Gabriele Boccaccini, Giovanni Ibba, eds. Enoch and the Mosaic Torah: The Evidence of Jubilees. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2009. xxi + 474 pp. $55.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8028-6409-3.
Reviewed by Carla Sulzbach (McGill University)
Published on H-Judaic (February, 2011)
Commissioned by Jason Kalman
Connections between Jubilees, 1 Enoch, and Qumran
The present volume contains the main papers of the Fourth Enoch Seminar, held in Camaldoli (Italy) in July 2007. Since its inception in 2001, every seminar has covered a specific aspect of or contact point with what has been coined “Enochic” Judaism. Although that notion is not without its critics, it is a useful term as a starting point for study and discussion, if only because the Enochic corpus is so large and interacts on so many levels with other Second Temple Jewish texts.
The 2007 seminar explored the role of the Torah in 1 Enoch and the Book of Jubilees and whether the answer helps determine the relationship between these texts. Noting that the Torah functions quite differently in each text, the discussion focused on matters of overlap, continuity, or discontinuity, even suggesting that they might represent “competing forms of Judaism” (back cover). The collection is prefaced by Gabriele Boccaccini, who offers a short overview of the general discussion, and it ends with a comprehensive bibliography on Jubilees (prepared by Veronika Bachmann and Isaac W. Olivier) and an author index. The twenty-eight papers are distributed over four subject rubrics: “Jubilees and Its Literary Context,” “The Melting of Mosaic and Enochic Traditions,” “Jubilees between Enoch and Qumran,” and “Where Does Jubilees Belong?” This reviewer has opted for an overview of each essay, rather than a more general tying up of the subject matter. The varying length of each summary is not a reflection of the quality of each paper but of the reviewer’s personal interest.
In part 1, in “The Manuscript Tradition of Jubilees,” James VanderKam describes the inventory of manuscripts for Jubilees and the languages in which they were preserved. Until the Dead Sea Scrolls revealed that the original language of Jubilees was Hebrew--the oldest extant fragments date from the Late Hasmonean period--the only complete edition survived in medieval Ethiopic manuscripts. Indirect evidence suggests the Ethiopic is likely based on earlier translations into Greek and Syriac. In “The Composition of Jubilees,” Michael Segal tackles the consensus view that Jubilees is a unified text. John S. Bergsma, in “Relationship between Jubilees and the Early Enochic Books (Astronomical Book and Book of the Watchers),” argues that while both Enochic texts substantially predate Jubilees, the Book of the Watchers left the more significant mark on Jubilees. The influence of the Astronomical Book is minimal. Still, the figure of Enoch only appears in the Jubilees passages from Enoch to Noah. Overall, the figure of Moses and his concerns eclipse those of Enoch. Matthias Henze explores the relationship between “Daniel and Jubilees.” Although both were composed around the same time and each was a product of the Antiochian crisis and subsequent Jewish uprising, textually they have few points of contact. Both are also represented by multiple copies from Qumran. Henze argues that the works share a concern for apocalypticism, exegesis, and calendar but that these concepts function quite differently in each. In “The Chronologies of the Apocalypse of Weeks and the Book of Jubilees,” James M. Scott compares the heptadic structure of history in this Enochic book and Jubilees. There are some significant differences, but both share a view of history that is clearly deterministic with its course laid out in the heavenly tablets, on which the theology of both narratives relies heavily. In Jubilees the final knowledge contained in the heavenly tablets is communicated to Moses through angelic mediation, whereas in the Enochic texts Enoch is privy to this knowledge and is responsible for its dissemination to future generations. There are some points of contact between both texts, but ultimately Jubilees takes a different trajectory in its eschatology. In “The Aramaic Levi Document, the Genesis Apocryphon, and Jubilees: A Study of Shared Traditions,” Esther Eshel looks at two texts that, like Jubilees, retell a portion of Genesis. She argues that, based on their description of the mappa mundi and the figures of Noah and Levi, they are both older than Jubilees and may have been familiar to and used by its author. Lawrence H. Schiffman, in “The Book of Jubilees and the Temple Scroll,” engages earlier scholarship that suggested a close relationship between the texts, the most radical considering them part of the same work. Despite certain shared elements, such as their claims to being revelation and the presence of halakhic statements, Schiffman sees them rather as having sprung from the same larger cultural milieu (after all, both were found at Qumran) but not from the same group. In “Jubilees, Sirach and Sapiential Tradition,” Benjamin G. Wright III questions whether Jubilees contains any features connecting it to Wisdom traditions. Wright concludes that while these texts have similarities, these are better explained as addressing common concerns than as a “genetic” relationship between Jubilees and the Wisdom genre (p. 130). In “The Heavenly Counterpart of Moses in the Book of Jubilees,” Andrei A. Orlov explores the identity of the Angel of the Presence who reveals the divine words to Moses and acts as scribe and interpreter; much like the role that Moses fulfilled in the earthly setting in the Pentateuch. Examining the appearance and function of other “heavenly counterparts” of earthly heroes, Orlov proposes that in Jubilees the Angel of the Presence is Moses’s heavenly counterpart. An important text in this connection is Ezekiel the Tragedian’s Exagoge which presents Moses in a heavenly setting. Orlov notes the dynamic of the bringing down to earth of texts, penned by heavenly scribes, and refashioned into human writing/text through the earthly and heavenly messengers who traverse both realms. In “Jubilees and the Samaritan Tradition,” Lester L. Grabbe shows that despite the fact that almost no similarities or overlaps are found between the two traditions--and are not expected--it is a useful exercise, if only to establish categories to delimit the range of Jubilees’ view of second-century Judaism.
