Even as 1 En. 12-16 includes the interpretation of illicit angelic instruction as improper due to its corruption ofhumanity, this unit thus privileges a concern with the proper epistemological boundaries between heaven and earth. On the level of the redacted text, the ramifications are striking. The "antispeculative" tendencies in 1 En. 6-11 are not simply subsumed into the rest of Book of the Watchers. Instead, 1 En. 12-16 treats this tension as generative.
The productive combination of conflicting traditions is achieved through the juxtaposition of Enoch and the Watchers. Above, we noted that 1 En. 12-16 provides a transition between the angel story in 1 En. 6-11 and Enoch's otherworldly journeys in 1 En. 17-36, by interweaving traditions about the fallen angels (cf. Gen 6:1 -4) with traditions about Enoch (cf. Gen 5:18-24). More specifically, this unit is structured around a two-part contrast between the former, who descend to earth to corrupt humankind with their teachings, and the latter, who ascends to heaven to receive salvific knowledge.
Within 1 En. 12-16, each statement about improper angelic instruction corresponds thematically and inversely to the events subsequently related about Enoch. The first reference to the Watchers' teachings focuses on its corrupting effects on human ethics (13:1 -2); this is followed by Enoch's elevation to a potential intercessor for sinful angels and a prophet divinely commissioned to rebuke them (13:3-14:25). The second reference focuses on the epistemological ramifications of their transmission of secret knowledge to humankind (16:2-3); this is followed by Enoch's elevation to a visionary with access to heavenly secrets (17-36):
Sins of the Watchers Enoch's Elevation
[Accounts of angelic descent in 1 En. 6-11 ]
Stage 1: Physical Ascent (cf. Gen 5:24):
Enoch is "taken up" from earth (12:1 -2).
Rebuke of Watchers for sexual sins and violent results (12:3 -6) Rebuke of Asael for the transmission of sinful knowledge (13:1-2)
Stage 2: Angelic petition and divine commission:
Fallen Watchers request that Enoch petition on their behalf (13:3-4)
In dreams and visions, God commissions Enoch to rebuke them (13:7-14:7); Enoch sees throne-vision (14:8-24).
Rebuke of Watchers for sexual sins and violent results (15:1 -12) Rebuke of Watchers for the transmission of secret knowledge (16:2-3)
[Stage 3: Revelation of knowledge to Enoch:
Account of Enoch's tours of heaven and earth in 1 En. 17-19]
The significance of this pattern becomes clear when we examine the progression more closely. In the first reference to the Watchers' illicit pedagogy (13:1 -2), the instruction motif is explored along the axes of sin and punishment, stressing the inescapability of divine justice:
Nor shall forbearance, petition, or mercy be yours, because of the wrongs [àSiKrmaTMv; gef'a] that you have taught, and because of all the deeds of godless-ness [tmv 'ÉpyMV tûv àaepeiMv; megebara serfat], and the wrong-doing [àSiKÏaç; gef' ] and the sin [^apTÎaç; xatiat], which you showed to the children of men. (1 En. 13:2)
This passage communicates a link with human experience that is both causal and typological. The teachings of Asael caused wickedness to proliferate amongst humankind. And, just as Asael's punishment is inescapable, so his human pupils will be fairly punished for their own "deeds of godlessness" (13:2). In other words, the instruction motif here functions both as an etiology of human sin and as a paradigm to stress the essential inescapability of divine punishment.
