The Book of Enoch

The Book of Enoch, or, as it is sometimes called, the Ethiopic Book of Enoch, in contradistinction to the Slavonic Book of Enoch (see later), is perhaps the most important of all the apocryphal or pseudapocryphal Biblical writings for the history of religious thought. It is not the work of a single author, but rather a conglomerate of literary fragments which once circulated under the names of Enoch, Noah and possibly Methuselah. In the Book of the Secrets of Enoch we have additional portions of this literature. As the former work is derived from a variety of Pharisaic writers in Palestine, so the latter in its present form was written for the most part by Hellenistic Jews in Egypt.

The Book of Enoch was written in the second and first centuries B.C. It was well known to many of the writers of the New Testament, and in many instances influenced their thought and diction. Thus it is quoted by name as a genuine production of Enoch in the Epistle of Jude, 14 sq., and it lies at the base of Matt. xix. 28 and John v. 22, 27, and many other passages. It had also a vast indirect influence on the Palestinian literature of the 1st century of our era. Like the Pentateuch, the Psalms, the VIegilloth, the Pirke Aboth, this work was divided into five parts, with the critical discussion of which we shall deal below. With the earlier Fathers and Apologists it had all the weight of a canonical book, but towards the close of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th century it began to be discredited, and finally fell under the ban of the Church. Almost the latest reference to it in the early church is made by George Syncellus in his Chronography about A.D. 800. The book was then lost sight of till 1773, when Bruce discovered the Ethiopic version in Abyssinia.

[top]Original Language

That the Book of Enoch was written in Semitic is now accepted on all hands, but scholars are divided as to whether the Semitic language in question was Hebrew or Aramaic. Only one valuable contribution on this question has been made, and that by Halevy in the Journal Asiatique, AvrilMai 186 7, pp. 35 2 -395. This scholar is of opinion that the entire work was written in Hebrew. Since this publication, however, fresh evidence bearing on the question has been discovered in the Greek fragment (i.-xxxii.) found in Egypt. Since this fragment contains three Aramaic words transliterated in the Greek, some scholars, and among them Scharer, Levi and N. Schmidt, have concluded that not only are chapters i.-xxxvi. derived from an Aramaic original, but also the remainder of the book. In support of the latter statement no evidence has yet been offered by these or any other scholars, nor yet has there been any attempt to meet the positive arguments of Halevy for a Hebrew original of xxxvii.-civ., whose Hebrew reconstructions of the text have been and must be adopted in many cases by every editor and translator of the book. A prolonged study of the text, which has brought to light a multitude of fresh passages the majority of which can be explained by retranslation into Hebrew, has convinced the present writer' that, whilst the evidence on the whole is in favour of an Aramaic original of vi.-xxxvi., it is just as conclusive on behalf of the Hebrew original of the greater part of the rest of the book.


Greek, Latin and Ethiopic. - The Semitic original was translated into Greek. It is not improbable that there were two distinct Greek versions. Of the one, several fragments have been preserved in Syncellus (A.D. 800), vi. - x. 14, viii. 4 - ix. 4, xv. 8 - xvi. 1; of the other, i.-xxxii. in the Giza Greek fragment discovered in Egypt and published by Bouriant (Fragments grecs du livre d'Enoch), in 1892, and subsequently by Lods, Dillmann, Charles (Book of Enoch, 318 sqq.), Swete, and finally by Radermacher and Charles (Ethiopic Text, 3-75). In addition to these fragments there is that of lxxxix. 42-49 (see Gildemeister in the ZDMG, 1855, pp. 621-624, and Charles, Ethiopic Text, pp. 1 75177). Of the Latin version only i. 9 survives, being preserved in the Pseudo-Cyprian's Ad Novatianum, and cvi. 1-18 discovered by James in an 8th-century MS. of the British Museum (see James, Apoc. anecdota, 146-150; Charles, op. cit. 219-222). This version is made from the Greek.

1 The evidence is given at length in R. H. Charles' Ethiopic Text of Enoch, pp. xxvii-xxxiii.

The Ethiopic version, which alone preserves the entire text, is a very faithful translation of the Greek. Twenty-eight MSS. of this version are in the different libraries of Europe, of which fifteen are to be found in England. This version was made from an ancestor of the Greek fragment discovered at Giza. Some of the utterly unintelligible passages in this fragment are literally reproduced in the Ethiopic. The same wrong order of the text in vii.-viii. is common to both. In order to recover the original text, it is from time to time necessary to retranslate the Ethiopic into Greek, and the latter in turn into Aramaic or Hebrew. By this means we are able to detect dittographies in the Greek and variants in the original Semitic. The original was written to a large extent in verse. The discovery of this fact is most helpful in the criticism of the text. This version was first edited by Laurence in 1838 from one MS., in 1851 by Dillmann from five, in 1902 by Flemming from fifteen MSS., and in 1906 by the present writer from twenty-three.

