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

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New Atheism's Rise on Christianity's Lack of Focus on Social Justice


Reasons an atheist would leave religion

Let me speak in generalities and impressions today as a Christianity looking at the "popular church of contemporary society"... and let us focus on why Christianity is loosing its faithful to the ranks of "bewilderment, disillusionment, and disappointment." It is my assumption that it is not Christianity itself that is the problem when focusing on Jesus but its lack of grace and mercy when unapplied to the world around itself by focusing on truth-claims, judgments, and criticisms. By ignoring the importance of social justice the church misdirects its dogmas causing its mission to suffer as well as its image. Now let me explain briefly what I mean....

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Why is new atheism on the rise? Its not simply over dissatisfaction with the Christian faith but because the Christian faith does not address the binding issues of social justice in a consistent manner. As such, the movement towards a new atheism is not so much a "mark of a disbelieving age" as it is the mark of an "unworthy religion" making itself irrelevant for a whole host of reasons not the least of which is the refusal to recognize its unloving and unethical treatment of people different from itself.

Hence, if a religion brings out the "ugly side of its people" than why would it be attractive except for its hate and prejudice? More simply, the rhetoric of religious injustice is its own expression of death and disillusionment. Not of unbelief! ... As many would have you believe. But the refusal of that religion to meaningfully address the many elements of needful social justice.

For example, when you have Republican politicians denouncing Muslims and Mexicans, women and transgenders, gays and minorities, beset in mob rallies of violence, punching, and angry shouts of hate, at which point has religious-based political agendas served to move the religiously faithful to a point of religious disillusionment as versus religious motivation to serve the poor, the oppressed, the needy, the lost and overlooked?

More simply, a faith that is bankrupt in its policies of justice to the oppressed is a faith not worth following. But for a religion that is to proceed in postmodern expectation and attraction, that faith must have within its core beliefs a works-based faith of justice, mercy, and compassion if it is to keep it's religious faithful while drawing disbelievers into its folds

Thus it is not so much an issue of disbelief (atheism) as it is an issue of a loveless, compassionless belief wrapped in oppression, discrimination, and hate. This then is where disillusionment sets in for the earnest participant of religion. Such a religion shows itself to be unworthy, inhuman, and ungodly. It is a religion worth leaving, denouncing, and abandoning.

R.E. Slater
May 29, 2016

*Reference - "New Atheism" [Wikipedia] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Atheism








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Atheist teen girl holding a banner (Shutterstock)

Rawstory
Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris are old news — a totally different Atheism is on the rise
http://www.rawstory.com/2016/05/hitchens-dawkins-and-harris-are-old-news-a-totally-different-atheism-is-on-the-rise/

by Chris Hall, Alternet
May 25, 2016

It’s surprising just how much media analysis, both mainstream and progressive, continues to take as given the notion that atheism can be defined and discussed solely by looking at the so-called “New Atheists” who emerged roughly between 2004 and 2007. It’s easy to understand the appeal: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens became prominent representatives of atheism because they were all erudite, entertaining and unafraid to say what they thought. A lot of people, myself included, were drawn to their works because they were forthright and articulated things we had kept locked away, or simply hadn’t found the words for.

But in 2016, Hitchens is dead, and using Dawkins or Harris to make a case for or against atheism is about as relevant as writing about how Nirvana and Public Enemy are going to change pop music forever.

More and more, the strongest atheist voices are talking about nonbelief less as an end in itself, but as part of a larger conversation about social justice. It could hardly be any other way: atheism is growing not only in numbers, but in diversity. When Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens were at their most prominent, a frequent (and credible) criticism was that the faces of atheism were all white, male and affluent. To make the same claim now is to deliberately ignore some of the most vital atheist and skeptic voices that have emerged in the last 10 years.

Greta Christina, the author of Coming Out Atheist describes the changes in organized atheism: “[T]he movement has become much more diverse — not just in the obvious ways of gender, race, and so on, but simply in terms of how many viewpoints are coming to the table. The sheer number of people who are seen in some way as leaders… has gone up significantly…. And the increasing diversity in gender, race, class, and so on are important. We have a long way to go in this regard, but we’re doing much, much better than we were. And that’s showing up in our leadership. It’s absurd to see Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris as representing all organized atheism — it always was a little absurd, but it’s seriously absurd now.”

