Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Enoch and angels and Grendel, oh my

I enjoy downloading lectures from videos on archeology etc. (PennMuseum is a good place to start).  A lot of stuff has been rewritten since I studied ancient Greek history in college 40 years ago, and this includes a dramatic retelling of the history of the Americas.

There are a lot of nonsense and conspiracy stuff pretending to be history/archeology there, especially about UFO's and spirits marrying men, and weird powers, that I tend to avoid. This is especially notorious when the press picks up this stuff, mainly the latest theories of Jesus that have been touted as new but actually date back to the early heresies rejected by the mainstream churches (Catholic, orthodox, etc).

Those old gnostic heresies are back in force nowadays among the elites, who are all busy evolving to a higher power to get rich, but actually are ancient: I just listened to a history lecture by Prof Vaughn atUHouston that explained these ideas and quickly pointed out the consequences of the ideas,(gnostics allow everyone their own beliefs, meaning they become dissipated proud individuals, not a community of believers, so their churches petered out. This also has implications for logic and science, which rely on the idea that there is truth that man can discern,  but that is another lecture course altogether, from Prof Raia at Berkeley)

Lots of nonsense out there, and lots of hostility against traditional beliefs, as Philip Jenkins pointed out, probably so they can pretend they have found newfangled ideas and get praised but in reality they are only touting stuff scholars have known for years.

I mean, when one eminent professor started his speech to the national press club or some other secular organization, he began by saying in his classes, he always told the students to write down the name of all the books in the bible, and when they couldn't, he ridiculed them. Well, duh. This is like asking a chemist to name every element on the periodic table. But knowing trivia is not the same as knowledge in context. Needless to say, I didn't listen to the rest of the lecture: his bias was silly and unscientific, and I can't abide nonsense in my old age.

I have two history books on the early church controversies by Philip Jenkins, and was delighted to find others can be read on Scribd.

but anyway, right now he is posting short items about the ancient book of Enoch, which was influential in the very early church (and included in the bible of Orthodox Ethiopians) but was dropped by 400 ad. LINK

the book's ideas of angels etc is big in the armageddon conspiracy pages of C2C etc. but like many of the "lost gospels" it's ideas floated around in folk literature of the early church (as did stories of Mary and Jesus's childhoods that are known to Catholics but not considered bible truth).

So anyway, one of Jenkins essays on this points out that it may have influenced Beowulf.

1 Enoch also circulated in the British Isles, in Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England. Modern scholars have found memories of the book in many incidental references from the early Middle Ages, and in artistic depictions...In England, in fact, Enoch had a curious and lasting cultural impact. 

The poem Beowulf appears to depict a primitive pagan world. This great poem tells of a village besieged by a terrifying monster called Grendel. The mighty hero Beowulf defeats Grendel, only to find that he must then combat a still more alarming enemy in Grendel’s mother.
But let’s look at those names. “Grendel” makes some sense in terms of a thing that grinds, that crushes with its ferocious teeth, but logically the Anglo-Saxon name should be something like “Grendr.” So where did the “-el” part come from? Forty years ago, medieval scholars offered a surprising answer. Whoever composed Beowulf drew heavily on the Hebrew Bible, and more specifically, on 1 Enoch.
Genesis reports the sons of God mating with the daughters of men, and those monstrous hybrids fascinated later writers. In 1 Enoch, they become cannibals and giants, who sound very much like Grendel’s horrible family.

Jenkins links to a column at realclearreligion
if you need more information.

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