Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

Enoch and Qumran Origins: New Light on a Forgotten Connection

Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

Enoch and Qumran Origins: New Light on a Forgotten Connection

Article excerpt

(ProQuest Information and Learning: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Enoch and Qumran Origins: New Light on a Forgotten Connection, edited by Gabriele Boccaccini. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005. Pp. xviii + 454. $40.00 (paper). ISBN 0802828787.

Is the mystery of both Essene and Qumran origins largely hidden in the Enoch literature (thus Boccaccini, 417)? Enoch and Qumran Origins deals with the relationship between Qumran literature and second Temple Jewish texts relating to Enoch, in addition to a host of other related questions, and thus belongs to the current blossoming of scholarly interest in the Enoch tradition, which is also represented by, inter alia, the first volume of George Nickelsburgs commentary on 1 Enoch (1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36; 81-108 [ed. K. Baltzer; Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001]), two new translations of 1 Enoch (George W. E. Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam, 1 Enoch: A New Translation [Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004]; Daniel C. Olson, Enoch: A New Translation [North Richland Hills, TX: BIBAL, 2004)), and monographs by David Jackson (Enochic Judaism: Three Defining Paradigm Exemplars [London: T&T Clark International, 2004]), Siam Bhayro (The Shemihazah and Asael Narrative of 1 Enoch 6-11: Introduction, Text, Translation and Commentary with Reference to Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Antecedents [AOAT 332; Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2005]), and Andrei Orlov (The Enoch-Metatron Tradition [TSAJ 107; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005]) (for Jackson and Orlov, see preceding review). The volume under review here constitutes the proceedings of the second meeting of the Enoch seminar (Venice, July 1-4, 2003). Since the work of the Enoch seminar is surveyed by Boccaccini himself in his introduction (7-11), and by Thomas Kraus in his review in RBL (http://www. bookreviews.org), there is no reason to cover it again here. Furthermore, subjecting the minutiae of each of the positions presented in this volume to detailed scholarly critique would be a vast task, unnecessary in the context of a review and inappropriate given that many of the essays present short statements of a scholar's position rather than detailed arguments. This review will focus instead on identifying the main questions and issues with which the essays engage (for a different assessment, see the contribution by James H. Charlesworth, 444-54).

Enoch and Qumran Origins is organized around five topics: Dream Visions and Daniel (15-72), Enoch and Jubilees (73-182), the Apocalypse of Weeks (183-246), the Groningen hypothesis revisited (247-326), and the Enochic-Essene hypothesis revisited (327-435). There is, naturally, a certain amount of overlap among the five parts in terms of the questions and issues discussed. Each part concludes with a response from a leading scholar in the field, to whose earlier work the essays respond, and an up-to-date bibliography, the volume as a whole concluding with an assessment by Charlesworth (436-54). The overall impression the reader is given is of listening in on a rich, vibrant, ongoing conversation.

If this volume is taken as a guide to the major questions and issues exercising the minds of scholars working on Qumran and the Enoch literature, what are those questions and issues? In part 1, which concludes with a response by John Collins (59-66), a key issue is the relationship between the authors and tradents of texts associated with Daniel and Enoch, especially the canonical Daniel apocalypse and 1 Enoch 85-90. This emphasis touches on the deeper question of whether we can meaningfully discuss the sociohistorical contexts out of which such texts emerged. To what extent may a concrete sociohistorical context be extrapolated from purely textual evidence-and often allusive, symbolic textual evidence at that (the problem is well illustrated by Emile Puech's essay in part 4 [298-302], which implicitly affirms our ability to read precise historical data from Qumran texts without wrestling with the manifold methodological pitfalls attached to such a position)? …

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