Methods in biblical scholarship (Moshe)

Moshe Shulman mshulman at
Wed Dec 29 15:46:56 EST 1999

At 09:18 PM 12/29/1999 +0100, you wrote:
>At 10.52 29/12/99 -0500, Moshe Shulman wrote:
>>>This has little weight given that texts were usually read aloud anyway --
>>>think of the Ezra account of the reading of the law.
>>Are you now supporting the view that Ezra is a correct reflection of the
>>religious system for the centuries before Qumran? What text do you assume
>>they were reading? (BTW this argument is worthless. Oral
>>exposition/readings of texts does not exclude the explanation and expansion
>>on the ideas of the text. I think a reading of Ezra would support such a
>The comment was about how cultic texts were generally used in the ancient
>world. Have you seen any indications other than reading aloud for the
>dissemination of cultic knowledge -- as against cultic performance. Ezra
>was only one example of reading aloud.

I have no evidence of such things in that period except if we accept later
texts (like the talmud) or Ezra as reflecting what was done. You cannot (if
you wish to be consistant) date such a custom earlier then the first clear
proof of it's existance. I woudl say that depends on your dating of Ezra.

>>>>Because of this, the inference that these
>>>>citations must derive from the extant Enoch literature is not
>>>>justified.  There are too many other possibilities here.
>>>If there weren't acknowlegements of the Enoch tradition in Jubilees and CD
>>>you might have a stronger gripe.
>>The question is NOT that there was a tradition of a person called Enoch.
>>The question is as to which text predates the others, and this line of
>>argument is falacious. 
>The question is was there another Enoch text than the earliest of those in
>the Enochic pentateuch? We have the watchers at around 200 BCE. But that
>book had gone through a long literary development on its own. It shows no
>reliance on other sources. The Genesis material clearly does due to its
>current obscurity in the Enoch materials. While Genesis assumes a source
>the Watchers doesn't.

There are a few assertions made here without proof: 1. You assume that
there needed to be a text or could be a text before the passage in Genesis.
There is no reason to assume that this is not the first appearance of this
in print. 2. You posit a 'long' development period for a text. Why could
that not have been written for the first time in 200BCE based on legends?
(These legneds based on the small reference in Genesis.) 3. You assume that
there is no reliance on other sources of the book of Enoch. Factually we
have no way of knowning since unless such a source would appear (not likely
even if it did exist) we could not know it. Folk legends have a way of
making it into print at later times. (For some reason Count Dracula comes
to mind.) 4. You assert that Genesis assume a source, and yet provide no
logical proof. Again we have two texts, A and B on the same subject matter,
with A being short and B long. What criteria are you using that would allow
us to assume that A relies on B. Size is not a valid argument, and that
appears to be the only thing that you are using.

>>>The interesting question has been asked before: why has Genesis obfuscated
>>>regarding the Enoch material?
>>This can be asked the other way, why has there developed a whole Enoch
>>liturature around an obscure character in Genesiss. 
>That Enoch walked with God presupposes information not included in Genesis.

Presupposes what? 

>That those were the heroes of old presupposes information, the
>non-statement of which obscures the source. Back to the long pre-history of
>the Watchers and we find that this is not dependent on any written source
>or single tradition otherwise it wouldn't have the textual seams that it
>has. It developed on its own. Genesis didn't.

You are assuming that the history of the watchers is older then the history
of a person named Enoch who left this world under mysterious circumstances.

Now I agree that according to all when Genesis was written was long after
Enoch, whether he was a real person or a legend. However, that does not
mean that when Genesis was written the author had anything more then the
oral traditions he was using. You are asserting that Genesis requires the
written text of Enoch (or an earlier copy.) This is just an assertion
without facts. Maybe you have some argument based on the Hebrew of both
passages. If so present it.

moshe shulman mshulman at    718-436-7705
CHASSIDUS.NET - Yoshav Rosh  
Outreach Judaism             
ICQ# 52009254

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