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Lecture 5

Lecture 5 judaism.docx

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Lecture 5 Function of the story of the watchers in the text: The watchers story is also a metaphor It could be the metaphor for some historical event or condition, like: The wars fought after the death of Alexander the Macedonian, to control the Near East The violence that follows the watcher’s coming on the earth according to the text could be a metaphor for these wars. The situation of the Jewish culture in the Hellenistic times In this period, Judaism encountered foreign cultures and go to know new sciences and arts that part of the jewish community was suspicious of The theme of the illicit knowledge given by the watchers to the humans could be a metaphor for this situation. These and the numerous other possible interpretations are not mutually exclusive Regardless of the interpretations, though, we have to keep in mind that: The texts authors did not want its narration to be identified with a specific event or situation They rather wanted the text to be used by the broadest possible audience, in space and time This is why they do not make reference to any real event or situation They have been very successful in their purpose! The BW has in fact been very popular in Judaism Note: the absence of clear references with the purpose to reach a broad audience is typical of apocalypses This is why apocalypses have been so popular in different cultures, through space and time Religous function of the Book of Watchers: Like all apocalypses, the BW fulfills several functions from the religious point of view One of the main such functions is to reinforce the faith of the audience Reinforcement comes from the psychological relief obtained after going through two steps: 1) listening/reading the story of the watchers: 2) learning that the watchers were defeated and that all evil souls will be condemned. By learning about the defeat of the watchers and of the giants, the audience is lead to think that, similiarly, also in the present times the evil forces will be defeated By learning that evil souls will condemned, the audience is assured that evil people will be punished. Reinforcement of the faith also comes from listening to the wonders of God’s power that are underlined in the text Another, more specific function of the text is to exalt the mystical and visionary aspect of the religious experience This aspect is the opposite if the ritualistic approach to religion Zoroastruan themes in the BW Numerous notions/images documented in Zoroastrian sources bear similiarities with notions/images of the BW 1)the idea of a final judgement of all souls Remember this notion is first found in Zoroastrianism i.e it is found in zoroasters gathas the gathas are much earlier than the BW 2) the idea that to the mountains will disappear at the end of time Cf BW 1.6 Note: this idea is only found in the Pahlavi texts, but surely pre-dates the BW 3) the image of the metals in the mountains melting and forming a fiery river that will cleanse all humanity at the end of time Note: this image is also found only in Pahlavi texts, but possibly pre-dates the BW (the gathas also underline the role of fire in the final judgement) The image of a tree producing a fruit that gives eternal life This idea is already hinted in the avesta The classification of the comets as malefic bodies The image of the doors through which the stars pass in their daily movement This notion is only attested in Pahlavi texts It is originally a Mesopotamian notion: the Iranians probably adopted it in the achaemenid times The book of Daniel The book of Daniel is a text of the jewish bible It contains an apocalyptic portion (=its second half) This is the only apocalypse of the jewish bible For this reason, it is the jewish apocalypse that has received more attention by scholars The book of denial focuses in the character of Daniel ( a fictiona
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