Back Story: Melchizedek

Wed 10/26/05 at 7:59 pm

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These next few entries might be a little tricky because although I’ve carried around inside of me the core “who” of these characters for some time, some of the who, and almost all of the what, when, where, why and how have come to me along the way, in drips and drabs, often years apart. These entries will focus on the who. The rest I save for another day.

Ever since deciding Melchizedek would be a character in my novel, I’ve had a sense of what he looks like. See September 1, 2005 Post. I’ve given considerable thought about whether to provide physical descriptions of the characters in The First Voice. For the most part, I personally (is that redundant?) find such descriptions in the novels I read distracting, sometimes even annoying, no matter how cleverly an author might convey the information. Sometimes, of course, it is necessary to provide certain details, e.g., the hairy-footedness of hobbits, to enable a reader to formulate an accurate description of a character in his or her own mind’s eye (think about that one for awhile). At present, none of my characters has any unusual or distinctive (not redundant) characteristics, so I have decided to refrain from giving any specifics, though I may include an occasional generic remark that might register in the mind of an observer from time to time, such as the fact that Johanna is “strikingly handsome.”

Shortly after my marathon read of Revelation (see September 29, 2005 Post), I closed my eyes and said to myself, “Self, who is Melchizedek, then and now?” I started playing around with his name to come up with a modern iteration. In no time, I had settled on Michael Zedek. I also decided that despite Hebrews 7: 3 wherein he is described as “[w]ithout father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life,” my Melchizedek would have a genealogy, and hence, a beginning. Continuing with closed eyes, I came up with the idea that the archangel Michael had fallen in love with a mortal woman during his stint guarding the eastern gate of Eden to keep Adam and Even from eating of the Tree of Life. See September 13, 2005 Post. From their union was Melchizedek born. His mother, being mortal, had died some time before the flood, but Michael obtained permission to bring his immortal child to heaven to ride out the flood. Melchizedek returned to earth after the deluge and has since been charged with the overall supervision of the construction of the monuments, the temples and cathedrals, which have been built to the glory of God over the centuries. And that’s how he’s gotten to New York. He is currently in charge of ensuring the completion of the only Gothic cathedral which is still under construction, St. John the Divine.

With those parameters in place, I made the first of many, many forays onto and into the World Wide Web to perform research for The First Voice. I still have the print out of what I found during the initial search I conducted on March 18, 1999, a four-page document by Birger A. Pearson entitled “Melchizedek: Ancient Sources.” Turns out, Melchizedek is an important figure in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints a/k/a the Mormons.

Reading Pearson’s article those many years ago elicited the first of many “plate o’ shrimp” moments I have experienced in connection with my story. See August 12, 2005 Post. For instance, according to Pearson, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls “features Melchizedek as a heavenly end-time redeemer, with attributes of the archangel Michael.” Melchizedek is also mentioned by Philo, a first century Jewish philosopher of Alexandria who sees Melchizedek as a “reference to the divine Logos, the thought of God in which the pattern of all existing things is conceived and the ‘image’ of God according to which man was created.” An early Jewish text, 2 Enoch, attests to early Jewish interest in the figure of Melchizedek. According to Pearson, Chapters 71-72 tell the story of a child who is

born miraculously to Noah’s recently deceased sister-in-law, and the child, marked on his chest with a priestly seal, speaks and praises God. The boy is named Melchizedek by Noah and his brother Nir, whose wife had been posthumously delivered. In a night vision Nir is told of the impending flood; he is also informed that the Archangel Michael will bring Melchizedek to Paradise, thus enabling him to escape the flood waters. Melchizedek will eventually become the chief of priest among the people, and in the end of days he will be revealed yet another time as the chief priest, in this text, Melchizedek has three different earthly manifestations: born before the flood, serving in the postdiluvian age as a great priest, and functioning in the end-time as a messianic priest.”

Finally, a fragmentary text from a work entitled the Nag Hammadi translated by Pearson contains an “apocalypse given by angels to Melchizedek” wherein it is revealed “that he will ultimately reappear as Jesus Christ, Son of God, to do battle with the cosmic forces of darkness.” I’m still not quite sure what to think about these synchronistic hits that cause The Twilight Zone themesong to start playing in my head. When they happen, though, I feel exhilarated and inspired to keep going because I know I must be on the right track.

next post: Synchronistic Misses
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