The conference aims to unearth some hitherto unexplored sources of evidence regarding ancient proto-scientific knowledge. This so far neglected, overlooked — yet extremely important — evidence can be found in the corpus of apocryphal (“parascriptural’, “parabiblical’) writings. Usually pigeonholed as religious narratives, these parascriptural writings are conventionally ignored by the historians of science and hence excluded from the cognitive scope of Wissensgeschichte. Most regrettably, humanities and science are often divorced from each other in this type of studies. One of the tasks of this conference is to dispute the superficial boundaries between them and challenge their proverbial epistemological incompatibility.  Parascriptural writings will be analysed as relevant witnesses to important aspects of Wissensgeschichte, as they specifically relate to cosmic geography and to descriptions of space and spatial concepts of celestial and terrestrial realms. The information contained in these apocryphal texts encompasses testimonies to shifting epistemological paradigms, often bearing the imprints of extra-biblical cosmogonies, along with some philosophical ideas about the nature of matter and the immaterial causes of its origins. The latter were occasionally embedded in the meta-language of ancient mathematics, astronomy, music, and iconography.

The approach to the subject of “immaterial causes and physical space” from the standpoint of apocryphal tradition will be both interdisciplinary and cross-cultural. The focal point of discussions, however, will be rather specific. It will be tailored within a concrete empirical framework, which will represent a “case study” model, with apocryphal Books of Enoch as a primary model (i.e. 1 Enoch, 2 Enoch and 3 Enoch). Specialists in apocryphal writings will examine the evidence for cosmic geography as reflected in these traditions, embedded in which are some fundamental proto-scientific concepts concerning the origins of matter, as well as the emergence of space and time.

One particularly remarkable feature of apocryphal Enoch is the variety of languages in which this text survives, attesting to its widespread popularity extending from the Near East to Europe during a full millennium of transmission and translation, crossing linguistic, regional, and religious boundaries, as well as a variety of scripts and alphabets.  No other apocryphal composition quite compares to the range of linguistic and geographical reach witnessed in Enoch traditions, nor has the popularity of this text been fully evaluated. The Vorlage of writings attributed to Enoch was originally composed in either Hebrew or Aramaic, and Dead Sea scroll fragments of 1 Enoch may be dated as early as the end of the 3rd century BCE. This ancient corpus of writings was the intellectual ancestor of three main offspring: Ethiopic (1 Enoch), Slavonic (2 Enoch, also known as The Book(s) of the Secrets of Enoch the Just, or The Slavonic Apocalypse of Enoch), and Hebrew (3 Enoch). Fragments of 2 Enoch were recently reported to have been found in Coptic manuscripts, while extant Enochic Aramaic fragments from Qumran parallel the Ethiopic version (i.e. 1 Enoch). The latter comprises a corpus of five previously independent writings (The Book of Watchers, The Book of Parables, The Astronomical Book, The Book of Dreams, and The Epistle of Enoch).   It is rather significant that fragments of all of them are found in Qumran, with one only exception, The Book of Parables. It was most probably a later interpolation into the Ethiopic version as a substitution of one particular section from the earlier redaction of the Enochic Pentateuch (i.e. The Book of Giants, which has numerous attestations in Qumran and enjoyed popularity among Manichaeans). The reception history of The Books of Enoch in the Byzantine Commonwealth is equally fascinating; it has been argued that some of the ideas of popular Platonism were detected in its scientific lore, along with cosmogonic concepts attributed to Philo of Alexandria.

