According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power
is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. - anon

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Phillip J. Long - Discussion of 1 Enoch, Part 5

The Third Parable – 1 Enoch 58-63
https://readingacts.com/2016/06/14/the-third-parable-1-enoch-58-63/

by Phillip J. Long
June 14, 2016

Chapters 58-71 contain the third “parable” of the Similitudes. Chapter 58 introduces this last parable concerns the “glorious portion” awaiting the righteous and elect. The content of the parable is more concerned with revealing to Enoch mysteries and secrets of creation and the angelic order. Chapter 59, for example, is a brief description of the mysteries of lightning and thunder. Enoch is taught how to divine good or bad from thunder and lightning.

Chapters 60-61 are lengthy descriptions of creation not unlike the final chapters of the book of Job. In the opening paragraph Enoch is caught up into heaven where he sees millions of angels and the Antecedent of Time sitting on a throne surrounded by glory. As is typical in apocalyptic vision literature, Enoch is struck with great fear by the amazing scene and is unable to stand. Michael the archangel lifts Enoch and strengthens him. Michael explains to Enoch that the day of mercy has lasted until the present time but now a day of punishment has arrived (60:1-6).

Two mythical monsters have been prepared for this day, Leviathan from the “fountains of the Waters” and Behemoth who holds an invisible desert in his chest. This desert is called Dunadayin, possibly the “land of Nod” from Genesis 4:16 (OTP1:40, note p).

In verses 11-25 another angel gives Enoch a “tour” of the storerooms of heaven, concluding with the two monsters turning into food for the righteous in the garden (60:24-25). The garden is measured in chapter 61 by angles using long ropes. By measuring the garden the angels seem to be defining the place not only where the elect ones will dwell but who the elect are – the dead will return and stay in the place along with the Lord of Spirits and his Elect One. Measuring has a connotation of both protection (Zech.2:1-5) and judgment (2 Kings 21:13, Amos 7:7-9 Isaiah 34:11) in the Old Testament. The most important “measuring” scene in the background of 1 Enoch is likely Ezekiel 40:1-42:20, cf. Revelation 10.

After the garden is measured, the Elect One is placed on his “throne of glory” by the Lord of Spirits and all of the elect worship him (61:8-9). This worship is joined by all of the ranks of angels in heaven, all singing with one voice “Blessed is he and may the name of the Lord of Spirits be blessed forever and evermore” (61:12). Even the Elect One is included in this worship.

Chapters 62 and 63 turn to the fate of the “ruling class” who have oppressed the righteous. The rulers of this world are commanded to look upon the Elect One, who in chapter 60 was placed on a throne of glory by the Lord of Spirits. Now it is the Lord of Spirits who is seated on the throne of glory and the spirit of righteousness is poured out on him (62:2). Heb. 12:23 is quite similar to the overall context of the third similitude, although there is no direct connection. Those who have demonstrated faith have come to the holy city (rather than a garden) along with thousands upon thousands of angels, the “elect” in the form of the church, and to God, the judge of all and all the men who have the “spirit of righteousness.”

This judgment is described as “birth pangs” (62:4); all the kings of the earth will be terrified and dejected when they see “that Son of Man” who was concealed by the Most High One until he was revealed to his elect ones (62:7). The elect will rejoice over the judgment of their oppressors (62:12) and will dwell with the Son of Man in peace “forever and ever” (62:14). This congregation of the elect will have “risen from the earth” and will be clothed with eternal “garments of glory” given to them by the Lord of Spirits (62:15-16). Those who are under the judgment of the Lord of Spirits worship the Lord and beg for mercy and confess what they have done (63:1-10). This long prayer by the judged seems to underscore the righteousness of the judgment against them. The Lord of Spirits is correct and fair in his condemnation of the kings of the earth.


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The Third Parable – 1 Enoch 64-71
https://readingacts.com/2016/06/15/the-third-parable-1-enoch-64-71/

by Phillip J. Long
June 15, 2016

Chapters 64-69 returns to the subject of the judgment of the Flood. After a brief note describing the fallen angels who sinned in the earth (chapter 61), the narration shifts to Noah. In chapter 65 Noah goes to his grandfather Enoch and complains about the wickedness in the world. Enoch responds by crying out sorrowfully and predicting the destruction of the world. In 65:6-12 Enoch describes the sins of the world which have resulted in the coming deluge.

