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The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies Provides a comprehensive survey of Biblical scholarship in a variety of disciplines.

Enoch

1 Enoch is recognized as Scripture only within the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, but nevertheless influenced early Christianity (VanderKam 1996). The discovery of a number of Aramaic fragments at Qumran has demonstrated the antiquity of the oldest layers of the book and helped to stimulate a revival of interest in the work as a whole. Nevertheless, there is still little agreement at the present time about some fundamental issues. At the outset it should be noted that 1 Enoch is in fact composed of five different documents, dating from different periods. Chapters 136 are known as the Book of the Watchers, and date from the third century BCE; chapters 37–71 constitute the Book of Similitudes, or Parables of Enoch, but are dated to the first century BCE or CE; chapters 72–82 are called the Astronomical Book, and were written sometime in the third century BCE; chapters 83–90 constitute the Book of Dreams, dating to the second century BCE; and chapters 91–108 are called the Epistle of Enoch, also from the second century BCE. Even within these five documents there are further layers. Most recent research has been on the oldest documents, the Astronomical Book and the Book of Watchers, for what they may reveal about trends within Second Temple Judaism of the pre-Maccabean period, especially with regard to theology, the calendar, and the priesthood (Boccaccini 2002).

The book as a whole now exists only in Ethiopic, but we do have large parts of the Book of Watchers and the Epistle of Enoch in Greek, along with a passage from the Book of Dreams. Aramaic fragments representing all parts except the Similitudes have been discovered at Qumran, sometimes copied on to the same scroll, along with a related work known as the Book of Giants (Nickelsburg 2001: 7–16).

Although there are points of contact with Mesopotamian myths, the exact relationship of the Book of the Watchers to the Hebrew text of Gen. 6: 1–4 is keenly debated. Some (e.g. Bedenbender, in Boccaccini 2002: 39–48) believe that each represents a parallel development of a similar story, reflecting the contemporary tension between ‘Enochic’ and Mosaic Judaism. Others more convincingly argue that the Book of the Watchers is a reworking of the biblical text, and that it therefore post-dates it (Dimant 2002; Stuckenbruck, in Boccaccini 2002: 99–106; VanderKam 1995: 17–25). Certainly the ambiguities of the Hebrew of Gen. 5: 24 must have given rise to Enochic traditions: there Enoch is said to have walked with ha-'elohim, who took him so that he ‘was not’. Ha-'elohim can be understood either as ‘God’ (with most translators) or as ‘divine beings’. The Book of the Watchers portrays Enoch as being taken temporarily to the heavenly realms by angels, thus reflecting an alternative but legitimate understanding of the Hebrew.

The Hebrew text, however, may allude to an earlier association of Enoch with the solar calendar, when it states that he lived for 365 years (Gen. 5: 23). Boccaccini (2000) argues that the Astronomical Book supports a calendar in which the four intercalary days should be fully integrated into the year as days of the months and as equinoxes and solstices, against the reckoning of the Zadokite group who controlled the Temple. Differences over the calendar, which affected the celebration of festivals at the correct time, are also reflected in the later book of Jubilees, and would become a factor in the schism in Judaism that led to the formation of the Qumran community.

The theology of the Book of Watchers appears to place responsibility for earthly evil on the fallen angels who marry human women and beget violent giants (1 En. 6–11; cf. Gen. 6: 1–4), rather than with Adam (Elliott and Sacchi, in Boccaccini 2002: 63–75, 77–85). Alternatively, the origin of evil may commence when the angels teach humankind the arts of weapon making and personal adornment (1 En. 8). Several scholars believe that the sins of the fallen angels symbolize the perceived shortcomings of Jerusalemites, perhaps their failure to act as intermediaries between God and the people, or illicit marriages (Himmelfarb and Suter, in Boccaccini 2002: 131–5, 137–42), or the departure of some priests from Jerusalem (heaven) to Samaria (earth) (Tigchelaar, in Boccaccini 2002: 143–5). The lack of allusions to the Law of Moses in 1 Enoch has been seen as indicating the existence of a different type of Judaism (Kvanvig, in Boccaccini 2002: 207–12) that teaches obedience to the laws of God on the basis of the existence of the laws of nature, rather than on the Mosaic covenant (Collins and Argall, in Boccaccini 2002: 57–62, 169–78).

The documents in 1 Enoch dating from the second century BCE, the Book of Dreams and the Epistle of Enoch, contain three apocalypses and an epistle. The Apocalypse of Weeks (93. 1–10; 91. 11–17) divides history into periods of ‘weeks’, rather as in Dan. 9: 24–7. Another apocalypse, in chapters 83–4, is Enoch's revelation to his son Methuselah of a vision concerning God's judgement that he saw in his own youth, and he tells how he prayed to the Lord to leave a righteous remnant. This of course will be accomplished through the preservation of Noah and his family. The Animal Apocalypse (85–90) presents the figures of biblical history as animals: good characters are presented as white animals, and bad characters as black ones. The entry of sin and evil into the world is not deemed to start with Adam in the events of Genesis 3, but with the murder of Abel by Cain in Genesis 4. As in the Book of Watchers, the author of the Animal Apocalypse is interested in the descent of the angels in Genesis 6 (1 En. 86. 1–4), and even ties the narrative to the events described in the Book of Watchers, where Enoch is taken into the heavenly places and judgement is decreed against the evil angels and giants (1 En. 87. 3–4). In contrast to the Book of Watchers and the Apocalypse of Weeks, however, the Animal Apocalypse shows some interest in Moses and the exodus narrative, though the Law is passed over, and the priesthood (symbolized as shepherds) is criticized for failing the people (1 En. 89. 59–90. 27). There is an allusion to the Maccabean Revolt in 1 En. 90. 10 ff., which, as the last event described, would place the Apocalypse just after 164 BCE. However, the revelation ends with the birth of a white bull, representing the Messiah. The Epistle of Enoch (1 En. 91–105) is an exhortation to Enoch's children to pursue righteousness, for after death their spirits will live in bliss, and warnings of judgement for the wicked. At the end, the birth of a miraculous child is described, who is Enoch's great-grandson, Noah (1 En. 106–7). The passage is strongly reminiscent of part of the Genesis Apocryphon from Qumran (Gen. Apoc. cols. 2–5; see VanderKam 1995: 96).

The longest and latest section of 1 Enoch is the Similitudes (1 En. 37–71). It describes three parables or similitudes that Enoch saw, concerning the end-times and final judgement. They show the influence of Daniel 7 and 10 and are similar in tone to Revelation, most notably in the appearance of a figure called the Son of Man and the role of angels, including Michael. The Son of Man is also known as the Chosen One or Righteous One, and there has been some debate over whether he is a single, messianic figure or represents the righteous people as a whole (Collins 1998: 183–91; Oegema 1998: 140–7; Nickelsburg, in Neusner et al. 1987: 49–68). Current consensus takes the former line, though VanderKam (1995: 140–2) argues that in 1 En. 70–1 Enoch himself is identified with the Son of Man.

1 Enoch is first attested in Christian writings in the early second century, but doubts set in as early as Origen in the mid- third century (Pearson 2000). Since early Christians believed that the first scriptures were written by Moses, they may have been sceptical about the authenticity of books that claimed to pre-date him. But 1 Enoch continued to play a role in the Coptic and then the Ethiopic churches. As for Judaism, the figure of Enoch the visionary was seen as a threat to the pre-eminence of Moses the lawgiver, and the fact that there is no trace of Hebrew copies of any part of 1 Enoch must be linked to its non-canonical status in Judaism.

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