Just as in any other group, there are scores of people in atheist and skeptic communities who don’t want to have discussions about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other bigotries, or say they’re irrelevant to the agenda at hand. The increase in diversity isn’t happening quietly or easily, and it’s often brought out the ugliest sides of people who base their entire identities on being rational and humane. Direct challenges to racism and sexism haven’t traditionally been the domain of the large organizations like American Atheists or the Secular Coalition for America. It’s been far more typical to fight incursions against separation of church and state or educate against pseudoscience like homeopathy.

It’s not that these aren’t important issues: separation of church and state is one of the linchpins of American democracy. As the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Town of Greece vs. Galloway shows, it’s also extremely fragile, and there is a very loud and insistent portion of America who would like to see it disappear entirely.

But such a narrow focus also means that atheist and skeptic groups have a history of looking at these issues in isolation, without considering how race, gender, or class play into them. That isolation has been one of the great limiting factors in the growth of movement atheism. Too many activists and groups trapped themselves in rhetorical Möbius strips, where their conferences and literature were dominated either by debunking the same pseudoscience over and over again, or fighting cases of church-state intrusion that were more relevant as abstract principles.

But the more people step forward and identify themselves as nonbelievers, the more it’s become obvious that this narrow focus is unsustainable. Although the top positions in many organizations are still dominated by white men, an increasing number of the most passionate voices bringing new people into the movement are people of color, women, transgendered, or queer.

Jamila Bey, the communications director of the Secular Student Alliance, summed up the concerns of many in a recent interview: “There are people who say, ‘Why are we talking about racism? We would rather argue that Chupacabra are fake.’ And fine, that is their right. On the other hand, I don’t get to divorce my critical thinking from my blackness, from my femaleness, from my position as a mother. So when I see the only affordable child care in my community being offered at churches, that’s an issue for me that makes me say ‘Wait a minute, there’s a problem here. Why am I not being afforded the opportunity for my child not to be indoctrinated just so my kid has somewhere to play and meet other children?’ I can’t divorce my whole life from my skepticism and for anybody who says, well , talking about female issues or talking about issues that impact black people, oh, that’s taking away from skepticism, I go, well that’s really easy for you to say. This is my life. I can’t divorce the issues. You can choose to not care about them or whatever, but don’t tell me I’m diminishing skepticism because I’m talking about the reality of what my life is.”

Those last few words speak directly to the very reason behind organized atheism: almost everyone who deconverts from religion and declares themselves a nonbeliever does so because of a compelling need to talk about reality. Whether it’s because we couldn’t reconcile the fossils in the earth with the story of creation we were told by our parents and clergy, or because of a need to lay claim to our sexuality without first checking for the approval or condemnation of a deity, the desire to discard what we perceive as falsehoods and speak honestly about the realities of our lives is one of the most commonly shared passions of atheists as a whole.

So, even for many of us who play life on the lowest difficulty setting, who get all the goodies that come along with white skin, cis-gender maleness and middle-class backgrounds, when old-school atheists attempt to dismiss social justice issues as “mission drift,” it seems like a betrayal of the very principle that was most attractive about standing up and identifying as an atheist in the first place. For those who don’t get those goodies, the betrayal is much more intimate.

#

If Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris brought a single essential insight to modern atheism, it was the idea that atheists could and should be unapologetic about their disbelief. For Heina Dadhaboy, who blogs on Skepchick, that was critical as she moved away from the traditional Islamic beliefs of her family.

“I think the fact that [Dawkins] was so unapologetic is why a lot of us became quite taken with his writings. It wasn’t so much what he was saying or how he was saying it, it was just the fact that he never apologized or capitulated for being an atheist.” That shamelessness helped Dadhaboy to assert her own voice as an atheist. Like most of mainstream culture, her family expected that if she was going to be an atheist, she would at least have the good sense to pay lip service to religion’s superior worldview.

