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[JSP 14.2 (2005) 159-177] DOI: 10.


Men and Women as Angels in Joseph and Aseneth George J, Brooke

Religions and Theology, Humanities Lime Grove, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester Ml 3 9PL

This article compares the understanding of angels in the sectarian scrolls from Qumran with the angelomorphism of Joseph and Aseneth. The sectarian Qumran scrolls are used as a comparator with Joseph and Aseneth because they are all clearly Jewish and predate the fall of the Temple in 70 CE, For the Qumran texts the views of D, Dimant (1996), B. Frennesson (1999) and C.H.T. Fletcher-Louis (2002) stress the communion of the community with the angels and even the possibility of human angelomorphism. When set alongside the angelic transformations of Joseph, Aseneth and Jacob as described in Joseph and Aseneth, it is possible to argue that this dominant feature of the narrative, especially Aseneth's 'conversion', helps to date the text to a similar time as the sectarian scrolls over against the fourth-century CE date argued for by R.S. Kraemer, who misrepresents as an adjuration Aseneth's prayer leading to her conversion.

The purpose of this study is to reconsider briefly one aspect of the place of the scrolls found in the caves at or near Qumran for the better understanding of Joseph and Aseneth. It is not my intention to support any theory that Joseph and Aseneth is the product of Essene Judaism or of a group of Therapeutae,' Most recently, for example, R.D. Chesnutt has suitably underlined the differences in terms of meal practices and initiation rites between the Essenes (as probably reflected in the sectarian compositions
1. See, e.g., K.G. Kuhn, 'The Lord's Supper and the Communal Meal at Qumran', in K. Stendahl (ed.). The Scrolls and the New Testament (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957), pp. 65-93; and M. Delcor, 'Un roman d'amourd'origine therapeute: Le Livre de Joseph et Asenath', BLE 63 (1962), pp. 3-27.
SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks CA, and New Delhi)


Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 14,2 (2005)

from Qumran) and the Therapeutae on the one hand and Joseph and Aseneth on the other,^ Nevertheless, despite the obvious differences, it is appropriate to consider whether there are some motifs among those found in the scrolls from Qumran which can illuminate similar motifs in Joseph and Aseneth. Such similarities may not only help in the better understanding of Joseph and Aseneth, but may also contribute towards determining a permissible date of at least one aspect of the narrative, if not its final form.^ 2. Angelomorphism in the Dead Sea Scrolls Two features make the scrolls from Qumran very important as a resource in the debates concerning the suitable religious location and dating of much Jewish pseudepigrapha. On the one hand the scrolls found at Qumran are clearly Jewish, and on the other they are clearly from before the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Concern with the place and function of angels in the scrolls found at Qumran has been a matter of concern almost from the outset."* The topic has been of ongoing interest,^ promoted not least by the complete publication in 1985 of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice.^ Three more recent studies can particularly inform the points being made in this study. To begin with, in 1996 D. Dimant published a study in which she made explicit the point that the Qumran 'community aimed at creating on earth a replica of the heavenly world'.' Dimant's analysis of the self-understanding of the
2. R.D, Chesnutt, From Death to Life: Conversion in Joseph and Aseneth (JSPSup, 16; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), pp. 186-98. 3. The paper thus falls more within the history-of-religions than the literaryhistorical approach: see the distinctions between the two made by R.D. Chesnutt, 'From Text to Context: The Social Matrix of Joseph and Aseneth', in SBLSP (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1996), pp. 285-302, 4. See, e.g., J.A. Fitzmyer, 'A Feature of Qumran Angelology and the Angels of 1 Cor 11,10', A^ra 4 (1957-58), pp, 48-58; D, Barthelemy, 'Le saintete selon la communaute de Qumran et selon l'Evangile', in J, van der Ploeg (ed.), Lasecte de Qumran et les origines du Christianisme (RechBib, 4; Paris: Desclee de Brouwer, 1959), pp. 203-16. 5. See, e.g., P.J. K.ohe\ski, MelchizedekandMelchiresa' (CBQMS, 10; Washington, DC: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1981), 6. CA. Newsom, Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice: A Critical Edition (HSS, 27; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1985). 7. D. Dimant, 'Men as Angels: The Self-image of the Qumran Community', in A. Berlin (ed.). Religion and Politics in the Ancient Near East (Studies and Texts in


