Saturday, February 14, 2015

Book of Enoch (pt 1): Preliminaries

Background of the Book of Enoch (1st Enoch)

The Book of Enoch (1 Enoch) is an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah.

Western scholars currently assert that its older sections (mainly The Book of the Watchers) date from about 300 BC and the latest part (The Parables) probably was composed at the end of the 1st century BC

Enoch is a (non-canonical) text used by various Jewish sects such as the Dead Sea Scrolls community during the 2nd Temple period. It consists of 5 separate works that were later combined into one document:

(1)  The Book of the Watchers (chapters 1-36),
(2)  The Parables of Enoch (37-71),
(3)  The Astromonical Book (72-82),
(4)  The Book of Dreams (83-90), 
(5)  The Epistle of Enoch (91-107) - which includes: 
     (6)  The Apocalypse of Weeks (93:1-10; 91:11-17),
     (7)  The Book of Noah (104-107)
(8)  The Concluding Discourse (ch. 108)

 The various parts of Enoch were composed in Aramaic and translated into Greek, and from Greek into ancient Ethiopic (Ge'ez), in which version alone the entire collection has survived.

Aramaic fragments of all sections of Enoch except the Parables and the concluding discourse (chapter 108) have been found at Qumran (from at least 11 different manuscript copies), which  "render very probable the view that Aramaic was the original language of the greater part of the work. - This conclusion would not appear to be affected by the existance of the Hebrew fragments from Cave 1 that have been compared to 8:4 - 9:4 and 106:2, since these Hebrew fragments almost certainly belong to a source used in Enoch (viz. the Book of Noah), rather than to the book of Enoch itself." (Knibb, Intro. p7).

 Four copies of the Astronomical Book were found (4Q208-211).
Seven manuscripts contain fragments of the other sections of the Book of Enoch. 4QEna and 4QEnb (4Q201, 202) only contain fragments of the Book of the Watchers.
4QEnd and 4QEne (4Q205, 206) combine fragments of the Book of the Watchers, the Book of Dreams, and the end of the Epistle and the Book of Noah (104-107), 4QEnf (4Q207) contains a fragment of the Book of Dreams, and 4QEng (4Q212) consists of fragments of the Epistle.  (totalling about 1/5  of the Ethiopic version).

 There were also two fragmentary copies of the Book of Giants found in cave 1 (1Q23-24), one from cave 2 (2Q26), and five from cave 4 (4Q203, 530-33).

Thus the Qumran fragments suggest the books are very old (pre-Christian),
indeed originally circulated separately (e.g. the Astronomical book), and parts
were probably even composed in Hebrew (e.g. the Book of Noah, Watchers). 

Portions of the book in Greek are extant,

(1) The Chester Beatty-Michigan papyrus Gr-CB, (4th century MS)
(Eth. ch 97:6 to 107:3) (i.e., portions of the Epistle of Enoch, & Book of Noah).

(2) Vaticanus Gr 1809 (11th century MS) (Gr-Vat = Eth. 89:42-49)

(3) The Akhmim MS (Codex Panopolitanus) (6th century MS)
(Gr-Pan = Eth 1-32)

(4) Fragments from Syncellus
(Gr-Sync = 6:1-9:4, 8:4-10:14, 15:8 16:1, a,b,c, and d = unknown frag).

Finally there are dozens of later Ethiopic copies, many complete, ranging from the 15th to the 19th century.

Of particular interest in the Book of Enoch (1 Enoch) are:

(1) the Book of the Watchers, which provides details about fallen angels taking women to themselves and fathering giants,

(2) the Parables of Enoch, which contain descriptions of 'the Son of Man',
sayings that were circulating around the time of Jesus. 

In the 19th century, Protestant theologians were skeptical of Enoch,
in part because it had been banned and out of circulation since the 5th century,
and known copies were very late (circa 17th century),
and written in Ge'ez, with only a few quotations extant in Greek.
The only Christian churches still using the book were the
Ethiopic Churches in Africa.

But prior to 400 A.D. Enoch was a very popular book,
circulated widely, and was quoted by almost every early Christian writer.

The Book of Enoch

'The earliest literature of the so-called “Church Fathers” is filled with references to this mysterious book. The early second century “Epistle of Barnabus” makes much use of the Book of Enoch. Second and Third Century “Church Fathers” like

Justin Martyr,
Clement of Alexandria all make use of the Book of Enoch.
Tertullian (160-230 C.E) even called the Book of Enoch “Holy Scripture”.

The Ethiopic Church even added the Book of Enoch to its official canon. It was widely known and read the first three centuries after Christ.'


The Book of Enoch is an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah.
The Book of Enoch is an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah.
The Book of Enoch is an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah.

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