Radical and Subversive Theology of Ezekiel 1-An Intertextual Reading

Author: Danijel Kevesevic

Kevesevic, Danijel, 2016 Radical and Subversive Theology of Ezekiel 1-An Intertextual Reading, Flinders University, School of Humanities and Creative Arts

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This thesis examines Ezekiel’s vision of the glory of the Lord found in the first chapter of the book of Ezekiel. The primary aim of the study is to explore the radical and subversive theology used by the author to communicate his message to the exiles.

A combination of literary criticism and intertextuality will be used as interpretative lenses to identify this controversial theology contained in Ezekiel 1.

Intertextuality will be used to explore how two texts interact. The aim of intertextuality is to identify the texts that the author is calling upon and how he develops and modifies longstanding traditions to address his circumstances while advancing a new theology. The principles of intertextuality will be applied not just to different biblical and extrabiblical texts but also to iconography of the Ancient Near East.

This thesis has found that the living creatures described in Ezekiel 1 are supernatural beings who bear little resemblance to cherubim or seraphim but are very similar to the four beings called “the Destructive, the Pitiless, the Trampler and the Flier” depicted in Enuma Elish.

The author’s audience expected Marduk on his war chariot to come to Babylon re-affirming his victory over YHWH. However, it is El Šadday who is described as coming to Babylon riding Marduk’s own war chariot pulled by four monstrous beings. The author is using a well-known Ancient Near Eastern tradition and radically transforms it, reinstating YHWH as the supreme deity.

The author of the book of Ezekiel proclaims that YHWH was never defeated by Marduk and that it is YHWH who is responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple and the exile.

The author is controversial in the way he describes the prophet Ezekiel as the new Moses, because his audience needs someone like Moses to lead them away from syncretism and assimilation to Babylonian culture and religion.

This thesis has found that the author of the book of Ezekiel depicts King Jehoiachin as the only true political leader and declares his allegiances to King Jehoiachin and his opposition to Zedekiah. YHWH is in Babylon and the Lord supports King Jehoiachin and the exiles. Even though the role of King Jehoiachin is vital, it is YHWH who is depicted as the true king.

The author’s highly anthropomorphic description of YHWH in Ezekiel 1 is conceptually dependent on the Ancient Near Eastern understanding of the divine body. An abstract God found pre-exilic time is not an option for the author and his audience who are living in Babylon. By radically stating that the glory of the Lord seemed to have “a human form” the author exalts the human race to a new level. It is of paramount importance to the author to make the vision of YHWH as corporeal as possible. Only by the author doing this would the exiles who were immersed in Babylonian religion and society see YHWH as being real and present in Babylon.

Keywords: Ezekiel 1, Ezekiel 1-28, Vision, The living creatures, The glory of the Lord, Intertextual, Enuma Elish, the Destructive, the Pitiless, the Trampler, the Flier, Marduk, YHWH, Ancient Near Eastern iconography, King Jehoiachin, Zedekiah, Jeremiah, Babylon, Radical, Subversive

Subject: Theology thesis, Humanities thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2016
School: School of Humanities and Creative Arts
Supervisor: Rev. Dr Anna Grant-Henderson