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The Book of Enoch

Quick Note

This is a rough draft of something I did for Sunday School, in that there was little more information I had thought about adding, and a few more sources I wanted to try and find.  Besides those two factors the only other thing I really didn’t mess with was changing my sources abbreviations to their full bibliographic information, but if anyone’s interested I’m always happy to fully provide if needed/wanted.


1 Enoch is found in full only in the Ethiopic language, in two forms, in Greek, about 33% of the book has been found, a fragment in Latin, and about five percent of the book was found in Aramaic among the Dead Sea Scrolls[1].  Only one section, the Similitudes has no parallels among the Dead Sea Scrolls[2].

A variety of different literature which dates from the third century BCE, details a sort of “pseudo-Enochic tradition,” a grouping of these found themselves placed together in what is now commonly called 1 Enoch[3].  The work itself is shows quite readily that is a composite of differing works, and seems to fall into five convenient entries[4].


However that isn’t to say that there isn’t a line of congruency between the works, for, three common ideas pop up along the whole of the work, (1) The Fall of the Angels (Watchers) and the Nephilim’s evil deeds, (2) Heavenly knowledge being taught to lowly man, (3) and finally Enoch’s walk with God[5].


The Book of the Watchers (1-36)

The first five chapters appear as a sort of introduction to this section, with two through five reflecting a sort of “wisdom instruction” feel[6].  Moreover this section also in its way introduces a vision of the final judgment[7].  As the opening verses reflect that of biblical accounts (cf. Deut. 33.1; Num. 24.3-4), one can see that the author styles himself as a prophet, even giving reasons for his authority[8].

Then in chapters six through sixteen we read of the Watchers, and their eventual fall, but this whole section seems to have two interwoven stories within it, with one leader as Azazel and the other as Shemihazah[9].  On the term “Watchers,” note that the phrase is also seen in Daniel 4.13[10].  This theme of the rebellion of the angels, becomes the core tradition found within this text, and even extends to rest of 1 Enoch, save perhaps, 72-82[11].  This tradition ultimately finding its place within Genesis 6-9, and indeed although the writer does indeed quote and even allude to that text, the end result is much different[12].

The last part of this section, seventeen through thirty-six, we see Enoch being taking on a sort of trip by the angels across the earth, where  a great deal of heavenly secrets are revealed to him, the majority of which has an eschatological feel to it[13].  During this trip, Enoch sees such thing as “Sheol, the Garden of Righteousness, and astronomical phenomena[14].”

The Similitudes (37-71)

Of all the sections, this is only one to have no traces found at Qumran, moreover it has no traces even among the Church Fathers, which has lead to some believing this to be a later Christian addition[15].  If Jewish this was written prior to the destruction in 70 AD, since the phrase, “Son of Man,” would have become too great a Christian phrase otherwise[16].  The “Son of Man” coming directly from Daniel 7’s “’one like a son of man[17].’”

Others had argued in the past (although since Qumran this has shrunk) that portions of this section, i.e. “the Son of Man,” passages actually influenced the NT writers[18].  Yet Matthean passages may very well have gotten some inspiration from this book, in particular 19.28 and 25.31, referring to the glorious throne[19].

This section has within it three “parables,” and a sort of “double epilogue,” with the main theme concerning a coming judgment, where the Son of Man leading the way, with those who believed in him and those who did not will be astounded when he found sitting on his throne of glory[20].  The first parable deals with coming judgment and various astronomical secrets, the second with the Heads of Days and preexistent Son of Man, the last with Blessed Saints and judgment by the “Elect One[21].”

The Astronomical Book (72-82)

This section was originally a larger work before it was incorporated into the Book of Enoch[22].  Moreover this section as whole seems to be the oldest part of the whole book[23].This section of the book deals primarily with astronomy, and the movement of the stars[24].  Uriel, becomes Enoch’s guide in this part of the work where explains to heavens so to speak[25].  Two chapters of note that appear in this section are eighty and eighty-two, the former detailing planetary disorder at the final judgment and the latter uses a calendar that is similar to what is found in Qumran and also the book of Jubilees[26].  This calendar was not the one later adapted by Rabbinic Judaism, although it seems to have already had its place when the section was written[27].

Also within chapter 81 we see the glimpses of an afterlife at least when concerning the death of a righteous one[28].

The Book of Dreams (83-90)

This section may be broken down into two different sections, eighty-three through four and eighty-five to ninety, the former being a “simple vision of cosmic destruction.”  Moreover the former section deals with the coming Flood as the punishment from the world[29].  This vision similar to the other places in the work, where Noah is mentioned, if not depended on chapter nine[30].  The latter section is a complicated allegory of sorts, in which people are represented by various animals[31] moreover the second allegory goes from the creation to the end times[32].  The section apocalypse shows signs of being written during the Maccabean revolts, in support of it[33].

The Epistle of Enoch (91-105)

Like the first section the Epistle also seems to be a composite work[34].  This final section differs from the others in that it is a work filled not with revelation, but instructions and exhortations, it is filled with “woes against sinners,” and “exhortations for the righteous[35].”


1 Enoch did have its influence upon the early church, in particular the epistle of Jude, Barnabas, Irenaeus, and Tertullian even thought of as scripture, though most of the Church fathers did not[36].  In Tertullian’s case he does “acknowledge,” the fact that it was not at all widely accepted within the western church however[37]. While it has been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, Rabbinic Judaism did not keep it, quite within its own records[38].

In the case of the New Testament, mention has already been made of Matthew’s and the other gospels writers use of the “Son of Man,” phrase, although this could and probably more likely be influenced by Daniel 7, if not a general Jewish worldview at the time.  As mentioned the Epistle of Jude was influenced in part by the Book of Enoch, in Jude 14-15, he quotes 1 Enoch 1.9 and his epistle seems to make other allusions to the book as well[39].  When looking at Jude, it should be noted that in knowing 1 Enoch as well as other Second Temple Period it helps to give the understand of what Jude is talking about within his work.  Moreover Jude’s use of the work does not confirm that he thought it inspired, but instead that perhaps his readers thought of it as so[40].  Also 2 Peter 2.1 may perhaps have had Enochic themes picked up, if not Saint Jude’s[41].

For the most part the Enochic writings were not accepted in the western church, were basically lost, and if not for the Ethiopian Church would not have been “preserved[42].”

[1] NJBC 1057

[2] DNTB 314

[3] Nickels 44

[4] NJBC 1057

[5] Stone 90

[6] DNTB 314

[7] NJBC 1057

[8] Nickels 47

[9] DNTB 314

[10] NJBC 1057

[11] Nickels 47

[12] Stone 90-1

[13] DNTB 314

[14] NJBC 1057

[15] NJBC 1057

[16] DNTB 316

[17] DNTB 316

[18] Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), s.v. “Enoch, Books of.”

[19] DNTB 316

[20] DNTB 316

[21] NJBC 1057

[22] Nickelsburg 44

[23] Stone 391

[24] DNTB 315

[25] Nickelsburg 44

[26] NJBC 1057

[27] DNTB 315

[28] DNTB 315

[29] NJBC 1057

[30] Nickelsburg 83

[31] DNTB 315

[32] NJBC 1057

[33] DNTB 315

[34] NJBC 1057

[35] DNTB 315

[36] NJBC 1057

[37] DNTB 317

[38] DNTB 317

[39] DLNTD 614

[40] DLNTD 818

[41] Oxford, “Enoch, Books of.”

[42] DNTB 317


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