Hell Really Exists

Hell Really Exists

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obtained by humankind, even as its appeal to the fallen angels ironically allows for the assertion of their authentically supernatural origin.

At first sight, the mantic teachings described in 1 En. 8:3 c-g seem similar in thrust and motivation. These teachings invoke the widespread distrust of the marginal yet powerful figure of the diviner, as found both in the Hebrew Bible and in Greco-Roman literature. As with spell-binding and sorcery, the practice of divination is explicitly prohibited in the Torah.45

Yet, we also find a more positive view of divination in Israelite and early Jewish literature - and particularly in texts of the apocalyptic genre. For instance, the oldest material in the book of Daniel (chs. 2-6) celebrates its hero as a sage and diviner in the courts of foreign kings (1:20; 4:9; 5:11), drawing on Mesopotamian mantic traditions no less than biblical models like Joseph (Gen 41).46 That similar traditions seem to have informed the characterization of Enoch in the Astronomical Book and the rest of the Book of the Watchers47 makes it all the more striking that 1 En. 6-11 denounces divination as ill-gotten knowledge.

Similarly, the modes of divination listed in 1 En. 8:3 invoke and invert a common apocalyptic conceptualization of heavenly secrets: cosmological and meteorological phenomena.48 The inclusion of knowledge about the sun, moon, earth, stars, lightning, and fire-balls amongst the teachings of the Watchers presents a striking contrast with the elevated status of cosmological wisdom in other parts of the Book of the Watchers (esp. 1 -5; 17-19; 20-36), as well as the earlier Enochic apocalypse. The Astronomical Book attributes revelations to Enoch that concern the sun, moon, stars, earth, winds, and seasons. A similar correlation of the cosmic order with the proper patterns of human life can be found in 1 En. 2-5, the nature poem at the beginning of the Book of the Watchers. In those chapters, Enoch exhorts the reader to "observe" and "consider" the "works of heaven" - the heavenly luminaries (2:1), the earth (2:2), and the weather fluctuations in the progression of seasons (2:3-5:1 a) -because the orderliness of their cycles attests God's act of Creation (5:1 b) and provides humans with models for ethical steadfastness (5:4-9).49 The descriptions of Enoch's tours of heaven and earth in 1 En. 17-36 exhibit similar concerns, including an interest in meteorological and celestial phenomena (esp. 36).

45 Deut 18:10-12; also Isa 44:25-26; 47:12-13; 46:9-11.

46 Muller, "Mantische Weisheit."

47 VanderKam, Enoch and the Growth, 52-75; Kvanvig, Roots, 160-213.

48 Stone, "Lists," 426-41; Rowland, Open Heaven, 120-22.

49 Hartman, Asking, esp. 66-70.

In those sections of the Book of the Watchers, the association of cosmology and revealed wisdom is used to praise God and to encourage human righteousness.50 A very different attitude towards cosmological wisdom is implied by the depiction of fallen angels as improperly instructing humanity about the sun, moon, earth, stars, lightning, and fire-balls in 1 En. 6-11. As Martha Himmelfarb observes,

. . . knowledge of the very phenomena that are signs of faithfulness in the introduction to the Book of the Watchers (i.e. 1 -5; esp. 2:1 -5:4) and cause for praise of God in the tour to the ends of the earth (i.e. 17-36) here contributes to the corruption of humanity.51

Within the redacted whole of the Book of the Watchers, this tension functions to generate interesting new levels of meaning, which we shall discuss below. First, however, we must ask why and how such divergent perspectives came to be combined in the first place.