Part 2 begins with “Enochic Judaism--a Judaism without the Torah and the Temple?” by Helge S. Kvanvig. Kvanvig suggests how contrasting the Book of the Watchers and the Apocalypse of Weeks with the canonical Nehemiah 8-9 (an overview of Jewish history centering on Torah and return) contributes to assessing the role of Torah and Temple in the Enochic traditions. William K. Gilders, in “The Concept of Covenant in Jubilees,” shows how the biblical notion of a unique and binding covenant between God and the chosen people is retrojected to include the divine covenants made with Noah and later the Patriarchs in Jubilees. In “From a Movement of Dissent to a Distinct Form of Judaism: The Heavenly Tablets in Jubilees as the Foundation of a Competing Halakah,” Boccaccini explores the status of the heavenly tablets, a source of divine knowledge and legislation emphasized especially in Jubilees and the Enochic corpus. Since the recipients of this knowledge predate Moses, it may be seen as a direct rival to the Sinaitic revelation. The question is what the relationship is between these sources of revelation and whether the groups that privileged this literature (e.g., Qumran) represented a different brand of Judaism. Jacques van Ruiten, “Abram’s Prayer: The Coherence of the Pericopes in Jubilees 12:16-27,” compares three distinct prayers by Noah, Abraham, and Moses. In the first part of her important essay, “Reconsidering Jubilees: Prophecy and Exemplarity,” Hindy Najman questions the generic labels that are usually applied to Jubilees, such as “rewritten bible,” which implies that an authoritative canonical “bible” already existed. Evidence, including statements within Jubilees, suggests such an authoritative Torah. Jubilees’ own claims as to the authority of the Sinaitic Torah preclude seeing it as a rival or replacement tradition. Jubilees brings the two strands of revelation, the heavenly tablets and the Sinaitic, together. Najman proposes placing the work as a whole within the context of postexilic prophecy. The key to understanding Jubilees is taking its claim to revelation seriously. The second part of the study focuses on the role of “founding figures” to whom revelatory discourse is attributed (Moses and the Angel of the Presence in Jubilees). Najman shows how Jubilees stands in a long tradition of prophetic literature which continued throughout the Second Temple period.
Ahoron Shemesh argues in “4Q265 and the Authoritative Status of Jubilees at Qumran” that this legal text, similar to the Damascus Document and the Rule of the Community, could be considered a “rewriting” of Jubilees (p. 254). Its frequent use of the self-definition of Yahad, which is tied to the Qumran community (be they Essenes or others), together, with the perceived link to Jubilees, contributes to establishing the latter’s authority at Qumran. In “Purity and Impurity in the Book of Jubilees,” Lutz Doering analyzes various categories of purity/impurity as they are known from a more general Second Temple and Qumran context and Jubilees in particular. Jonathan Ben-Dov compares Jubilees’ solar year to the rest of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Enoch in “Tradition and Innovation in the Calendar of Jubilees.” In “The Book of Jubilees and the Origin of Evil,” Loren T. Stuckenbruck discusses how passages containing notions about the place of evil in society actually talk about the “origin of evil” or describe the conditions of life-as-is and try to find explanations for a world in which evil exists. Betsy Halpern-Amaru, “The Festivals of Pesah and Massot in the Book of Jubilees,” examines the relationship between the biblical Pesach and Mazzot festivals with the seven-day Feast of the Lord celebrated by Abraham, as revealed through the heavenly tablets, and then shows how Jubilees brings all three in line with its calendrical system. John C. Endres compares two eschatological passages (Jub. 1 and 23) in “Eschatological Impulses in Jubilees.” Both show the expected pattern of sin, punishment, repentance, and God’s forgiveness. Ultimately, the message is that adherence to the covenant brings a hopeful future. As Kelley Coblentz Bautch shows in “Amplified Roles, Idealized Depictions: Women in the Book of Jubilees,” Jubilees not only “amplifies” the roles of women known from the biblical narrative, but also often puts them in a more favorable light. Many nameless female characters receive meaningful names. Sometimes new female characters are introduced. The motivation for this was likely polemical, having to do with the issue of strict endogamy. Negative male characters are depicted as not keeping to the rules of finding proper mates and who are thus accused of forbidden intermarriages. This probably reflects a sensitivity in mid-second-century BCE Jewish society. In “Enochic and Mosaic Traditions in Jubilees: The Evidence of Angelology and Demonology,” Annette Y. Reed assesses the role of angels and demons and the intermediate category of “fallen angels” in Jubilees and Enochic traditions. She stresses the typology of Israel and the nations as representing angels and demons respectively. The fallen angels represent Jews who opt out of the covenantal relationship through assimilation and intermarriage. Erik