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The Unseen Realm: Recovering the…
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The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (edizione 2015)

di Dr. Michael S. Heiser (Autore)

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In The Unseen Realm, Dr. Michael Heiser examines the ancient context of Scripture, explaining how its supernatural worldview can help us grow in our understanding of God. He illuminates intriguing and amazing passages of the Bible that have been hiding in plain sight. You'll find yourself engaged in an enthusiastic pursuit of the truth, resulting in a new appreciation for God's Word. Why wasn't Eve surprised when the serpent spoke to her? How did descendants of the Nephilim survive the flood? Why did Jacob fuse Yahweh and his Angel together in his prayer? Who are the assembly of divine beings that God presides over? In what way do those beings participate in God's decisions? Why do Peter and Jude promote belief in imprisoned spirits? Why does Paul describe evil spirits in terms of geographical rulership? Who are the "glorious ones" that even angels dare not rebuke? After reading this book, you may never read your Bible the same way again. "There is a world referred to in the Scripture that is quite unseen, but also quite present and active. Michael Heiser's The Unseen Realm seeks to unmask this world. Heiser shows how important it is to understand this world and appreciate how its contribution helps to make sense of Scripture. The book is clear and well done, treating many ideas and themes that often go unseen themselves. With this book, such themes will no longer be neglected, so read it and discover a new realm for reflection about what Scripture teaches." --Darrell L. Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement, Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Howard G. Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement "'How was it possible that I had never seen that before?' Dr. Heiser's survey of the complex reality of the supernatural world as the Scriptures portray it covers a subject that is strangely sidestepped. No one is going to agree with everything in his book, but the subject deserves careful study, and so does this book." --John Goldingay, David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament, School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary… (altro)
Utente:GMillerCBC
Titolo:The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible
Autori:Dr. Michael S. Heiser (Autore)
Info:Lexham Press (2015), Edition: F First Edition Used, 368 pages
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The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible di Dr. Michael S. Heiser

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The Unseen Realm
By Michael S. Heiser
Lexham Press, 2015
Hardcover, 413pp

"When you open your Bible, I want you to be able to see it like ancient Israelites or first-century Jews saw it, to perceive and consider it as they would have."

When it comes to Christian apologetics, C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity is a household name. I believe this is because only Alvin Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief is a worthy successor, but its analytical philosophy and advanced probabilities limit its audience. Textual analysis, on the other hand, seems to me to be a more fruitful application of Biblical criticism. In this vein, two books stand out: Chuck Missler's Cosmic Codes and John Piper's Reading the Bible Supernaturally. And now comes Michael C. Heiser's magnificent and deeply scholarly conception of the Bible based on what he calls the Deuteronomy 32 worldview. Beyond simply a conjectural synthesis of intriguing theories, Heiser's book is well-grounded in compelling logic and textual support for every proposition. Heiser's main goal is to remove the lenses through which the modern Westerner reads the Bible, and expose us to the view an ancient Israelite or first-century Jew would have had. For this, he roots the mythico-literary context in ancient texts of the Mesopotamian and reveals a layer of Hebrew polemics that threads the text. I thought I had a good grasp on the Hebrew-Christian Bible until I read this book. ( )
  chrisvia | Apr 29, 2021 |
9/10 (excellent): The Unseen Realm is a biblical theology of the what most people think of as heavenly or demonic beings. It's readable, scholarly, and theologically stimulating. Best of all, it tackles some of the most perplexing and difficult texts in the Bible (Genesis 6:1-4 and 1 Peter 3:18-22 among many others) and puts forward a single idea that makes good sense of nearly all of those texts.

