Book Review of Angelology by Danielle Trussoni, a Novel Based on the Book of Enoch

 

Angelology, a novel by Danielle Trussoni, builds an exciting thriller around the Book of Enoch. This ancient text was well known at the time Jesus, is referenced in the Bible, but disappeared from use in the West around the 5th century. Copies of the Book of Enoch turned up in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and this intriguing text has been getting more attention in the past few decades.

The Book of Enoch

The Book of Enoch expands on Genesis 6: 2-4, “The sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose….There were giants on the Earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them.” Enoch proceeds to tell the story of how a group of angels called the Watchers were entrusted by God to watch over humanity. Instead, they became captivated by the loveliness of human women. 200 Watchers procreated with women, resulting in a powerful and evil race called the Nephilim. Eventually, God sent the flood of Noah to destroy the evil Nephilim, and He imprisoned the offending Watchers for their role.

Angelology

All of this is great fodder for a novel. Angelology presents a world where the Nephilim have infiltrated human society from the beginning, and effectively guide major historical events. They are capable of passing for human beings, and so keep themselves a secret from everyone except a few human collaborators. The only humans to oppose them are a secret society of “Angelologists.” The Angelologists study their enemy, spy on them, and make every attempt to protect humanity from the agenda of these evil creatures.

Trussoni introduces us to the Nephilim in an early passage in the book. It tells a story of a Nephilim who moves among humans in the guise of a British aristocrat with financial interests in the British East India Company. In retaliation for the Revolt of 1857, this Nephilim calmly organizes the murder of 200 children in an Indian village. This tale characterizes the merciless nature of the Nephilim, and demonstrates their secret integration in human affairs. It was an excellent method for the author to introduce us to her villains. We loathe them immediately.

Angelology’s strengths are an imaginative alternate world, a vivid cast of characters, and plot twists and turns. The book’s great weakness is structure. The novel has two story lines: one set in 1940’s Europe, and one in present day New York. Instead of switching back and forth between the two throughout the novel, the author stays in New York for over a hundred pages before switching abruptly to war torn Europe. We then stay in Europe for over 150 pages, before suddenly leaping back to New York. The European plotline, which involves Nephilim disguised as Nazi officers, is so brooding and atmospheric that returning to New York is a let down. The reader has been gone too long, and not only lost interest in the New Yorkers, but half forgotten them as well. Another sort of structure, integrating the two plotlines in a more fluid manner, would have worked much better. In spite of this flaw, I hope Trussoni writes a sequel.

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Comments 11 comments

Motown2Chitown 5 years ago

Very interesting...considering that it's the second reference from a hubber to the Watchers recently, I'm going to have to do some studying. And, given your good words about this book, perhaps I'll have to do some reading for pleasure as well.

I voted this up and useful.


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Motown - Thanks for the positive votes! The book is alot of fun.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada

Great review! I did a hub on the book of Enoch as well. What is interesting is that even that doesn't answer the question of why, if god decided to kill off the inhabitants of earth, were there still races of giants for Moses to kill on the way to the Promised land?

This question is answered in another ancient text called the Book of Jubilees. It seems to be a companion book to Enoch and it tells us that in the end god set some of the original watchers free again to test man, and they were starting to produce giants again with the daughters of Cain.

Of course both books are obviously ways of explaining the fact that all kings in those days claimed to be descendants of gods. "Men of fame" as are described in the bible. The Jews had to find an answer to the idea of why there were so many gods being worshiped when they believed there was only one.

Nothing better than to turn the gods of everyone else into fallen angels and demons, bent on deceiving mankind and leading them astray. These two books and the obscure and highly interpretable bible reference are no more than devices of war (so to speak) designed to kill the competition.

But that doesn't make them any less fascinating. The Babylonian and Sumerian versions of Noah don't tell the same story in regard to why the gods decided to kill us in a flood. The Babylonian version says we were getting to populated and too loud. The other version says we had stopped giving sacrifices to the gods and one of them was very upset by it. Hence probably why all three versions end with the sacrifice being reinstated (or in the case of the bible, made)and a promise by the gods or god that they/he would never do it again.

But the interesting part is that both the Sumerians and Babylonians believed their gods came down from heaven to earth on a regular basis and had taught us all the arts as well as how to do makeup and build weapons. As with the Greeks, the gods often mated with human woman.

Ah... the politics of myth. ;)


Motown2Chitown 5 years ago

Slarty, I have a question. When 9/10 people believe something the same way, why is the 1 right in saying the 9 are wrong? Just a preliminary question to something I'm giving a lot of thought about right now, certainly not meant to invoke disagreement. :-)

grace, feel free to pipe in on this also, since it's your hub. If you feel differently from Slarty, I'd like to know.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada

Motown2Chitown

Something is right or it isn't. It doesn't matter how many people believe either way. The way to determine correct from incorrect is evidence. If there is lack of evidence for an idea no matter how many people believe it to be true, it has to be considered speculative at best, a good chance of being folk lore or myth, or at worst, superstition. It depends on what we are talking about and what kind of evidence exists.

A story I heard from a JW once was that one of the main problems they had with evolution was that one of their scientists had cut off the tails of 100 mice and no mice were born without tails. The story could be folk lore itself, I'm not sure. But he believed it. Of course that's not how evolution works. So no matter how many people the content of the story is true or false is irrelevant.

