Daniel O. McClellan shared a paper proposal for the upcoming annual SBL meeting. His proposal ends as follows:
This paper proposes the threshold of monotheism is found not at the rejection of the existence of other deities, but at the conflation of the gods with a theologically harmless classification of divine being, the angels of God. The clearest example of this conflation is found in LXX Deut 32:43, where the original “worship him all you gods” (4QDeutq: hštḥww lw ḵl ’lhym) is expanded to two cola which place the sons of God (huioi theou) parallel to the angels of God (angeloi theou). This text manifests an attempt, either on the part of the translator or his Vorlage, to accommodate Judaism’s scriptural heritage to a theology which was comfortable with the existence of other deities, provided they were confined to a distinct taxonomy that existed only to obediently serve Israel’s God. The early Hellenistic period, not the Babylonian exile, thus marks the transition from the monolatry of the Hebrew Bible to the monotheism of early Judaism.
Setting aside the question of the timing for the “threshold of monotheism,” the LXX and particularly the 4QDeutq versions of Deut 32:43a provide an interesting parallel with a couple of lines in one of the Akkadian prayers I’m working on. I referred to line 129 from the Shamash Šuilla prayer BMS 6:97-132 the other day. Here is the whole section (BMS 6:129-132):
šamû liḫdūka erṣetim lirīšk[a]
ilū ša kiššati likrubūka
ilū rabûtu lìbbaka liṭibbu
May the heavens rejoice in you, may the earth be jubilant in you.
May the whole pantheon bless you.
May the great gods make your heart content.
These lines occur at the end of the prayer in a place where it is more common to find a conditional vow of praise. In this prayer the supplicant calls on the heavens, the earth, the whole pantheon and the great gods to worship Shamash rather than offering the more common vow to praise for the god himself. There is little double that this call to worship Shamash is itself conditional.
Now here is A New English Translation of the Septuagint’s (NETS) translation of Deut 32:43a.
Be glad, O skies, with him and let all the divine sons do obeisance to him.
Be glad, O nations, with his people and let all the angels of God prevail for him.
Remember that 4QDeutq reads in translation, “worship him all you gods” where the NETS reads, “the divine sons do obeisance to him.”
Also, note how Deut 32 begins:
Give ear, O heavens, let me speak;
Let the earth hear the words I utter!
May my discourse come down as rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
Like showers on young growth,
Like droplets on the grass.
For the name of the Lord I proclaim;
Give glory to our God! [JPS]
Notice that the heavens and earth are to listen to the poem and that they (and perhaps others) are to “give glory.”
Based on their common theme and several parallel motifs, there can be little doubt that the LXX and Qumran versions of Deut 32:43a (and the MT of Deut 32:1-3 for that matter) and BMS 6:129-132 came from the same cultural reservoir of religious expression. The MT version is certainly more acceptable to those with a monotheistic theology.
Now, here is my real problems. How do I cite a paper proposal posted on a blog when I include this material in my study of the Akkadian prayer? And how do I deal with the content of my own post without plagiarizing myself?