The Book of Giants

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The Book of Giants is an apocryphal Jewish book expanding a narrative in the Hebrew Bible. Its discovery at Qumran dates the text's creation to before the 2nd century BCE.

The Book of Giants is an antediluvian (pre-flood) narrative that was received primarily in Manichaean literature and known at Turpan. The Manicheans were a religious group based on the teachings of Mani. The earliest form of the book stems from an ancient Jewish Aramaic tradition regarding the Nephilim. The Nephilim in the Enoch version, are the offspring of fallen angels. The angels saw the beauty of the daughters of men, married them, and thus fathered giants. The book concerns itself with filling in the details about the giants and their offspring that the Book of Enoch is lacking. However, references are found in Genesis 6:1-4 and expanded upon in 1 Enoch. The Book of Giants tells of the background and fate of these Nephilim in the flood.[1]

Origin[edit]

There is limited knowledge regarding the authorship of the book of Giants, as the Manicheans were initially the only ones known to have used it and thus it is linked to them. However, the narrative has noticeable ties to 1 Enoch, and specifically expands on the content found in 1 Enoch 6-16. It is associated with the “Book of Watchers”, In at least one of the manuscripts these traditions were part of a larger corpus of Enochic writings. There is uncertainty regarding the full content, date, and origin of this set of narratives. There is also much of the narrative that would highlight significant themes within the Near Eastern culture. As the Manicheans mainly developed in the Near East, the ideals they espoused also became significant for this text. [2]

There were a few fragments from this narrative discovered at Qumran among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Nine manuscripts of the Book of Giants are identified by Stuckenbruck. These were found in caves 1,2,4, and 6 at the site.[3] These discoveries led to further classification of the Enochic works. In the third group of classification, nine Aramaic manuscripts contain parts of the Book of Giants which were only known through the Manichean sources until the recognition of it at Qumran.[4]

There has been much speculation regarding the original language of the Book of Giants. The Book of Giants was generally believed to have had a Semitic origin. Indeed, the discovery of this text in Qumran, has led scholars to believe that the book was initially composed in Aramaic. [5]

Content[edit]

Most of the content in the Book of Giants is derived out of 1 Enoch 7:3-6 . This passage sheds light on the characterizing features of the Giants. It reveals that the Giants were born of the sons of god and daughters of man. The giants began to devour the works of men and went on to kill and consume them. They also sinned against the birds and beast of the sky, creeping things and the fish of the sea. It also mentions that the giants devoured the flesh of one another and they drank the blood. [6] This act of drinking blood would have horrified the people.[7]There is further evidence of this in Leviticus 17:10-16. In this passage there are strict rules regarding the blood of the animal. In verse 10 and 11, it says, “I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood and I will cut them off from the people. For the life of the creature is in the blood.”

The text relates how some giants, named Ohya, Hahya and Mahway, sons of the fallen angels, have some dreams that foresee the biblical Flood.[8] A brief mention of one of these giants, "Ohya", is found in the Babylonian Talmud (Nidah, Ch 9), where it is said "סיחון ועוג אחי הוו דאמר מר סיחון ועוג בני אחיה בר שמחזאי הוו" ("Sihon and Og [from the Book of Numbers] were brothers, as they were the sons of Ohia the son of Samhazai [one of the leaders of the fallen angels in the Book of Enoch])". The version found at Qumran also describes the Sumerian hero Gilgamesh and the monster Humbaba.

