It’s all Steve’s fault, though all he seems to have intended (by his post at Sects and Violence in the Ancient World) was to start a fine old argument about ancient space aliens and pyramids ;) But then Duane took it up and threw an interesting (Naturally and abnormally interesting one ;) )) spanner, into the works, asking how Christian talk of Jesus as divine impacts our reading of talk of divine kingship in the ANE.
But it is Jim Getz’ Musings on Divine Kingship that really got me thinking.1 After an all-too brief tour of the ANE, and some highly pertinent remarks on the small and insignificant nature of whatever “Israel” actually was at the time, he wrote:
There are hints of divine kingship in the Bible. Psalm 2 is the premiere example, but others could be cited as well. However, these data are always somewhat cryptic. Surely the Deuteronomists saw the king’s role in the cult highly conscribed. Both P and H pass over the king in silence. The writer of Ezekiel 40-48 envisions an extremely limited role for rulers in his eschatological temple. Does this indicate a reevaluation of the king’s divine status in light of the realities of foreign hegemony, or does it hearken back to ideas found in Ugaritic texts?
I wonder, is this all? There are admittedly few ascriptions of divinity, or even permanent sacral status, to kings in the Hebrew Scriptures (though Psalm 110, especially in the light of its use in Hebrews, is an interesting addition to his list), but there are more passages that directly or indirectly protest against or undermine such claims. Ezek 28 is the most obvious example, though of course one might claim that the wrongness of the prince of Tyre’s aretalogy2 consists (in part) in the fact that he had no “real” claim to be an emperor. And yet, since I am teaching Gen 2-3 currently, I have to admit that I wonder how far the burlesque elements of that narrative are crafted to subvert such claims. And if it was then surely the claims being subverted must have been nearer to the writer than the prince of Tyre?
“The lady [or at least Scripture] doth protest too much, methinks.”