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The Watchers in Jewish and Christian Traditions

Edited by Angela Kim Harkins, Kelley Coblentz Bautch, and John C. Endres

Publication Year: 2014

At the origin of the Watchers tradition is the single enigmatic reference in Genesis 6 to the “sons of God” who had intercourse with human women, producing a race of giants upon the earth. That verse sparked a wealth of cosmological and theological speculation in early Judaism. Here leading scholars explore the contours of the Watchers traditions through history, tracing their development through the Enoch literature, Jubilees, and other early Jewish and Christian writings. This volume provides a lucid survey of current knowledge and interpretation of one of the most intriguing theological motifs of the Second Temple period.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xiv

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pp. 1-8

The proliferation of traditions associated with angels in Second Temple and late antique Judaism and Christianity is well known by the scholars and students of the texts associated with these periods. Especially striking are the numerous writings that take up various aspects of the myths about angels who descend from heaven to mate with women—an account only briefly mentioned in Gen....

PART I Origins and Biblical Discussions of the Fallen Angels

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1 Mesopotamian Elements and the Watchers Traditions

Ida Fröhlich

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pp. 11-24

By the time of the exile, early Watchers traditions were written in Aramaic, the vernacular in Mesopotamia. Besides many writings associated with Enoch, several works composed in Aramaic came to light from the Qumran library. They manifest several specific common characteristics concerning their literary genres and content. These are worthy of further examination.1 Several Qumran...

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2 The Watchers Traditions and Gen 6:1-4 (MT and LXX)

Chris Seeman

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pp. 25-38

In the book of Genesis, sweeping accusations are brought against the human race, justifying God’s decision to eradicate it by flood: “the wickedness of human beings was great in the earth . . . every day; every formation of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil” (6:5).1 Not even animals escape judgment: “all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth . . . the earth is filled...

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3 Symbolic Resistance in the Book of the Watchers

Anathea Portier-Young

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pp. 39-50

The Book of the Watchers provides one of our most important starting points for tracking the growth and development of the Watchers traditions. As is well known, its writers crafted their portrait and myth of the Watchers by drawing on other earlier traditions. Much attention has been given to the connection between the Book of the Watchers and traditions preserved in Genesis...

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4 The Enochic Watchers Traditions and Deuterocanonical Literature

Jeremy Corley

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pp. 51-68

This chapter explores echoes of some Enochic Watchers traditions occurring in the apocryphal/deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament. While the closest connections are with the Wisdom of Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus), there are passing mentions of the primeval Giants—offspring of the Watchers in some traditions— within three other Septuagintal books: Baruch, 3 Maccabees,...

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5 Watchers Traditions in the Catholic Epistles

Eric F. Mason

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pp. 69-80

Watchers traditions are present in three books among the Catholic Epistles: 1 Peter, Jude, and 2 Peter. Most scholars agree that 2 Peter is dependent on Jude and that there is no direct authorial relationship between 1 and 2 Peter. Each of these texts exhibits some level of independent use of Watchers traditions, and this provides insight into the influence of these traditions on early Christian...

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6 ‘Because of the Angels’: Paul and the Enochic Traditions

Scott M. Lewis, S.J.

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pp. 81-90

Paul’s injunction in 1 Corinthians 11:10 that women should be veiled during worship “because of the angels” is one of the most puzzling and obscure passages in the New Testament. In what sense should “angels” be understood? Is the angelic presence a positive or negative phenomenon? Why should human dress and comportment be of any concern to angels? One possibility, noted...

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7 The Watchers Traditions in 1 Enoch 6–16: The Fall of Angels and the Rise of Demons

Kevin Sullivan

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pp. 91-104

The Watchers are a type of intermediary being, apparently a distinctive class.1 There may well be Near Eastern precedents for this type of being that were adopted by Second Temple Jews. While the Watchers may have been associated with a type of angelic being at some point, they come to be associated with demons in later Jewish and Christian traditions. In this essay, we explore how...

PART II Second TempleDevelopments

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8 The Watchers Traditions in the Book of the Watchers and the Animal Apocalypse

Karina Martin Hogan

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pp. 107-120

The most striking and influential traditions in the Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1–36) are the myths about the rebellion of the Watchers. The term “Watchers,” meaning “wakeful ones” (Aramaic עירין ), glossed as “sons of Heaven” in 1 En. 6:2, refers to a class of angels, mentioned in the Bible only in Dan. 4:10, 14, 20.1 Even within the Book of the Watchers it is sometimes used of the...

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9 The Watchers Traditions in the Book of Jubilees

John C. Endres, S.J.

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pp. 121-136

The Book of Jubilees provides its audience with a reworked narrative and halakhic account of events from the creation of the world to the meeting of Moses with God at Mount Sinai; thus, in many sections it parallels the Books of Genesis and Exodus 1-24. Close reading of this text reveals a number of details and emphases that would not be known even to students of the Torah...

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10 Watchers Traditions in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Samuel Thomas

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pp. 137-150

It is well known to scholars of Second Temple Jewish literature that “Watchers” עירין) ) and “Giants” ( גברין or נפילין)1 were important features of early Jewish apocalyptic thought. The Book of the Watchers of 1 Enoch (1 En. 1–36) is just one example of the many creative elaborations of Gen. 6:1-4 to be produced during the mid-late Second Temple period. Indeed, the...

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11 The Watchers Traditions in 1 Enoch’s Book of Parables

Leslie Baynes

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pp. 151-164

The Book of Parables comprises chapters 37–71 of 1 Enoch, the latest section of that work and the only major part of it not found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is extant today only in Ge‘ez, the ancient liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The most notable development of the Watchers traditions in the Parables is that it consistently links the fallen angels with the...

PART III Reception in Early Christianity and Early Judaism

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12 The Descent of the Watchers and its Aftermath According to Justin Martyr

Randall D. Chesnutt

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pp. 167-180

In the second and third centuries ce, as rabbinic Judaism attempted a suppression of Enochic traditions that was somewhat successful until those traditions reemerged with a vengeance in medieval Jewish mysticism,1 a lively and diverse use of Enochic texts and ideas continued unabated among many Christian writers. Foremost among these writers in the mid-second century was...

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13 Cain the Giant: Watchers Traditions in the Life of Adam and Eve

Silviu N. Bunta

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pp. 181-198

The title “Life of Adam and Eve” (henceforth LAE) is commonly used in reference to an entire corpus of literature1 that contains the Greek Apocalypse of Moses known widely today as the Greek Life of Adam and Eve (GLAE),2 the Latin Vita Adae et Evae (LLAE),3 the Armenian Penitence of Adam (ALAE),4 the Slavonic Book of Adam and Eve,5 the Georgian Book of Adam (GeLAE),6 and the...

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14 The Watchers Traditions in Targum and Midrash

Joshua Ezra Burns

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pp. 199-216

Evidence for the Jewish reception of the Watchers traditions between the Second Temple period and late antiquity is fairly limited. A number of narrative and exegetical motifs relating to the legend of the fallen angels appear as glosses on the text of Genesis in the...

Index of Names

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pp. 217-222

Index of Biblical Referencesand Ancient Literature

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pp. 223-242

E-ISBN-13: 9781451465136
E-ISBN-10: 1451465130
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800699789
Print-ISBN-10: 0800699785

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2014