Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Update on the "Ben Padiah Scroll" (a.k.a. "Angel Scroll")

THE LYING PEN OF SCRIBES BLOG: The Angel Scroll: A Fragmentary Chronological Bibliography [Link now corrected!]. Årsten Justnes provides a pretty full bibliography for this dubious, supposed scroll discovery.

Years ago I mentioned the "Ben Padiah Scroll" or "Angel Scroll" a few times here, here, and here.

The links to Stephen Pfann's original post have rotted, but the Wayback Machine seems to preserve it here. The most recent discussion of it in Professor Justnes's bibliography is Michael Heiser's A WORD ABOUT THE ANGEL SCROLL from five years ago. If you read those two, you should be pretty fully informed.

The text sounds quite interesting. However, the actual scroll has never been produced and there are not even any photographs of it. The text that was released could have been forged by anyone reasonably competent. Unless we see the scroll, we should assume the document is an unimpressive fake.

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Bellis (ed.), Jerusalem's Survival, Sennacherib's Departure ...

NEW BOOK FROM GORGIAS PRESS:
Jerusalem's Survival, Sennacherib's Departure, and the Kushite Role in 701 BCE
An Examination of Henry Aubin's Rescue of Jerusalem


Series: Perspectives on Hebrew Scriptures and its Contexts, 32

Edited by: Alice Bellis
Gorgias Press | 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31826/9781463241575

£115.00 PDF
FORMATS
PDF
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4157-5

OVERVIEW
What saved Jerusalem from destruction by the Assyrian army in 701 BCE? The seemingly invincible Assyrians — the only superpower of the day — had been about to assault the city when they suddenly departed. The Bible says the “angel of the Lord” swept down on the Assyrian camp, killing 185,000 troops as they slept, obliging the survivors to retreat to their homeland in present-day Iraq. Historians for more than a century have generally agreed that if Jerusalem — the only Hebrew city that the invaders had not destroyed — had been seized and the survivors deported (as per imperial policy in such cases), Hebrew society could have been permanently extinguished. Judaism would therefore never have evolved several centuries later and neither of its two kindred monotheisms, Christianity and Islam, would have developed. As if to underscore the event’s importance to Hebrew society, the Bible tells the story of Jerusalem’s miraculous deliverance, three times — in the books of Second Kings, Isaiah and Second Chronicles. The Old Testament/Tanakh/Hebrew Bible presents no other story so often. Modern historians have proposed more down-to-earth explanations for the failure of the Assyrian emperor, Sennacherib. These include an epidemic that caused him to flee, a crisis elsewhere in the empire with which he had to deal, and a simple surrender by Jerusalem’s King Hezekiah. But now another theory — advanced in a 2002 book, The Rescue of Jerusalem: The Alliance between Hebrews and Africans in 701 BC, by a Canadian journalist, Henry Aubin — is rallying new respectability: an army led by Africans from present-day Sudan repelled the Assyrians. The army’s commander would have been a young Kushite, Taharqo, who later became Pharaoh. After 18 years of the book’s obscurity, the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, is breathing new life into it, commissioning eight specialists in this period of history to judge the theory’s plausibility. The verdict: six of the scholars tilt in favor of the theory, one is undecided, and only one rejects it.
I noted Aubin's theory about Taharqa (Taharqo) back in 2008, in connection with a movie that Will Smith was reportedly planning. It has not yet come out.

For more on Sennacherib's siege of Jerusalem, see here and here and follow the links.

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Was the Tomb of the Patriarchs a pre-exilic pilgrimage site?

CERAMIC INFERENCES: Tomb of Patriarchs pilgrimage site in First Temple times, pottery suggests. No archaeological excavation has ever been conducted at the site (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).

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Seven angels with seven plagues

READING ACTS: God’s Wrath is Completed – Revelation 15:1-8. Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, concentrating on the seven sights of chapters 12-15. We come to the last sight: the seven angels with the seven plagues.

And that, of course, leads to another round of seven ...

For notice of previoius posts in Phil's series on Revelation, see here and links.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Finding a lost town in a lost book?

