In this volume, leading scholars explore the contours of the Watchers traditions throughout history, tracing their development through the Enoch literature, Jubilees, and other early Jewish and Christian writings. At the origin of the Watchers tradition is the single enigmatic reference in Genesis 6 to the “sons of God” who had intercourse with human women, producing a race of giants upon the earth. That verse sparked a wealth of cosmological and theological speculation in early Judaism. This volume provides a lucid survey of current knowledge and interpretation of one of the most intriguing theological motifs of the Second-Temple period.
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Scholars and students alike can learn much from The Watchers in Jewish and Christian Traditions. Written by leading scholars, the articles in this book comprise a rich introduction to a fascinating subject . . .
—Matthew Goff, associate professor of religion, Florida State University
The Watchers in Jewish and Christian Traditions is an important collection of essays that should be of interest not only to scholars but to all educated non-specialists in the ways myths about the fallen angels have influenced the literature and imaginations of ancient Jewish and Christian communities.
—Jacques T.A.G.M. van Ruiten, professor, University of Groningen
The Watchers have finally come to the public attention thanks to the movie Noah. The essays in this volume provide the most comprehensive and reliable guide to the actual ancient evidence about these exotic figures that has ever been published. This is an important contribution to the study of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature.
—John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation, Yale Divinity School
This collection of essays offers some of the finest research on the Watcher Tradition to emerge in recent scholarship on the topic. . . . The volume is highly recommended for any scholar and student of Second-Temple Period literature."
—Archie T. Wright, Regent University, School of Divinity
Angela Kim Harkins is associate professor of religious studies at Fairfield University in Connecticut and in the Center for Judaic Studies.
Kelley Coblentz Bautch is associate professor of religious studies at St. Edward’s University.
John C. Endres, SJ, has taught Old Testament and Hebrew Bible at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University since 1982. He was chief editor of Chronicles and Its Synoptic Parallels in the Books of Samuel, Kings, and Related Biblical Texts. He also writes and teaches on the Psalms, the deuterocanonical books, Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Book of Jubilees.
“The sins of the Watchers are their transgression of the cosmic order and mixing with earthly women, and their teaching of magic.” (Page 16)
“Thus, Gilgamesh, as a ruler of the shades in the netherworld, had three primary functions. As a judge, he judged the case of the sufferer (the prayers use legal terminology to speak of the sufferer). As an omen-interpreter he was able to foretell future events and to prognosticate the sufferer’s fortune if he dies or remains alive. Finally, as one who had authority over troublesome ghosts he was believed to be an effective healer. The three roles were interrelated, and each of them was related to the healing of a sickness (believed to be caused by harmful magic).” (Page 23)
“The figure of Enoch and the elements of the revelation tradition associated with him originate in the figures of the Mesopotamian apkallū-s (wise ones), more exactly in the figure of the Mesopotamian diviner-king Enmeduranki, and in the tradition about divine revelation given to him.5 Thus it can be assumed that the kernel of the Enochic tradition, the Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1–36), was shaped either in a Babylonian Jewish diaspora community or perhaps in a community of returnees that maintained traditions from the Babylonian exile.” (Page 12)
“The meaning of the Watchers’ story is that impurities and sins lead to the defilement of the earth and a catastrophic punishment.” (Page 21)