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 What is the Book of Enoch?

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PostSubject: What is the Book of Enoch?   Fri Dec 21, 2007 1:27 pm

The Book of Enoch is any of several works that attribute themselves to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah; that is, Enoch son of Jared (Genesis 5:18). They are generally believed to be pseudepigraphical.

Most commonly, the phrase Book of Enoch refers to 1 Enoch, which is wholly extant only in the Ethiopic language. There are two other books named "Enoch": 2 Enoch (surviving only in Old Slavonic; Eng. trans. by R. H. Charles (1896);[1][2] and 3 Enoch (surviving in Hebrew, c. fifth-sixth century).[3] The numbering of these texts has been applied by scholars to distinguish the texts from one another. The remainder of this article deals with 1 Enoch only.

While this book does not form part of the Canon of Scripture for most of the Christian Churches the Ethiopian Orthodox Church regards it to be inspired Scripture. The currently known texts of this work are usually dated to Maccabean times (ca. 160s BC).

The book consists of five quite distinct major sections:

The Book of Watchers (1 Enoch 1 – 36)
The Book of Parables (1 Enoch 37 – 71) (Also called the Similitudes of Enoch)
The Book of the Heavenly Luminaries (1 Enoch 72 – 82) (Usually abbreviated to The Book of Luminaries. Also called the Astronomical Book)
The Dream Visions (1 Enoch 83 – 90) (Also called the Book of Dreams)
The Epistle of Enoch (1 Enoch 91 – 108)

According to some recent scholars,[4][5] these five sections were originally independent works, themselves a product of much editorial arrangement, and were only later redacted into what we now call 1 Enoch. However, this view is opposed by many scholars who maintain the literary integrity of the Book of Enoch, one of the most recent (1990) being Wossenie Yifru.

A great deal of the undercurrent to the narrative of the sections has been claimed to be concerned with the era of the Maccabees and it is for that reason that these western scholars date the sections as having originated during (or after) the 2nd century BC, although these assertions have not proved convincing to all concerned. 1 Enoch 6–11, part of the Book of Watchers, is thought to have been the original core of that Book, around which the remainder was later added, not least because Enoch is not mentioned in it.

The Book of Parables appears to be based on the Book of Watchers, but presenting a later development of the idea of final judgement – rather than being a final judgement of the fallen angels, the Book of Parables instead presents a final judgement of earthly kings- or the Book of Parables is merely concerned with the kings of the Earth, which seem to have a rather important role in the Book of Enoch's eschatology. The Book of Parables contains several references to a Son of Man, as well as messianic themes; so several scholars have taken the view that this section dates from more Christian times. However, since the term was also just a Jewish way of saying human, and since the Book of Daniel also refers to a Son of Man, the work may be earlier, and a number of academics have proposed that the Book of Parables may be as early as the late 1st century BC.

The Book of Dreams contains a vision of a history of Israel all the way down to what the majority have interpreted as the revolt of the Maccabees, leading scholars to date it to Maccabean times.

Before the discovery at Qumran (among the Dead Sea Scrolls) of fragments from 1 Enoch, there was some dispute about whether the Greek text was an original Christian production, or whether it was a translation from an Aramaic text redacted in Jewish circles. The chief argument for a Christian author was the occurrence of references to the Messiah as the Son of Man, however such references can also appear in Jewish texts around the turn of the era. The Ethiopian Church considers its Ethiopic version to be the original, since it is the only complete version, while the other languages only have different fragments of the work. Despite this, the majority of western scholars now claim a 3rd century BC Jewish authorship for its earliest parts. Before the Qumran discovery, scholars had been unwilling to date it any earlier than the next earliest known reference.

As for 2 Enoch, almost all scholars that deal with this book believe it was translated into Old Church Slavonic from a Greek edition, perhaps by Saints Cyril and Methodius

Józef Milik has suggested that the "Book of Giants" found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls should be part of the collection, appearing after the Book of Watchers. But for various reasons, this theory has not been widely accepted.

It is said the from the Book of Enoch, the secerts of the Enocian were dervied by John Dee.


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