John C Reeves and Annette Yoshiko Reed - Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages: Sources From Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Volume Ihttps://www.amazon.com/dp/0198718411/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_9U.BzbY0NEFJ3
John C Reeves describes the project: https://clas-pages.uncc.edu/john-reeves/research-projects/the-recovery-of-the-enochic-library/
A cursory perusal of Jewish, Christian, gnostic, and Muslim literature emanating from the Near East during the first millennium of the Common Era produces a substantial number of citations from or references to so-called ‘books of Enoch.’ These ‘books of Enoch’ are pseudepigraphic literary works allegedly authored by the seventh antediluvian biblical forefather Enoch (Gen 5:21-24). Interest in the figure of Enoch was apparently stimulated by the cryptic biblical notice recounting his mysterious removal from human society. A common perception developed wherein Enoch was considered to be an exemplary righteous individual who was transported to heaven and there granted access to divine secrets regarding the governance of the cosmos, the progression of history, and the final judgment of the created order. Judging from the quantity of quotations or allusions to Enochic books, a multitude of these compositions apparently circulated among learned circles during late antiquity well into the medieval period, enjoying wide popularity within diverse religious communities. Ancient estimates regarding Enoch’s literary productivity range from Wahb b. Munabbih’s ‘thirty scrolls’ to the presumably fantastic ‘360 (variant 365) books’ of the Slavonic book of Enoch (2 Enoch). Despite these testimonies to Enoch’s loquacity, only two indubitably Enochic ‘books’ have been recovered to date, and these are conventionally designated 1 Enoch (Ethiopic Enoch) and 2 Enoch (Slavonic Enoch).
Modern scholars have expended considerable energy in the study and analysis of the two ‘surviving’ books of Enoch. Most importantly for our present purposes, they have shown that these ‘books’ are themselves composite works stemming from earlier collections of Enochic lore. Few scholars however have attempted to correlate their studies of these extant apocalyptic books with the numerous fragmentary citations and allusions to Enochic works in the subsequent religious literatures. The primary explanation for such neglect is not difficult to identify. There does not exist (at present) any systematic compilation and/or comparative analysis of the citations from Enochic works in later Jewish, Christian, gnostic, and Muslim contexts. In order to utilize these later citations, scholars of the religions of late antiquity must consult a variety of print and manuscript resources in diverse languages, many of which are not readily available in a convenient form.
I am therefore engaged in a joint research project (with Annette Yoshiko Reed of the University of Pennsylvania) whose ultimate objective is twofold: (1) to assemble all the fragmentary extant references to and citations of Enochic works within the aforementioned religious literatures into one convenient collection, and (2) to compare, classify, and analyze these subsequent references and citations in order to gain a clearer picture of the scope and range of what might tentatively be termed the ‘Enochic library,’ or the entire corpus of works attributed to Enoch. Eventually both the collection and the comparative analysis will be published as a monographic study by Oxford University Press, thus providing students of Near Eastern religious history with a new tool for the assessment of the demonstrable intertextual relationships among the diverse religious communities of late antiquity and the early medieval era.
The initial methodology of the project is rather straightforward. It involves a systematic combing of the available manuscript or printed textual editions of those works wherein references to Enochic ‘books’ or ‘traditions’ occur or might be expected to occur, followed by the extraction and classification of the passage so identified. Texts wherein such passages occur include Jewish pseudepigrapha, Jewish and Christian apocalyptic works, Jewish esoteric works such as magical manuals and mystical treatises (Zohar), Christian exegetical texts (both western and eastern Church Fathers), so-called ‘universal histories’ prepared by both Christians (Syncellus) and Muslims (Tabari), Muslim esoteric texts (Umm al-Kitab), and gnostic compositions (e.g., Pistis Sophia).