Ogias the Giant[edit]

The Gelasian Decree mentions a Latin Book of Ogias the Giant which was identified with the Manichaean Book of Giants, an identification confirmed by evidence among the Parthian fragments of the Manichaean work.[9]

A recurring motif in the book of Giants is their impending doom and judgement in the flood as revealed to them in a series of dreams. One of the giants has a dream. As a result of this dream, the giants decided to consult Enoch as an interpreter to learn about their fate. The news of their impending destruction is unsettling. In the end, the Giants are wiped out and there is a general theme of the inevitability of God’s judgement and will. [10]

Issues[edit]

Although we can glean much information out of the fragments of the narrative, there are still many unknowns and issues that scholars heavily debate. Firstly, the authorship of the Book of Giants is still questionable. As mentioned earlier, there was very little usage of this manuscript which leaves scholars with many queries. The Qumran discoveries ruled out the Manicheans as being the composers of the Book of Giants. However the usage of 1 Enoch assumes that the basis of the text would also fall under an unknown author or the idea that it was a pseudograph text. This leads scholars to question the originality and legitimacy of this book.

According to J.T. Milik, The Book of Giants is a book that is believed to have been a part of the Pentateuch of Enoch along with the Book of Watchers, The Book of Dreams, The Epistle of Enoch, and the Astronomical Book. All of these would have been significant from the beginning of the first century. However, During the Christian era, this collection was altered and this narrative was replaced by the Book of Parables. The sparse copies of these books could have been due to a lack of overall use after it was replaced by the Book of Parables. [11]

Sources[edit]

Aramaic fragments, along with other fragments of the Book of Enoch, were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran:

  • The Book of Giants (Dead Sea Scrolls) includes 4Q203, 1Q23, 2Q26, 4Q530-532, 6Q8.[12][13]

In the version of the Book of Giants which was spread by the Manichaean religion, the book became well traveled and exists in Syriac, Greek, Persian, Sogdian, Uyghur, and Arabic, although each version is somewhat distorted, incorporating more local myths. In 1904, German expeditions to Central Asia (Turpan in present northwest China) brought back many fragments of Manichaean holy texts, some of which were identified as belonging to The Book of Giants.

Connections to the Bible[edit]

The Biblical ties to the Book of Enoch are not limited to Genesis 6:1-4. In Daniel 7, Daniel explains a vision regarding God’s heavenly throne. In 1 Enoch 14, there is similar language in order to refer to god’s heavenly throne. Likewise, in The book of Giants there are portions of their vision that resemble what is recorded in the book of Daniel.

Conclusion[edit]

There is a limited nature to the piece of writing. As mentioned earlier, there is not a complete work of the Book of Giants. This can be very frustrating to many scholars, however the portions that have survived have contributed to an overall theme of the power and judgement of God that had been developed early on in the near eastern cultures.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Book of Giants From Qumran: Texts, Translation, and Commentary by Loren T. Stuckbruck. 1997.
  2. ^ 1 Enoch 1 by George W. E. Nickelsburg. 2001. pgs. 8-11
  3. ^ The Book of Giants From Qumran: Texts, Translation, and Commentary by Loren T. Stuckbruck. 1997.
  4. ^ 1 Enoch 1 by George W. E. Nickelsburg. 2001. pgs. 8-11
  5. ^ 1 Enoch 1 by George W. E. Nickelsburg. 2001. pgs. 8-11
  6. ^ 1 Enoch: A New Translation by George W. E. Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam. 2004
  7. ^ 1 Enoch
  8. ^ Józef T. Milik (with Matthew Black), The Books of Enoch, Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4, Clarendon, Oxford 1976
  9. ^ John C Reeves - Jewish Lore in Manichaean Cosmogony: Studies in the "Book of the Giants 1992 p22 "This "Book of Ogias the Giant" was plausibly identified with the Manichaean Book of Giants even before the discovery of confirming evidence among the Parthian fragments of the latter work.85 Here it should be noticed that Ogias engages ..."
  10. ^ 1 Enoch: A New Translation by George W. E. Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam. 2004
  11. ^ The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4 edited by J. T. Milik. 1976
  12. ^ "''The Book of Giants'', Dead Sea Scrolls". Piney.com. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  13. ^ Summary of the Book of Giants by James R. Davila
  14. ^ The Book of the Giants, 1943

External links[edit]