When I'm reading a book, I highlight in red sections that I disagree with or have serious questions about. The Unseen Realm has more red highlighting than any other book I've completed. As with many books that distil a lifetime's work into a single volume, there are many times where I feel Heiser goes further than the evidence can reasonably take you. I lost count of the number of times he claimed that most English Bible translations have got this verse wrong, for example. It's reasonable to argue that a few times, but when it's more than a dozen, it feels like special pleading. It's also worth pointing out that Heiser is a biblical scholar, not a theologian, and there were more than a few times where I felt he'd drawn wrong theological conclusions from solid biblical exegesis (there are traces of open theism in chapters 7 and 8, for example).

There's enough good stuff in here to make the book well-worth reading for the discerning Christian. There's also a simpler version, [b:Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches about the Unseen World - And Why It Matters|25597051|Supernatural What the Bible Teaches about the Unseen World - And Why It Matters|Michael S. Heiser|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1432534762s/25597051.jpg|45404186], which I haven't read, but which covers the same ground in 20% of the space. Just remember that few authors, especially when putting forward fresh-thinking, are rarely right all the time. ( )
  mark_read | Aug 13, 2020 |
This one will cause most Christians to open their eyes and question much of what they've been taught, or yell in revolt. I'm in the former camp. Heiser walks a path of Biblical proof to establish the supernatural spiritual realm as fact. His key talking point, that we must view the ancient word in its own context from the perspective of its ancient writers to discern its full truth, and not from our own biases and perspective is right on.

The supernatural is deeply embedded in our culture these days, from literature and movies to active involvement. The fact that it has sides is no surprise. Understanding the truth of what has been hiding in plain sight in the Word is a gateway into a different realm, in the here and now.

Heiser presents Ph.D. level insight in readable form. It is a serious read while being entirely readable, and highly recommended. ( )
  PCHcruzr | Oct 7, 2019 |
Review forthcoming. In one sentence: this is a really weird, but, highly recommended book for digging into the supernatural mindset of the Biblical authors and that weird Mesopotamian stuff in the Old Testament. ( )
  ZacharyTLawson | Jul 10, 2019 |
While I found this book interesting, I was left feeling frustrated and disappointed. This is no reflection on the merits of Mr. Heiser's faith or his sincerity. The book was well written and in many cases full of profound connections.

It probably would help to start off by listing some of the author's primary theses that he returns to over and over in this book:

1) The Bible uses the Divine Assembly motif regularly.
2) Human beings were made in God's Image and are thus His "Imagers" (Heiser's word).
3) The Angel of YHWH in the Old Testament is to be equated with Christ.
4) Yahweh disinherited the non-Hebrew nations at the dispersion after the tower of Babel and He concerned Himself with the Hebrew nation exclusively, but with a plan to later bring all other nations into that fold.

While he may explore other topics in here (e.g. Enoch, fallen angels, Hermon, Nephilim, giants, etc), the above four seem to be the ones he returns to more often than not and under which all other topics relate in some way. While I concur with the first two, the last two are either wholly, or in large part, erroneous.

Regarding the first thesis: Psalm 82 has been a verse I've often found interesting as does this author. To cite the verse:

1 God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2 “How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3 Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.

Most Jews and Christians either ignore this verse, or trivialize it and explain it away. The phrase translated as "divine council" is the Hebrew word "Elohim", which is the Hebrew word for God(s). The verse literally reads "Elohim has taken His place among the Elohim, in the midst of the Elohim He holds judgment." The verse is somewhat ambiguous on the surface; and inexplicable when seen from the supposed rigid monotheism of Judaism. The verse gained more illumination following the discovery of the Ugaritic tablets, where very similar language is used regarding the Canaanite/Phoenician gods El and Baal. For a long time now, only secular biblical scholars have been willing to use the Ugaritic tablets as referents for this ambiguous verse in Psalms. I started studying Levantine mythology years ago, so I've been aware of the importance of the Ugaritic tablets and how they indicate that Jews, Phoenicians and other Levantine tribes, shared a common stock of myths. Christians have typically shied away from any implication that the Bible contains any mythology, let alone drew from a mythology shared with the mortal enemies of the Hebrews the Canaanites; thus, the importance of the Ugaritic tablets and Psalm 82 have been largely ignored by theologians--except for idiosyncratic Christians like myself, that is.

