Biblical Cats Again

The Methuselah of Biblioblogging, Jim Davila, draws attention to an article in Archaeology (19 June 2017) on the domestic cat’s origins in “Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt”.

Noting that “Israel” is included on the list, Jim mentions that the Hebrew Bible and New Testament “never once mention domestic cats”.

This is quite possibly correct. However, in an earlier post I suggested that there might be one mention of a (wild, but possibly able-to-be-domesticated) cat hidden in the pages of the Hebrew Bible. It all depends, though, on how one translates “lilith” in Isaiah 34:14 along with three other (wild) animals.

In later tradition, Lilith becomes a nocturnal demon, greatly feared at least since medieval times. But Lilith has since been reclaimed by feminists, Neopagans, and Magick practitioners, and also features in the TV series Supernatural.

Update (22 June 2017): Jim Davila responds. For much the same reasons he sets out, I only count my suggestion as a possibility at the moment, too. I haven’t seen any peer-review-published identifications of the lilith with a cat (but there may well be some), and I would need to find some other grounds to link the lilith to the domestic house cat (Felis catus) before I’d publish the idea. And the lilith is (as I noted) clearly wild rather than domesticated in Isaiah 34 – although, many cats (Felis catus) are indeed wild or feral. Maybe a future project. Cat-loving Bible-readers of the world must know the truth.

The Book of Giants: Ancient Jewish Literary Creativity beyond the Bible

Slaying Humbaba - by Leonard Greco
Slaying Humbaba – by Leonard Greco

Philip Jenkins has written two useful posts on the Book of Giants, the ancient Jewish work which is found in different versions at Qumran and in Manichaeism.

In his first post, Philip provides a brief introduction to the Book of Giants. In his second post, Philip offers his comments on the significance of the Book of Giants for understanding ancient Judaism, Christianity, Gnosticism, and Manichaeism. In particular, I was interested in Philip’s comments on how the Book of Giants sheds light on the development of ancient Jewish literature. Philip refers to works like the Book of Giants as “fan fiction”:

Religious debate and speculation increasingly took the form of writing new texts and pseudo-scriptures, which took the familiar canonized stories and developed them according to contemporary needs and interests. It is scarcely too much to describe some of these pseudepigraphic and apocryphal works as fan fiction.

He then considers the level of invention involved in composing this “fan fiction”:

Not only are writers developing stories, but they are doing so in amazingly florid form, creating whole new mythologies packed with abundant names and titles. Presumably, some authors are sitting down and inventing these names of demons and giants afresh, while others are taking those and adding their own contributions to the expanding mythos. As we know from modern-day fantasy writers, once that process begins, it rapidly spreads and expands.

This is a good point about the Book of Giants, which bears little resemblance to any biblical passage. In fact, while much of the content shares common material with the Jewish work, the Book of Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36), other parts, such as the names of the giants “Gilgamesh” and “Hunbabis” draw from Babylonian myth. Moreover, the story-line in the Book of Giants, so far as it can be reconstructed from the fragments, introduces some highly original and inventive traditions about the giants. So we can’t accurately categorize Book of Giants as “rewritten Bible”: it neither derives straightforwardly or substantially from biblical traditions nor involves mere “rewriting”, but creatively uses older traditions within a new and original narrative.

Philip’s brief comments complement Eva Mroczek’s view in a recent article published in the Journal of Ancient Judaism, “The Hegemony of the Biblical in the Study of Second Temple Literature”.

Mroczek urges that we seek to appreciate early Jewish literature on its own terms, without assuming that its authors were primarily interested in the texts which later became parts of the Bible. She writes:

The absolute centrality of the biblical is a theological, not a historical axiom: a concern with the biblical in the texts that we study must be shown with evidence, not assumed by default. While the history of the field is a history of people seeking the origins, development, and meaning of these iconic texts, the subjects of our study were not necessarily preoccupied with the same things; they were not marching to the biblical finishing line, but living in a culture whose intellectual, religious, and literary creativity cannot be assimilated into one dominant icon. Recognizing this will help us see Second Temple literature more clearly on its own terms.

Mroczek applies these principles to ancient Jewish David traditions. But they apply well to the Book of Giants, too.

