On Neglected Hebrew Versions of Myths of the Two Fallen Angels
AbstractThe present study presents and discusses two Hebrew versions of the myth of fallen angels previously unknown to modern scholarship. Their protagonists are Shemhaza’el and ‘Azza, and the mythical drama whose actors they are takes place at the beginning of the process of creation. Those versions are preserved in two late thirteenth-century books, one written in Northern France and the other in Catalunia. Those versions are quoted as ’Aggadah and, respectively, as Midrash; they do not depend on each other but reflect an earlier Rabbinic myth that developed in two different directions. The working hypothesis of this article assumes that these versions preserved material that entered the Ashkenazi (Germano-French) center of Jewish culture as part of a stream of traditions which also preserved other, known and unknown, versions of the myth of the fallen angels. The above results, together with other historical reconsiderations mentioned in this study, call into question and invite a profound revision of recent theories of “back borrowing” from Muslim and Christian sources of material concerning this myth among most Jewish authors.
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