected the
extravagant beliefs about angels and spirits provides the most convincing
solution to the problem of Acts 23,8. The Sadducees" reasons for rejecting
these views were twofold: 1) angels were integrated into the apocalyptic world
view that they rejected; and 2) angels often served as God"s servants to
administer predestination or providence. Thus, when Paul claimed that a heavenly
being had appeared to him in a manner and with a message that appeared to be
predestinarian in nature, the Sadducees were unwilling to entertain the idea
that an angel or spirit had appeared to him. Certainly new theories will arise
in an attempt to grapple with this issue, but to re-appropriate the words of
Jesus in Luke 5,39, "the old is good enough".
Four major theories have emerged to explain the significance
of the terms "angel" and "spirit" in Acts 23,8: the denial
of the existence of angels and spirits altogether, the rejection of excessive
speculation about angels; the denial of the interim state, and the denial of
resurrection as an angel and spirit. The second view has the most explanatory
power. This position was strengthened by showing that what the Sadducees denied
was the role of angels in the administration of predestination. Thus, when a
heavenly being interfered with Saul"s plans on his way to Damascus, the
Sadducees were dubious (Acts 23,9).
1 A fifth category could be added to these. Simply put, Luke
was incorrect about this belief of the Sadducees due to his use of an inaccurate
source or to his own erroneous interpretation of their views. Although his
statement about angels is not recorded elsewhere, I find it unlikely that he was
misinformed. Compare Luke to Josephus, who is accepted by many scholars as
trustworthy despite the fact that he is the sole author to mention the Sadducean
denial of fate.
2 Bill., II, 767; M. MANSOOR, "Sadducees", EncJud
XIV, 621; H. LOESTER, Introduction to the New Testament. History, Culture
and Religion in the Hellenistic Age (New York 1987) I, 230; S. TAYLOR,
"Sadducees", The Concise Evangelical Dictionary of Theology
(Grand Rapids, MI 1991) 444; one modern translation of the Bible takes this view
of Acts 23,8: "The Sadducees say that the dead won"t come back to life
and that angels and spirits don"t exist"; God"s Word (Grand
Rapids, MI 1995).
3 T.W. MANSON, "Sadducee and Pharisee", BJRL 22
(1938) 144; G.F. LOORE, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era
(New York 1971), 68; F.F. BRUCE, The Acts of the Apostles. The Greek Text
with Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI 1975) 412.
4 D. DAUBE, "On Acts 23: Sadducees and Angels", JBL
109 (1990) 493–497. N.T. Wright also envisions the intermediate state in the
form of an angel or spirit. However, there is no evidence that his view is based
on the research of Daube. See N.T. WRIGHT, The Challenge of Jesus.
Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is (Downers Grove, IL 1999) 136, 134-135,
138, and 148, n. 12, where he specifically refers to Acts 12,15 and 23,8-10.
5 S.T. LACHS, "The Pharisees and Sadducees on Angels: A
Reexamination of Acts XXIII.8", Gratz College Annual of Jewish Studies
6 (1975) 35-42; B.T. VIVIANO – J. TAYLOR, "Sadducees, Angels, and
Resurrection (Acts 23:8-9)", JBL 111 (1992) 496-498; A.A. BELL
endorses the views of Viviano and Taylor in his Exploring the New Testament
World (Nashville, TN 1998) 33. J.A. FITZMYER is also favorable toward this
interpretation, see his The Acts of the Apostles (AB31; New York 1998)
6 E.g., TAYLOR holds the former view ("Sadducees",
444), while KOESTER holds the latter (Introduction I, 230).
7 J.P. MEIER, A Marginal Jew. Rethinking the
Historical Jesus (New York 2001) III, 408. Meier is simply evaluating various
theories here. This does not represent his own view.
8 J. LE MOYNE, Les Sadducéens (EB; Paris 1972) 133;
LACHS, "Pharisees and Sadducees", 36.
9 See the examples in H.W. SMYTH, Greek Grammar (Cambridge
1984) 269; F. BLASS – A. DEBRUNNER, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament
and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL 1961) 77.
10 LACHS, "Pharisees and Sadducees", 35.
11 L. FINKELSTEIN, The Pharisees. The Sociological
Background of Their Faith (Philadelphia 1962) I, 179; B.J. BAMBERGER, "The
Sadducees and the Belief in Angels", JBL 82 (1963) 434; E. HAENCHEN,
The Acts of the Apostles (Philadelphia 1971) 638, n. 4; LE MOYNE, Les
Sadducéens, 132; S. SANDMEL, Judaism and Christian Beginnings (New
York 1978) 480, n. 53; DAUBE, "On Acts 23", 493; MEIER, Marginal
Jew, III, 408.