I concur with Heiser about the connections between the Divine Assembly motif and various verses of the Bible stretching from Deuteronomy to Revelation. I've seen those connections for some time. He added some verses where I didn't initially see it, e.g. from Revelation; but all the relevant OT verses I was aware of the connection to the Divine Assembly motif. So far I am in agreement with Heiser.

Regarding the second thesis: Heiser also finds the Divine Image motif important as well, but I was left rather perplexed as to what exactly that entails in Heiser's view. He removes it from any practical human attribute, so even his assertion that as Divine "Imagers" we were to be stewards over the earth becomes problematic. I am not sure how our intelligence, freewill, etc, could not be directly relevant to the nature of Divine Image when that status must include practical abilities. I personally believe that being made in God's Image is related to our Spiritual nature and is manifested in our practical abilities. This issue I have with the author is not a major one, so it wouldn't have affected my overall stance regarding the book.

The third thesis above is where we start getting into serious issues. Issues I cannot ignore or glide over lightly. Heiser is intrigued by the language of the OT regarding the Angel of YHWH. In many cases, the OT conflates the Angel with YHWH; sometimes using YHWH as the referent and sometimes the Angel. Once again, I also was aware of these cases and I didn't draw the conclusions that Heiser does. The Angel of YHWH is STILL an angel--that is incredibly important to note. As Heiser mentions in the book a plethora of times, angelos and malach in Greek and Hebrew respectively, simply means "messenger." What I find puzzling is that theologians often fail to make the connection between God The Word and the role of being a Messenger of The Word. The Word (Logos) was essentially also a "message" in the OT. The YHWH Angel, in his office as messenger of the "Word", also carried the Divine authority of the Word he carried. This explains the ambiguity of the language and the subtle conflation that often occurs. It doesn't change the fact that he is still just an angel in himself.

Heiser glosses over all the problematic verses of the OT where the Angel of YHWH doesn't display just Divine characteristics but also positively diabolical ones. For example, the Angel of YHWH is called "the destroyer" in Exodus and related terms are used in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21. He is also called "a satan" (usually translated as "adversary" in English) in Numbers chapter 22. Because Heiser sees the term "satan" as just referring to an office when no article is used (i.e. "the"), he doesn't seem to be all that bothered that in both these cases the names/titles "satan" and "destroyer" are also used as names for fallen angels (might be the same angel, in fact) in the New Testament (see Luke 10:18 and Revelation 9:1, 11). One might be able to explain away one as coincidence, but one can only be called naïve when one tries to do it twice.

Now, someone can think whatever they like about the Angel of YHWH, but Jesus Christ he isn't. Jesus' attributes are largely in conflict with the Angel of YHWH. More often than not the YHWH Angel is associated with death and destruction. Whenever a patriarch or a prophet is in danger of their life, the YHWH Angel isn't far from the scene (Gen. 22:11-12; 32:25; Exodus 4:24). The Angel of YHWH is quite literally the angel of death. While I realize that early church fathers like Justin Martyr equated the angel with Christ, later church fathers, like Augustine, saw the disparity between the two and the teaching was rightly forgotten.

I agree with Heiser that this angel personified (or angelified, really) YHWH in some sense. His was only a preliminary role in the story of salvation though--thankfully. While I have cautious respect for the figure of the Angel of YHWH, he inspires no love in me at all. He's quite an unpleasant fellow. Ultimately, the issues I have with Heiser's interpretation of the angel also relate to my issues with the last thesis. I'll follow this up below.

Now, to the last thesis. The author holds the dispersion at Babel to be a paradigmatic event. Indeed, it was here that YHWH disowned all the non-Hebrew nations, giving them over to lesser elohim (angels), and then called Abraham out of Ur in order to form a people He would care for personally. The issues I have with this premise are manifold. Firstly, the role that death plays in the Bible at the time of the fall cannot be relegated to a bin of insignificant theological anomalies. It is actually here where Satan gains control over all nations--including the Hebrew one. The author's contention that God was personally involved with all events in the life of the Hebrew nation, with no interference from rebellious principalities, is not a premise that can be held consistently when all the Biblical evidence is accounted for.

