A New Book from Andrei Orlov

Andrei Orlov of Marquette University has published a new and very interesting looking book! Here are the details. It really does sound lke a fascinating book.

Dark Mirrors
Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology
Andrei A. Orlov

Discusses the two most important figures in early Jewish mythologies of evil, the fallen angels Azazel and Satanael.

Dark Mirrors is a wide-ranging study of two central figures in early Jewish demonology—the fallen angels Azazel and Satanael. Andrei A. Orlov explores the mediating role of these paradigmatic celestial rebels in the development of Jewish demonological traditions from Second Temple apocalypticism to later Jewish mysticism, such as that of the Hekhalot and Shi‘ur Qomah materials. Throughout, Orlov makes use of Jewish pseudepigraphical materials in Slavonic that are not widely known.

Orlov traces the origins of Azazel and Satanael to different and competing mythologies of evil, one to the Fall in the Garden of Eden, the other to the revolt of angels in the antediluvian period. Although Azazel and Satanael are initially representatives of rival etiologies of corruption, in later Jewish and Christian demonological lore each is able to enter the other’s stories in new conceptual capacities. Dark Mirrors also examines the symmetrical patterns of early Jewish demonology that are often manifested in these fallen angels’ imitation of the attributes of various heavenly beings, including principal angels and even God himself.

Andrei A. Orlov is Associate Professor of Theology at Marquette University. He is the author of several books, including Selected Studies in the Slavonic Pseudepigrapha.

• Albany: SUNY Press, 2011
• 256 pages
• $75.00 hardcover 978-1-4384-3951-8

Here is the flyer with the same information.

Near to the Fire

For behold, my cause is in Your hands
and my recourse is to You.
I know my sin, so cleanse me, O Lord,
that I may enter into Your presence
with self-respect.
Now my offenses are weighty;
I have drawn near to the fire which burns.
Your mercy is upon all things,
so that You can take away
all my transgressions.
Pardon me, even me, the sinner.
And pardon all Your creatures
whom You have fashioned,
but who have not heard and learned of You.

Testament of Isaac 4.27-31


Now Jael took a stake in her left hand and approached him, saying, “If God will work this sign with me, I know that Sisera will fall into my hands. Behold I will throw him down on the ground from the bed on which he sleeps; and if he does not feel it, I know that he has been handed over.” And Jael took Sisera and pushed him onto the ground from the bed. But he did not feel it, because he was very groggy.

And Jael said, “Strengthen in me today, Lord, my arm on account of you and your people and those who hope in you.” And Jael took the stake and put it on his temple and struck it with a hammer.

And while he was dying, Sisera said to Jael, “Behold pain has taken hold of me, Jael, and I die like a woman.”

And Jael said to him, “Go, boast before your father in hell and tell him that you have fallen into the hands of a woman.”

Pseudo-Philo, Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum 31.7

Oh yeah. That’s funnier than one would think an ancient pseudepigraphon should be. “That’s right! Tell your daddy in hell that a chick did you in!”

Jael, of course, rocks.

A Pseudepigraphic Pearl

And I am now an orphan and desolate,
and I have no other hope save in you, Lord,
and no other refuge except your mercy, Lord,
because you are the father of the orphans,
and a protector of the persecuted
and a helper of the afflicted.
Have mercy upon me, Lord,
and guard me, a virgin who is abandoned and an orphan,
because you, Lord, are a sweet and good and gentle father.
What father is as sweet as you, Lord,
and who is as quick in mercy as you, Lord,
and who is as long-suffering towards our sins as you, Lord?

Joseph and Aseneth 12.13-15

Who’s got your back?

For the Lord did not draw Ishmael and his sons and his brothers and Esau near to himself, and He did not elect them because they are the sons of Abraham, for He knew them. But He chose Israel that they might be a people for Himself. And He sanctified them and gathered them from all of the sons of man because there are many nations and many people, and they all belong to Him, but over all of them He caused spirits to rule so that they might lead them astray from following Him. But over Israel He did not cause any angel or spirit to rule because He alone is their ruler and He will protect them and He will seek for them them at the hand of His angels and at the hand of His spirits and at the hand of all of His authorities so that He might guard them and bless them and they might be His and He might be theirs henceforth and forever.

Jubilees 15.30–32

Deuterobaruchian Pearls

For the youth of this world has passed away, and the power of creation is already exhausted, and the coming of the times is very near and has passed by. And the pitcher is near the well, and the ship to the harbor, and the journey to the city, and life to its end.

——2 Baruch 85.10

But now, the righteous have been assembled, and the prophets are sleeping. Also we have left our land, and Zion has been taken away from us, and we have nothing now apart from the Mighty One and his Law.