12 LE MOYNE, Les Sadducéens, 132; DAUBE, "On
Acts 23", 493; LACHS, "Pharisees and Sadducees", 35.
13 When the Sadducees interrogate Jesus in Luke 20,27-40 (and
parallels Matt 22,23-33; Mark 12,18-27), they did not protest his assertion that
the resurrected dead would be like angels (Luke 20,36). Rather, they conceded
that he had argued well. DAUBE ("On Acts 23", 496) records a Sadducee"s
attack on R. Eliezar concerning the resurrection from the dead (Shab 152b).
He inquires how it was possible for the witch of Endor (1 Sam 28,7-19) to
conjure up the spirit of Samuel, when, according to the rabbi, the souls of the
righteous are "treasured" beneath the Throne of Glory. Daube notes,
"the Sadducean attack is not indescriminate, not directed against the
Throne and its wonderful surroundings, justice, life, Ophanim, Angels of the
Service, but specifically against assigning mortals a waiting room in that
world" (496). His point is weakened because these heavenly beings, often
associated with the Throne of Glory (Hag 12b; DeutR 1,10-11), are
not mentioned in this encounter.
14 A. COHEN, Everyman"s Talmud. The Major Teachings
of the Rabbinic Sages (New York 1975) 52.
15 Ibid., 51-52.
16 BAMBERGER, "The Sadducees", 434.
17 A.J. SALDARINI, Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees in
Palestinian Society (Grand Rapids, MI 2001) 300-304.
18 Ibid., 304.
19 BELL, New Testament World, 33; BRUCE, Acts,
412; L.T. JOHNSON, The Acts of the Apostles (Sacra Pagina 5;
Collegeville, MN 1992) 398. The Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, and Dead Sea Scrolls,
serve as witness to an increased interest with angels. According to Josephus,
the Essenes even preserved "the names of the angels" (BJ
20 Meier finds intimations in the Torah and Prophets of
"a this-worldly eschatology centered on the Davidic king and/or the
Jerusalem temple on Mt. Zion" that may have been endorsed by the Sadducees
(Marginal Jew, III, 407). Cf. SALDARINI, "They wish to retain the
status quo and keep the focus on the nation (and potential kingdom) of Israel in
this world, not the next" (Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees, 300).
21 For an evaluation of this position and a list of those
holding this view, see MEIER, Marginal Jew, III, 406; 465, n. 68.
Apocalyptic ideas, which could have had revolutionary implications, probably
would have been avoided by the governing class. The Sadducees would have been
interested keeping peace with Rome, which was necessary in order for them to
retain their power and prosperity. See also SALDARINI, Pharisees, Scribes,
and Sadducees, 304.
22 Cf. S. ZEITLIN, "The Sadducees and the Belief in
Angels", JBL (1964) 69-70. MEIER proposed, but subsequently rejected
this idea; Marginal Jew, III, 404. An exception is the angel of the Lord
in Isa 37,36.
23 ZEITLIN, "The Sadducees", 70-71. Lachs dismisses
Zeitlin"s argument because it is unlikely the Sadducees would have denied the
existence of angels since they are in the Pentateuch ("Pharisees and
Sadducees", 42, n. 30). However, Zeitlin does not say they denied the
existence of angels, but the "functions of angels", which I take to
mean their continued activity ("The Sadducees", 70-71).
24 ZEITLIN, "The Sadducees", 71.
25 This situation is comparable to Lachs critique of
Finkelstein: "How can one speak of a denial of angels by the author of
Esther when we do not even know his conception of God who is not mentioned in
the book?" ("Pharisees and Sadducees", 42, n. 30).
26 The theory of Le Moyne is similar to this one with the
exception that he believes that these two terms may refer to the state of man
after death, whether resurrected or not (LE MOYNE Les Sadducéens, 134,
135). In an attempt not to multiply theories, I have chosen to interact with Le
Moyne"s views in the footnotes since it straddles Daube"s "intermediate
state" theory and the "resurrection" theories of Lachs, Viviano,
27 DAUBE, "On Acts 23", 494-5; Hen(aeth) 22,3.7;
49,3; 103,3-4; Luke 24,36-43.