“They expected me to capitulate,” she says. “They expected me to follow their rules and even if I didn’t believe in their religion, to agree with them that it’s more moral and makes more sense. Reading Dawkins was like, ‘Hey, I don’t need to do that.'”

Heina Dadhaboy, Greta Christina, Jamila Bey, and scores of others found their own voices, rather than becoming mere echoes of the New Atheists who were anointed by the media all those years ago. James Croft, the research and education fellow at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, says there are already generational differences in how they’re viewed. “Frankly, people like Richard Dawkins and even Sam Harris to some extent, are not viewed positively by young atheists now,” he says. “They actually don’t think that they’re that great. You still find people at the conventions who love them of course, but it does seem like they’re already a bit passé….They kind of pushed a door open, and that represents an opportunity, but the real task is to step through that door with some positive proposal of what life after religion has to look like.”

The first steps through that door have already been taken by atheist women, queers and people of color. Progress has not come easily, by any means. In some ways, it’s been outright nightmarish. The standard use of harassment and rape threats against women who make even relatively mild critiques of gender has put some of the ugliest, sickest parts of atheist communities on public display. It has even cost the movement voices; in 2012, blogger Jen McCreight proposed a new wave of secular activism called “Atheism Plus,” which would explicitly embrace social justice as part of its mission.

“It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime,” she wrote. “We can criticize religion and irrational thinking just as unabashedly and just as publicly, but we need to stop exempting ourselves from that criticism.” The campaign of harassment and abuse that followed, combined with stresses in her personal life, eventually drove her to stop blogging and speaking at atheist events. McCreight recently began writing again at a new blog, The Jenome, which does not focus on atheism.

But despite the organized hatefulness, racism, misogyny, transphobia, or just the malign neglect of old-school atheists, those who are demanding that atheism become more intersectional and diverse are not becoming silent or fading away into the background. It’s becoming more and more obvious that these critiques are essential if organized atheism is to transcend its stereotype as a refuge for privileged eccentrics.

#

I can’t say when exactly I became an atheist. There was no flash of light, no road to Damascus moment where I suddenly dropped the Episcopalianism I was raised in. I stopped being a Christian sometime in early high school, but for years afterward, I tinkered with a wide range of mysticism and spiritualities, until I finally realized there was no “there” there.

What made me ultimately accept my atheism as an identity is that about the same time I began to fall away from Christianity, I began to be concerned about social justice. Atheism appealed not only as a logical conclusion, but as a more humane and just way of living. To make ethical decisions without the revelations from a deity means that the responsibility for those decisions ends with you, and no one else. Even more importantly, when you accept that there is no world beyond this one, you have to turn your eyes away from the sky and look at the people around you.

When Elliot Rodger went on his shooting spree in Isla Vista, the harm was not to the immortal souls of the people he shot and killed. His bullets tore into their bodies and devastated the lives of people in the real world. It was not a crime against god, or the spirit world, or Allah, or karma, but against fellow human beings who were alive and breathing and may have lived for decades more if he hadn’t pulled the trigger.

But those gunshots didn’t kill just because of chemistry and physics; the bullets were driven just as much by Rodger’s poisonous misogyny as by a sudden expansion of gases in the barrel of the gun. We are social creatures, and racism, misogyny, classism, and other prejudices affect our lives in ways that are just as solid as the earth orbiting the sun or our immune systems’ response to a vaccine. The activists who insist that atheism address matters of social justice are not distracting the movement from its purpose or being divisive; they are insisting it deliver on the promises that attracted so many of us to it in the first place.


Phillip J. Long - Discussion of 1 Enoch, Part 2


Enoch and the Essene Hypothesis
https://readingacts.com/2016/05/25/enoch-and-the-essene-hypothesis/

by Phillip J. Long
May 25, 2016

The book known today as 1 Enoch [is] not a single book, but rather a series of short books written over a period of time. They share some themes and interests, most obviously revelations given to Enoch. Since four of the five major sections of the book were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, it would appear the Qumran community valued the books. But just because a book appears in a library is not sufficient evidence to conclude the owner of the book agrees with the contents. (For example, how many books in your personal library reflect what you actually believe?)

