Sunday, March 08, 2015

Enochic Judaism

More point/counterpoint:

I do, of course, think that Peter and Jude are referring to angelic sin. That much is obvious. Referring to it as an angelic fall seems to bring far more theological baggage to the text than is warranted.
If the text refers to a drastic shift from their original status, how does that not describe an angelic fall?
The point being that writers don’t usually introduce new material without explaining it. Since Peter and Jude don’t trouble themselves to explain their references—as evidenced by the puzzlement most Christians evince over these passages—they are evidently making a high-context allusion. The question is, to what? And the first place to look is for prior scriptural accounts. But the only plausible candidate is Genesis 6:1-4.
i) Actually, both texts (2 Pet 2:4/Jude 6) have affinities with Isa 24:21-22.
ii) Moreover, belief in fallen angels was already in the air. The existence of such popular beliefs is attested in Intertestamental literature. 
I think they are alluding to Genesis 6:1-4—but they are doing so in a cultural context which understood that passage as referring to an angelic fall.
Yet he just admonished us that this "brings far more theological baggage to the text than is warranted." So which is it?
I take a fall, theologically, to be an initial sin from a sinless state.
Don't 2 Pet 2:4 & Jude 6 contrast the initial state of angels with their subsequent defection? 
For example, it is in principle possible that some angels were on the fence in Genesis 3, but then fell in Genesis 6.
Even if that distinction is valid, how is that consistent with the Enochic interpretation of 2 Pet 2:4 & Jude 6 which Bnonn champions? Does 1 Enoch draw that distinction? 
I think, of the sons of God who were going to go bad, they probably all went bad between Genesis 2 and 3. Reading between the lines, the angelic fall occurred when some of the sons of God, incited by Satan, got their noses bent out of shape that a lower being (Adam) was given dominion over the earth rather than being put under their authority.
i) To begin with, that has an ironically Miltonian cast–ironic given that he imputed Miltonian conditioning to me.
ii) Moreover, that's a different narrative, with a different timeline, than the Enochian angelic fall. There's a lack of consistency in Bnonn's use of sources. He takes a little here and a little there to produce his own idiosyncratic harmonization. But that's a very different hermeneutic than the claim that Peter and Jude use Enoch as an interpretive filter to gloss Gen 6:1-4. 
Supposing Jude and Peter take the Enochian view of Genesis 6, neither of them link that to a “fall” in the theological sense. That’s not a biblical gloss.
But that illustrates the unstable tension in Bnonn's approach. If they take the Enochic view of Gen 6, then that synchronizes the angelic fall with the ramp-up to the flood. 
No, it's not a biblical gloss. Rather, it's an Enochic gloss. Yet Bnonn says that's the interpretive prism which Peter and Jude are using for Gen 6.  
Paul’s situation in Acts 28 seems unusual for a prisoner. Compare Peter’s imprisonment in Acts 12. The normal mode of incarceration—as today—was not at home, but in a prison. It is special pleading to interpret a passage about incarceration with reference to extraordinary, rather than ordinary, forms of such.
What's the historical or exegetical basis for that cocksure statement? To my knowledge, Roman law had roughly three forms of pretrial custody: custodia liberia, custodia militaris, and custodia publica. Cf. Brian Rapske, "The Purposes and Varieties of Custody in the Roman World," The Book of Acts and Paul in Roman Custody (Eerdmans 1994), chapter 2.
Custodia publica (e.g. state prison, stone quarry) was the most restrictive and onerous. 
Custodia liberia was the least restrictive. Recast in modern terms, it would be equivalent to posting bail, or release on personal recognizance.
Custodia militaris lay somewhere in between. That, itself, had variations. It could involve confinement to a military camp or barracks. Or it could take the form of house-arrest. Recast in modern terms, it would be equivalent to an ankle monitor. 
From what I've read, there's nothing "extraordinary" about the terms of Paul's custody. He wasn't given exceptional treatment. It was a standard form of Roman custody. And it was less lenient than custodia liberia
It's funny for Bnonn to accuse me of special pleading in this regard, since–from what I can tell–he's pulling his assertions out of thin air rather than Roman law. 
Apropos (8), your interpretation simply ignores the meaning of the words that Peter and Jude use. If we were to take their language and ask which kind of imprisonment it seems to represent—Acts 12 or Acts 28—which would it be? The angels in 2 Peter and Jude have been “cast into” Tartarus (“held captive” as the NET puts it), where they are kept in eternal chains or possibly pits, under utter darkness and gloom. This is dungeon language. Tartarus in Greek mythology was a subterranean dungeon of torment lower than Hades, where divine punishment was meted out—a belief which largely extended to Israelite apocalyptic theology too. Now, even if we think it is not literally under the earth, and even if we think it is a holding cell rather than a place of punishment, clearly it is a dungeon. It is separated from the world of man. Reinterpreting Peter and Jude to be making a metaphorical comment that God “has the demons’ number” simply doesn’t take the text seriously. It defies the meaning of the words they use to argue that these beings are afforded considerable freedom, given that the precise point of the phraseology is that they have no freedom. They are, in fact, in prison. Whatever that means for a spiritual being, it can’t be so loosely understood as to mean the opposite.
i) To begin with, that suffers from a terribly crude approach to metonymic metaphors. 
ii) Some Biblical passages depict evil spirits as captives. But other Biblical passages depict evil spirits as having considerable freedom of action. Now, a liberal would say these reflect conflicting traditions. 

If, however, we're concerned with harmonizing the data, if we appreciate the fact that the physical confinement of discarnate spirits is necessarily figurative, and if we appreciate the period legal distinction between pretrial custody and final punishment, then I think my explanation integrates the data based on the available evidence and the poetics of narratology. 

iii) Furthermore, we have a striking illustration:

"What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" (Mt 8:29). 

That's a good example of custodia liberia. The evil spirits are doomed, but in the mean time they have a fair amount of freedom. Like a distinction between conviction and sentencing, where you can't leave town. You must turn in your passport. Because demons pose no flight risk for God, they have that temporary window of freedom. 

Postulating that the Enochian interpretation goes back further than the second century BC is speculative. But so is postulating otherwise. So calling it a late Jewish innovation begs the question. 
i) Actually, I was holding Bnonn to his own standard of comparison. I was responding to his previous statement that "we can only work with the evidence available."
Now, however, he abandons the available evidence and resorts to the conjecture of Enochic-style interpretations which antedate our extant sources. 
ii) Moreover, from what I've read, it isn't just coincidental that the Enochic literature arose at that time and place. Rather, it's a response to Hellenism (e.g. Seleucid, Hasmonian, and Roman rule). Its cosmography is Hellenistic. And Enoch's netherworld explorations reflect Greco-Roman nekyias. It is, by turns, syncretistic and reactionary.

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