biblical studies carnival, convergence of independent nightmare traditions, Doctor Who, Exploring Our Matrix, Faceless Ones, Helge Kvanvig, James McGrath, Jim Davila, Lord of the Rings, PaleoJudaica, Patrick Troughton, Sauron, Tolkien
I learnt of this from Duane Smith’s Biblical Studies Carnival no. 72, which covers the month of February 2012 (a darn good summary of worthwhile biblical studies blogging over the last month).
James McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix) compares The Doctor Who episode “The Faceless Ones” from the Patrick Troughton era to the story of the disembodied giants of the Enoch tradition:
But now the giants who are born from the (union of) the spirits and the flesh shall be called evil spirits upon the earth
– 1 Enoch 15.8
It is the revelation of the aliens’ motive, relatively late in the episode, that makes for the most interesting intersection with religion. The aliens in question are from a world that had suffered a catastrophe which had resulted in their loss of their identities – their having become disfigured and so unrecognizable. Having discovered a way to be transformed into the likeness of humans they abduct, they have come to Earth in an effort to save their race. This reminded me of the ancient Jewish stories of powerful entities, the offspring of angels and humans, having had their bodies destroyed during the Flood, so that since then they seek to possess humans of whom they are envious because they still have bodies – in other words demons.
In a response, Jim Davila (PaleoJudaica) emphasises that the similarity between the Dr Who episode and the Enochic tradition of giants-cum-demons is probably not a result of any direct influence, but of “the convergence of independent nightmare traditions”. With that proviso, Jim compares the giant-demons of the Enochic tradition to the story of Sauron in JRR Tolkien’s fiction.
A more general comparison of the Enochic tradition with Tolkien was made earlier by Helge Kvanvig in his article, “The Watcher Story and Genesis: An Intertextual Reading” Scandanavian Journal of the Old Testament 18.2 (2004), 163-183:
For six years the gigantic three parts movie The Lord of the Rings has rolled over the screens globally. The reaction to this cinematic version of Tolkien’s great work has been almost religious…. Tolkien wanted to create a new myth for his own time, and the move is certainly have been able to visualise this myth. The reception shows that our generation has been underfed on engaging mythology. We have mostly been offered superficial science fiction on the one hand, and intellectualised and moralised religion on the other.
Few know that in the Jewish and Christian tradition there exist engaging mythical stories that have been suppressed in the course of history [for] dogmatic and intellectual reasons. One of these stories is the Enochic Watcher Story…. The Watcher Story, and the subplots connected to it through the course of history, is hardly inferior to the Lord of the Rings in vivid imagery. Here we find holy angels and rebelling angels, gigantic, devouring monsters 1500 meters high, enormous battles and catastrophes, haunting ghosts of the dead, high mountains and deep abysses. At the core of the story there are irresistible beautiful women and illegal sexuality, a feature that always have made humans curious. And above all, there is a narrative centred around the combat between good and evil, evolving toward the final battle and judgment, ending in the restoration of the earth in peace and harmony.
Can’t wait for the movie. Will have to put up with the children’s Nephilim fiction and Nephilim conspiracy theorists in the meantime.