Gabriele Boccaccini argues in favor of a close relationship between the books of Enoch and the Qumran community. While there is no evidence to suggest the Essene community produced the documents which later became known as 1 Enoch. Boccaccini rightly notes the importance of this literature to the community, which he describes as a “a parent-child relationship.” (Boccaccini, Beyond the Essene Hypothesis, 12). He believes “the mystery of Essene and Qumran origins is largely hidden in the Enoch literature” (Boccaccini, 13).

There are problems with this proposal, however. As Boccaccini admits, the presence of an anti-Zadokite Enoch in a pro-Zadok Essene library is troubling. Other elements which are important in the sectarian literature of Qumran are missing. “The Enochian texts offer some theological surprises to the thoughtful reader who is sensitive both to what is there and what is not there” (Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch, 5). No sacrificial cult in Jerusalem, for example: “Soteriology is knowledge in Enoch, divinely revealed secret knowledge” (Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch, 6).

Reconstructing the community which might have created this literature is clearly difficult. Commenting on the possibility of reconstructing 1 Enoch’s community, Nickelsburg rightly warns, “We see darkly in a tarnished and scratched mirror, and our interpretations of the images often present only one of several possibilities” (Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch, 3). In Boccaccini’s reconstruction, the influence of Hellenism on the religion and practice of Israel is the impetus for the creation of this literature. As Hellenism made inroads into Jewish society in Palestine, those who argued for traditional Jewish values found themselves in a struggle for the hearts of the people.

That Israel is God’s elect is clear from the Hebrew Bible, but how that election relates to Jewish boundary markers was not always clear. The Hebrew Bible demonstrates clearly that God will judge between the righteous and the sinner, the elect and the non-elect. The Community which produced the material in 1 Enoch seems to have looked forward to a judgment of God which would sort out the true elect from the false.

*Bibliography: Gabriele Boccaccini. Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1998).


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The Book of Watchers – 1 Enoch 1-5
https://readingacts.com/2016/05/27/the-book-of-watchers-1-enoch-1-5/

by Phillip J. Long
May 27, 2016

1 Enoch 1-5 is an introduction to the Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 6-36). Nickelsburg argues the superscription to the book is an allusion to Deuteronomy 33:1 and he translates it to make the allusion more clear.

Deuteronomy 33:1 - This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death.

1 Enoch 1:1 - The words of the blessing with which Enoch blessed the righteous chosen who will be present on the day of tribulation, to remove all the enemies; and the righteous will be saved.

Chapter 1 describes a “day of tribulation” (יום צרה, εἰς ἡμέραν ἀνάγκης) during which the ungodly will be destroyed and a great cataclysm. The chapter is rich with apocalyptic language here: mountains and high places falling down, earth split asunder, etc. This tribulation is a time when the “God of the universe” will come forth from his dwelling and “march upon Sinai and appear in his camp” (1:4). This awesome event will cause all to tremble, even the Watchers, the angelic beings who constantly observe the actions of God.

This arrival of God is for judgment, as 1:9 states: “He will come with ten millions of his holy ones in order to execute judgment upon all.” This verse is used by Jude in the New Testament, but here in 1 Enoch it is the theme for the whole Book of the Watchers. With respect to the plot of the book, the judgment is the coming Flood, but it is clear the writer of 1 Enoch is thinking beyond the Flood to a future judgment of God on the wicked in his own day. Like Noah and his family, the elect of the writer’s day will be preserved from this coming judgment: “to the righteous he will grant peace.” The phrase “the elect” will be repeated throughout the Book of Watchers.

Chapters 2-5 are speculative wisdom not unlike Job 38-41. The writer invites his readers to examine the orderliness of creation and observe that God does not change. The natural order is a progression of seasons which follow very precise patterns and laws. In 5:4 he turns this into a condemnation of the wicked: “But as for you, you have long transgressed and spoken slanderously….” Verse seven then turns to the righteous, who will have “joy and peace in the earth.”

