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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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God and Metatron

God and Metatron

(p.103) 4 God and Metatron
The Jewish Jesus

Peter Schäfer

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on Metatron, that enigmatic figure assuming the title “Lesser God.” It begins with an analysis of a midrash transmitted only in the Bavli, in which Rav Idith—a Babylonian amora of the fourth or fifth century—deflects the fierce attacks of certain heretics who insist on assigning Metatron divine status. No doubt, the notion of a second divine power alongside that of God has gained followers among the Babylonian Jews. In order to substantiate this claim, the chapter surveys all the relevant Metatron passages preserved in rabbinic literature. It turns out that almost all of them are found either in the Babylonian Talmud or in the Hekhalot literature, most notably in 3 Enoch. The Metatron of the Bavli and the Hekhalot literature is a deliberate response on the part of the Babylonian Jews to the challenges posed by Christianity.

Keywords:   Metatron, Lesser God, Bavli, Rav Idith, divine power, Babylonian Jews, rabbinic literature, Babylonian Talmud, Hekhalot literature, Christianity

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