DR. DAVID BEN-GAD HACOHEN: Waheb in Suphah, the Forgotten “Town in the Stream” (TheTorah.com).
Describing the Israelites crossing the Arnon Stream into Amorite territory, the Torah quotes the Book of YHWH’s Battles that speaks of “Waheb in Suphah,” a phrase that appears nowhere else in the Bible. Many creative explanations have been given, but based on a survey on the ground we can identify it as the “Town in the Stream,” an ancient biblical town whose name had long been forgotten.
The "Book of the Wars of the Lord" is one of the lost books quoted in the Hebrew Bible. For more on it, see here and here. Dr. Ben-Gad HaCohen believes he has found the location of "Waheb in Suphah," which looks like a place name in the quotation from the book. He may be right.

Cross-file under Historical Geography.

For additional posts on lost books mentioned or possibly alluded to in the Hebrew Bible, see here and links. For ancient Lost Books in general, follow the links above and add here, here, here, here, and here.

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Upcoming: T&T Clark Handbook of Septuagint Research

WILLIAM A. ROSS: BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: T&T CLARK HANDBOOK OF SEPTUAGINT RESEARCH. Co-edited by William Ross and W. Edward Glenny. Forthcoming in early 2021. Follow the link for description and TOC.

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The clandestine origins of 1Q5 fragment 13

VARIANT READINGS: Qumran Cave 1 Questions, Part 5: The Strange Case of 1Q5 Fragment 13. Brent Nongbri searches arcane tomes and cryptic photographs to present us with yet another Dead Sea Scrolls mystery.

I have noted earlier posts in the series here links and here.

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A hyperbolic river of blood?

READING ACTS: What is the Winepress of God’s Wrath? Revelation 14:17-20. Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, concentrating on the seven sights of chapters 12-15. We continue with the sixth sight: one like a son of man and three more angels. This post is on the second and third of those angels.

For notice of earlier posts in Phil's Revelation series, see here and links.

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Monday, July 06, 2020

Enochic Art

EXHIBITION: Enoch: Heaven’s Messenger. An exhibition of twelve paintings on 1 Enoch and an illuminated model of an Ethiopian church by Angus Pryor. Philip Esler has e-mailed to alert us to this on-site (in due course) and (currently) virtual exhibition. He writes:
This is just a note, given your interest in 1 Enoch, to let you know that a colleague of mine at the University of Gloucestershire, Angus Pryor, head of our School of Arts and a practicing artist, has over the last few years painted twelve 2m x 2m paintings on scenes from 1 Enoch and created a large-scale, illuminated model of an Ethiopian church. This is the outcome of a collaboration that Angus and I have been working on since 2015, beginning in a British Academy funded program the results of which were published as The Blessing of Enoch: 1 Enoch and Contemporary Theology in 2017.

These works were going to be exhibited in Gloucester and Canterbury Cathedrals in May and September 2020, but those dates were vacated due to Covid-19.

But, as of 3 July 2020, we have taken the exhibition, Enoch: Heaven’s Messenger, online at: https://www.bookofenoch2020.com/

I hope you will be able to see it and enjoy it. If you feel like telling others about it, that would be greatly appreciated.

We also have an article on the whole project coming out in the Biblical Theology Bulletin in August 2020: Philip Esler and Angus Pryor, ‘Painting 1 Enoch: Biblical Interpretation, Theology and Artistic Practice.’
Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch and Decorative Art.

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What is the oldest Hebrew inscription?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Oldest Hebrew Script and Language. Christopher Rollston examines the Qeiyafa Ostracon, Gezer Calendar and other candidates for the oldest known Hebrew inscription. As usual, this BHD essay summarizes a Biblical Archaeology Review essay that is behind the subscription wall. The article itself is from 2012, but I haven't noted it before.

The question of the earliest Hebrew inscription is more complicated than it sounds.

For past posts on Khirbet Qeiyafa and its inscription, see here and links and here and links. For the Eshba'al inscription subsequently discovered there, see here and links. For posts on the Gezer Calendar, see here and links. For the Tel Zayit abecedary, see here and links. And for other very early Hebrew (?) inscriptions, see here (final paragraph) and links.

