The Book of Enoch the Prophet by R. Laurence (aka. 1 Enoch)
Introduction Part 1In the Authorized Version of the Epistle of Jude, we read the following words:— “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.”fn0 Compare Book of Enoch ii.
Modern research sees in the Epistle of Jude a work of the second century: but as orthodox theologians accept its contents as the inspired utterance of an Apostle, let us diligently search the Hebrew Scriptures for this important forecast of the second Advent of the Messiah. In vain we turn over the pages of the sacred Canon; not even in the Apocrypha can we trace one line from the pen of the marvellous being to whom uninterrupted immortality p. iv is assigned by apostolicfn1 Heb 11:5 [xi. 5.] interpretation of Genesis v. 24. Were the prophecies of Enoch, therefore, accepted as a Divine revelation on that momentous day when Jesus explained the Scriptures, after his resurrection, to Jude and his apostolic brethren; and have we moderns betrayed our trust by excluding an inspired record from the Bible?
Reverting to the second century of Christianity, we find Irenæus and Clement of Alexandria citing the Book of Enoch without questioning its sacred character. Thus, Irenæus, assigning to the Book of Enoch an authenticity analogous to that of Mosaic literature, affirms that Enoch, although a man, filled the office of God’s messenger to the angels.fn2 “Against Heresies,” iv. 16. Compare Book of Enoch xv. Tertullian, who flourished at the close of the first and at the beginning of the second century, whilst admitting that the “Scripture of Enoch” is not received by some because it is not included in the Hebrew Canon, speaks of the author as “the most ancient prophet, Enoch,” and of the book as the divinely inspired autograph of that immortal patriarch, preserved by Noah in the ark, or miraculously reproduced by him through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Tertullian adds, “But as Enoch has spoken in the same scripture of the Lord, and ‘every scripture suitable for edification is divinely p. v inspired,’ let us reject nothing which belongs to us. It may now seem to have been disavowed by the Jews like all other scripture which speaks of Christ—a fact which should cause us no surprise, as they were not to receive him, even when personally addressed by himself.” These views Tertullian confirms by appealing to the testimony of the Apostle Jude.fn3 “On Female Dress,” ii. The Book of Enoch was therefore as sacred as the Psalms or Isaiah in the eyes of the famous theologian, on whom modern orthodoxy relies as the chief canonist of New Testament scripture.
Origen (A.D. 254), in quoting Hebrew literature, assigns to the Book of Enoch the same authority as to the Psalms. In polemical discussion with Celsus, he affirms that the work of the antediluvian patriarch was not accepted in the Churches as Divine; and modern theologians have accordingly assumed that he rejected its inspiration: but the extent to which he adopts its language and ideas discloses personal conviction that Enoch was one of the greatest of the prophets.
Thus, in his treatise on the angels, we read: “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.”fn4 “De Principiis,” viii. From what source p. vi but assumed revelation could Origen obtain and publish these circumstantial details of ministerial administration in heaven?
Turning to the Book of Enoch we read: “After this I besought the angel of peace, who proceeded with me, to explain all that was concealed. I said to him, Who are those whom I have seen on the four sides, and whose words I have heard and written down. He replied, The first is the merciful, the patient, the holy Michael.
The second is he who presides over every suffering and every affliction of the sons of men, the holy Raphael. The third, who presides over all that is powerful, is Gabriel. And the fourth, who presides over repentance and the hope of those who will inherit eternal life, is Phanuel.”fn5 Book of Enoch 40:8,9 [xl. 8, 9.] We thus discover the source of Origen’s apparently superhuman knowledge, and detect his implicit trust in the Book of Enoch as a Divine revelation.
When primitive Christianity had freely appropriated the visions of Enoch as the materials of constructive dogmas, this remarkable book gradually sank into oblivion, disappeared out of Western Christendom, and was eventually forgotten by a Church, which unconsciously perpetuated its teaching as the miraculous revelations of Christianity.
The Book of Enoch, unknown to Europe for nearly a thousand years, except through the fragments p. vii preserved by Georgius Syncellus (circa 792, A.D.), was at length discovered by Bruce in Abyssinia, who brought home three copies of the Ethiopic version in 1773, respecting which he writes: “Amongst the articles I consigned to the library at Paris was a very beautiful and magnificent copy of the Prophecies of Enoch, in large quarto; another is amongst the Books of Scripture which I brought home, standing immediately before the Book of Job, which is its proper place in the Abyssinian Canon; and a third copy I have presented to the Bodleian Library at Oxford, by the hands of Dr. Douglas, the Bishop of Carlisle.“
This priceless manuscript, destined, some day, to reveal the forgotten source of many Christian dogmas and mysteries, rested in Bodleian obscurity, until presented to the world through an English translation by Dr. Laurence, Archbishop of Cashel, formerly Professor of Hebrew at Oxford, who issued his first edition in 1821, in apparent unconsciousness that he was giving to mankind the theological fossils through which we, in the clearer light of our generation, may study the “Evolution of Christianity.”