Men and Women as Angels


Qumran community was based not least on her observation that as attested in the book oi Jubilees (2.2,18) the Angels of the Presence and the Angels of Holiness have a pre-eminent place in serving God, a pre-eminence which is also marked out by their circumcision {Jub. 15.27-28). According to Jubilees, by implication, it is these two classes of angels which correspond with the earthly Israel. By setting in tabular form short passages from the Community Rule and other sectarian texts alongside extracts from the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, Dimant then demonstrates that the community attempted to imitate their angelic counterparts through forming a special community, living out the covenant with God, being the recipients of special laws, offering bloodless sacrifices, existing in perfect purity, living without sin in their midst, praising God, expiating for sin, possessing divine wisdom and exercising the role of teachers. Point by point Dimant shows that the way of life in the community was an imitation of the functions of the leading angels.^ While Dimant has drawn attention to the way in which Qumran community life may have been modelled on and justified by that of the angels, B. Frennesson has taken one further step in moving beyond Dimant's description of an analogical communion between the community and the leading angels.^ Frennesson assesses a number of sectarian compositions, including the Hodayot, the Community Rule, the Daily Prayers (4Q503), the Songs of the Sage (4Q510-11), the Words of the Luminaries (4Q504506), the Blessings (4Q286-90), and the War Scroll, to conclude that they appear to assume the possibility of communion with the angels. The Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice are investigated closely and read as containing the words of a performance in which humans and angels are joined together in common worship: 'when performing their own liturgy of praise-offerings, the community members also consciously share in that of the highest angels'.'"
Jewish History and Culture; Bethesda, MD: University Press of Maryland, 1996), pp. 93-103(101). 8. A key detail in Dimant's conclusion is that the community seems to have lived its own version of Mai. 2.7the only scriptural text describing the priest as ~\^bi2 ('angel/messenger'); see 'Men as Angels', p. 103. 9. B. Frennesson, 'In a Common Rejoicing': Liturgical Communion with Angels in Qumran (Studia Semitica Upsaliensia, 14; Uppsala: Uppsala University, 1999). 10. Frennesson, 'In a Common Rejoicing', p. 100. Cf. F. Garcia Martinez, 'Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls', in J.J. Collins (ed.), The Origins of Apocalypticism in Judaism and Chrsitianity (Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism, 1; New York: Continuum, 1999), pp. 162-92 (184): 'The complexity and structured organization of the


Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 14.2 (2005)

Frennesson's study concludes with an analysis of the tantalizing fragment 4Q491 11, which seems to contain the claims of someone already seated in heaven, an early example of a tradition whieh assumes an actual human transformation:
.. .a mighty throne in the congregation of the gods upon which none of the kings of the East shall sit, and their nobles [shall] not [...there are no]ne comparable to me in my glory and besides me no-one is exalted, nor come to me, for I sit in [...hea]ven...I am reckoned among the gods."

Noting with suspicion the claims by several scholars that other sectarian texts indicate that community members could experience the heavenly service, Frennesson nevertheless agrees with the majority of recent studies of 4Q491 (11 .i. 14,18) that the speaker in the 'hymn' is a human: his desires are not 'according to the flesh' and he claims to be 'reckoned among the gods' (angels). Because the text does not clearly describe an ascent,
.. .to a pious man of Qumran, reared in a spiritual atmosphere where heaven and the angels are seen as close indeed, the words of 4Q49I 11 I, 11-18 would have been viewed not 'only' as metaphors in the sense of literary devices, but rather as metaphorical reflections of a reality, as a real attempt to portray an otherworldly experience.'^

It is clear that God's presence with the community on earth was thought of as an angelie presence; for Frennesson it is also possible that the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice constitute an example of a liturgieal text-cycle that in fact makes liturgical communion happen, 'joining together heaven and earth through the very performance of "a concrete liturgical act"', and that 4Q491 11 contains an early literary example o f a tradition of man's actual transformation and enthronement'.'^ Much less caution is shown in the extensive study by C.H.T. FleteherLouis on angelomorphism in the Dead Sea scrolls.''' In the first part of his book, Fletcher-Louis outlines appropriately how the Qumran community
heavenly world that we find in the apocalypses are represented also in the Scrolls, which add a most notable element: the idea that the angels are already living among the members of the community. The fellowship with the angels is not restricted to the fliture but is a reality also of the present and allows participation in the liturgy of the heavenly temple.' 11. Translation by C.H.T. Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam: Liturgical Anthropology in the Dead Sea Scrolls (STDJ, 42; Leiden: Brill, 2002), p. 200. 12. Frennesson, 'In a Common Rejoicing',^p. 111. 13. Frennesson, 'In a Common Rejoicing', p. 116. 14. Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam; some of his ideas are also worked out in his studies 'Ascent to Heaven and the Embodiment of Heaven: A Revisionist


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...accepted as a fundamental axiom of their theology the belief that as originally created and as restored in the community of the righteous (the true Israel), humanity belongs firmly within the divine world. At times this means the righteous have the rights, privileges and status of angelsthey are angelomorphic. But at other times and for particular persons the righteous are more properly included within the grammar of God's own life, embodying his Glory.'^

Though Fletcher-Louis is keen to read several ambiguous texts in such a way as to support his thesis, even arguing that several clearly imply that the pure member of the eommunity might be capable of receiving the honour and worship otherwise reserved for God, there is evidently more than enough in the well-known sectarian texts to underline that the true humanity of the righteous can be conceptualized as angelomorphic. In the rest of his book Fletcher-Louis develops his overall idea by focussing on particular keyfiguresas represented in both the sectarian and non-sectarian scrolls from Qumran.'* Most notably he argues that the priestly leaders of the Qumran community were envisaged in angelic terms. For him the best example of such a text is lQSb 4.24-26:
May you be as an Angel of the Presence in the Abode of Holiness to the glory of the God of [hosts]... May you attend upon the service in the Temple of the Kingdom and decree destiny in company with the Angels of the Presence, in common council [with the Holy Ones] for everlasting ages and time without end; for [all] His judgements are [truth]! May He make you holy among His people, and an [eternal] light [to illumine] the world with knowledge and to enlighten the face of the Congregation [with wisdom]! [May He] consecrate you to the Holy of Holies! For [you are made] holy for Him and you shall glorify His name and His holiness... '^