If Nickelsburg and Dimant are correct to read 1 En. 6-11 as an originally independent piece,52 this raises an intriguing possibility: the motif of illicit angelic instruction may have once been used to critique the very types of cosmological speculation and mantic wisdom that would later come to predominate in the redacted form of the Book of the Watchers.53

Whereas the Astronomical Book and the other sections of the Book of the Watchers make positive claims about Enoch's reception and transmission of secrets from heaven, 1 En. 6-11 inverts the conception of heavenly secrets as divine knowledge uncovered for salvific aims. This is perhaps most evident in 1 En. 8:3 h, which concludes the list of the Watchers' teachings with the summary statement: "And they all began to reveal secrets54 to their wives." As noted above, 1 En. 6-11 employs the rhetoric of secrecy in a surprisingly negative fashion.55 Moreover, this unit uses the language of secrecy [zr] and revelation [nig] to evoke and invert the positive association of divine mysteries with cosmological wisdom in other apocalypses.56

50 Himmelfarb, Ascent, 72-74.

51 Himmelfarb, Ascent, 77.

52 Nickelsburg, "Reflections," 311; Dimant, "1 Enoch 6-11," 323.

53 See further Reed, "Heavenly Ascent," 54-59.

54 4QEna iv, 5, 4QEnb iii, 5: |'tr n'ul; GrSyn: avaKaAu^TEiv to iiuaTnpia.

55 There is, as Molenberg notes ("Study," 140-41), only one reference to the positive revelation of knowledge in 1 En. 6-11: God's instruction to Sariel to tell Noah about the impending Flood (10:2-3; see Gen 6:13-21).

56 Note, for instance, the positive use of the term n in the oldest stratum of Daniel to denote the hidden meanings of dreams that God reveals [nU] to Daniel in visions (2:16-19, 26-30, 47; 4:9).

Its stance differs markedly from the rest of the Book of the Watchers and other early Jewish apocalypses. Interestingly, however, a similar skepticism towards the quest for hidden knowledge can be found in the biblical and postbiblical Wisdom literature. Consistent with the emphasis on the essential inscrutability of God and His Creation in books like Proverbs and Job,57 Qohelet and the Wisdom of ben Sira level critiques against the apocalyptic claim to uncover the mysteries of heaven.58 Writing soon after the Book of the Watchers (ca. 200-167 bce), ben Sira warns his readers against overzealous speculation into divine secrets:

Seek not what is too difficult for you,

Nor investigate what is beyond your power.

Reflect on what has been assigned to you,

For you do not need hidden things [nnn03; twv Kpwnrwv].

If 1 En. 6-11 reflects a similar attitude, only voiced in a different manner, how might we account for the integration of this tradition into materials whose attitude towards human knowledge and divine secrets are more classically "apocalyptic" (in both the generic and literal senses of the term)? Most relevant, in this regard, is Michael E. Stone's analysis of the common topics and structures in the "lists of revealed things" found in the Wisdom literature and in early Jewish apocalypses.60 Stone has shown that the same formulaic lists were used to catalogue topics of apocalyptic speculation and to stress the limits of human knowledge.61 Such textual parallels point to the close connections between those who enthusiastically embraced speculative wisdom and those who emphasized the dangers inherent in the unrestrained search for knowledge.

When viewed against the background of the shared scribal culture from which late Wisdom texts and early apocalypses both emerged, the speculative stance of the Astronomical Book and the majority of the Book of the Watchers does not look so different from the skeptical stance of Qohelet and ben Sira. Both sets of positions may reflect debates about the nature, scope, and aims

57 Prov 30:1 -4; Job 11:5-6; 28; 38-40; Perdue, "Wisdom," 92-95,98.

58 Qoh 3:21; Sir 34:1 -8; 41:4. Collins, Seers, 391 -92. Although the dating of Qohelet is a topic of some debate, the possibility that this work was composed in the 3 rd c. bce makes its skepticism towards speculative wisdom especially intriguing.

59 Gruenwald, Apocalyptic, 17-18. Argall suggests that these lines allude to the very circles that composed and circulated early Enochic materials (1 Enoch and Sirach, 74-76, 250).

of human inquiry waged within a single, pre-Maccabean scribal discourse.62 If so, then it is possible that 1 En. 6-11 took form among writers and redactors whose stance towards cosmological inquiry was more similar to Qohelet and ben Sira than to the scribes responsible for the Astronomical Book and the other sections of the Book of the Watchers. The continued interchange between such circles (see Ch. 2) further allows for the possibility that 1 En. 6-11 was later adopted by scribes with more positive attitudes towards speculative wisdom.

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