Enoch then shows to Noah the angels who have been prepared to cause the destruction of the flood (65). Noah is told by the Lord that the angels have constructed an ark which he will bless to preserve Noah and his family so that they alone survive the coming flood. The flood is intended to imprison the fallen angels although the flood waters will be a poison to the kings and princes of the world (67:8-9). These kings and princes are punished because they denied the “spirit of the Lord (67:8, 10). Michael instructs Noah in the “secret things” which were written in Enoch’s book (68:1). Michael and Raphael lament the destruction of the flood, but agree it is a just judgment (68:2-5).

Chapter 69 forms a conclusion to the flood narrative by listing the names (onomastica) of the fallen angels along with their role in bringing sin to humanity. Twenty-one names are listed in verse two, nearly the same list as in 6:7. Several names are listed with additional commentary:

Yeqôn – the one who lead the angels to come to earth in the first place.

Asb’êl – The angel who advised the other angels to go to the daughters of men.

Gâdr’êl – The angel who lead Eve astray and taught men to kill; he shows humans how to make weapons and armor, the “instruments of death.”

Pênêm’e – The angel who taught men the secret wisdom of making paper and ink, causing men to sin “eternity to eternity and until this day.”

Kâsdeyâ – This angel taught humans “wicked smitings” of “flagellations of evil,” including how to smite an embryo in the womb to kill it (i.e., abortion).

The angel Bîqâ has a hidden name which he reveals to Michael when he swears an oath (66:16-26). This secret oath describes all of creation as glorifying God and thanking him forever. The oath results in great joy because that “the Son of Man” has been revealed. Here the Son of Man is described as eternal (“he will never pass away from the earth,” verse 27) and once again seated on a throne of glory in judgment.

Chapters 70-71 form an appendix to the Similitudes since the last line of chapter 69 is the end of the third parable. In this appendix Enoch is taken to heaven in a “wind chariot” and placed between two winds. An angel measures the place of the elect where Enoch sees the patriarchs of old (70:4). His spirit continues to ascend until he is in the “heaven of heavens” (71:5). There he sees a structure made of crystals with four sides, surrounded by “living fire.” He sees countless angels, including the four archangels, all worshiping the Antecedent of Days. From this point on there will be peace and righteousness (71:15-16). The elect will dwell with “that Son of Man” who rules in the name of the Lord of Spirits forever.

The elect will dwell with “that Son of Man” who rules in the name of the Lord of Spirits forever. Who is this son of man? The “Head of Days” tells Enoch that “You (are) that Son of Man who was born for righteousness” (71:14). Charles dropped this line from his translation since he did not think the author would identify Enoch as the son of man, but as VanderKam points out, “Charles’s tour de force, however, has no foundation in the MSS” (1 Enoch 2, 328). The suggestion that the Head of Days says Enoch is “a son of man” is also rejected by VanderKam. He concludes the phrase does identify Enoch as the son of man, but this is “an installation formula,” commissioning Enoch. It is perhaps “a first step toward the angelification” of Enoch in the Enoch literature.


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The Parables of 1 Enoch and the New Testament
https://readingacts.com/2016/06/16/the-parables-of-1-enoch-and-the-new-testament/

by Phillip J. Long
June 16, 2016

The general apocalyptic context of the parables section of 1 Enoch may provide context for the reading of the New Testament, especially the Gospels. When John the Baptist and Jesus appear preaching the Kingdom of God as “at hand,” the original audience would have been quite familiar with the phrase and all that it represented. For the Jew of the first century, the idea of “kingdom” was clear – it was to be the time when God reestablished Israel in the Land. 1 Enoch shares many of these ideas, especially the Book of Parables. It is difficult to know the extent to which the language and themes of the Parables influenced popular thinking in first century Palestine, especially since this section is the only part of 1 Enoch missing from the Qumran literature. With these caveats in mind, the following themes seem to be present in both the Parables and the Gospels.

First, this section anticipates a time of suffering and testing for the elect. The righteous have suffered and shed blood (47:1-2, 4). In 56:5-8 the Parthians and Medes will invade and trample the holy city. The righteous are downcast (62:15) and are being afflicted by the wicked (50:1). The suffering of the elect is not as detailed as the eventual suffering of the wicked, although it is implied in the descriptions of the wicked. The suffering of the wicked is described as birth-pains (62:4). In the Olivet Discourse Jesus used similar language to describe the period just prior to the Parousia. The Similitudes do not have anything like the suffering described in Revelation or the Olivet Discourse, but there is an implication throughout that the righteous are “innocent victims” of the evil schemes of the fallen angels and the kings of this world.