As most commentators have observed, this blessing is probably addressed to a high priest. For our purposes it is not necessary to sort out the location
Reading of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice', SBLSP (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998), pp. 367-99; and 'Some Reflections on Angelomorphic Humanity Texts among the Dead Sea Scro\\s\ Dead Sea Discoveries 1 (2000), pp. 292-312 (this issue oi Dead Sea Discoveries is devoted to the theme of angels and demons in the Dead Sea scrolls and other early Jewish literature). 15. Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam, p. 135. 16. Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam, pp. 136-49, comments on Moses as divine and angelic in Qumran writings; some key aspects of this description of Moses have been largely supported by J.W. van Henten, 'Moses as Heavenly Messenger in Assumptio Mosis 10.2 and Qumran Passages', JJS 54 (2003), pp. 216-27. 17. Translation by G. Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (London: Penguin Books, 1988), p. 376.


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of the addressee, whether in heaven or on earth; it is important, however, to note the force of the comparison contained within the text. Somebody writing at the beginning of the first century BCE could readily conceive of the high priest as functioning like the Angel of the Presence. In the way in which the blessing continues by describing the priestly functions as enlightening the congregation, it is not inappropriate to envisage that this high priest is supposed to manifest the glory of God. Until the publication of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice and the enigmatic 4Q491 11, the blessing of the high priest in lQSb and the angelic resonances of several other texts such as the Hodayot were commonly played down; such texts were commonly interpreted merely as offering a form of comparison. Fletcher-Louis has done us the service of digging through the whole corpus once again to reveal that in many places there is overt depiction of the members of the community, especially the priestly leadership, with angelic descriptors. Not surprisingly, Fletcher-Louis concludes that the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice are 'the fullest, most sustained expression of an anthropology which takes the righteous up into the divine life and that of the angels', and he reads the thirteenth song as indicating that 'the community's own chief priesthood is identified with the Glory of God of Ezekiel's throne vision'.'^ Whether his understanding of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice as possibly akin to later Jewish literature of human heavenly ascents is suitable has yet to be demonstrated. It is manifestly clear, however, that the worshipping community is envisioned as participating in the worship of the angels to the point at which the distinction between the human and the divine, between community members and angels, and between heaven and earth, is blurred." It is not surprising to see angelic descriptors applied to members of the community, particularly its priestly leadership, in the strictly sectarian texts. One last example of a composition found at Qumran will help set up this part of the argument. In the probably non-sectarian Aramaic text 4Q541 9,i.2-5 one reads as follows:
18, Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam, p, 392, 19, Cf, E,M, Schuller, 'Worship, Temple, and Prayer in the Dead Sea Scrolls', in A,J, Avery-Peck, J, Neusner and B,D, Chilton (eds,), Judaism in Late Antiquity, Part 5: The Judaism of Qumran: A Systemic Reading of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Handbook of Oriental Studies, 56,5; Leiden: E,J, Brill, 2001), pp, 125-43 (137): 'mortals on earth can join with the angels in heaven precisely through the agency of the words of praise that both groups offer to God, The dynamics of the interrelationship is not articulated explicitly and what was understood often is hinted at rather than explained,'


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And he will make expiation for all the sons of his generation; and he will be sent to all the sons of his [peop]le(?). His word is like a word of the heavens, and his teaching conforms to the will of God, His eternal sun will shine; and its fire will bum in all the comers of the earth. And on the darkness it will shine; then the darkness will disappear [fr]om the earth and the cloud from the dry ^''

The role of expiation indicates that the person described here is a priest whose activity is associated with the sun (as in Sir. 50.7); this priest's activity is like a new creation and his heavenly word distinguishes light from darkness and removes the cloud from the dry land. His role cosmogonically conforms to the divine purposes. He himself is the sun shining. The significance of this for the understanding of the solar angelomorphic descriptions of Joseph in Joseph and Aseneth will become clear shortly. This brief catalogue of angelic features in the Jewish writings preserved at Qumran is confirmed by other contemporary Jewish texts which also reveal how the appearance of human beings might be transformed into something angelic. A notable example is to be found in the Additions to Esther, which are widely accepted as predating the second century CE, Esther comes before her husband the king, 'He was seated on his royal throne, clothed in the full array of all his majesty, all covered with gold and precious stones. He was most terrifying' (LXX Est. 15.6). Esther swoons and faints in front of him. After he has taken her in his arms and comforted her, she says to him: '"I saw you, my lord, like an angel of God, and my heart was shaken with fear at your glory. For you are wonderful, my lord, and your countenance is full of grace". And while she was speaking, she fainted and fell' (LXX Est. 15.16). Though in the story Esther herself may be dissembling, the author's descriptive language of how the king seemed to her as an angel is evidence of associating such human royal radiance with the glory and grace of the angelic. 3. Angelomorphism in Joseph and Aseneth The description of humans in angelic terms is present in Joseph and Aseneth in the portraits of three leading characters. It is not necessary to
20, Translation by G,J, Brooke, '4QTestament of Levid(?) and the Messianic Servant High Priest', in M,C, de Boer (ed,), From Jesus to John: Essays on Jesus and New Testament Christology in Honour ofMarinus deJonge (JSNTSup, 84; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), pp, 83-100 (87),


