The summary of the doctoral thesis:
The original rite of the Passover
in the light of the literary scheme of the Book of Exodus 1–18,
Wydawnictwo Naukowe of
The Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow,
Cracow 2008, pp. 440:
This Internet publication was formed in 17. January 2009 year,
ie in the day of the first anniversary of the public defence of my doctoral thesis.
Wojciech Kosek’s doctoral thesis consists of an introduction, three main chapters and a conclusion. The main part is concentrated on seeking a basic structure of the rite of the Passover, namely:
It is not an easy task to discover the basic literary scheme, according to which the last editor of the Book of Exodus logically divided and arranged the text into smaller literary units (pericopes).
In the present dissertation this task was undertaken based on the following methodological rule:
|The most important Person in the Bible is|
not Moses, not Israel, not Miriam, not Pharaoh…
The implication of this rule is: when seeking to understand the holy text, one must carefully read every sentence of its present, canonical form, and when the sentence consists of Gods words or when it is a description of God’s acts – one must read it with the utmost care!
So then for example:
In this dissertation an attempt to find the division of the Book of Exodus according to the intention of the editor–hagiographer was undertaken with reference to the first eighteen chapters, which were proved to describe (in its narrative level) consecutive stages of God’s efficiently accomplished plan to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and to guide them until they reached God’s Mount Horeb.
As shown in detailed analysis: when the text of Exod 1–18 is divided into six pericopes according to the intention of its last editor, the next level of the story appears: this whole text is a description of the covenant, made (cut) by God and Israel in their passage between the halves of the divided waters of the Sea of Reeds.
First, the ancient custom according to which God made the covenant with Abram (cf. Gen 15:17), was considered: it was done by the passage of fire and of smoke between the halves of the split animals, the passage of visible signs of God – which is how God established the covenant with Abram. This event seems to be the best biblical source for understanding the analogous passage – of the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud, signs of God going together with Israel between the halves of the divided waters of the Sea of Reeds (cf. Exod 14:15–31).
There is a second source for this understanding of Exod 1–18: the literary scheme of an ancient alliance treaty: ancient peoples (especially Hittites in XVI–XII century before Christ) used to write an official description of a covenant in six literary steps (pericopes), and so does the text of Exod 1–18.
* The first element of this description – Exod 1:1–6:1 – it is a historical prologue: its main goal is to prepare the covenant participant, Israel, by presenting God as Israel’s benefactor during the difficult history preceding the covenant.
• The second element of this description – Exod 6:2–11:10 – is the presentation of the covenant partners and mainly autopresentation of God, who shows by means of ten miraculous signs His own magnificence, omnipotence, predispositions to fulfill the role of the suzerain–guardian for Israel–vassal. The first verses of this pericope also state that God inaugurates the ancient ceremonial of making a covenant with Israel: God makes a promise to free Israel from slavery and to lead her to Canaan – her heritage, which He now grants to Israel. The genealogy of Moses and Aaron (Exod 6:13–7:7) – is the presentation of representatives of the other partner of the covenant.
• The third element of this description – Exod 12:1–13:16 – is the bestowal by God, as the sovereign, of the covenant law on Israel. The assurance that Israel will remember the agreed upon obligation of dependence on hwhy as her God, Saviour, King and Husband (cf. Ezek 16; 20; 23) – is the main aim of this law, the law of love.
• The fourth element of this description – Exod 13:17–14:31 – is the report of the irrevocable act: God and Israel made the covenant through their passage between the two halves of the divided Sea of Reeds (cf. analysis of Jer 31:32) as a specific kind of an animal – Rahab, Leviathan, Dragon (cf. analysis of Isa 51:9–10).
• The fifth element of this description – Exod 15:1–21 – is the report of the form and place of the covenant contract commemoration: it is the song of the glory, recorded in the hearts of the Lord’s People, which Israel, inspired by God’s Spirit, sings to God, praising His power and confessing that He had already fulfilled promises, which he made on the day of the inauguration of the covenant ceremony: He had redeemed Israel from slavery and (on the basis of the anticipation) He had led her into the country of her heritage, to the Sanctuary of the Lord. hwhy is now the King of Israel; Israel is now the People of hwhy.
