Discussing once again the heresies of Michael Heiser, I was originally planning to expound his theology thoroughly as a foundation to this series of articles, but now need to respond to his indignant reply of my earlier post. First, it cannot be called a reply, as he did not even comment on anything I wrote. My article was focused on criticizing his hermeneutic method as the foundation of his false teachings, but he only expressed mockery and sarcasm (he even called me “illiterate”) as if he should not be classified as a Gnostic and polytheist. His argument against being called a Gnostic is simply saying he has lectures on YouTube about Gnosticism, which simply confirms my point. He is knowledgeable of it just as he is knowledgeable of ancient Ugaritic literature which he has habitually synchronized into his theology.

As far as his defense from being called a polytheist, he must have forgotten what he has written, or is self-deluded, or is trying to deceive his regular readers. He offered 3 quotes from his own work, but none of these quotes deny polytheism. What they are expressing is what other scholars who interpret ancient Israel’s religion as having evolved out from polytheism into monotheism during the Persian period. This was the thought he refuted in his doctorate’s dissertation. He wrote, “All the scholarship to date on the divine council has focused on Israel’s religion prior to the sixth century B.C.E., since it is commonly believed that after Israel emerged from exile, the idea of a pantheon of gods headed by Yahweh had been abandoned in favor of an intolerant monotheism.”1)Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 10; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis I am well aware of this, but what he did not quote himself as having stated is that his argument was that Judaism continued to express a plurality of deities beyond the Persian period into the Second Temple period. In other words, the way he refuted this other view was by claiming that Judaism continued to be polytheistic. As he quotes himself in his reply to my article:

Many scholars believe that Psalm 82 and other passages demonstrate that the religion of ancient Israel began as a polytheistic system and then evolved into monotheism. I reject that idea, along with any other explanations that seek to hide the plain reading of the text. In all such cases, the thinking is misguided. (Unseen Realm, pp. 29-30)2)Michael Heiser, “Of Truth Watchers and Inept Readers,” Nov. 28, 2020; https://drmsh.com/truth-watchers-inept-readers/

What he is considering “the plain reading of the text” is his view of polytheism continuing into the Second Temple period. He rejects that the Bible is monotheistic. “‘Monotheism’ as it is currently understood means that no other gods exist. This term is inadequate for describing Israelite religion, but suggesting it be done away with would no doubt cause considerable consternation among certain parts of the academic community, not to mention the interested laity.”3) Michael Heiser, Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible,” Bulletin for Biblical Research, 18.1 (2008), p. 28-29

What he stated in the conclusion of his dissertation shows that he does not reject multitudes of gods, he only rejects monotheism.

More specifically, the dissertation demonstrated that Deuteronomy 4 and 32 evince a monolatrous worldview, a conclusion shared by many scholars of Israelite religion. The God of Deuteronomy created the other gods (which are not idols, lest Yahweh be a [sic] idol maker) and decreed they be worshipped by the non-elect Gentile nations.”4)Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 243-244; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis

When I read his dissertation, I thought he had slanted it towards an acceptable view for the liberal secular university he studied at, so I read his articles published in “conservative evangelical” journals which espoused the same thing. This confused me so I email Heiser with the question: “Im writing a book on Psalm 1 and was planning an excursus on the Divine Counsel. A friend of mine is more familiar with your work and suggested your name. I read your doctorates dissertation on the topic. When I discussed your position with my friend, he implied that he understood your view differently. My specific question is what is your actual view on monolatry in the Bible? Do you take the Divine Counsel as a second tier of gods as in the dissertation, or simply as angels with classical monotheism as my friend has understood your material?”5)Personal correspondence, sent June 13, 2020 from Heath Henning to Michael Heiser His answer was: “Heath[,] You likely need to read Unseen Realm. But I have some journal articles at the link below that I think would answer your question anyway. The divine council = the heavenly host (those loyal to God). There are tiers and functions. Monolatry is a good term, but not an adequate one (it says nothing about Yahweh’s unique ontology). None of the modern terms we use are adequate to express all that needs to be expressed.”6)Personal correspondence, received June 13, 2020 From Michael Heiser, to Heath Henning His doctorate dissertation clearly claimed monolatry was what the Bible taught, but now in a personal correspondence he rejected it and all other currently used terminology as inadequate. Monolatry is the belief of one supreme God without denying the existence of other gods, which is essentially what most polytheistic religions are.

So I read his book The Unseen Realm. In his reply to my article he said I “can’t even get 25 or so pages into my work without screwing up.”7) Michael Heiser, “Of Truth Watchers and Inept Readers,” Nov. 28, 2020; https://drmsh.com/truth-watchers-inept-readers/ He writes in his book, “The God of the Old Testament was part of an assembly – pantheon – of other gods.”8)Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 11 Simply stated, polytheism means poly = “many,” theism = belief in or about god(s).  A “pantheon—of other gods” is polytheism! He prefers the term “divine plurality,” as a semantic game to avoid being labeled a polytheist. Just define his terms: “divine” means “deity” or “god;” “plurality” means “more than one, many;” hence he is teaching “many gods,” which normal people call “polytheism.” He argues, “It is not difficult to demonstrate that the Hebrew Bible assumes and affirms the existence of other gods. The textbook passage is Psalm 82.”9) Michael Heiser, Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible,” Bulletin for Biblical Research, 18.1 (2008), p. 2 As I commented in my first article, he starts with this “textbook passage” to develop his entire theological system, which is the heart of his hermeneutics and error.

