OK—this is just a random thought based on no research.
I have long been puzzled about the authorship claims of psuedonomous apocalyptic texts. Take 1 Enoch. It claims to be accounts of the heavenly visions of Enoch (who lived before Noah). The author speaks as Enoch but NOBODY thinks that Enoch wrote the texts. It was a Second Temple text.
So, the puzzle is this: surely the author knew that he was not actually Enoch! And yet the claim that he was consciously lying and attempting to deceive his audience does not wash with me.
So what's going on?
Here's my random thought. There is evidence that some Jews in this period believed that it was possible to be possessed by the spirit of a dead person (why else, after all, might some people think that Jesus was John the Baptist—that could not be about reincarnation but spirit-possession).
Now, contrary to the claims of some scholars, it seems to me that profound religious experiences underlie apocalyptic texts (which is what the texts claim) so perhaps the author of the book believed himself to be possessed by the spirit of Enoch and that he was recording Enoch's actual experiences.
That would explain how he could make what seem to be obviously false claims (i.e. to be Enoch) without any attempt to deceive.
I am now expecting lots of people to say, "Sure! Everyone knows that! You are slow on the uptake." I probably am slow but it never really occurred to me before.
I guess that what I ought to do is to go and research the issue and come to a considered opinion . . . but life is too short.
- Robin Parry
- Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).