Forgiveness of Sins: An Enochic Problem, A Synoptic Answer
Forgiveness of Sins: An Enochic Problem, A Synoptic Answer
From the text, the author focuses his problem on the forgiveness of sins where he compares it on how it is illustrated in the Synoptic and Enoch tradition. Henotes that the type of Judaism in which the movement of Jesus was born was unavoidable. The puzzle on this comparison, however, cannot be easily solved by arguing from a multiple of equally and relevant influences as the influences and origins are not coincidental (Boccaccini, 2016). He states that if we compared the Synoptic with what we already know of any of the Jewish movements of the period of the Second Temple, we could only come to the deduction that they did not belong to any of the movements.
The author denotes that Synoptic were not a part of the Enochic Judaism. They were evidence of a juncture in the formation of Jesus movement from which the new group had already come to a distinctive sovereignty from both the Enochic movement and from the other movements of the Second Temple of the Jews of that time. The context tries to explain that it would be incorrect to label the Jesus movement conferring to any other known Jewish movement of that time (Boccaccini, 2016). This is because, it was by all measures a Jewish apocalyptic and messianic movement. Thus, the Synoptic exhibit a new formation that was centered on the figure of Jesus who is also the Messiah. The formation stands along the other formations so as toform the prospect of the Second Temple Judaism having a matching mixture of continuity and discontinuity from the previous Jewish traditions. The author’s problem and objective was to go past the search of influences and explore the relationship between theEnoch and Jesus tradition.
The author majors his argument on sin forgiveness in the Synoptic and in Enoch (Boccaccini, 2016). Looking on the Synoptic, the forgiveness of sins happens to be the main element. For instance, John the Baptist, preached a baptism for sin forgiveness with Jesus having the authority on earth to forgive. Also, after the death of Jesus, his disciples began baptizing people in His name, a baptism for sin forgiveness. This is further illustrated in the Gospel of Mark where he sees the healing power of Jesus as manifestation of the forgiveness of God (Boccaccini, 2016). He also says that apart from the sin blasphemy, which is against the Holy Spirit, there are no bounds to the forgiveness of God.
Matthew adds that the blood of Jesus was poured for the forgiveness of sin. Luke also gives the episodes of healing of the sick,the anointing at Bethany and about the immoral woman who anointed Jesus’ feet in the house of the Pharisee. In all these instances, the recipient of the sin forgiveness is not symbolically an immoral woman or a sick person but clearly, it majors on the fact that they were sinners. This reiterates Jesus’ authority of forgiving. The book of Acts also recap Jesus’s life and endorses that the announcement of sin forgiveness in the name of Jesus was seen as a fundamental belief by the new community. All these references to the theme of forgiveness of sins show an established belief and practice in the timely Jesus movement at the composition of the Synoptic.
Focusing on the Enoch Tradition, it happens to contradict the four Gospel books, or rather, the Synoptic. Not only does it show no reference concerning the forgiveness of sins but the awareness of sin forgiveness is totally denied (Boccaccini, 2016). It starts by giving information about Enoch’s first mission which was to publicize to the fallen angels that there was no forgiveness for them. Basically, Enoch had been chosen by God as messenger of unforgiveness. When he tried to intercede on the fallen angels and present their petitions unto the Lord of Heaven, He could not give in. Instead, He told them that they could not have peace. This opposition between the sinners and the righteous revolved into a sociological conflict between the haves and the have-nots, that is oppressors and the oppressed and between rich and the poor.
This form of tradition in the Epistle of Enoch seems to have brought about the Synoptic tradition where the forgiveness of God was proclaimed against those who blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, which served as limit to God’s forgiveness. This idea of opposition that was unequally compromised is also what the Synoptic give the impression to have learned from the early tradition of Enoch. Using the two scenarios, the knowledge of the forgiveness of sins by the Synoptic came to be a unique original development that was beyond the limits that have been set by the Enochic tradition (Boccaccini, 2016). This resulted to the emergence of other influences from sources that were identified and some from the heritage of earlier prophetic tradition.
According to Daniel 7, the author argues of the Son of Man as the judge, sitting on the throne as compared to before where He was the recipient of God’s judgment. The Epistles of Enoch continues to state that the oppressed would be saved God’s Name because they are filled with noble works and have come to hate the unrighteous world. In addition, the book states that according to the pleasure of God has it been with respect to their lives.
On the contrary, reverse destiny awaits the sinners, that is, they are not going to be saved because of their filthy actions (Boccaccini, 2016). Instead, the Lord will give them over into the hands of His elect. They are going to burn before the face of the holy as a straw burns in fire. The text also compares on how they will sink before the righteous faces like lead sinks in water and no trace of them will be found.In the 50th chapter of the Epistles of Enoch, a group that is besides the sinners and the righteous, is seen to be singled out. That is the group of ‘the others’. These are the group of people who have repented and abandoned their filthy actions. Despite of not having honor in the presence of the Lord of Spirit, it is through His name that they are going to be saved and the Lord will have mercy on them.
Regarding to Chiara’s text, book of Parables, the author argues that sinners will have no honor thus they will have no merit before the Lord. The righteous also happen to be a subject to this. It is through this that Chiara reckon that the Judgment of the Lord is based solely on the Mercy of God. This happens to contradict the Book of Parables which classifies the righteous of having blameless works while the sinners have the opposite. The book continuous the discussion concerning repentance to an extent where the sinners are termed as the unrepentant.
