Book of Enoch

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Hebrew Bible

The Book of Enoch is an apocraphal and pseudopigraphal collection of second century Jewish texts attributed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah (Genesis 5:18), which describes a group of fallen angels (called "the Grigori" -"Watchers") mating with humans to produce a race of giants (called "the Nephilim") (cf. Genesis 6:1-2). While the Book of Enoch does not form part of the Canon of Scripture for the larger Christian Churches, various groups, including the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, regard parts or all of 1 Enoch to be inspired scripture. The currently known texts of this work are usually dated to Maccabean times (ca. 160s B.C.E.). Most commonly, the phrase "Book of Enoch" refers to 1 Enoch, which is wholly extant only in the Ethiopic language. There are two other books named "Enoch": 2 Enoch (surviving only in Old Slavonic, c. first century; Eng. trans. by Richard H. Charles (1896)[1]; and 3 Enoch (surviving in Hebrew, c. fifth-sixth century[2]. The numbering of these texts has been applied by scholars to distinguish the texts from one another.

These texts describe the fall of the Watchers (angels) who fathered the Nephilim (cf. Genesis 6:1-2). These angels went to Enoch to intercede on their behalf with God after he declared to them their doom. The remainder of the book describes Enoch's visit to Heaven in the form of a vision, and his revelations. It also contains descriptions of the movement of heavenly bodies, and some parts of the book have been speculated about as containing instructions for the construction of a solar declinometer.

History, Origins, and Dating

Traditionally, the Book of Enoch was dated to the second century B.C.E. during the Maccabees times. According to some scholars,[3][4] however, the five distinct sections of the Book of Enoch were originally independent works, themselves a product of much editorial arrangement, and were only later redacted into what we now call 1 Enoch. 1 Enoch 6–11, part of the Book of Watchers, is thought to have been the original core of that Book, around which the remainder was later added, albeit this view is opposed by those scholars who maintain the literary integrity of the Book of Enoch.[5]

According to internal textual analysis, the Book of Parables appears to be based on the Book of Watchers, and presents a later development of the idea of final judgement[6] Since the Book of Parables contains several references to a Son of Man, as well as messianic themes, several scholars have taken the view that this section dates from Christian times. However, since the term "Son of Man" was also just a Jewish way of saying human, and since the Book of Daniel also refers to a Son of Man, the work may be earlier, and a number of academics have proposed that the Book of Parables may be as early as the late 1st century B.C.E.

The Book of Dreams contains a vision of a history of Israel all the way down to what the majority have interpreted as the revolt of the Maccabees, leading scholars to date it to Maccabean times.

Before the discovery at Qumran of fragments from 1 Enoch among the Dead Sea scrolls, there was some dispute about whether the Greek text was an original Christian production, or whether it was a translation from an Aramaic text redacted in Jewish circles. The chief argument for a Christian author was the occurrence of references to the Messiah as the Son of Man, however such references also appeared in Jewish texts around the turn of the era.

The Ethiopian Church considers its Ethiopic version to be the original, since it is the only complete version, while the other languages merely have different fragments of the work. Despite this, the majority of western scholars now claim a third century B.C.E. Jewish authorship for its earliest parts.

Bible scholars such as Lucke (1832), Hofman (1852), Wiesse (1856), Phillippe (1868) and J.T. Milik (1950) once believed that the Book of Enoch was written in the second century C.E. by a Jewish Christian to enhance Christian beliefs with Enoch's authoritative name. However, James H. Charlesworth argued that in recent years:

"Repeatedly the specialists on I Enoch have come out in favor of the Jewish nature and its first century CE origin, and probable pre-70 date. The list of specialists on I Enoch arguing for this position has become overwhelmingly impressive: Isaac, Nickelsburg, Stone, Knibb, Anderson, Black, VanderKam, Greenfield and Sutter. The consensus communis is unparalleled in almost any other area of research; no specialists now argue that I Enoch 37-71 … postdates the first century."[7]


From the time of the Council of Jamnia (c. 90 C.E.), the book has not been part of the Jewish Scriptures.

