Summary of the Book of Giants: by James R. Davila


The Book of Giants

• 4Q203, 37 images available

• 1Q23, 11 images available

• 2Q26, 2 images available

• 4Q530, 46 images available

• 4Q531, 66 images available

• 4Q532, 7 images available

• 6Q8, 3 images available



I. THE MANICHEAN VERSION (Manichean version of the Book of the Giants)


III. The Book of Giants (Summary of a lecture by J. R. Davila on 1 March 2002)


Fragments of and allusions to the Manichean version of the Book of the Giants have been recovered in medieval manuscripts in various languages, including Middle Persian, Sogdian, Uygur, Coptic, Parthian, and Latin. The following is a summary of the surviving fragments and allusions, which I have attempted–extremely tentatively!–to put in sequence. The summaries are also very tentative; I have not consulted the texts in the original languages, most of which I do not read. For the sequencing I follow some of the many (mutually inconsistent) suggestions and observations by the various editors and commentators along with occasional bouts of my own gut feeling, but in many places the ordering is extremely doubtful. Readers may find it an interesting exercise to try to work out equally or more plausible arrangements.

See after the summary for some notes on my rationale for the sequencing.

M01. The two hundred demons descend to earth.

M02. Their descent from heaven stirs up the other heavenly beings.

M03. They descend because of the beauty of the women they saw there (cf. Gen 6:2; 1 Enoch 6:1-2; Jub. 5:1).

M04. They reveal forbidden arts and heavenly mysteries in order to seduce these women (cf. 1 Enoch 7-8) and they bring about ruin on the earth (cf. Gen 6:5, 11-12; 1 Enoch 7; 9:8; Jub. 5:2-3).

M05. Someone (Enoch?) warns that the coming of the two hundred demons will lead only to “hurting speech” and “hard labor”.

M06. They subjugate the human race, killing hundreds of thousands of the righteous in battle, forcibly marrying beautiful women, and enslaving the nations. The angels “veil” Enoch (cf. Gen 5:24; 1 Enoch 87:3-4, 70:3; Jub. 4:21, 23).

M07. The righteous endure burning and Enoch the Sage is mentioned.

M08. Šamizad (Šemihaza, cf. 1 Enoch 6:3; 9:7) begets two giant sons, Sa(h)m (=Ohyah) and Pat-Sam (=Nariman or Ahyah/Hahyah). The other demons and Yaksas beget the rest of the giants.

M09. The giants grow up and wreak ruin upon the earth and the human race. The lamentation of humanity reaches up to heaven.

M10. Yima (a transmogrification of the Jewish God according to Mani’s cosmology??) accepts the homage of humankind as they plead for help.

M11. Someone boasts that Sa(h)m and his brother will live and rule forever in their unequalled power and strength.

M12. The giant Hobabiš (=Humbaba) robs someone of his wife. The giants fall out among themselves and begin killing one another and other creatures. Sa(h)m and his brother are mentioned. It appears that Sa(h)m has a dream in which a tablet was thrown in the water. It seems to have borne three signs, portending woe, flight, and destruction. Nariman has a dream about a garden full of trees in rows. Two hundred of something, perhaps trees, are mentioned.

M13. Someone recites a list of proverbs involving contrasts, usually between the lesser and the greater or the derivative from the source. Nariman tells how he saw (in the dream?) some who were weeping and lamenting and many others who were sinful rulers.

M14. The giant Mahaway, son of Virogdad (=Baraq’el, cf. 1 Enoch 6:7), hears a cautioning voice as he flies along at sunrise and he is guided to safety by Enoch “the apostle” and the heavenly voice, which warn him to descend before the sun sets his wings on fire (shades of Icarus). He lands and the voice leads him to Enoch.

M15. Enoch interprets the dream, indicating that the trees represent the “Egregoroi” (Greek for “Watchers,” cf. 1 Enoch 12:4 etc.) and also mentioning the giants who were born of women. Something (the trees?) are “pulled out.”