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Ashoka's Aramaic

ARAMAIC WATCH: The Edicts of Ashoka the Great (Joshua J. Mark, Ancient History Encyclopedia).
The Edicts of Ashoka are 33 inscriptions engraved on pillars, large stones, and cave walls by Ashoka the Great (r. 268-232 BCE), the third king of the Mauryan Empire (322-185 BCE) of India. One set, the so-called Major Rock Edicts, are consistent in their message that the people should adhere to the concept of Dhamma, defined as “right behavior”, “good conduct” and “decency toward others”. The edicts were inscribed throughout Ashoka’s realm which included the areas of modern-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan and most were written in Brahmi Script (though one, in Afghanistan, is also given in Aramaic and Greek). ...
It's been quite a while since I have posted on ancient Buddhist Aramaic. This new article gives me an excuse to do so again.

The inscriptions of the third-century BCE Indian emperor Ashoka the Great are mostly written in his native Pratkit (related to Sanskrit). But one of his early "Minor Rock Edicts" is a bilingual inscription in Greek and Aramaic: Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription. It recounts what a fine ruler Ashoka has been and how everyone has prospered under him. For a wider-ranging account of his reign, and for his "Major Rock Edicts" in Pratkit, see the first article above.

Once again, the influence of Aramaic in antiquity was vast. It was important enough to be used alongside Greek on a royal inscription in Afghanistan in the early Hellenistic period.

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An Aramao-Protosogdian inscription in Kazakhstan

ARAMAIC (SCRIPT) WATCH: Archaeologists discover new findings in the Great Steppe (Kazakh TV).
For the first time in Kazakhstan, a complete specimen of ancient writing was found in Kultobe settlement, Turkistan region. The age of the inscription is almost 2,000 years. The find is a clay brick of three fragments, on which seven lines of 218 characters in the ancient Aramaic alphabet are carved. A great find for paleolinguists was already partially deciphered by Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams at Cambridge University.

“The piece is about the creation of a city by the leader of the Chach army named Sapadani, who came here to create a city on the area of gardens and tents where nomads lived. ...
The inscription is indeed in the ancient Aramaic alphabet, but not in the Aramaic language:
The writing is done in the ancient Iranian dialect, which scientists call the Protosogdian or Kangui language, since the city was founded during the Kangui state in the first centuries A.D.
There is a good photo of the inscription. The Hebrew/Aramaic script is very clear.

The inscription is a good illustration of the widespread influence of the Aramaic language, which was the diplomatic language of the Persian empire. Its script was still in use many centuries later for an unrelated language.

I'm not sure if "Aramao-Protosogdian" is the right descriptive term. I made it up. But you get the idea.

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Sunday, July 05, 2020

Gordon, Land and Temple

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
Benjamin D. Gordon
Land and Temple
Field Sacralization and the Agrarian Priesthood of Second Temple Judaism


Series: Studia Judaica, 87

De Gruyter | 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110421026

From £79.00
FORMATS
Hardcover
ISBN: 978-3-11-042546-8
Published: 06 Apr 2020
PDF
ISBN: 978-3-11-042102-6
Published: 06 Apr 2020
EPUB
ISBN: 978-3-11-042116-3
Published: 06 Apr 2020

OVERVIEW
This exploration of the Judean priesthood’s role in agricultural cultivation demonstrates that the institutional reach of Second Temple Judaism (516 BCE–70 CE) went far beyond the confines of its houses of worship, while exposing an unfamiliar aspect of sacred place-making in the ancient Jewish experience. Temples of the ancient world regularly held assets in land, often naming a patron deity as landowner and affording the land sanctity protections. Such arrangements can provide essential background to the Hebrew Bible’s assertion that God is the owner of the land of Israel. They can also shed light on references in early Jewish literature to the sacred landholdings of the priesthood or the temple.