Translations and Commentaries. - Laurence, The Book of Enoch (Oxford, 1821); Dillmann, Das Buch Henoch (1853); Schodde, The Book of Enoch (1882); Charles, The Book of Enoch (1893); Beer, "Das Buch Henoch," in Kautzsch's Apok. u. Pseud. des A.T. (1900), ii. 217-310; Flemming and Radermacher, Das Buch Henoch (1901); Martin, Le Livre d'Henoch (1906). Critical Inquiries. - The bibliography will be found in Scharer, Gesch. d. jiidischen Volkes 3 , iii. 207-209, and a short critical account of the most important of these in Charles, op. cit. pp. 9-21.

[top]The different Elements in the Book, with their respective Characteristics and Dates

We have remarked above that the Book of Enoch is divided into five parts - i.-xxxvi., xxxvii.-lxxi., lxxii.- lxxxii., lxxxiii.-xc., xci-cviii. Some of these parts constituted originally separate treatises. In the course of their reduction and incorporation into a single work they suffered much mutilation and loss. From an early date the compositeness of this work was recognized. Scholars have varied greatly in their critical analyses of the work (see Charles, op. cit. 6-21, 309-311). The analysis which gained most acceptation was that of Dillmann (Herzog's Realencyk. 2 xii. 350-352), according to whom the present books consist of - (I) the groundwork, i.e. i.-xxxvi., lxxii.-cv., written in the time of John Hyrcanus; (2) xxxvii.-lxxi., xvii.-xix., before 64 B.C.; (3) the Noachic fragments, vi. 3-8, viii. I-3, ix. 7, x. I, 11, xx., xxxix. I, 2a, 11V. 7-1v. 2, lx., lxv.-lxix. 25, cvi.-cvii.; and (4) cviii., from a later hand. With much of this analysis there is no reason to disagree. The similitudes are undoubtedly of different authorship from the rest of the book, and certain portions of the book are derived from the Book of Noah. On the other hand, the so-called groundwork has no existence unless in the minds of earlier critics and some of their belated followers in the present. It springs from at least four hands, and may be roughly divided into four parts, corresponding to the present actual divisions of the book.

A new critical analysis of the book based on this view was given by Charles (op. cit. pp. 24-33), and further developed by Clemen and Beer. The analysis of the latter (see Herzog, Realencyk. 3 xiv. 240) is very complex. The book, according to this scholar, is composed of the following separate elements from the Enoch tradition: - (I) Ch. i.-v.; (2) xii-xvi.; (3) xvii.-xix.; (4) xx.-xxxvi.; (5) xxxvii.-lxix. (from diverse sources); (6) lxx.-lxxi.; (7) lxxii.-lxxxii.; (8) lxxxiii.-lxxxiv.; (9) lxxxv.-xc.; (10) xciii., cxi. 12-17; (I I) xci. I-I I, 18, 19, xcii., xciv.-cv.; (12) cviii., and from the Noah tradition; (r3) vi.-xi.; (14) xxxix. 1-2a, liv. 7 - lv. 2, lx., lxv.-lxix. 25; (15) cvi.-cvii. Thus while Clemen finds eleven separate sources, Beer finds fifteen. A fresh study from the hand of Appel (Die Composition des dthiopischen Henochbuchs, 1906) seeks to reach a final analysis of our book. But though it evinces considerable insight, it cannot escape the charge of extravagance. The original book or ground-work of Enoch consisted of i.-xvi., xx.-xxxvi. This work called forth a host of imitators, and a number of their writings, together with the groundwork, were edited as a Book of Methuselah, i.e. lxxii.-cv. Then came the final redactor, who interpolated the groundwork and the Methuselah sections, adding two others from his own pen. The Similitudes he worked up from a series of later sources, and gave them the second place in the final work authenticating them with the name of Noah. The date of the publication of the entire work Appel assigns to the years immediately following the death of Herod.