The scarcity of Archbishop Laurence’s translation, before the publication of the second edition in 1833, produced an impression in Germany that the work had been suppressed by its author; but this report p. viii is contradicted in the preface to the third edition, issued in 1838, in response to a large order from America.
The Book of Enoch excited more interest on the Continent than in England. It was translated into German by Dr. Hoffman in 1838, into Latin by Gfrörer in 1840, again into German by Dillmann in 1853, and has been discussed by Weisse, Lücke, Hilgenfeld, and Kalisch, the latter of whom uttered the prediction, that the book of Enoch “will one day be employed as a most important witness in the history of religious dogmas.”
The day and the hour have come, the clock has struck, and in thus publishing an edition of Archbishop Laurence’s translation of the Book of Enoch, we place within the reach of all readers of the English language, the means of studying the pre-Christian origin of Christian mysteries.
Turning towards the “Preliminary Dissertation” of Archbishop Laurence, in which he discusses, with impartial criticism and accomplished scholarship, the origin of the Book of Enoch, we find him attaining the important conclusions, that it was written by a Jew of the Dispersion in his own language, whether Hebrew or the later Aramæan acquired in exile; that the version in the hands of the author of the Epistle of Jude and the Ante-Nicene Fathers was a Greek translation; and that p. ix the Ethiopic edition, whether translated from Aramæan or Greek, is the same work as that cited by the Apostle.
In attestation of the theory of an Aramaic or Syro-Chaldæan origin, Archbishop Laurence refers to the “most ancient remains of the Cabbala (Hebrew traditions) contained in the ‘Zohar,’ a species of philosophical commentary upon the Law, combining theological opinions with the allegorical subtleties of the mystical school. In this celebrated compilation of what was long supposed to constitute the hidden wisdom of the Jewish nation, occasional references are made to the Book of Enoch, as a book carefully preserved from generation to generation.”
Archbishop Laurence then gives extracts from the “Zohar,” referring to important passages in the Book of Enoch, and infers that “the authors of the Cabbalistical remains wrote their recondite doctrines in Chaldee,” and possessed a copy of the Book of Enoch, written in that language or in Hebrew, “which they regarded as the genuine work of him whose name it bore, and not as the spurious production of a later age.”
Archbishop Laurence then considers the probable date of the work, and infers, from the quotation of Jude, that it must have been written antecedent to the Christian era, but not before the Captivity of Babylon, because it contains the language and p. x imagery of Daniel, “in the representation of the Ancient of Days coming to judgment with the Son of man.”
But since Archbishop Laurence wrote, modern criticism has disclosed how nebulous is the date of Daniel, so that it becomes as reasonable to assume that the author or compiler borrowed from the Book of Enoch, as to attribute plagiarism to the pseudo-patriarch. The learned translator, however, discovered more satisfactory proof, through internal evidence, that the book “was written long subsequent to the commencement, and even to the conclusion, of the Babylonian Captivity.”
That section of the Book of Enoch, extending from chapter.82-90 lxxxii. to xc., contains an allegorical narrative of the royal dynasties of Israel and Judah, from which Archbishop Laurence constructs a history extending from Saul to the beginning of the reign of Herod the Great, and infers that the Book of Enoch was written ” before the rise of Christianity; most probably at an early period of the reign of Herod.”
The Archbishop adds: “That it could not have been the production of a writer who lived after the inspired authors of the New Testament, or who was even coeval with them, must be manifest from the quotation of St. Jude—a quotation which proves it to have been in his time a work ascribed to Enoch himself.”
Archbishop Laurence, furthermore, attains probability p. xi of date through another line of argument. In chapter.54 liv. 9, of the Book of Enoch we read, “The chiefs of the East, among the Parthians and Medes, shall remove kings, in whom a spirit of perturbation shall enter. They shall hurl them from their thrones, springing as lions from their dens, and like famished wolves into the midst of the flock.”
