Monday, November 17, 2014

SBL Presentations

Here are the papers I will be presenting at the SBL Annual Meeting in San Diego this weekend. Please drop in if you're interested; there's nothing sadder than playing to an empty room. Or feel free to come up and say hi if you see me. I'll be the one in black with bright red hair.

Function of Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal Writings in Early Judaism and Early Christianity
Saturday, 11/22/2014
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: 400 A (Level 4 (Sapphire)) - Hilton Bayfront (HB)
"Degraded from Their Heavenly Vigour": Fallen Angels, the Testament of Solomon, and the Demonology of the Early African Church (5:00-5:30pm)
The works of the third century Latin fathers Tertullian (Apology), Minucius Felix (Octavius), Cyprian (On the Vanity of Idols), and Lactantius (Divine Institutes) contain strikingly similar (often verbatim) accounts of the origin and nature of demons. Direct dependence between some of the sources is possible, but the overall trajectory of any influence is obscure—particularly given the uncertain dates of Felix—and to date, no scholars have undertaken to clarify the relationship. The demonology presented by these African sources draws heavily on Justin Martyr, and upon especially Athenagoras, with whom they agree in distinguishing fallen angels from demons, the latter being the spirits of the children born to fallen angels and human women. 
This paper will trace this concept of demons from its origins in 1 Enoch 15–16 and Jubilees 10, through Justin and Athenagoras, and then compare it to the demonology evident in the Testament of Solomon. This will firmly locate T. Sol. within the context of third-century Christian thought, reflecting a specific sub-stratum of the Enochic fallen-angel complex in which the giants—rather than the angels themselves—were seen as the primary tradents in forbidden heavenly knowledge. Finally, a synopsis of the relevant passages will demonstrate that the commonalities and divergences of the African authors are better explained by a shared, external Latin source than by any direct dependence between them, or by the shared influence of the Greek text of Athenagoras. This study will enrich our understanding of the vital role that demonological concerns played in the worldview of the early fathers, and how these concerns shaped—and were shaped by—pseudepigraphal works.
(NOTE: This paper has evolved significantly since I wrote the proposal.)

Sunday, 11/23/2014
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: 411 A (Level 4 (Sapphire)) - Hilton Bayfront (HB) 
Angels, Giants, and Culture Heroes in the Development and Reception of the Book of the Watchers (1:30-2:00pm)
The `Asa'el or instruction narrative in the Book of the Watchers (roughly, 1 Enoch 7:1; 8:1–3; 9:6, 8; 10:4–8) presents distinct interpretive and historical challenges in its decidedly negative reappropriation of a usually positive ancient literary motif, viz., that of supernatural culture heroes who provide humanity with essential knowledge or technology. This motif of angelic instruction figures prominently in the later reception of the BW narrative, but many of these interpretations seem to retain vestiges of more positive culture-hero traditions associated giants and with the flood. Through a diachronic survey of several key texts, this paper will demonstrate the influence of other, more positive culture-hero traditions, rooted in Gen 6:1–4, which were not derived from the negative portrayal of angelic instruction found in the Book of the Watchers
By proposing set of criteria for determining the presence of these parallel traditions, I will argue that two additional, independent complexes of tradition played a key part in Jewish and Christian interpretations of the fallen-angel myth, and contributed to some of the less negative portrayals of angelic instruction found therein. In the first of these traditions, Noah and members of his family are depicted as giants, or as the offspring of angels, and are said to be responsible for the transmission of secret, antediluvian knowledge. John C. Reeves (1993) already identified traces of these traditions in ancient birth-narratives of Noah and in the pseudo-Eupolemus fragments, but they are also evident in later traditions attributing the origins of alchemy to Ham. The other complex concerns the fallen angels’ failed divine commission as the keepers of the cosmic order. This narrative (attested in Jubilees and the “Animal Apocalypse” [1 En. 85–90]) differs from the Book of the Watchers in depicting a two-stage fall, in which the angels’ presence on earth leads them to sin, thus shifting the vector of corruption. Connected with this strand in particular are traditions associating the fallen angels with the celestial spheres (not simply the interpretation thereof), and those treating the fallen angels or the spirits of the giants as objects of human worship. 
The presence of parallel fallen-angel traditions has several important implications to the study of Enochic literature. First, it would solve the long-standing question of why the culture-hero stratum was inserted into the Book of the Watchers at all, by demonstrating that the motifs of culture heroes, the flood, and giants were readily associated in the contemporary cultural lexicon. Instead of an intrusion, the `Asa'el narrative becomes an organic extension of the themes of the book. Moreover, parallel fallen-angel traditions would also explain why motifs not attested in the Book of the Watchers appear independently in later interpretations of the Watchers myth. As certain themes and motifs became entangled in the traditions derived from 1 Enoch, the interpretive “canon” expanded beyond the text itself to include certain implicit connections drawn from outside traditions.
(NOTE: Redacted text corresponds to a section of the paper cut for time.)

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