Those that believed in Zeus were part of a majority. Now we put it down to myth and legend. How can we be sure Zeus does not exist? We can't. But it isn't likely since when people stopped believing in him he didn't send down thunder bolts and punish us all.

But all we can do is state probability based on evidence. We can't say for a fact that Enoch didn't have it right and that the gods of the Sumerian's and Babylonians were just fallen angels. But knowing human nature and politics it is more probable that it was just a way to explain to themselves where the idea of all these other gods came from if there was only one.

Of course we have to look at Enoch and when t was written. Certainly Enoch, if the man lived at all, probably didn't write anything. We start seeing the story in writing around 200 BCE. 200 years after the Torah. It was not chosen to be in that book or any other either because they were unaware of it, not likely, or because it was never considered cannon by any of the priest classes.

But it did make it into the beginning of Noah in a cryptic way. Only if you know Enoch do you think you understand what it all means. But the story is too fantastic to be reality and is classical mythology. Most of th Jewish stories outside the ones they adapted don't even go back as far as Moses.

The short answer is no one knows for sure about anything that happened last year let alone 3000 years ago. The long answer is we can get pretty good ideas from the evidence we do have. But all we can do is talk in probability until more evidence comes to us.

No real need to invest in belief at all. Wait and see.


Motown2Chitown 5 years ago

Interesting...that is helpful, thank you! :-)


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Slarty - I have a few other thoughts on the "why" of the Book of Enoch. Demoting everyone else's gods to fallen creations of my own God is a good explanation.

But I also think Enoch is about sublimated guilt. I read it for the first time about 5 years ago, and my initial reaction was this sounded like one big excuse - human beings weren't really responsible for being warlike & destructive - the devils made us do it. The OT put the blame for the flood on the evil of humans, and Enoch read like a blame shift to me. As I've thought more about it, I think Enoch may also be a way of dealing with guilt feelings associated with driving out the Canaanites. Displacing other people groups from a territory you want is nothing new for human beings, after all that's how people of European extraction came to control North America, but I think guilt feelings are there. The guilt hasn't stopped people, because the things that drive them to take over the land are stronger (like we lived in poverty with little hope of improvement in Europe). But I think Enoch was one way of casting the Canaanites securely in the role of the bad guys, and making wiping them all out morally OK. I believe the same word is used to describe the Canaanites at one point as is used for the nephilim in Genesis 6. Politics, as you say, but maybe the politics of emotions.


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Motown - What is "right" is a tangled web. The fact that most people think something doesn't necessarily make it correct - than again, if most human beings are processing something a certain way, that at least tells us something about human nature, if not about factual accuracy.

I think of people as "people of their time," and think it is a mistake to judge them according to our own standards. But I also think there is more universality among people of all times than we give ourselves credit for. For instance, as far back as Rome, there were a decent number of people who thought slavery was morally wrong. So its not a modern idea, its not as though the ancients couldn't figure it out.

I would be interested to hear more of your thoughts.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada

Well yes, I agree with you, Grace. The Canaanites were the focal point and their gods were for the most part those of the Babylonians and as a consequence those of the Sumerians. Your point is well taken. It could well be laying the groundwork for what allegedly happened in Exodus as well. After all, we all hate the person who's father has seen their grandfather naked. lol...

The bible tells us the son and his line were cursed to be the slaves of the other tribes for the apparent sin of the father. Enoch plays on that theme.

But it also adds all the elements of the Pantheons of the Middle East as I showed in my last post, and changes them from gods to fallen angels. I think that is it's real purpose. It would have been obvious to a person living in that time period who the fallen angels and nephilim were. The king of Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, and later Rome, etc.

All men of high position who were not Israelites. The leaders of the oppressors. Ezekiel and Isaiah tell us this clearly. In fact, it is from their passages we get the idea of a satan being a devil. If you read the passages of both these men that are attributed by Christianity to tell the story of a devil, in light of Enoch you see what they are talking about. They are not a single demon or fallen angel, but many that run the nations that oppress the Israelites. You can't even say the Hebrews as the Canaanites were Hebrew themselves.

So while Enoch is not cannon, it represents a long standing rivalry between the Semitic people of different tribes. A rivalry we see to this day between Arab and Jew. It has always struck me odd that when we say anti-semitic we mean anti-Jewish. Arabs are Semitic too.

I don't know how much of it is guilt and how much is justification. They both stem from the same understanding that it is wrong to harm others. But if your god tells you to do it, what is there to feel guilty about? Your justification is your god's word on the matter. That in itself is a way to erase guilt.

So the politics of emotion, yes. But what politics is not based primarily on emotion and sentiment for a specific cause?


kephrira profile image

kephrira 5 years ago from Birmingham

Interesting review, and a great topic for a book. In many ways the nephilim are the equivalent of the heroes of older Pagan cultures, who were also often the children of both spiritual and physical parents. In many ways you can see the difference between the two religious traditions in this one thing - from something to be both admired as the triumph and pinnacle of humanity, but also feared for their amorality (disregard for communal moral codes) and power, to something to be faught against as evil.


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago Author

kephira - I hadn't quite thought about it in this light. I think you are right - these are very different takes on the same figures, and show alot about the values of the cultures in question.

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