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Reading the Book of Giants in Literary and Historical Context1

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This article offers some new suggestions regarding the background and purpose of theBook of Giants in the light of recent scholarship emphasizing (1) the shared features andinterrelatedness of the Aramaic works discovered at Qumran and (2) the need to groundour understanding of early Jewish apocalyptic literature within the socio-political contextof Hellenistic imperial domination. While this intriguing composition has beenlocated correctly within the orbit of early Enochic tradition, the present study broadensthe lens in order to consider the significance of its striking parallels with Danielic tradition,beyond the well-known shared tradition of the throne theophany (4Q530 2 ii 16–20and Dan 7:9–10). Due attention is given both to the Danielic parallels and the transformationsin Giants vis-à-vis the Enochic tradition upon which it depends (the Book ofWatchers), which are interpreted in relation to recent research emphasizing that theearly Enochic and Danielic writings constituted expressions of resistance to imperialrule. In line with this literary and historical contextualization, the study argues for aparadigmatic interpretation of Giants, according to which the monstrous sons of thewatchers symbolize the violent, arrogant Hellenistic rulers of the author’s day.

Affiliations: 1: Yeshiva UniversityNew


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