The early Christian father Tertullian wrote c. 200 that the Book of Enoch had been rejected by the Jews because it contained prophecies pertaining to Christ.[8] The book is referred to, and quoted, in Jude 1:14-15:

"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these [men], saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince 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 Ethiopian:

"And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute judgement 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."[9]

The Greek language text was known to, and quoted by nearly all, Church Fathers. A number of the Church Fathers thought it to be an inspired work, particularly Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian, based on its quotation in Jude.

However, some later Fathers denied the canonicity of the book and some even considered the letter of Jude uncanonical because it refers to an "apocryphal" work. By the fourth century it was mostly excluded from Christian lists of the Biblical canon, and it was eventually entirely omitted from the canon by most of the Christian church (except the Ethiopian Orthodox Church).


Outside of Ethiopia, the text of the Book of Enoch was considered lost until the beginning of the seventeenth century, when the learned Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc bought a book that was claimed to be identical to the one quoted by the Epistle of Jude (and the Epistle of Barnabas - Epistle xvi. 5) and by the Church Fathers Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen and Clement of Alexandria. Although these quotes come exclusively from the first five chapters of 1 Enoch, many suggest that only these five were written by Enoch and the rest were written during the time of the Maccabees. Hiob Ludolf, the great Ethiopic scholar of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, soon claimed it to be a forgery produced by Abba Bahaila Michael.[10]

Later, the famous Scottish traveller James Bruce returned to Europe in 1773 from six years in Abyssinia with three copies of a Ge'ez version.[11] One is preserved in the Bodleian Library, another was presented to the Royal Library of France (the nucleus of the Bibliothèque Nationale), whilst the third was kept by Bruce. The copies remained unused until the 1800s, Silvestre de Sacy, in "Notices sur le livre d'Enoch" in the Magazine Encyclopédique, an vi. tome I, p. 382 included extracts of the books with Latin translations (Enoch chap 1, 2, 5-16, 22, 32). From this point, a German translation was made by Rink in 1801.

European scholars and academics consider the Ethiopic version to be translated from Greek, which was in turn translated from the Aramaic (possibly Hebrew for chapters 37-71).[12] However, this hypothesis is vehemently disputed by Ethiopian scholars and clergy, who insist that, since the only complete text of Enoch to surface so far is in Ethiopic, whereas the Aramaic and Greek copies exist only in separate and incomplete fragments, in their view proving their claim that this was the original language written by Enoch himself. In the Ethiopian Orthodox view, 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:

"Word of blessing of Henok, wherewith he blessed the chosen and righteous who would be alive in the day of tribulation for the removal of all wrongdoers and backsliders."[13]

In the early period of Ethiopian literature, there was considerable translation activity of much Greek literature into Ge'ez by Ethiopian theologians. Because of this, there are many texts for which both the Ge'ez translation and the Greek original are known; however, in this case, the language and thought of Ge'ez Enoch are thoroughly Semitic, and show no indication of having been transmitted through Greek.

The first translation of the Bodleian/Ethiopic MS was published in 1821 by Professor Richard Laurence, afterwards archbishop of Cashel. Titled The Book of Enoch, the prophet: an apocryphal production, supposed to have been lost for ages; but discovered at the close of the last century in Abyssinia; now first translated from an Ethiopic MS in the Bodleian Library. Oxford, 1821. A second edition was released in 1833 and a third edition in 1838.

Professor A. G. Hoffmann released a translation in 1833 but due to the use at least in part of Laurence's later work, there were a number of mistakes that were prevalent. Two other translations came out around the same time: one in 1836 called Enoch Retitutus, or an Attempt (Rev. Edward Murray) and in 1840 Prophetae veteres Pseudepigraphi, partim ex Abyssinico vel Hebraico sermonibus Latine bersi (Gfrörer). However both were considered to be poor.[14]

The first reliable edition appeared in 1851 as Liber Henoch, Aethiopice, ad quinque codicum fidem editus, cum variis lectionibus, which is based on the Ethiopic text edited by A. Dillmann, with an accurate translation of the book with reliable notes released in 1853 titled Das Buch Henoch, übersetzt und erklärt, which was considered an impeccable edition until the 1900s. Another famous edition was published in 1912 by R.H. Charles.


