Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 10 (2010) - Review

Stuckenbruck, Loren T., 1 Enoch 91–108 (Commentaries on Early Jewish Literature; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2007). Pp. x1v + 855. Hardcover, €128.00 ISBN 978-3-11-019119-6.

Stuckenbruck's 1 Enoch 91–108 is a very thorough and elaborate commentary on the last chapters of 1 Enoch. In his introduction Stuckenbruck states that these chapters are not to be regarded as a single literary unit because they show differences in theological ideas, tradition-historical setting, and authorship. Thus, more precisely, the book is a commentary on the various independent literary works of which the last chapters of 1 Enoch are composed. Each work is discussed in a separate chapter and, together with the introduction, the book has six chapters, followed by three indexes (References, Names and Subjects, and Authors). A bibliography can be found at the end of the first chapter. This bibliography consist of 1) Editions and Reference Works Used, 2) Translations and Commentaries, and 3) Secondary Literature.

The first chapter is an introduction. Chapters 2–6 are the actual commentary. Every chapter in this section begins with an introduction followed by commentary on the literary work under consideration. The content of the introductions to the separate chapters varies, but the composition of the commentaries is identical in each chapter. They consists of a translation followed by textual notes to the various textual traditions in classical Ethiopic, Coptic, Latin, or Aramaic in which the literary work is found. After the textual notes, a general comment and notes follow. In some chapters S. provides only one translation; in others he treats every language separately.

Chapter one is divided into four parts. In the first part, Stuckenbruck gives an overview of the five independent literary works that comprise 1 Enoch 91-108. These five works are: 1) Apocalypse of Weeks (93:1–10; 91:11–17), 2) Exhortation (91:1–10, 18–19), 3) Epistle (92:1–5; 93:11–105:2), 4) Birth of Noah (106:1–107:3) and 5) Eschatological Admonition (108:1–15). These five works are analyzed in the following five chapters. Because each following chapter provides an introduction to each separate literary unit, S. only gives a brief overview of each section here.

The second part of the first chapter reconstructs the stages of literary growth within chapters 91–108. It discusses how and when the five originally independent literary units were integrated in the Enoch tradition. S.'s hypothesis on the composition and transmission of these five texts builds to a large degree on the work of George Nickelsburg, with which S. engages on many points.

Part three treats the classical Ethiopic (Ge‘ez) version. The Ethiopic version is the only version that contains the complete text of 1 Enoch 91–108. In his discussion of the Ethiopic version, S. takes three steps. Firstly, he gives the text basis for his commentary and explains how the different versions are presented and analyzed in relation to one another. S. takes the Ethiopic version as his point of departure and compares this textual tradition with the evidence form the Aramaic, Greek, Coptic, and Latin texts. These latter materials are more fragmentary, but often contain better readings. Then, as a second step, S. focuses on the text-critical principles underlying the Ethiopic textual basis behind his translation. Within the Ethiopic text tradition, two recensions are distinguished, Ethiopic I and Ethiopic II. S. describes both recensions in detail and states that, in general, the readings of the Ethiopic I recension are preferable, but that Ethiopic II is not totally irrelevant. As a third step, S. devotes a few words on the way he presents the evidence from other versions in negotiation with the Ethiopic evidence (This third step is what S. calls C.3. on p. 16, but it appears under C.2.d on p. 28). The final section of chapter one contains the bibliography.

In chapter two S. treats the Apocalypse of Weeks (1 Enoch 93:1–10; 91:11–17). The introduction, which has five paragraphs, starts with the remark that “the Apocalypse of Weeks was originally an independent work composed by an author who was not the author of any other parts of 1 Enoch” (p. 49). Yet, the independent status of the work was lost at a relatively early stage when it was integrated into its present literary context of 1 Enoch 91–105. According to S., this must have occurred about the end of the 2nd century b.c.e.