This article will discuss Heiser’s attempt to avoid being labeled a polytheist by: a) redefining the word and utilizing other terms as if they are not synonyms (though he clearly expresses his belief in many gods), and b) his attempt to redefine polytheism by claiming his view is different because he holds to the ontological uniqueness of Jehovah.

Heiser’s polytheistic/monolatrous views are clearly explained in his book The Unseen Realm, which seems hard for him to say I messed it up. “The denial that other elohim [the Hebrew word for gods] exist insults the sincerity of biblical writers and the glory of God. How is it coherent to say that verses extolling the superiority of Yahweh above all elohim (Ps 97:9) are really telling us Yahweh is greater than beings that don’t exist.”10) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 35 Obviously the Scriptures was written in a culture where pagan neighbors believed in other gods, so the biblical authors assert Jehovah’s superiority over the non-existing gods of these pagans because the Israelites frequently turned to them adapting the pagan worldview of magic powers. Similar expression of superiority can be found about Allah in the Quran, but no scholars are questioning if that implies Muhammad was presenting a polytheistic religion.

Heiser’s Doctorate dissertation revolved around the idea that Israel’s religion was originally monolatry, and multitudes of lesser gods remained a part of the religious view throughout the Second Temple period contrary to the liberal scholars that claimed the religion evolved from being polytheistic to become monotheistic during the Babylonian captivity. Philo, a Jewish author from Alexandria in Egypt, writing during the first half of the first century made many comments about “the second deity, who is the Word of the supreme Being[.]”11)Philo, Questions and Answers on Genesis, 2.62; in The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged New Updated Version (Trans. C. D. Yonge), (Peabody, MA: 1997), p. 834 Historically, this has been understood within a Christian context as some pre-developed Trinitarian perspective being expressed about the Logos. Heiser wishes to turn it into evidence for monolatry but ignoring the fact that Philo rejected the idea that “they who are called Gods, by an abuse of language, are numerous[.]”12)Philo, On Dreams, 1.229; in The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged New Updated Version (Trans. C. D. Yonge), (Peabody, MA: 1997), p. 385 Philo continues to express the true God is indicated by the use of the article; while false gods are without the article. Philo’s argument would stand firm in the Septuagint of Psalm 82 (Psalm 81 in the LXX); but not grammatical accurate for the Hebrew. “God” has no article in Psalm 82:1a, but “the mighty” does, being a construct. In Psalm 82:1b, “in the midst of the gods” has no article though the prefix “in” (be) is not infrequently anarthrous (which is when the article is lacking in the original language but translation demands one). Gesenius tells us of the rule that the article is supposed to be missing when following a preposition בְּ as is the case in Psalm 82:1b.13)E. Kautzsch, ed., Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, Trans. A. E. Cowley (2nd English Ed.) Clarendon Press (Oxford: 1910), p. 112 (§35n). He mentions “Exceptions to this rule occurs almost exclusively in the later books[.]”14)E. Kautzsch, ed., Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, Trans. A. E. Cowley (2nd English Ed.) Clarendon Press (Oxford: 1910), p. 417 (§35n).

Craig Keener expressed, “Jewish people generally treated these spiritual powers as angelic authorities appointed by God, although, in some Jewish sources, God appointed them to lead the nations astray or they had become malevolent powers and would be judged at the end of the age.”15) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 3:1-14:28, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2014), Vol. 3, p. 2344 Keener’s reference to the fact that these “powers” are treated as angels needs to be noted as contrast to Heiser who insists on calling them “gods.” Jewish sources emphasize the angelic nature, which Heiser’s opinion is due to his imputing pagan religions into the Bible. Heiser says, “Jub[ilees] 15:30b-32 provides the fullest description of the world view of Duet 4:19-20; 32:8-9; ad Daniel 10[.]”16)Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 161; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis If Jubilees 15:31 is the clearest Jewish text on this idea, let us see what it says. “And he [God] sanctified them [Israel] and gathered them from all the sons of man because (there are) many nations and many people, and they all belong to him, but over all of them he caused spirits to rule so that they might lead them astray from following him.”17) The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1985), Vol. 2, p. 87 While this passage simply calls them “spirits” (Heiser wants them to be “gods”), but cross references in the text itself indicates these “spirits” are angels. Earlier in this text it is identified that in Jared’s “days the angels of the LORD, who were called Watchers, came down to the earth in order to teach the sons of man, and preform judgement and uprightness upon the earth.”18)Jubilees 4:15; O. S. Wintermute, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1985), Vol. 2, p. 62 Again it is confirmed, “against his angels who he had sent to the earth he was very angry. He commanded that they be uprooted from all their dominion.”19)Jubilees 5:6; O. S. Wintermute, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1985), Vol. 2, p. 64 So it was angels, who are also called Wathcers, that had dominion on earth to judge and teach mankind. The best text Heiser has for his view refutes his designation of “gods.”