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Upcoming online: Myths in the Archaeology of Jerusalem

ONLINE SYMPOSIUM: Myths in the Archaeology of Jerusalem [Virtual Public Conference] Wednesday 8 July 2020. Chaired by by David Gurevich, Ph.D. With some good topics. Some presentations are in Hebrew and others in English. Follow the link for the schedule and Zoom signup information.

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How many harvests?

READING ACTS: What is the Harvest of the Earth in Revelation 14:15? Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, concentrating on the seven sights of chapters 12-15. We continue with the sixth sight: one like a son of man and three more angels.

For notice of earlier posts in Phil's Revelation series, see here and links.

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Joosten is gone from Oxford

RIGHTLY AND AS WE EXPECTED: Update regarding Professor Jan Joosten (Christ Church College, Oxford).
We can confirm that as of Friday 3 July 2020, Professor Jan Joosten will no longer be employed by the University of Oxford, and he will no longer be a trustee of Christ Church or be in any way affiliated with the institution. ...
Background here.

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Saturday, July 04, 2020

Review of Fredriksen, When Christians Were Jews

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | When Christians Were Jews (Shayna Sheinfeld).
Paula Fredriksen. When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation. Yale University Press, 2018.

Paula Fredriksen’s newest book attempts a difficult feat: to understand the first generation of Jesus followers, despite having to do so with an eclectic smattering of passionately biased evidence that also happens to have been cherished as sacred text by almost two thousand years of interpreters. ...

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Barrera, Textual and Literary Criticism of the Books of Kings

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Textual and Literary Criticism of the Books of Kings

Collected Essays


Series: Vetus Testamentum, Supplements, Volume: 185

Editors: Andrés Piquer Otero and Pablo A. Torijano Morales
Author: Julio Trebolle Barrera

This volume contains a collection of the author’s life-long study (along with some new research written specifically for this book) of the text of 1-2 Kings, some of them translated into English for the first time. Julio Trebolle’s career has focused on the history of these biblical books from the triple angle of a combined textual, literary and source-compositional criticism. His usage of the Septuagint and its secondary versions like the Old Latin as a basis for the reconstruction of the history of the text is an invaluable contribution to the panorama of textual pluralism in the Bible during the Second Temple period which has emerged after the discoveries of the Dead Sea.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €115.00 / $138.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-42601-6
Publication Date: 08 Jun 2020

Hardback
Availability: Not Yet Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-38831-4
Publication Date: 22 Jul 2020

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Independence Day 2020

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY to my American readers!


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Teaching Classical Languages (TCL)

THE AWOL BLOG: Open Access Journal: Teaching Classical Languages (TCL).
Teaching Classical Languages (ISSN 2160-2220) is the only peer-reviewed electronic journal dedicated to the teaching and learning of Latin and ancient Greek. ...

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Maier, Hebräisch-aramäisches Glossar zum jüdischen Recht in der Antike

NEW(ISH) BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
Johann Maier (†)
Hebräisch-aramäisches Glossar zum jüdischen Recht in der Antike
Hebrew-Aramaic Glossary of Ancient Jewish Law

Mit einer Einführung in das jüdische Recht der Antike und einem Quellenüberblick

De Gruyter | 2019
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110650327

From £36.50
FORMATS
Paperback
ISBN: 978-3-11-064985-7
Published: 21 Oct 2019
PDF
ISBN: 978-3-11-065032-7
Published: 21 Oct 2019
EPUB
ISBN: 978-3-11-065010-5
Published: 21 Oct 2019

OVERVIEW
The Glossary presents documentation for the specialized Hebrew and Aramaic vocabulary of Biblical Jewish law, from Biblical sources through the completion of the Babylonian Talmud, thus furnishing new options for comparative ancient legal history. A detailed introduction into ancient Jewish law is included.

