You asked, we answered. The inimitable Dr. Justin Sledge returns for another one of his beloved Jewish learning courses. This time, with a theme relevant to our current era: The Apocalypse.
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Join us for a 4-week course on some of the weirdest and wildest texts on the edges of the Jewish literary canon - and beyond.
Dr. Sledge writes: "The word ‘apocalypse’ summons to mind some of the most terrifying religious ideas: world-engulfing wars, supernatural creatures falling to earth, natural forces ripping the world asunder, and the very end of the cosmos itself. These notions have their origins in the most dramatic and colorful literature in all of Judaism. We will look at the Biblical Book of Daniel, the Book of Enoch, the catastrophic War Scroll in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Book of Jubilees, mysterious gnostic literature, the nightmarish Book of Revelations in the Christian Bible, and others. Come and learn about this bewildering literature!"
Dr. Justin Sledge is a professor of religious studies and philosophy, a scholar of esoteric and magical traditions, the host of the Esoterica podcast, and the husband of Rabbi Alana Alpert.
WHO: This course is open to the public. T'chiyah members may take this course for free; non-members are asked to make a per-session suggested donation rate of $10/session. (No one will be turned away for lack of funds).
WHAT: 4-weeks of lecture and discussion led by Dr. Justin Sledge. At-home readings will be assigned, for which texts will be provided digitally. Drop-ins are welcome as well.
WHERE: Online! We will send you the link and access information following your RSVP.
WHEN: Wednesday evenings at 7 PM: April 29, May 6, May 13, May 20
WHY: Though we can't prescribe these texts as having direct relevance for coping with the strife of the COVID-19 pandemic, these texts offer insight into how our ancestors have responded to and thought about catastrophe. Who wouldn't want to probe into our ancestors' troubled psyches? Plus, anyone who's taken a course with him knows that Justin makes the arcane and obscure hilarious!
***Please direct questions to TchiyahJake@gmail.com***
Use the RSVP form below to sign-up for more info and updates. You will be sent access info following your RSVP.
Session 1: Wednesday, April 29
- Reading List for the First Session:
"Here is a brief reading list from the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) for the first session. You should be able to find these in any Bible. For a nice translation with the Hebrew facing I would recommend the trusty Jewish Publication Society (JPS) and for a more academic translation with great notes (English only though) I would use the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB). Regardless, any translation will do.I know these texts will be a little really cryptic but give them a chance and see what jumps out to you.
- Egyptian Prophetic/Apocalyptic - The Prophecy of Neferti (NB that this text is set in the 4th Dynasty but likely composed in the 12th)
- Proto- Apocalyptic texts: Isaiah 24–27; 33; 34–35, Jeremiah 33:14–26, Ezekiel 38–39, Joel 3:9–17, Zechariah 12–14
Full Apocalyptic text in Canon: Daniel 7–12"
Session 2: May 6
"The Daniel reading is pretty short but the footnotes are super important so make sure to read along with them. The Book of Enoch is pretty long and somewhat intimidating. My advice for reading it would be to just skip around.
Major themes in that text include the origin of evil (the fall of the angels which in the Enoch story has to do with lust rather than rebellion against the divine) and the nature of the cosmos. Feel free to skip around the text, skim it at while, or read it straight through. The text is actually several books loosely edited together so skimming about is totally fine. Lastly the War Scroll is from the Dead Sea Scrolls and imagines a final catastrophic battle against the Romans (who the text calls the Kittim). What's interesting here, among other things, is the interest in banners, trumpets, and the role of priests in the battle."
- The Book of Watchers 1-36 - Primordial history focusing on fall of the angels (or watchers) and the rise of the Nephilim or Giants
- The Book of Similitudes or Parables 37-71 - Judgement at the End of Time (notice the homology between evil angels and earthly rulers, land owners, and the wealthy)
- Astronomical Writings 72-82 - Cosmology and calendrical analysis (especially interesting in understanding the Jewish view of the cosmos at the time and calendar reform)
- Dream Visions 83-90 - Panoptic Historical Analysis down to the Maccabean Period (similar to Daniel in structure)
- The Enochian Epistles 91-107 - somewhat appendectical work, including another, early historical analysis denoted as the "Apocalypse of Weeks"
Session 4: May 20
- Apocalypse of John / Book of Revelation (any Bible translation will do, but Dr. Sledge recommends the New Oxford Annotated Bible version. Jake recommends taking a look at the "Orthodox Jewish Bible" for a dizzying, delightfully frum take from the "Messianic Judaism" movement.)
- Apocalypse of Paul - 3rd century apocryphal work
- "The Decoded Message of the Seven Seals of the Book of Revelation" David Koresh, leader of the Branch Davidians