1 Enoch 61:10 mentions “all the angels of governance[,]”20)E. Isaac, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 42 and Philo often uses the term “powers” but is clearly applying it to “heavenly souls; for the word of prophecy is accustomed to call these souls angels.”21)Philo, On the Confusion of Tongues, 174-175; The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged (Trans. C. D. Yonge), Hendrickson Publishers, (Peabody, MA: 1993), p. 250 Later rabbinic text such as Pesikta De-Rab Kahana comments about, “the counterparts in heaven of the princes of the earth’s nations[.]”22)Pesikta de-Rab Kahana, (trans. William G. Braude and Israel J. Kapstein), Jewish Publication Society of America (Philadelphia, PA: 1978), p. 414 Approximately contemporaneous is 3 Enoch which calls various beings of the angelic order along with Satan who “sits with Samma’el, Prince of Rome, and with Dubbi’el, Prince of Persia[.]”23)3 Enoch 26:12; P. Alexander, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 281 Samma’el is also called “the Prince of the Accusers, who is greater than all the princes of kingdoms[.]”24)3 Enoch 14:2; P. Alexander, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 266 We do find an expression of angelic rulers over the Gentile nations within ancient Judaism. The emphasis here is that these were angels, not gods!

Keeners asserts that much of this language developed as part of the intellectual Jewish apologetics in a polytheistic culture. Speaking of paganism surrounding the first century:

Some limited monotheistic trends might appear in much earlier eras in Egypt and Syria, but it was Xenocrates the Eleatic philosopher (sixth century B.C.E.) who probably introduced the idea into Greek philosophy. Except in pantheistic forms such as traditional Stoicism (e.g., Sen. Y. Ben. 4.8.1-3), this “monotheism” usually did not, in fact, claim only one deity but spoke of “one God” as a supreme deity with many manifestations or powers. Middle Platonists, however, saw one ultimate deity behind the various manifestations of deity.

   Hellenistic Jewish apologists such as Philo knew and were able to exploit these tendencies. It appears, however, that only intellectuals [among the pagans], in fact, embraced this trend toward something resembling monotheism; it was not shared by the masses. Moreover, apart from the God-fearers, most thinkers interested in a sort of monotheism did not derive it from Judaism, whose one God was often treated by polytheists as simply another manifestation of deity.25) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 3:1-14:28, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2014), Vol. 3, p. 2588

Note, the pagan concept of “monotheism” is nearest to Heiser’s idea of monolatry. Hellenistic Jew like Philo capitalize on the erroneous thinking of these pagans, who Heiser enjoys using proof texts from to argue his opinion. It was the philosophy of synchronism from the Alexandrian schools that produced the Gnostic ideas which parallel Philo’s expressions. For example, the Gnostic text entitled The Revelation of Adam speaks of, “God, the ruler of the realms and the powers[.]”26)Marvin Meyer, in The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The International Edition (ed. Marvin Meyer), Harper One (New York, NY: 2007), p. 347 The eclectic philosophy is how Nicola Denzey Lewis describes Gnosticsm. “Greek philosophy, Egyptian, Christian, and Jewish ideas; figures from Greek mythology; and bits of magical traditions all mixed together, evidently coming from a fairly eclectic social environment.”27) Nicola Denzey Lewis, Introduction to “Gnosticism,” Oxford University Press (Oxford N.Y.: 2013), p. 133 Lewis further states, “Platonism was the dominate philosophical school of the Roman Empire and had the greatest impact on what some scholars call Gnosticism. Modern scholars have long recognized this relationship between Gnosticism and Platonism[.]”28)Nicola Denzey Lewis, Introduction to “Gnosticism,” Oxford University Press (Oxford N.Y.: 2013), p. 246-247 Philo emphasized a Platonic philosophy for Moses in his attempts to approach the Greeks and even quotes Plato as authoritative(Philo, On Creation, 119;29)The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged (Trans. C. D. Yonge), Hendrickson Publishers, (Peabody, MA: 1993), p. 17 Every Good Man is Free, 13;30) The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged (Trans. C. D. Yonge), Hendrickson Publishers, (Peabody, MA: 1993), p. 683 On the Contemplative Life 57;31) The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged (Trans. C. D. Yonge), Hendrickson Publishers, (Peabody, MA: 1993), p.703 59).32) The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged (Trans. C. D. Yonge), Hendrickson Publishers, (Peabody, MA: 1993), p.703

Though certain issues became rooted in Rabbinic thought, Jews prohibited Greek learning after the war of A.D. 66-73 to hinder such syncretism. The Mishna reports, “During the war of Titus they forbade the crowns of the brides and that a man should teach his son Greek.”33)m. Sotah 9.14; in The Mishnah (Trans. Herbert Danby), Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA: 1933, 2016), p. 305 Greek philosophy was obviously being taught in Israel prior to the war. Justin Martyr, living in Samaria in the second century came into contact with philosophers and studied under “a certain Stoic,” then “a Peripatetic,” then he went to “a Pythagorean,” and then had “a meeting with the Platonists[.]”34)Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 2; in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Edited by Alexander Roberts, D.D., & James, Donaldson, LL.D., Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, MA: 2012), vol. 1, p. 195 The Samaritans were very syncretistic and Simon Magus, who all Patristic sources agree was the first Gnostic, came from Samaria (Acts 8:9). Heiser is either ignoring the cultural context of Second Temple Jewish literature (which his doctorate dissertation was dependent on in order to argue his divine plurality continued beyond the captivity), or he is being deceptive to his readers by his admitted selective method of hermeneutics. He has a presupposition to prove and will manipulate history and the texts he uses (through textual criticism) to prove his polytheistic view is somewhere in the Bible.

