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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Naming Angels in Qumran texts

In the last post we noticed that John the author of the Apocalypse very rarely identifies angels by name. Darrell D. Hannah[1] makes note of a similar pattern at Qumran which he attributes to reticence among the Qumran sectarians to name angels. Hannah cites a well known passage from Josephus (War ii. 142) concerning an oath taken by Essenes “Not to communicate their doctrines … and to preserve in like manner both the books of their sect and the names of the angels.[2]”  We do not know if John had any connection with Essenes or the Qumran sectarians but there may have been other cultural factors that made the naming of angels undesirable.

[1] Darrell D. Hannah,  Michael and Christ: Michael Traditions and Angel Christology in Early Christianity. 1999, Mohr Siebeck, p.68.

[2]Josephus (War ii. 142) … κἂν μέχρι θανάτου τις βιάζηται. πρὸς τούτοις ὄμνυσιν μηδενὶ  μὲν μεταδοῦναι τῶν δογμάτων ἑτέρως ἢ ὡς αὐτὸς μετέλαβεν, ἀφέξεσθαι δὲ λῃστείας καὶ συντηρήσειν ὁμοίως τά τε τῆς αἱρέσεως αὐτῶν 4 βιβλία καὶ τὰ τῶν ἀγγέλων ὀνόματα. τοιούτοις μὲν ὅρκοις τοὺς 5 προσιόντας ἐξασφαλίζονται. 


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