Monday, October 21, 2019

4 Enoch: The Online Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism, and Christian and Islamic Origin

 [First posted in AWOL 23 November 2009. Updated 20 October, 2019]

4 Enoch: The Online Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism, and Christian and Islamic Origin
4 Enoch: The Online Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins is an online research tool for the study of Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins, promoted by the Enoch Seminar and edited by Gabriele Boccaccini.


Only gradually and not without pain, the field of Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins has emerged in modern times as an autonomous field of research. In the past the major obstacle was the intrusion of canonical and religious boundaries; today the field suffers from an unprecedented explosion of studies that results in a growing fragmentation into sub-areas of specialization. Since it has become virtually impossible to master the entire field, even more urgent are the circulation of ideas, the sharing of information, and the mutual listening to each other.

The Enoch Seminar were born with the goal of providing a common forum to all specialists of the field. Now a new tool is added – 4 Enoch: The Online Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism. At the 2009 Enoch Seminar in Naples, the General Assembly recommended the creation of an online tool that would enhance the scholarship of the Seminar participants as well as aide scholars of Second Temple Judaism throughout the world. Gabriele Boccaccini, the Chairperson of the Seminar, agreed to contribute 20 years of his work on the history of research in the field of Second Temple Judaism, which had already produced in 1992 a printed bibliography – Portraits of Middle Judaism in Scholarship and Arts (1992 Boccaccini), book. Boccaccini’s vast bibliographies, database, and personal notes encompassing scholarship and the arts comprise the core of 4 Enoch: The Online Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism.

The name 4 Enoch was chosen as a tribute to the ancient patriarch who has become the symbol of our common goal to tear down the canonical, linguistic and religious walls of separation that in the past have largely divided our field of research. The wish is to provide common ground for scholars all around the world to share the results of their research and listen to each other and to the voices from the past and make it easier to specialists and students to navigate in a field that is becoming more and more complex and fragmented in different subfields of specialization.

4 Enoch offers a comprehensive introduction to scholarly research in Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins, beginning with the Babylonian Exile in 586 BCE to the Bar-Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE. It includes biographies of scholars, as well as abstracts of scholarly works in the field of Second Temple Judaism, from the early 16th century to the present. The Encyclopedia also includes fictional material (art, literature, music, cinema). As the fertile soil for both Christianity and the rabbinic period, Second Temple Judaism has inspired not only scholars but also artists, whose creations have profoundly affected our understanding of the period. 4 Enoch is the only online tool to address the vital connection between scholarship and the arts, whether the arts anticipate, interact with, or stem from developments in the academic community.
Spanning 500 years of research and creativity, 4 Enoch covers everything from Contexta populi Iudaici historia (1548 Eber), book to Beyond the Qumran Community (2010 Collins), book, and from Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple (1512 Raphael), art to The Handmaid and the Carpenter (2006 Berg), novel. Although 4 Enoch is still in its nascent stage, the goal of its Editors is to create the most comprehensive history of research tool available to the scholars who comprise the field of Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins.
The Editors of 4 Enoch are committed to removing the canonical, linguistic and religious walls of separation that have divided scholars of Second Temple Judaism for so long. The tool itself is decidedly historical and secular in orientation; it has no canonical, confessional, religious or denominational preferences. It invites scholars from every country and tradition to participate freely and to benefit from its bibliographic resources. It is aptly named after the ancient patriarch and patron saint of the Enoch Seminar, whose three ancient books brought together traditions shared by both Christians and Jews.

By summarizing the vast literature and synthesizing it for the scholarly community, 4 Enoch provides the opportunity for scholars around the world to share the results of their research with their colleagues and anyone else who is interested in Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins. 4 Enoch resurrects voices from past centuries, introducing the giants of a past age to each new generation of scholars; and provides a glimpse to the work of national schools often neglected or even virtually unknown due to linguistic barriers. Specialists and students will be allowed to navigate a field that is increasingly complex and fragmented into sub-fields of specialization. The goal is to produce more substantial scholarship and a greater respect for our common heritage. 4 Enoch: The Online Encyclopedia will evolve in three phases. The beginning phase of 4 Enoch will be the creation of thousands of entries for those scholars, authors and artists who have contributed to our understanding of the period or addressed the period in some significant way. The focus during the first phase is on history of research and secondary scholarship. The second phase will focus more on primary sources and will include entries on the ancient documents of Second Temple Judaism, historical and fictional characters, historical events, archaeological sites, epigraphic data, numismatics and cultural phenomena. The final phase will include scholarly articles written by current Second Temple specialists.

4 Enoch is freely open to the participation of scholars from around the world. There are already more than 60 registered authors from six continents making contributions to its growing database. In the near future the 4 Enoch team will appoint additional associate editors for major linguistic groups as well as major subjects of research. The choice of the wiki program reflects 4 Enoch’s desire for a truly collective enterprise and for contributions from scholars and graduate students from around the globe. It also allows the registered authors to add abstracts, reviews, and interacting biographical and scholarly notes not found in bibliographical databases, such as the Bibliographie bibliques informatisée de Lausanne (BiBIL) or WorldCat.

There is a final point that the Editors want to make in this age that is increasingly dominated by the presence of the Web. We sometimes complain (and not without reason) about the low quality and unreliability of some very popular computerized tools, which nonetheless our students and we must use every day. Our challenge is to demonstrate that a collective work can be accomplished without compromising its integrity and high standards. On the contrary, the sharing of individual wisdom from scholars all around the world can only result in mutual enrichment and lay the foundation for new accomplishments in our field.
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