28 MEIER writes, "there is no Jewish or Christian text
from the 1st century A.D. that clearly equates "spirit" and "angel"
in the sense of a human being"s postmortem, interim mode of existence before
the resurrection" (A Marginal Jew, III, 408).
29 Viviano and Taylor make this point concerning one of Daube"s
examples (Matt 22,30 and parallels, "Sadducees", 497), but it is true
of all of the latter"s examples (Matt 22,30; Mark 12,25; Luke 20,36; Hen(aeth)
104,4-6; ApcBar(syr) 51,22.214.171.124; DAUBE, "On Acts 23", 494.
30 Ibid., 494.
31 Other texts, not mentioned by Daube, also note the
similarity of the righteous to angels or stars at the resurrection (LAB
33.5) or at the point when the immortal soul discards the body (Philo, Sacr.
5). The later view is more in line with Daube"s theory, in that it describes a
disembodied state (a)sw/matoi), but is not identical
to it since there is no interim state. For Philo, the disembodied state is the
final state (Philo, Quis Rerum 276).
32 DAUBE, "On Acts 23", 496. LE MOYNE says that
"angel" here "est en quelque sorte le double immortel de l"homme"
(Les Sadducéens, 13).
33 VIVIANO – TAYLOR, "Sadducees", 497; MEIER, Marginal
Jew, III, 408-9.
34 This is also a shortcoming of Le Moyne"s theory.
35 LACHS, "Pharisees and Sadducees", 38. He
suggests there were three views of afterlife current in Second Temple Judaism:
resurrection of the physical body, resurrection in a spiritual body, and
resurrection as a pure spirit, 36-37.
36 LACHS, "Pharisees and Sadducees", 35-36. All but
the second and fifth of these had been pondered earlier by LE MOYNE, Les
37 HAENCHEN, Acts, 639; M.L. SOARDS, The Speeches
in Acts. Their Content, Context, and Concerns (Louisville, KY 1994) 116.
38 BRUCE, Acts, 412.
39 M. ZERWICK, Biblical Greek (Rome 1963) 51.
40 See BAMBERGER, "The Sadducees", 435. LE MOYNE
noted the relationship in terminology between Acts 23,8 and 23,9, but did not
comment on the problem posed by his own theory, in which a person might have
been raised (according to one interpretation), by having a Pharisee entertain
the notion of Jesus" resurrection, Les Sadducéens, 132.
41 One might object that Paul"s call has not been mentioned
in his speech to the Council. However, the scribes" statement in 23,9 assumes
that the Council has a basic knowledge of the Damascus experience (BRUCE, Acts,
412; HAENCHEN, Acts, 638-639; DAUBE, "On Acts 23", 495; SOARDS,
42Daube is correct concerning the Pharisees" response to
Paul"s experiences, "They cannot fall in with his interpretation of them
– the risen Savior. But they do admit the possibility of a visit sponsored by
God in order to transmit advice" ("On Acts 23", 495). So JOHNSON,
"The Pharisaic willingness to recognize some sort of transcendental
experience (that they can fit within their categories and at the same time use
against the Sadducees) works to Paul"s purpose, but also falls short of
recognizing the key point, which is the reality of the resurrection in Paul"s
experience of Jesus as Lord" (Acts, 399). J. MURPHY-O-CONNER writes,
"The resurrection was the sign that validated the mission of Jesus and
guaranteed his teaching. No Christian could avoid speaking of it and, once
heard, it would rankle in the memory of a Pharisee"; Paul. A
Critical Life (New York 1997) 77.
43 Acts 24,15. The Pharisaic belief in the resurrection as an
eschatological event is confirmed by extra-biblical sources as well. Josephus
records that this group believed that the souls of the righteous would receive
"passage to a new life" (Ant.18.14). In his speech at Jotapata,
Josephus states his conviction that "their souls, remaining spotless and
obedient, are allotted the most holy place in heaven, whence in the revolution
of the ages, they return to find in chaste bodies a new habitation" (BJ 3.374-375).