We shall now give an analysis of the book, with the dates of the various sections where possible. Of these we shall deal with the easiest first. Chap. lxxii.-lxxxii. constitutes a work in itself, the writer of which had very different objects before him from the writers of the rest of the book. His sole aim is to give the law of the heavenly bodies. His work has suffered disarrangements and interpolations at the hands of the editor of the whole work. Thus lxxvi.-lxxvii., which are concerned with the winds, the quarters of the heaven, and certain geographical matters, and lxxxi., which is concerned wholly with ethical matters, are foreign to a work which professes in its title (lxxii. I) to deal only with the luminaries of the heaven and their laws. Finally, lxxxii. should stand before lxxix.; for the opening words of the latter suppose it to be already read. The date of this section can be partially established, for it was known to the author of Jubilees, and was therefore written before the last third of the 2nd century B.C.

[top]Chaps. lxxxiii.-xc

This section was written before 161 B.C., for "the great horn," who is Judas the Maccabee, was still warring when the author was writing. (Dillmann, Schiirer and others take the great horn to be John Hyrcanus, but this interpretation does violence to the text.) These chapters recount three visions: the first two deal with the first-world judgment; the third with the entire history of the world till the final judgment. An eternal Messianic kingdom at the close of the judgment is to be established under the Messiah, with its centre in the New Jerusalem set up by God Himself.

[top]Chaps. xci.-civ

In the preceding section the Maccabees were the religious champions of the nation and the friends of the Hasidim. Here they are leagued with the Sadducees, and are the declared foes of the Pharisaic party. This section was written therefore after 134 B.C., when the breach between John Hyrcanus and the Pharisees took place and before the savage massacres of the latter by Jannaeus (95 B.C.); for it is not likely that in a book dealing with the sufferings of the Pharisees such a reference would be omitted. These chapters indicate a revolution in the religious hopes of the nation. An eternal Messianic kingdom is no longer anticipated, but only a temporary one, at the close of which the final judgment will ensue. The righteous dead rise not to this kingdom but to spiritual blessedness in heaven itself - to an immortality of the soul. This section also has suffered at the hands of the final editor. Thus xci. 12-17, which describe the last three weeks of the Ten-Weeks Apocalypse, should be read immediately after xciii. I-10, which recount the first seven weeks of the same apocalypse. But, furthermore, the section obviously begins with xcii. "Written by Enoch the scribe," &c. Then comes xci. 1-10 as a natural sequel. The Ten-Weeks Apocalypse, xciii. I-10, xci. 12-17, if it came from the same hand, followed, and then xciv. The attempt (by Clemen and Beer) to place the TenWeeks Apocalypse before 167, because it makes no reference to the Maccabees, is not successful; for where the history of mankind from Adam to the final judgment is despatched in sixteen verses, such an omission need cause little embarrassment, and still less if the author is the determined foe of the Maccabees, whom he would probably have stigmatized as apostates, if he had mentioned them at all, just as he similarly brands all the Sadducean priesthood that preceded them to the time of the captivity. This Ten-Weeks Apocalypse, therefore, we take to be the work of the writer of the rest of xci.-civ.

[top]Chaps. i.-xxxvi

This is the most difficult section of the book. It is very composite. Chaps. vi.-xi. is apparently an independent fragment of the Enoch Saga. It is itself compounded of the Semjaza and Azazel myths, and in its present composite form is already presupposed by lxxxviii.-Ixxxix. I; hence its present form is earlier than 166 B.C. It represents a primitive and very sensuous view of the eternal Messianic kingdom on earth, seeing that the righteous beget woo children before they die. These chapters appear to be from the Book of Noah; for they never refer to Enoch but to Noah only (x. 1). Moreover, when the author of Jubilees is clearly drawing on the Book of Noah, his subject-matter (vii. 21-25) agrees most closely with that of these chapters in Enoch (see Charles' edition of Jubilees, pp. lxxi. sq. 264). xii.-xvi., on the other hand, belong to the Book of Enoch. These represent for the most part what Enoch saw in a vision. Now whereas vi.-xvi. deal with the fall of the angels, their destruction of mankind, and the condemnation of the fallen angels, the subject-matter now suddenly changes and xvii.- xxxvi. treat of Enoch's journeyings through earth and heaven escorted by angels. Here undoubtedly we have a series of doublets; for xvii.-xix. stand in this relation to xx.-xxxvi., since both sections deal with the same subjects. Thus xvii. 4 = xxiii.; xvii. 6 = xxii.; xviii. I =xxxiv.-xxxvi.; xviii. 6-9 =xxiv.-xxv., xxxii. 1-2; xviii. II, xix.=xxi. 7-10; xviii. 12-16=xxi. 1-6. They belong to the same cycle of tradition and cannot be independent of each other. Chap. xx. appears to show that xx.-xxxvi. is fragmentary, since only four of the seven angels mentioned in xx. have anything to do in xxi.-xxxvi. Finally, i.-v. seems to be of a different date and authorship from the rest.