In his dissertation he argues that language about stars is to reflect these gods based on Deuteronomy 4:19-20; cf. 29:25- 17:13; Job 38:7-8; 1 Kings 22:19; Jeremiah 8:2; 19:13; Daniel 8:10-11; Nehemiah 9:6; Luke 2:13; Acts 7:42-43; Revelation 1:20; 12:1-435)Michale S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 20; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis and he elsewhere adds Isaiah 14:13. 36)Michale S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 49; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis He attempts to refute the clear denial of any polytheism which stand in Isaiah (Isaiah 43:10-12; 44:6-8; 45:5-7, 14, 18, 21; 46:9) by his allegorical interpretation of the star language used in Isaiah. He assumes Isaiah 40:26 proves gods exist in the author’s mind since he references stars, which Heiser takes to mean gods, when he argues, “for the same terminology is used by the Deuteronomic writer in Deut 4:19-20, which, when compared to the nearly identical text of Deut 32:8-9, clearly informs the reader that the starry host of heaven were thought of as deities created and commanded by Yahweh.” 37)Michale S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 34; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis

This same idea was hurled in Origen’s face as heresy when he states,

let us see what reason itself can discover respecting sun, moon, and stars…For Job appears to assert that not only may the stars be subject to sin, but even that they are actually not clean from the contagion of it. The following are his words: ‘The stars also are not clean in Your sight.’ [Job 25:5]… We think, then, that they may be designated as living beings, for this reason, that they are said to receive commandments from God, which is ordinarily the case only with rational beings. ‘I have given a commandment to all the stars,’ [Isaiah 45:12] says the Lord. What, now, are these commandments? Those, namely, that each star, in its order and course, should bestow upon the world the amount of splendour which has been entrusted to it.38)Origen, De Principiis, 1.7.2-3; in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 4, p. 263

Peter, a later bishop of Alexandria warned of Origen’s heresies, noting that “Origen, that framer of a perverse dogma, laid many temptations, who cast upon the Church a detestable schism, which to this day is throwing it into confusion.”39)Peter of Alexandria, The Genuine Acts of Peter; in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 6, p. 264 Will such a bold warning go forth against Michael Heiser today? The major difference between Origen and Hesier is that Origen was not so quick to consider the stars “gods” as Heiser does, Origen only expressed they were living rational entities. Heiser’s emphasis is that the Bible is polytheistic (though he rejects the term) and in his arguing against any form of a strict monotheistic faith in the Bible, he declares, “at best inconclusive, and very likely speaks only to the continuity of the monolatrous pre-exilic worldview that embraced a divine council.”40)Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 117; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis

Other early church fathers rejected such thinking. This is relevant since the early church fathers lived in a pagan world and were familiar with the cultural context of paganism. The early Christians decided to reject paganism contrast to Heiser who is choosing to read paganism into the Bible. Furthermore, the church fathers used the Greek Septuagint which Heiser is dependent on for his view, so they both used the same text but come to different conclusions. Lactantius mocks this idea of the pagans.

Now let us refute those also who regard the elements of the world as gods, that is, the heaven, the sun, and the moon; for being ignorant of the Maker of these things, they admire and adore the works themselves. And this error belongs not to the ignorant only, but also to philosophers; since the Stoics are of opinion that all the heavenly bodies are to be considered as among the number of the gods, since they all have fixed and regular motions, by which they most constantly preserve the vicissitudes of the times which succeed them.41)Lactanius, The Epitome of the Divine Institutes 26; in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 7, p. 231; Lactanius longer discussion can be found in The Divine Institute, 2.5; in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 7, p. 47-48

Tertullian argued against the thought of stars being gods since they were under the control of the laws of the only true God.

But gods are not slaves; therefore whatever things are servile in character are not gods. Otherwise they should prove to us that, according to the ordinary course of things, liberty is promoted by irregular licence, despotism by liberty, and that by despotism divine power is meant. For if all the (heavenly bodies) overhead forget not to fulfil their courses in certain orbits, in regular seasons, at proper distances, and at equal intervals — appointed in the way of a law for the revolutions of time, and for directing the guidance thereof — can it fail to result from the very observance of their conditions and the fidelity of their operations, that you will be convinced both by the recurrence of their orbital courses and the accuracy of their mutations, when you bear in mind how ceaseless is their recurrence, that a governing power presides over them, to which the entire management of the world is obedient, reaching even to the utility and injury of the human race?42)Tertullian, Ad Nationes, 2.5; in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 3, p. 134

During the middle of the third century, Cyprian, Bishop in Carthage in North Africa, revealed how stars became worshiped as deified men.