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Friday, July 03, 2020

Asale, 1 Enoch as Christian Scripture

NEW BOOK FROM WIPF AND STOCK:
1 Enoch as Christian Scripture
A Study in the Reception and Appropriation of 1 Enoch in Jude and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahǝdo Canon

BY Bruk Ayele Asale
FOREWORD BY Loren T. Stuckenbruck

Imprint: Pickwick Publications
Category: Biblical Studies

PAPERBACK
ISBN: 9781532691157
Pages: 170
Publication Date: 6/5/2020
Retail Price: $22.00
Web Price: $17.60

eBOOK
ISBN: 9781532691157
Format: epub
Publication Date: 6/5/2020
Retail Price: $22.00
Web Price: $17.60
*All eBooks are non-returnable

About

Since its publication in English translation in 1821, the book of Enoch has enjoyed immense popularity in Western culture as a variety of religious groups, interested historians, and academics have sought to illuminate the Jewish context of Christian beginnings two thousand years ago. Taking the quotation of 1 Enoch in Jude 14 as its point of departure, the present study explores the significance of Enochic tradition within the context of Christian tradition in the Horn of Africa, where it continues to play a vital role in shaping the diverse yet interrelated self-understanding of Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches. As discussions on the importance of 1 Enoch from antiquity to the present take on new dimensions among increasingly global and diverse voices, 1 Enoch as Christian Scripture offers a rare orientation into a rich culture in which the reception of the book is “at home” as a living tradition more than anywhere else in the world today. The present work argues that serious attention to 1 Enoch holds forth an opportunity for church traditions in Ethiopia—and, indeed, around the world—to embrace some of their indigenous roots and has the capacity to breathe life into time-worn expressions of faith.
This is timely to mention alongside this week's Enoch Seminar 2020.

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Enoch Seminar 2020 Day 4

ENOCH SEMINAR 2020 DAY 4 took place yesterday. James McGrath has posted another informative summary of the events: Enoch Seminar 2020 #OriginsOfEvil2020 Day 4.

The final session, yesterday evening, was a recap of the conference. It was recorded and you can view it on Facebook here.

I responded briefly to James's paper (a version of which you can watch here) in the Zoom comments. I also sent him my comments in advance of the session. Here is what I posted on Zoom:
Thanks James!

I have a couple of thoughts I have already shared with James about his fascinating paper.

First, I think it is entirely plausible that the Mandaeans preserve some much older polytheistic material, especially names, in their literature. You provide good evidence for that. You mention the Elephantine Judean community. If you haven't yet, you should also look at the Demotic-Aramaic Papyrus Amherst 63, which also may be from Elephantine. Some of the Israelite/Canaanite material in it might arguably be transitional in the direction of the Mandaean material.

Second, I have not found any arguments for a pre- (or non-) Christian Jewish Gnosticism in antiquity persuasive. The development of Gnosticism seems much easier to me once you add Pauline theology (notably its demotion of Jewish law) into the mix of Judaism and Platonism. And, tellingly, as far as I have been able to find, none of the surviving Gnostic texts deal with the halakhic and national/ethnic issues that the demiurgic myth would inevitably have raised. (I have adapted this comment from the first blog post linked below. The other two links develop the argument in greater detail.)
https://paleojudaica.blogspot.com/2015/02/anxious-gnosticism.html
http://paleojudaica.blogspot.co.uk/2003_07_20_archive.html#105889150630213378
http://paleojudaica.blogspot.co.uk/2011_09_04_archive.html#8673893715236393124
I am glad to have the chance to draw this point to the attention of specialists in Gnosticism. I don't think any argument for pre-/non-Christian Jewish Gnosticism can hold up without addressing it.
The mood of the room among the Gnosticism scholars seemed to be that, yes, demiurgic Gnosticism was a Christian innovation. That was reassuring.

For more on Papyrus Amherst 63, start here (cf. here) and follow the links.

This remarkable fully-online conference was a remarkable success. I am glad to have been able to participate. I look forward to more like it.

Past PaleoJudaic posts on Enoch Seminar 2020 are here and links.

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Archaeology and the Gospel of John

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
John: The Mundane Gospel and its Archaeology-Related Features

However, in addition to its theological features, the Fourth Gospel is also the most mundane of the gospels. John has more empirical (sensorily attributed) references, topographical details, and archaeologically attested features than all the other gospels combined—canonical and otherwise. This is an empirical fact, which creates upheaval among scholarly theories regarding John’s character, origin, and implications, as it must also be seen as the Mundane Gospel.