Elsewhere, he states that "....God has granted a renewed existence and in
the revolution of ages the gift of a better life" (Ap. 218). Viviano
and Taylor suggest that the Myth of Er (Plato, Republic, 10.614-621) is
analogous to Josephus" views ("Sadducees", 498). Yet, the only
similarities are that the soul passes into another body and that the soul is
immortal. The end results are different, for in Plato, several reincarnations
are required of the soul prior to final disembodiment, whereas in Josephus, the
immortal soul passes to one body at the revolution of the ages (i.e., the end of
44 Luke 20,27-40; Acts 4,2.
45 M.J. HARRIS, From Grave to Glory. Resurrection in
the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI 1990) 286; WRIGHT, The Challenge of Jesus,
137; Dan 12,1-4.13; John 11,24; 1 Thess 4,16-17; LAB 3.10; Sib 4.171-190;
ApcBar(syr) 42,7; 48,47; 49,2; 50,4; 51,1; TestJob 4,9; RHSh 16b-17a.
46 In all fairness, Viviano and Taylor do mention the
possibility of combined belief in the immortality of the soul with the
resurrection of the body. However, they favor the view that Acts 23,8 refers to
either resurrection or immortality of the spirit without a body (VIVIANO –
TAYLOR, "Sadducees", 497, n. 6; 498).
47 Ibid., 498.
48 LACHS, "Pharisees and Sadducees", 36.
49 WRIGHT, The Challenge of Jesus, 134.
50 A.-M. DUBARLE, "Belief in Immortality in the Old
Testament and Judaism", Immortality and Resurrection (ed. P. BENOIT
– R. MURPHY) (New York 1970) 34, 40-45; G. VERMES, The Dead Sea Scrolls.
Qumran in Perspective (Philadelphia, PA 1985) 187; W.D. DAVIES, Paul and
Rabbinic Judaism (Mifflintown, PA 1998) 298-303; HARRIS, From Grave to
Glory, 45, 69-79; E.P. SANDERS, Judaism. Practice and Belief 63 BCE
-66 CE, (Valley Forge, PA 1992) 298-303; N. GILLMAN, The Death of Death. Resurrection
and Immortality in Jewish Thought (Woodstock, VT 1997) 83; R. BAUCKHAM,
"Life, Death, and the Afterlife in Second Temple Judaism", Life in
the Face of Death. The Resurrection Message of the New Testament (ed. R.N.
LONGENECKER) (Grand Rapids, MI 1998) 86-90; WRIGHT, The Challenge of Jesus,
51 H.A. WOLFSON, "Immortality and Resurrection in the
Philosophy of the Church Fathers", Immortality and Resurrection (ed.
K. STENDAHL) (New York 1965) 61.
52 Quotation taken from O. CULLMANN, "Immortality of the
Soul or Resurrection of the Dead", Immortality and Resurrection, 46.
53 Quotation taken from WOLFSON, "Immortality", 51.
54 A. OEPKE concludes that, with the exception of the
transmigration of souls, the Greeks spoke of resurrection in two ways: 1)
resurrection from the dead did not occur (e.g. Homer, Illiad 21.56;
Herodotus, Hist. 3.62; Aeschylus, Agamemnon 1360; Eumenides
648; Sophocles, Electra 137); and 2) resurrection could take place as an
isolated miracle (e.g. Plato, Symposium 179c). But, "the idea of the
general resurrection at the end of the age is alien to the Greeks"; "a)ni/sthmi,
e)cana/stasij", TDNT I, 369.
55 HARRIS, From Grave to Glory, 76.
56 LACHS, "Pharisees and Sadducees", 40, n. 13 and
14; VIVIANO – TAYLOR, "Sadducees", 497.
57 VIVIANO – TAYLOR, "Sadducees", 497.
Ironically, the Myth of the Charioteer in Plato"s Phaedo (146-250) is
suggested as a possible influence on the belief in spirit resurrection among the
Pharisees. It clearly teaches the immortality of the soul, but does not use the
terminology of resurrection. Instead, Plato speaks of the transmigration of the
soul, which after a period of several incarnations, finds its final release from
58 The latter view is suggested by its proximity to Hen(aeth)
104,1, which seems to imply an angelic, bodily form of resurrection (note the
allusion to Dan 12,3, "shall shine like the lights of heaven"; cf.
Hen(aeth) 22,1-13; 25,6).
59 LAB 64.5; Josephus, Ant. 6.329; cf. The
Epic of Gilgamesh VI, 97-100 and Descent of Ishtar to the Nether World
17-20. For the last two texts see ANET I, 40-75; 80-85.
60 As we have seen, Daube"s theory faltered because he
failed to demonstrate that "angel" and "spirit" were
synonyms. The theories of Lachs and Viviano likewise faltered because the
"angel" and "spirit" resurrection bodies made no sense as an
affirmation of the Pharisees in the context of Acts 23,9. The view that the
Sadducees denied the belief in angels and spirits altogether seems implausible
because the Torah, which the group accepted, was filled with such beings.