Commenting on this passage, Archbishop Laurence says, “Now the Parthians were altogether unknown in history, until the 250th year before Christ, when, under the guidance of Arsaces (the family name of all their subsequent kings) they revolted from Antiochus Theus, the then king of Syria. It was not, however, until the year 230 B.C. that their empire became firmly established, when Arsaces defeated and took prisoner Seleucus Callicinus, the Syrian monarch, and first assumed the title of King of’ Parthia.
By degrees they expelled the Syrian dominion from every province over which it extended east of the Euphrates; so that from about the year 140 B.C. their vast empire reached from the Ganges to the Euphrates, and from the Euphrates to the Caucasus.”
These facts would therefore lead to the conclusion that the Book of Enoch was written about the middle of the second century B.C.; but as the author adds to the passage already cited, “They shall go up, and tread upon the land of their elect, the land of their p. xii elect shall be before them. The threshing-floor, the path, and the city of my righteous people shall impede the progress of their horses,” Archbishop Laurence connects this language with the invasion of Syria by the Parthians in the year 54 B.C., and their defeat of Anthony eighteen years later, “when the credit of the Parthian arms was at the highest; and it is probable that about the same period, or at least not long after, the Book of Enoch was written.”
The question now naturally arises, How was this work of fiction accepted within so short a period, as the genuine production of the patriarch Enoch? The Archbishop answers by showing, through internal evidence, that the book was written by a Jew residing at a distance from Palestine, and having been brought into Judæa in the name of the prophet Enoch, the obscurity of its origin caused some to accept it as the genuine production of the patriarch himself.
In chapter.71 lxxi. Pseudo-Enoch divides the day and night into eighteen parts, and represents the longest day in the year as consisting of twelve out of these eighteen parts. “Now the proportion of twelve to eighteen is precisely the same as sixteen to four and twenty, the present division in hours of the period constituting day and night. If therefore we consider in what latitude a country must be situated to have a day of sixteen p. xiii hours long, we shall immediately perceive that Palestine could not be such a country.
We may then safely conclude that the region in which the author lived must have been situated not lower than forty-five degrees north latitude, where the longest day is fifteen hours and a half, nor higher perhaps than forty-nine degrees, where the longest day is precisely sixteen hours. This will bring the country where he wrote, as high up at least as the northern districts of the Caspian and Euxine seas; probably it was situated somewhere between the upper parts of both these seas; and if the latter conjecture be well founded, the author of the Book of Enoch was perhaps a member of one of the tribes which Shalmaneser carried away, and placed ‘in Halah and in Habor by the river Goshen, and in the cities of the Medes,’ and who never returned from captivity.”
Since Archbishop Laurence wrote his “Preliminary Dissertation,” fresh light has been thrown on the origin of the Book of Enoch through the publication of Mr. Layard’s “Nineveh and Babylon,” recording the discovery, in Babylonian ruins, of cups or bowls of terra cotta, covered on the inner surface with inscriptions in ink, which have been deciphered by Mr. Thomas Ellis of the Manuscript Department in the British Museum, as amulets or charms against evil spirits, disease, calamity, and sudden death, p. xiv composed in the Chaldean language mingled with Hebrew words,fn6 “Halleluiah” appears upon the cups; and thus a word, with which ancient Syro-Chaldæans conjured, has become, through the vicissitudes of language, the Shibboleth of modern “Revivalists.” and written in characters which combine Syriac and Palmyrene with the ancient Phoenician.
These inscriptions are undated; but Mr. Ellis attained the conclusion through internal evidence, that these cups belonged to the descendants of the Jews who were carried captive to Babylon and the surrounding cities.
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-Chaldee origin of that great Semitic work, whether assignable to human genius or Divine revelation; and the exhumed amulets of Jews of the Dispersion attest the accuracy of Archbishop Laurence’s conclusions respecting the nationality of Pseudo-Enoch.
Ignorance of the contents of the Apocrypha, as canonized by the Church of Rome, is so general in England that many otherwise well-informed people imagine that the Book of Enoch may be found in its pages, whereas it has been lost to all p. xv English readers, except those who may possess or have access to copies of the English translation last issued in 1838.
On this aspect of the question Archbishop Laurence writes:— “The fate of the Apocryphal writings in general has been singular. On one side, from the influence of theological opinion or theological caprice, they have been sometimes injudiciously admitted into the Canon of Scripture; while on the other side, from an over-anxiety to preserve that Canon inviolate, they have been not simply rejected, but loaded with every epithet of contempt and obloquy.
The feelings perhaps of both parties have on such occasions run away with their judgment. For writings of this description, whatever may or may not be their claim to inspiration, are at least of considerable utility, where they indicate the theological opinions of the periods at which they were composed.
