Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pico on Metatron

Indeed, even the most secret Hebrew theology at one time transforms holy Enoch into an angel of divinity, whom they call Metatron, and at other times it reshapes other human beings into other spirits.

19.2. I believe that the active intellect that is illuminating only in Themistius
is the same as Metatron in the Cabala.

11>10. That which among the Cabalists is called Metatron
is without doubt that which is called Pallas by Orpheus, the paternal mind
by Zoroaster, the son of God by Mercury, wisdom by Pythagoras, the
intelligible sphere by Parmenides.

A note on Enoch/Metatron in Oration
13 Enoch : Book of E., 40:8. Both Garin and Tognon refer to the Ethiopian Book of Enoch (1 st- or 2 nd- century C.E., Tertullian considered it part of the Holy Scriptures) a source of apocalyptic literature (to be distinguished from a Book of the Secrets of Enoch, of which there exist Medieval manuscripts in slavic languages, ca. 1200). Second- and Third-Century "Church Fathers" like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen and Clement of Alexandria also make use of the Book of Enoch. The reference could also be to the so-called Third Book of Enoch, presumably compiled in Babylon around the 6 th-century C.E. (Dictionary of the Bible, I, 704, sgg.). This is a late apocalyptic text harking back to the mysticism of the Merkava and circulating in Medieval mss. (Pico’s library was rich in Kabbalistic texts in Hebrew, sine titulo, see Kibre). In the Jewish tradition, many legends collect around the figure of Enoch (son of Jared, father of Methuselah, the 7 th in the Adamitic genealogy, along the line of Seth) who "walked with God for three hundred years," was taken to heaven without abandoning the human form and transfigured. In this tradition, Enoch is also represented as the inventor of letters, arithmetic and geometry and called “first author.” In the Third Book of Enoch (or Book of Enoch of the Merkava mystics, on which see G. Scholem, " Merkava mysticism and Jewish Gnosis", in Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism), the elevation of Enoch has two versions, in the second of which E. is "taken with the ShekhinĂ " and "transfigured" as Metatron (according to the prevailing etimology: "Methathronius= he who is next to the throne of God – see Scholem). A reference to Metatron can be found in Pico’s Commentary on the Love Song of Hieronymo Benivieni (written in the same year of the Oratio and the Conclusiones, 1486) almost in the exact terms of the Oratio, as a synonym of transfiguration: “...thus one must understand the saying of the Kabbalists, when they say that Enoch is transformed into Matatron [sic], angel of divinity, or universally any other man [is transformed] into an angel” (see Garin, 1942, 554). After a devout life on earth, E. was elevated to the rank of the first of angels and Sar ha-panìm (literally: prince of the divine visage, or divine presence). This intricate constellation of possible references, not precisely identifiable with a direct quotation of the Ethiopian (Third?) Book of E., hints at the complexity of Pico’s angelology, as articulated in the Oratio and elsewhere.

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