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rehearse here every detail of these descriptions, since they have often been pointed out. The purpose of this section is rather to align some of the principal features of these descriptions with some of the elements found at Qumran with a view to pointing out that there is more than enough material from the caves (and elsewhere) to indicate that the kind of angelology assumed by the narrator of Joseph and Aseneth is known from Jewish circles from the late Second Temple period onwards, a. Joseph Most obviously it is Joseph whose deseription likens him to an angel. The description is provided in several ways. The first portrait is given by the narrator as Joseph arrives at the house of Pentephres:
And Joseph was dressed in an exquisite white tunic, and the robe which he had thrown around him was purple, made of linen interwoven with gold, and a golden crown was on his head, and around the crown were twelve chosen stones and on top of the stones were twelve golden rays. And a royal [sceptre] staff was in his left hand, and in his right hand he held outstretched an olive branch, and there was plenty of fruit on it, and in the fruits was a great wealth of oil. (5,5)

Joseph appears in royal dress with priestly overtones; some elements of his attire reflect the descriptions of the priestly robes of Exodus 28. The language of Exodus 28 appears at many places in the scrolls, but especially in the context of angelic service in the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice.^^ The second depicture of Joseph comes as Aseneth describes him in her heart and declares to herself that 'the sun from heaven has come to us on his chariot and entered our house today, and shines in it like a light upon the earth' (6.2). She recognizes him for what he is, (a) son of God: 'for who among men on earth will generate such beauty, and what womb of a woman will give birth to such light?' (6.4). The three motifs in this second description have their counterparts in texts found in the Qumran caves. The one who is like the sun matches, for example, the priestly figure of
21, C, Burchard, 'Joseph and Aseneth', in OTP, 11, p, 208; based upon the long b group of texts, all English citations of Joseph and Aseneth in this article are from Burchard's translation unless otherwise noted. The phrases in italics are in the long text translated here hut lacking in the short text of group d\ the word(s) in square brackets is the reading to be found in the short text. References are given according to the long text, 22. See, e.g,, 4Q405 23,ii,2-13; 11Q17,ix,3-9, and as expounded by Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam, pp, 356-58,


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4Q541. The designation 'son of God'^^ belongs both to some eschatological figure as is found in 4Q246 ('the son of God he will be proclaimed and the son of the Most High they will call him'),^"* but even more clearly to the angels, as in the alternative plural reading for Deut. 32,7 ("m'^iS '']n) in 4QDeutJ fragment 34,^^ The comments on light correspond with the language of lQSb cited above in which the high priest is associated with an Angel of the Presence. The third confirmation that Joseph is indeed angelic, an angelomorph, is provided by the narrator himself when he describes the angel who comes to play his part in the transformation of Aseneth as 'in every respect similar to Joseph', a description which does not humanize the angel, since the ensuing portrait hardly permits that, so much as confirm the angelic character of Joseph:
And Aseneth raised her head and saw, and behold, (there was) a man in every respect similar to Joseph, by the robe and the crown and the royal staff, except that his face was like lightning, and his eyes like sunshine, and the hairs of his head like a flame of fire of a burning torch, and his hands and his feet like iron shining forth from a fire, and sparks shot forth from his hands and his feet, (14,9)

Joseph's angelic identity is thus underlined in the narrative quite explicitly, though the text also notes some differences between the heavenly man and Joseph. b. Aseneth The second character to be spoken of in angelic terms is Aseneth herself The process of her transformation from Gentile idolater to Joseph's wife is the substance of thefirstmajor part of the work.^^ There are two particular
23, E,S, Gruen, Heritage and Hellenism: The Reinvention of Jewish Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), pp, 97-98, comments that the designation 'son of God' 'is not a title, nor should it be seen as a Christian interpolation. But it lifts Joseph well out of the ordinary and sets him in the glow of the divine', 24, See the summary description of possible interpretations of 'son of God' in 4Q246 by E, Puech, '246,4QApocryphe de Daniel ar', in G,J, Brooke et al. in consultation with J.C, VanderKam, Qumran Cave 4.XVn: Parabiblical Texts, Part 3 (DJD, 22; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), pp, 165-84 (179-84) (bibliography on p, 165), 25, See J,A, Duncan, '37, 4QDeutJ', in E, Ulrich and F,M, Cross (eds,), Qumran Cave 4.IX: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Kings (DJD, 14; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), pp, 75-91 (90), The LXX reads ayyiXcov eeou, 26, R,C, Douglas, 'Liminality and Conversion in Joseph and Aseneth', JSP 3 (1988), pp, 31 -42, has described Aseneth's transformation as evidence o f the communal and cosmic significance of conversion to Judaism' (p, 42),


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facets to her transformation which have angelic overtones, though several other features of the narrative could also be associated with heavenly matters. The first feature concerns her beauty.^^ Although she is described at the outset as 'very tall and handsome and beautiful to look at beyond all virgins on the earth' (1.6), her appearance is yet transformed together with her status. As she prepares herself for Joseph's arrival, Aseneth decides to wash her face:
And she brought her pure water from the spring and poured it into the basin. And Aseneth leaned (over) to wash her face and saw her face in the water. And it was like the sun and her eyes (were) like a rising morning star, and her cheeks like fields of the Most High, and on her cheeks (there was) red (color) like a son of man's blood, and her lips (were) like a rose of life coming out of its foliage, and her teeth like fighting men lined up for a fight, and the hair of her head (was) like a vine in the paradise of God prospering in its fruits, and her neck like an all-variegated cypress, and her breasts (were) like the mountains of the Most High God (18.9).