This I apprehend to be peculiarly the case of the Book of Enoch; which, as having been manifestly written before the doctrines of Christianity were promulgated to the world, must afford us, when it refers to the nature and character of the Messiah, as it repeatedly does so refer, credible proof of what were the Jewish opinions upon those points before the birth of Christ; and consequently before the possible predominance of the Christian creed.” p. xvi Archbishop Laurence thus clearly recognized that the visions of Enoch preceded the teaching of Jesus; but it was not given to him, or to his generation, to see how deeply his conclusions affected the supernatural claims of Christianity.
Chapters.1-6 i-vi Turning to the contents of the Book of Enoch, the first six chapters announce the condemnation of transgressors and the blessings of the righteous, through the triumphal advent of the Messiah, forecast in the famous prediction quoted by the author of the Epistle attributed to Jude.
Chapters.7-16 vii. to xvi. record the descent of two hundred angels on the earth, their selection of wives, the birth of their gigantic offspring, and the instruction of mankind in the manufacture of offensive and defensive weapons, the fabrication of mirrors, the workmanship of jewellery, and the use of cosmetics and dyes, combined with lessons in sorcery, astrology, divination, and astronomy—all which Tertullian accepts as Divine revelation, when he denounces woman as the “devil’s gateway,”fn7 “On Female Dress,” bk. i. chap. i. and assures her, on the authority of the inspired Enoch, that Tyrian dyes, Phrygian embroidery, Babylonian cloth, golden bracelets, gleaming pearls, flashing onyx-stones, and brilliant emeralds, with all the other adjuncts of an elegant toilette, are the special gifts of fallen angels to p. xvii female frailty.
The advent of the angels multiplies transgressions on earth, they are condemned to “the lowest depths of the fire in torments,” and Enoch, as the messenger of God, announces to them the eternity of their punishment.
Chapters.17 – 36 xvii. to xxxvi. give a graphic description of the miraculous journeys of Enoch in the company of an angel, from whom he learns the secrets of creation and the mysteries of Infinity. From the top of a lofty mountain “which reached to heaven,” he beheld the receptacles of light, thunder, and lightning, “the great darkness or mountains of gloom which constitute winter, the mouths of rivers and of the deep, the stone which supports the corners of the earth, and the four winds which bear up the earth, and constitute the pillars of heaven.”fn8 Chap. xviii.
Is not this obviously the inspired cosmology, through which the author of the Book of Enoch unconsciously condemned mediæval physicists to the stake for impiously proclaiming the mobility of the earth? If an inspired prophet saw the stone which supports the corners of the earth, how inexpiable the guilt of men, who fostered scepticism through the heliocentric theory of a world coursing swiftly round the sun!
But had not the Book of Enoch disappeared for centuries out of Europe, before the persecution of p. xviii Galileo and the martyrdom of Bruno?
We answer that its teaching had survived, as numerous other superstitions have passed from generation to generation long after all knowledge of their origin has been lost to the theologians who accept them as Divine.
In the “Evolution of Christianity” we cite the following passage from Irenæus: “It is impossible that the Gospels can be more or less than they are. For as there are four zones in the world which we inhabit, and four principal winds, while the Church is spread abroad throughout the earth, and the pillar and basis of the Church is the gospel and the spirit of life, it is right that she should have four pillars exhaling immortality on every side, and bestowing renewed vitality on men.
From which fact it follows that the Word has given us four versions of the Gospel, united by one spirit.” We now recognize that this fanciful theory of a limited number of Evangelists is based on the cosmology of Enoch; and if in the second century, Irenæus accepted the visions of an antediluvian patriarch as facts, the traditional survival of the earth’s “corner stone” doubtless controlled the orthodox astronomy of mediaeval theologians.
Proceeding on his journey with the angel Uriel, Enoch furthermore beheld the prison of the fallen angels, in which struggling columns of fire ascended p. xix from an appalling abyss. He saw the regions in which the spirits of the dead await the day of judgment; he looked upon the trees of knowledge and of life, exhaling fragrant odours from leaves which never withered, and from fruit which ever bloomed; and he beheld the “great and glorious wonder” of the celestial stars, coming forth through the “gates of heaven.”
Chapters. 37-40; 41-60; 61-71 xxxvii. to lxxi. record the second vision of wisdom, divided into three parables. The first depicts the future happiness and glory of the elect, whom Enoch beheld reclining on couches in the habitations of angels, or standing in thousands of thousands and myriads of myriads before the throne of God, blessing and glorifying Him with celestial song, as the Holy, Holy Lord of spirits, before whom righteousness eternally dwells.