These themes are developed further in the following passage (13:3-14:25), which explores Enoch's role within the arithmetic of sin and punishment. The heavenly angels had previously requested that Enoch rebuke the fallen angels (12:1 -6), and the fallen Watchers now appeal to him to write a petition on their behalf (13:3 -4). Enoch's special status as the "scribe of righteousness" who can mediate between different levels of heaven is then heightened even further, as God commissions him to "speak to the sons of heaven and rebuke them" (13:8; also 15:2; 16:2). Enoch learns that he was in fact "endowed, fashioned, and created to reprimand the Watchers" (14:3), and he is granted a vision of the heavenly Temple and God's Throne and glory (14:8-24).^
The second description of illicit pedagogy (1 En. 15 -16) functions to introduce the next stage in Enoch's elevation (1 En. 17-36). Whereas 1 En. 12:3-13:3 explored the implications of the improper teaching of Asael, 1 En. 15-16 addresses the teachings of a collective, anonymous group of angels. Similarly, the focus here shifts from the corrupting results of illicit angelic instruction to the very act of revealing forbidden knowledge. Whereas the rebuke of Asael in 1 En. 13:2 had emphasized the human wickedness catalyzed by this Watcher, 1 En. 16:3 -4 suggests that the crux of the Watchers' sin lies in the impropriety of certain heavenly secrets for human consumption. This example of improper revelation introduces the final stage in Enoch's elevation: in the redacted form of the Book of the Watchers, the exploration of the Watchers' improper revelation of knowledge in 1 En. 16 is directly followed by the proper revelation of heavenly secrets to Enoch during his tours of heaven and earth in 1 En. 17-36.
In the final lines of 1 En. 12-16, God tells Enoch to proclaim to the Watchers:
"You were in heaven,
And there was no secret that was not revealed to you.
Unspeakable secrets you know,66
And these you made known to women, in the hardness of your heart.
And, by these secrets, females and mankind multiplied evils on the earth . . .
On this dramatic note, the transitional unit comes to a close. Just as the account of angelic descent in 1 En. 6-11 had begun with the Watchers' oath on Mount Hermon (6:6), so Enoch finds himself suddenly transported to a "place of storm-clouds and to a mountain whose summit reached heaven" (17:2). As the Book of the Watchers turns to describe Enoch's otherworldly
65 Himmelfarb, Ascent, 9-28.
66 I here follow Black's reconstruction and translation of 1 En. 16:3 (see Commentary, 155);
compare Clement, Strom. 22.214.171.124.
journeys, Enoch learns the "places of the luminaries and the chambers of the stars and of the thunder-peals" (1713), the positive counterparts to the celestial and meteorological divination taught by the Watchers in 1 En. 8:3 c-g. In this manner, the Book of the Watchers shifts from the topic of the fallen angels to Enoch's tours of heaven and earth - and from the improper teachings of the Watchers to the divine revelations received by Enoch.
3. enoch, the fallen angels, and the origins of evil in 1 en. 17-36
We have seen how the redactional combination of 1 En. 6-11 and 1 En. 12-16 functions to generate newlevels of meaning with respect to the epistemological and theological issues raised by angelic sin. Likewise, the combination of 1 En. 12-16 and 1 En. 17-36 shapes the image of Enoch that is communicated by the redacted form of the Book of the Watchers.
By placing 1 En. 12-16 before the accounts of Enoch's otherworldly journeys in 1 En. 17-19 and 1 En. 20-36, the redactors of this apocalypse emphasize the inextricable link between the revelations to Enoch and his predestined commission from God. Far from presenting the antediluvian patriarch as a model for any contemporary practice of "ascent-mysticism," the Book of the Watchers stresses that its pseudonymous author was uniquely worthy to be brought up to heaven.67 Enoch maybe a paradigm for ethical action, but it is his exalted status that accounts for his reception of heavenly secrets. Together with the juxtaposition between Enoch's special wisdom and the forbidden secrets revealed by the fallen angels, this assertion helps to attenuate the potentially radical epistemological ramifications of this one man's access to knowledge through heavenly ascent, by contextualizing his reception of that knowledge within a broader consideration of the proper relationship between heavenly and human wisdom.68
There are also two passages in 1 En. 17-36 that function to enhance the depiction of the Watchers. First is 19:1 -2, which asserts a connection between the Watchers, idolatry, and demons. Second is 32:6, which takes a dismissive approach to the story of Adam and Eve (Gen 2-3). Interestingly, both serve to facilitate the interpretation of angelic descent as an etiology of evil. Inasmuch as this issue becomes a central concern for later Jews and Christians, these passages prove important for our understanding of the Nachleben of the Book ofthe Watchers.
