'Heavenlies' in Ephesians : a lexical, exegetical, and conceptual analysis
Brannon, M. Jeff
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In Ephesians, readers of the New Testament encounter one of the most intriguing phrases throughout the whole of Scripture. The expression “in the heavenlies” appears five times in the letter and is not found in any other place in the New Testament. While there is nothing inherently intriguing about the words έυ τοις έπουραυίοις, the phrase proves to be of interest to Biblical scholars because of the various contexts in which it is utilized. The two appearances which have caused the most consternation among New Testament scholars are the session of earthly believers έυ τοις έπουραυίοις in 2:6 and the presence of the spiritual forces of evil evn έυ τοις έπουραυίοις in 6:12. The seeming implausibility of these two statements has led commentators to interpret this peculiar expression in a variety of ways. The purpose of this thesis, therefore, is to perform a lexical, exegetical, and conceptual analysis of the expression έυ τοις έπουραυίοις in Ephesians. Within this broader purpose, this thesis: 1) argues against the prevailing interpretation of “the heavenlies” propagated by Hugo Odeberg and subsequently adopted by Michael E. McGough in his unpublished ThD dissertation “An Investigation of vEpoura,nioj in Ephesians” 2) builds upon and augments A. T. Lincoln’s research from his article “A Re-Examination of ‘the Heavenlies’ in Ephesians” and from his monograph Paradise Now and Not Yet 3) provides in-depth examinations of three significant concepts associated with this expression, namely the redeemed on earth having a heavenly status, evil powers in heaven, and the cosmology of Ephesians. The evidence considered includes an examination of the term evpoura,nioj from Greek sources, Jewish sources, the Apostolic Fathers, and the Septuagint. In addition, the New Testament uses of evpoura,nioj outside of Ephesians are analyzed through a brief exegesis of the passages in which the term appears. The exegetical chapters within the letter of Ephesians itself will include comparisons with the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Second Temple Jewish texts including the Qumran manuscripts and apocalyptic literature. From my examination of the evidence, I conclude 1) that there is no basis for a distinction between the terms ouvrano,j and evpoura,nioj in Ephesians 2) that the prevailing interpretation of “the heavenlies” is both flawed and untenable 3) that Qumran and apocalyptic texts can shed light upon and assist in a proper understanding of the difficult passages in which the expression evn toi/j evpourani,oij appears. The primary contribution to the New Testament field is that this thesis represents the most comprehensive study of “the heavenlies” in Ephesians. Throughout the course of the thesis, other areas of contribution include studies of the term evpoura,nioj, a heavenly status for the redeemed on earth, evil powers in heaven, the cosmology of Ephesians, and the role of “the heavenlies” within the thought of Ephesians.