Boccaccini, Daniel and 1 Enoch

Following on from some discussion with Dustin Smith on an earlier post about angels and princes in Daniel 10, I thought I’d post some ideas by Gabriele Boccaccini which are consistent with my conclusions.

In Roots of Rabbinic Judaism [1] Boccaccini argues for the emergence of three quite distinct Judaisms in post-exilic Judea:  (1) Sapiential Judaism (as evidenced in such works as Proverbs, Job, Jonah, and Qoheleth/Ecclesiastes); (2) Zadokite Judaism, detected in texts including  Ezekiel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles); and (3) Enochic Judaism (priestly opposition to the Zadokites, embodied in such works as the Book of the Watchers in 1 Enoch).

In the post-exilic period the so-called Zadokite priesthood, descendants of Zadok the chief priest in the time of King David, took control of the rebuilt temple, established the priesthood as the dominant political force instead of a restored Davidic monarchy, and ruled Judea until shortly before the Maccabean revolt. Enochic Judaism is named after the Book of Enoch, which is really a composite work of five books written, according to a consensus of scholarly opinion, between 300 and 100 BCE, and reflects the theology of a group of disenfranchised priests. Sapiential Judaism was a kind of secular morality, in which the accumulated wisdom of several generations provided an alternative to the covenantal theology of the Zadokite priesthood. Their literature includes works such as Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Book of Wisdom and Sirach.

Broadly speaking Boccaccini theorises that the Sadducees were descended from the Zadokites, the Essenes and Christianity from the Enochic tradition, and Rabbinic Judaism as we know it from a synthesis of Zadokite and Enochic theology through the Pharisees.

Boccoccini argues that the book of Daniel reveals the emergence of a “third way” between Enochic and Zadokite Judaism and understands that Daniel “opposed the Enochic doctrine of the superhuman origin of evil and strenuously defended the tenets of Zadokite Judaism: the covenant (based on the Mosaic Torah) and the legitimacy of the Second Temple.”[2] There is no place in covenantal theology for a superhuman cause of sin and evil. Instead there is a temple sacrificial system which offers a framework for personal responsibility and accountability for sin, and even in the context of a vision in which some of the “host of heaven” are thrown to the ground (8:10), which sounds Enochic, Daniel is more concerned about the end of the evening and morning temple sacrifices and the desecration of the temple (8:11-14). In his prayer in chapter 9, possibly the climax of a structural chiasm, Daniel focused on Israel’s transgression of the lawof Moses (11-13), the holy city Jerusalem which is called by God’s name (16, 18, 19), the temple (17), and exile and restoration (13-15, 17); all Deuteronomic themes, and central to Zadokite theology. Enochic Judaism did not accept these covenantal theological premises or that history degenerates because of human sin and, based on the Book of the Watchers and the dream vision of 1 Enoch 83-84[3], believed that “the crisis was something deeper than the consequence of human sin”, that the degeneration of history was caused by angelic sin and that the earth is the victim of chaotic forces.[4] Reading Daniel against a background of Enochic theology one could read the conflict between Michael and the princes of Persia and Greece as a continuation of this celestial battle (as J.J. Collins does). However, Boccaccini’s reading of the clash between two (or three including Sapiential Judaism) theological worldviews makes better sense of Daniel 10 in my view.

This is not to discount the contribution of 1 Enoch to our understanding of Daniel. On the contrary, Enoch helps us to understand the divergent theological viewpoints of the time and, whether or not we agree with Boccaccini’s view that there was an alternative Enochic stream within Judaism in that period, to fully understand Daniel we need to understand the Zeitgeist of second century BCE Judea and hence the available literature.

[1] Boccaccini, G., Roots of Rabbinic Judaism: An Intellectual History, from Ezekiel to Daniel (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub.) 2002

[2] Boccaccini, 2002, 206

[3] Especially 84:4 “The angels of your heavens are now committing sin (upon the earth) and your wrath shall rest upon the flesh of the people until (the arrival of) the great day of judgment”.

[4] Boccaccini, 2002, 165, 167

5 comments on “Boccaccini, Daniel and 1 Enoch

  1. Hi Stephen

    Have you heard from Professor Martin Goodman yet?

    Is it possible that the dating of Onias III in 170 BCE he founded Qumran Commune in 180 BCE and celebrated his 25th jubilee service.

    I was wondered if the Dead Sea Scrolls refer to Seleucid empire and Ptolemaic Dynasty the Day of Atonement.


    John Stuart

    • Stephen Cook says:

      John, I don’t recall Professor Goodman dealing specifically with this subject in his lectures, and I certainly didn’t speak personally with him about it. Do you have some ideas about this yourself? Feel free to air them here.

      • Hi Stephen

        I have taken into 2 parts of the story.

        First Part

        I do have some ideas. The sects of Pharisees as (Ephraim) and Sadducees (Manasseh) as Tobiads were coded in or not in the 2nd Book of Maccabees is not stated because they are talking about Heliodorus affair and the High Priest Onias III in 175 BCE. Onias III brother was Jason was Men of Lies, there was a quarrel between Onias III and Simon captain of the temple in Jerusalem this was in Psalm 37 the former priest was to be the ‘Wicked Priest’ was a brother of Simon called Menelaus, the “Teacher of Righteousness” was Onias III under the title The Master of Justice of the Esseniens (Essenes).

        2nd Part

        I have traced the very beginnings of the Oniad High Priesthood.

        The ancestor of the Oniad was Jeshua who had returned from exile in 587 BC.

        The House of Jeshua was to be a line of “High Priests” as grand per^tre d’Israel was called the House of Oniads who was the last true High Priest.

        There was a legend of another Zadok who was a disciple of Simon the Just who lived during during 300 BC (Day of Atonement).

        High Priest Onias III son of Simon the Just of House of Jeshua.

        If Onias III was a grand per^tre d ‘Israel is a link indicating that his grandfather was Onias I ben Jaddua.


        John Stuart

  2. Dear Sir/Madam

    Do you have any information on Onias III as Teacher of Righteousness aka Master of Justice of the Essenes?

    Did the Essenes venerated a Master of Justice in 175 BCE?


    John Stuart

    • Stephen Cook says:


      Sorry I missed your comment/question earlier. I’m no expert on this but Onias III is a possibility which has been suggested by several scholars. I’m attending some lectures on the Dead Sea Scrolls over the next couple of weeks by Professor Martin Goodman of Oxford University (currently visiting the University of Sydney). If he presents a better alternative I’ll let you know.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s