M16. Someone reports that someone ordered him not to run away but to bring the message written on two stone tablets, showing it first to Nariman. He has brought them in order to share the contents of one tablet, pertaining to the demons, with the giants. Šamizad tells him to read the writing by Enoch.

M17. Enoch the apostle gives a message of judgment to the demons and their children, telling them that they will have no peace and that they will see the destruction of their children (the giants–cf. 1 Enoch 14:6; 16:3; Jub. 4:22). He refers to someone (presumably the giants) ruling for one hundred twenty years (cf. Gen 6:3). Then he predicts either an era of earthly fecundity, presumably after the Flood (cf. 1 Enoch 10:11-22), or else the Flood itself (cf. Gen 7:8-9).

M18. Sa(h)m exhorts the other giants to cheer up and eat but they are too sorrowful to eat and instead fall asleep. Mahaway goes to Atanbush (=Utnapistim–either another giant or another name for Enoch) and tells him all. When Mahaway returns, Sa(h)m has a dream in which he ascends to heaven. He sees the water of the earth consumed with heat and a demon comes out of the water. Some beings (the protecting spirits?) are invisible but he sees the heavenly rulers.

M19. Sa(h)m, Šamizad, and Mahaway have a conversation. Mahaway mentions his father, Virogdad. There are obscure references to weapons and a blessing on someone who saw something but escaped death. Sam and Mahaway search (?) for something?

M20. Someone gives satisfactory assurance to Mahaway that he will be protected from Sa(h)m but nevertheless Sa(h)m and Mahaway fall out and begin to fight.

M21. The wicked demons are glad to see the “apostle” (Enoch) and assemble timidly before him. Apparently they promise to reform their ways and they ask for mercy (cf. 1 Enoch 13:4-6, 9).

M22. Someone (Enoch?) warns a group (the demons?) that they will be taken from a fire to face eternal damnation, despite their belief that they would never lose their misused power. He also addresses their “sinful misbegotten sons” (the giants?–cf. Gen 6:3) and describes how the righteous will fly over the fire of damnation and gloat over the souls inside it.

M23. “They,” presumably the demons, take some heavenly helpers hostage. As a result the angels descend from heaven, terrifying the two hundred demons, who take human form and hide among human beings (cf. 1 Enoch 17:1). They angels separate out the human beings and set a watch over them, seize the giants from the demons, and lead “them” (the children of the giants?) to safety in thirty-two distant towns prepared for them by the “Living Spirit” at Aryan Wezan (the traditional homeland of the Indo-Iranians) in the vicinity of the sacred Mount Sumeru and other mountains. These people originated the arts and crafts. The two hundred demons fight a massive and fiery battle with the four angels.

M24. Atanbush does battle, accompanied by Watchers and giants, and three of the giants are killed. An angel and others are also killed.

M25. Ohyah and Ahyah resolve to keep their promise to do battle, and they boast of their prowess.

M26. The four angels, by divine command, bind the Egregoroi with everlasting chains in a dark prison (cf. 1 Enoch 10:11-14; Jub. 5:6, 10) and annihilate their children (cf. 1 Enoch 10:15; 15:8-12; Jub. 5:7-9, 11).

M27. Even before the rebellion of the Egregoroi, this prison had been built for them under the mountains. In addition, thirty-six towns had been prepared for the habitation of the wicked and long-lived sons of the giants before they were even born.

M28. Ohyah (or Ahyah), the primordial monster Leviathan, and the archangel Raphael engage in a great battle, “and they vanished.” According to one tradition, Ohyah survived the Flood and fought this battle after it.

M29. Three thousand, two hundred and eighty years passed between the time of Enoch and the time of King Vishtasp (who ruled at the time of the prophet Zoroaster, who, along with Buddha and Christ, was an apostle who came before the final apostle Mani).