See Also: “On Biblical Forgeries and Imagined Communities—A Critical Analysis of Recent Criticism."

By Paul N. Anderson
Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies
George Fox University
July 2020

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One like a son of man on a cloud

READING ACTS: Who is the Son of Man in Revelation 14:14? Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, concentrating on the seven sights of chapters 12-15. We have come to the sixth sight: one like a son of man and three more angels.

It looks clear to me that the "one like a son of man" is Jesus (cf. Rev 1:13). But I guess opinions differ.

I have noted earlier posts in Phil's Revelation series here and links.

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Thursday, July 02, 2020

Enoch Seminar 2020 Day 3 (2 updates)

ENOCH SEMINAR 2020 DAY 3 took place yesterday. I will fill in information as it comes in, so keep returning to this post for updates. Today is the fourth and final day of the conference. For previous posts on it, see here and links.
__________

UPDATE: James McGrath has posted a very thorough summary of yesterday's events: Enoch Seminar 2020 #OriginsOfEvil2020 Day 3. He says good things about my presentation. I found his paper, which he has pre-posted in a video here, very interesting. I look forward to the discussion later today.

Day 4 will open (at 9:00 EDT) with a public video recap of Day 3. I will link to it around the time it starts.
SECOND UPDATE: The public video recap is live here on Facebook. It will remain as a recorded file.
__________

I was a respondent to Gabriele Boccaccini's paper in the second session. His paper has not been published, but you can infer the main points from his title and my brief opening comments. Most of my response goes on a tangent, but, I trust, a profitable one. I post my response here:
ENOCH SEMINAR 2020
Response to Gabriele Boccaccini, “Same Problems, Different Remedies: The Parables of Enoch and the Synoptics on Evil.”
Panel: How is the problem of evil and its origin addressed in the Parables of Enoch and the Synoptics?


Thank you, Professor Boccaccini, the organizers, and the presenters, for all your hard work preparing and carrying out this remarkable, fully-remote, Enoch Seminar. This is truly a ground-breaking event. I am very happy to be part of it.

First let me say that I agree overall with Gabriele’s conclusions. The Synoptic Gospels and the Parables of Enoch share a virtually identical doctrine of evil. Their interest is in the eschatology of evil rather than its protology. The solutions to the problem of evil are quite different. Both project the judgment of sinners to the eschaton, but only the Synoptics place repentance and redemption in the present.

I would nuance Gabriele’s discussion at a few points. The Parables are very interested in both good and evil angels, but only mention demons once in 69:12. The Synoptics show less interest in angels, and only mention evil angels once, in Matt 25:41. They are more interested in demons, specifically, the activity of demons during the time of Jesus. This focus is likely due to the tradition that exorcism of demons was a major feature of Jesus’ ministry.

The Synoptics show little interest in demonic origins. But one unique element of their demonology may involve primeval matters, if not exactly protology. This is worth exploring. The Synoptic passage about Jesus and Beelzebul (Mark 3:19b-30//Matt 12:22-37 (cf. 10:25)//Luke 11:14-23, 12:10) brings in a demonic figure who does not appear in the Parables. Beelzebul is a Greek transliteration of a Northwest Semitic phrase that means "Prince Baal." It appears as zbl bʻl in Ugaritic and is apparently behind the divine name baʻal-zebub, the god of Ekron, in the MT of 2 Kgs 1:2-3, 6, 16. The latter means "Lord of the flies," but this is probably a deliberate disrespectful corruption of Baal's title.

Evidently the name survived uncorrupted in some circles in Jesus' time. (Symmachus reads it correctly as baʻal-zebul in the Greek translation of 2 Kings 1.) The name had become applied to the chief evil spirit, the prince of demons or Satan. As far as I can ascertain, the use of the term as the title of an evil spirit is limited in antiquity to the Synoptic Gospels and literature dependent on them.

