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LECTURE NOTES

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Chapter 3 Roles and Titles of Enoch-Metatron in Sefer Hekhalot and Other Materials In the beginning of this section dedicated to Metatron’s imagery, one important position pertaining to the origin of the Metatron tradition must be mentioned. In their analysis of the possible prototypes behind this tradition, scholars observe that the Enochic tradition clearly does not represent the single living stream from which Metatron’s symbolism possibly originated. Students of early Jewish mysticism point to other possible sources in shaping the imagery of this exalted angelic character. These other sources include, along with the patriarch Enoch, various figures of Jewish lore, for example, Michael,1 Yahoel,2 Melchisedek,3 and others.4 The current ————— 1 Because of similar titles and roles, Philip Alexander has drawn the connection between Metatron and the archangel Michael. As an explanation for these similarities, Alexander suggests that Metatron and Michael were one and the same angel bearing an esoteric and a common name: Michael was the common name and Metatron was the esoteric, magical name. However, at some point the connection between Metatron and Michael was obscured, and a new independent archangel with many of Michael’s powers came into being. In Alexander’s opinion “the connection may not have been entirely lost, for we find that in some late texts the identity of the two angels is asserted: see e.g. Sefer Zerubbabel…” Alexander, “3 Enoch,” 243–244; idem, “The Historical Settings of the Hebrew Book of Enoch,” 162. In Sefer Zerubbabel Michael is identified as Metatron. M. Himmelfarb, “Sefer Zerubbabel,” in: Rabbinic Fantasies: Imaginative Narratives from Classical Hebrew Literature (eds. D. Stern and M. J. Mirsky; Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1990) 71–81, esp. 73. 2 Scholars previously noted that Metatron’s story appears to absorb the legends about the angel Yahoel. Gruenwald points to the fact that the name Yahoel occurs as one of Metatron’s names not only in the list of the seventy names of Metatron but also in the Aramaic incantation bowls. See Gruenwald, Apocalyptic and Merkabah Mysticism, 196. On Yahoel’s figure see also Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology, 142ff. 3 See the pioneering research on the Melchisedek tradition(s) as a possible background of Metatron’s imagery, in J. R. Davila, “Melchizedek, The ‘Youth,’ and Jesus,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls as Background to Postbiblical Judaism and Early Christianity: Papers from an International Conference at St. Andrews in 2001 (ed. J. R. Davila; STDJ 46; Leiden: Brill, 2003) 248–274. 4 Hugo Odeberg’s early hypothesis that the identification of Metatron with Enoch represented a decisive formative pattern in the Metatron tradition was criticized by a number of distinguished students of Jewish mystical traditions, including M. Gaster, G. Scholem, S. Lieberman, J. Greenfield and others. These scholars noted that the concept ofSefer Hekhalot 87investigation supports this view and will demonstrate that even in the Enochic tradition Metatron’s imagery was gradually developed as a result of its interaction with various external characters prominent in the pseudepigraphic mediatorial traditions. The fact that the Enochic tradition is not solely responsible for the shaping of the image of Metatron can be seen in rabbinic and Hekhalot materials, the majority of which do not directly identify this angel with the seventh antediluvian patriarch. This situation sets parameters and priorities for this present chapter on the Metatron lore, which will rely first on the materials that unambiguously identify this principal angel with Enoch and, then, on other rabbinic and Hekhalot evidence where this explicit identification was not made. This analysis will mainly focus on 3 Enoch, a Merkabah text also known as Sefer Hekhalot (the Book of [the Heavenly] Palaces), where the connection between Enoch and Metatron is made explicit.5 3 Enoch occupies a special place in the corpus of the Hekhalot writings in light of its unique form, content, and the identity of the main character.6 It should be noted that the role of Sefer Hekhalot in the history of Jewish mysticism, as ————— Metatron cannot be explained solely by the reference to the early Enochic lore because Metatron has taken many of the titles and the functions that are reminiscent of those that the archangel Michael, Yahoel and other elevated personalities possess in early Jewish traditions. Despite the critique of Odeberg’s position, the possible influence of the Enochic tradition on the Metatron imagery has never been abandoned by the new approaches, mainly in the view of the evidence preserved in Sefer Hekhalot. For example, Scholem repeatedly referred to several streams of the Metatron tradition, one of which, in his opinion, was clearly connected with early Enochic developments. Scholars however often construe this “Enochic” stream as a later development that “joined” the Metatron tradition after its initial formative stage. 5 The question of the literary integrity of Sefer Hekhalot is a complicated issue. Philip Alexander argues for the existence of the “core” of the text which in his opinion includes chapters 3–15/16 and the latter additions to this “core.” He observes that “an inspection of the textual tradition shows that chapters 3–15/16, which describe the elevation of Enoch, circulated as an independent tract…and it is intrinsically probable that these chapters formed the core round which the longer recensions grew.” Alexander, “The Historical Settings of the Hebrew Book of Enoch,” 156–7. Peter Schäfer criticizes Alexander’s analysis of the composition of 3 Enoch and his hypothesis of the “core” of the text. Schäfer argues that textual evidence shows that this part of 3 Enoch was divorced from its context only in the course of the medieval transmission of the text. (See P. Schäfer, et al., Übersetzung der Hekhalot–Literatur, 1.LI). Rejecting Alexander’s literary-scientific model of the theory of layers as dubious, Schäfer demonstrates that the currently available manuscript tradition, the beginning of the macroform of 3 Enoch with §1 and the end far beyond §§19/20, witnessed by the older manuscripts (Geniza-Fragment, Florenz, Casanatense, Zürich, Vatican, München 40) is so constant that it appears difficult to recognize a “more


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