Friday, March 21, 2008

The World was Created for ... ?

In 4 Ezra we find this statement:

"On the sixth day you commanded the earth to bring forth before you cattle, wild animals, and creeping things; and over these you placed Adam, as ruler over all the works that you had made; and from him we have all come, the people whom you have chosen. All this I have spoken before you, O Lord, because you have said that it was for us that you created this world. As for the other nations that have descended from Adam, you have said that they are nothing, and that they are like spittle, and you have compared their abundance to a drop from a bucket. And now, O Lord, these nations, which are reputed to be as nothing, domineer over us and devour us. But we your people, whom you have called your firstborn, only begotten, zealous for you, and most dear, have been given into their hands. If the world has indeed been created for us, why do we not possess our world as an inheritance? How long will this be so?" (4 Ezra 6.53-59 [NRSV]).

What is interesting is a similar view is found in the Shepherd of Hermas:

"As I slept, brothers and sisters, a revelation was gien to me by a very handsome young man, who said to me, 'Who do you think the elderly woman from whom you received the little book was?' I said: 'The Sibyl.' 'You are wrong,' he said. 'She is not.' 'Then who is she?' I said. 'The church,' he replied, 'she was created before all things; therefore she is elderly, and for her sake the world was formed'." (Herm. 8.1 [trans. Holmes]).

Was Hermas dependent on 4 Ezra and does this suggest some kind of supersessionism in Hermas?

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