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Revista Studii Teologice

REVISTA FACULTĂŢILOR DE TEOLOGIE DIN PATRIARHIA ROMÂNĂ



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Motivul „Chaoskampf”-ului în trimiterile vechitestamentare din ritualul Sfântului Botez

The “Chaoskampf” Motif in Old Testament References Included in Baptismal Ritual

Autor(i): Pr. Constantin OANCEA


In some of the baptismal statements, water is associated with harmful forces, which nevertheless are subject to God’s will. The motif of water obeying Creator’s will originates in the Old Testament. Some texts allude to a fight of the Creator against sea or other life-threatening elements. Biblical theology terms this motif “Cha-oskampf” – fight against chaos.
The best-known version of the Chaoskampf, recorded in several Old Oriental texts, can be found in the Babylonian epic poem Enuma Elish: the god Marduk de-feats Tiamat – the goddess of salt waters, having a monstruous appearance – thus bringing world and people into existence. Mythological texts of ancient Ugarit (Phoe-nicia) tell of the war waged by god Baal against the god of the sea (Yam) and the god of death (Mot).
The Chaoskampf motif also appears in the Old Testament texts describing world creation. However, the Old Israel did not see creation as a completed act of times immemorial. Creation provided the occasion to acknowledge God’s salvific in-tervention in the past of the people and conjure His present and future support. Thus fight against chaos can take the historical form of Lord’s triumph over the foes of Israel, according to the “Exodus tradition”: “with a mighty hand and outstretched arm”, God drives waters away and destroys the enemy Egyptian force.
Water is associated with chaos in the case of sea, rivers and sea depths, as well as the beasts personifying them: dragons (tannīnīm), Rahab and Leviathan (e.g. Ps 33 [32],7; 74,13-14 [73,14-15]; 89 [88]; 93,3-4 [92, 4-5]; 104 [103], 6-10; 135 [134], 6; Isa 27,1; 51,9). The pairing sea (water) – monster, which is hostile to divini-ty, is present in virtually all Biblical texts. It also occurs in Ugarite and Babylonian mythology. Biblical authors evoke these instantiations of chaos only to assert their powerlessness against God’s might. According to the psalms God’s providential care for all beings is so great that these symbols of chaos are, if not completely debunked, at least made to appear more benign. In psalm 104 [103] – the wonderful hymn praising Creator’s providence – Leviathan is but one of God’s creatures, whom He made „to sport with” (v. 26 New Jerusalem Bible). And the primordial sea (tehōm), that once covered mountains, withdrew at God’s command within the boundaries set by the Creator (v. 6-9). Gen 1,21 states that sea monsters (tannīnīm gedōlīm) are made by God and placed by Him in the depths of the sea. Moreover, in Ps 148,7 dragons (tannīnīm) and abyss (tehōmōt), together with all created things, are urged to intone a cosmic hymn glorifying the Creator.
Biblical reiterations of the Chaoskampf motif are present in the first two pre-baptismal exorcisms as well as the prayer for water sanctification (the blessing of the water) prior to the baptism.

