I have always been fascinated by the accounts of Enoch, the great grandfather of Noah. The book begins with Enoch’s vision soon after he fathered Methuselah. He is caught up into heaven by glorious angelic beings (while still alive). In chapters 3-6 Enoch describes his trip through the first heaven where he sees the angels who govern the stars and the various storehouses of heaven. In chapter 7 he is brought to the second heaven where he saw prisoners hanging in darkness, awaiting judgment. He then proceeds on until he reaches the 10th level in Heaven. The following is from Wikipedia:
The Book of Enoch is an ancient Hebrew apocalyptic religious text, ascribed by tradition to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. Enoch contains unique material on the origins of demons and Nephilim, why some angels fell from heaven, an explanation of why the Genesis flood was morally necessary, and prophetic exposition of the thousand-year reign of the Messiah.
The older sections (mainly in the Book of the Watchers) of the text are estimated to date from about 300–200 BC, and the latest part (Book of Parables) probably to 100 BC.
Various Aramaic fragments found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as Koine Greek and Latin fragments, are proof that the Book of Enoch was known by Jews and early Near Eastern Christians. This book was also quoted by some 1st and 2nd century authors as in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Authors of the New Testament were also familiar with some content of the story. A short section of 1 Enoch (1:9) is cited in the New Testament Epistle of Jude, Jude 1:14–15, and is attributed there to “Enoch the Seventh from Adam” (1 Enoch 60:8), although this section of 1 Enoch is a midrash on Deuteronomy 33:2. Several copies of the earlier sections of 1 Enoch were preserved among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
It is not part of the biblical canon used by Jews, apart from Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews). While the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church consider the Book of Enoch as canonical, other Christian groups regard it as non-canonical or non-inspired, but may accept it as having some historical or theological interest.
It is today wholly extant only in the Ethiopian Ge’ez language, with earlier Aramaic fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls and a few Greek and Latin fragments. For this and other reasons, the traditional Ethiopian belief is that the original language of the work was Ge’ez, whereas modern scholars argue that it was first written in either Aramaic or Hebrew, the languages first used for Jewish texts; Ephraim Isaac suggests that the Book of Enoch, like the Book of Daniel, was composed partially in Aramaic and partially in Hebrew. No Hebrew version is known to have survived. The book itself asserts that its author was Enoch, before the biblical flood.
The most complete Book of Enoch comes from Ethiopic manuscripts, written in Ge’ez, which were brought to Europe by James Bruce in the late 18th century and were translated into English in the 19th century.
The first part of the Book of Enoch describes the fall of the Watchers, the angels who fathered the angel-human hybrids called Nephilim. The remainder of the book describes Enoch’s revelations and his visits to heaven in the form of travels, visions, and dreams.
The book consists of five quite distinct major sections:
- The Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1–36)
- The Book of Parables of Enoch (1 Enoch 37–71) (also called the Similitudes of Enoch)
- The Astronomical Book (1 Enoch 72–82) (also called the Book of the Heavenly Luminaries or Book of Luminaries)
- The Book of Dream Visions (1 Enoch 83–90) (also called the Book of Dreams)
- The Epistle of Enoch (1 Enoch 91–108)
Most scholars believe that these five sections were originally independent works[ (with different dates of composition), themselves a product of much editorial arrangement, and were only later redacted into what is now called 1 Enoch.
Although evidently widely known during the development of the Hebrew Bible canon, 1 Enoch was excluded from both the formal canon of the Tanakh and the typical canon of the Septuagint and therefore, also from the writings known today as the Deuterocanon. One possible reason for Jewish rejection of the book might be the textual nature of several early sections of the book that make use of material from the Torah. The content, particularly detailed descriptions of fallen angels, would also be a reason for rejection from the Hebrew canon at this period – as illustrated by the comments of Trypho the Jew when debating with Justin Martyr on this subject: “The utterances of God are holy, but your expositions are mere contrivances, as is plain from what has been explained by you; nay, even blasphemies, for you assert that angels sinned and revolted from God.” Today, the Ethiopic Beta Israel community of Jews is the only Jewish group that accepts the Book of Enoch as canonical and still preserves it in its liturgical language of Ge’ez where it plays a central role in worship and the liturgy.
By the 4th century, the Book of Enoch was mostly excluded from Christian biblical canons, and it is now regarded as scripture only by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
References in the New Testament
“Enoch, the seventh from Adam” is quoted in Jude 1:14–15:
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convict all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
Compare this with Enoch 1:9, translated from the Ethiopic
And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His Saints To execute judgment upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.
Compare this also with what may be the original source of 1 Enoch 1:9 in Deuteronomy 33:2: In “He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones” the text reproduces the Masoretic of Deuteronomy 33 in reading אָתָא = ερϰεται, whereas the three Targums, the Syriac and Vulgate read אִתֹּה, = μετ αυτου. Here the Septuagint diverges wholly. The reading אתא is recognized as original. The writer of 1–5 therefore used the Hebrew text and presumably wrote in Hebrew.
The Lord came from Sinai and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran; he came from the ten thousands of Saints, with flaming fire at his right hand.
Under the heading of canonicity, it is not enough to merely demonstrate that something is quoted. Instead, it is necessary to demonstrate the nature of the quotation. In the case of the Jude 1:14 quotation of 1 Enoch 1:9, it would be difficult to argue that Jude does not quote Enoch as a historical prophet since he cites Enoch by name.
Peter H. Davids points to Dead Sea Scrolls evidence but leaves it open as to whether Jude viewed 1 Enoch as canon, deuterocanon, or otherwise: “Did Jude, then, consider this scripture to be like Genesis or Isaiah? Certainly he did consider it authoritative, a true word from God. We cannot tell whether he ranked it alongside other prophetic books such as Isaiah and Jeremiah. What we do know is, first, that other Jewish groups, most notably those living in Qumran near the Dead Sea, also used and valued 1 Enoch, but we do not find it grouped with the scriptural scrolls.
The attribution “Enoch the Seventh from Adam” is apparently itself a section heading taken from 1 Enoch (1 En 60:8, Jude 1:14a) and not from Genesis.
The belief of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which sees 1 Enoch as an inspired document, is that the Ethiopic text is the original one, written by Enoch himself. They believe that the following opening sentence of Enoch is the first and oldest sentence written in any human language, since Enoch was the first to write letters.