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Book of Enoch Scholar to Deliver Keynote Address at USU Symposium

Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013

George Nickelsburg, guest speaker at USU symposium

George W. E. Nickelsburg, expert of the Book of Enoch, delivers the keynote address at "Enoch and the Temple," an evening of scholarly discussions concerning temple themes and religious messages in Enoch literature, Tuesday, Feb. 19, at USU.

The Utah State University Religious Studies Program and the new Academy for Temple Studies present “Enoch and the Temple,” an evening of scholarly discussions concerning religious messages and themes in Enoch literature. George W. E. Nickelsburg, emeritus professor of religion at the University of Iowa, will deliver the keynote address at the symposium Tuesday, Feb. 19.

The Academy for Temple Studies is a group of scholars dedicated to understanding the ancient temple as typified by the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem and the teachings, rites and physical temples over time and from diverse religious traditions. The academy co-sponsored the symposium with USU’s Religious Studies Program to bring Nickelsburg, an expert on 1 Enoch and a member of the Enoch Seminar, to both the Logan campus and Brigham Young University.

In 2001, Nickelsburg authored a two-volume Hermeneia commentary on the Book of Enoch — the culmination of three decades of study. The religious text is considered part of pseudepigrapha — ancient Jewish works outside the Hebrew Bible canon. Nickelsburg’s talk will address how the ancient Jewish temple is portrayed in 1 Enoch. He will describe how the corpus references the Second Temple — built after the first holy Jewish temple was destroyed — which he argues veers from the image presented in biblical accounts and focuses more on the heavenly temple.

Philip Barlow, the Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at USU, urges those interested in temple studies, Mormon history and ancient Jewish texts to attend the lecture.

“The Book of Enoch is going to be explained by one of the world’s experts,” he said. “After the last Arrington lecture, a good deal of interest was stirred in the Book of Enoch.”

In September, Terryl Givens, author of the book The God Who Weeps and a professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond, delivered the 18th Annual Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture about the prophecy of Enoch and how it influenced early Mormonism.

In addition to Nickelsburg’s keynote address, both Mormon and non-Mormon scholars will discuss Joseph Smith’s interpretation of 1 Enoch in his prophetic translation of the Bible.

“It should be a good dialogue,” said Gary N. Anderson, a member of the Academy for Temple Studies and event organizer. “This will really expand people’s understanding of the Book of Enoch from the perspective of some really solid scholars.”

The two scholars presenting papers on the Book of Enoch include David J. Larsen, a doctoral candidate in divinity at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland, who studies Jewish and Christian apocalyptic and mysticism and temple roots of early Christianity, and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, a senior research scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, who writes scholarly commentary on the first chapters of Genesis.

The program will conclude with a panel discussion on temple themes and religious messages in Enoch literature. The panelists include: panel chair John Welch, the Robert K. Thomas Professor of Law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School; Kent Brown, emeritus professor of religion at Brigham Young; John Hall, professor of classical languages and ancient history at BYU; and Lauri Sorenson, a USU history alum who studied at the University of Chicago’s Committees on the Ancient Mediterranean World and the History of Culture, and participated in its archeological dig at Isthmia, Greece.

There will be an opportunity for questions and discussion.

The symposium will be presented twice, once at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 4:30-7 p.m., in Old Main, Room 121. All are invited to attend; however, an RSVP is appreciated. There will be no charge, although voluntary contributions are welcomed. Please send an RSVP email to for attendance to the Feb. 19 event.

The program will be repeated and the discussion will continue at Brigham Young University Friday, Feb. 22, from 1-4 p.m., in 303 JRCB, the Law School Moot Court Room. Please send an RSVP email to for this event.

Registrants who attended an earlier symposium Oct. 29, 2012, about “Mormonism and the Temple: Examining an Ancient Religious Tradition,” will receive their copy of the October conference proceedings volume at the Enoch symposium.

Related links:

Source: USU Religious Studies Program

Contact: Philip Barlow, (435) 797-3406,

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