Methods in biblical scholarship (Moshe)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Thu Dec 30 15:02:42 EST 1999

At 15.46 29/12/99 -0500, you wrote:
>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. 

Ex24:7, Deu31:11, Josh8:34, 2Kgs23:2, Neh13:1, Jer31:13 

>You cannot (if
>you wish to be consistant) date such a custom earlier then the first clear
>proof of it's existence. 

I'm not.

>I would 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. 

In print?

While I do have a written source for Enoch Watchers traditions that belies
a development in itself, one cannot claim that the Watchers materials came
from Genesis as Gen seems to know materials that are found in the developed
sections of Watchers. If the material was available already united then
there would have been no need for Watchers to have gone through the
development it has. As to some dating of the Watchers, it is assumed by the
Animal Apocalypse which can be dated to late in Judas Maccabaeus's efforts.

Now while the "Watchers" has followed a certain theological development
which places the burden of the flood on the intrusion of the Watchers into
the human world and the fall of man through the Watchers, Genesis is
offering a different paradigm for the flood: the deeds of the Watchers are
not tied to the wickedness of humankind, but to their inherent waywardness
as displayed by the fall in the garden. If there had been the fall in the
garden available for the writers of the Watchers, could they have developed
their paradigm regardless?

The different approach to the fall taken by Genesis explains why its
version of the Watchers story has been obfuscated. You may like to attempt
to generate a theory that the "Watchers" was developed after the Genesis
materials existed, but to do so you would have to explain how something as
well entrenched as you would have it was completely ignored by the writers
of "Watchers".

>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?

Please read the Watchers text carefully. We have a layer that has Semiyazah
as the principal ringleader. Then we have a layer based on Azazel -- this
is vaguely related to the Lev Azazel material, but in no sense dependent.
These are different developments. Ch9 is later again, depending on the
prior existence of the two traditions put together. Seems are quite
apparent in the text. Enoch is introduced into the Watchers story in the
third person, 12:1, and almost immediately continues in the first person.

When I say long though, I don't necessarily mean in time, but in number of

>(These legneds based on the small reference in Genesis.) 

Don't be hopeful. While there must be something behind the Genesis report,
this is not the case with Watchers.

>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. 

You need to look at the types of information and how it works. Obviously,
ch.9 came after the putting together of chs.6-7 with ch.8. This is an
acknowledgement of literary dependence on what had already been put together.

>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.

Plainly simple. Gen. doesn't supply enough information to sustain its
content. You may posit an oral tradition, but Jubilees knows the written

>>>>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? 

The reader has some knowledge of what is not said.

>>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 then accept that there is an unstated tradition behind the Gen Enoch

>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.

Given that most of Enoch as we have it is in Geez, hardly from the Hebrew.
We merely have enough Hebrew to show that most of Enoch as we know it today
was found at Qumran with the exception of the Similitudes and that the
Astronomical book was more extensive than the version we have today.



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