|This commentary does not claim to be all that
can be said about the Book of Enoch, but it is only what I know about the book,
and what I have discovered or learned through research and my own analysis. A small part of the
information was taken from a widely used internet commentary (source unknown),
but the rest is my own.
The Book of Enoch (also referred to as the Ethiopian Enoch or 1 Enoch) was once accepted by Jews and Christians as an authentic book, perhaps even on the level of Scripture or at least near Scripture, because Jude quotes from it; "14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: 'See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.'" This quote is from Enoch 1:9 in some editions, but chapter 2:1 of the original English edition.
Many phrases and concepts in the New Testament are very similar to those found in Enoch. "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" (http://reluctant-messenger.com/enoch.htm). In Luke 9:35, buried under the King James Translation, is an important concept of the Book of Enoch, that of the "Elect One": "And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my beloved Son: hear him."
Apparently the translator here wished to make this verse agree with a similar verse in Matthew and Mark. But Luke's verse in the original Greek reads: "This is my Son, the Elect One (from the Greek ho eklelegmenos, lit., "the elect one"): hear him." (http://reluctant-messenger.com/enoch.htm)
"Elect" means "chosen." Most modern translations reflect this meaning, through translation; "This is my Son, whom I have chosen" (NIV); "My chosen one" (NAS); "whom I have chosen" (Today's English Version). The term, "Elect One" is found fourteen times in Enoch and is one of the key concepts of the book.
The writers of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and the Book of Jubilees must have been familiar with the Book of Enoch, and the writer of the Epistle of Barnabas actually mentioned the book and quoted from it twice (4:3, 16:5,6).
Many of the early church fathers also believed in the Book of Enoch. Justin Martyr said demons are the authors of all evil and that they are the offspring of fallen angels and humans (Genesis 6), which was taken directly from Enoch.
Athenagoras wrote about fallen angels in his work, Legatio about 170 A.D., which comes from Enoch and he regards Enoch as a true prophet. Many other church fathers such as Tatian (110-172); Irenaeus (130?-202?), Bishop of Lyons (115-185); Clement of Alexandria (150-220); Tertullian (160-230) called Enoch "Holy Scripture"; Origen (186-255); Lactantius (260-330). Methodius of Philippi, Minucius Felix, Commodianus, and Ambrose also sanctioned the Book of Enoch, even Augustine.
According to the introduction of the 1883 edition of Enoch, Origen considered it on the same level as Psalm. Some people believe that Origen did not accept Enoch but he uses so much of its ideas that he must have accepted it. Origen said--
"We are not to suppose that a special office has been
assigned by mere accident to a particular angel: as to
Raphael, the work of curing and healing; to Gabriel, the
direction of wars; to Michael, the duty of hearing the
prayers and supplications of men." (De Principiis, chapter
Origen could only have gotten his ideas on angels from Enoch. Archbishop Laurence, the translator of Enoch, believed that the writers of Jewish mystical book, the Zohar, must have possessed a copy of Enoch and he connects many passages of the Zohar with Enoch.
There was a book written in the 1800s called "Nineveh and
Babylon" by a Mr. Layard, in which he says cups and
bowls were found covered with inscriptions. These
inscriptions were deciphered by Thomas Ellis of the
Manuscript Department in the British Museum. The
inscriptions served as charms against evil spirits, diseases,
calamity, and sudden death. They were composed in
Chaldean mixed with Hebrew words, but combined
characters of Syriac and Palmyrene with the ancient
Phoenician. These cups and bowls are believed to have
belonged to descendents of Jews who were taken captive
"But the most important revelation attained through these
discoveries of Mr. Layard lies in the interesting fact,
mentioned in his work, that the names of the angels
inscribed on these cups, and those recorded in the Book of
Enoch, are, in many instances identical, so that no doubt
remains as to the Hebrew-Caldee origin of that great
Semitic work." (Laurence, Intoduction, p 14)
Though it was once a respected book, because of its controversial statements about fallen angels, it fell into disfavor among certain powerful theologians in the fourth century and banned at the Council of Laodicea.
The theme of the Book of Enoch dealing with the nature and deeds of the fallen angels so infuriated the later Church fathers that one, Filastrius, actually condemned it openly as heresy (Filastrius, Liber de Haeresibus, no. 108). Nor did the rabbis deign to give credence to the book's teaching about angels. Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai in the second century A.D. pronounced a curse upon those who believed it (Delitzsch, p. 223).
The Book of Enoch which we have today was found by Scottish explorer James Bruce in 1773 in Abyssinia (Ethiopia). It was esteemed as an inspired book by the Ethiopian church, right along with the Bible. The book was translated into English by Dr. Richard Laurence, a Hebrew professor at Oxford, and first published in 1821.