The project possesses significance for several interrelated fields of humanistic inquiry. Students of Second Temple Jewish literature, the period wherein Enochic literature first appears, will be able to trace (or discount) the survival of Enochic motifs and mythemes within Jewish literary and intellectual circles from late antiquity well into the medieval period, thereby shedding light on the development of apocalypticism and its possible influence upon the history of Jewish mysticism. Students of Near Eastern gnosticism and Hellenistic philosophies would have further data to exploit in their quest for the origin of gnostic religiosity and its possible impact upon sectarian currents in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Those interested in the medieval literary and intellectual symbiosis among Jewish, Christian, and Muslim thinkers, particularly with regard to the transmission of the ‘ancient sciences’ associated with hermeticism (e.g., astrology, theurgy, divinatory techniques, angelology and demonology) would for the first time be able to view, in textual form, a chain of tradition reconstructed in its entirety. Thus the project, when complete, has ramifications not only for students of Jewish pseudepigrapha, but for any scholar interested in understanding the complex development of the history of ideas, and their transmission, among the major religious communities of the ancient and medieval Near East.
John C Reeves - Con-‘text’-ualizing Bible in/and/with Qur’anhttp://www.mizanproject.org/con-text-ualizing-bible-inandwith-quran/
Scholars have often used the appearance of Islam in the Mediterranean world of the seventh century CE as a marker of rupture signaling the violent demise of the classical societies of antiquity and the onset of what the West terms the ‘Dark Ages,’ an era when learning and ‘civilized’ life were supposedly supplanted by barbarism and fanaticism. In contrast to this approach, and in line with the remarks introducing this special Mizan forum, I encourage my students to study the emergence of Islam in the Near East in terms of its manifold ideological continuities with the monotheistic currents flowing through Roman, Iranian, Axumite, and South Arabian religious communities in the sixth and seventh centuries of the Common Era.
Early Islamic discourse and practice exemplify the cross-cultural hegemony of a distinctive scriptural koine, or what might be termed an ‘Abrahamic idiom,’ of cultural expression – an articulation of one’s cultural identity in terms of an ethnic or religious association with the characters, locales, practices, and ideas found in and promoted by the various forms of Bible1 circulating within and beyond the Roman Empire during roughly the first half of the first millennium CE. Few scholars deny the relevance of Bible for unpacking the emergence of Islam and the formulation of its scriptural heritage. However, there are some things about this posited textual relationship that are commonly misunderstood and in need of further amplification.
First, there exists considerable critical naiveté about the historical and cultural processes surrounding the formation of the Near Eastern scriptural texts and canons. Many scholars operate with the assumption that ‘the Bible’ was a fixed and closed collection of canonical texts within Judaism and Christianity well before the seventh century CE, a set of writings which was universally recognized and virtually identical with those found in ‘the Bible’ of today. There is, however, no such thing as ‘the Bible’; instead, we have a variety of ‘Bibles’ which vary enormously in terms of their contents, editorial structures, and regional distributions up to and well beyond the seventh century.2 The so-called ‘Masoretic Text,’ for example, the basis for modern Western translations of the Hebrew Bible, did not exist as such in Muhammad’s day. Therefore, to affirm (as many do) that Qur’an presupposes ‘the Bible’ begs the question ‘which (or whose) Bible’?
For example, Ethiopian Christians, one of the religious communities closest in time and space to the early Muslim umma, use a biblical canon which looks very different from those constructed by Christian (and Jewish) communities in Egypt, Asia Minor, Syria, Mesopotamia, or Central Asia. One must also bear in mind that biblically affiliated groups like the Elchaisaites, Marcionites, and Manichaeans aligned themselves as ‘Christian,’ and so their textual proclivities should be taken into account in such reconstructions as well, especially since some historical notices place such groups in the Transjordan and Arabia. What kind(s) of Bible was/were used by Yemenite Jewry? Or by the Christian communities in South Arabia? Or by the zindīq members of the tribe of Quraysh who dwelt in Mecca?3 Should the boundaries of what the label ‘Bible’ embraces be expanded to include something like the Cave of Treasures, a pre-Islamic Christian work which effectively replaces Bible in much of the eastern universal chronicle tradition of historiography? Most studies of the Qur’an or early Islam do not address these kinds of fundamental issues at all. Yet recognizing them is absolutely crucial for achieving a deeper insight into the kind of contextualized discourse the Qur’an allegedly presupposes.
