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Old 12-12-2006, 12:39 PM
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Default journey across Central Asia

Γραφὴ τω̑ν Γιγάντων which Kenan, a great-grandson of Noah, discovered lying in a field (vol. i, 429, n. 6). The latter work has been identified by Alfaric (Les critures Manichennes, ii, 32) with a book whose contents are briefly indicated in the Decretum Gelasianum, p. 54, ll. 298-9 (ed. Dobschtz): Liber de Ogia1 nomine gigante qui post diluvium cum dracone ab hereticis pugnasse perhibetur apocryphus. Of the Book of Enoch, which was composed in the Hebrew language in the second century B.C., only an Ethiopic version, a few Greek fragments, and some excerpts made by the Byzantine chronographer Georgius Syncellus survive.2 Mani, who could hardly read the Hebrew, must have used an Aramaic edition based directly on the Hebrew text (see below, hmyzd). He quotes mainly from the first part, which Georgius S. (p. 45, Fl.-R.) calls "the first book of Enoch on the Egrēgoroi", but shows himself acquainted also with the subsequent chapters.3

It is noteworthy that Mani, who was brought up and spent most of his life in a province of the Persian empire, and whose mother belonged to a famous Parthian family,4 did not make any use of the Iranian mythological tradition. There can no longer be any doubt that the Iranian names of Sām, Narīmān, etc., that appear in the Persian and Sogdian versions of the Book of the Giants, did not figure in the original edition, written by Mani in the Syriac language.5 His disciples, who, it is well known, were in the habit of p. 53 translating every word of a text (including the names of months, deities, etc.), seen fit also to "translate" the names of the giants. Thus Sām is merely the translation of Ohya. However, they kept some of the original names (e.g. hmyzd), and adapted some others (e.g. Wrwgdd).1

The story of the fallen angels and their giant sons needed little adaptation to be fitted into Mani's system. Of course, the heavenly origin of the Bnē-hā-Elōhīm2 of Genesis vi, 2, 4, the Εγρήγοροι, of the Book of Enoch, did not square with Mani's conviction that no evil could come from good. Therefore he transformed them into "demons", namely those demons that when the world was being constructed had been imprisoned in the skies under the supervision of the Rex Honoris. They rebelled and were recaptured, but two hundred of them escaped to the earth. Mani also used the term Εγρήγοροι (preserved in Coptic, see texts L, M, P, S), or rather yr in Aramaic (once in a Middle Persian fragment, text D), but in Eastern sources they are mostly referred to as "demons" (Pers. dywn, Parth. dywn in T 6, Sogd. δywt in G, H 17, K 7, cytyt in E, δywt ZY ykyt in H. 16).

The puzzling clause of Genesis vi, 4: "The Nephilim were on the earth those days," was interpreted by Mani in this fashion: "when the Egrēgoroi descended, the animals, or proto-animals, were already in existence." Mani confused nəfīlīm with nefl (nfl) = ἔκτρωμα: see Nldeke, ZDMG., 43 (1889), 536, who rightly referred to the formula of abjuration (P.Gr., i, 1461) where the giants and the "abortions" are mentioned in one breath. In Manichan parlance, "abortion" (cf. also MPers. bgng, Sogd. pq) is synonymous with "animal".

We are therefore left with the Gibbōrīm, understood by Mani3 as "giants". He probably used the equivalent Syriac word, gabbārē (gnbr), which his disciples translated as γίγαντες, al-ǰabābirah in Arabic, MPers. and Parthian kwn, Sogd. kwyt = kawit (Sing. qwy, kwy = kawi); cf. Sb.P.A.W., 1934, 30. In Sasanian times the words derived from the Avestan Kavi were generally understood as "giant"; see Benveniste, MO., xxvi, 214, and Polotsky in Mir.Man., iii, 901. Thus MPers. Parth. kw is freely used in Manichan texts, e.g. of the Father of Light (M 40), of solar deities, of leading Manichans (both in Mir.Man., iii), also of the First Man and Ahriman4 with reference to the First Battle (which therefore could have been described as a γιγαντομαχία).5 p. 54 However, the word kw is applied only to men and such beings as are imagined anthropomorphous. Where one would translate γίγας as monster, the Iranian equivalent is mzn, Mazan. Thus the γίγας τη̑ς θαλάσσης (Kephalaia, 113 and notes), whose breathing operations are responsible for ebb and flow (cf. also Beruni, India, 203, 10-11), is called Mzn y (z)rhyg1 in Middle Persian (M 99, V 22-3). Accordingly, MPers. mzn (adj.2 and noun) and the related words, Pahl. mā̆zan, māzanīg, Sogd. mznyn δyw, Av. māzainya-,3 should be rendered as "monster", or "gigantic, monstrous".

