|Fragment found among Dead Sea Scrolls|
In the book of Genesis it is said that a man named Enoch lived 365 years. He walked with God and was no more for God took him (See Gen. 5:21-24). Since that time there has consequently been significant Jewish literature attributed to this figure. The writings are considered by some to be important and yet others even have and do consider them divinely inspired. The Book of Enoch is actually a compilation of five books that are apocalyptic in nature.
Four of the five have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. These writings are very important to the Second Temple period. The original language of most of this work was likely Aramaic. The original is lost but portions of a Greek translations were found in Egypt as well as quotations from early Church Fathers. Gleason Archer noted however that “no one could seriously contend that the straightlaced Qumran sectarians considered all these apocryphal and pseudepigraphical works canonical simply because they possessed copies of them.”(1)
The Book of Enoch is considered a pseudoepigraphal work by many Christian scholars. Michael Stone from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem notes that “The oldest known Jewish work not included in the Bible is the Book of Enoch.”(2) As Stone implies it was not included in either the Hebrew or most Christian biblical canons. It may have been a sacred text for some but they might not be considered Christians. These writings have value but only in a limited sense in the view of this writer. It seems the book fell out of favor from the third century onward and was even banned by some theologians such as Hilary, Jerome, and Augustine. An Ethiopic version was found in recent times and it was written partly in Aramaic and partly in Hebrew. Aramaic was probably the conversational language of our Lord also.
The higher theology of Judaism in the two centuries before Christ could not be written without the writings of Enoch. Sadly there is little to no unity of time, authorship, or teaching. Norman Geisler and W.E. Nix suggest, “they do represent the religious lore of the Hebrews in the intertestamental period...Although they claim to have been written by biblical authors, they actually express religious fancy and magic from the period between about 200 B.C. and A.D. 200.”(3) G.H. Charles who has done recent work on the subject concluded that portions of these writings seem to have belonged originally to the Book of Noah.(4)
Charles also noted that the authors were probably Chasids or their successors the Pharisees. The work has an advanced angel and demonology. During the first century and the close of the second century this book was probably regarded in certain circles as inspired. Jude cites this book as well as the Epistle of Barnabas, Athenagoras. In the third century Clement, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Zosimus and Syncellus quote Enoch as well. Tertullian seems to suggest its inspiration and even suggests that the Jews may have rejected it because it taught the coming of the Lord. For Tertullian this was supposedly corroborated by Jude usage. Origen even noted its similarities and referenced it on occasion.
The Bible and The Book of Enoch:
The Book of Enoch is a voluminous work that describes many events. Some New Testament passages seem to refer to events that are described in the writings of Enoch. For example, 2 Peter 2:4 records that God did not spare the angels who sinned but cast them down and have reserved them for judgment. Jude 6 is a popular passage that references angels who did not keep their proper domain. Jude 14 references Enoch and the coming of the Lord with ten thousand of his saints. Below are the cited references:
2 Peter 2:4, For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; ESV
Jude 6, And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—ESV
Jude 14, It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, ESV
If Jude does literally reference a citation from the Book of Enoch then it would probably be to serve some point or denote an emphasis. Most believers would not consider it unusual for a pastor or minister to quote from a non-inspired book at some point during a sermon or lesson. This can be done to make a point even without the speaker addressing the inspiration of that particular book.
G.H. Schodde took a positive view of these writings. He notes, “The Fathers all, with possibly the one dissenting voice of Tertullian, deny the canonicity of this book, and properly regard it as apocryphal...” In reference to Jerome he also records, “some going even so far as to deny the canonicity of Jude because he had dared to quote an apocryphal work.”(5) Tertullian and Schodde may have been too generous in their claims. Many Protestant and Evangelical scholars have pointed this out. Jude could have been merely using a valid oral tradition and not necessarily the Book of Enoch. Here are some of the events Enoch records:
Enoch 1:9, And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of ‹His› holy ones To execute judgement upon all, And to destroy ‹all› the ungodly:
Enoch 6:1-2, And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. 2 And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.’
Enoch 7:1-6, And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants. 2 And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: 3 Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. 4 And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. 5 And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another’s flesh, and drink the blood. 6 Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones.The Jewish Encyclopedia suggest that, “a cycle of Jewish legends about Enoch was derived, which, together with apocalyptic speculations naturally ascribed to such a man, credited with superhuman knowledge, found their literary expression in the Books of Enoch.”(6) The Catholic Encyclopedia suggests that Jude “explicitly” quotes from Enoch.(7) These writings include references to similar Biblical concepts and doctrines as well that are debated to this day (e.g. son of man, messiah, Kingdom, angels and demons). In the Semeia Journal Carl Holladay notes that “the Son of Man in the Similitudes of Enoch, are not pre-Christian.”(8) J.W. Drane in reference to Enoch and Esdras notes:
“There is no certainty that either of these books was actually written by the time of Jesus, and they are only known through relatively late texts that might in any case have been subject to later emendation and corruption. It is certainly not possible to use them with any confidence to show, for example, that the term ‘Son of man’ could have been a widely recognized title of any sort in the time of Jesus.”(9)
1) Archer, G. L. (1998). A survey of Old Testament introduction (3rd. ed.].) (82). Chicago: Moody Press.
2) Stone, Michael. Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/apocrypha.html
3) Geisler, N. L., & Nix, W. E. (1996). A general introduction to the Bible (Rev. and expanded.) (262). Chicago: Moody Press.
4) Charles, R.H. Editor. (2004) Vol. 2: Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. (163). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
5) Schodde, George H. The Book of Enoch: Translated from the Ethiopic With Introduction and Notes. Andover: Warren F. Draper 1882 http://www.cimmay.us/pdf/schodde.pdf
6) Jewish Encyclopedia: Read more: http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=384&letter=E&search=Enoch#ixzz1YtCy1hxq
7) "The Book of Henoch (Ethiopic)." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 23 Sept. 2011<http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01602a.htm>.
8) Holladay, Carl H. Robert Jewett, E. Society of Biblical Literature. (1984). Vol. 30: Semeia. (78). Decatur, GA: Society of Biblical Literature.
9) Drane, J. W. (2000). Introducing the New Testament (Completely rev. and updated.) (74). Oxford: Lion Publishing plc.