I regard the order of the following passages as nearly certain. The order of M1-4, 6 is clear, and M5 belongs in the same vicinity. M8-9 must follow these and M11-12 seem to go in the same vicinity. M15 appears to interpret the dream in M12. M16 and M18 are opposite sides of the same page, with an undetermined amount of text lost between them at the bottom of the page. M23, 26-27 belong to the same late episode, and M28-29 deal with the postdiluvian period.

I regard the order of the following passages as plausible but uncertain. M14 introduces an episode in which Enoch’s interpretation is solicited while he is distant from the giants. M16 pertains to (Mahaway’s?) bringing back of a message from Enoch on stone tablets and M17 gives a message sent by Enoch whose content fits the context.

I regard the order of the following passages as possible but speculative. M7 could also fit with the episode in M23, 26-27. The placement of M10 here is based on Skjaervø’s speculation that Yima is identified with the Jewish God. M13 fits where I have placed it but could also fit in later contexts. M19-20 seem to follow a natural progression in which Sa(h)m and Mahaway fall out after M18, but other placements for both are possible. I place M21 late in the narrative on the assumption that Enoch first sends a message to the giants but then (in a passage now lost) as the situation deteriorates he comes to see them himself. M22 fits as an Enochic response to the appeal of the demons for mercy, although it could also go with M17 (although it seems doubtful that so much text could fit between M16 and M18). M24-25 fit well where I have put them but could conceivably also go with M9-12


There have been many attempts to reconstruct the sequence and content of the Aramaic Book of Giants. Here I follow Stuckenbruck’s sequencing, essentially uncritically, since his is the most recent and most comprehensive attempt with all the fragments available. An effort to nuance this version is given after the summary. I do not always follow Stuckenbruck’s readings or interpretations.

A1. The angelic Watchers beget the Nephilim and the giants (perhaps the same creatures but perhaps not) through miscegenation with mortal women (cf. Gen 6:1-4; 1 Enoch 6; Jub. 5:1). These rapacious monsters inflict bloodshed and injustice upon the earth and destruction upon the sea animals, plants, cattle, and humanity (cf. Gen 6:5, 11-12; 1 Enoch 7; 9:8; Jub 5:2).

A2. All this is reported to Enoch, the “scribe of interpretation.”

A3. Enoch (?) addresses God, praising him for his glory, knowledge, strength, and creative acts. (Placement very uncertain.)

A4. A number of giants, including Hobabis (=Humbaba), Mahaway, ADK?[, and perhaps the Watcher Baraq’el, have a conversation in which they discuss killing, perhaps of human beings.

A5. Following hints from the Manichean version and the Midrash of Šemihaza, perhaps we should reconstruct here an episode in which the giants have a first pair of dreams predicting the great Flood. If so, the first dream seems to involve the effacing of a writing-tablet by submerging it in water. Stuckenbruck also suggests that a fragment which refers to three shoots in a garden (6Q8 2-3) belongs to the second. The first dream may have told of an angel doing the effacing as a symbol of the destruction wrought by the Flood. The second may have told of an angel descending and cutting down all but three shoots (representing the sons of Noah) in the garden.

A6. [Mahaway consults Enoch the first time. It is possible that the first tablet was introduced at this point. These episodes are entirely lost but their existence is deduced by later references in the fragments.] The giants Ohyah and Mahaway have a conversation in which Mahaway tells Ohyah something he heard while in the presence of his (Mahaway’s) father, the Watcher Baraq’el. Ohyah responds that he too has heard “fou[r] marvels” and he starts to make a comparison which pertains to a woman giving birth.

A7. There is a conversation among the giants in which one of them admits that, despite his own might, he has been unable to prevail in war against some heavenly beings, presumably the archangels. Ohyah mentions an oppressive dream which has disturbed him, and someone tells the giant Gilgamesh to recount his dream as well.

