Review of G. Boccaccini, Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 9 (2009) - Review

Gabriele Boccaccini (ed.) Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man: Revisiting the Book of Parables (Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans, 2007). Pp. v-xv+1-539. US$50.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-0377-1.

This volume tenders contributions to the third biennial meeting of the Enoch Seminar, held at the monastery of Camaldoli in 2005 and devoted to the Enochic Book of Parables (BP) under the rubric “Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man.” After an Introduction by Gabriele Boccaccini and Prior General Dom Emanuele Bargellini, the articles are collated under six headings followed by a conclusion. In Part 1, George Nickelsburg (“Discerning the Structure[s] of the Enochic Book of Parables”) and Michael Knibb (“The Structure and Composition of the Parables of Enoch”) assay the literary structure and composition/redaction-history of BP, and, in response, Loren Stuckenbruck (“The Parables of Enoch according to George Nickelsburg and Michael Knibb: A Summary and Discussion of Some Remaining Questions”) and Benjamin Wright (“The Structure of the Parables of Enoch: A Response to George Nickelsburg and Michael Knibb”) assemble similarities and differences between the two and articulate ramifications for further study. In Part 2, James VanderKam (“The Book of Parables within the Enoch Tradition”) assesses the degree to which the author of BP forged formal and thematic ties with the Book of Watchers (BW) and the Astronomical Book (AB), and, in response, Eibert Tigchelaar (“Remarks on Transmission and Traditions in the Parables of Enoch: A Response to James VanderKam”) questions his assumptions about a unified Enochic corpus, the chronological texture of BP and the significance of similar narrative elements between different works. Andrei Orlov (“Roles and Titles of the Seventh Antediluvian Hero in the Parables of Enoch: A Departure from the Traditional Pattern?”) uses Enoch's roles and titles to trace the (euhemeristic) development of his profile from the early books of 1 Enoch to BP, and, in response, William Adler (“A Dead End in the Enoch Trajectory: A Response to Andrei Orlov”) suggests several ways in which his investigation can be refined. Finally, in some preliminary observations to a larger study on interpolations of cosmological passages into BP, Jonathan Ben-Dov (“Exegetical Notes on Cosmology in the Parables of Enoch”) notes two cosmological items unique to BP relative to AB.

In Part 3, Sabino Chialà (“The Son of Man: The Evolution of an Expression”) marks the pivotal role which BP plays in the evolution of the title Son of Man in biblical, Second Temple and early Christian literature and Helge Kvanvig (“The Son of Man in the Parables of Enoch”) examines the same title more pointedly in its context within BP itself. In response to these essays John Collins (“Enoch and the Son of Man: A Response to Sabino Chialà and Helge Kvanvig”) and Klaus Koch (“Questions regarding the So-Called Son of Man in the Parables of Enoch: A Response to Sabino Chialà and Helge Kvanvig”) take issue with several points offered in each, particularly Kvanvig's idea that in BP Enoch sees a “visionary counterpart” of himself (p. 182). Charles Gieschen (“The Name of the Son of Man in the Parables of Enoch”) contends that in BP the Son of Man “shares the Divine Name of the Ancient of Days, the Tetragrammaton” and, thus, is included “within the mystery of the one YHWH” (pp. 238, 242). And Gerbern Oegema (“‘The Coming of the Righteous One’ in Acts and 1 Enoch”) offers a tradition- and reception-historical study suggesting that 1 Enoch 89:52 forms the background to the phrase “the coming of the Righteous One” in Acts 7:52.