[top]Chaps. xxxvii.-lxxi

These constitute the well-known Similitudes. They were written before 64 B.C., for Rome was not yet known to the writer, and after 95 B.C., for the slaying of the righteous, of which the writer complains, was not perpetrated by the Maccabean princes before that date. This section consists of three similitudesxxxviii.-xliv., xlv.-lvii., lviii.-lxix. These are introduced and concluded by xxxvii. and lxx. There are many interpolations - lx., lxv. - lxix. 25 confessedly from the Book of Noah; most probably also liv. 7 - lv. 2. Whence others, such as xxxix. 1, 2a, xli. 3-8, xliii. sq., spring is doubtful. Chaps. I, lvi. 5 - lvii. 3a are likewise insertions. In R. H. Charles's edition of Enoch, lxxi. was bracketed as an interpolation. The writer now sees that it belongs to the text of the Similitudes though it is dislocated from its original context. It presents two visits of Enoch to heaven in lxxi. 1-4 and lxxi. 5-17. The extraordinary statement in lxxi. 14, according to which Enoch is addressed as "the Son of Man," is seen, as Appel points out, on examination of the context to have arisen from the loss of a portion of the text after verse 13, in which Enoch saw a heavenly being with the Head of Days and asked the angel who accompanied him who this being was. Then comes ver. 14, which, owing to the loss of this passage, has assumed the form of an address to Enoch: "Thou art the Son of Man," but which stood originally as the angel's reply to Enoch: "This is the Son of Man," &c. Ver. 15, then, gives the message sent to Enoch by the Son of Man. In the next verse the second person should be changed into the third. Thus we recover the original text of this difficult chapter. The Messianic doctrine and eschatology of this section is unique. The Messiah is here for the first time described as the pre-existent Son of Man (xlviii. 2), who sits on the throne of God (xlv. 3; xlvii. 3), possesses universal dominion (lxii. 6), and is the Judge of all mankind (lxix. 27). After the judgment there will be a new heaven and a new earth, which will be the abode of the blessed.

The Book Of The Secrets Of Enoch, or Slavonic Enoch. This new fragment of the Enochic literature has only recently come to light through five MSS. discovered in Russia and Servia. Since about A.D. 500 it has been lost sight of. It is cited without acknowledgment in the Book of Adam and Eve, the Apocalypses of Moses and Paul, the Sibylline Oracles, the Ascension of Isaiah, the Epistle of Barnabas, and referred to by Origen and Irenaeus (see Charles, The Book of the Secrets of Enoch, 1895, pp. xvii-xxiv). For Charles's editio princeps of this work, in 1895, Professor Morfill translated two of the best MSS., as well as Sokolov's text, which is founded on these and other MSS. In 1896 Bonwetsch issued his Das slavische Henochbuch, in which a German translation of the above two MSS. is given side by side, preceded by a short introduction.


Chaps. i.-ii. Introduction: life of Enoch: his dream, in which he is told that he will be taken up to heaven: his admonitions to his sons. iii.-xxxvi. What Enoch saw in heaven. iii.-vi. The first heaven: the rulers of the stars: the great sea and the treasures of snow, &c. vii. The second heaven: the fallen angels. viii.-x. The third heaven: Paradise and place of punishment. xi.-xvii. The fourth heaven: courses of the sun and moon: phoenixes. xviii. The fifth heaven: the watchers mourning for their fallen brethren. xix. The sixth heaven: seven bands of angels arrange and study the courses of the stars, &c.: others set over the years, the fruits of the earth, the souls of men. xx.-xxxvi. The seventh heaven. The Lord sitting on His throne with the ten chief orders of angels. Enoch is clothed by Michael in the raiment of God's glory and instructed in the secrets of nature and of man, which he wrote down in 366 books. God reveals to Enoch the history of the creation of the earth and the seven planets and circles of the heaven and of man, the story of the fallen angels, the duration of the world through 7000 years, and its millennium of rest. xxxviii.- lxvi. Enoch returns to earth, admonishes his sons: instructs them on what he had seen in the heavens, gives them his books. Bids them not to swear at all nor to expect any intercession of the departed saints for sinners. lvi.-lxiii. Methuselah asks Enoch's blessing before he departs, and to all his sons and their families Enoch gives fresh instruction. lxiv.-lxvi. Enoch addressed the assembled people at Achuszan. lxvii.-lxviii. Enoch's translation. Rejoicings of the people on behalf of the revelation given them through Enoch.

