Peter, the calendar and Enoch

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Mon Jun 28 00:08:47 EDT 1999

Dear Peter,

This was quite a naughty sort of response:

>I found the Wesley text file version of Enoch from a link on your site 
>and I am reading it. Interesting stuff, with a lot of parallels with 
>the Hebrew Bible and with the NT, but given that much (all?) of it is 
>very probably later than the Hebrew Bible it is not so helpful for 
>explaining the background of the Hebrew text. 

Pretty light comment: I don't know when the OT/HB was written, but Enoch
was written after it because I want it to  be so.

Well, the detailed analysis of Enoch splits the text fundamentally into
five sections dated at various times, the oldest according to all scholars
is the Astronomical Book from at least the third century BCE, then the Book
of the Watchers (Ch 6-36) end of third beginning of second century BCE, the
Book of Dreams (83-90) circa 164 BCE, Epistle of Enoch (91-104) early first
century, and the Similitudes or Parables of Enoch (37-71) date in doubt,
not found in DSS, VanderKam thinks 1st century, Milik thinks even later. In
each case the work is composite, ie added to over time. 

While such analyses are fine and normal outside the OT/HB, there is a
certain arbitrary blindness to such analyses within the bible. Any attempt
for example to show that the geography and the race history in early
Genesis is derivative meets with mental blocks. We could add the "prophecy"
in Gen 15:13-16 in a supposedly historical effort. You did a hellova lot of
special pleading for the Hittites and the Philistines: it coulda been some
other guys with the same name! Now with your crystal ball, you can say:
"that much (all?) of it is very probably later than the Hebrew Bible."
First you need to provide reasoned evidence for your personal dating of the
OT/HB. You have never done so, merely provided a priori assumptions.

>But then I haven't got 
>to the calendar yet.

You could also read Jubilees Ch6 after that.

>Why do you insist that I set up the partially specified dates in such 
>a way that they could not be on the Sabbath whichever month they were 
>in? These events in fact only took place each on one day of the week. 

When the day number is specified as in the two cases you would like to
discount then we can see that there are only three possibilies according to
the calendar. None of these possibilities is a Sabbath. They, therefore,
must be included in our analyses. You can't simply omit information because
it doesn't appeal to you.

>Also, is there any significance that nothing happened on a Monday? If 
>not, it is pointless to include it in the statistics. In fact the 
>correct statistic is (5/7)^11 = 0.02469400930972. But there is an 
>important statistical principle here. Deal yourself a hand of cards, 
>find some interesting pattern in it (you probably can), and then work 
>out the probability that that pattern happened by chance. Probably 
>tiny, if you chose the right pattern. So was there something 
>extraordinary about the deal? No, because you only decided what 
>pattern to look for once you had found it. 

This is called reshaping the data. Let's not think about what the data is
about for a moment. Let's just look at the probabilities. I didn't deal
this little hand, Peter, so I'm not shaping it. You are arbitrarily
removing data because of what you think. Believe your figures, not your
sifting of the data.

>Believe it or not, that 
>principle is basic to the Second Law of Thermodynamics which is 
>fundamental to all physical, chemical and biological processes. 
>Something similar may be going on with these dates, even in your 
>"Obviously not random." statement (this MAY be not random, but it is 
>not at all obvious). Sorry, case not proven.

Especially when you don't deal fairly with the data, as you haven't.

>As for your Hexateuchal dates, I can't let you have Numbers 1:8 which 
>is a mere repeat of 1:1. But you did miss Exodus 16:1 (Fri) and 40:2 
>(Wed). So I end up with 6 Fridays, 6 Wednesdays and 1 Sunday. One 
>partial explanation is a preference for 1st day of the month (which 
>is after all a feast day) (6 out of 13 dates) which can only be one 
>of Wed, Fri and Sun. If we omit these, we go back to 3 Fri, 3 Wed, 1 
>So I did a quick scan of the entire Hebrew Bible for dates (looking 
>for the word "month" in NRSV, so I may have missed some, and ignoring 
>partially specified dates) with the following result:
>Monday     2
>Tuesday    5
>Wednesday 15  (6)
>Thursday   6
>Friday    16 (12)
>Saturday   1
>Sunday    12  (9)
>The figures in parentheses are after discounting 1st of the month 
>dates. This again excludes feast days. The only Sabbath day is Esther 
>9:15, and both of the Mondays are also in Esther. 

You might add 2Chr3:2, another Sabbath, but then, like Esther, Chr is late:
how many generations after Zerubbabel would *you* expect in an early text?
(And let's not think about the LXX version.) Esther also supplies the
Syrian/Mesopotamian month names, so it is not strictly of the same form as
most of the others, ie just year, month and day numbers.

But then Esther's Sabbath is the institution of a new feast -- one well
recognised as a late feast (along with Hannukah). During the second century
BCE, there seems to have been a strong conflict between the two calendars,
for it is most probable that the lunar (luni-solar) calendar was used for
civil purposed from early Hellenistic times -- one had to adapt to the
calendar of the overlord -- and maintained under the Hasmoneans for civil
purposes. Jubilees shows that the lunar calendar had made severe inroads
into the religious sphere by the close of the second century BCE. The
mishmarot from Qumran show even temple rosters making concessions to the
lunar calendar. I'd say that with the eclipse of the priestly Sadducees at
the fall to Pompey of the temple there was no more resistence to the lunar

>So, I would agree 
>that this suggests that the dates are not random; with this number of 
>dates, the avoiding of Saturday and Monday is statistically 
>significant. I would suggest that at some stage the books other than 
>Esther were edited according to the solar calendar, who adjusted 
>Saturdays to Fridays and Mondays to Sundays throughout the Hebrew 

More of the same stuff as in your first paragraph. But the interesting
thing is that you are prepared to make excuses such as that the text had
been manipulated after the writing so as to include the solar calendar.

>Can you think of any better suggestion? 

Yes, obviously. The text was written in a context that used the solar
calendar. This way, one doesn't have to posit the manipulation of the text
in such a widespread manner at some late stage.

>Note that the author 
>of 2 Kings had no reason to presuppose that Nebuchadnezzar kept the 
>Jewish sabbath in his military operations, but I have included those 
>dates in this list.

You're right. It would suggest a writing of the text long after the fact.


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