Ascended far above all the heavens : rhetorical functioning of Psalm 68:18 in Ephesians 4:8–10

Mouton, Elna, 1952- (2014-03)

Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.

The original publication is available at

Mouton, E. A. J. 2014. Ascended far above all the heavens: Rhetorical functioning of Psalm 68:18 in Ephesians 4:8–10?. HTS Teologiese Studies/ Theological Studies, 70(1), doi:10.4102/hts.v70i1.2058.


The letter to the Ephesians employs various communicative strategies in responding to the rhetorical situation of its implied recipients. Focusing on the recipients’ new identity and ethos ἐν Χριστῷ [in Christ], the text emphasises supernatural elements such as resurrection, ascension, heavenly places, revealed mystery, Spirit and power. At the same time, it adopts a rich mosaic of traditional materials, inter alia echoing the Hebrew Scriptures, Hellenistic traditions and early-Christian liturgical traditions. This article explores the dynamic yet complex intertextual fusion and reappropriation of (mainly Jewish) traditions in Ephesians as the author’s experience and understanding of the ascended Christ. Special attention is given to the probable functioning of Psalm 68:18 (LXX 67:19) in Ephesians 4:1–16. In conclusion, the essay investigates the intended rhetorical effect of material from the Hebrew Scriptures in the letter – as construction of Christian identity in continuation with the story of Israel and from within the context of Empire.

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