restricted access Introduction to the Book (1–5)

From: 1 Enoch 1

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1 Enoch Introduction to the Book Introduction Composed in a style that is immediately reminiscent of texts from the prophetic and wisdom traditions, these chapters introduce the Enochic collection by announcing its main theme-the coming of God's judgment of the whole human race. To understand the text and its function we must attend to the following questions. (1) What is the literary form of the text, and how has that form been affected by the blending and reshaping of traditional material? (2) At what stage of development of the Enochic collection was the introduction composed ? (3) In what circumstances and for what kind of audience did the author write, and for what purpose did the author introduce and present the corpus of Enochic writings? Literary Form The pericope divides into five sections: Superscription 1:1 Introduction 1:2-3b Theophany for judgment 1:3c-9 Accusation 2:1-5:4 Consequences of the judgment 5:5-9 The formal and thematic unity of these sections is evident internally in their interrelations and externally in relationship to the traditions on which they draw. With the exception of the accusation, all of the sections employ or imitate the style, content, and wording of prophetic texts. The accusation is most closely paralleled in wisdom texts, but in context it is an integral part of a unit that, as a whole, sounds like a prophetic oracle. The superscription paraphrases the opening words of the Blessing of Moses (Deut 33:1). The introduction to the pericope claims prophetic authority on the basis of a throne vision that is cited in imitation of the introductory formulas of the Balaam oracles (see esp. Num 24:15-17). The description of the theophany draws heavily on the language of biblical theophanic texts. It begins by using the Sinaitic theophany, described in Deuteronomy 33, as a pattern for the future appearance of the divine Judge (1 Enoch 1:3c-4, 9a). Then it conflates this language from Deuteronomy with motifs and expressions from prophetic texts that announce a future theophany and judgment that will have decidedly negative consequences for "the earth" or "all flesh," viz., Isa 66:15-16; 1-5 Jer 25:30-31; Mic 1:3-4. Once Enoch has announced the theophany and judgment , he moves into a section that is noticeably different in its form, style, and content. Its form is prose rather than poetry, its verbs are second person plural imperatives rather than third person future indicatives, and its content focuses on the regularity of God's "works" in the heavenly bodies and of the terrestial progression of the seasons. The closest analogies are the instructional material in such "wisdom" texts as Sir 16:24-28; 42:1543 :33, and T. Naphtali 3-4, and in two prayers on related themes, Pss. Sol. 18:10-12 and 1Q34bis 3 2. As the last verse of the section (1 Enoch 5:4) indicates, this material is an integral part of the pericope and constitutes an accusation against the sinners. Nature's regular, faithful obedience to God has been cited as a foil to the human perversion and disobedience that will be punished in the judgment. In order to describe the consequences of the judgment-both the punishment of the sinners and God's rewards for the righteous-the author returns to prophetic language and imagery, and specifically to the description of the new creation and New Jerusalem in Isaiah 65. That chapter's alternation between second person curses addressed to the sinners and third person blessings promised for the righteous (65:8-16) has also provided a stylistic model for the whole of 2:1-5:9, even if the language and content of 2:1-5:3 are most closely paralleled in wisdom texts. Thus, the internal logic of the passage and the traditions from which its component parts draw their motifs and language indicate that chapters 1-5 were composed as a prophetic oracle, based on a heavenly vision, which announced a comingjudgment for all humanity. The repeated emphasis on the judgment and its consequences is reinforced by a recurring literary technique that structures the passage. Chapters 1-5 make frequent use of repetition or reprise. A motif or set of motifs is expressed; then, after the inclusion of other material, the initial element is repeated. The effect is a set of literary brackets that emphasizes a point by introducing it and repeating it. In a few cases the technique simply...


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