Beyond Judaisms: Meṭ aṭ ron and the Divine Polymorphy of Ancient Judaism by Daniel Boyarin - HTML preview

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My specific project in this paper is to combine several related and notorious questions in the history of Judaism into one: What is the nexus among the semi-divine (or high angel) figure known in the Talmud as Met ̣at ̣ron, the figure of the exalted Enoch in the Enoch books ( 1-3 Enoch!), “The One Like a Son of Man” of Daniel, Jesus, the Son of Man, and the rabbinically named heresy of “Two Powers/Sovereignties in Heaven?” I believe that in order to move towards some kind of an answer to this question, we need to develop a somewhat different approach to the study of ancient Judaism, as I hope to show here. I claim that late-ancient rabbinic literature when read in the context of all contemporary and earlier texts of Judaism—those defined as rabbinic as well as those defined as non-, para-, or even anti-rabbinic—affords us a fair amount of evidence for and information 1) This essay began its life as one of the hundredth series of Haskell lectures in Middle Eastern literature in its relation to the Bible and Christian teachings, entitled “The Son of Man and the Genealogy of Rabbinic Judaism,” which were delivered by me in the Spring of 2007 at Oberlin College. I am very grateful to Prof. Abraham Socher who invited me to deliver these lectures. I thank him as well for his wonderful hospitality to me during very trying times in his life. These were intended to form a manuscript of the same title to be published by Fordham University Press. At the eleventh hour, however, I realized that the argument of one of the lectures seems to me fatally flawed, and I abandoned the monograph sadly (Helen Tartar of FUP was wonderfully generous in not making me feel guilty; Helen I owe you one). This essay is, therefore, a brand saved from a fire (the rest of the salvage will be incorporated, DV, into my forthcoming, tentatively entitled: How the Jews Came to Believe that Jesus was God). I wish to thank the following who read early versions of this manuscript and helped me to improve it: Carlin Barton, Ra’anan Boustan, Jonathan Boyarin, two anonymous readers, and Elliot Wolfson. Alon Goshen-Gottstein also provided critical commentary, some of which I have been able to incorporate.

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2010

DOI: 10.1163/157006310X503612


D. Boyarin / Journal for the Study of Judaism 41 (2010) 323-365

about a belief in (and perhaps cult of ) a second divine person within, or very close to, so-called “orthodox” rabbinic circles long after the advent of Christianity. Part of the evidence for this very cult will come from efforts at its suppression on the part of rabbinic texts. I believe, moreover, that a reasonable chain of inference links this late cult figure back through the late-antique Book of 3 Enoch to the Enoch of the first-century Parables of Enoch—also known in the scholarly literature as the Similitudes of Enoch—and thus to the Son of Man of that text and further back to the One Like a Son of Man of Daniel 7.