Sunday, March 15, 2009

Enoch, Levi, and Jubilees on Sexuality

My review of William Loader's Enoch, Levi, And Jubilees On Sexuality: Attitudes Towards Sexuality In The Early Enoch Literature, The Aramaic Levi Document, And The Book Of Jubilees (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007) is now published in the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures. In case you are wondering, this is not a book I would have selected to review on my own, but it had been a while since I was last invited to review a book, so I said yes. It ended up being more interesting than I expected.

Most interesting on the curiosity side of things is an answer to the age-old question: Did Adam and Eve have sex in the garden? Loader argues that Jubilees would answer "no" because the garden corresponds to the sacred space of the Temple, but that Jubilees does suggest Adam and Eve 'knew' each other in a sexual sense before they entered the garden. So now you know.

On a more mundane, but more useful level, I was struck by the similar assumptions about Gentile immorality in Jubilees and Paul. This is a stereotype that Jews in general took for granted.

Paul's comments about purity in connection with Christians who are married to unbelievers are also similar to the concerns shared by 1 Enoch, the Aramaic Levi Document and Jubilees about intermarriage with Gentiles. Paul, however, claims that "the unbelieving husband is sanctified by his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the brother" (1 Cor 7:14). For the documents Loader surveys, illicit marriage defiles.

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