* The sixth element of this description – Exod 15:22–18:27 – tells about this, how Israel–vassal is initiated into the moral law of the covenant, into a deep love relationship with God, into remembering about His grace and covenant.
It must be noted that the four central pericopes (•) are the sequential four steps required by the ancient rite of the covenant contract; two external ones (*) together with these four central pericopes form the whole six–element sequence of steps of the literary scheme, which were used to write down alliance treaties in XVI–XII age before Christ.
These six pericopes form the chiasmus – A, B, C, C’, B’, A’ – with respect to the principal content of each of them, and also with respect to the frequency of the past tense forms in relation to the future tense forms:
62 %, 56 %, 35 %, (100–34) %, 56 %, 62 %.
The rite of the Passover
consists of four main elements of its structure,
each of them connected with one traditional cup of wine.
These four consecutive elements are elements of the ceremonial
of the establishment / renewal of the covenant.
Which covenant in the history of Israel? – the one described above!
The rite of the Passover takes as its model the six–element literary structure of the Book of Exodus 1–18, being a treaty of the establishment of the covenant.
In the Passover, however, the structural elements 1. and 2. become integrated and similarly elements 5. and 6.
The first part of the Passover makes its participants be real partakers of: a/ the first two stages of God’s plan of exodus (the Lord protects His own People in their difficult situation of bondage in Egypt; the Lord shows His power by ten miraculous signs), b/ the first element of the ceremonial of the covenant establishment.
This part serves to show: 1/ all the good things the Lord had done for Israel up to the time of the establishment of this ceremony, 2/ His promises to Israel, 3/ the greatness of the Lord as a contracting party of the covenant.
The first part of the rite of the Passover is modelled on the first two integrated elements of the structure of the Book of Exodus 1–18 – the pericope 6:2–11:10 together with the preceding pericope 1:1–6:1 (it serves as a preparation for the Lord and His People to take the four sequential steps required by the ancient covenant ceremony).
According to the treaty rules one should list the contributions of the sovereign up to the time of the covenant establishment/renewal. It is necessary to note that in the first part of the Passover participants enter into the time preceding the 15th day of Abib in Egypt, even though a liturgical form (a liturgical sign) is the story about all mercies of the Lord until the day of the covenant renewal in the times of the temple. This element of the Passover ceremonial could therefore come from the times of Solomon – because in this part one narrates all the splendid things the Lord had done in the history of Israel until the time of the building the temple, not only these which preceded the exit from Egypt and not at all these which took place after times of Solomon.
The second part of the Passover makes its participants be real partakers of: a/ the third stage of the exodus (during a feast, the People eat the lamb–Passover and the Lord kills the first–born of Egypt), b/ the second element of the covenant establishment ceremony (the Lord proclaims the law of the covenant and the People accept it and do everything as the Lord has commanded).
A form of fulfilment of this element is the feast: eating of foods, prescribed by the law of the covenant, in compliance with the biblical expression: „This will be to you as a sign on your hand and as a reminder between your eyes, so that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt” (Exod 13:9). Originally in the second part of the Passover the lamb was eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, while from the time of the destruction of the second temple – the meal has been eaten without the lamb, because there is no longer a place to offer it.
The second part of the rite of the Passover is modelled on the third element of the structure of the Book of Exodus 1–18 – the law pericope 12:1–13:16, in which God is portrayed as the sovereign–legislator. The Lord gives laws of the Passover, especially concerning the eating of the lamb–Passover, and the laws of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, concerning the unleavened bread of the exodus. The literary coherence of this pericope is assured by the basic idea – the promulgation of laws and their explication on the ground of the history of redemption: 1/ the laws of the eating the lamb–Passover (incl. Exod 12:29–33!), 2/ the laws of the unleavened bread of the exodus (incl. Exod 12:34–39!), 3/ other laws assuring the commemoration of the Lord’s paschal work for Israel.