67 Enoch's ascent is not self-induced but rather a case of rapture; Himmelfarb, Ascent, 103-14.
68 The significance of this approach to Enoch for our understanding of the pseudepigraphy of BW is explored more fully in Reed, "Heavenly Ascent."
The first, 1 En. 19:1 -2, is the only direct reference to the descent of the Watchers within 1 En. 17-36. Here, the angel Uriel shows Enoch the prison of "the angels who had intercourse with women" and warns him that "their spirits [-n"VEU|jiaToc], taking on many forms, will harm humankind and lead them astray, to sacrifice to demons [smOueiv tois 5ai|oviois], until the great judgment."69 Notably, 1 En. 19:1 -2 thus appears to presuppose a different understanding of angelic descent than the material in 1 En. 6-11 and 12-16. Not only do these verses describe the Watchers' sexual sins with no mention of their teachings, but they differ on the issue of the fate of the fallen angels. According to 19:1 -2, it is the Watchers themselves, not their progeny (cf. 15:812), who are the evil spirits that continue to lead humankind astray even in the present day. Moreover, the demonic spirits of the Watchers here encourage idolatry - an accusation absent from 1 En. 6-16.
The reference to the Watchers in 1 En. 19:1 -2 follows from a description of the punishment of the stars "which transgressed the commandment of the Lord at the beginning of their rising, because they did not come forth at their proper time" (18:15 > cf. 21). Carol Newsom proposes that 1 En. 17-18 preserves a "pre-existing piece of Enochic tradition" and that its references to the prison of the rebellious stars were only later interpreted in terms of the Watchers, by means of the addition of 19:1 -2.70 Her suggestions are intriguing, raising the possibility that this passage was added during the final stages in the redaction-history of the Book of the Watchers to further integrate the material about the Watchers in 1 En. 6-16 with the material about Enoch in the rest of the apocalypse.
For our purposes, the exact origins of this tradition proves less relevant than its effect on the understanding of angelic descent in the redacted form of the Book of the Watchers. When read in its present form and setting, 1 En. 17-18 echoes and expands the predictions of punishment in God's commission of the archangels in 1 En. 9-10 and in the three rebukes in 1 En. 12-16. By emphasizing the Watchers' just punishment for their sins, 1 En. 17-18 encourages a paradigmatic reading of angelic descent as a warning for the human wicked. This, as we shall see, becomes one of the most influential features of the Book of the Watchers' version of the angelic descent myth, adopted even by exegetes who reject its appeal to the fallen angels to explain the origins of human sin and suffering.
As in 1 En. 6-11 and 1 En. 12-16, however, typological and etiological interpretations ofangelic sin are here combined. Whereas 1 En. 17-18 stresses God's
69 Translation follows GrPan (neither Aram nor GrSyn are here extant).
70 Newsom, "Development," 322-23.
punishment of the wayward "stars," 1 En. 19:1 -2 explicitly blames them for bringing evils to the earth. This verse is no less influential among later Jews and Christians, many of whom would read 1 En. 6-16 through 1 En. 19:1 -2. Not only do they add idolatry to the list of the Watchers' illicit teachings in 1 En. 8, but some even cite this verse to underline the causal connection between the fall of the angels before the Flood and the continued activities of demons on the earth.
Within the redacted form of the Book of the Watchers, the interpretation of angelic descent as an explanation for the origins of sin and suffering is facilitated, perhaps to an even greater degree, by the approach to Gen 2-3 within 1 En. 32:6. The story of the Watchers in 1 En. 6-16 makes clear that their descent from heaven precipitated the proliferation of both misery and moral decline among humans before the Flood. It is implied that 1 En. 6-16 recounts the very origins of these evils, but we find no attempt to locate angelic descent within prior human history. In those chapters, the question of the relationship between the disobedience of Adam and Eve (Gen 2-3) and the Watchers' corruption of antediluvian humans remains unanswered.
