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The basic argument of Barker's fourth book is that Israelite religion originally was not monotheistic, and that this tradition was continued in the Jewish Christian sect. Yahweh was a lesser god, the first among the |sons' of the high god, who was designated variously as El Elyon (|God Most High' [RSV]), El, or Elohim. Yahweh was capable of appearing on Earth in human form as an angel, or in the Davidic Messiah. It was as a manifestation of Yahweh, the son of the high god, that Jesus was acknowledged as Lord and Messiah.
The author draws heavily on the works of what Martin Hengel has termed the |new "religionsgeschichtliche Schule"'. However, since she is not very generous with notes, credit does not always seem to be given where credit is due. The bibliography reveals a similar nonchalant attitude. The primary sources have not been read in the original. Moreover, some of the translations used are outdated. Thus, there should be no reason to cite Justin Martyr or Irenaeus according to the version of The Ante-Nicene Christian Fathers. The bibliography of the secondary sources shows the same laxness. I was especially surprised to find missing J. Bowman's The Fourth Gospel and the Jews (Pittsburgh Theological Monograph Series 8; Pittsburgh: Pickwick, 1975). Bowman argues that El (Elyon)/Elohim and Yahweh are to be distinguished, and that John's Gospel identifies Jesus as the latter.
Now it would be wrong to take Barker's latest book to be no more than a popular synthesis of scholarly works produced by others; it also makes an individual contribution to the new History of Religions School. However, I find it necessary to enter some caveats. These pertain especially to the first four …