That those are no gods whom the common people worship, is known from this. They were formerly kings, who on account of their royal memory subsequently began to be adored by their people even in death. Thence temples were founded to them; thence images were sculptured to retain the countenances of the deceased by the likeness; and men sacrificed victims, and celebrated festal days, by way of giving them honour. Thence to posterity those rites became sacred which at first had been adopted as a consolation.43)Cyprian, Treatise 6; in  The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 5, p. 465

Indeed, many authors argued that the gods of the pagan world were kings of an earlier age that had become deified, but never was it claimed that they were actual gods of some lower tier as Heiser claims. Well, the Gnostics made such claims. Tertullian refutes the pagan deities’ existence, saying, “No one of your gods is earlier than Saturn: from him you trace all your deities, even those of higher rank and better known. …nor any writer upon sacred antiquities, have ventured to say that Saturn was any but a man[.]”44)Tertullian, Apology 10; in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 3, p. 26 Irenaeus states in refuting gnostics,

When, however, the Scripture terms them [gods] which are no gods, it does not, as I have already remarked, declare them as gods in every sense, but with a certain addition and signification, by which they are shown to be no gods at all. As with David: The gods of the heathen are idols of demons; and, You shall not follow other gods. For in that he says the gods of the heathen— but the heathen are ignorant of the true God — and calls them other gods, he bars their claim [to be looked upon] as gods at all. But as to what they are in their own person, he speaks concerning them; for they are, he says, the idols of demons. And Esaias: Let them be confounded, all who blaspheme God, and carve useless things; even I am witness, says God [Isaiah 44:9]. He removes them from [the category of] gods, but he makes use of the word alone, for this [purpose], that we may know of whom he speaks. Jeremiah also says the same: The gods that have not made the heavens and earth, let them perish from the earth which is under the heaven [Jeremiah 10:11]. For, from the fact of his having subjoined their destruction, he shows them to be no gods at all.45)Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.6.3; in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 1, p. 419

Justin Martyr rebuttal of the existence of other gods revolved around the name of the true God revealed to Moses at the burning bush.

On this account, then, as I before said, God did not, when He sent Moses to the Hebrews, mention any name, but by a participle He mystically teaches them that He is the one and only God. For, says He; I am the Being; manifestly contrasting Himself, the Being, with those who are not, that those who had hitherto been deceived might see that they were attaching themselves, not to beings, but to those who had no being. Since, therefore, God knew that the first men remembered the old delusion of their forefathers, whereby the misanthropic demon contrived to deceive them when he said to them, If you obey me in transgressing the commandment of God, you shall be as gods, calling those gods which had no being, in order that men, supposing that there were other gods in existence, might believe that they themselves could become gods. On this account He said to Moses, I am the Being, that by the participle being He might teach the difference between God who is and those who are not. Men, therefore, having been duped by the deceiving demon, and having dared to disobey God, were cast out of Paradise, remembering the name of gods, but no longer being taught by God that there are no other gods.46)Justin Martyr, Horatory Address to the Greeks, 21; in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 1, p. 281

Heiser’s position is that the Old Testament existed in its historical context and needs to be interpreted in light of the pagan literature that originated from the pagan cultures that surrounded ancient Israel. Heiser asserts the heavenly host “Is similar to pantheons of ancient Near Eastern cultures.”47)Michael Heiser, “The Divine Council and Biblical Theology,” p. 1; http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/DivineCouncilLBD.pdf He offers Ras Shemra (discovered in Ugarit in the 1920s) as the clearest example. These are the Ugaritic text48)see “Ugaritic Myths, Epics, and Legends,” (Trans. H. L. Ginsberg), in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ed. James B. Pritchard) 3rd Edition, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969), pp. 129-155 that discuss the pagan gods we read about in the Bible, such as Ashtoreth (1 Kings 11:5, 33; 2 King 23:13) and Baal, who is specifically said to not be a real god (Judges 6:31; 1 Kings 18:21). These texts are obviously ridiculous myths which Heiser uses to filter the Bible through. Heiser further argues that polytheism, or his divine plurality (same thing), continued into the Second Temple Jewish literature. 1 Enoch refers to “the stars of heaven which have transgressed the commandments of the Lord[,]”49)1 Enoch 21:6; E. Isaac, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 24 but these stars are specifically described as angels (1 Enoch 21:10).50) 1 Enoch 21:6; E. Isaac, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 24 2 Enoch mentions “angels that govern the stars[,]”51) 2 Enoch 21:6; F. I. Andersen, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 110-111 which is establishing a distinction between angels and the stars as inanimate objects and also provides an understandable expression why angels can be referred to as stars. Similarly, the Testament of Solomon has a demon state, “Our stars in heaven look small, but we are named like gods.”52)Testament of Solomon 8:4; D. C. Duling, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 970 Here the expression of the demon indicates that they have names like the Greek gods who are also named after stars (Mars, Jupiter, etc.). This further connects the rational of angels being called “stars” and “gods,” but viewed by the Jews as “demon” or “devils.”

The other issue Heiser has with me calling him a polytheist is that he argues Jehovah is ontologically distinct from the other gods. To make this argument he has to redefine “polytheistic thinking”53) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 31 to avoid being accused as a polytheist by stating God is unique ontologically with attributes of “omnipresence, omnipotence, sovereignty[,]”54) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p 30 which the lesser gods do not possess. He writes, “Israel was certainly ‘monolatrous,’ but that term comments only on what Israel believed about the proper object of worship, not what it believed about Yahweh’s nature and attributes with respect to other gods.”55) Michael Heiser, Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible,” Bulletin for Biblical Research, 18.1 (2008), p. 29 However, no polytheistic religion provides these attributes to all their gods, and most ancient pagan religions we would call polytheistic would technically fall under to term “monolatry.” Just think of the popular mythology of polytheistic religions which depict the gods warring against each other and killing other gods. None of the pagan gods have attributes of “omnipresence, omnipotence, sovereignty,” generally not even the father figure of these myhtological gods.

