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The Jewish JesusHow Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other$
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Peter Schäfer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153902

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153902.001.0001

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The Young and the Old God

The Young and the Old God

Chapter:
(p.55) 2 The Young and the Old God
Source:
The Jewish Jesus
Author(s):

Peter Schäfer

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691153902.003.0003

This chapter looks at the problem faced by the rabbis when they were confronted with the fact that the God of the Hebrew Bible assumes various guises, using the example of a relatively early Palestinian midrash. There, the heretics take advantage of the fact that God is sometimes portrayed as a young war hero and sometimes as a merciful old man. Countering the heretics' argument that these various manifestations point to two divine powers of equal right in heaven, one old and one young, the rabbis insist that their God, despite his varying appearances, nevertheless is always one and the same—never changing and never growing old. The danger evoked by such an interpretation of the Hebrew Bible is obvious: one immediately thinks of the Christian notion of the old and young God—God–Father and God–Son.

Keywords:   God, Hebrew Bible, Palestinian midrash, heretics, divine powers, old God, Young God, God-Father, God-Son

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