Where did the Beelzebul referred to by the scribes originate? A superficially plausible answer might be from the passage in 2 Kings. But the Beelzebub there is the local tutelary deity of the Philistine city Ekron. If he were demoted to demonic status in Jewish tradition, why would he be simultaneously promoted to “prince of the demons?” There is a better explanation.

We know that some of the Canaanite mythology found in the Ugaritic texts survived in the Hebrew literature of the Second Temple period. The premier example is Isaiah 27:1, which quotes nearly verbatim a line about the sea serpent Leviathan found in tablet 4 of the Baal cycle. In addition, Latin and Manichean traditions about the giants imply that the Enochic Book of Giants contained a now lost account of a battle between Leviathan, the archangel Raphael, and one of the giants. And it is likely that the vision in Daniel 7 draws on Baal mythology. If Beelzebul evolved out of Baal mythology, in which Baal functioned as ruler of the gods, his status of ruler of the demons makes sense. This is not a new point, but I wish to take it further here.

The Baal mythology also has intriguing connections with Jesus’ reply to the scribes. Jesus argues that Satan (Beelzebul) cannot survive opposed to himself. It is difficult to untangle mythology from metaphor here, but Jesus associates Beelzebul with both a kingdom and a house, which Jesus likens to a strong man’s house. Anyone who wishes to plunder that house must first bind the strong man. Elsewhere (Matt 10:25) Jesus also complains that some have “called the master of the house Beelzebul.”

The Ugaritic Baal cycle is set in the kingdom of the chief god El and involves territorial disputes between major gods in the pantheon. The Sea god fails in his attempt to subdue Baal and conquer the earth. After their conflict, a house is built for Baal, where he is enthroned and made king of the earth and ruler of the gods. Then Death does battle with Baal, but he too fails to subdue him. Baal retains his house and his rulership of the earth. Is it a coincidence that Jesus refers to Beelzebul’s kingdom, his house, and an effort to subdue him? Or is Jesus playing with surviving elements of Baal mythology? The parallels are at least suggestive.

In short, the Synoptics may preserve a fragment of another mythology of primeval evil, one in which the god Baal, who ruled the earth under the authority of El, was transformed in Jewish tradition into Beelzebul, prince of the demons. Jesus’ comments may imply that Beelzebul’s myth featured a demonic kingdom, his house, and conflict over control of his territory.

The Parables of Enoch show no awareness of the demonic figure Beelzebul and whatever mythology came with him, although the Enochic giants tradition may remember some Baal mythology involving Leviathan. In other words, the watchers myth and the Satan myth may not have been the only paradigms for primeval evil available to these authors.

If the Synoptics do allude to a late reflex of the Baal myth, we can only hope that new texts emerge which tell us more about the adaptation of Canaanite mythology in Second Temple Jewish tradition.
This needs a more detailed exposition with footnotes, but it presents my basic argument. I posted some early thoughts on Beelzebul (Beelzeboul) here. For many other posts on the diabolical one in his various guises, see here and links.

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Under the Old City of Jerusalem

TIMES OF ISRAEL PODCAST: LISTEN: ToI takes you to a unique excavation deep under Jerusalem’s Old City. Join IAA archaeologist Barak Monnickendam-Givon on a jaw-dropping guided audio tour spanning two millennia some 7 meters under the Western Wall plaza (Amanda Borschel-Dan).

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The Legacy of Soisalon-Soininen (ed. Kauhanen & Vanonen)

WILLIAM ROSS: SOISALON-SOININEN VOLUME PUBLISHED. Notice of a New Book from Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht:
The Legacy of Soisalon-Soininen
Towards a Syntax of Septuagint Greek


Tuukka Kauhanen (Hg.), Hanna Vanonen (Hg.)

De Septuaginta Investigationes (DSI) - Band 013
I noted the call for papers for the conference that produced this volume here.

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Biblical Studies Carnival 172

ZWINGLIUS REDIVIVUS: Its the ‘Pandemic / Societal Apocalypse / Is June Finally Over? / Ugh What a Miserable Month’ Edition of the Biblical Studies Carnival (Jim West).

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