Of Enoch, son of Jared and father of Methuselah (not to be confused with Enoch, son of Cain, mentioned in Gen. 4.17), it is written that, after walking “with God” for 365 years, “he was no more, because God took him” (Gen. 5.22–24; cf. Sir. 44.16; 49.14). From these words has grown the Enoch legend and its literature, the books of Enoch. Traces of the legend are found in Hebrews 11.5, where Enoch has become a hero of faith. The brief reference in Genesis is further elaborated in Jewish Midrashic tradition; his wife's name was Edni, and he spent hidden years with the angels before he was taken up to heaven. There are parallels to the latter in Greek and Near Eastern sources, and the later picture of Enoch as omniscient sage and seer probably owes more to Babylonian than to Israelite ideas.
The Ethiopic book of Enoch, or 1 Enoch, is a collection of mainly apocalyptic traditions, arranged as a pentateuch. They include the following: the Watcher Legend, the story of the fall of the angels (Gen. 6.1–4); the Parables, visions of the son of man/elect one; Astronomica; the Dream Visions; a “zoomorphic” history; the Epistle of Enoch, the “Apocalypse of Weeks,” and visions of the judgment. An appendix includes the story of the miraculous birth of Noah.
Substantial Greek portions of the book, amounting to about one‐third of the closely related Ethiopic text, have been known for many years. To them have now been added numerous fragments of an Aramaic Enoch among the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran, attesting the existence in the second and first centuries BCE of each of the Enoch tractate collections, with the exception of the Parables. Aramaic coverage of the Ethiopic has been estimated at no more than five percent, but there are substantial pieces in all four sections. There are also fragments on “the giants,” offspring of the Watchers (Gen. 6.4), the probable source of the Manichean Book of the Giants. (The view that this is the second tractate collection, ousted in the common era by the Parables, is hypothetical.) The Aramaic fragments undoubtedly represent the original Enoch, while the Greek is a primary and the Ethiopic a secondary translation, always based on a Greek text. Thus the text of 1 Enoch 1.9, quoted in Jude 14–15, is now extant in Aramaic, Greek, and Ethiopic.
The absence of the Parables in the Enoch literature found at Qumran has been used to support the theory of their Christian composition, inspired by the Gospels. This argument from silence has not been deemed conclusive; there remains the insuperable difficulty that the son of man in the Parables is identified not with Jesus but with Enoch, in a collection of tractates now generally dated to about the first century BCE or the first century CE.
The Slavonic Enoch, or 2 Enoch, is found only in Old Slavonic manuscripts, none earlier than the fourteenth century CE. It is extant in both a longer and a shorter, earlier recension. The tractate collection falls into three main sections. Enoch ascends thorough seven heavens, each with its own special secrets, some purely natural phenomena, others eschatological, like paradise for the righteous in the third heaven (cf. 2 Cor. 12.2–4), and others astronomical. In the second part, Enoch is confronted by the Lord himself in the seventh heaven and is shown the secrets of creation and human history down to his own time. Finally, Enoch returns to earth to brief his posterity before ascending again to the heavenly world. An appendix lists Enoch's priestly successors, Methuselah, Nir (younger brother of Noah), and the miraculously born Melchizedek.
The book has clearly been profoundly influenced by 1 Enoch, and it is widely accepted that it depends on a Greek Enoch, where Hebrew or Aramaic could lie behind the Greek; other explanations of “semitisms,” however, are also possible. The date of the work is uncertain, with proposals ranging from the first century CE (the prevailing view), or even earlier, down to the Middle Ages.
The Hebrew Enoch, or 3 Enoch, is a heterogeneous collection of qabbalistic materials attributed to Rabbi Ishmael (second century CE). Like Enoch in 2 Enoch, Ishmael ascends to the seventh heaven, where he is admitted by the archangel Metatron, who informs Ishmael that he, Metatron, is really Enoch, son of Jared, translated to heaven to become a vice‐regent of deity, “the lesser YHWH.” The rest of the book is a miscellany of the mysteries of the heavenly world. The author is familiar with 1 and 2 Enoch, but the date of composition is uncertain. Recent research suggests the fifth to sixth century CE. The main theological contribution of the book is its identification of Enoch with the qabbalistic Metatron.