A8. Ohyah says something to his brother Hahyah about the Watcher Azazel (cf. Lev 16:7-10; 1 Enoch 8:1; 9:6, etc.), the Watchers, and the giants. In another fragment that may continue this speech, one of the giants resigns himself that there is no escape and that he and the others must die for their misdeeds. He refers to a vision that hinders him from sleeping. Someone enters the assembly of the giants. Perhaps a conversation continues in which the giants anticipate with dread their coming destruction in the Flood for their sins, in which they will be stripped of their form and reduced to being evil spirits (Cf. 1 Enoch 15:8-12).

A9. The Watchers tell the giants that they themselves are imprisoned and perhaps that the giants are being defeated.

A10. Mahaway and the two tablets are mentioned. The second tablet is now read. It is a letter from Enoch to the Watcher Šemihaza and his companions. They are rebuked for their and their sons’ (the giants) corrupt acts, which have come to the attention of the archangel Raphael (cf. 1 Enoch 9:1?). They are warned of imminent destruction and ordered to release their hostages and to pray.

A11. Nevertheless, Ohyah informs the giants of a message from Gilgamesh and Hobabis which involves the cursing of “the princes” and which cheers the giants up.

A12. The two giants Ohyah and Hahyah have dreams. Hahyah describes his in the assembly of the giants. He dreamed of gardeners watering a garden which produced great shoots. But a disaster of some sort destroyed the garden in a deluge of water and fire. The other giants are unable to interpret his dream. Hahyah proposes that they consult Enoch for an interpretation. Then his brother, Ohyah reports that he too had a dream, in which God descended to the earth, thrones were set up, and God sat enthroned amid a multitude of angels and presided over a judgment based on the opening of certain books (cf. Dan 7:9-10). The giants, presumably unable to interpret this dream either, summon Mahaway and send him to Enoch, whom he has encountered before, to ask him to interpret the dreams.

A13. Mahaway takes wing and flies across the “Great Desert” until Enoch sees him and calls to him. Mahaway refers to this as his second visit and makes the request. Bits of Enoch’s interpretation may survive in a fragment that mentions the violent deaths of a number of Watchers, Nephilim, and giants, and also in a small fragment that says “no peace to you.”

A14. Enoch pronounces an eschatological or postdiluvian blessing of earthly prosperity.

(Presumably much of the story came after this point and is now lost. Cf. M18-28 above.)


Reconstruction of the Aramaic Book of Giants remains extremely subjective, but a number of objective factors limit the possible arrangements and point us in certain directions. The most important external factor is the assured sequence of fragments in some of the manuscripts based on physical joins. A9 and A10 must come in this order, since they are adjoining columns in 4Q203. Likewise, A11-13 come from an assemblage of three columns of fragments in 4Q530. Other sequences are regarded as assured by some commentators but not others.

A second factor is that some individual fragments of the Manichean version contain material parallel to more than one fragment of the Aramaic version, suggesting (assuming–optimistically–that the order of material in the Manichean version was not radically reworked) that the Aramaic fragments go together. Stuckenbruck notes the following. The fragments 2Q26 and 6Q8 are assigned together in A5 on the grounds that they parallel material in a single fragment of the Middle Persian Manichean version (M12). Another Middle Persian fragment (M 17) suggests that 1Q23 1+6+22 belong together to form A14. And the content of a third Middle Persian fragment (M19) is taken to imply that 6Q8 1 (A6) came before 4Q531 17 (A7). For my own part, I find only the first two suggestions convincing, but not the third, since the correspondences are not very close.

A third factor is the internal evidence of the fragments themselves. Stuckenbruck, building on Garc<‘i>a Mart<‘i>nez’s comments, allows for passages that pertain to the early part of the Watchers/giants narrative when the giants are free agents (A1-4 [5-6?]) and passages after they (or better, the Watchers) have been imprisoned (A9-10). He also points to the reference to two tablets in A10, with the second tablet being read later than the first, and to Mahaway’s second visit to Enoch in A13. In both cases, earlier, lost portions of the narrative are hinted at.