First exorcism
(a) “...I rebuke you in the name of the One who walked on the waves of sea (θαλάσσης) as if it were solid ground and stilled the winds...” (cf. Matt 14,22-33 par. and Matt 8,23-27 par.)
(b) “...Whose gaze causes the abyss (αβύσσους) to drain and mountains to melt...” (cf. Judg 5,5; Ps 18,16; Nahum 1,4-5; Hab 3,6)
(c) “...Who is seated upon cherubim and gazes into the abyss (αβύσσους)...” (cf. Sg. of 3 Childr. 1,31)
(d) “For whose fear tremble the heaven, the earth, the sea (η θάλασσα) and everything it contains...” (cf. Ps 69,35 [68,38]; 96 [95],11; 146 [145],6.)
The Chaoskampf is alluded to in the two New Testament episodes where the Savior stills the sea, walking on the sea (Matt 14,22-33 par.) and abating the storm (Matt 8,23-27 par). The sea appears as an antagonistic element. By walking on water and making the storm cease, Jesus Christ reveals Himself as God, the Creator and Master of the sea.
The abyss is an instantiation of chaos. The above-quoted excerpt reminds of several hymns evoking the Sinaitic theophany (Judg 5,5; Ps 18,16 [17,17]; Nah 1,4-5; Hab 3,6) and the chant intoned by the three young men 1,31. The respective texts extol God as universal King and proclaim His rule over the heights and depths of the created world.
“The sea and everything it contains” may allude to the sea monster, a symbol of chaos. They are also associated in the Chant of the three young men (1,56). “The whale” (κῆτος) is the Septuagint Greek term describing the three instantiations of marine chaos: tānnīn (Gen 1,21), Rahab (Job 9,38; 26,12) and the Leviathan (Job 3,8).
The second exorcism
(e) “...at whose command the earth was set upon waters (υδάτων)...,
...who surrounds the sea (θαλάσση) with sands and establishes firm ground under deep water (ύδατι σφοδρώ)...,
...who set the firmament like a tent and covered in waters (ύδασι) its he-ights...
...who summons the waters of the sea (το ύδωρ της θαλάσσης) and spreads them on the face of the entire earth...”
(cf. Ps 136 [135],6; Jer 5,22; Ps 77,20 [76,18]; Isa 43,16; Sol 14,3; Amos 5,7-8; Gen 1,6-7; Ps 104 [103],3)
The statements of the psalms and prophets’ books employ the motif of the Chaoskampf to stress the supremacy of God over nature. God established the earth upon waters (Ps 136 [135],6) to be inhabited by people.
God set boundaries to the sea, to restrict its potentially harmful action (Jer 5,22; Prov 8,27-29; cf. Ps 104,9 [103,10].
The path set by the Redeemer of Israel in the sea (Ps 77,20 [76,18]; Isa 43,16; Sol 14,3) is an element in the exodus tradition. The fact that waters obey his command, engulfing the ground, is a warning addressed to those who trespass aga-inst the laws and the righteousness of the Creator (Amos 5,7-8). Dividing the waters from the waters to create the firmament (Gen 1,6-7; Ps 104 [103],3), as well as the other above-mentioned acts, demonstrates the supremacy of the Creator over the created world.
The blessing of water
(f) “...The abyss (άβυσσοι) fears you. Springs (αι πηγαί) obey you ... You set the earth upon waters (των υδάτων). You surrounded the sea (την θάλασσαν) with sands.... (cf. Ps 77,17 [76,15]; Gen 7,11; Sg. of 3 Childr 1,54; Ps 136 [135],6; Jer 5,22)
(g) “...You, by sending your Holy Spirit down from heaven, sanctified the stream of Jordan and crushed the heads of the dragons (των δρακόντων) that had nestled there.”
The strongest echo of the ancient Chaoskampf in the Baptismal service is the assertion that God crushed the heads of the dragons (δρακόντων) dwelling in the water of Jordan. The wording in the prayer for water’s blessing and sanctification is almost identical to that of Ps 74,13-14 [73,14-15].
You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the dragons in the waters.
You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness (Ps 74,13-14 NRSV)
Three petitions following this statement demonstrate that the motif of fight against dragons received new significance in the exegesis of baptismal ritual.
(h) “...Make it (the water) ..., able to destroy devils (δαίμοσιν), to cast away the malevolent powers (ταις εναντίαις δυνάμεσιν) ... May the foes (οι επιβουλεύοντες) of your Creation flee from it...
... May the sign of your Cross break all malevolent powers (αι εναντίαι δυνάμεις)
... and let not the dark spirit (δαιμόνιον σκοτεινόν) hide within this water (τω ύδατι)...”
Obviously, the “dragons” signify devils, and the fight against chaos has be-come the fight of man against the devil.
In conclusion, the Chaoskampf motif has a dual function in the baptismal ritu-al. In keeping with the Biblical authors, the motif of combat against chaos is a way of proclaiming the obedience of the entire created world to the Saviour. Old Testament references, mainly those included in the prayer for water sanctification, also show that the same motif proclaims the supremacy of the Saviour in the war against devil. By His death and Resurrection, Christ triumphed decisively over evil. In their baptismal reinterpretation, biblical references emphasize the fact that evil powers cannot prevail against the Lord and cannot resist the power that casts them away from the baptized person.

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Pagini: 55-74