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This is by way of response to David Suter's last comment on angels and
Genesis and Enoch and the sectarians' "Shirot"
1. How to get our book, THE TRUTH ABOUT THE VIRGIN: SEX AND RITUAL IN
THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS, which is still quite new: either
Barnes & Noble, B. Dalton, your favorite bookstore, or
directly from the publisher: Continuum Pub. Group,. 370
Lexington Ave., NY, NY 10017 (800-937-5557 or 212-953-5858;
2. The timing: the flood history represents Qumran's favorite device of
reading their own
history backward into the Bible. Noah is adopted by the sectarians as
their father figure.
Enoch too, in our view, is the code name for one of the sect's founders,
hero living during the Hasmonean struggle with the Hellinists and their
culture. Enoch ,
even in the Biblical record has a special status and is particularly
righteous. The seeds of
the sectarian movement came to full fruition in Roman times and the same
can be said
about the progression of their philosophical dualism. It is reasonable for
them to interpret
such events, first the Greeks and then the Romans, with xenophobia of
3. We agree that these angels are depicted as having gone bad, or more
"fallen," because they have departed from the way that was set out for them.
Interestingly, "gone bad" involves the transmission of magical and healing
arts which you
have commented on in your book (dissertation) "Tradition and Composition in the
Parables of Enoch." The allegory, written under the influence of Qumranian
theology, speaks to breaching the laws of priestly family purity by having
intercourse in a human way (with daughters of man). Their ablution is to
forever as "pure" watchers (including the Melchizedek model and he, like
others, has a special "miraculous" birth narrative) or guardian angels, but
eunuchs in service to the priesthood. As we argue in our book, and we do
hope that you
will read it, the theology at Qumran suggests that "life forever" (and it
is not always clear
what that means; it may just be a life of purity in contrast with sin and
evil) is obtainable
only by giving up all sexual intercourse. The emphasis on sexual matters
was as much
their "hangup" as it is ours.
This "virginal" role of the angel-eunuchs or "god-like beings" [see just
two examples in
4Q400 1:4-16 e.g. "there is no unclean thing (tameh) in their holy
places.."; or, "and
God purifies (vaiytaher) the pure ones..."; "eternally pure." the
"tongues" imagery is also
very telling; they are all singing "zemer oz" (4Q403 1 i 6) and 4Q403 1 ii
which is filled
with fire (lahav. gehalim, esh), light, secrets and tongues offerings
did not mean, however, that the priests of the inner circle did not leave
a holy remnant;
they claim otherwise.
Where we are going with this line of thinking is alluded to in the title of
our book. The
Ritual of Immaculate Conception was the sectarian priesthood's way around this
seemingly contradictory issue (tohora and procreation). And the
sing-chant, played a critical intermediary role in the ritual and process
of the "pure
4. Finally, our reference to angels in art was a bit unclear. What we mean
is that early medieval pictorial representations of angels, which become a
are ambiguous about their gender. We focus on this part of "angelic"
history in an attempt to show the lasting legacy of Qumran.
Anne K. Blau.