posted on 2008-06-30, 00:00authored byTodd Russell Hanneken
The Book of Jubilees uses the genre 'apocalypse' to express a worldview that differs significantly from the cluster of ideas typically expressed by contemporary apocalypses. Jubilees has often been viewed as a borderline or ambiguous case among apocalypses. When viewed with the proper distinctions and definitions, Jubilees is indeed atypical but not ambiguous. Jubilees does use the genre 'apocalypse,' but uses it ironically. Typically, the revelatory framework of apocalypses authorizes new esoteric wisdom. Transcendence on the spatial axis typically emphasizes the influence of cosmic powers and limits human agency. Transcendence on the temporal axis typically conveys a view of history in exponential decline culminating in 'final woes' and a future restoration. Although the apocalypses express great variety in worldview, they form a cluster of compatible views around these issues inherent in the use of the genre. The genre creates a reader expectation that the typical worldview will be conveyed. Jubilees, however, uses the genre to address the definitive issues of the apocalyptic worldview, and consistently presents views radically different from the typical cluster of views. Thus, the revelation in Jubilees is a re-revelation of the single eternal revelation already familiar and accessible to all of Israel. Humans are primarily responsible for sin, suffering, and the eschatological turning point. The eschatological turning point is natural, gradual, and most importantly, realized. The inversion of reader expectations can be called irony on purely literary grounds. The intent of the author is more speculative, but the quantity and quality of the subversions of the apocalyptic worldview by means of the literary genre suggest deliberate use of irony.
James C. VanderKam
Gary A. Anderson
Gregory E. Sterling
Eugene C. Ulrich