After the judgment, wisdom will be given to the elect who will all live and not return again to sin, being preserved from the plagues and wrath (5:7). This is not necessarily immortality since verse eight says they will live out the complete designated number of their days. Verse 9, however says their lives and happiness will “increase forever.” Isaacs says some manuscripts modify this to “and their lives shall be increased in peace,” taking away some of the ambiguity OTP, 1:15 note v, on verse 10). Nickelsburg agrees with this translation.

Like many of prophetic books, 1 Enoch begins by sounding several key themes. First, judgment is coming on the wicked. Like the Flood, this will judgment will be a cataclysm which destroys all. But second, the elect will be preserved in from this coming tribulation. Like Noah’s family, Enoch’s community may suffer, but they will be ultimately preserved and vindicated when the final judgment arrives. These are themes found in many apocalyptic texts; in the New Testament, Revelation promises judgment is coming and the preservation of the elect through that time of persecution.


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The Fallen Angels – 1 Enoch 6-8
https://readingacts.com/2016/05/31/the-fallen-angels-1-enoch-6-8/

by Phillip J. Long
May 31, 2016

Chapter 6 begins the actual Book of the Watchers. In the biblical story of the Nephilim, the sons of God saw the daughters of men were are beautiful so they married them and had children (Gen 6:1-4). These children were called the Nephilim, the “mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.” In Genesis, the story shows how far the wickedness of humans had become: humans interacted sexually with spiritual beings. No details are given on how this might be possible, but the next verse in Genesis says “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” This brief story is tantalizing: who are these “sons of God” and what were the Nephilim? 1 Enoch offers an expansion of this biblical story in chapters 6-11.

In 1 Enoch, the sons of God are the “sons of heaven,” angelic beings led by Shemihazah. The name Shemihazah (שׁמיחזה, šemîḥăzāh) means “My name has seen” and is sometimes vocalized as Semyaz of Semyaza (Nickelsburg, 179). “Name” refers to God, so the name refers to constantly watching God. This is ironic since God will see this rebellion and render judgment on the Shemihazah. Some readers want to find some reference to Satan as the leader of “fallen” angels. As the story progresses, however, Azazel emerges as the ringleader (but later Enoch will intercede on behalf of Azazel). This is an example of how foolish (and impossible) it is to project modern Christian angelology on 1 Enoch. Azazel is not the modern version of Satan at all!

This is FAKE
The two hundred angels take an oath to descend to Mt Hermon, find women to marry and have children with them. 1 Enoch 6:7-8 lists the names of the leaders of these angels. Most have names have some reference to God (Remashel, “evening of God” or Kokabel, “star of God” ). The most interesting of these names is Dan’el, a name associated with the Ugaritic literature and often offered as an explanation of the legendary character of Daniel.

In chapters 7 and 8 the angels make good on their oath and take women as wives. They teach humans “magical medicines, incantations, the cutting of roots and about plants.” The origin of folk-medicine is therefore ascribed to these angelic beings. The children of the angels are giants standing three hundred cubits (an improbable 1800 yards tall!) These giants eat so much food the humans cannot feed them anymore. The giants proceed to eat humans as well as all other kinds of animals.

The text notes especially that they drank the blood of animals, “sinning against them.” In the biblical flood story, the Noahic covenant includes a command about consuming blood. 1 Enoch 7-8 is a reflection upon this command which was probably given because the antediluvian world did in fact consume blood.

In addition to teaching humans to interpret a wide range of signs, they teach humans medicinal magic. The angel Azazel teaches humans metal-working, including making of ornaments and weapon making. Azazel also teaches them to make eye-shadow and other physical ornamentation. This may be a polemic against pagan practice of using make up in their religious ceremonies. Other angels teach the humans how to track the stars (astrology and divination) and the signs of the moon. These angels are responsible for teaching humans all sorts of the sinful practices. Humanity cries out as a result of this oppression, a cry which “goes up to heaven.”