Heiser professes, “I still believe in the uniqueness of the God of the Bible. I still embrace the deity of Christ.”56) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 13 His declaration of Jehovah being ontologically unique seems at times counterintuitive when he expresses how the land of Canaan was “under the dominion of hostile gods”57) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 193 before the conquest of Joshua. In Heiser’s mind Jehovah actually lost His inheritance during these “cosmic turf wars[,]”58) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 122 which makes it hard to believe Heiser is not viewing these gods the capability to overthrow Jehovah and take His land from Him. This contradiction of thought is central to his view. “Not only had other gods encroached on Yahweh’s portion (Deut 32:9), violating the boundaries of their own allotment, but they had raised up warriors to prevent Yahweh’s children from inheriting his land.”59) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 211, fn 13 He reveals his dependence on interpreting the Scriptures through these pagan text when he wrote, “Of the stories that have survived from Ugarit, one of the most famous describes how Baal became king of the gods. This story is the backdrop for Psalm 74.”60) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 153 Is he implying that it is necessary for Jehovah to win these “cosmic turf wars” to finally become the king of the gods? He then follows with this being read into the Bible’s creation account. “Genesis 1 and 2 don’t provide the Bible’s only creation story. Psalm 74 describes creation as well as Yahweh’s victory over the forces of primeval chaos…. The creation act as described in Psalm 74 was theologically crucial for establishing Yahweh’s superiority over all other gods. Baal was not king of the gods, as the Ugaritic story proclaimed—Yahweh was.”61) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 154 Did Jehovah have to battle primeval chaos to complete creation? Was that the “turf war” that exalted Jehovah as king of the gods? Why then is there a continuation of such wars? Endless rhetorical questions could be thrown out to show how foolish Heiser’s theology is, or one could read the literature that records the pagan myths62)E. A. Speiser, “The Creation Epic (Enuma Elish),” in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Third Edition (ed. James B. Pritchard) Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969) pp. 60-72 that Heiser is alluding to in order to see how foolish he is when interpreting Scripture through his pagan filter. The late Jewish scholar Umberto Cassuto who was an expert in the ancient Ugaritic and Middle East cultures that surrounded Israel in that time reveals how foolish this line of reasoning is.

 When we consider how the Mesopotamia mythologies portray the making of heaven and earth, we cannot but realize the enormous difference… The former relates that after the god Marduk (or a different deity according to other versions) had vanquished Tiamat, the goddess of the world-ocean, depicted as a great and mighty sea-monster, as well as the other monsters and monstrosities that she had created to aid her in her combat, and after he had slain his chief enemy with his weapon, he cut her carcass horizontally, dividing it into two halves, which lay on top of the other, and out of the upper half he formed the heavens and the lower half he made the earth (which includes, of course, the sea, the ‘Deep’). Here is a quotation from the Babylonian account of creation (Tablet iv. 137-140):

He split her like a fish into two parts;

The one half of her he set up and laid therewith the beams of the heavens…

He pulled down a bar and stationed a watch,

He enjoined them not to let her waters go forth.

The last two line (‘He pulled down a bar,’ etc.) do not refer to the heavens, as they are usually understood, but apply to the earth and the sea. In the Greek summary of the myth by the Babylonian priest Berossus, it is clearly stated that the god Bel, that is Marduk, sliced the body of Thamte (Tiamat, Tamtu) into two, and of the one half he formed the earth, and out of the other half the heavens.63) Umberto Cassuto (Trans. Israel Abraham), A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, Part 1: From Adam to Noah Genesis 1-V8, The Magness Press (Jerusalem, 1944, first English edition 1961), Vol. 1, p. 32

Discussing this opinion that scholar have pointing to this myth, Johnathan Sarfati accurately stated, “But Genesis is nothing like this.”64)Jonathan Sarfati, The Genesis Account: A Theological, Historical, and Scientific Commentary on Genesis 1-11, Creation Ministry International (Powder Springs, Georgia: 2015), p. 61 Simply put, the God of the Bible did not need to battle with chaos, He created everything out of nothing.

Heiser’s polytheistic position inevitably leads to internal contradicting expressions. For example, he refers to Isaiah 43:10-1265)Michael Heiser, Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible,” Bulletin for Biblical Research, 18.1 (2008), p. 15 but verse 10 would imply no gods were formed before or after Jehovah. If other gods exist, according to this verse, they would have to be equal in their eternal existence with Jehovah. Heiser also references Isaiah 44:6-8 where Jehovah creates the “hosts,” which he claims the “star” symbolism is to be understood as “gods” contradicting the implication of the previous proof text from Isaiah 43:10. How could there be created “gods” if there are none formed after Jehovah? If Heiser rejects this verse to mean monotheism, the next verse Isaiah 43:11 says there is no other savior besides Jehovah. Does this mean Heiser rejects that only Jehovah can save? How many saviors exist in Heiser’s theology? Are the various gods set over the various Gentile nations as the saviors of those nations. Surely the Greek term for “savior” is used for the Greek gods in their texts. Furthermore, the parallel passage in Isaiah 45:20-23 clearly calls the gods of the nations “wood” and “graven images” which are incomparable to Jehovah Who is the only savior.