The origins of Enoch traditions have been a matter of scholarly debate and raise important topoi-centred questions.  Disagreements are usually between advocates of Enoch narratives coming from Jewish Alexandria or alternatively coming from Babylonia and ultimately going back to the Exile and Jewish Diaspora in Babylonia. The argument in favour of a Babylonian background to Enoch is based (usually, but not always) on astronomical details, compared with standard Babylonian astronomical texts describing the movements of the sun through the heavens, and correspondences between lunar and solar calendars. The arguments are not conclusive, since Babylonian astronomy also influenced later Greek astronomy, the basic astronomical information could have been well known in both Jerusalem and Alexandria by the time Enoch was composed. Other features of this apocryphal corpus containing important proto-scientific concepts still remain unexplored. The purpose of this conference is to bring new dimensions to this challenging task.

The programme of the conference includes the following themes for discussion:

i. Enochic Chronotope and Spatial Concepts in Ancient Epistemologies;

ii. Enoch and the Scientific Discourse of Para-Biblical Apocalyptic Tradition;

iii. Visions of Celestial Topoi and Narratives of Heavenly Journeys in Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions: Proto-physics and/or Metaphysics in Enochic tradition(s);

iv. Enochic Chronotope in Qumran; Enochic Chronotope in the Byzantine Commonwealth;

v. Enochic Chronotope and Cosmic Geography in  Medieval Historiography.


10:00 - 10:10
Rainer Kampling
10:10 - 10:30
Opening Remarks
Gerd Graßhoff
10:30 - 11:30
Where Does Enoch Receive Revelations?
Michael Stone
12:00 - 13:00
Did Enoch Die? A Tradition History of Genesis 5:21-24
Peter Schäfer
14:30 - 15:15
The Cosmic Geography of the Talmud and the Persistence of Enoch
Daniel Boyarin
15:15 - 16:00
Space and Time in the Topographies of the Enochic Book of Parables
Eibert Tigchelaar
16:30 - 17:15
Primordial Aon Adoil in 2 Enoch
Andrei Orlov
17:15 - 18:00
The Construction of the Time and Space in the Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36)
Ida Fröhlich
18:15 - 19:30
Heavenly Matters
Celestial Architecture and Planetary Order in 2 Enoch
Florentina Badalanova Geller
10:00 - 10:45
The Cosmology of 3 Enoch
Philip Alexander
10:45 - 11:30
"Come and I Will Show You"
The Cosmis Geography of 3 Enoch
Martha Himmelfarb
12:00 - 12:45
The Book of Enoch in the Christian Universal Chronicle
Interpretation and Textual History
William Adler
14:15 - 15:00
From the Unforgiving Enoch to the Forgiving Son of Man
Developments of Thought from Enochic Judaism to Christianity
Gabriele Boccaccini
15:00 - 15:45
The Angel of Tartarus and the Supposed Coptic Fragments of 2 Enoch
Christfried Böttrich
16:15 - 17:00
The Great Scribe, the Demons and Astral Deities, Near Eastern Aspects of Enochic Traditions
Gebhard Selz
17:00 - 17:45
Interior Geographies in Sumerian Mythology and their Enochic Ramifications
J. Cale Johnson
17:45 - 18:30
The Story of Watchers as Counter Narrative
Amar Annus
10:00 - 10:45
Enoch / Idris as Physician and Promethean Scientist in the Arabic Sources
Lucia Raggetti
10:45 - 11:30
A Babylonian Encounter with the Fallen Angels: Apropos the Origins of the Islamic Story about Hārūt and Mārūt
Pavel Pavlovitch
12:00 - 12:45
On the Near Eastern background of the cosmogony of 1 Enoch 18
Babylonian or Iranian?
Siam Bhayro
14:00 - 14:30
"The seas where dragons are born or the Syriac tradition of Enoch"
Stefanie Rudolf
14:30 - 15:00
2 Enoch in Coptic
Towards an editio princeps of the text
Joost Hagen
15:00 - 15:30
Man of Truth and Exalted Prophet
Enoch in the Muslim Tradition
Dirk Hartwig
15:30 - 16:00
The Slavonic Apocalypse of Enoch – textual peculiarities and verbal catches
Iva Trifonova
16:00 - 16:30
Concluding Remarks
Christoph Markschies