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2 - From Scribalism to Sectarianism: The Angelic Descent Myth and the Social Settings of Enochic Pseudepigraphy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2009

Annette Yoshiko Reed
Affiliation:
McMaster University, Ontario
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Summary

THE COMPOSITE NATURE AND COMPLEX REDACTION-HISTORY OF THE Book of the Watchers point to its origins, not in the vision of a single author, but rather in the hands of a series of authors, redactors, and tradents. The previous chapter surveyed some of the scribal concerns that dominate this apocalypse: we noted its elevation of Enoch as a “scribe of righteousness” (1 En. 12:3–4; 15:1) and its self-consciousness about the power of writing, as well as its “scientific,” exegetical, and epistemological interests. Most scholars infer from these features that the apocalypse emerged from a scribal milieu. Important questions, however, remain unanswered: should we imagine these scribes as a closed group of apocalypticists, visionaries, or “Enochians,” who can be readily distinguished from other Jews? Or should we see their distinctive interests and concerns as part of a broader continuum of “normative” ideologies in the third century bce, reflecting ongoing discussions about knowledge, purity, and piety within a single scribal discourse? And, most importantly, what was their relationship to the Jerusalem Temple and to the tradents responsible for the continued transmission of the texts that would eventually form the Tanakh?

We lack the evidence to reconstruct Judaism in the third century bce with any degree of certainty. Consequently, scholarly answers to these questions have often been shaped by the reception-history of the Book of the Watchers.

Type
Chapter
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Fallen Angels and the History of Judaism and Christianity
The Reception of Enochic Literature
, pp. 58 - 83
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2005

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