The Book of Enoch consists of five quite distinct major sections:

  • The Book of Watchers (1 Enoch 1 – 36)
  • The Book of Parables (1 Enoch 37 – 71) (Also called the Similitudes of Enoch)
  • The Book of the Heavenly Luminaries (1 Enoch 72 – 82) (Usually abbreviated to The Book of Luminaries. Also called the Astronomical Book)
  • The Dream Visions (1 Enoch 83 – 90) (Also called the Book of Dreams)
  • The Epistle of Enoch (1 Enoch 91 – 108)

The contents of each major section are briefly described below:

The Book of the Watchers

The Book of Watchers describes the fall of the angels who fathered the Nephilim (cf. Genesis 6:1-2). These angels went to Enoch to intercede on their behalf with God after he declared to them their doom. The remainder of the book describes Enoch's visit to Heaven in the form of a vision, and his revelations.

Dated: Parts of the work were composed no later than the third century B.C.E., but the work must have reached its present form by the middle of the second century B.C.E.

The first section of the book depicts the interaction of the fallen angels with mankind; Samyaza compels the other 199 fallen angels to take human wives to "beget us children."

"And Semjâzâ, who was their leader, said unto them: 'I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.' And they all answered him and said: 'Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.'. Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it."[15]

This results in the creation of the Nephilim (Genesis) or Anakim/Anak (Giants) as they are described in the book:

"And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells [the Ethiopian text gives 300 cubits (135 meters), which is probably a corruption of 30 cubits (13.5 meters)]: Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another's flesh, and drink the blood."[16]

It also discusses the teaching of humans by the fallen angels chiefly Azazel:

"And Azâzêl taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. Semjâzâ taught enchantments, and root-cuttings, Armârôs the resolving of enchantments, Barâqîjâl, taught astrology, Kôkabêl the constellations, Ezêqêêl the knowledge of the clouds, Araqiêl the signs of the earth, Shamsiêl the signs of the sun, and Sariêl the course of the moon."[17]

Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel appeal to God to judge the inhabitants of the world and the fallen angels. Uriel is then sent by God to tell Noah of the coming apocalypse and what he needs to do:

"Then said the Most High, the Holy and Great One spoke, and sent Uriel to the son of Lamech, and said to him: Go to Noah and tell him in my name "Hide thyself!" and reveal to him the end that is approaching: that the whole earth will be destroyed, and a deluge is about to come upon the whole earth, and will destroy all that is on it. And now instruct him that he may escape and his seed may be preserved for all the generations of the world."[18]

God commands Raphael to imprison Azâzêl:

"The Lord said to Raphael: 'Bind Azâzêl hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dûdâêl (Gods Kettle/Crucible/Cauldron), and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgement he shall be cast into the fire. And heal the earth which the angels have corrupted, and proclaim the healing of the earth, that they may heal the plague, and that all the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons. And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azâzêl: to him ascribe all sin."[19]

God gave Gabriel instructions concerning the Nephilim and the imprisonment of the fallen angels:

"And to Gabriel said the Lord: 'Proceed against the biters and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication: and destroy [the children of fornication and] the children of the Watchers from amongst men [and cause them to go forth]: send them one against the other that they may destroy each other in battle"[20]

Some suggest that 'biters' may also be the Anunnaki (a group of Sumerian and Akkadian deities).

Then the Lord commands Michael to bind the fallen angels.

"And the Lord said unto Michael: 'Go, bind Semjâzâ and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their uncleanness. 12. And when their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgement and of their consummation, till the judgement that is for ever and ever is consummated. 13. In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: (and) to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever. And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all generations."[21]

Thereafter the book describes the Demoralization of humankind: the Intercession of the Angels on behalf of Mankind. The Dooms pronounced by God on the Angels of the Messianic Kingdom. Dream-Vision of Enoch: his Intercession for Azazel and the fallen angels: and his Announcement of their first and final Doom. Enoch's Journeys through the Earth and Sheol. Names and Functions of the Seven Archangels. Preliminary and final Place of Punishment of the fallen Angels (stars). Sheol or the Underworld. This introduction to the Book of Enoch tells us that Enoch is "a just man, whose eyes were opened by God so that he saw vision of the Holy One in the heavens, which the sons of God showed to me, and from them I heard everything, and I knew what I saw, but [these things that I saw will] not [come to pass] for this generation, but for a generation that has yet to come."[22]

Book of Parables

This section of the book is presumed by many scholars to be written during first century B.C.E.

