Friday, July 20, 2012

More on John Dee and OT Pseudepigrapha

HETERODOXOLOGY: On Enoch reception and Dee reception. Egil Asprem discusses (with reference to his recent book) the degree to which John Dee (and, implicitly, Edward Kelley) knew the ancient Enochian traditions. The answer is, not much.
A full answer requires more careful source study, but it is clear enough that this is a phenomenon belonging to the reception of Dee’s work. One could say that it is the convergence of “Enoch reception” and “Dee reception”.
This is correct, although Dee himself was certainly interested in ancient Enochiana. I discuss this question in the introduction to Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures vol. 1. Here is the paragraph:
In the early 1580s the English scholar and magus John Dee undertook an experiment with his "scryer," who went by the name of Edward Kelley, to try to acquire otherwise inaccessible knowledge by means of invoking and interrogating angels. Kelley, by peering into his "seer stone," mediated numerous conversations between these angels and Dee, and Dee left detailed transcripts of these encounters. He was told that the lost books of Esdras were still in the hands of the Jews. He was also told that he would be shown the lost books of Enoch quoted by Jude, but there is no record of this happening. Instead, the angels dictated a lengthy revelatory book called Liber Loagaeth, which was to restore all the lost holy books. Unfortunately, it is written in an "angelic" language (called "Enochian" by later followers of Dee) and, apart from a word or two here and there, no translation was ever forthcoming.
As far as I can tell, the only ancient Enochic text that Dee knew was the quotation in Jude 14-15. He also, by the way, knew the Latin book of 2 Esdras (= 4-6 Ezra) and quoted it from time to time. My SBL paper this year discusses some phenomenological parallels between the angelic séances of Dee and Kelley and the visionary events described in 4 Ezra 14.

I may already have mentioned that Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures vol. 1 is forthcoming in the next few months.

On a related note, I got the following in the mail this week:
Aaron Leitch, The Angelical Language, Volume I: The Complete History and Mythos of the Tongue of Angels and Volume II: An Encyclopedic Lexicon of the Tongue of Angels (Llewellyn, 2010)
An interesting review and compendium by a modern practitioner.