So the book was denounced, banned, cursed, no doubt burned and shredded–and last but not least, lost (and conveniently forgotten) for a thousand years. But with an uncanny persistence, the Book of Enoch found its way back into circulation two centuries ago. (John, www.bible2000.org/lostbooks/enochs2.htm)
There are several key concepts in Enoch are found in the New Testament, including Son of Man, the Elect One, Paradise, hell, and a coming day of judgment by fire. There is so much in it that is similar to the New Testament, that when it was rediscovered by Bruce it was alledged that Enoch was written by Christians. Then fragments of several different Enochian manuscripts were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran Cave 4. Now scholars believe the Book of Enoch was written during the 2nd or 3rd century B.C., but there is actually no proof of that because we only have copies of copies of copies which are translations from other languages. It is my firm belief that most of the book is actually the words of Enoch, but someone added a few stories about other persons and changed the name of the principle person to Enoch.
"1 Enoch, preserved in a full, 108-chapter form in Ethiopic, consists of five parts and one appended chapter. It originated in Aramaic (perhaps Hebrew for chaps. 37-71), was translated into Greek, and from Greek into Ethiopic."
The Book of Enoch contains five major divisions:
- James C. Vanderkam (Professor of Hebrew Scriptures at the University of Notre Dame)
"The Aramaic Book of Enoch...very considerably influenced the idiom of the New Testament and patristic literature, more so in fact than any other writing of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha."
- Norman Golb, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?, (1995) p. 366
Book 1: Ch 1 - 36, the Book of the Watchers
Book 2: Ch 37 - 71, the Similitudes or Parables
Book 3: Ch 72 - 82, the Astronomical book
Book 4: Ch 83 - 90, Dreams and Visions
Book 5: Ch 91 - 105, the Epistle of Enoch
--- --- ch 106 - 108, Concluding fragments
Some of these chapters probably belong in the lost Book of Noah because they are written about Noah.
As usual, some scholars are too smart for their own good, as the saying goes. Take for example that James C. VanderKam, Professor of Hebrew Scriptures at the University of Notre Dame and an expert on the Enoch literature, says parts of Book 5-
-may date to a time just before the Maccabean period (perhaps about 170). One reason for making this claim is that the author of the Apocalypse of Weeks, a revelation now found in reverse form in 93:1-10 (the first seven weeks) and 91:11-17 . . . shows no awareness of the anti-Jewish decrees of Antiochus IV and the Maccabean-led response.
But Enoch also contains not one hint of the Law of Moses, which would indicate that it was written before the Law was given. Enoch is the first apocalypic book, and is also the oldest book in the world (at least those parts that were written by Enoch). According to the Zohar (a mystical Jewish book) Enoch's writings were passed from generation to generation (Zohar 1:55a-55b). Enoch was the seventh descendant from Adam and probably knew Adam very well. Adam lived 930 years so he could have been well aquainted with Enoch. Yes, there is proof of this in the Bible! The problem is people don't bother to do indepth study in order to figure things out.
The book of Genesis gives a complete accounting of the generations from Adam to Noah (and beyond). So the Bible tells us how old Adam was when he became the father of Seth, and how old Seth was when he became the father of Enosh, on down to Enoch. By this we can see that Enoch was born 623 years after creation, which was more than 300 years before Adam died.
The Bible actually says very little about Enoch. The Book of Enoch gives us more details about the life of Enoch, describing how Enoch was taken up into heaven and in visions.
Enoch must have been exceptionally righteous for God to take him up into heaven alive like Elijah, "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away" (Genesis 5:22, 24). Enoch was also a man of great faith. The New Testament book of Hebrews says,
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God . . . (Hebrews 11:5-6)
The most widely distributed English translation of the Book of Enoch is not the best possible translation, but it is the best of those which I have read. It was first translated into English in 1821 and revised in 1883. When you consider the number of translations that must have been made over the past 5,000+ years, it is a wonder that it is usable to us today. But the 1883 edition can be confusing, with chapter references listed from two different manuscript editions, and some chapters being only one verse long and other chapters being divided in the middle of a thought. The text which is used in this commentary will present the 1883 edition but with a few changes in words such as ye, and thou, using modern words.
The Book of Enoch contains many dreams and visions. In summary, Enoch prophesied the end of the age in which he lived, which came with Noah's Flood, and also the end of the next age and everything in between. He also spoke about fallen angels, Hell, the coming of the Elect One (Christ), the Bible, and the Millennial Age. The very first line in the book refers to the time of Great Tribulation which is also mentioned in Daniel, Matthew and the book of Revelation.