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Books of Enoch

ENOCH, BOOKS OF. A collection of apocalyptic literature written by various authors and circulated under the name of Enoch. First Enoch is an Ethiopic version made through the Greek from the original Hebrew text that was written by the Chasidim or by the Pharisees between 163-63 b.c. It is the best source for the development of Jewish doctrine in the last two pre-Christian centuries. Jude.1.14-Jude.1.15 may be an explicit quotation from it. Second Enoch was written a.d. 1-50. See also Apocalyptic Literature.

ENOCH, BOOKS OF ē’ nək. A number of pseudepigraphic writings ascribed to Enoch the son of Jared and father of Methuselah (Gen 5:18ff.). Enoch’s evident translation to heaven gave rise to the belief that he must be knowledgeable concerning the secrets of heaven and therefore these works, all apocalyptic in character, could be appropriately attributed to his authorship.

Ethiopic Enoch or 1 Enoch or simply, The Book of Enoch.

This is a lengthy composite work of 108 chs. seemingly compiled in five sections or “books” which prob. correspond, at least in part, to the author’s sources. The whole was provided with an introduction and conclusion. It may be possible to define further the structure of the book in the light of continuing study of the Qumran material.


Chapters 1-5 serve as a kind of introduction to the whole work and esp. its major themes of rewards and punishment, the end of the world, and the final judgment.

Book I (chs. 6-36) is concerned largely with angels and the universe. Chapters 6-11, which come from the Book of Noah (q.v.), suggest that the fall of angels occurred because of the marriage of the sons of God with the daughters of men (cf. Gen 6:1ff.). The angels in turn taught mankind the various arts and skills of civilization and mankind became corrupted and godless. God then pronounced judgment on mankind and on Azazel who led them astray. In chs. 12-16 Enoch has a vision and, while he intercedes passionately on behalf of the fallen angels, he is finally instructed to predict their utter doom. In chs. 17-36 Enoch is escorted by the angels of light on various tours throughout the earth, to the place of punishment of the fallen angels, to Sheol, to the tree of life, to Jerusalem with its mountains, rivers and streams, and to the Garden of Righteousness.

Book II covers chs. 37-71 and is composed of three parables or similitudes. Each parable is quite lengthy compared to a parable of the gospels, for example, and each is primarily concerned with the triumph of righteousness over wickedness. The first parable (chs. 38-44) deals with the impending judgment of the wicked, the abode of the Righteous and Elect One, the four archangels and certain astronomical and meteorological secrets. The second parable (chs. 45-57) is concerned mainly with the Elect One or Son of Man sitting in judgment. He is not pictured as a human being but rather as a majestic heavenly being possessing absolute dominion over the world of men and of angels. The third parable (chs. 58-71) speaks of the blessedness of the saints, the measuring of paradise, the judgment of the kings and mighty ones and gives the names and functions of the fallen angels.

Book III is the so-called Book of the Heavenly Luminaries and covers chapters 72-82. It is an almost purely scientific treatise, showing virtually no interest in ethical questions. The author seeks to construct a uniform astronomical system from the data of the OT and argues that the measurement of time should be solar rather than lunar. Interestingly, however, the author’s solar year is 364 days though he is aware of the 365 1/4 day year. The interest in 80:2-8 suddenly becomes ethical, however, and it is stated that in the last days the heavenly bodies as well as the earth will suffer serious disorders.

Book IV, covering chs. 83-90, consists of two lengthy dream-visions predicting the future history of Israel. Chapters 83 and 84 give the first dream-vision which, in the view assumed by the author, predicts the Flood as a judgment upon the world. The second dream-vision encompasses chs. 85-90 and, after recounting the history from the beginning to the time of Enoch, goes on to predict the history of the world to the founding of the Messianic kingdom. This history is given using a wide array of symbolism. Thus, oxen appear to symbolize the patriarchs; sheep the true house of Israel; preying beasts and birds the heathen; a sheep with a great horn possibly Judas Maccabeus, and a white bull with great horns the Messiah. The dream-vision ends with the new Jerusalem, the conversion of the Gentiles, the resurrection of the righteous and the establishment of the Messianic reign. The fact that the history as understood from the symbols goes no further than the Maccabean period is an indication of the date of this part of the work.