Have a read further:

Search Engine Referrals to Remnant of Giants

Jim Davila has just posted a list of search terms on search engines which, over the last year, ended up on his blog, PaleoJudaica.com.

So, I thought I’d do something similar for Remnant of Giants. Here is a list of search terms which  had 50 or more referrals to this blog over the last year. Like Jim, I have also arranged the terms thematically:

CELEBRITIES AND FILM:

kim kardashian
kim kardashian height; how tall is kim kardashian; kim kardashian tall
how tall is kris humphries; kris humphries height [searches for the respective heights of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries are consistently the most popular searches arriving at Remnant of Giants, and they end up here]
jack the giant slayer; jack and the giant slayer; jack.the.giant.slayer; jack and the giants; jack the giant killer
amelia pond
noah film
ri myung hun

BIBLICAL GIANTS

giants in the bible; biblical giants; giants of the bible; bible giants; giants from the bible; giants bible; who were the giants in the bible; giants in bible
ancient giants
how tall were the giants in the bible; how big were the giants in the bible; how tall were giants in the bible; how tall are giants
how tall were people in biblical times
cubits to feet; cubit to feet [probably found my post about the cubit-to-feet converter]
5 cubits tall
king og; og of bashan; og king of bashan; king og of bashan; og the giant; og giant; king of og
king og of bashan height; how tall was king og
goliath; goliath of gath
goliath the giant; goliath giant
what was goliath
was goliath real
goliath height; how tall was goliath; height of goliath; goliath’s height; how big was goliath; how tall was goliath in the bible; was goliath a giant; goliath size comparison; how big was goliath compared to david; how tall was goliath in feet; how tall is goliath; the height of goliath; goliaths height; what was the height of goliath
goliath skull found; goliath skull; goliath’s skull; skull of goliath; goliath’s skull found; goliath skull found in holy land; goliath’s skull found in holy land; skull of goliath found; goliath skull found near jerusalem; goliath skeleton found; goliath found; goliaths skull; goliath bones found; goliath’s head found [These searches are mainly prompted by a fictional story in the Weekly World News from 1993; although some of them are perhaps prompted by news reports in which the word “Goliath” was (wrongly) reported as having been found at Gath]
david and goliath
anakim; anakim giants; anakims; anakim people; anakims giants; anakim giants bible; anakims in the bible; who were the anakim; anakim in the bible
nephilim
gibborim nephilim
rephaim
zamzummim; zamzummims
gibborim
ishbibenob [A surprisingly popular giant, outranking searches for the Emim; searchers get an article on The Brick Testament]

OTHER GIANTS

giant
giant of castelnau; the giant of castelnau
davey and goliath
gigantopithecus
watusi tribe; watusi people
watusi tribe average height; watusi tribe height; tutsi height
watusi giants [which all land on this article about colonial myths of giant Tutsi]
negro mountain [to wit]
giant skeletons; giant skeletons found
tall
six fingered giants
how tall was achilles
giants in australia [because the French did discover giants in Australia]
tall women comparison

BIBLICAL
noah
gog and magog
philistine woman
emzara [well, more like biblical reception]

JESUS

jesus rising from the dead
pics of angels and jesus
jesus is a cunt
jesus in heaven

SCHOLARS

francesca stavrakopoulou
jean-fabrice nardelli
loren stuckenbruck

ANCIENT ASTRONAUT THEORY

steve quayle giants

KARL BARTH AND CHARLOTTE VON KIRSCHBAUM

charlotte von kirschbaum [which arrive on The Karl and Charlotte Collection series]

PORN

macrophilia; macrophilia porn; macrophiliac
gay macrophilia; macrophilia gay
giantess porn
giant porn
giant vore; giant man vore
he thong; he thong art; hethong
sex angels; sex with angels; sex with an angel; angel sex; sex angel; fallen angel sex; angels sex; sex with angel [There are a handful of posts on this topic, the most popular of which is my invaluable and meticulously researched guide, How Do You Know When You’re Having Sex With a Fallen Angel? Some Handy Hints from a Biblical Scholar. Some searches are prompted by the current craze for fallen angel romantic fiction: see here and here.]
thong
men in thongs; man thong; man in thong
how to seduce a christian woman; how to seduce a christian women; how to seduce a christian girl [Yes, almost as creepy as the President of the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics UK – but hopefully searchers learned something from The Testament of Reuben]