The biggest difference between Stuckenbruck’s sequencing and those of some other commentators is that he reconstructs two pairs of two dreams. Beyer, Reeves, and Garc<‘i>a Mart<‘i>nez group the fragments pertaining to dreams into one episode. Cook, however, does reconstruct multiple dream episodes, although not in precisely the same order as Stuckenbruck, and Puech accepts the necessity of an earlier pair of dreams, although he does not accept that the material assigned to the second dream by Stuckenbruck in A5 belongs there (he puts it, correctly in my view, in the first dream in A12). My own reconstruction of the Manichean version also supports the view that there was more than one episode of dreams.

Another major difference in reconstructions is Garc<‘i>a Mart<‘i>nez’s argument that material that Stuckenbruck places late in A1 and in A8 and A14 belongs at the very beginning of the work and constitutes a summary of the Book of the Watchers. Beyer, Cook, Reeves, and Stuckenbruck begin the work with much the same material, partially overlapping what Garc<‘i>a Mart<‘i>nez uses, as an independent description of the birth and career of the giants.

Otherwise, there are numerous smaller differences of sequencing and interpretation. For example, Beyer puts A10 before A9 which does not seem to be physically possible, and Reeves takes A14 to describe the loading of the ark with animals. There is broad agreement that the narrative began with an account of the birth of the giants, with dreams of the giants, Mahaway’s journey to Enoch, a prayer of Enoch, and conversations among the giants assigned different orders from commentator to commentator.

(c) 2002
Reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the author.

THE BOOK OF GIANTS: (Summary of a lecture by J. R. Davila on 1 March 2002)

In this lecture I wish to supplement the previously circulated handout on the Book of Giants with brief overviews of the historical backgrounds of, respectively, the Manichean and the Aramaic versions, along with some observations on the mythological contexts of each version. For reasons already indicated in earlier lectures and reading assignments I will work backwards, starting with the more recent Manichean version and concluding with the question of whether the Aramaic version is a Jewish composition. The Book of Giants has been omitted from all editions of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, no doubt because of its highly fragmentary state in highly obscure languages, as well as the unavailability of the Aramaic fragments until recently, but it has just as much right to be included as central works like 1 Enoch, and we can only hope that future editions with find a place for it.


The founder of the Manichean religion was the apostle Mani (216-76 C.E.), who was raised in Southern Mesopotamia in a Jewish-Christian baptist sect called the “Elkesaites.” From age twelve on, Mani began to have visions. Eventually, his visionary experiences led to his being expelled from the sect, and he then founded his own religion, sending out missions to Iran, India, Syria and Egypt. Late in his life, he fell out of royal favour and was sent to prison, where he died. He wrote detailed scriptures so that his doctrines would be preserved forever, even going so far as to invent a new script to write them in, but over time nearly all of these scriptures have been lost. This loss makes it very difficult to reconstruct his original theology. We know that he drew on other world religions to interpret himself as the culminating revelatory intermediary for Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism. We also know that the Manichean religion taught an extremely complicated system of gnostic dualism centred around a cosmological myth about the war between the originally pristine realms of light and darkness. The physical universe was created as a trick to liberate the captive sparks of light in living beings from the realm of darkness. There were two classes of practicing Manicheans: the Elect, who lived ascetic, monastic lifestyles of celibacy, vegetarianism, etc., and the Hearers, who supported the Elect financially and otherwise in the hope of being reincarnated themselves as Elect in due course.

Although most of Mani’s scriptures are themselves lost, lists of the titles of these documents survive in works by both friendly and hostile writers who wrote in Coptic, Greek, Arabic, and even Chinese. Allowing for minor corruptions, all the lists mention the same seven works, usually in more or less the same order. These are: the” Gospel,” the “Treasure of Life,” the “Pragmateia” (“Treatise”), the “Book of Mysteries,” the “Book of Giants,” the “Epistles,” and the “Psalms.”