Larson, “Worship in Jubilees and Enoch,” notes the connection between pre-Sinaitic characters offering sacrifices and priestly status, as well as the clear indication that Gentiles cannot worship through the sacrificial cult. He also compares the abundance of animal sacrifice treated as proper worship in Jubilees with its paucity in 1 Enoch. This sparseness prompts Larson to question the priestly origin of the Enochic corpus. That Enoch’s underrepresentation of the sacrificial cult seems to coincide with a less negative view of Gentiles is noteworthy. Although Jubilees, technically, is not a mystical text, Martha Himmelfarb shows in “The Book of Jubilees and Early Jewish Mysticism” that it contains a number of key motifs known from early mystical traditions, chiefly the idea of heaven as either the divine palace or temple. She distinguishes between the depictions of Jubilees, the sectarian scrolls, and the Book of the Watchers regarding earthly individuals cast in a priestly role as reflecting the angels in the heavenly divine service. Importantly, she notes that for 1 Enoch only one individual (i.e., Enoch) rose to that level whereas the sectarian scrolls allow for members of the sect to reach this state. For Jubilees, in contrast, the entire Jewish people is elevated as earthly counterparts of the angels, making it into a hereditary “kingdom of priests,” mirroring the formal priesthood. Unlike the other texts, Jubilees does not present the heavenly temple as substitute or ideal vis-à-vis the earthly temple, but as a preexistent prototype for it.
In the last section, in “Jubilees, the Temple, and the Aaronite Priesthood,” David W. Suter addresses Jubilees’ use of “selective anachronism” to push an agenda that privileges a particular brand of priestly concerns (p. 407). In contrast to 1 Enoch, Jubilees presents Enoch as a priestly figure bringing sacrifices and as a scribe expert in sacrificial matters. Adam and the patriarchs bring sacrifices, the latter observe festivals, and Eden is presented as one of four primeval sanctuaries. Suter suggests that this, together with the retrojected notion of “Israel as a nation of priests” serves Jubilees’ vision that this order existed at the time of creation and will again in the future with the divinely built eschatological temple on Mount Zion. In “Jubilees and Enochic Judaism,” David R. Jackson recognizes three exemplars that operate under an Enochic paradigm. Jubilees, seen as a text that emerged from “Enochic Judaism,” also follows that paradigm. The exemplars represent replicable stages in Jewish history that are traced back all the way to creation. One such pivotal event is the sin of the Watchers. The three examplars are represented by Shemikhaza, which addresses the issue of ethnic impurity, i.e., the demons who repeatedly try to lead Israel astray; by Aza’el, which considers cultural purity and deals with the revelation of forbidden knowledge that leads to “deviant and rebellious cultural practices” (p. 417); and by the Cosmic exemplar, which represents the perspective of liturgical purity and deals with the disturbed synchronized angelic and human worship. In “Jubilees, Qumran, and the Essenes,” Eyal Regev observes that Jubilees does not reflect a sect but a reform movement, which sought to remedy the deficiencies of the Judaism of its time. When comparing Jubilees to the Damascus Document and the Community Rule on the one hand and the Halakhic Letter (4QMMT) and the Temple Scroll on the other, it becomes clear that the groups emerging from these texts do not correspond to Josephus’s portrait of the Essenes, who seem to represent a later development, and a different identity must be sought for the other groups.
In conclusion, each essay makes a unique contribution by providing insight to the workings of and interaction between a number of exceedingly complicated texts. They each highlight a particular unique feature that provides the reader with further clues for understanding these texts. What stands out most are the views that the texts present on the status of members of the Jewish people and their relationship with Gentiles. What appears is a development from a somewhat universalistic and inclusive approach to an increasingly narrow and exclusivist view which ultimately ends up in a strict sectarianism that rejects as inadequate even the majority of its Jewish contemporaries. On this topic, see especially the essays by Coblentz-Bautch, Reed, Larson, Himmelfarb, and Regev. These views bear directly on the status and accessibility of the Temple and the communication with the divine realm. In its most sectarian expression (Qumran), the main body of the Jewish people is cut off from both because of its impure and sinful state, whereas in Jubilees the division is more strictly between the entire covenantal Jewish people on the one hand and Gentiles together with Jews who had opted for assimilation on the other.
If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the network, at: https://networks.h-net.org/h-judaic.
Carla Sulzbach. Review of Boccaccini, Gabriele; Ibba, Giovanni, eds., Enoch and the Mosaic Torah: The Evidence of Jubilees.
H-Judaic, H-Net Reviews.
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