In Part 4, Boccaccini (“Finding a Place for the Parables of Enoch within Second Temple Jewish Literature”) locates BP within the trajectories of five “paradigms” (“belief-systems,” p. 266) developing during the Second Temple, nascent Christian and early post-70 Judaic periods, and, in response, Matthias Henze (“The Parables of Enoch in Second Temple Literature: A Response to Gabriele Boccaccini”) raises questions about three of his methodological assumptions-the precise referent of “paradigms,” the alleged evolutionary development of early Judaic/Christian thought and the supposed competition between Enochic and Christian messianism. Leslie Walck (“The Son of Man in the Parables of Enoch and the Gospels”) examines the relationship between features of the Son of Man in BP and Son of Man sayings in the canonical gospels, and, after a slight critique of Walck's conclusions, Adela Yarbro Collins (“The Secret Son of Man in the Parables of Enoch and the Gospel of Mark: A Response to Leslie Walck”) elaborates on the similarities existing between the Enochic Son of Man and the Markan messianic secret. In an essay that also responds to Boccaccini, Ida Fröhlich (“The Parables of Enoch and Qumran Literature”) argues that BW is a more apt “paradigm” on which to build an Enochic tradition-history and that, into this paradigm, BP has woven motifs from Qumran sectarian literature and Daniel 7. And Kelley Coblentz Bautch (“Adamic Traditions in the Parables? A Query on 1 Enoch 69:6”) compares the apparently pejorative depiction of Eve in 1 Enoch 69:6 with the more positive portrayal of the primordial couple in BW and in the Book of Dream Visions.

In Part 5, contributors reconstruct the social profile of the BP community. Pierluigi Piovanelli (“‘A Testimony for the Kings and the Mighty Who Possess the Earth': The Thirst for Justice and Peace in the Parables of Enoch’) approaches this by distilling “different social realities and values” (p. 364) embedded in the narrative, and, in response, Daniel Boyarin (“Was the Book of Parables a Sectarian Document? A Brief Brief in Support of Pierluigi Piovanelli”) teases out implications of his study for the socio-religious locus of Rabbinic Judaism. Lester Grabbe (“The Parables of Enoch in Second Temple Jewish Society”) engages the task by assessing the various interests present in (and absent from) the content of BP. And Pieter Venter (“Spatiality in the Second Parable of Enoch”) contrasts the social implications of “constructed space” in 1 Enoch 46:1-51:5 with those in Daniel 7. Finally, in Part 6, David Suter (“Enoch in Sheol: Updating the Dating of the Book of Parables”) and respondent Michael Stone (“Enoch's Date in Limbo; or, Some Considerations on David Suter's Analysis of the Book of Parables”) update the status quaestionis on the sweep of issues attending the date of BP. And following this exchange, James Charlesworth (“Can We Discern the Composition Date of the Parables of Enoch?”), Darrell Hannah (“The Book of Noah, the Death of Herod the Great, and the Date of the Parables of Enoch”), Luca Arcari (“A Symbolic Transfiguration of a Historical Event: The Parthian Invasion in Josephus and the Parables of Enoch”) and Hanan Eshel (“An Allusion in the Parables of Enoch to the Acts of Matthias Antigonus in 40 B.C.E.?”) posit an array of arguments that correlate (aspects of) BP to Herodian or immediately pre-Herodian times. Daniel Olson (“An Overlooked Patristic Allusion to the Parables of Enoch?”) closes the section by suggesting the allusion to 1 Enoch in Irenaeus' Adversus haereses 1.15.6 finds a more apt referent in BP (1 Enoch 54:4-6) than in BW (1 Enoch 7-10).

In the Conclusion, Paolo Sacchi (“The 2005 Camaldoli Seminar on the Parables of Enoch: Summary and Prospects for Future Research”) revisits some (though not all) of the contributions to the Seminar under two interrelated issues: (a) the implications of the literary integrity of BP for (b) circumscribing its date. And Jason von Ehrenkrook (“The Parables of Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man: A Bibliography, 1773-2006”) furnishes a bibliography of scholarship done on BP and related literature. No indices accompany the volume.

Boccaccini (in his Introduction) and Sacchi frame the primary significance of the Seminar around the dating of BP. But, while this issue captures a large swath of contributions, the interests indulged in the volume extend much wider and will reward scholars also interested in several other areas: particularly, the development of Enochic tradition; the sources and composition history of BP; the place of BP within Second Temple, early Christian and post-70 Judaic literature; the historical milieu and social posture of the BP community; and the title Son of Man.

Michael Allen Daise, College of William and Mary