Dualism in Jewish apocalyptic and Persian religion : an analysis

Durie, Liezl (2012-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of this thesis is to investigate the possible influence of Persian religion on dualism in Jewish apocalyptic literature, with particular attention to 1 Enoch. Many studies have been conducted on Jewish apocalyptic, although relatively few studies concentrate on Persian religious influence. One of the main reasons for this is the problematic dating of Persian sources, all of which appear to date to a later period than the Jewish apocalyptic texts they are suspected of influencing. Scholars who believe in the antiquity of the traditions underlying the Persian texts, such as Boyce, Otzen and Silverman, tend to be positive about the possibility of influence, whereas scholars such as Hanson and VanderKam insist that the origins of apocalyptic traditions can be found within Jewish religion and Mesopotamian culture, respectively. The dualism between God and evil plays a central role in Jewish apocalyptic. This basic dualism manifests itself in various dualities and on four levels. Firstly, on the cosmic level God is pitted against an agent of darkness (Satan/Belial/Mastema/Azazel) and good angels oppose fallen angels or demons. Secondly, in the physical universe God manifests in order, whereas evil shows itself in every area where God’s order is transgressed. Thirdly, on an anthropological-ethical level, mankind is divided into the righteous and the wicked according to the path each individual chooses within himself. Finally, on an eschatological level, the evils of the present age are contrasted with a glorious future that will begin when the messiah has appeared and the final judgment, which is sometimes linked with a resurrection, has taken place. In order to calculate when this new age will dawn, apocalyptic writers divide history into periods. Each of the abovementioned aspects finds a parallel in Persian religious thought, which revolves around the dualism between Ahura Mazda/Spenta Mainyu and Angra Mainyu/Ahriman. Each of the dualistic principles is supported by a host of divine beings and the battle involves nature and mankind, who are expected to choose a side. There is a strong messianic expectation, as well as a well-developed concept of a final judgment that involves resurrection, and the periodization of history is fundamental to the religion. This thesis attempts to trace the development of the abovementioned concepts in Jewish thinking, depending mainly on the Hebrew Bible as representative of ancient Israelite religion. Where discrepancies between Jewish apocalyptic and the ancient religion become evident, the possibility of Persian influence is considered. The investigation will show that each of the abovementioned aspects of the dualism between God and evil in Jewish apocalyptic contain traces of what might be the influence of Persian religion.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie tesis is om die moontlike invloed van Persiese godsdiens op die dualisme in Joodse apokaliptiek te ondersoek, met spesifieke verwysing na die Ethiopic Book of Enoch. ‘n Groot aantal studies is reeds uitgevoer rondom Joodse apokaliptiek, alhoewel relatief min daarvan fokus op die invloed van Persiese godsdiens. Een van die hoofredes hiervoor is die probleme rondom die datering van Persiese tekste, waarvan almal uit ‘n latere tydperk as die meeste Joodse apokaliptiese tekste blyk te dateer. Diegene wat vertroue het in die antiekheid van onderliggende tradisies in Persiese tekste, soos Boyce, Otzen en Silverman, is geneig om positief te wees oor die moontlikheid van invloed, terwyl ander soos Hanson en VanderKam daarop aandring dat die oorsprong van apokaliptiese tradisies te vinde is in Joodse godsdiens en die kultuur van Mesopotamië. Die dualisme tussen God en die bose speel ‘n sentrale rol in Joodse apokaliptiek. Hierdie basiese dualisme manifesteer in verskeie dualiteite en op vier vlakke. Eerstens, staan God op die kosmiese vlak teenoor ‘n agent van duisternis (Satan/Belial/Mastema/Azazel), en sit goeie engele slegte engele of demone teë. Tweedens manifesteer God in die orde van die fisiese heelal, terwyl die bose manifesteer in die oortreding van God se orde. Op die derde, antropologies-etiese vlak, is die mensdom verdeel tussen goed en kwaad op grond van die weg wat elke individu in homself kies. Laastens word die boosheid van die huidige era op die eskatologiese vlak gekontrasteer met die glorieryke toekoms, wat sal aanbreek wanneer die messias gekom het en die laaste oordeel, wat soms verband hou met ‘n opstanding, plaasgevind het. Apokaliptiese skrywers verdeel gereeld die wêreldgeskiedenis in tydperke om sodoende te bereken wanneer die toekomstige era sal aanbreek. Elkeen van die bogenoemde aspekte vind ‘n parallel in die Persiese godsdiens, wat gebaseer is op die dualisme tussen Ahura Mazda/Spenta Mainyu en Ahriman/Angra Mainyu. Elkeen word ondersteun deur ‘n leer van goddelike wesens en die stryd sluit die natuur en mensdom, van wie verwag word om ‘n kant te kies, in. Daar is ‘n sterk messiaanse verwagting, sowel as ‘n goed-ontwikkelde konsep van ‘n laaste oordeel, wat gepaard gaan met ‘n opstanding. Die verdeling van wêreldgeskiedenis in tydperke is ook fundamenteel tot die godsdiens. Hierdie tesis poog om die ontwikkeling van bogenoemde konsepte in die Joodse denkwyse na te volg en maak hoofsaaklike staat op die Hebreeuse Bybel as verteenwoordigend van oud-Israelitiese godsdiens. Waar diskrepansies tussen Joodse apokaliptiek en die antieke godsdiens vorendag kom, word die moontlikheid van Persiese invloed oorweeg. Die ondersoek sal toon dat elkeen van die bogenoemde aspekte van die dualisme tussen God en die bose in Joodse apokaliptiek moontlike tekens van Persiese invloed toon.

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