61 S. MASON, Flavius Josephus on the Pharisees. A
Composition-Critical Study (SPB 39; Leiden 1991) 136.
62 J. BLENKINSOPP, "Prophecy and Priesthood in
Josephus", JJS 25 (1974) 239-262.
63 All quotations from the Dead Sea Scrolls are taken from G.
VERMES, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English (New York 1995).
64 E.P. SANDERS, Paul and Palestinian Judaism
(Philadelphia 1987) 258-9.
65 For the relationship between the terms "fate",
"destiny", and "providence" in Josephus, see BLENKINSOPP,
"Prophecy", 249, n. 41.
66 See BJ 3.391, where Josephus closely associates
"fortune" (tu/xh) and
67 BLENKINSOPP, "Prophecy", 250.
68 This quotation is taken from COHEN, Everyman"s
69 This mixture of predestination and free will resembles
Josephus" description of the Pharisees; ibid.; cf. also hnwtn
tw#$rhw ywpc lkh,
70 Several of the Post-Apostolic Fathers believed angels were
deeply involved in the government of the universe (Justin, 2 Apology 5;
Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians 24; Origen, Against Celsus
7.68; 8.31). See G.A. BOYD, Satan and the Problem of Evil (Downers Grove,
IL 2001) 39-49.
71 Josephus, the Pharisee, accepts that the witch of Endor
brought back the soul (yuxh/) of Samuel from Hades
and gave a message to Saul (Ant. 6.332). In San. 102b, the spirit of
Manasseh spoke to R. Ashi in a dream. In later rabbinic material, the soul of
the dead might hover round the tomb for three days (LevR 18,1; cf. John
11,17.39) or the soul of the dead might ascend and descend for as much as a year
after death, as is argued here for the soul of Samuel, DAUBE, "On Acts
23", 496. In the gospels, when the disciples see Jesus walking on the sea
they thought he was a "ghost" (fa/ntasma;
Matt 14,26). When they first encountered the resurrected Jesus, they thought
they were seeing a "spirit" (pneu=ma; Luke
72 T.W. MANSON writes, "What they rejected was the
developed doctrine of the two kingdoms with their hierarchies of good and evil
spirits", The Servant-Messiah (Cambridge 1953) 17, n. 3. Cf. Eph
2,2; 6,12; 1QM 10.11-12; Sib 4,11; 12,14.81-85; Jub 2,23; Hen(aeth) 18-19,
73 G.G. STROUMSA, "Le Couple de l"ange et de l"esprit:
traditions juives et chrétiennes", RB 88 (1981) 42-61; SOARDS, Speeches,
74 For a!gion see Luke
1,126.96.36.199; 2,25-26; 3,16.22; 4,1; 10,21; 11,13; 12,10.12; Acts 1,2.8.16;
2,4.33.38; 4,8.25.31; 5,3.32; 6,5; 7,51.55; 8,15.17.19; 9,17.31; 10,188.8.131.52;
11,15.16.24; 13,184.108.40.206; 15,8.28.29; 16,6; 19,2.6; 20,23.28; 21,11; 28,25. For mou
see Luke 1,47; Acts 2,17.18; 7,59. For kuri/ou see
Luke 4,18; Acts 5,9; 8,39. For )Ihsou= see Acts
75 E.g., Luke 1,17.80; 2,27; 4,1.14; Acts 1,5; 2,4; 6,3.10;
76 Acts 28,9. The scribes of the Pharisees say, "perhaps
a spirit or an angel spoke to him". The action of this spirit/angel focuses
not on its "appearing" but on its "speaking" or
communicating. This is reinforced by the dominant role of the "voice"
in Acts 22, 220.127.116.11.
77 D. AUNE, Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient
Mediterranean World (Grand Rapids, MI 1991) 97-99.
78 JOHNSON, Acts, 391.
79 MOORE writes that Josephus "used ei(marme/nh
for what we might call the decrees of God"; Judaism, 458.
80 As a point of reference, Josephus seems to have allowed
for heavenly communications (most likely the lw$q tb)
in post-biblical times (Ant. 13.282; BJ 6.299. 301). Bruce thinks
that the Damascus experience resembled an encounter with the lw$q tb
in some regards. F.F. BRUCE, The Book of Acts (Grand Rapids, MI 1986)