Hung Like An Angel
Yesterday’s report about naked tanner Angelo Dicks reminded me of an ancient story, but a little background is needed first.
One of the assumptions of many modern Christians goes something like this:
- God spoke in OT times
- He said nothing for four hundred years
- He started speaking again in the time period of the NT.
A four hundred year gap where nothing happened. Malachi and then… silence.
Now this conclusion is largely based on canonization and seems like a good deduction until one begins to investigate the extant literature from this supposedly quiet period. Furthermore, when one begins to become familiar with this intertestamental literature it becomes clear just how important and influential it was on the worldview and articulation of the NT authors. We may say from a distance of 2300-2000 years that “nothing” was happening, but this would have come as a shock to the people that were writing down all these details of many things that were happening. Read Josephus, the Apocrypha, and the Dead Sea Scrolls and it will become obvious very quickly how narrow this incorrect Christian concept is.
One of the very important stories that was formative in the Second Temple period comes to us by way of a collection now known as 1 Enoch. The book is actually a compilation of books ascribed to the ante-diluvian figure of Enoch–and I plan on writing more on them in the future–but for today’s purposes I would like to bring your attention to one of the most important stories for some groups in Second Temple Judaism: the fall of the Watchers.
In a nutshell, a dominant theological idea in Judaism in this time period related to the covenant, and the belief that if enough Jews lived faithfully to the covenant the problems of evil would be solved. Against this was the apocalyptic worldview which asserted that human’s inability to live faithfully to the covenant was not the “real” problem with the world: the real problem came from outside the human sphere. The real problem were some angels (called Watchers) in heaven. They screwed everything up, and because they were spiritual beings, human beings could not solve the problem they created, therefore, the solution to their mischief had to come from the spiritual realm.
This story is told in detail in 1 Enoch 6-11 (an expansion on Gen 6:1-8). Some angels in heaven led by Shemihaza and Asael see how beautiful the daughters of men are, make a pact among themselves, come down from heaven, get their swerve on, impregnate the women, and have giant half-breed babies. The angels are imprisoned in a pit in the wilderness until the day of the Lord’s judgment, and the giants are destroyed, except their parents were spirit and flesh, so while their bodies are destroyed their spirits live on as demons who cause sickness, fever, and hurling people to the ground.
This story from Watchers is later recast (circa 200 BCE) in The Dream Visions of Enoch in a delightful little ditty known as the Animal Apocalypse. In it “Enoch sees the history of the world played out in allegorical form. Human beings are depicted as animals, the sinful angels as fallen stars, and the seven archangels as human beings” (Nickelsburg and VanderKam, 1 Enoch, 8).
Which brings us back to Angelo Dicks. The second dream vision of Enoch tells the tale of the Watchers this way:
And again I saw with my eyes as I was sleeping. I saw the heaven above, and look, a star fell from heaven, and it arose and was eating and pasturing among the cattle… And again I saw in the vision, and I looked to heaven, and look, I saw many stars descend and cast themselves down from heaven to that first star. And in the midst of those calves they became bulls, and they were pasturing with them in their midst (1 Enoch 86:1-3)
OK, good so far. This would make a great movie scene as fiery stars from heaven fall to the earth, and it’s following the story from Genesis and Watchers. Sons of God and Daughters of Men and all that. Let’s see what’s next:
I looked at them and I saw and look, all of them let out their organs like horses, and they began to mount the cows of the bulls (1 Enoch 86:4)
What the Sheol? What is this BCE soft-core?
Just in case the reader forgot about the Watchers’ large organs when it comes time for the Angels Gone Wild to be punished Enoch reminds everyone:
And the Lord summoned those first seven white men, and he commanded them to bring before him beginning with the first star that had preceded those stars whose organs were like the organs of horses, and they brought all of them before him (1 Enoch 90:21)
Yeah, we get it Enoch, “organs like horses.” You can stop rubbing our faces in it now…
Another way the Watchers corrupted humankind in 1 Enoch was by teaching humans how to make cosmetics and jewelry. Not very fair is that? Lust human women from heaven, come down and teach them how to make themselves look even better, and then show off your over-sized junk.
How’s a normal man supposed to compete with that?
A couple of NT authors made some suggestions to their audience to make sure this very scenario wouldn’t happen: women, cover your head and don’t adorn yourself with makeup and gold. Hopefully, if these precautions are taken, no horny Watcher will show up with Mr. Longrod Von Hugenstein and mess things up further.
I still wonder though: why this observation from Enoch? Why do we have to know about angel anatomy? Why does he have to tell us twice? Well, as one observer who shall remain unnamed so eloquently stated, “If you’re going to make giant babies then you’re going to need giant dongs.”
Makes sense to me!
Well there it is then. Let there be no doubt: the angels are hung like a horse… literally! So the moral of the story is: if you are sunbathing nude and some angels show up because of the human hotties: put on your shorts! You’ll be outgunned.