Subject of my research project is the Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36) in its different versions (Aramaic, Greek, Old Ethiopic) and in particular the relationship between Scriptural interpretation and mythical traditions in this work. The project will focus especially on those chapters of the Book of the Watchers in which the phenomenon of “changes of spheres” is typically described. One focus will therefore be on chapters 14-16. These chapters are part of the first vision of Enoch and include basically a heavenly throne room vision and an exhortation to the Watchers. Another focus will be on chapter 22, which describes how Enoch gets to know the realm of the dead during his cosmic journeys and, related to this, the different opportunities of human fate after death. Both mentioned parts of the Book of the Watchers depend to some extent on a biblical Vorlage, i.e. on literary works that were regarded as authoritative and are thus quoted, reformulated or interpreted. At the same time, both parts present a series of mythical traditions that can only remotely be correlated with the biblical text. Accordingly my research project takes the tradition-historical question for one of its main starting points and will investigate the Book of the Watchers regarding the origin of the material on three levels: the biblical Vorlage, the extra-biblical Jewish or non-Jewish (i.e. ancient Near Eastern and Greek) traditions, and the creativity and contemporary historical context of the author. Finally it is the aim of the project – especially in regard to the field of Hebrew Bible studies, but also in comparative regard – to clarify the relationship between tradition-history, literary- and textual-history of the Book of the Watchers and to arrive at a better understanding of the origin and impact of Jewish apocalypticism.
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