Aseneth's great beauty is described in relation to several scriptural motifs, not least those to be found in the Song of Songs. However, the key motifs which liken her to the angel rest in the references to the sun and the moming star which are in all forms of the text;-^^ the former has been used to describe Joseph, the latter the man from heaven who has declared that her confession has been found acceptable. Her angelic status is confirmed by the reaction of the first person to see her: 'and when he saw her he was alarmed and stood speechless for a long (time), and was filled with great fear and fell at her feet and said, "What is this, my mistress, and what is this great and wonderful beauty?" '(18.11). This is the common response of those who experience an angelophany.^' Aseneth's angelic character is confirmed in a second way, in the incident involving the honeycomb. Having unsuccessflilly tried to discover the heavenly man's name, she offers him a meal. As she sets a table before him, he requests a honeycomb.-"* Aseneth is upset that she does not have
27. Gruen, Heritage and Hellenism, pp. 98-99, rightly comments: i t is noteworthy that the author forecasts Aseneth's transformation early in the text, when he describes her beauty as unlike that of any of the Egyptians but akin to that of Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel'. 28. We have already noted the comparable motif in 4Q541 9.i.2-5. 29. Cf Tob. 12.11-22. 30. Honey features in the scrolls from Qumran almost exclusively in the phrase 'land of milk and honey', referring to Canaan.

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one to hand in her storeroom, but she is commanded by her guest to go there nevertheless. Much to her surprise, there she finds a honeycomb: 'and the comb was big and white as snow and full of honey. And that honey was like dew from heaven and its exhalation like breath of life' (16.8). After some further dialogue the heavenly man informs Aseneth that the honeycomb is full of the spirit of life and was made by the bees of the paradise of delight from the dew of the roses of life that are in the paradise of God.^' 'And all the angels of God eat of it and all the chosen of God and all the sons of the Most High, because this is a comb of life, and everyone who eats of it will not die for ever and ever' (16.14). Aseneth then eats some of this angel food, put into her mouth by her visitor. G. Bohak has claimed that 'nowhere in ancient literature do we find any bees even remotely similar to what we have here'.^^ Despite such a warning, Bohak goes on to offer some analysis of the incident which turns out to be fundamental to his overall thesis and controls his reading of the whole narrative. Bohak suggests that four matters may be of significance. To begin with he notes that the behaviour of the bees corresponds suitably with what was known in Greco-Roman apiological lore. As a typical example he cites Philo's description of how 'when the swarm thrives and their numbers increase, as when a city gets overpopulated, they migrate to another place, setting out, as it were, to establish a colony'." He cites a number of other sources from Plato onwards to make the point, indicating that the bees may thus symbolize the way in which Aseneth will be the point of refuge for a new 'colony'.^'' Second, the honeycomb is on Aseneth's mouth, as is not uncommon in classical literature; Plato is supposed to have had bees build a honeycomb on his mouth and Pindar to have had his lips plastered with wax. However, in the other sources this clearly symbolizes the recipient's future rhetorical or poetical skills, a feature which does not seem to apply in Aseneth's case. Bohak wonders whether the location of the honeycomb on Aseneth's mouth is not more about preparing her lips to
31. See Burchard, 'Joseph and Aseneth', p. 230 n. h2, for a summary discussion of options for interpreting the bees; see further the essay by A. Portier-Young in the present collection. 32. G. Bohak, Joseph and Aseneth and the Jewish Temple in Heliopolis (SBL EJL, 10; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996), p. 9. 33. Philo, Anim. 65: Bohak, Joseph and Aseneth and the Jewish Temple in Heliopolis, pp. 9-10. 34. Plato, Politicus 293d; Xenephon, Oeconomicus 7.34; see further the essay by A. Portier-Young in the present collection.