Book V is a work which includes exhortations for the righteous and maledictions for the wicked and occupies chs. 91-105. The structure of this section is difficult, though the theme is much the same as the rest of the work. A notable feature of this book is the Apocalypse of Weeks found in 93:1-10 and 91:12-17. The history of the world from Enoch’s time and on is divided into ten weeks of unequal length, each seemingly marked by some special event. Thus, the first is marked by Enoch’s birth, the third by Abraham’s call, and the seventh by the publication of Enoch’s writings. In the eighth week the righteous will gain the victory over their oppressors. In the ninth week the world will be made ready for destruction. In the tenth and endless week a new heaven will be ushered in.

The conclusion of the work occupies chs. 106-108. Chapters 106 and 107 derive from the earlier Book of Noah (q.v.) and relate the increase of sin after the Flood until the Messianic reign. The final chapter again returns to the theme of rewards for the righteous and punishment for the wicked.

Texts and versions.

Until the discovery of the DSS, the text of 1 Enoch was best preserved in the Ethiopic MSS, twenty-nine of which are known. Most of these contain the complete work, sometimes together with certain Biblical or Apocryphal books. Within this group of MSS, two text types are distinguishable. The Ethiopic MSS are late, however, the earliest belonging prob. to the 16th cent.

Portions of the book have also been preserved in Gr. Two MSS dating from the 8th cent. or later were discovered in 1886-1887 in a Christian grave at Akhmim, Egypt, and preserve chs. 1-32:6 and 19:3-21:9. Syncellus (c. a.d. 800) preserves 6:1-10:14; 15:8-16:1 and 8:4-9:4 in duplicate form. A Vatican MS preserves 89:42-49 and Egyp. papyrii containing chs. 97-104 and 106-108 were published by Bonner in 1937. Some quotations from Enoch, esp. from 106:1-18 are preserved in Lat.

The Scrolls from Qumran now appear to provide the best representatives of the original text of the Book of Enoch, however. About ten fragmentary MSS of the work in Aram. were found in Cave IV. Five of these correspond roughly to Book I and Book IV of the work. It appears that these sections together with the last chapters of the book once formed a separate work. Book III, the astronomical section, is represented by four Aram. MSS which provide a more intelligible text than any others available to this time. The beginning of Book V is represented by one MS. It may have circulated as a separate work as well. Support for this suggestion comes from a fragmentary Gr. MS found among the Chester Beatty-Michigan papyri. The fact that there are no fragments of Book II may be due to accident or it may be that this too was a separate composition not known to the Qumran community.

It seems probable that the continued study of the evidence from Qumran will alter our estimates of the Book of Enoch somewhat.



Generally, experts in the field agree that the original language of 1 Enoch was Sem. though it is not agreed which particular Sem. language it was. It may have been Heb. or Aram. or, perhaps more prob., both Heb. and Aram. R. H. Charles assigns chs. 1-5 and 37-105 to Heb. and chs. 6-36 to Aram. Such a two-language phenomenon is also present in the Biblical book of Daniel (q.v.). The book has a distinctly poetical element and this fact has been of considerable assistance in the editing of the work.


The Book of Enoch exerted a strong and widespread influence on both Jewish and Christian lit. It appears that the writers of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Assumption of Moses, 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra quoted from it. There appears also to be literary dependence between the Book of Jubilees and 1 Enoch though it is not possible to be certain at all points which way the dependence runs. Charles suggested that in the earlier sections of 1 Enoch, Jubilees was used, while in the later sections the dependence was reversed. The problem is linked with the question of dating (q.v.). After the 2nd cent. a.d. Jewish lit. took little notice of the Book of Enoch, however.

Parallels with 1 Enoch from practically every section of the NT can be cited, though it is prob. going too far to say that every NT writer must have been familiar with the book. Perhaps the most familiar reference to 1 Enoch in the NT is the famous passage in Jude 14, 15. In addition to this apparent literary dependence, however, many of the concepts familiar to us from the NT appeared either first or most prominently in 1 Enoch. Thus, for example, the spiritual nature of the Messianic reign. Thus also the titles used to refer to the Messiah, such as, “Christ” or “The Anointed One,” “The Righteous One,” “The Elect One,” and “The Son of Man.” The NT concepts of Sheol, resurrection and demonology also bear striking similarities to those of Enoch.