For our immediate purposes, the only one of interest is the Book of Giants, a work apparently composed in Syriac (an eastern dialect of Aramaic). The book was entirely lost until the twentieth century, but scant references to it survived in Latin, Greek, and Arabic, indicating that it involved battles of the ancient giants. Then about a century ago many highly fragmentary Manichean works written in Central Asian languages were recovered archaeologically at Turfan, in China (and much of the find remains unpublished even at present). Among the published fragments are many badly eroded manuscripts of the Book of Giants in various languages. The articles by Henning, Sundermann, & Skjaervø; translate these and try to put them into some order and context. Reeves and Stuckenbruck also make use of many of them. In the previously distributed handout I have also tried to set them into a possible order, although many problems remain. It is not entirely clear, for example, whether there were two sets of dreams or only one, or whether the tablets in the dream of Sa(h)m are the same as or different from those mentioned in M16.

The Manichean versions adapted the story of the giants to fit Iranian mythology. Skjaervø discusses these adaptations at length. Three of the most striking adjustments have to to with the names of major characters. Sam or Sahm is the name of an immortal dragon slayer in later Iranian epic. His name is given to the giant Ohyah. Ohyah’s brother, Hahyah, is given the name Nariman, who in Iranian epic is a figure closely connected to Sa(h)m; either identified with him or presented as one of his close relatives. The name of the father of the giant Mahaway, the demon “Virogdad,” means “given by lightning” in Persian, a loose translation of “Baraq’el,” which is Hebrew for “lightning of God.” The Watcher Baraq’el seems to be the father of Mahaway in the Aramaic version of the Book of Giants.


In my handout I have noted numerous connections between Mani’s Book of Giants and the stories of the giants related in the Enoch literature and in Jubilees. These were already good indicators of Mani’s use of earlier Jewish traditions, a use confirmed by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. These consisted of many hundreds of parchment and papyrus manuscripts in Hebrew and Aramaic (with a few also in Greek), most of which had rotted away into tens of thousands of fragments. Fragments survived of some of the Enoch books (in Aramaic) and also the book of Jubilees (in Hebrew). J. T. Milik also discovered roughly six to ten extremely poorly preserved manuscripts of an Aramaic Book of Giants, apparently the document used by Mani as the basis for his scriptural work. These manuscripts give no indication of being sectarian compositions. Their paleographic dates fall roughly across the first century B.C.E., so presumably the book was composed before this, although how long before remains open to question. The kernel of the same story appears in the Bible in Gen 6:1-4 but, as with the Book of the Watchers, it remains debatable whether the traditions about the Watchers and giants are creative expansions of the Genesis passage or (more likely in my view) independent transmissions of stories that have been summarized and truncated in Genesis.

There is evidence that the Aramaic Book of Giants continued to be transmitted in Judaism apart from Mani’s version. Hebrew manuscripts survive of the “Midrash of Šemihaza,” which Milik has published and translated in his edition of some of the Aramaic fragments of the Book of Giants. This work tells how at the time of the corrupt generation of the Flood, the angels Šemihaza and Aza’el make a bet with God that if they were to descend from heaven to earth they would be able to resist the lure of the evil inclination. But after descending they promptly lose the bet: they notice the beauty of mortal women and cannot restrain themselves from becoming sexually involved with them. Soon they find themselves revealing heavenly secrets to their mortal wives. Šemihaza begets sons named Heyya and Aheyya. The angel Metatron (another name for the deified Enoch in the Hekhalot traditions) sends them a warning of the coming Flood. Heyya and Aheyya each have a prognostic dream. In the first, an angel descends from heaven and scrapes an enormous stone tablet with writing on it, which was spread across the whole world, until only four words remain. In the second, there is a garden full of trees and gems, but an angel descends and cuts down everything but one tree with three branches. Both dreams predict the coming of the Flood and the destructions of all human beings except Noah and his three sons. The giants are then killed in the Flood, but are consoled by the fact that mortals will use their names in incantations and thus their fame will never cease. Šemihaza repents and suspends himself upside down between heaven and earth. Aza’el refuses to repent and becomes a demon who entices men to corrupt deeds and who bears the sins of Israel on the Day of Atonement (cf. Lev 16:7-10).