The Book of the Heavenly Luminaries

This section of the book is presumed by some scholars to have been written in 200 B.C.E. to 100 B.C.E. The section uses the same calendar as that described in the Book of Jubilees.[23]

The Dream Visions

This section of the book is presumed to by some scholars, but not all, to have been written in 140 B.C.E. to 37 B.C.E.

It mentions the last assault of Gentiles and the Messianic period; many western scholars propose it was likely written in the early Hasmonean period (140 B.C.E. to 37 B.C.E.), after the date the Book of Daniel was written.

There are a great many links between the first book and this one, including the outline of the story and the imprisonment of the leaders and destruction of the Nephilim. The dream includes sections relating to the book of Watchers:

"And those seventy shepherds were judged and found guilty, and they were cast into that fiery abyss. And I saw at that time how a like abyss was opened in the midst of the earth, full of fire, and they brought those blinded sheep." - The fall of the evil ones

Chapters 86:4, 87:3, 88:2, and 89:6 all describe the types of Nephilim that are created during the times outlined in The Book of Watchers, though this does not mean that the authors of both books are the same. Similar references exist in Jubilees 7:21-22.

The book describes their release from the Ark along with three bulls white, red and black which are Shem, Japheth, and Ham (90:9). It also covers the death of Noah described as the white bull and the creation of many nations. The book is very metaphorical an uses symbolic langauge to convey its message.

It chronicales the story of Moses and Aaron (90:13-15), the creation of the stone commandments, the creation of Solomon's temple, and the escape of Elijah the prophet. This section of the book and later near the end describes the appointment by God of the 70 angels to protect the Israelites from enduring too much harm from the 'beasts and birds'. The later section (110:14) describes how the 70 angels are judged for causing more harm to Israel than he desired finding them guilty and are "cast into an abyss, full of fire and flaming, and full of pillars of fire."[24]

The last chapters of this section are notly debated. Some think that this section refers to Maccabeus, while others think it simply refers to infamous battle of Armageddon, where all of the nations of the world march against Israel. This interpretation is supported by the War Scroll, which describes what this epic battle may be like, according to the group(s) that existed at Qumran.

The Epistle of Enoch

This section of the book is presumed by some scholars to date somewhere between the 1st century B.C.E. to 170 B.C.E.[25] It contains a text called the "Apocalypse of Weeks" which some scholars believe to have been written at about 167 B.C.E. A better title could be "the Instruction of Enoch" considering that these chapters are not written in the form of a letter, which can be found at 93:1-10 and 91:11-17.

Existing Manuscripts


The most extensive witnesses to the Book of Enoch exist in the Ge'ez dialect of the Ethiopic language.[26]


Eleven Aramaic-language fragments of the Book of Enoch were found in cave 4 of Qumran in 1948.[4], and are in the care of the Israel Antiquities Authority. They were translated and discussed by Józef Milik and Matthew Black in The Books of Enoch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976). Another translation has been released by Vermes and Garcia-Martinez (Vermes 513-515; Garcia- Martinez 246-259).

Also at Qumran (cave 1) have been discovered 3 tiny fragments in Hebrew (8,4-9,4; 106).


The eighth century work Chronographia Universalis by the Byzantine historian Giorgio Sincello preserved some passages of the Book of Enoch in Greek (6,1-9,4; 15,8-16,1).

  • Cairo Papyrus 10759 consists of fragments of papyri containing portions of chapters 1-32, recovered by a French archeological team at Akhmim in Egypt, and published five years later in 1892.

In addition, several small fragments in Greek have been found at Qumran (7QEnoch), dating from the first century B.C.E. or C.E.

Other translations

Since the eighteenth century an Old Church Slavonic translation has been identified, as well as two separate fragments of a Latin translation.


