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Re: orion-list Seth in Josephus
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Darryl Jeffries asks about the legend of astrological revelations on stone
tablets from before the flood. Josephus, Ant. 1.68-70 reads (Loeb Classics
"(68) I will only endeavor to narrate the story of the progeny of Seth.
He... left descendants who... (69) also discovered the science of the
heavenly bodies and their orderly array. (70) Moreover, to prevent their
discoveries from being lost to mankind and perishing before they became known
- Adam having predicted a destruction of the universe, at one time by a
violent fire and at anothe by a mighty deluge of water - they erected two
pillars, one of brick and the other of stone, and inscribed their discoveries
The book of Jubilees (c. 160 BCE, found in numerous copies at Qumran) and
1 Enoch (also at Qumran) both attribute the discovery of
astrological/astronomical secrets to Enoch (not Seth) who learned it from the
Watchers (Jub. 4:17ff; Astrological book of Enoch, c. 250 BCE). This Watcher
lore was passed down through the generations to the flood, but preserved on
tablets which were then discovered by Cainan the son of Arpachshad (Jub.
8:1-4), who transmitted it to later generations. The Treatise of Shem has
Shem the son of Noah pass on astrological data. The replacement of Enoch
with Seth as discoverer of astrological secrets is a later development,
showing up in apocryphal Life of Adam and Eve (chapters 50 and 51). (Wise,
Abegg and Cook have somewhat confused the traditions with that in Josephus,
which doesn't explicitly have Seth play quite so major a role.) The much
later (Gnostic) Gospel of the Egyptians refer to the stele with secret lore
put atop a mountain. The ultimate origin of these legends is Mesopotamian:
flood legends refer to inscribed tablets being hidden before the flood at
Sippar and later recovered after the flood. If you are interested in
pursuing these traditions (which are only tangentially related to scrolls
studies), many of the primary sources I have referred to can be found in
Charlesworth's 2-volume "The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha" (Doubleday, 1983).
The introductions to these texts are also valuable and mention other related
books and articles.
> In Wise, Abegg, and Cook's <italic>Dead Sea Scrolls</italic> (p. 381)
> there is reference to "a legend that Seth, the son of Adam, wrote out
> many revelations on stone tablets, which could be read only by the
> righteous Josephus Ant. 1.70)Š" but I don't find this material in
> Josephus. Can anyone help with a) the reference from Josephus and b)
> more on the legend itself.
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