According toNickelsburg, the author talks about the group of ‘others’ as a characteristic group that is the intermediate between the sinners and the righteous. However, it recognizes them as a subcategory of the righteous who may not have the same advantages, but will have to share a similar fortune. The ‘others’ in the context are the Gentiles that are not included among the oppressors of the righteous and the Israelites who are not included among the holy. To emphasize on his own explanation, Nickelsburgoverturns those who will have no honor. He adds that the righteous will have honor before the Lord and shall be saved in His Name. From the context, ‘the others’ have not been defined for who they are but according to what they do. He then interprets that filthy actions as a form idolatry (Boccaccini, 2016).
However, basing on the above arguments, the author argues that both Chiala’ and Nickelsburg miss the point which brings about the third group, that of ‘others’ that is besides the sinners and the righteous. He also reinstates that sinners have no good works and are not saved in the name of God. On the other hand, the righteous have good works and will be saved in the Name of the Lord. However, he opposes that the ‘others’ are a subgroup of the righteous. Rather, he stresses that they are a subcategory of sinners who are required to repent and abandon their filthy actions. Essentially, they have no good works before the Lord but due to their repentance, they are going to be saved in God’s Name and be like the righteous.
The author goes ahead and explores on the Justice and Mercy of God (Boccaccini, 2016). In line with the Book of Parables, those who are righteous, they are saved by the Mercy and Justice of God whereas the sinners are condemned in accordance to God’s Mercy and Justice. However, the book states that those who repent, will be saved through the Mercy of God, despitethe fact that they may not be saved according to the Justice of God. This is because repentance makes the Mercy of God succeed on His Justice. This book also denotes of the manifestation time of the Messiah and God as a short period in which the final opportunity of repentance shall be given to sinners and no other chance will offered to those who do not repent. Thus, those will not repent will be lost forever.
The author pinpoints John the Baptist as the precursor of Jesus as it is interpreted by the Synoptic (Boccaccini, 2016). He talked of the forthcoming eschatological judge who would purify the earth with fire and would forgive sins of those who had no honor in this world. This happens to be consistent with the Book of Parables where it indicates that, at the end times, there will only be a small window that will to be opened and afterwards, there will be no time. Facing the judge and the fire meant extermination of sinners.
The author’s problem of sin forgiveness can also be approached in another way. This is by first repenting, then the Lord will forgive. It is only by when we do a spiritual and moral-about face can we only expect the Mercy of God. In addition, from the Lord’s Prayer, we see that, unless we forgive those who have wronged us, we ourselves do not have any hope of forgiveness (Wood, 2001). The Hebrew prophets caution that sacrifices cannot win mercy from the Lord. It is unless they are preceded by apologetic and broken hearts. This is stressed in the book of Amos where he illustrates that God does not desire symbolic acts of repentance.
A paradoxical reversal order can also be followed. That is, we repent so as not to receive forgiveness, but because we have received forgiveness (Wood, 2001). From the New Testament, we see a certain pattern being followed. According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus approached the paralytic man and told him that his sins had been forgiven. The man had not sought after forgiveness but to be healed. This shows that Jesus was more interested in man’s life after his health had been restored. A similar incident is seen in the Gospel of John with the woman who had been caught in the sin of adultery. Jesus told her that her sins had been forgiven and instructed her to go and sin no more. Here freedom was now conditional upon her forgiveness and not upon her repentance. The absolute instance of the priority by which forgiveness holds over repentance is found in the own words of Christ at the cross (Like, 2014). He asked God to forgive all those who were crucifying him, not because they had repented and begged for his mercy but because he wanted to break the chain of revenge that had entangled them. If instead He had cursed them, then the cruel cycle of unrepentance could have remained closed forever.
Further, Calvin and Luther, who were preachers, had been so convinced by this form of sin forgiveness (Wood, 2001). They insisted that sins is not in the theft or adultery but is the refusal of not entrusting our lives wholly unto the Lord who has already entrusted Himself to us. They add that, we cannot get to learn the true meaning of sin by withholding horrifying cases of evil. This happen to be the consequences of sin. The crucifixion and humiliation that Jesus passed through is the one sin that tells the full and total anxiety of the existence of human. This reckons that, as sinners we should leave all that is evil for sake of Christ (Wood, 2001).
In conclusion, I support the forgiveness of sins in the Synoptic. Here the sin forgiveness happens to be the central element. John the Baptist is seen preach this message in the time of Jesus and after His Death, His followers still continued with the same message of the forgiveness of sins. The Synoptic books are a source of encouragement as they state that Jesus came to the earth not the righteous, but for the sinners (Like, 2014). This acts as a form of motivation for people to repent and seek forgiveness of their sins. The Synoptic books also have an added advantage when compared to the Enochic tradition. The Gospel books provided for the forgiveness of sins whereas for the Enochic tradition, it was radically denied. This forgiveness of sin by the Lord also gives an essential piece of good news that is related with the coming of the Kingdom of God (Boccaccini, 2016). It is a source of hope for all those who have repented.
Boccaccini, G. (2016). Forgiveness of Sins. “The Enochic Problem, a Synoptic Answer” University of Michigan.
Like, W. L. L. (2014). Luke 7.36-8.3.
Wood, R. C. (2001). God’s Repentance Enabling Forgiveness. The Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University.