My biggest frustration came when the author tied the Divine Assembly motif to Galatians chapters 3 and 4 and Hebrews chapters 1 and 2. I agree whole heartedly that the motif is relevant but Heiser misreads all of the above to make them say the opposite of what they actually say.

Lets start with Galatians 3 and 4. In Galatians 3:19, Paul clearly says that the Law (i.e. Torah) was given by angels through the hand of a mediator. Paul sums up the former interaction by saying "but God is One." It's obvious what Paul is saying: Paul is saying that the Hebrews DID NOT have a direct relationship with God. They were twice removed from a direct relationship. Paul's view is that we now have a direct relationship through Christ. If there was no difference between the role of the angels (including the Angel of YHWH), why was Jesus needed? He was needed because there was, and is, a difference between God and the angels who gave the law. Heiser wants to insert the YHWH Angel into the role of mediator in this verse, but even if that were valid, it doesn't change the result; the result is that the angel(s) were not direct intermediaries of God. Just like with the fall in Eden, the role of these angels only comes into play because of human transgression. Counter to what Heiser says, they had authority over the Hebrew nation as well--since the fall, in fact, because that's where transgression entered. Heiser attempts to make these angels innocent bystanders at God's (as the Angel of YHWH, presumably) giving of the law to Moses at Sinai. Chapter 4 of Galatians clearly cannot be divorced from chapter 3. Here Paul goes on to say that the commemoration of special days, months and years, which are all aspects of Torah, are nothing but slavery to the stoicheia angels. Paul is not talking to gentiles at risk of going back into paganism--not at all! He is worried about them, and Christian Jews, becoming Torah slaves. Verses 21-26 drive home the point that non-Christian Hebrews are slaves in bondage. Following Paul's context earlier, non-Christian Hebrews are slaves to the stoicheia powers. This hardly jibes with the premise that the Hebrews had a direct relationship with God.

Heiser only skims over the importance of the term stoicheia and never really explores it sufficiently. He at least concedes the possibility that it refers to spiritual powers in various Pauline epistles. It does indeed. The same term comes up in another relevant passage in Colossians that supports the above reading of Galatians. I am going to quote the passage because Heiser doesn't:

Colossians 2:13-15
13 And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, 14 erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.

So what was the record and legal demands that stood against us? The Torah, of course! What did Christ do with it? Nailed it to the cross. Who were disarmed by this? The rulers and authorities. Who are the rulers and authorities? The angels who gave the law, of course. Far from supporting the supposition that the angels were just innocent bystanders at the giving of the law, Paul makes clear in Colossians that they were the administrators and executioners (double entendre intended) of it. Paul concludes this chapter in Colossians by, once again, mentioning the observing of new moons, festivals, Sabbaths etc--all the ceremonial aspects of Torah that he mentioned in Galatians--and equating the commemorating of such with the worship of angels; and also stating that all the Torah and Rabbinic laws related to handling, tasting and touching, are all aspects of slavery to stoicheia powers.

Heiser wants to use the divine assembly motif in the above verses but he must change the meaning in Psalm 82 where God is judging the angels in the assembly, to God having a peaceful and harmonious assembly with them on Sinai. I am being consistent with Psalm 82 by stating that the same angels God is judging in the Psalm are the angels that were present at Sinai. And, yes, the angels who gave the law included the Angel of YHWH. He is just an angel. I follow this up now.