Certain fundamental conceptual and methodological problems must also be addressed and resolved. For example, the facile wielding of reified generic categories like ‘Jews,’ ‘Christians,’ ‘the Syriac Church,’ etc., does not adequately address the complexity of religious identity in the eastern Roman and Sasanian worlds of Late Antiquity: none of these labels displays a critical understanding of the varying regional and cultural differences differentiating these (and other) biblically-allied groupings. There was, for example, no such thing as ‘the Syriac Church’ to which one can attribute a governing structure, fixed canon, or doctrinal uniformity; similarly, we witness a variety of ‘Jewish’ behaviors and institutional hierarchies across the eastern world of Late Antiquity. Pronouncements and conclusions about the backgrounding of qur’anic language and characters in the literatures of ‘Jews’ and/or ‘Christians’ require considerably more cultural nuancing than has typically been the case to date.
Finally, we must avoid working with the indefensible proposition that any Jewish (or Christian) exegetical tradition or testimony must necessarily be older than any similarly couched Muslim one, and thus may be presupposed as the intertextual background for traditions in Qur’an or its interpretative literature. This is an uncritical, even pre-modern, approach to the study of Jewish (and Christian) literary traditions that is driven largely by apologetic and theological concerns. It must be remembered that these distinct religious communities of Jews, Christians, and Muslims were not hermetically sealed packages; they read, discussed, disputed, adapted, rejected, and parodied each other’s literary materials, as is abundantly illustrated in the historical and polemical literatures they respectively generated. Care must be exercised by comparative philologists when using Jewish exegetical collections and anthologies which stem from an Islamicate cultural sphere, such as Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer or Midrash ha-Gadol. If a particular shared motif or theme is not present in indubitably pre-Islamic Jewish sources, our first instinct is to identify it as having been borrowed or adapted from Islam. There are indeed a number of instances where this seems to be the case.4 Yet at the same time, we must also bear in mind that these same post-Islamic works may have been privy to genuinely older Jewish textual constellations extant within their communities emanating from as far back as the Second Temple period of Jewish history. Similarly, those circles who generated Qur’an and its associated literatures may have very well had knowledge of or access to early forms of ‘Bible’ which were, literarily speaking, more ‘primitive’ in form and content than what surfaces as a ‘canonical text’ in a later era.5 Adjudicating the tension between these two hermeneutic positions is a complex process which admits no easy resolution.
According to the account in Genesis, the patriarch Enoch “walked with God, then was no more, for God took him” (5:24). Traditions about the ascent of Enoch to heaven flourished in Jewish and Christian communities during the Second Temple period and Late Antiquity, as did a large corpus of writings ascribed to him, revealed through him, or describing his prophetic and heavenly experiences. These works were and are authoritative for numerous religious communities despite not being represented in the standard Bibles of Jews and most Christians. They therefore challenge our assumptions about the boundary between canonical and paracanonical scriptural materials.
Traditions about Enoch were so widespread in the late antique milieu that the Qur’an represents him as one of the patriarchs and prophets of Israel alongside more ‘canonical’ figures such as Noah, Abraham, and Moses. However, the Qur’an (and subsequently Islamic tradition) calls him not Enoch but Idrīs, a name that suggests his role as heavenly teacher and revealer of divine secrets. Idrīs is among the Israelite prophets Muhammad encounters in the classic narratives of his miraculous Night Journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and subsequent ascent to Heaven.
Idris (wiki): wikipedia.org/wiki/Idris_(prophet)