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Beyond Judaisms: Metatron and the Divine Polymorphy of Ancient Judaism

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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 Metatron, 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 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.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Near Eastern Studies, 248 Barrows Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1940, USA


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