  1. [1] [2] St Andrews Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  2. [3]) Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  3. 1 Enoch: A New Translation. by George W. E. Nickelsburg and J.C. Vanderkam. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 2004), p1ff (ie. preface summary)
  4. G.W. Nickelsburg. Hermeneia: 1 Enoch 1. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004), 7-8
  5. For example, see Wossenie Yifru (1990) (in Ethiopian).
  6. Rather than being a final judgement of the fallen angels, the Book of Parables instead presents a final judgement of earthly kings.
  7. James H. Charlesworth. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament. (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, New Ed., 1998), 89.
  8. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited be Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, et al. vol 4.16 (Hendrickson Publishers, 1994)
  9. The Book of Enoch. tr. by R.H. Charles, Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  10. Ludolf, "Commentarius in Hist. Aethip." 347
  11. Bruce, Travels, vol 2, 422
  12. James C. Vanderkam. Enoch: A Man for All Generations. (Studies on Personalities of the Old Testament), 20. cf. Milik: 70-78.
  13. The Book of Enoch tr. by R.H. Charles Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  14. A. G. Hoffmann. Zweiter Excurs, 917-965.
  15. Book of Enoch tr. by R.H. Charles Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  16. tr. by R.H. Charles 1917 Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  17. tr. by R.H. Charles
  18. tr. by R.H. Charles 1917 Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  19. tr. by R.H. Charles 1917 Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  20. tr. by R.H. Charles 1917 Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  21. tr. by R.H. Charles 1917 Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  22. tr. by R.H. Charles 1917 Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  23. For a great in-detail description of the information of the Enoch calendar try going to: Enoch Calendar Testifies of Christ by John P. Pratt Reprinted from Meridian Magazine (Sept. 11, 2001) Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  24. tr. by R.H. Charles 1917
  25. Some suppose that Chapter 105 may be a Christian addition and 108 many believe to be a later addition.
  26. See Richard H. Charles’ critical edition of 1906.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • George W. E. Nickelsburg and J.C. Vanderkam 1 Enoch: A New Translation; Based on the Hermeneia Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 2004. ISBN 0800636945
  • Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, et al. (eds.). The Ante-Nicene Fathers. (10 Vols.) Hendrickson Publishers, 1994. ISBN 1565630823
  • Brown, Ronald K. (trans.). The Book of Enoch. Guadalupe Baptist Theological Seminary Press, 2000. ISBN 096757370X
  • Charles, R.H. The Book of Enoch: Together with a Reprint of the Greek Fragments. reprint ed. Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 1995. ISBN 978-1564595232
  • Charlesworth, James H. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament. Philadelphia; Trinity Press International, New Ed., 1998. ISBN 978-1563382574
  • Henok: Beye`ametu yemmittatem ye'ItyoPPya T'inatinna mirrimir mets'het. Vol. I, Wossene Yifru, Washington DC: Ethiopian Research Council, 1990.
  • Knibb, Michael A. and Edward Ullendorff. The Ethiopic Book Of Enoch: A New Edition in the Light of the Aramaic Dead Sea Fragments (Vol. 1: Text and Apparatus & Vol. 2: Introduction, Translation and Commentary). Oxford University Press, 1979. ISBN 978-0198261636
  • Leonhard, Rost. Judaism Outside the Hebrew Canon. Abingdon Press, 1976. ISBN 978-0687206537
  • Martinez, Garcia, F. Qumran & Apocalyptic Studies on the Aramaic Texts from Qumran. New York: E. J. Brill Academic Publishers, 1992. ISBN 978-9004095861
  • Milik, J. T. The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976. ISBN 978-0198261612
  • Nickelsburg, George W. E. Hermeneia: 1 Enoch: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch (Hermeneia: a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible), Chapters 1-36, 81-108. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004 (original 2001). ISBN 0800660749
  • Nichelsburg, George W.E. and James C. VanderKam (trans.). 1 Enoch: A New Translation. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004. ISBN 0800636945
  • Schodde, George Henry (trans.). The Book of Enoch translated from the Ethiopic with Introduction and notes. W.F. Draper, 1882. reprint ed. Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2008. ISBN 1437105475
  • Vermes, Geza. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English. New York: Penguin Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0140449525

External links

All links retrieved November 17, 2023.


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