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receive Joseph's kiss (19.11).^' Third, the bees share with Aseneth and the man from heaven in eating some of the honey; like them, therefore, the bees seem to have angelic status. But, fourth and most importantly for Bohak's overall thesis, the apparel of the bees is like the purple, violet, scarlet and linen of the priests as described in Exodus 28.^^ We have already noted above that the similarity between angels and priests is a feature of some of the scrolls found at Qumran, notably sections of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice. For Bohak the bee-priests who are establishing a new colony are those who established Onias' temple in Heliopolis in the second century BCE. It is perhaps not surprising that Bohak's interpretation has found favour with Fletcher-Louis and is reflected in the few brief remarks he makes on Joseph and Aseneth as a contribution to his own understanding of the overlaps in early Jewish traditions between priests and angels.-'^ Although she acknowledges the multitude of references to bees and honey in the classical literature and the Bible, R.S. Kraemer has claimed that overall 'the scene with the bees has no obvious and necessary connection to biblical and other traditional motifs and imagery'.^^ She deliberately seems to have chosen not to enter into debate with Bohak's proposals but prefers to offer an interpretation of the swarm of bees in Joseph and Aseneth based on the Neoplatonic symbolism of the bee as the righteous soul awaiting (re)incamation. She bases her particular comments on Porphyry's third century treatise On the Cave of the Nymphs, where bees are likened to souls, more especially to the souls of Nymphs. Since the Greek term w\x^x\ ('bride') is used of Aseneth in both the long and short text forms (4,1,8; 15,6), there is some extra reason for making the connection, Kraemer has noted that the moral distinction in the longer form of Joseph and Aseneth between the bees that go to heaven and those who intend to harm Aseneth also reflects Porphyry's concern to distinguish between those who live justly and others.^'
35, Bohak, Joseph and Aseneth and the Jewish Temple in Heliopolis, p, 10, 36, Bohak makes the point that in the whole of known classical literature the combination of these four matters is exclusive to the Jewish temple and priesthood: Bohak, Joseph and Aseneth and the Jewish Temple in Heliopolis, p, 11, 37, Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam, pp, 29-31, 86, 38, R,S, Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph: A Late Antique Tale of the Biblical Patriarch and His Egyptian Wife, Reconsidered (Htw York: Oxford University Press, 1998), p, 39, On p, 38 she cites Prov, 16,24; 24,13; she also notes that honey is associated with the lovers in Song 4,11; 5,1, 39, Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph,^^. 168-72,


Men and Women as Angels


It seems to me that the nature of these texts cannot hear the weight of specificity in interpretation provided hy Bohak and Kraemer. Both the identification of the hees with the Jewish priests of Heliopolis in the second century BCE, on the one hand, and with the human souls as described only in the third century CE, on the other, say more than can he said with any security. It is intriguing that Bohak has made much of the hees' apparel, whereas Kraemer has virtually completely ignored it. I consider it preferahle not to hang upon one detail or another hut to recognize that no precise picture emerges from the incident. As Chesnutt has wisely commented, 'If, as seems likely, an allegorical meaning is intended in this scene, then the hees who die because they want to harm Aseneth probably represent her Israelite antagonists, and the restoration of the dead bees to life represents the eventual restoration of those antagonists to good standing in the community of Israel'.'"' In addition, the incident opens up the possibility that all Israelites may share angelic characteristics, a feature that we have noted above in relation to the whole worshipping community of Qumran. As mobile colonisers the bees can fijnction in part as a symbol of transformation and as part of the 'chosen' (in the longer text), sharing in the food of angels, they belong to the angelic realm. c. Jacob Jacob is the third character in the narrative to be described in angelomorphic terms, though almost exclusively in the long text. The description runs as follows:
And Aseneth said to Joseph, 'I will go and see your father, because your father Israel is like a father to me and (a) god'... And Aseneth saw him and was amazed at his beauty, because Jacob was exceedingly beautiful to look at, and his old age (was) like the youth of a handsome (young) man, and his head was all white snow, and the hairs of his head were all exceedingly close and thick like (those of) an Ethiopian, and his beard (was) white reaching down to his breast, and his eyes (were) flashing and darting (flashes of) lightning, and his sinews and his shoulders and his arms were like (those) of an angel, and his thighs and his calves and his feet like (those) of a giant. (22.3-7)

Not only are similarities between Jacob and Joseph clear, but also those between Jacob and the heavenly man. For those slow to see it, the author identifies Jacob's torso as angelic. The giant size of the features of his

40. Chesnutt, From Death to Life, p. 114.


Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 14.2 (2005)

lower hody may well serve as indications of 'transcendent divine identity'."' In light of the angelic descriptions of Joseph, Aseneth, and Jacob, in both forms of the text but sometimes most notably in the longer form, the question arises concerning the identification of texts that may act as the most suitahle comparative material which could hroadly have acted as the cultural parameters from which the author and/or redactor of^ Joseph and Aseneth could have drawn. To focus the question, I now turn to some consideration of the recent extensive contrihution to thefieldhy R.S. Kraemer. 4. Angelomorphism and the Problems of Religious Location and Dating Ever since P. Battifol carried out his textual work"^ on Joseph and Aseneth there has heen dehate ahout which form should be preferred."^ Ross Kraemer's detailed study. When Aseneth Met Joseph, is based on her preliminary conclusion that the shorter form of the text preceded the longer; the longer form is an expanded, redacted form of the text."*" In looking at the text-critical evidence Kraemer has pointed out that there has heen long-standing equivocation amongst those who have studied the matter in detail as to whether the short form precedes the long one or vice versa, or indeed whether hoth are hased on a common predecessor. She cites several studies by C. Burchard in which he declares an element of uncertainty about the history of the text and its development and she uses his uncertainty to support her own conclusion that 'the shorter form is older and that many of the features of the longer form can he readily understood
41. Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam, pp. 60, 214, in considering the way in which some terms in 4Q427 and IQH^ 27 imply the physical enlargement of the person as a mark of divinization, notes that although this is most apparent in 3 En. 9.2, it is also assumed in various Second Temple texts, such as in the description of Abraham in Pseudo-Eupolemus 9.17.2-3; 9.18.2, in the birth of Noah tradition, as well as in the description of Adam in Philo, Op. Mund. 146. 42. P. Battifol, 'Le Livre de la Priere d'Aseneth', in Studia Patristica: Etudes d'ancienne litterature chretienne (Paris: Leroux, 1889-90), pp. 1-115. 43. A clear description of the issues at stake is provided by E.M. Humphrey, Joseph and Aseneth (Guides to Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha; SheiSeld: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), pp. 17-28. 44. Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, some of the conclusions of that study were presented in R.S. Kraemer, 'The Book of Aseneth', in E. SchUssler Fiorenza (ed.), Searching the Scriptures. II. A Feminist Commentary (London: SCM Press, 1994), pp. 859-88.