The comments about the Garden of Eden in 1 En. 32:6 fill this lacuna. The Garden is one of many stops on Enoch's tours of heaven and earth in 1 En. 20-36. When Enoch arrives there, his angelic guide, Raphael, informs him:
This is the Tree of Knowledge from which your father of old and your mother of old ate, and they learned knowledge, and their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked, and they were driven out of the Garden. (1 En. 32:6)
Not only is the Tree of Life displaced to another location (1 En. 24-25), but Raphael's terse summary of Gen 2-3 strikingly neglects to mention the Serpent, God's command not to eat the fruit of the Tree, and the disobedience of Adam and Eve. In other words, it omits the very details that other exegetes would use to transform this biblical narrative into an etiology of all human sin and suffering.71 This dismissive reference to Gen 2-3 thus functions to counter the biblical account of the progressive alienation of humankind from God (Gen 1 -11) with the radical assertion that evil entered the earth from above. Within the redacted whole of the Book of the Watchers, the true genesis of human sin and suffering is attributed to the antediluvian activities of the fallen angels.
71 Himmelfarb, Ascent, 74; VanderKam, "Angel Story," 153.
4. the book of the watchers as scripture and exegesis
In the following chapters, we shall see how later readers of the Book of the Watchers were forced to grapple, not only with its polysemy, but also with its complex relationship to Genesis. Before we turn to its Nachleben, it is thus helpful to consider how this apocalypse situates itself with respect to Genesis. Should we approach the Book of the Watchers as an example of scriptural exegesis? Or, should we see it as a work that aims to displace the Torah, by mounting its own claims to authority? Scholars have championed both options. In my view, however, neither proves sufficient to explain the status that this book claims for itself vis-a-vis Genesis.
In many ways, the Book of the Watchers fits the category of an expansive biblical retelling.72 Consistent with the growing authority of the Torah in post-exilic Judaism and the increasingly elevated role of the scribe in his capacity as Torah-interpreter,73 this apocalypse frames its extrabiblical material about Enoch and the fallen angels as exegesis, by means of quotations from Genesis that serve as markers at key points in the apocalypse (esp. 1 En. 6:1 -2; 12:1 -2).
Furthermore, the Book of the Watchers' exegetical, theological, and histo-riographical choice to depict the angelic descent as the genesis of human wickedness is no less rooted in Genesis than the view that Adam, Eve, and the wily serpent initiated the spread of evil on the earth. The notion that the sins of Adam and Eve caused the "Fall of Man" and the equation of the serpent with Satan have now gained a normative aura due to their dominance in the Christian tradition.74 Yet, this reading of Gen 2-3 is hardly inherent to the biblical passage, which only purports to explain how humankind came to know good and evil [["W bWf ], why clothing was invented, how agricultural labor became a hardship, why childbirth is painful, why wives are subordinated to husbands, and why serpents and women dislike one another.75 Moreover, as we will see
72 On the use of older scriptures in BW, see e.g., Pomykala, "Scripture Profile," 264-74; VanderKam, From Revelation, 281 -89; Hartman, Asking, esp. 22-30; Hanson, "Rebellion," 195 -202.
73 Kugel, Traditions, 2-14; Himmelfarb, "Wisdom," 91 -92.
74 This development, moreover, owes much to Augustine's development of the doctrine of original sin in the fourth century ce (e.g., Civ.Dei 14); Pagels, Adam, Eve, 98-126. Contrast Rabbinic traditions about the origins of evil (see Gen.Rab. 17.2; y.Sanh. 72; b.Sanh. 20a; Urbach, Sages, 421 -36).