The third part of the Passover makes its participants be real partakers of: a/ the fourth stage of the exodus (the march out from Egypt and the passage through the desert and the Sea of Reeds), b/ the third element of the covenant establishment ceremonial (the irrevocable act of the cutting – making – the covenant between God and Israel, made by God and His People in the passage between the halves of the divided waters of the Sea of Reeds – cf. Ps 136:13).
A form of the liturgical fulfillment of that fundamental act is: 1/. the consumption of the unleavened afikoman – – as „manna for the exit and the passage upon the bare channel of the sea”, 2/. the thanks for the food and the beneficial exodus and the supplications for the renewal of the exit with the unleavened bread, 3/. the opening of the door as a sign to go off.
The third part of the Passover rite is modelled on the fourth element of the structure of the Book of Exodus 1–18 – the pericope 13:17–14:31.
The fourth part of the Passover makes its participants be real partakers of: a/ the last two stages of God’s perfectly fulfilled plan of the exodus, b/ the fourth element of the covenant establishment ceremonial (They participate in the commemoration of its establishment and in the fulfillment of its commitments).
Forms of fulfillment of this element are the hymns of great thanksgiving for answered supplications and for the established covenant which gives freedom to Israel. The worship of the Lord and the power of His acts is a thematic centre of the uplifted words of prayers and psalms of the second part of Hallel (Ps 115–118) and of Great Hallel (Ps 136), songs, hymns…
The fourth part of the rite of the Passover is modelled on the last two integrated elements of the structure of the Book of Exodus 1–18 – the pericope 15:1–21 together with the subsequent pericope 15:22–18:27. The pericope 15:1–21 is the great hymn of Moses and men, and Miriam and women; it is the hymn praising the Lord–Saviour, the hymn showing His tremendous power and reliability in fulfilment of covenant promises. The stanzas of the hymn (sung just after the miraculous passage of the Sea of Reeds!) show the Israelites already in the Promised Land! This splendid hymn – together with the subsequent pericope 15:22–18:27 – serves simultaneously to honour God and to establish the covenant laws in the memory and hearts of His People. Similarly psalms and hymns and didactic songs of the Passover, and (in some Jewish traditions) the singing of „the Song of Songs” record in the hearts of the paschal Seder participants the law of thankfulness to the Lord as the contracting party of the covenant, as the Husband of Israel…
Analyses of Hebrew texts, led in this doctoral thesis,
demanded showing to Honourable Readers in quoted fragments
the words of identical cores;
in the present edition a way of presenting of these words are:
different underlinings, italics, bold and their different combinations.
For not few Reader undoubtedly
the distinction of these words by means of colours will be helpful,
what is accessible in the electronic form on the website of the author of this work
on the server of the Foundation „OPOKA” in Internet:
I invite heartily Honourable Readers
to take advantage of this modern form of sharing a knowledge.
I invite You, Dear Netizen, to read my book.
It’s published by
of The Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow,
See on Internet
I also invite You to read
The Internet Presentation, describing the original rite of the Passover
Charakterystyka zawartości niniejszej strony, jej słów kluczowych:
Dr Wojciech Kosek,Primärritus des Pascha in der Sicht des literarischen Schemas vom Buch Exodus 1-18. Dr. W. Kosek, Dissertation: Literarische Struktur von Ex 1-18; Identität der Struktur mit der literarischen Struktur der Bundesvertrage aus dem XVI Jh. vor Christus, mit der Struktur des Pascha-Ritus. Dr Wojciech Kosek presents summary of his doctoral thesis: The Original rite of the Passover in the light of the literary scheme of the Book of Exodus 1-18, Faculty of Theology PAT - Cracow 17.01.2008. keys: Gott, Buch Exodus, Exegese, Pascha, Liturgie, Afikoman, literarische Struktur, Israel, Rotes Meer, Bund, Vertrag, Hethiter, Seder, cafun, vier Becher, Pesachim, God, Israel, Exodus, Passover, seder, Pesachim, Hittites, alliance, treaty, celebration, rite, Isaiah, Jeremiah, exegesis, afikoman, afikomen, Red Sea, literary structure.