Two Perspectives on Angelic Sin and Secret Knowledge

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Within 1 En. 12-16, two passages elaborate 1 En. 6-11 's descriptions of the sins of the Watchers, retelling the angelic descent myth by means of rebukes and instructions to rebuke. In 1 En. 12:4-13:3, the "Watchers of great Holy One" tell Enoch to rebuke the "Watchers of heaven who have left the highest heaven" for their sexual misdeeds and the violent results (12:3-6). Enoch then rebukes Asael, noting their improper revelation of knowledge and the sinful results (13:1 -2). In 1 En. 15:2-16:4, the themes of sexual and

62 Most scholars concur that the celebration of Enoch's scribal identity in BW and other Enochic pseudepigrapha corresponds to the self-conception of their authors/redactors; Collins, "Sage," 344-47; Schams, Jewish Scribes, 92-94.

63 Newsom proposes that the instruction motif represents a later addition both to 1 En. 6-11 and 12-16 ("Development," esp. 319). For discussion and critique of Newsom's theory, as well as a more detailed treatment of 1 En. 12-16, see Reed, "Heavenly Ascent."

epistemological transgression are combined in a dialogue attributed to God (15 -16).

Interestingly, the archangels, Enoch, and God each rebuke angelic descent in different ways. The archangels are concerned about the departure of their brethren from the dwelling-place and activities proper to their kind. Although they cite the Giants' destruction of the earth (12:4), they neglect to mention the negative results of the angelic descent for humankind. By contrast, Enoch is entirely concerned with the effects on humankind, lamenting "all the deeds of godlessness, wrongdoing, and sin" that humans learned from Asael (13:1). Although he paraphrases the archangels' statements about the punishment of the fallen Watchers to Asael, he does not speak of their transgression of the physical boundaries and characteristic activities proper to angels.

God, by contrast, is portrayed as omniscient (cf. 9:5,11), and He addresses both aspects of the Watchers' descent. Moreover, He is depicted as understanding these events on a much deeper level, grasping the implications of angelic descent for the proper order of His cosmos (15:4-7), the ramifications of the birth of the Giants beyond the antediluvian era (15:9-12), and the shared culpability of angels, women, and men in bringing about this lamentable situation

For the interpretation of 1 En. 6-11 in 1 En. 12-16, this divine denunciation of the Watchers (15 -16) proves most determinative. Not only is this version of events privileged as the direct speech of the all-knowing God, but it represents this unit's "last word" on the fallen angels. Different approaches to angelic sin are offered in 1 En. 6-16. In the end, however, the exuberant polysemy of 1 En. 6-11 and the modulation of different voices in 1 En. 12-16 are both resolved through the final appeal to an omniscient, divine perspective in 1 En. 15 -16.

Evoking the concern for the orderliness of Creation in 1 En. 1 -5, 17-19, and 20-36, the dialogue attributed to God in 1 En. 15 -16 interprets angelic descent in terms of the inversion of the ideal relationship between identity and activity that properly delineates the heavenly and earthly realms. In 15:3, God denounces the once-immortal Watchers for "act(ing) like children of the earth" by bearing Giants for sons. This rebuke occasions a contrast between the proper types of action for spiritual and earthly beings: sex is an acceptable activity for "those who die and perish" (15:4-5), but it is categorically improper for "spirits that live forever and do not die for all generations forever" (15:6).64

64 On the nature and significance of their defilement, see Himmelfarb, Ascent, 21; Dimant,

"1 Enoch 6-11," 325; eadem, "Fallen Angels," 43,73; Suter, "Fallen Angel," 119.

Likewise, the birth of the Giants is explored in terms of the mingling of "spirits and flesh" (15:8). Angels properly dwell in heaven, and humans properly dwell on earth (15:10), but the nature of the Giants is mixed. This transgression of categories brings terrible results: after their physical death, the Giants' demonic spirits "come forth from their bodies" to plague humankind (15:9,11-12; 16:1). According to 1 En. 16, the angelic transmission of heavenly knowledge to earthly humans can also be understood as a contamination of distinct categories within God's orderly Creation. As inhabitants of heaven, the Watchers were privy to all the secrets of heaven; their revelation of this knowledge to the inhabitants of the earth was categorically improper as well as morally destructive.

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