75 Jewish and Christian exegetes would readily add other elements to this list, such as human mortality (Sir 15:14, 17, 25:24; 2 En. 30:16; 4 Ezra 3:7; cf. Jub. 4:30), but only later did they develop the notion that Adam's sinfulness, and not just his punishment, was transmitted to humankind (4 Ezra3:21 -22; 4:30; 7:118; L.A.E. [Latin] 44:22;Rom5:12; 1 Cor 15:21 -22); Stone, 4 Ezra, 63-66; Kugel, Traditions, 96-98.
in Chapter 3, the idea that the sins of Adam and Eve marked the birth of human sinfulness does not gain popularity until the first century ce; indeed, strictly speaking, this etiology of evil postdates the Book of the Watchers and its angelic approach.76
As noted above, the Book of the Watchers radically departs from Genesis' view of antediluvian history as the progressive alienation of sinful humans from their good Creator (Gen 1 -9). Nevertheless, its supernatural account of the origins of evil is anchored in the very language of Genesis. Gen 2-5 describes a series of human transgressions, but it is only in Gen 6:5 that we find any global statement about evil: "The Lord saw that the evil [ar] of humankind was great on the earth and that every inclination [rx'] of the thoughts of his heart was only evil [ar] continually."77 That this statement occurs directly after Genesis' description of the deeds of the "sons of God" (Gen 6:1 -4) readily explains how angelic descent could be seen as a cause for the proliferation of evil - if not its very origins - both by the authors/redactors of the Book of the Watchers and by some of the later Jews and Christians who used this text.
Although the Book of the Watchers' version of the angelic descent myth makes much sense as an interpretation of Gen 6, it would be misleading to conclude that this apocalypse subordinates its own message and authority to Genesis, as mere commentary to sacred Scripture.78 The extrabiblical material in this apocalypse cannot be explained solely in terms of the exegetical responses to textual problems and narrative lacunae in Genesis.79 Rather, the authors/redactors of the Book of the Watchers seem to have drawn on well-developed traditions about Enoch and the fallen angels, the origins of which may be ultimately no less ancient than the biblical source to which this apocalypse appeals.80 This led Milik to propose that Gen 6:1 -4 is itself dependent on 1 En. 6-11.81 Although his suggestion has been widely rejected, his hypothesis sharply highlights the problem, namely, the inadequacy of a simple dependence model to explain the complex relationship between Genesis and the Book of the Watchers.
76 I thank Daniel Boyarin for pointing out to me the importance of this insight for my broader argument.
77 Within Genesis, the word ar first occurs in chs. 2-3, but there it is used only in the context of the knowledge of "good and evil" (an mû in 2:9,17; 3:5, 22). The term does not occur again until Gen 6:5.
78 VanderKam, From Revelation, 24-29; cf. Beckwith, OT Canon, 360-66, 395-405.
79 Kugel, Traditions, 180; cf. Alexander, "From Son of Adam," 90-93.
80 This is clearest in the case of traditions about Enoch; see Jansen, Henochgestalt; Grelot, "Légende"; VanderKam, Enoch and the Growth, esp. 1 -75; Kvanvig, Roots.
81 Milik, Commentary, 31. He also suggested that Gen 5:23 presupposes AB (p. 8).
Insofar as both texts are composite and preserve multiple and conflicting traditions about antediluvian history, they hint at the existence of a rich and varied body of Israelite traditions about the history of humankind before the Flood. It is possible that the terse and suggestive character of Gen 5:21 -24 and Gen 6:1 -4 is due to Genesis' selective preservation of traditional material, which continued to be developed in the following centuries, in both oral and written forms. If so, then the Book of the Watchers may draw from Genesis as well as from other traditions at a later stage in their development, preserving elements selectively omitted from Genesis, even as it uses them to explicate this increasingly elevated scripture.82
The oral recitation of cherished books like Genesis, in both liturgical and scholastic settings, probably facilitated the continued preservation of traditional lore about the antediluvian era, as well as the progressive emergence and spread of new material associated with Enoch and other biblical figures. As we shall see, the figure of Enoch continued to be a magnet for such traditions and to function as a vehicle for their articulation in writings (which were, in turn, read orally in settings conducive to the generation of new interpretations and the transmission of older traditions). Second Temple scribes used Enoch -like Abraham, Levi, Moses, and other heroes of Israelite history - to voice exhortations about ethics and purity, as well as to explain and expand the terse narratives found in earlier scriptures. Like Ezra and Baruch, this scribal hero simultaneously served as a mouthpiece for teachings not found in those scriptures, ranging from revelations about the nature of the cosmos to prophecies about its catastrophic destruction and re-Creation at the culmination of history.
