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The Evilness of Human Nature in 1Enoch, Jubilees, Paul, and 4Ezra: A Second Temple Jewish Debate

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Chapter Summary

1Enoch, Jubilees, Paul, and 4Ezra attest to the presence and persistence of a long and established tradition in Second Temple Judaism, which emphasized the evilness of human nature. The origin of evil was traced back to a single cause, which preceded, and resulted in, human transgressions. These traditions never directly challenged the effectiveness of the Mosaic Torah, but put into doubt the capability of people to obey it. Such emphasis on the evilness of human nature resulted in Enoch a theology of complaint. It pushed Jubilees to a different understanding of the covenant, and Paul to find a solution "apart from" the Torah. It prompted 4Ezra to reaffirm the centrality of Torah as the rule of the contest set by God to select the righteous. In this respect, the theology of 4Ezra is not dramatically different from that of 2Baruch, but the two "proto-rabbinic" texts differ dramatically in their approach.

Keywords: 1Enoch; 2Baruch; 4Ezra; evilness of human nature; Jubilees; Mosaic Torah; Paul; Second Temple Judaism



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