Second, this time of suffering will come to an end when “that Son of Man” is placed on his glorious throne and judges the oppressors. When the Elect One comes the day of salvation has come for the righteous (39:6-7, 50:1-2, 51:2, 62:12-13) and the whole earth will rejoice in the in the coming of the Elect One (51:4-5). The coming of the Elect One will result in rest from oppression for the righteous (53:6-7). The elect one will sit on a “throne of glory” to establish justice (45:3-5, 62:3) The righteous will become like the light of the sun and the days of their life will be unending (58:1-3, 61:5-6). Heaven and earth will be transformed into a blessing (44:5-6) and there will be a period of peace. In fact, it was the fallen angels who taught man to make war and weapons of war. The Elect One will restore man to his peaceful state. (52:8-9).

Third, the judgment of the wicked and sinners is quite detailed in 1 Enoch. When the Righteous One appears, the sinners “will be driven from the face of the earth” (38:1) and melt like wax, powerless (52:6). The Elect One will judge Azaz’el and “all the hosts in the name of the Lord of Spirits” (55:4). Kings and rulers will perish (38:5) and the sinner will not be allowed to ascend into heaven (45:2). The Elect One will sit on the seat of glory to make a selection based on the deeds (45:3, 61:8) and there will be no time for repentance for the wicked (62:1-4). Angelic beings are set aside for punishing the kings of this world (53:3-5). The wicked will be punished in a deep valley of burning fire and molten metal where they will be in chains with rough stones on their jaws (54:1-6, 67:6). They will be scourged by “angels of punishment” in this abyss-like valley (56:1-4, 67:1-8) The judgments which will fall on the sinners are called “punishments” (41:2, 53:3, 54:7, 56:1, 60:6) and “wrath” (55:3, 60:12). In later apocalyptic the punishment of the wicked is described in increasingly gory detail (100:3, cf. Ezek. 39:17; Rev 14:20, SibOr. 3:796-808).

In the teaching of Jesus there are a number of parables which make the same sort of statements about the coming messianic age. At that time there will be a harvest and the good wheat will be separated from the bad weeds (Mt 13:24-30) or clean fish from the unclean (13:47-50). In each of these two examples, the “bad” element is placed in a place of fire (a furnace, to be burned up) but the “good” element is placed where it ought to go (the barn, for example.) The Olivet Discourse contains five parables which run along the same lines. There is an unproductive or unprepared character (a lazy servant, foolish virgin, the “goat”) who faces judgment at the surprise return of the delayed central character (the master, the bridegroom, the king). The productive and prepared characters are rewarded by the central character when he unexpectedly returns.

Fourth, the last of these parables is the most eschatological, the so-called Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Jesus constantly refers to himself as the Son of Man in the gospels, a title that is probably derived from Daniel 7:13-14, where someone who is “like a son of man” comes before the ancient of Days to receive the authority to rule (see Mt 19:28, Rev. 1:13). There is little doubt that his disciples could miss his point that this is the “second coming” that they asked about at the beginning of chapter 24. There is a combination of several metaphors in this passage. Jesus is the Son of Man, the King of Glory, and the Great Shepherd all at the same time. This glorious arrival of the Son of Man is accompanied by “all his angels” (Zech. 14:5). When the Son of Man returns as king, he will sit upon a glorious throne and judge the nations, assigning them to their eternal destiny. This general outline is quite compatible with the general apocalyptic outline of the Similitudes.

Fifth, one of the more striking parallels to Elect One / Lord of Spirits is Luke 4:18. Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:1-2, “the Spirit of the Lord has anointed me,” and applies this text to himself. In Matthew 25:31 the King returns and is seated in his “glorious throne” and gathers the nations to judge them, an apocalyptic influenced parable-like saying in which Jesus makes it clear he is the returning king. The frequent self-description of Jesus as the “Son of Man” is also critical in this context. When Jesus used this phrase, along with many of the other apocalyptic images used in the Similitudes, did his original listeners hear them in the context of texts like 1 Enoch 61 and 62? When he cited Isaiah 61:1-2 as fulfilled that day, his hearers certainly understood Jesus was claiming something extraordinary although we cannot be sure exactly what it was they were reacting to in Jesus’ claim.

Sixth, those who possess salvation are often described in terms of pure clean garments in the New Testament (62:15, 71:1). Paul describes salvation as a “heavenly dwelling” and garment in 2 Cor. 5:2-4. Revelation makes use of this image several times: 3:5-6 describes the righteous in Sardis as not having “soiled their clothes” while the unrighteous of Laodicea still shamefully naked. Several times in Revelation those who worship the throne of God are described as “dressed in white” (4:4, 6:11, 7:9, 13, 14, 19:14).

Conclusion. Although there is no New Testament text that can be described as a quote or a direct allusion to the Book of Parables in 1 Enoch, some of the writers if the New Testament have the same apocalyptic spirit. This is not surprising since both are products of Second Temple period Judaism.

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