Although the literary practice of pseudepigraphy jars with modern notions of authorship and authorial creativity, this broader perspective may help us to understand how ancient writers could deign to claim false authorship and why the audiences of such texts so readily accepted their attributions. Whereas earlier research tended to dismiss these literary practices as inherently derivative and deceptive, scholars such as James Kugel have rightly emphasized that the parabiblical literature of Second Temple Judaism did not spring full-formed from the imaginations of their authors.83 The composition of new texts in the names of biblical figures seems to have been rooted in a broader matrix of midrashic, aggadic, and halakhic traditions, the contours of which were already familiar to their readers/hearers. Not only does this literature frequently integrate traditional materials, akin to those selectively preserved
82 Stone, "Enoch, Aramaic Levi," 162-63.
83 Kugel, Traditions, xvii-xix.
in the Hebrew Bible, but it attests the progressive development of exegetical motifs that interpret and expand older books. Consequently, this literature is best seen as the product of a dynamic process that shaped "biblical" texts no less than "extrabiblical" ones: the interplay between oral interpretative and literary traditions, by which older scriptures were continually reinterpreted and new works of revealed literature were progressively produced.84
Of course, this does not negate the authorial agency of those who composed and redacted biblical pseudepigrapha. As we have seen, the selection, combination, and reinterpretation of traditional material makes meaning no less than the invention of stories and concepts; moreover, the evolution of the Enochic literary tradition (see Chs. 2-3) shows how readily new ideas could be interwoven with old ones. In considering the meaning of pseudepigraph-ical texts, we must thus focus on the texts themselves, since any exclusively oral "legends" behind them cannot be extracted from their written manifestations and, hence, from the authorial intent of those who composed and redacted them.85 At the same time, however, we must acknowledge the mix of oral and textual traditions that served to ground the very plausibility of this mode of literary creativity and the acceptance of its products by ancient audiences.
This point proves especially important insofar as biblical pseudepigraphy was one of the most dominant modes of authorship in Second Temple Judaism. During this period, we find a variety of Jews from different circles, sects, and geographical contexts composing texts in the name of biblical figures and creating parabiblical writings to supplement the Torah and other authoritative books. Taken together, the continued production of "ancient" scriptures and the use of these new/old books by many Jews hints at a more inclusive understanding of scriptural authority than that which would later develop in Judaism and Christianity. It is especially important to remember that the authors (and early readers) of the Book of the Watchers did not conceive of "the Bible" in the same sense as later Jews and Christians. In the third century bce, it is likely that the Torah already held a special level of authority amongst almost all Jews, but there was not yet a broader "biblical" canon and the notion of scriptural authority remained fluid.86
84 Gruenwald, From Apocalypticism, 23-26.
85 In contrast to Rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity, the scribal discourse of Second Temple Judaism seems to have included very few attempts at differentiating between oral and literary components of religious discourse, probably because the two were simply too intertwined to try to separate, in the absence of a compelling reason to do so (Jaffee, Torah, 39-61; Talmon, "Oral," 146-48).