In the following discussion of the textual traditions underlying the Apocalypse, S. discusses the Ethiopic, the Aramaic, and the Coptic extant versions of this literary unit. The Apocalypse is only fully preserved in Ethiopic and was embedded within the Epistle at an early stage. During the course of transmission a dislocation of material has taken place: the content of 93:3–10 originally must have preceded 91:11–17. S. supports the possibility that 91:11–17 originally stood between 93:3–10 and 93:11–14, which he also sees as confirmed by the Aramaic material of 4QEng. Because of its importance for reconstructing the oldest literary context of the Apocalypse, S. treats the Aramaic textual tradition in great detail. From the discussion it follows that S. agrees neither with Olson's reconstruction of the Aramaic version into three fragments nor his explanation that a scribe accidentally displaced 91:11–92:2 between 93:10 and 92:3 at a very early stage. Detailed analysis falsifies Olson's thesis, and S. therefore agrees with Milik's proposed sequence of the fragments as: 91:1–10, 18–19 (Exhortation); 92:1–5 (opening of the Epistle); 93:1–10 and 91:11–17 (Apocalypse of Weeks); and 93:11–14 (continuation of Epistle).

In the second part of the introduction to chapter two S. draws attention to the division of time, which is an important topic in the Apocalypse. The numbers ten and especially seven are significant structuring devices in the narrative. There are three ways in which the importance of the number seven is recognized. Firstly, S. points to the subdivision of the ten weeks into periods of seven parts each. As analogies for this seventy-fold periodization of history, S. first mentions biblical texts such as Jer 25:11–12; 29:10; 2 Chr 36:21 and Zech 1:12–17. He then rightly points at the more contemporary references in Dan 9, the Animal Apocalypse, the “pesher on the periods” (4Q180 and 4Q181), the Apocryphon of Jeremiah (4Q383–384, 385a–b, 387b, 389a), Pseudo Moses (4Q390), and the Damascus Document. Secondly, the seventh week is very important because it functions as a transition from the past and present into the imminent future. The description of the seventh week is also the most lengthy and contains clues for the Sitz im Leben of the work. Thirdly, S. points at the “sevenfold” conditions in weeks seven and ten that are connected with salvation.

After an analysis of the outline of the people and events and the character of each of the ten weeks in the third part of the second chapter, S. proposes a date for The Apocalypse in the fourth part. S. agrees with scholars who date the Apocalypse of Weeks to approximately the first third of the 2nd century b.c.e.., and more precisely to 175–170 b.c.e.. This is the time of Hellenizing reforms in Jerusalem at the beginning of the reign of Antiochus. According to S., the Apocalypse of Weeks is certainly older than the Animal Apocalypse.

The question of authorship and relation to the Epistle and Exhortation is discussed in the fifth part of the introduction to the Apocalypse. S. does not agree with scholars who think that the Epistle and the Apocalypse of Weeks are composed by the same author. On pp. 62–63 S. lists the basic traits that the works have in common that could be used to support common authorship. He then cautions that these similarities need not be overinterpreted. Concisely stated, the similarities are not as similar as they may seem. Instead they only indicate that the Epistle and the Apocalypse of Weeks are rooted in a similar tradition, and this similar tradition was the reason for their integration into the same literary context at some point in time. More important for S. is the observation that the differences between the works “are not as easy to account for if one simply posits that the same authorial hand lies behind them” (p. 64).

Chapter three comments on the Exhortation (1 Enoch 91:1–10, 18–19). The Exhortation is extant in the Ethiopic and Aramaic text traditions. The Aramaic in 4QEng is fragmentary and shows that 4QEng has a different sequence than the Ethiopic tradition, which inserts the conclusion to the Apocalypse of Weeks between 91:10 and 91:18.

After his discussion of the textual traditions S. examines the literary relationship of the Exhortation to the Apocalypse of Weeks and the Epistle. The relationship with the Epistle is problematic. S. correctly notes that if the Exhortation was an original part of the Epistle, then it is difficult to explain its doublets with both the Epistle and the Apocalypse of Weeks. According to S. the source-critical relationship suggests “that between the early (Aram.) and later (Eth.) stage of development, the placement of the Exhortation alongside the Apocalypse and Epistle led to editing activity that yielded a text which shows signs of interdependence between the traditions” (p. 155).