[top]Language and Place of Writing

A large part of this book was written for the first time in Greek. This may be inferred from such statements as (I) xxx. 13, "And I gave him a name (i.e. Adam) from the four substances: the East, the West, the North and the South." Thus Adam's name is here derived from the initial letters of the four quarters: avaTOX, Suvcs, tipKcros, ,u€crmu3pia. This derivation is impossible in Semitic. This context is found elsewhere in the Sibyllines iii. 24 sqq. and other Greek writings. (2) Again our author uses the chronology of the Septuagint and in I, 4 follows the Septuagint text of Deuteronomy xxxii. 35 against the Hebrew. On the other hand, some sections may wholly or in part go back to Hebrew originals. There is a Hebrew Book of Enoch attributed to R. Ishmael ben Elisha who lived at the close of the 1st century and the beginning of the 2nd century B.C. This book is very closely related to the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, or rather, to a large extent dependent upon it. Did Ishmael ben Elisha use the Book of the Secrets of Enoch in its Greek form, or did he find portions of it in Hebrew? At all events, extensive quotations from a Book of Enoch are found in the rabbinical literature of the middle ages, and the provenance of these has not yet been determined. See Jewish Encyc. i. 676 seq.

But there is a stronger argument for a Hebrew original of certain sections to be found in the fact that the Testaments of the XII. Patriarchs appears to quote xxxiv. 2, 3 of our author in T. Napth. iv. 1, T. Benj. ix.

The book in its present form was written in Egypt. This may be inferred (I) from the variety of speculations which it holds in common with Philo and writings of a Hellenistic character that circulated mainly in Egypt. (2) The Phoenixes are Chalkydries (ch. xii.) - monstrous serpents with the heads of crocodiles - are natural products of the Egyptian imagination. (3) The syncretistic character of the creation account (xxv.-xxvi.) betrays Egyptian elements.

[top]Relation to Jewish and Christian Literature

The existence of a kindred literature in Neo-Hebrew has been already pointed out. We might note besides that it is quoted in the Book of Adam and Eve, the Apocalypse of Moses, the Apocalypse of Paul, the anonymous work De montibus Sina et Sion, the Sibylline Oracles ii. 75, Origen, De princip. i. 3, 2. The authors of the Ascension of Isaiah, the Apoc. of Baruch and the Epistle of Barnabas were probably acquainted with it. In the New Testament the similarity of matter and diction is sufficiently strong to establish a close connexion, if not a literary dependence. Thus with Matt. v. 9, "Blessed are the peacemakers," cf. lii. 11, "Blessed is he who establishes peace": with Matt. v. 34, 35, 37, "Swear not at all," cf. xlix. 1, "I will not swear by a single oath, neither by heaven, nor by earth, nor by any other creature which God made - if there is no truth in man, let them swear by a word yea, yea, or nay, nay."

Date and Authorship. - The book was probably written between 30 B.C. and A.D. 70. It was written after 30 B.C., for it makes use of Sirach, the (Ethiopic) Book of Enoch and the Book of Wisdom. It was written before A.D. 70; for the temple is still standing: see lix. 2.

The author was an orthodox Hellenistic Jew who lived in Egypt. He believed in the value of sacrifices (xlii. 6; lix. 1, 2, &c.), but is careful to enforce enlightened views regarding them (xlv. 3, 4; lxi. 4, 5.) in the law, lii. 8, 9; in a blessed immortality, 1.2; lxv. 6, 8-10, in which the righteous should be clothed in "the raiment of God's glory," xxii. 8. In questions relating to cosmology, sin, death, &c., he is an eclectic, and allows himself the most unrestricted freedom, and readily incorporates Platonic (xxx. 16), Egyptian (xxv. 2) and Zend (lviii. 4-6) elements into his system of thought.

[top]Anthropological Views

All the souls of men were created before the foundation of the world (xxiii. 5) and likewise their future abodes in heaven or hell (xlix. 2, lviii. 5). Man's name was derived, as we have already seen, from the four quarters of the world, and his body was compounded from seven substances (xxx. 8). He was created originally good: freewill was bestowed upon him with instruction in the two ways of light and darkness, and then he was left to mould his own destiny (xxx. z 5). But his preferences through the bias of the flesh took an evil direction, and death followed as the wages of sin (xxx. 16).

Literature. - Morfill and Charles, The Book of the Secrets of Enoch (Oxford, 1896); Bonwetsch, "Das slavische Henochbuch," in the Abhandlungen der koniglichen gelehrten Gesellschaft zu Göttingen (1896). See also Schiirer in loc. and the Bible Dictionaries.



Posting Permissions

Posting Permissions
  • You may not create new articles
  • You may not edit articles
  • You may not post comments
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your comments