Divine Embodiment in Jewish Antiquity: Rediscovering the Jewishness of John's Incarnate Christ

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dc.contributor.author Forger, Deborah
dc.date.accessioned 2017-10-05T20:33:27Z
dc.date.available 2017-10-05T20:33:27Z
dc.date.issued 2017
dc.date.submitted 2017
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/138783
dc.description.abstract This dissertation explores how the notion of divine embodiment presents an unexpected point of convergence between the emerging religions of Judaism and Christianity. In particular, it investigates ways that Jews, living around the first century CE, envisioned God in corporeal form and humans as divine. Part one, which comprises chapters 1 and 2, re-conceptualizes the concepts of incarnation and monotheism. The former demonstrates how the notion of divine corporeality within Jewish thought encompasses incarnation, while the latter reveals how ancient Jews had a hierarchical view of divinity, enabling many things, even created entities, to be considered divine. Building off this backdrop, part two examines a series of case studies in which ancient Jews envisioned humans as divine. Chapter 3 exhibits how Philo of Alexandria thought a spark of divinity could be implanted into the souls of humans, while chapter 4 reveals how various Jewish authors viewed the high priest as a deified human or the visible representation of God on earth. Part three illuminates how other Jews thought that part of Israel’s supreme God could enter into corporeality, by focusing on the figures of Sophia (chapter 5) and the divine Logos (chapter 6). In making these claims, I situate the Gospel of John—and its description of Jesus as the divine word made flesh (ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο)—within a particular moment of Jewish history. Although scholars have long pointed to John 1:14 as the moment where the Christian story differentiated itself from its Jewishness, I argue that the verse was one of many ways that Jews, around the turn of Common Era, understood that God could take on bodily form. My research demonstrates that God’s embodiment was not antithetical to Jewish thought in antiquity but integral to the tradition. By focusing on a particular moment of Jewish history, instead of employing a lens that works backward from a later known outcome, my work resists an anachronistic reading of the evidence. In so doing it finds a place of commonality between Jewish and Christian traditions and opens up a potential point of contact for Jewish-Christian dialogue in the current day.
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.subject divine embodiment
dc.subject Gospel of John
dc.subject Philo of Alexandria
dc.subject Incarnate Christ
dc.subject Jewish Antiquity
dc.subject John 1:14
dc.title Divine Embodiment in Jewish Antiquity: Rediscovering the Jewishness of John's Incarnate Christ
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.description.thesisdegreename PHD
dc.description.thesisdegreediscipline Near Eastern Studies
dc.description.thesisdegreegrantor University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies
dc.contributor.committeemember Boccaccini, Gabriele
dc.contributor.committeemember Van Dam, Raymond H
dc.contributor.committeemember Muehlberger, Ellen
dc.contributor.committeemember Neis, Rachel
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel Humanities (General)
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel Judaic Studies
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel Religious Studies
dc.subject.hlbtoplevel Humanities
dc.description.bitstreamurl https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/138783/1/dkforger_1.pdf
dc.identifier.orcid 0000-0003-1285-7880
dc.identifier.name-orcid Forger, Deborah; 0000-0003-1285-7880 en_US
dc.owningcollname Dissertations and Theses (Ph.D. and Master's)
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