Much of the early Patristic lit. shows acquaintance with 1 Enoch and Barnabas and Tertullian, for example, seem to rate the work almost as highly as Scripture. Gnostic and Apocryphal lit. also make use of 1 Enoch. However, by the 4th cent. a.d. the book had fallen into considerable disfavor in the W and Jerome declared it to be an Apocryphal work. Its use, however, evidently continued for a longer time in the E.

The Book of the Secrets of Enoch or The Slavonic Enoch or 2 Enoch.

This is another work ascribed to Enoch and known to us only from two Slavonic texts which were published near the end of the 19th cent. While showing some similarities with the earlier Book of Enoch, this book is by no means to be identified with it.


Second Enoch is basically an account of Enoch’s travels through the seven heavens and includes certain revelations given to Enoch and Enoch’s exhortations to his children. The revelations are concerned with creation and the history of mankind. In the beginning God created the world out of nothing. He also created seven heavens with all the angelic hosts and mankind as well. Just as God performed His creative work in six days and rested the seventh, even so the history of the world would span 6000 years and it would then rest for 1000 years. After this, an eternal day of blessing would begin.

The souls of men were created before the world began and also a place either in heaven or in hell for the future habitation of each soul. The soul was created good, but because of free will and because of the soul’s habitation in the body, sin appeared in spite of the instruction man had received regarding the Two Ways. Men will therefore have to face judgment and only the righteous will escape the hell prepared for sinners.

The ethical teaching of the book is in many respects noble. Man should work and be just, charitable, unavenging and humble. Above all, he should fear God.

Language, place of writing, author, date.

At least a part of the book was originally written in Gr. This is seen from the facts that the name Adam is derived from the initial letters of the Gr. words for the directions E, W, S and N; the chronology of the LXX is followed; the text of the LXX is used as over against the Heb. and the Gr. of Sirach and the Book of Wisdom are evidently used. Some portions of the book, however, were most prob. Heb. in origin.

The place of writing of the book is thought to be Egypt, possibly in Alexandria. This is argued from the typically Hellenistic and Philonic speculations which the book contains, the lack of Messianic teaching typical of the OT, the appearance of monstrous serpents which are typically Egyp., and the syncretistic character of the creation account. The author must have been a Hel. Jew with syncretistic tendencies.

On the question of dating, the fact that the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs makes use of passages from 2 Enoch implies a pre-Christian date for those portions. The use of Sirach, 1 Enoch and the Book of Wisdom by 2 Enoch implies a date after 30 b.c. The fact that the Temple is still standing in 2 Enoch implies a date before a.d. 70. Most scholars, in fact, prefer an early Christian date (e.g. a.d. 1-50) for the composition of 2 Enoch.


The book seems to have exercised considerable influence upon both Jewish and Christian lit. Its presence is felt in the Book of Adam and Eve, the Apocalypse of Moses, the Apocalypse of Paul, the Sibylline Oracles, the Ascension of Isaiah and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Irenaeus and Origen both show traces of its influence as does the Epistle of Barnabas. Many passages of the NT can be cited for the similarity of their thought and expression with 2 Enoch.

The rabbinic Enoch.

There is a further Enoch book which follows, to some extent the Slavonic book and is attributed to Rabbi Ishmael a prominent figure in the Barcochba rebellion. This book is referred to in the Talmud. In this book, Rabbi Ishmael ascends through six heavens to meet Enoch (who is referred to as “Metatron”) in the seventh. Here Enoch discusses some events of his own life and the life of Adam. This book reflects some of the traditions of 2 Enoch, and it is prob. these which were originally in Heb.


R. H. Charles and W. R. Morfill, The Book of the Secrets of Enoch (1896); G. Beer, “Das Buch Henoch,” in E. Kautzsch, Die Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen des Alten Testaments (1900), II, 217-310; R. H. Charles, The Book of Enoch (1912; reprinted in 1921 with introduction by W. O. E. Oesterley); “Book of Enoch” in APOT, 163-281 and “The Book of the Secrets of Enoch” in APOT, 425-469; C. Bonner, The Last Chapters of Enoch in Greek (1937); R. H. Pfeiffer, History of New Testament Times (1949); S. B. Frost, Old Testament Apocalyptic (1952); J. T. Milik, Ten Years of Discovery in the Wilderness of Judaea (1959), 33, 34; H. H. Rowley, The Relevance of Apocalyptic (3rd. ed. 1963); D. S. Russell, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic (1964).