Friday, March 6, 2009

The Curse of 13

NT Wrong came back for a chat and left this intriguing comment:
And then there's the apocryphal Gospel of Luke, with its angelic messengers, and mention of the missing 13th 'aeon' from Adam ("Cainan").

What do you make of 'The Curse of Cainan (Jub. 8.1-5): Genealogies in Genesis 5 and Genesis 11 and a Mathematical Pattern' by Helen R. Jacobus in the Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 18.3 (2009): 207-232?

Actually, I came back just for a little chat. (And what better to chat about than the number 13?)
This is strange stuff, isn't it? Am I correct to infer from Helen's article that there was a curse on the number 13 as far back as the composition of the stories about the patriarchs? That the ancient Israelites (priests?) believed that the 13th generation from Adam, and each one to follow, was cursed to die unless a righteous man intervened to ameliorate the curse? In some cases this was accomplished according to the narrative cycles, and in others it wasn't, and when it wasn't the cursed person of that generation died? Is this what she is suggesting?

If so, well then there may be another layer of folk-tradition piled on top of Judas Iscariot, the 13th demon in the Gospel of Judas, who asks Jesus to intervene on his behalf, but who is told by Jesus (at least in the extant leaves of the Gospel that is so far published - who knows what new fragments might tell us if ever they are released to us) that he won't intervene, that Judas is the apostate Ialdabaoth-Nebro who will sacrifice Jesus and become the ruler-archon of the 13th realm and eventually be destroyed.


N T Wrong said...

Well, I agree those seems to be the ramifications of Jacobus' article.

I'm not sure if the theory is entirely convincing when it extends the curse to the sons of Joseph (and I say I'm 'not sure', because with all new ideas, they deserve some consideration to get past any knee-jerk reaction), but it's more convincing regarding the first 13 generations.

And as this goes back at least as far as the LXX, it may well have informed the Judas tradition. I don't think final-form Genesis precedes the second century BC, so if the generations were constructed in this way, it wasn't that long before Jesus.

It's weird, but intriguing.

N T Wrong said...

Or is this just triskaidekaphobia?

Robert Wahler said...

Can we please dispense with the mythology? Jesus was NOT sacrificed. JUDAS was. (Yesterday was Friday the thirteenth, 2012. Too bad I didn't post then!)