The very point of Hebrews chapters 1 and 2 is to show that Jesus is superior to angels. The very context of this is that He is a superior intermediary as compared to the intermediaries that gave the law. In no uncertain terms, the author makes it clear that Jesus is not an angel, He is superior to all angels:

Hebrews 1:5-6
5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son;
today I have begotten you”?
Or again,
“I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son”?
6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

This makes any direct identification with the Angel of YHWH quite untenable. The Angel of YHWH is just an angel--even if an archangel--and one of the angels that Paul and the author of Hebrews are contrasting with Christ. The similarity begins and ends at them both being intermediaries of God. One was an intermediary of death and law--a preliminary and temporal one. The other is an intermediary of Life and Grace--an eternal one. If one were to appeal to the Edenic symbols that Heiser often explores, Jesus is the Tree of Life and the Angel of YHWH is the sword trying to prevent people from eating of it. They are not the same.

There are other problems I have with the supposition that the Hebrew nation was somehow barred from the rule of rebel angels. Sin was ultimately what gave Satan authority over the world. No human is barred from that reality and thus no nation. When Jesus came on the scene, there were Jews all around Him that were demon possessed. The Jewish nation was under the control of pagans and a murderous Sanhedrin. Satan's temptation that he could give Jesus all the nations, including the Jewish one, was no idle claim. He is called in the New Testament the ruler of this cosmos and the god of this aion. Those are strong terms. No amount of ingenious hermeneutics changes the meaning. Heiser says more than once that "satan" in the OT was the name of an office, and so it is. If it is a title, one would not expect Paul, or other New Testament writers, to feel the need to specify that name and use it amongst titles like those above. They knew who they were talking about and they trusted that you know as well.

Just to be clear: I believe God chose the Hebrew nation for something specific, namely, as the lineage of Christ. They were no less affected by sin and death and the one who held it's power (Hebrews 2:14); and that means their nation was no less prone to demonic influence than any other nation. They proved it when they sentenced Christ to death.

I would like to end on a positive note. I like Heiser's willingness to use extra-Biblical literature to help understand Biblical context. I also was impressed that he gives the Septuagint a lot of credit. It's rare to see theologians do that today.

I know this review is long but I felt compelled to state my issues in this review. If they were minor ones, I wouldn't have felt the need to address them. I am giving the book a 2-and-a-half to 3 star rating. I am taking into account the author's sincerity and his overall desire to get across a Christian message.

I am willing to debate any points I made in this review. One can either comment, if a friend, or message me, if not. ( )
2 vota Erick_M | Aug 27, 2018 |
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In The Unseen Realm, Dr. Michael Heiser examines the ancient context of Scripture, explaining how its supernatural worldview can help us grow in our understanding of God. He illuminates intriguing and amazing passages of the Bible that have been hiding in plain sight. You'll find yourself engaged in an enthusiastic pursuit of the truth, resulting in a new appreciation for God's Word. Why wasn't Eve surprised when the serpent spoke to her? How did descendants of the Nephilim survive the flood? Why did Jacob fuse Yahweh and his Angel together in his prayer? Who are the assembly of divine beings that God presides over? In what way do those beings participate in God's decisions? Why do Peter and Jude promote belief in imprisoned spirits? Why does Paul describe evil spirits in terms of geographical rulership? Who are the "glorious ones" that even angels dare not rebuke? After reading this book, you may never read your Bible the same way again. "There is a world referred to in the Scripture that is quite unseen, but also quite present and active. Michael Heiser's The Unseen Realm seeks to unmask this world. Heiser shows how important it is to understand this world and appreciate how its contribution helps to make sense of Scripture. The book is clear and well done, treating many ideas and themes that often go unseen themselves. With this book, such themes will no longer be neglected, so read it and discover a new realm for reflection about what Scripture teaches." --Darrell L. Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement, Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Howard G. Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement "'How was it possible that I had never seen that before?' Dr. Heiser's survey of the complex reality of the supernatural world as the Scriptures portray it covers a subject that is strangely sidestepped. No one is going to agree with everything in his book, but the subject deserves careful study, and so does this book." --John Goldingay, David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament, School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary

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