This detailed expansion of the biblical stories blames wicked angelic beings for revealing mysteries to humans which will result in sin. It is not Adam’s rebellion in the garden that is responsible for human evil, but wicked angelic beings who do not remain in their appointed place. What is more, the great Flood is not the result of human sin, but the rebellion of these angelic beings.

This is a significant re-writing of the worldview of Genesis 6. What is the author’s motivation for this shift of blame?


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Reading 1 Enoch in Ethiopic
https://readingacts.com/2016/06/01/reading-1-enoch-in-ethiopic/

by Phillip J. Long
June 1, 2016


This is a brief follow-up to my earlier post on finding a translation of Enoch. Several people have offered suggestions in the comments to supplement my opinion that the “best value” translation is the Fortress Press reprint of Nickelsburg and Vanderkam from the Hermeniaseries. But if you want to read the Ethiopic text of of 1 Enoch, the resources available tend to be very expensive and hard to find.

James Hamrick has created a number of Reading Guides for reading 1 Enoch. He is a Graduate Student at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, blogs at The Ancient Bookshelf. He has posted a few these to Academia.edu. He uses the text from R.H. Charles and creates a worksheet with a vocabulary list. Hamrick does not offer any grammatical comments, but for a beginning student these worksheets will make for good practice.

Hamrick posted similar documents for Ethiopic Jubilees as well as a set of Ge’ez Flashcards.


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The Archangels Render Justice -1 Enoch 9-11
https://readingacts.com/2016/06/02/the-archangels-render-justice-1-enoch-9-11/

by Phillip J. Long
June 2, 2016

In 1 Enoch 9 we learn the rest of the angels are watching the progress of the events on earth. Michael, Sariel (Isaacs follows the Ethiopic, Surafel; manuscripts have Uryan of Ur’el Raphael (Rufa’el) and Gabriel. They hear the cries of the humans and respond in a prayer to God himself. After praising God they point out to him the activities of Azazel on earth. They blame him for teaching humans the “eternal secrets” and Shemihazah for allowing the other angels to sleep with the humans and produce the hybrid giants.

The Lord responds to this prayer in chapter 10 by sending out a number of angels with specific tasks. An angel named Sariel (Ethiopic, Asuryal) is sent to the “son of Lamech” (Noah) to warn him of the coming flood. This angel is to instruct the son of Lamech on how to flee from the flood and “preserve his seed for all generations.”

In verses 5-8 the angel Raphael is sent to bind Azazel hand and foot and to throw him into the darkness. Both Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4-5 refer to angels who fell as “bound in chains in darkness.” Compare this also to Matthew 22:13 where the unprepared guest is ousted from the wedding banquet and is bound and thrown to “the place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

In 9: 9-10 Gabriel is sent to destroy the children of the angels (now called “Watchers”). These giants are described as “bastards and children of adultery.” Verse 10 says these giants hoped to live for five hundred years, which may be taken as how long they hoped to live before judgment came upon them, although it may simply refer to the length of their lives. There is no reference to the long lives of humans in 1 Enoch before the flood, so the five hundred-year life-span may be what is in mind.

In verse 11 Michael is sent to warn Semyaz he is about to be judged and bound for seventy generations under the mountains, until the day of judgment, in a pit of fire. Again, a similar theme is found in Jude 6 and Revelation 20:10-15.

After the time of judgment the world will be cleansed and the righteous will flourish: 10:18-19 mentions agricultural blessings; 10:21 describes the earth as cleansed from all pollution. God’s speech concludes in Chapter 11 with a brief description of the “storehouse of blessing” which will be opened after the time of judgment, a time when “peace and truth shall become partners again in all the days of the world and in all the generations of the earth.”

Looking back to the inspiration for this story in Genesis, the evil world is destroyed by the Flood, but this does not eradicate sin (Gen 9:20-29). 1 Enoch describes the world after the Watchers are destroyed as a time of peace and truth “for all eternity.” A similar apocalyptic pattern of coming judgment followed by a time of ultimate peace is certainly found in Revelation 20-22.