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The Subversion of the Apocalypses in the Book of Jubilees

The Subversion of the Apocalypses in the Book of Jubilees

Todd R. Hanneken
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32c027
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  • Book Info
    The Subversion of the Apocalypses in the Book of Jubilees
    Book Description:

    In spite of some scholars’ inclination to include the book of Jubilees as another witness to “Enochic Judaism," the relationship of Jubilees to the apocalyptic writings and events surrounding the Maccabean revolt has never been adequately clarified. This book builds on scholarship on genre to establish a clear pattern among the ways Jubilees resembles and differs from other apocalypses. Jubilees matches the apocalypses of its day in overall structure and literary morphology. Jubilees also uses the literary genre to raise the issues typical of the apocalypses—including revelation, angels and demons, judgment, and eschatology—but rejects what the apocalypses typically say about those issues, subverting reader expectations with a corrected view. In addition to the main argument concerning Jubilees, this volume’s survey of what is fundamentally apocalyptic about apocalyptic literature advances the understanding of early Jewish apocalyptic literature and, in turn, of later apocalypses and comparable perspectives, including those of Paul and the Qumran sectarians.

    eISBN: 978-1-58983-643-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-50)

    The book of Jubilees was written at a crossroads in Jewish history. In the wake of the Maccabean revolt, the most fundamental issues of Jewish identity, practice, and authority were fiercely debated. Over time, multiple positions emerged, none of which matched the claims of Jubilees perfectly. Those who did accept the authority of Jubilees were at the margins of the Jewish, and later Christian, intellectual worlds. Thanks mostly to the church of Ethiopia and the caves at Qumran, the book was preserved remarkably well for modern scholars. Since the nineteenth century, and increasingly in recent years, Jubilees has been a...

  2. 2 The Spatial Axis
    (pp. 51-118)

    The use of the genre “apocalypse,” by definition, entails use of literary contents from the spatial axis, particularly cosmic beings such as angels and demons. The use of these literary features implies some treatment of the significance of cosmic beings for humanity. Thus far, Jubilees is like contemporary apocalypses. Despite variation in the details, contemporary apocalypses typically attribute great significance to cosmic forces for the origin of evil, the progression of human history, and the resolution of evil. Jubilees breaks this convention. Jubilees uses the genre to deal with the significance of cosmic forces but inverts the view typical of...

  3. 3 The Temporal Axis
    (pp. 119-194)

    Just as apocalypses describe the agents of the cosmic drama from a broad perspective, apocalypses also describe the content or meaning of history from a broad perspective. Apocalypses situate the reader in a view of history that is not empirically obvious and offer some expectation of the future, either directly or by extrapolation from precedent and pattern. Jubilees also provides a view of history that encompasses its beginning, its structure, its turning point, and its goal. We shall see that Jubilees fits the definition of the literary genre “apocalypse” in revealing a transcendent view of the temporal axis and conveys...

  4. 4 The View of Revelation
    (pp. 195-258)

    The genre “apocalypse” typically authorizes new revelation. Jubilees, however, uses the genre to authorize revelation that is already authoritative. Both of these statements require significant qualification, but a difference holds between new and derivative. The Jewish apocalypses typically resonate with authoritative literature or use it as a springboard, but neither the contents nor the authority derive primarily from the interpretation of received literature. Jubilees exercises great creativity but fundamentally derives its authority from authoritative materials. Any interpretation needs to be authorized in some way, and perhaps to some degree the importance of received scripture needed to be reauthorized. The use...

  5. 5 Explanation
    (pp. 259-294)

    The preceding chapters show that Jubilees conforms to the apocalyptic genre at the level of literary morphology but radically departs at the level of the ideas raised by the genre. Careful sifting of the data supports an observation of a clear pattern. This chapter attempts to explain the observation. What meaning does the pattern convey? The discussion thus far has not relied on reconstruction of authorial intent, audience response, or particulars of historical and cultural context. Such considerations operate at an inherently lesser level of certainty than the comparison of literary features. In order to explain the significance of the...

  6. Index of Ancient Sources
    (pp. 313-324)