86 Ulrich, "Bible," 51 -59, 65; VanderKam, From Revelation, esp. 20-29.
The precanonical context of the early reception of the Book of the Watchers will prove pivotal in subsequent chapters, where we will discuss the dynamics of canonization in some detail (esp. Ch. 4). For our understanding of the authors of this apocalypse and the nature of their appeal to Genesis, it will suffice for now to quote James VanderKam's incisive remarks on the issue:
. . . at the early times in which the various parts of 1 Enoch and the unified Book of Jubilees were written the term "biblical" would not have the precision that was later given to it. Contrary to the view of R. Beckwith, it seems highly unlikely that the Hebrew canon had been closed in the time of Judas Maccabeus; 1 Enoch and Jubilees themselves and the popularity of both at Qumran are eloquent testimony to the fact that other works billed themselves as revelations and that their claims were accepted by at least some ancient Jews. Which works the authors of these books may have considered authoritative are not entirely clear, although it is obvious that Genesis had a special appeal for them and that they valued many others. Thus the Enochic pamphlets and the Book of Jubilees provide windows into the processes of interpreting older authoritative compositions at a time when the bounds of the Hebrew Scriptures were not set and when other writers were making revelatory claims for their literary efforts.87
When seen from this perspective, it is not paradoxical that the Book of the Watchers roots its claim to record heavenly secrets in the "biblical" statements about Enoch, even as its expansions of Genesis are no less grounded in the "extrabiblical" claim ofEnoch's status as revealer. The apocalypse supplements Genesis' account and simultaneously presents itself as equal in its status as revealed wisdom, but - within the world of this text - neither stance makes sense without the other.
The doubled character of the apocalypse's claims to authority has a notable impact on its reception-history. Most significantly, it helps to explain the range of attitudes towards the Book of the Watchers that we find among later Jews and Christians; some treat it as Scripture in its own right, while others value this work only insofar as it fills the lacunae left by Genesis' terse description of antediluvian history.88 Furthermore, the fate of this apocalypse and the history of interpretation of Genesis remain tightly intertwined. Throughout our inquiry, we shall see how the Enochic myth of angelic descent shapes the exegesis of Gen 6:1 -4, just as trends in the interpretation of Genesis impact the interpretation of the Book of the Watchers. We will see, for example, how
87 VanderKam, From Revelation, 277.
88 Jubilees presents the most explicit statement of the former position (see Ch. 3), whereas the latter is articulated most clearly by Syncellus (see Ch. 6).
shifts in the status of the Book of the Watchers often corresponded to changing views about the identity of the "sons of God" of Gen 6:2; the two, however, are so intertwined that it proves difficult to isolate one as cause and the other as result.
Before turning to explore the reception-history of this apocalypse, we should also note an important methodological point raised by the complex relationship between the Book of the Watchers and Genesis, namely, the dangers of reading ancient texts through our knowledge of their present status. Especially since students and scholars most often find 1 Enoch in modern collections of noncanonical works (APOT; OTP), it can be difficult to imagine how ancient readers and hearers encountered these writings in the centuries before the codification of the Jewish and Christian canons that are reflected in our modern Western Bibles. For our inquiry into the reception-history of this apocalypse, however, it is critical that we resist the tyranny of canonical assumptions89 that leads us to apply different standards when studying the "Bible," "Apocrypha," and "Pseudepigrapha."
The example of the Book of the Watchers sharply highlights the limitations of this approach. We are accustomed to assuming that "biblical" texts are more ancient than "extrabiblical" ones, but this apocalypse predates the latest book in the Tanakh (i.e., Daniel) and, hence, the closing of the Jewish canon. Despite the scholarly tendency to relegate all noncanonical works to fringe groups, the Book of the Watchers appears to have been quite popular and - as we shall see in Chapters 2 and 3 - it seems to have circulated among a variety of groups in Second Temple Judaism, ranging from the "mainline" scribal circle of ben Sira to more "sectarian" groups like the Qumran community and the Jesus Movement. And, whereas modern scholars readily dismiss the pseudepigraphy of the Book of the Watchers as a literary trope (or, more skeptically, as a deliberately deceptive strategy), many of its ancient readers seem to accept the authenticity of its claim to preserve the words of Enoch - just as they accepted that Deuteronomy was "rediscovered" in the Temple in the time of King Josiah (2 Kgs 22:8-2o).90
89 I owe this felicitous phrase to Bob Kraft, whom I thank for pushing me to explore these issues further.
90 Himmelfarb, Ascent, 98-99.
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