THIS BLOG

remnant of giants

MISCELLANEOUS

negro
caravaggio
caravaggio david
anatole france
gay embrace
angel wars book

And just to show you some of the stranger search terms which Remnant of Giants gets, here is a selection of more rare search terms from the last week:

“giantess tiny men cunt story”
“giant north korean soldier”
“giantess stinky feet”
“biblical names of mans gentials [sic]”
“tiny people with their giants”
“‘michael kok‘ philosopher”
“girls seduce and fuck with in church”
“can a woman have sex with an angel and seem like a dream?”
“gushing female organism [sic]”
“does russell crowe ever play an angel”
“guys tell me that i am an angel what does that mean”
“how would giant gonzales look next to robert wadlow?”
“men kissing devoutly feet of women”
“is francesca stavrakopoulou married”
“do dwarves have normal sized genitalia”

This is mildly interesting. Let’s turn it into a meme. I tag Emma England, Gavin Rumney, Michael Kok, Jack Collins, and Robert Cargill.

Update: Tracing the Meme

Michael Kok, Euangelion Kata Markon

Rodney A. Thomas, Political Jesus

Summary of the Book of Giants by Jim Davila – And Loren Stuckenbruck Turns Into a Woman

Jim Davila (PaleoJudaica) recently noted that he has made available his lecture notes which provide a very useful summary and discussion of The Book of Giants, in its Christian (Manichaean) and Jewish (Dead Sea Scroll) versions. The Book of Giants is a development of the Book of Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36), and includes further stories about the offspring of the Watchers and human women (the Giants).

For a more detailed analysis of the quite fragmentary Dead Sea Scroll version of The Book of Giants, the best discussion is still Loren T. Stuckenbruck’s The Book of Giants from Qumran: Texts, Translation, and Commentary (TSAJ 63; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1997).

Loren Stuckenbruck: A man
Loren Stuckenbruck: A man

Loren Stuckenbruck is a man, and almost universally regarded as such. But in the Apollos Old Testament Commentary on Daniel, he becomes a woman:

Stuckenbruck (1997) has highlighted the striking similarity between a passage in 4Q530, an Aramaic text generally thought to belong to the Enochic work The Book of Giants, and Dan. 7:9-10. She questions earlier judgments that the Qumran text is dependent on Daniel, and suggests that the two texts make independent use of an earlier theophanic tradition. (p. 175)

The “1997” reference doesn’t refer to his 1997 book on The Book of Giants, but to Loren T. Stuckenbruck, “The Throne-Theophany of the Book of Giants: Some New Light on the background of Daniel 7,” in The Scrolls and the Scriptures: Qumran Fifty Years Later, eds. Stanley E. Porter and Craig E. Evans, 211-220 (Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha, Supplementary Series, 26; Roehampton Institute London Papers, 3; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997). In that article, Stuckenbruck identifies eight examples of identical vocabulary in the two throne visions in lines 16b-20a (frgs 7, 8) of 4QEnGiantsb (4Q530) and Dan. 7.9-10, seven of which are in identical grammatical form, with remarkably similar sequence of phraseology, including five phrases in 17a, b, c-d, 18b, c which correspond to Dan. 7.9b, c, 10c, d, f and in exactly the same sequence (p. 217; cf. Book of Giants, 118). Comparison of the two texts demonstrates that the version in 4QEnGiantsb is “both structurally and theologically less complex than its counterpart in Daniel” (p. 219).  For example, it is more likely that Daniel has added further details concerning the seated figure, his throne, and the “Son of Man” figure than to suppose that 4QEnGiantsb has removed them. Also, the inflation of worshipers at the divine throne from “a hundred hundreds” and “a thousand thousands” (4QEnGiantsb) to “a thousand thousands” and “ten thousand ten thousands” (Dan. 7) is more likely than a reduction. This indicates that Dan. 7 is probably the later text, and dependent at least on a common tradition to that in 4QEnGiantsb.

Enochic Giants vs. Dr Who vs. Lord of the Rings

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).

Gratuitous picture of Karen GIllan (Amelia Pond)
Gratuitous picture of Karen GIllan (Amelia Pond)

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

James says,

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.