In the following pages (pp. 155–56) S. lists several ideological and terminological links between the Exhortation and other parts of the Enochic tradition to point at the distinct language of this work. Its derivational and generic character gives strong indications that one of the aims of the Exhortation was to connect the earlier Enochic traditions with the Apocalypse of Weeks and the Epistle. According to S., the Aramaic textual tradition presupposes an intertextual relationship with the Book of Watchers and 81:5–82:4 of the Astronomical Book. Interestingly, S. does not want to go as far as he does on p. 52, where he was suggesting that the Book of Watchers could have preceded the Exhortation on the same scroll. He now states that there is “no evidence that the manuscript of 4QEng contained the Book of Watchers” (p. 156). In any case S. sees some indications that support the idea that the Exhortation once was an independent tradition and dates the work to the second half of the second century b.c.e..

Chapter four covers the most lengthy treatment of the commentary (pp. 185–605) and is devoted to the Epistle of Enoch (92:1–5; 93:11–14; 94:1–105:2). The introduction to the Epistle (pp. 185–216) contains four sections. The first section discusses the three textual traditions of the Epistle. Although the Ethiopic textual tradition is much later than the Greek and Aramaic, it is of invaluable worth because it is the only fully preserved version of the Epistle. The Greek Chester Beatty-Michigan Papyrus is not a very reliable tradition. Not only because it is a bit shorter, but more importantly because it contains many mistakes. The Aramaic tradition (4QEng and 4QEnc) only covers the frame of the Epistle and is very fragmentary. S. rightly cautions that the fact that the main body of the Epistle is lacking among the Dead Sea Scrolls should not be overinterpreted. Thus, the idea of Nickelsburg and Boccacini that the main body of the Epistle was an independent work that is later than the frame, the latter into which it was then inserted, must be taken with caution.

The second section is the actual introduction to the Epistle. It is subdivided into four themes: title, outline, literary analysis of formulae, and the use of tradition. After stating that the original title for the work cannot be determined, S. on pp. 189–90 provides an outline of the Epistle consisting of a frame and three major discourses. In the following literary analysis, S. first investigates the different origins of the frame and main body of the Epistle. He draws attention to the quite divergent accents of the “Discourses” (a subsection of the Epistle) when compared with the Exhortation, Apocalypse of Weeks, and the frame of the Epistle. Another important element in the literary analysis is the occurrence of recurring forms in the work that belonged to the literary tradition of the author. S. describes the impact of the use of the fixed formulae in the Epistle as follows: “… taken together, they help the body of the Epistle function as an effective ‘testimony’ that ensures the sinners will not escape the consequences of the wrongdoing on ‘the day of judgment’”(p. 204). The use of tradition in the Epistle shows that the work does not contain explicit citations from the author's literary traditions. Instead the work is full of biblical allusions and allusions to the Book of Watchers. With respect to the biblical allusions, it can be concluded that the Epistle follows the biblical notions about the faith of the righteous and the wicked. On the other hand two biblical motifs are not paralleled: “(1) the idea that after death those who inhabit Sheol are not distinguished from one another […] and (2) the view that covenant faithfulness is accompanied by reward in this life […] (p. 206)”. The analysis of the allusions to the Book of Watchers reveals that the Epistle shares with the Book of Watchers, among others, its ideas about sin and punishment, the intermediate role of angels, and the classification of human souls after death. However, the intertextual reading between the two works also shows that the author of the Epistle reformulated the Enochic tradition in three ways: “(1) the timing of post-mortem punishment, (2) the re-application of motifs associated with the fallen angels and giants to ‘the sinners’, and (3) narrative contrasts” (p. 209).

In the third section of chapter four S. connects the questions of date and social setting of the Epistle. Earlier hypotheses about the Epistle's dating to the end of the second century b.c.e. are based on the identification of “the righteous” and “the sinners” as Pharisees and Sadducees respectively. S. disagrees with this reasoning and instead draws attention to the links of the frame of the Epistle with the Apocalypse of Weeks. On p. 214 he mentions five factors that must be taken into account when establishing a date for the Epistle that lead him to the conclusion that “[g]iven the lack of any allusion to the Maccabean revolt in the Epistle, the time period during which its sections were composed may have been years immediately preceding this conflict, that is, at a time roughly corresponding to the composition of the Apocalypse of Weeks.”

