home esoterica Feature Articles by binnallFeature Articles by binnall Original binnallofamerica.com Audio the United States of Esoterica merchandise contact
pix/twlogo2.jpg pix/ojlogo2.jpg

The rantings and ravings of superstar theologian, Joe Vee


From the Ass of Andrew :
Slapshod Scholarship Attempts to Tackle one of the Bible's most Convoluted Subjects.

As always, as is well known, I am a sucker for most any book pertaining to either the fallen sons of God in Genesis six or their monstrous offspring. It's a hobby, not a particularly lively one, but a hobby nonetheless. The majority of literature on the subject fails most every academic standard. This ought to be expected. The persons best trained for interpreting the texts do little more than offer new translations from decaying manuscripts whilst the persons least qualified to interpret the text are, more often than not, the ones writing the books on the subject.

Andrew Collins's From the Ashes of Angels is no exception. A wonderfully poetic title coupled with some impressive choice of cover art lures one in, while a wad of disposable income in the pocket serves to eventually stock the book on one's library shelf. It's all a freefall in absence of a parachute from there, as Collins weaves a highly improbable and improvable hypothesis regarding the identity of the Watchers, beings unnamed until the Book of Enoch, though nonchalantly assumed into the Genesis narrative by Collins.

Collins, to his credit (a very low line of which is established based upon the merits of this work), espouses a fairly interesting hypothesis, namely that the Watchers of the Enochian literature are a mythologization of actual human personages. Very interesting as it goes, however, the very premise contains the inherent impasse preventing its further exposition; reconstructing the human history of a mythologized figure is all but impossible. That a person is mythologized immediately tells us he or she has escaped history, so to speak; he or she has been removed from history by the deliberate removal of the historical from his or her life. As a person, he or she is recast such as to no longer function as humans are prone in the tales constituting their lives. The very problem with Collins's underlying thesis is a lack of evidence with which to argue. Of course, that doesn't mean he has to stop trying to argue for it.

Collins argues a tall, white, Anglo-Saxon esque "race" of shamans dressed in feathers and dreadlocks living in the Middle East and practicing serpent worship are the actual Watchers. The problems for such a theory don't just pop to the surface, they positively take to arms in legion formation and attack! As is sadly typical, Collins has no credentials to speak of, being unable to translate the languages necessary to any serious inquiry in this matter nor having been on any archeological digs in the various localities he visited as a tourist for the purposes of researching this book, nor does the man have any such archeological training to identify or date possible archeological findings.

Collins's ignorance coupled with his penchant for relating every one of his Johnny-come-lately discoveries as earth shattering/religion threatening new observations is especially annoying. In one instance Collins positively poses that the name Elohim (in the Hebrew testament, a plural noun), is simply soul destroying to the many comatose Christians deceived by the Church. He then goes on to announce a further shocking discovery, bene-elohim in Genesis 6 actually means "sons of the goddesses." Okay, dingle-berry the clown, hold on a second. First, any freshman level foundations of theology course will adequately provide a history of Jewish and Christian interpretation in which elohim is well known and causes little problem. Second, a two week Hebrew student can tell you elohim is the masculine plural of el. And this is all in the first chapter! We're really not off to a good start, are we?

Like Will "I never learned to read!" Henry, Collins takes reductio ad absurdum to mind numbing levels, defying most principles of logical argument in the process. Collins tries to reverse engineer the identity of the watchers, starting Genesis, then Enoch, working, in his estimation, backward via choosing certain other ancient religious societies that gradually lead to the identity of these folk or not. Collins never offers any historical-critical or philological arguments to justify his position, at best engaging in Will Henry hermeneutics, that is, standing identification of facile similarities as solid proof of cross-cultural pollination (IE, culture B has a red bird, culture A has a red bird, cultures B and A MUST be related). In several instances, discussion of the Silk Road would necessitate jettisoning portions of his thesis out, and then, of course, Collins would have needed to invest time in critical research.

I have to mention this again because it's so bloody annoying, Collins identifies what he thinks are markers of cross-cultural pollination in religious texts without supplying critical reasons as to why this should be so. More acutely, the great fallacy of "similarities" initiated by random firing neurons in brains half given to constructing their own little delusional playground is the tendency to place image of concept. Again, I think of Will "never had a logic class in my life" Henry as the single most dumbfounding example of this tendency. Collins isn't as bad-no one really comes close to Henry in the area of absurdity-although he does repeatedly fail to deal with the concept, basing most of his argument on the occurrence of an image without ever considering how the concept surrounding the image in religion A is entirely incompatible and indeed removed from the concept in religion B. Again, I must appeal to historical critical studies, the leading indicator and justification any time a theory of cross-cultural fertilization manifests in scholarly literature is affinity of concepts, not the image.

Anyone with higher critical background in the subject will likely notice Collins isn't all too often clear himself regarding the focus of his book. Immediately, Collins confuses the Watchers with their offspring, thus misinterpreting the Enochian literature as a result. Worse still, Collins is generally incapable of handling his sources. Collins has no knowledge of neither dating nor text recsension, thus positing Enoch a primacy over Genesis which, critically speaking, there is little justification for so doing.

Additionally, Collins makes gross presumptions in his work by reading "Watchers" onto the Bene-Elohim of Genesis. That's a scholarship no-no, folks. You can't read "Watchers" into a text that a) has no knowledge of the concept and b) was in all likelihood composed well before the text supplying the word or phrase. While Enoch contains affinities with its contemporaries, Bene-Elohim in Genesis 6 demands to be taken on its own, having no parallel in ancient Semitic literature and yielding no ready answers in regards its purpose. One could, of course, perform a philological analysis within its context, although this would require a working knowledge of Hebrew, Collins, however, lacks even an elementary knowledge.

Collins repeatedly distinguishes the white Anglo-Saxon birdmen from other races, becoming distinctly obsessed with race during the course of the book. I don't know where he's going with this race distinction, nor continuing to jostle for a superior WASP race in the Middle East's bygone history, although I certainly hope the man isn't trying to sucker people into myths of race and blood.

There is of course one satisfying moment towards the book's conclusion, though I don't know if it's because of the sheer absurdity of the situation. Collins at one point discusses other theories of who the Watchers were or are, eventually addressing the work of Zechariah Sitchen and concluding he sees no proof of Sitchen's hypothesis. Ouch! Zinged by Andrew Collins. You know you're plankton sucking the scum at the bottom of the barrel if you've been zinged by Collins. Think of it, Andrew Collins rebuking your research. Perturbing.

Putting down the book and washing my hands, this has been The Wrath of Joe.