——2 Baruch 85.3

And it will happen at that time that those treasuries will be opened in which the number of the souls of the righteous were kept, and they will go out and the multitudes of the souls will appear together, in one assemblage, of one mind. And the first ones will enjoy themselves and the last ones will not be sad.

——2 Baruch 30.2

Adam is, therefore, not the cause, except only for himself, but each of us has become our own Adam.

——2 Baruch 54.19

Apocalypse of Elijah Versification

I’ve just put up a web page which aligns the versification of Rosenstiehl’s translation of Apocalypse of Elijah with the Wintermute translation found in Charlesworth’s Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Some may have noticed their differences already, 3 chapters in Rosenstiehl, 5 in Wintermute, etc. Several contributors to the OTP volumes seem to have introduced their own versification, likely related to their differing with earlier editors on readings, sentences and so on. As I run across more examples, I’ll very likely prepare similar tables in those cases as well. The difficulty comes in seeing that even within the OTP volumes themselves, some used one versification to insert comparanda in the margin or notes, while others used another. I’m in the process of straightening all those out.

Anyhow, this is another tool that I found necessary, and thought I’d share it with the wider world. Enjoy!

Those Who Burn

Why is their name called seraphim? Because they burn the tablets of Satan. Every day Satan sits with Sammael, Prince of Rome, and with Dubbiel, Prince of Persia, and they write down the sins of Israel on tablets and give them to the seraphim to bring before the Holy One, blessed be He, so that He should destroy Israel from the world. But the seraphim know the secrets of the Holy One, blessed be He, that He does not desire that this nation of Israel should fall. What, then, do the seraphim do? Every day they take the tablets from Satan’s hand and burn them in the blazing fire that stands opposite the high and exalted throne, so that they should not come into the presence of the Holy One, blessed be He, when He sites upon the throne of judgment and judges the whole world in truth.

Third Enoch 26.12

For those who don’t know Hebrew, the above may not make much sense. The Hebrew word seraphim, שׂרפים, is derived from the Hebrew root saraph, שׂרף, to burn, somehow describing the character of these great beings as burning. I found this passage to be a beautiful explanation for the reason they are called seraphim.

It is also unfortunately timely, as there are still many in the world who desire the destruction of Israel, once again including Persia, and even perhaps, in a way, Rome, if we remember that in ancient midrashim Rome was referred to as Edom, and also know that in certain circles today the Palestinians are now also referred to as Edom. That’s kind of an odd connection, of course, but the point is there….

Angelic Philology

Each one of the Watchers and the holy ones has seventy names corresponding to the seventy languages that are in the world, and all of them are based on the name of the Holy One, blessed be He. Every single name is written with a pen of flame upon the terrible crown that is on the head of the high and exalted King. From each of them sparks and lightnings shoot forth, from each of them rays of splendor stream out, and from each of them lights flash. Pavillions and tents of brilliance surround them, for even the seraphim and the creatures, who are greater than all the celestials, cannot look on them.

3 Enoch 29

The Oracle of Hystaspes

For a project I’m working on, I needed to look up the Joseph Bidez and Franz Cumont classic Les Mages Hellénisés: Zoroastre Ostanès et Hystaspe d’après la tradition grecque (2 vols. Paris: Société d’Édition “Les Belles Letters”, 1938), specifically for the fragments of the lost Oracle of Hystaspes, which are typically referenced according to their arrangement in this very work. Those interested in apocalyptic writings should find interest in these selections, as they are often referred to, but generally inacessible.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, the Oracle of Hystaspes is a lost pseudepigraphal book, with only one direct quote surviving, but with (perhaps extensive) allusions to it found in several ancient writers, primarily Lactantius. While some would argue the Oracle comes from an authentic Persian and Zoroastrian background, others hold that it was not an authentic work of Persian origin, but one of numerous similar syncretistic Hellenistic texts, which seems most likely, or perhaps even a Jewish-adapted pseudepigraph. The book as a whole is unfortunately lost, so speculation on the details of the character of the original is fruitless. Suffice it to say, the work of Bidez and Cumont has been accepted as indicating all the most likely remnants of the Oracle of Hystaspes, and theirs is the standard numeration of the fragments, all of which are found below in English translation, my own and others’. The numeration of fragments begins with number 6 because numbers 1 through 5 were dedicated to ancient testimonies of the author alone, with no reference to the work itself. The English translations below follow precisely the ellipses given in the Greek and Latin texts. I would’ve translated everything from scratch, but I was feeling lazy. Enjoy!

Continue reading “The Oracle of Hystaspes”