Enoch, Enoch…Who’s There?
By Jack Kinsella
What is startling about the Book of Enoch is the amount of Messianic prophecy it contains.
We know from the Dead Sea Scrolls, from contemporary documentary evidence, and from the Epistle of Jude that the Book of Enoch was widely known and accepted by Jewish authorities long before the birth of Christ.
The Book of Enoch is classified as “Jewish pseudo-biographical literature” meaning, ancient biographical literature that is attributed to someone else, but whose actual author is unknown.
By itself, that doesn’t make it a forgery. Jeremiah didn’t write the book that bears his name. It was written by a scribe named Baruch.
Nobody is certain who the actual author of the Book of Hebrews is, whether it was Paul, someone writing at his direction, or another, unnamed Apostle.
It is highly unlikely that the Book of Enoch was actually penned by the literal Enoch, seventh from Adam, great-grandfather of Noah. But not impossible.
The Church fathers, including Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Irenaeus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Lactantius, and others borrowed an opinion out of the book of Enoch in discussions regarding Genesis 6:2.
Tertullian, in several places, speaks of the Book of Enoch with great reverence, arguing his belief that it actually WAS written by Enoch, 7th from Adam, and preserved by Noah during the Flood.
The problem with the Book of Enoch, more than anything else, is its guilt by association. Enoch has been adopted into Islamic tradition as an Islamic prophet.
Interestingly, Enoch’s Islamic name means ‘instructor’ or, ‘initiate’ and Islamic tradition credits Enoch with the invention of astrology, astronomy, the written word and arithmetic.
(We’ll discuss this association between Enoch and ‘knowledge’ as we progress in our study, but it is worth keeping that fact in mind as we go along.)
Enoch was also recently adopted by the Mormons as a prophet, the ‘founder of Zion’ worker of miracles, etc., etc., until the mere mention of ‘Enoch’ makes some Christians running screaming from the room shouting ‘heresy’.
Enoch also plays a major role in Freemasonry and other occultic secret societies, especially those heavily involved in astrology or the zodiac.
But behind all the cults and occults and secret societies and New Age groups that have claimed Enoch as their inspiration, there is also the historical fact that the Book of Enoch was quoted directly in Jude 14-15:
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, 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 Jude 14-15 to the Book of Enoch 1:9:
“Behold, He comes with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon them, and destroy the wicked, and reprove all the carnal for everything which the sinful and ungodly have done, and committed against Him.”
I don’t want to be misunderstood as attempting to rehabilitate the Book of Enoch or legitimizing the Book of Enoch beyond what it deserves.
It is worthy of discussion as a book of history, at the very least. It is at least twenty-three hundred years old, and it could possibly be much older.
Let’s look at it a different way…
I have a book in my library called “The Bible as History.” What its author attempted to do was take the Bible as it is and present it into an historical narrative. The end result was a sweeping historical overview of the history of mankind, but devoid of any theological or spiritual truths.
The book is accurate, as history, and would be useful to historians seeking historical information about the period and location, but it wouldn’t be much use in leading someone down Roman’s Road.
It isn’t something a theologian would study as part of an effort to learn what God wants us to know — but that doesn’t mean that it is worthless or unreliable.
But if somebody were to take “The Bible As History” as Divinely inspired and then use it as their religious text, it WOULD be worthless, unreliable, and downright dangerous. So it is important to view the Book of Enoch in a similar fashion.
The Book of Enoch is not part of the Bible, is not without error, and is not the final authority on matters of theology — but that doesn’t automatically make it worthless.
Flavius Josephus’ “War of the Jews” is not without error, neither is it Divinely-inspired, but there is still much it can teach us.
The Book of Enoch claims to have been written by Enoch, the son of Jared, of the seventh generation from Adam. Here’s what we know — and what we don’t know.
We know that the Book of Enoch was highly regarded among the Jews at the time of Christ. We know that Jude quoted from it; and we know the Essenes thought enough of it to hide it along with the rest of the treasures of the Temple in the caves at Qumron.
We know that in Joshua’s time, there was still a collective memory of life before the Flood. And we know that Tertullian, who lived a lot closer in terms of time to the events it describes that we do, believed the Enoch was preserved by Noah and was passed down through the generations since.
We know that it has been used as a launch point for innumerable cults who claim to have found in it a ‘hidden knowledge’.
We don’t know who wrote it, or how much of it was added along the way, or if it were an oral tradition at some point committed to paper.
We don’t know anything about the copy process, if it were held to the same standard of copying as were the Books of the Torah, and because we don’t know, we can’t trust it as Scripture.
And because we don’t trust it as Scripture, it is no more or less reliable than some of the historical accounts of Josephus or Pliny or Tacitus or Herodotus.
With that in mind, let me finish my disclaimer thusly:
By definition, some of the Book of Enoch must be true, or it wouldn’t have occupied the place of honor that it did among the religious Jews of the time.
But we don’t know what is absolute truth and what contains elements of truth. So we shall approach the study from that perspective, and rely on the Bible to illuminate the difference.
It is important to keep all this in mind. In our study, we are not seeking hidden knowledge, or the secrets of Enoch, or any such balderdash as that.
Where Enoch conflicts with Scripture, Scripture is the final authority, not the other way around. Where Enoch adds information not revealed by Scripture, we’ll apply logic and common sense against what the Scriptures DO reveal.
Our purpose is more historical than spiritual, but our approach is that the spiritual is as real as the secular, and is part of our overall history.
There are many questions left unanswered about the time before the Flood, and over the course of our study, we’ll examine some of them, including, but not limited to, the following:
1) Why do all ancient civilizations have similar memories?
2) What does ‘perfect in his generations’ mean?
3) Who were the giants before the Flood — and ‘also after that’?
4) Where did the ancients get their knowledge?
5) Who built the pyramids?
One question we will NOT tackle is whether or not the Book of Enoch should be part of the canon of Scripture. That question was settled centuries ago, and I claim neither the knowledge nor the desire to reopen it.
So, having said all that, we’ll begin our study tomorrow with a discussion about “The Watchers.”
This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on August 18, 2011.