Sunday, December 04, 2005

Enoch/Metatron at the SBL

I attended the AAR/SBL meeting in Philadelphia the week before Thanksgiving, and was part of the book review session organized by the Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism section. I reviewed the new book by Andrei Orlov, The Enoch/Metatron Tradition, which traces the development of traditions about Enoch from the Bible through to the Zohar, concentrating mostly on Enoch traditions in Second Temple literature and 2 and 3 Enoch. What I found particularly helpful about the book was its treatment of 2 Enoch, which is extant only in Slavonic. My review began this way:
This is a fine book on the development of the figure of Enoch from early Mesopotamian traditions about the seventh antediluvian king, Enmeduranki, to the transformed Enoch-Metatron of the Hekhalot literature, especially in Sefer Hekhalot, (3 Enoch). Andrei Orlov comprehensively demonstrates how the roles and titles of Enoch developed from his first appearance in Genesis, when “God took him” (Gen. 5:24), through the five subsections of 1 Enoch (in many cases influenced by Mesopotamian traditions about the seventh antediluvian king, Enmeduranki), to the Slavonic apocalypse of Enoch (2 Enoch), which he dates to first century Alexandria, and finally to Sefer Hekhalot. The book examines the early Enochic booklets and then Sefer Hekhalot, only then turning back to the Slavonic apocalypse in order to show how the roles and titles there are an earlier version of what is found in 3 Enoch. The second part of the book addresses the question of how Enoch’s roles and titles developed in 2 Enoch as a result of polemics with several other important mediatorial figures: Adam, Moses, and Noah. This book is the first complete effort to show how the Slavonic apocalypse adumbrates several important roles and titles of Enoch that reach their full development in the Hekhalot literature. As such, it is particularly important for scholars like myself who do not have control of the Slavonic original of 2 Enoch and must rely upon translations. On important aspect of the book is that Orlov demonstrates that the Shi’ur Qomah tradition, the tradition that states that it is possible to measure the anthropomorphic body of God, found in the Hekhalot literature, is present in an early form in 2 Enoch.

The two sessions of the Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism section were very interesting, as was the opportunity to go out to dinner with members of the section on Saturday night (although the food did take forever to come!)

The conference was fun – I got to see friends I hadn’t seen in quite a while, some of whom I will see again at the Association for Jewish Studies meeting, which is happening during the third weekend in December in Washington, D.C. I spent a fair amount of the conference in the Book Exhibit, as I usually do, and brought home a haul of books that I hope will be useful for my research.

1 comment:

  1. hello there this article made ask if you have any data about mysticism in YATHRIB/MEDINA jewish comunity? what about islam claim that they hold ezra/ozeir in higher place like metatron of hugo odeberg