Men and Women as Angels


against the backdrop of the Mediterranean world of the fourth century CE'.''^ Burchard's recent edition of the text, however, is offered with some introductory comments which suggest that he has not really changed his mind much for nearly forty years:
Ich halte es nach wie vor fiir einleuchtender, dafi d [the shorter text] eine mittel-byzantinische Kurzfassung von JosAs ist, was ein eigenes erzahlerisches Profil nicht ausschlieCt, und VorlT [the longer text] eine diskutable Annaherung an den Archetyp der erhaltenen Textzeugen, die noch in vielen Einzelheiten verbessert werden muB, wobei zu berurucksiehtigen ist, daB sich das Bild der Textgeschichte inzwischen an manchen Stellen geandert hat."*

Whatever the case text-critically, Kraemer is convinced that both forms of the text make good sense when set against the backdrop of a combination of motifs which can be recognized most especially as belonging to literary compositions of various finds from the late third and fourth centuries CE, especially if the long form is understood as an expansion of the short form for various reasons, theological and otherwise. In her concluding summary Kraemer asserts that many of the specific elements of the narrative of Joseph and Aseneth appear 'to be drawn from paradigms of the adjuration of divine beings and the transformation of the soul, often into an angelic being, paradigms widespread in the later Greco-Roman world among Jews, Christians, and polytheists alike'.''^ Throughout her detailed work, Kraemer has been enthusiastically and commendably agnostic about many aspects of the analysis of Joseph and Aseneth. Yet, in describing how she began her long period of detailed study on the texts of the tale, she is very frank about the importance of considering the processes of early rabbinic midrash and the place of Sefer ha-razim, most especially its mention of honey (which led her to read Joseph and Aseneth again) and the description of the fourth firmament. Armed with these relatively late parallels, Kraemer sets off on her detailed journey. All scholars come at their work with their own knowledge and reading strategies which too often are not properly acknowledged. In Kraemer's case her honesty is disarming and seems to form a secure basis upon which her approach to both forms of the text of Joseph and Aseneth can be built.
45. Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, pp. 6-9. 46. C. Burchard, Joseph und Aseneth (PVTG, 5; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2003), p. 46; see also the Burehard's reeonsideration of the text-critieal issues in the present collection. 47. Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, p. 295.


Journal for the Study of the Pseitdepigrapha 14.2 (2005)

Three comments can be made briefly in light of what has already been observed in this short study on the place of the angelic in the Qumran scrolls and m Joseph and Aseneth. First, it is remarkable that throughout Kraemer's detailed study there is only a single reference to a Dead Sea scroll. In a note on the curtain in Aseneth's chamber as in some way evoking the temple veil, she mentions the veil as it is described in 4Q405 15.ii.l6.''^ This hardly seems to do justice to a set of Jewish traditions which can be clearly dated before 70 CE and many of which may have relevance for the suitable understanding of Joseph and Aseneth. Second, much of Kraemer's proposal rests on understanding that the process of Aseneth's transformation depends upon her successful adjuration of an angel, parallels for which are then identified in various compositions from late antiquity. For Kraemer Aseneth's adjuration takes place not as a simple invocation of a heavenly being, but in her long prayer of confession which is entirely addressed to God and which contains no adjuration beyond her aspiration that God will be compassionately mindful of her humiliation. Though this can be read as a plea that her confession be accepted through some recognizable sign, the prayer has neither an introductory nor a final adjuration of an angel. Rather, Aseneth's prayer ends with a request for divine protection for Joseph. If Aseneth's prayer is neither in a strict nor in a general sense an adjuration, then a principal component in Kraemer's argument seems to be undermined. Furthermore Kraemer appeals in particular to 2 and 3 Enoch and their hekhalot counterparts to describe the significance of some of the principal components of Aseneth's transformation. There are indeed several parallels worthy of comment, but Kraemer rightly also underlines the differences. Chief among the differences is the fact that whereas in the comparative literature the adept usually ascends to heaven and has a vision of the enthroned glory, \n Joseph and Aseneth the angelic figure descends to her in her tower room and she has no such vision. Another notable difference concerns Aseneth's gender; the fact that she is a woman marks her out from all the accounts of heavenly ascent, though there are some parallel motifs in the vision Eve has in the Life ofAdam and Eve and in the briefly described mystical experiences of the daughters of Job in the Testament of Job. In fact most of the motifs of the transformation of Aseneth and her experience of the angelic have suitable counterparts in 4 Ezra, as Kraemer herself points out.

48. Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, p. 144 n. 83.


Men and Women as Angels


Third, Kraemer makes a credihle case that the key moment of the process of transformation, Aseneth's prayer, is hased in part on the imagery of Psalm 91, an ohservation which has heen partially noted hy others hut which Kraemer develops significantly. It is surprising, therefore, to find that there is no discussion of early Jewish (and Christian) use of the Psalm, particularly in an apotropaic context. Such a use can be found in 1 lQl I,"" and by implication, through the use of the Psalm hy the devil in the accounts of the temptation of Jesus (Mt. 4.6; Lk. 4.10). Overall it seems that searching for 'paradigms of the adjuration of divine beings and the transformation of the soul' in the later Greco-Roman world, as Kraemer does, is something of a false quest in relation io Joseph and Aseneth. Kraemer attempts to underline parallels hQ\w&en Joseph and Aseneth and the magical papyri which contain adjurations of heavenly heings. Some aspects of the parallels are indeed intriguing, but, it seems to me that Kraemer has been unable to show what element in Aseneth's prayers or penitent actions functions as the adjuration. Indeed the story suggests otherwise, for although Aseneth recognizes the morning star as a sign that God has heard her confession, the appearance of the angelic figure is a complete surprise to her, as if she had not expected any such heavenly visitation or attempted to bring it about.^" It is perhaps better to understand the angelic feature of the transformation of Aseneth herself not as a successful adjuration, hut as a development of angelomorphic features in light of the acceptance of her repentance. Very similar angelomorphic features are clearly visihle in a numher of texts found in the Qumran caves, as has been briefly outlined above, and they are discemihle also in other compositions from the late Second Temple period. At least part of Kraemer's argument against seeing Jo.sep/? and Aseneth as a clearly Jewish composition from the end of the Second Temple period rests in the way she notes that the character of the expansions in the long version, which she sees as later than the short version, is to he found in their explicit scriptural allusions. However, although the differences between the long and short versions can often be explained by reference to scriptural antecedents, such explanation does not undermine the way in which

49. See the principal edition by F. Garcia Martinez, E.J.C. Tigchelaar and A.S. van der Woude, Qumran Cave lLII: 11Q2-18, 11Q20-31 (DJD, 23; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), pp. 181-205. 50. See the similar observations in the studies by C. Burchard and J.J. Collins in the present collection.


Journal for the Study ofthe Pseudepigrapha 14.2 (2005)

much of hoth versions is very heavily scriptural.^' Furthermore, the angelology oi Joseph and Aseneth is present in hoth the short and long versions, though some of its features are indeed more pronounced in the long version. In sum, the key factors to which Kraemer has appealed in comparative texts and which she has used for identifying the date and prohahle religious location oi Joseph and Aseneth in the third and fourth centuries CE do indeed seem to illuminate some aspects ofthe narrative, hut in terms of providing the most suitable understanding ofthe transformation of Aseneth in Joseph and Aseneth they do not serve well for establishing the case overall. 5. Conclusion This study has set out some ofthe principal features ofthe angelology of the sectarian and non-sectarian compositions found in the caves at and near Qumran. Those Jewish compositions all predate the fall ofthe Second Temple in 70 CE. A considerable number of such texts describe or assume the association of Israel, especially the priests, with the angels, and some texts strongly imply understandings of angelomorphic transformation. Such transformations seem to have taken place among members of the community responsihle for collecting and preserving the scrolls; those community members may have felt as if they were worshipping in heaven, but they remained on earth. However, in a few cases, such as 4Q491, the scrolls from Qumran contain descriptions of transformations which may have been understood as altogether more heavenly. The overall combination of motifs in these texts shows a wide range of theological and ideological developments. As for the angelomorphism oi Joseph and Aseneth, this too has some variety. Aseneth's transformation does not seem to depend upon an adjuration, but neither, it must be admitted, is there a scriptural model for the incident as a whole. However, when juxtaposed with the angelological material from the Qumran caves, it can be convincingly argued that the role of angelomorphism in Joseph and Aseneth could have been appreciated by many Jewish readers and hearers at any time in the late Second
51. It seems as if G.W.E. Nickelsburg had pointed out something similar to her privately; see now R.S. Kraemer, 'When Aseneth Met Joseph: A Postscript', in R.A. Argall, B.A. Bow and R.A. Werline (eds.). For a Later Generation: The Transformation of Tradition in Israet, Eartier Judaism and Earty Christianity (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2000), pp. 128-35 (131).


Men and Women as Angels


Temple period and beyond. I think that in light of recent understandings of angelomorphism in the Dead Sea scrolls we are back where we started before Kraemer made her contribution. Because of its dependence on certain passages ofthe LXX, Joseph and Aseneth must have been penned after most ofthe LXX had been completed, but there is sufficient information in late Second Temple Jewish sources to permit the possibility of a date for Joseph and Aseneth well before the end ofthe third century CE. As for its location, a Greek-speaking Jewish community with an interest in the Egyptian connection is required; whether or not that was actually in Egypt remains to be demonstrated.