Monday, May 24, 2004

WHEW! I've just spent the last week reading about 700 lines of late-antique biblical epic poetry in Latin. Most of the 4th-6th-century Latin epic poetry on Old Testament subjects has never been translated into English and I have found some wonderful things for The Book, which I will make public in my paper "Did Christians Write Old Testament Pseudepigrapha that Appear to be Jewish?", scheduled to be presented in at the International SBL meeting in Groningen in July. As usual, I intend to post the oral version of the paper on PaleoJudaica before I leave for the conference.

I've also just finished Neal Stephenson's new novel, The Confusion, which I heartily recommend. It's the second volume of his Baroque Cycle trilogy, set during the lifetime of Isaac Newton and dealing with Newton, his real and imagined friends, enemies, and other contemporaries, along with pretty much everything else imaginable during the time-frame and on this particular planet.

No, it doesn't have very much to do with ancient Judaism, although alchemy and cabalism do play a fairly prominent part in The Confusion (and Newton really was interested in both). Plus, I'm pretty such one of the characters (and if you read either volume, especially if you've already read Stephenson's book Cryptonomicon, it will become obvious whom I mean) is either the patriarch Enoch returned from heaven on a long-term mission, or else the Wandering Jew.

UPDATE (25 May): Not surprisingly, I am not the first one to make the Enoch connection. Warning: this link contains spoilers and speculation. Lots of both. But if you've read the books, the site (Quicksilver Metaweb) is extremely interesting.

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