The Book of Enoch: Banned From the Bible
The Book of the Watchers
August 31, 2014.
The Book of Enoch is an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed by tradition to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, although modern scholars estimate the older sections (mainly in the Book of the Watchers) to date from about 300 BC, and the latest part (Book of Parables) probably to the end of the first century BC.
It is not part of the biblical canon as used by Jews, apart from Beta Israel. Most Christian denominations and traditions may accept the Books of Enoch as having some historical or theological interest or significance, but they generally regard the Books of Enoch as non-canonical or non-inspired.
However, it is regarded as canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, but not by any other Christian group.
It is wholly extant only in the Ge'ez language, with 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 non-Ethiopian scholars tend to assert that it was first written in either Aramaic or Hebrew; E. 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 claims to be written by Enoch himself before the Biblical Flood.
The authors of the New Testament were familiar with the content of the story and influenced by it: a short section of 1 Enoch (1 En 1:9 or 1 En 2:1 depending on the translation) is quoted in the New Testament (Letter of Jude 1:14–15), and is attributed there to "Enoch the Seventh from Adam" (1 En 60:8). The text was also utilised by the community that originally collected the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The first part of the Book of Enoch describes the fall of the Watchers, the angels who fathered the Nephilim. The remainder of the book describes Enoch's visits to heaven in the form of travels, visions and dreams, and his revelations.
The book consists of five quite distinct major sections (see each section for details):
- 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 we now call 1 Enoch.
Jozef Milik has suggested that the Book of Giants found among the Dead Sea Scrolls should be part of the collection, appearing after the Book of Watchers in place of the Book of Parables, but for various reasons, Milik's theory has not been widely accepted.
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