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Enoch, Book of, History


The Book of Enoch, also known as Ethiopic Enoch, I Enoch, and The Book of Henoch" was revered by the Jews and Christians alike but fell into disfavor among powerful theologians because of its controversial descriptions of the nature and deeds of the fallen angels. The Enochian writings like others such as The Books of Tobias, Esdras, and others, were omitted (or lost) from the Bible. Once it was considered to be among the biblical apocryphal writings by the early church fathers.

To better understand the possible reason for the omission of the Book of Enoch from the Bible, the term "apocryphal" must be considered. Apocryphal is derived from the Greek and means "hidden" or "secret." Originally it was a complimentary term, and when applied to sacred books it meant that their contents was considered too exalted to be made available to the general public. Gradually the idea was accepted that such books were only to be read by the wise. Therefore, the term "apocrypha" began taking on a negative meaning because the orthodoxy felt as if they were being kept in the dark by not being told the teachings of these books. The apocryphal books were just read among esoteric circles of the devout believers. The clergy that was not admitted into such circles because they were thought not to be enlightened soon banned apocryphal material heretical, which were forbidden for all to read.

The Book of Enoch was banned as heretical by later Church fathers mainly because of its theme concerning the nature and actions of the fallen angels. In fact, the material infuriated some Church fathers. And, some rabbi even would not give credence to it. Probably it was considered such a sacrilege that it was denounced, cursed, banned, and no doubt burned and shredded. As a result the book was conveniently lost for a thousand years. But, with ironical persistence the Book of Enoch eventually reappeared.

Although the Book of Enoch was banned, the reasons for doing so became more illusive after it was discovered once again. Rumors of a surviving copy of the book in 1773 sent the Scottish explorer James Bruce to distant Ethiopia in search of it. There he found the Ethiopic church has saved the book and kept it alongside of the other books of the Bible.

Bruce was able to secure not one, but three copies of the Ethiopic book that he brought back to Europe and England. In 1821, Dr. Richard Laurence, an Oxford Hebrew professor, produced the first translation that gave the world its first glimpse of the forbidden Enochian mysteries.

Speculation of most scholars place the original writing of the Book of Enoch during the second century B. C. with its popularity lasting at least five hundred years. The earliest Ethiopic text was apparently made from a Greek manuscript of the book, which itself was a copy of an earlier text. The original text appears to have been written in a Semitic language, now thought to be Aramaic.

Though it was once believed to be post-Christian (the similarities to Christian terminology and teaching are striking), recent discoveries of copies of the book among the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran prove that the book was in existence before the time of Jesus Christ. But the date of the original writing upon which the second century B.C. Qumran copies were based is shrouded in obscurity. It is, in a word, old.

There is a consensus that the book does not contain the authentic words of the ancient patriarch Enoch, since he would have lived (based on the chronologies in the Book of Genesis) several thousand years earlier than the first known appearance of the book attributed to him.

Despite its unknown origins, Christians once accepted the words of this Book of Enoch as authentic scripture, especially the part about the fallen angels and their prophesied judgment. In fact, many of the key concepts used by Jesus Christ himself seem directly connected to terms and ideas in the Book of Enoch.

Thus, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Jesus had not only studied the book, but also respected it highly enough to adopt and elaborate on its specific descriptions of the coming kingdom and its theme of inevitable judgment descending upon "the wicked"--the term most often used in the Old Testament to describe the Watchers.

There is abundant proof that Christ approved of the Book of Enoch. Over a hundred phrases in the New Testament find precedents in the Book of Enoch.

Two of these phrase are in the Book of Jude tells us in vs. 14 that "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied…" Jude also, in vs. 15, makes a direct reference to the Book of Enoch (2:1), where he writes, "to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly…" The time difference between Enoch and Jude is approximately 3400 years. Therefore, Jude's reference to the Enochian prophesies strongly leans toward the conclusion that these written prophecies were available to him at that time.

Many other church fathers: Tatian (110-172); Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (115-185); Clement of Alexandria (150-220); Tertullian (160-230); Origen (186-255); Lactantius (260-330); in addition to: Methodius of Philippi, Minucius Felix, Commodianus, and Ambrose of Milan also approved of and supported the Enochian writings. Even St. Augustine (354-430) suppose the work to be a genuine one of the patriarch. A.G.H.



Sources:

http://www.bible2000.org/lostbooks/enochs2.htm
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01602a.htm