This is a serious issue since he believes there is at least 70 gods in the supposed divine council. He states, “In Isa 43:10-12, it is Yahweh’s claim to be alone in his pre-existence, his ability to save, and his national deliverance.”66) Michael Heiser, Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible,” Bulletin for Biblical Research, 18.1 (2008), p. 18 Note he expresses only national deliverance. Does each nation have their own deliverer/savior? Furthermore, the passage is not limited to Jehovah’s pre-existence but implies a perpetual sense that no gods existed before or after Him. This fact contradicts Heiser’s opinion of it when he says, “the sons of God were created by Yahweh and ordained to rule the nations[.]”67)Michael Heiser, Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible,” Bulletin for Biblical Research, 18.1 (2008), p. 20 He elaborates, “Moreover, the pre-existent and uncreated Yahweh created the other members of the host of heaven (Neh 9:6, Ps 148:1-5). Their life derives from him, not vice versa.”68) Michael Heiser, Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible,” Bulletin for Biblical Research, 18.1 (2008), p. 29 Again, the star language (“hosts of heaven”) is used for these “gods” of Heiser’s theology showing his need to allegorize passages such as Nehemiah 9:6 to hold his view.

In order to ignore all the clear expression in the Bible that other gods do not exist, he twists the scriptures to turn them in to expressions of incomparability instead of denial of gods existing.  Comparing the similar language used in Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 6:4; 32:12, 39, Heiser argues:

The instances where the subjects are not divine are instructive. In Isa 47:8, 10 Babylon says to herself, אני ואפסי עוד (“I am, and there is none else beside me”). The claim is not that she is the only city in the world but that she has no rival. Nineveh makes the identical claim in Zeph 2:15 (אני ואפסי עוד). Similarly, where the subject is divine it can coherently be argued that the point of אין עוד is not to deny the existence of other gods, but to affirm that Yahweh is unique and the only god for Israel. This fits well with the wording of the Shema and the first commandment, where the confession and command imply the existence of other gods.69)Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 95; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis

If this is his view, to stay consistent he will have to admit that Jehovah’s expression of incomparability are only prideful self-impressions, not ontological confessions. Because Heiser speaks of these “turf wars” with other gods sometimes invading Jehovah’s allotted inheritance of the land of Israel, Heiser must view Jehovah being conquered in these turf wars some of the time. As the cities of Babylon and Nineveh make these prideful self-expressions of incomparability to other cities, they were eventually brought to defeat. What in Heiser’s theology can cause him to ignore what he interprets as incomparability language in Jehovah’s speeches mean He cannot be overthrown?Moreover, it was Sennacherib who compared Jehovah to the gods of other nations that he conquered (2 Chronicles 32:14-19), but Hezekiah considered the gods of other nations, “no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone” (Isaiah 37:20). Indeed, Heiser’s theology is more similar to Sennacherib of the king of Syria who thought Jehovah was stronger in battle because He was the gods of the hills (1 Kings 20:23).

Heiser prefers the term “Divine plurality” since it is somehow different to polytheism or monolatry. His rhetorical expression often repeated is: “It is difficult to discern how Yahweh is exalted by being compared to beings that do not exist.”70)Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 119; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis His rational follows, there must really be other gods not just idols. Again, he suggests, “The worldview of the psalmists therefore leaves the reader with the conclusion that these comparative statements are meant to be true comparisons with other gods.”71) Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 119; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis With this he rejects what sound exegetes have interpreted for centuries based on his synchronizing of pagan theology from the surrounding cultures. He mentions Psalm 86:8; 95:3; 96:4; 97:7, 9; 135:5; 138:1;72) Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 120; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis Job 16:19-21;73)Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 128; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis Job 5:1;74)Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 129; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis Job 15:8; 4:18; 15:15; 25:5-6; 33:23-2475)Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 130; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis as passages that prove Jehovah is being compared with other “gods” that actually exist. Professing other gods truly exist is polytheism! Paul preached a monotheistic gospel (Acts 14:15; 17:24-25, 29-30; 19:26; Rom 1:19-23; 1 Cor 8:5-6; Gal 4:8; 1 Thess 1:9; 4:5).

