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Otherworldly journeys are a challenging object of study for the contemporary historian because they do not seem to resonate with the post-enlightenment worldview that bolsters scientific academic inquiry. And yet, even if we do not imagine heaven and hell in the same way that ancient thinkers did, the impulse to create “otherworlds” is still very much alive. With every new technology humans open the possibility of new spaces with complex relationships to the spaces that already exist. Here, before we think about the reception of 1 Enoch in the apocalypses, I would like to take a moment to propose a theoretical framework for thinking about how the space of an “otherworld” functions in relationship to familiar spaces. Such a theoretical model is helpful, because the reception of the Enochic visions is not simply a matter of the citation of words and phrases or shared imagery, but a case of shared rhetoric, in which the later apocalypses inherited not only an idea, but with it a whole discursive framework for conceiving of spaces and the relationships between those spaces. In particular, we will examine Michel Foucault’s concept of “heterotopias” as a tool for teasing out the relationship between 1 Enoch’s otherworldly journeys and the journeys of later apocalypses. This theoretical framework will enable us to see the broad influence of 1 Enoch as well as the ways in which later authors greatly expand and emend Enoch’s vision so that in texts like the Apocalypse of Peter or the Apocalypse of Paul the otherworldly tour has a very different relationship to the familiar earthly spaces.



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Between Canonical and Apocryphal Texts: Processes of Reception, Rewriting and Interpretation in Early Judaism and Early Christianity


Mohr Siebeck


Tübingen, Germany


Biblical Studies | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


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Hell as ‘Heterotopia’: Edification and Interpretation from Enoch to the Apocalypses of Peter and Paul