The numerous and striking parallels with the Book of Giants are obvious. Although there is only one pair of dreams in the Midrash of Šemihaza, Stuckenbruck argues that the original Book of Giants had two sets. This may well be true also of the Manichean version.

Moving now from history of transmission to background influences, we should note that the Aramaic Book of Giants draws on ancient Near Eastern myth rather as the Manichean version draws on Iranian myth. Two of the evil giants in the Aramaic version are named Gilgamesh and Hobabis. Gilgamesh is an epic figure in Sumerian and Akkadian literature, best known from the Epic of Gilgamesh, a work whose importance in ancient Mesopotamia was comparable to that of the Homeric epics in ancient Greece. According to the Epic, Gilgamesh, a huge semidivine man, has many adventures with his friend, the wild man Enkidu. One of these is the slaying of the monster Humbaba (Huwawa) in the Cedar Forest. But Enkidu dies tragically and Gilgamesh sets out to discover the secret of immortality in order to avoid his friend’s fate. He meets Utnapishtim, the Babylonian version of Noah–the only man to survive the Flood. Unlike Noah, Utnapishtim was made immortal by the gods. Nevertheless, Gilgamesh fails in his quest, eventually dying and leaving only his heroic fame behind him. The giants Gilgamesh and Hobabis are reflexes of the Gilgamesh and Humbaba/Huwawa of the Gilgamesh Epic. Likewise, a Sogdian text of the Manichean version refers to Atanbush, who is either another giant or Enoch under another name (Enoch also survived the Flood and was made immortal). Atanbush is clearly a reflex of Utnapishtim and we may assume that he appeared also in some lost passage or passages in the Aramaic Book of Giants.

Finally, we must ask whether the Book of Giants is a Jewish work. The dates of the Aramaic manuscripts rule out the possibility of it being a Christian composition, and it clearly does contain Jewish traditions. Nevertheless, it contains Babylonian mythic material as well, which opens up the possibility that it is an indigenous polytheistic (i.e., “pagan”) work which borrowed Jewish traditions and in turn was borrowed by Jews. The extremely fragmentary nature of the surviving manuscripts rules out the kind of full analysis of the text we would like, but in what survives I see no obviously Jewish signature features, nor any obvious polytheistic signature features. The context of the Aramaic manuscripts in the Jewish Qumran library should be our starting point, so it makes sense to try to read it as a Jewish work in the first instance, and no obvious obstacles arise when we do so. The use of Babylonian mythic figures, one of whom is demoted from hero to wicked giant, is not too jarring and can be paralleled by the similar demonization of Indian mythic figures in Zoroastrianism or the Classical gods in early Christianity.


• Cameron, Ron, and Arthur J. Dewey (eds.). _The Cologne Mani Codex: “Concerning the Origin of His Body_. SBLTT 14; SBLECL 3. Missoula, Mont.: Scholars Press, 1979.

• Gnoli, Gherardo. “Mani.” _ER_ 9:158-61.

• __________. “Manichaeism: An Overview. _ER_ 9:161-70.

• Reeves, John C. “Manichaeans.” _EDSS_ 505-507.

• Rudolph, Kurt. _Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism_, esp. pp. 326-42. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984.

• Sandars, N.K. _The Epic of Gilgamesh_. Rev. ed. London: Penguin, 1972. An old but easily accessible and reasonably accurate prose paraphrase of the Gilgamesh Epic.

• Tigay, Jeffrey H. _The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic_. Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.

Original Source: 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.