The Egrēgoroi and their giant progeny are fought and vanquished by four archangels: Raphael, Michael, Gabriel, and Istrael (Enoch, 10, 1; or: Uriel, or: Fanuel). In the Book of the Giants they are called "the four angels". They are frequently invoked by name in Manichan prayers (e.g. M 4 d 19, f 6; M 20), as Rwpyl, Myxyl, Gbryl, and Sryl ( = Istrael).

There were no details about individual feats of the giants in the Book of Enoch. Mani filled the gap with the help of the above-mentioned Liber de Ogia nomine gigante. This Ogias has been identified with Og of Bashan,4 who according to late sources lived five thousand years and managed to survive the Deluge, thanks to his giant size.5 But possibly stories that primarily appertained to Ogias were transferred to the better known Og, owing to the resemblance of their names. The name of Ogias is why (wḥy) = Ohyā̆ (Oḥyā̆) in the Manichan fragments, and this spelling is presumably more correct than that of Ogias. Og (wg) indubitably would appear as wg (or: wg). Since Mani took why from an Aramaic text, the ending of Ogias cannot be regarded as a Greek addition.

Ogias fought with a draco, and so did Ohya; his enemy was the Leviathan (text N). Ohya and his brother Ahya were the sons of hmyzd (text H), i.e. Στμιαζα̑ς, the chief of the Egrēgoroi in the Book of Enoch; hence, Στμιαζα̑ς is transcription of hm- (or ḥm ?). In the Persian edition of the Kawān Ohya and Ahya are "translated" as Sām and Narīmān, but the original names are kept in one passage (A 60). The translator did well to choose Sām-Krsāsp, both with regard to Ogias' longevity (Sām is one of the "Immortals") and to his fight with the dragon (Sām is a famous dragon-killer). In the Sogdian p. 55 fragments the name of Sām is spelt Shm = Sāhm, as it is often in Pahlavi (Shm1 beside Sm); Ṭabari has Shm,2 cf. Christensen, Kayanides, p. 130. Sāhm's brother is Pāt-Sāhm. This name may have been invented by the Sogdian translator in order to keep the names of the brothers resembling each other. Narīmān was evidently not known in Sogdiana as a brother of Sām. According to the Book of the Giants, the main preoccupation of Sām-Sāhm was his quarrel the giant Māhawai,3 the son of Virōgdād, who was one of the twenty ers of the Egrēgoroi.

The Book of the Giants was published in not less than six or seven languages. From the original Syriac the Greek and Middle Persian versions were made. The Sogdian edition was probably derived from the Middle Persian, the Uygur from the Sogdian. There is no trace of a Parthian text.4 The book may have existed in Coptic. The presence of names such as Sām and Narīmān in the Arabic version proves that it had been translated from the Middle Persian. To the few surviving fragments (texts A-G) I have added two excerpts, the more important of which (H) probably derives from a Syriac epitome of the book. Naturally, Manichan authors quoted the book frequently, but there is only one direct citation by a non-Manichan writer (text O). With the exception of text O, all the passages referring to the Book of the Giants (texts J-T) go back to Syriac writings (apparently). They are, therefore, to be treated as quotations from the Syriac edition. E.g. the Parthian text N is not the product of a Parthian writer who might have employed a Parthian version of the book, but was translated from a Syriac treatise whose author cited the Syriac text.

In their journey across Central Asia the stories of the Book of the Giants were influenced by local traditions. Thus, the translation of Ohya as Sām had in its train the introduction of myths appertaining to that Iranian hero; this explains the "immortality" of Sā(h)m according to text I. The country of Aryān-Vēan = Airyana Vaēǰah, in text G (26), is a similar innovation.5 The "Kgmn mountains" in text B may reflect the "Mount Hermon". The progeny of the fallen angels was confined in thirty-six towns (text S). Owing to the introduction of the Mount Sumeru, this number was changed p. 56 (in Sogdiana) to thirty-two (text G, 22): "the heaven of Indra . . . is situated between the four peaks (cf. G 21) of the Meru, and consists of thirty-two cities of devas" (

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