In the concluding section S. discusses the implied author of the Epistle and his community. More precisely, he asks about this author's consciousness of himself in relation with “the sinners” and “the righteous” in the Enochic tradition. It appears he looked upon himself as a visionary and a prophet. Unlike the Enochic predecessors his visionary qualities are visible with respect to the accessibility to “holy writings,” and they do not reveal themselves in the cosmos or in key events of world history. In his prophetic role, the author stands in the biblical tradition when he uses woe oracles, oaths, and disclosure formulae. Parallel to the biblical prophets the author is an advocate for the righteous.

The introduction to chapter five, Birth of Noah (1 Enoch 106:1–107:3), consists of five parts. Unlike the preceding chapters, it does not begin with a discussion of the various textual traditions, which are treated in section D. The first section of the introduction (A) discusses the Enochic character of chapters 106–107. There is literary evidence that the Birth of Noah originally was an independent tradition beside the early Enochic literary corpus into which it was integrated at a later stage. The second part pictures the importance the story of Noah's birth. Noah functions as a symbol of the righteous who will escape judgment. In this sense the story of the flood is emblematic for the eschatological judgment when the wicked will be punished and the righteous will be rescued. In the third part S. reflects on the question about the existence of a “Book of Noah” outside the Enoch text traditions in Second Temple literature. There is no real conclusion on this matter, since S. only notes that “[…] none of the texts […] relate to a birth tradition about Noah” (p. 611).

The textual traditions (part D) for the Birth of Noah survived in Ethiopic, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin. Except for the Latin version, the Birth of Noah appears immediately after the Epistle in all textual traditions. The Latin version has little text-critical value because of its truncating character and is therefore not treated in great detail in the commentary.

In part E, S. concludes his introduction to chapter five by establishing a date for the Enochic form of the Birth of Noah around the middle of the second century b.c.e..

In the sixth and last chapter of his lengthy commentary S. provides an introduction and a commentary to the final work of 1 Enoch: the Eschatological Admonition (108:1–15). The work is only extant in the Ethiopic tradition and evidence from the Aramaic manuscript of 4QEnc shows that it could not have contained the Eschatological Admonition in the first place. The language and traditions in the Ethiopic version contain evidence that the work had a Greek Vorlage, which mirror a Jewish Second Temple period background. S. therefore concludes that the Eschatological Admonition was probably added to the Enoch corpus at an early stage. This idea is developed further in the fourth section of the introduction under the heading the “Eschatological Admonition in Relation to Enochic and Other Early Jewish Traditions.” The comparison allows several new proposals to come to light in the Eschatological Admonition. S. suggests that are indicators that the work belongs to a literary tradition distinct from the rest of the Enochic corpus. Although the content and motifs complicate an exact dating of the work, S. suggests that is was composed “sometime during the late Second Temple period, perhaps around the latter part of the 1st century C.E.” (p. 694).

With this book Stuckenbruck provides Enochic scholarship with a welcome detailed and thorough commentary that contributes greatly to our understanding of the main issues relating to the textual traditions, the literary and historical background of the text, and its language and interpretation. The very clear and structured introductions at the beginning of each chapter provide the frame into which the actual commentary is read.

Perhaps it is too much to ask from a commentary, but the book would have benefited from an introduction to the 1 Enoch tradition as a whole on par with the introduction to chs. 91–108 found in chapter 1. Although S. refers to other important studies in the field of Enoch scholarship, the first chapter is overly dense. It would have been helpful if S. had provided a more overarching perspective and the general framework of the literary works.

A similar critique could be made with regard to the lack of concluding remarks with respect to the overall impression of the last chapters of 1 Enoch. Questions to be addressed in such a conclusion could pertain to the integrity of the work, its theological principles, its authors, and the tradition-historical setting of the various literary documents included in these last chapters of 1 Enoch.

Anke Dorman, University of Zurich