While Heiser attempts to promote Jehovah as an ontologically unique Being beyond these other gods he believes in, his theology is closer to what we find in Egyptian hymns and prayers. All acknowledge ancient Egypt as a polytheistic religion, but Heiser’s view of the Bible presenting a monolatrous belief of ancient Israel impresses nothing beyond the polytheistic faith of Egypt. These Egyptian hymns present Amon-Re as a unique ontological god above other deities of the Egyptian pantheon. Amon-Re is “More distinguished in nature than any (other) god[.]”76)“A Hymn to Amon-Re,” ii, (trans. John A. Wilson); in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Third Edition (ed. James B. Pritchard) Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969) p. 365 This hymn further states about Amon-Re, exactly what Heiser believes the Bible teaches, “Jubilation to thee [Amon-Re] who made the gods[.]”77)“A Hymn to Amon-Re,” ii, (trans. John A. Wilson); in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Third Edition (ed. James B. Pritchard) Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969) p. 365 Re is further spoken of as “the lord of the gods… Who gave commands, and the gods came into being.”78)“A Hymn to Amon-Re,” iv, (trans. John A. Wilson); in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Third Edition (ed. James B. Pritchard) Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969) p. 366 He is moreover called, “Father of the fathers of all the gods… Who made what is and created what exists; Sovereign—life, prosperity, health!—and chief of the gods!”79)“A Hymn to Amon-Re,” vii, (trans. John A. Wilson); in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Third Edition (ed. James B. Pritchard) Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969) p. 366 Amon-Re is “The solitary sole one without his peer… the sole king, like the fluid of the gods[.]”80)“A Hymn to Amon-Re,” viii, ix (trans. John A. Wilson); in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Third Edition (ed. James B. Pritchard) Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969) p. 365 Re having ontological uniqueness is again represented in such hymns, “Thou who hast constructed thyself, thou didst fashion thy body, a shaper who was (himself) not shaped; unique in his nature, passing eternity, the distant one[.]”81)“A Universal Hymn to the Sun” (trans. John A. Wilson); in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Third Edition (ed. James B. Pritchard) Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969) p. 367-368 So the Egyptian god Re is said to possess eternality and had created the other gods which is what Heiser says of the God of the Bible being eternal distinguishes Jehovah from these other gods. Since Dr. Heiser has earned an M.A. in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania with his major fields in Ancient Israel and Egyptology, it should be assumed he is aware of this Egyptian theology and is purposely imputing it into his biblical theology.

Other scholars have stated, “true deity is, in the fullest sense, eternal, having neither origin in the past nor end in the future. A true deity is unbegotten or unregenerated (agennetos)—having no parents—and unoriginated (agenetos)—having no other kind of origin—as well as being imperishable forever.”82)Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2008), pp. 245-246; as cited by Steven Donnelly, The Divine Rites and Rejection of the Preist King: Melchizedek on the Margins of Early Jewish and Christian Interpretation,  (Ph. D. dissertation) The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2014, p. 28 Such views of God are not unique to the Bible, as Heiser is aware of. Polytheistic pagan religions have an eternal supreme god, that, according to their myths, had created various other gods. An early Jewish text of the first or second century similarly defines God with such terms. “Eternal One, Mighty One, Holy El, God autocrat, Self-originate, incorruptible, immaculate, unbegotten, spotless, immortal self-perfected, self-devised, without mother, without father, ungenerated[.]”83)Apocalypse of Abraham 17:8-10; R. Rubinkiewicz in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 697 Hebrews 7:3 describes Melchizedek with these terms: “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” But if this is the working definition of the word “God,” “Deity,” or “Divine,” being all synonyms, then these beings that Heiser is calling “gods” are not properly identified by such a definition and must be relegated to an angelic nature which our ancient Jewish literature states, though Heiser’s selective hermeneutics avoids telling his readers.

Egyptologist J. H. Breasted mentions how Amon-Re was originally a local deity who became exalted at a later date around 1400 B.C..

Amon, the old obscure local god of Thebes, whose name is not to be found in the great religious documents of the earlier age like the Pyramid Texts, had by this time gained the chief place in the state theology, owing to the supreme position held by the ruling family of his native town in the Empire. Theologically, he had long succumbed to the ancient tendency which identified the old local gods with the Sun-god, and he had long been called “Amon-Re.” His old local characteristics, whatever they may have been, had been supplanted by those of the Sun-god, and the ancient local Amon had been completely Solarized. In this way it had been possible to raise him to the supreme place in the pantheon.84)J. H. Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, Harper Touchbooks (New York, NY: 1912, 1959), p. 318-319

Is this what Heiser thinks of Jehovah? Did Jehovah at some time become an exalted character over the Israelite pantheon excelling His previously held position as a local god? He has nowhere as of yet expressed such an opinion publicly (at least as far as I am aware of), but his ideas about the God of the Bible and the Egyptian view of Amon-Re are uncannily similar.

By arguing for polytheism, or monolatry, a plurality of deities, or whatever he wants to call it, Heiser has opened evangelicals to a worldview that is permissive of the antichrist deception—that is, the antichrist will be considered a god above all that is called God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).85)see Heath Henning, “Antichrist will be Gnostic,” Feb 14:2016; http://truthwatchers.com/antichrist-will-be-gnostic/ He even teaches that men will become gods, but that will be one of his heresies that will be discussed in a future article.

Follow the entire series of assessing Hieser’s theology.

Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy (Part 1) is focused on Heiser’s hermeneutic method as the root of his errors but is not very expressive of his theology.

Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy: Polytheism (Part 2) is dealing with why he should be considered a polytheist even if he denies the accusation. Simply put, his term “divine plurality” is what he uses as a synonym to refer to his belief in many gods.

Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy: Redefining אלהים (Part 3) further elaborates his polytheistic views and refutes his arguments against being labeled a polytheist.

Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy: gods or Angels (Part 4) discusses how other Bible scholars that have similar research in Second Temple Jewish literature understand this language to refer to angels, not gods.

Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy: Deification (Part 5) may be the most significant assessment of Heiser’s theology and draws on the many parallels of his theological views and Gnosticism and exposes his heretical doctrine that men become gods.

Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy: Paradigm passages (Part 6) will discuss Heiser’s paradigmatic passages to explain his errors and provide an accurate exegesis of Psalm 82; Deuteronomy 4:19-20; 32:8-9; and John 10:34.

I intend to provide the entire series as a free ebook when completed which will be available to download as a PDF.

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