Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Appreciation of the Pseudepigrapha 1: 2 Enoch: God's Face and the Creation of Humans

I'm currently working on my chapter on the Testament of Job, Joseph and Aseneth, and Philo's On the Contemplative Life, and I keep coming across great passages from those and other pseudepigraphic works, so I thought I would post some of my favorite passages for the enjoyment of my readers.

Great passages from 2 Enoch

All translations from F. I. Andersen, "2 Enoch," in James H. Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepgrapha, volume 1 (published 1983).

According to Genesis, humans are created in the image of God. 2 Enoch takes this idea and likens God's face to the human face, which is God's image, and which should not be treated with contempt.

Chapter 44:
The Lord with his own two hands created mankind; and in a facsimile of his own face. Small and great the Lord created. Whoever insults a person's face insults the face of the Lord; whoever treats a person's face with repugnance treats the face of the Lord with repugnance. Whoever treats with contempt the face of any person treats the face of the Lord with contempt. 
In this passage, 2 Enoch likens the human face to the divine face, but in order to emphasize the fiery and frightening nature of God. This passage is reminiscent of the Shi'ur Qomah traditions ("stature/measure of the body") in Jewish mystical texts.

Chapter 39:3-5 (short recension):
And now, my children, it is not from my own lips that I am reporting to you today, but from the lips of the Lord who has sent me to you. As for you, you hear my words, out of my lips, a human being created equal to yourselves; but I, I have heard the words from the fiery lips of the Lord. For the lips of the Lord are a furnace of fire, and his words are the fiery flames which come out. You, my children, you see my face, a human being created just like yourselves; I, I am one who has seen the face of the Lord, like iron made burning hot by fire, emitting sparks. For you gaze into (my) eyes, a human being created just like yourselves; but I have gazed into the eyes of the Lord, like the rays of the shining sun and terrifying the eyes of a human being.
This last paragraph is from what is the called the "Adam Septipartite" tradition (i.e., Adam in seven parts), developed in medieval Christian literature (and thus probably not part of the earliest 2 Enoch texts).

Chapter 30:8 (long recension):
And on the sixth day I commanded my wisdom to create man out of the seven components: his flesh from earth; his blood from dew and from the sun; his eyes from the bottomless sea; his bones from stone; his reason from the mobility of angels and from clouds; his veins and hair from grass of the earth; his spirit from my spirit and from wind.

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