As Enoch uttered his prophecies respecting the elect, before the existence of Christianity, it is important to learn in what sense he understood the doctrine of election. The language of the first parable happily leaves no room for doubt—”The righteous will be elected for their . good works duly weighed by the Lord of Spirits.”fn9 Chap. xxxviii. 2. Election, therefore, traced to its original source, means nothing more than Divine “selection of the fittest”—a theory more consistent with the justice of God, than p. xx the capricious choice of the metamorphical potter, whose arbitrary fashioning of plastic clay symbolized, in Pauline theology, the doctrine of predestination.
The second parable 45-55 (xlv.-lv.) demands the absorbed attention of modern Jews and Gentiles; for it is either the inspired forecast of a great Hebrew prophet, predicting with miraculous accuracy the future teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, or the Semitic romance from which the latter borrowed His conceptions of the triumphant return of the Son of man, to occupy a judicial throne in the midst of rejoicing saints and trembling sinners, expectant of everlasting happiness or eternal fire: and whether these celestial visions be accepted as human or Divine, they have exercised so vast an influence on the destinies of mankind for nearly two thousand years, that candid and impartial seekers after religious truth can no longer delay inquiry into the relationship of the Book of Enoch with the revelation, or the evolution, of Christianity.
The third parable 56-70 (lvi.-lxx.) recurs, with glowing eloquence, to the inexhaustible theme of Messianic glory, and again depicts the happy future of the righteous in contrast with the appalling misery of the wicked. It also records the supernatural control. of the elements, through the action of individual angels presiding over the winds, the sea, hail, frost, p. xxi dew, the lightning’s flash, and reverberating thunder. The names of the principal fallen angels are also given, among whom we recognize some of the invisible powers named in the incantations inscribed on the terra cotta cups of Hebrew-Chaldee conjuration.
Chapters 71-81 lxxi. to lxxxi. contain the “book of the revolutions of the luminaries of heaven,” the sun, the moon, and the stars, controlled in their movements by the administration of angels. In commenting on this section of the Book of Enoch, Archbishop Laurence says, “This system of astronomy is precisely that of an untutored, but accurate observer of the heavens. He describes the eastern and western parts of heaven, where the sun and moon rise and set, as divided each into six different gates, through which those orbs of light pass at their respective periods.
In the denomination of these gates he begins with that through which the sun passes at the winter solstice; and this he terms the first gate. It of course answers to the sign of Capricornus; and is the southernmost point to which the sun reaches, both at rising and setting. The next gate, at which the sun arrives in its progress towards the east at rising, and towards the west at setting, and which answers to the sign of Aquarius, he terms the second gate.
The next, in continuation of the same course of the sun, which answers to the sign of Pisces, he p. xxii terms the third gate. The fourth gate in his description is that which is situated due east at sun-rising, and due west at sun-setting, and which, answering to the sign of Aries, the sun enters at the vernal equinox.
With this fourth gate he commences his account of the sun’s annual circuit, and of the consequent change in the length of day and night at the various seasons of the year. His fifth gate is now to be found in the sun’s progress northwards, and answers to the sign of Taurus. And his sixth gate is situated still further north; which, answering to the sign of Gemini, concludes at the most northern point of heaven to which the sun arrives, and from which it turns at the summer solstice, again to measure back its course southwards.
“Hence it happens, that the same gates which answers to the six signs alluded to in the sun’s passage from the winter to the summer solstice, necessarily also answer to the remaining six of the twelve signs of the Zodiac in its passage back again.
“The turning of the sun both at the winter and summer solstices, the first at the most southern, the last at the most northern point of its progress, must have always struck the eye of those who contemplated the variety as well as the splendour of its daily appearance.
The astronomy of the apocryphal p. xxiii Enoch was perhaps formed in this respect upon the same principles as the astronomy of Homer, who places the situation of the island Συρίη under the turning of the sun, ὅθι τροπαὶ ἠελίοιο (Odyss. lib. xv. 404).”
Chapters 83-89 lxxxiii. to lxxxix. contain a vision of Enoch giving an allegorical forecast of the history of the world up to the kingdom of the Messiah.
Chapter 92 xcii. records a series of prophecies extending from Enoch’s own time to about one thousand years beyond the present generation. In the system of chronology adopted, a day stands for hundred, and a week for seven hundred years. Reference is made to the deluge, the call of Abraham, the Mosaic dispensation, the building and the destruction of the Temple of Solomon—events which preceded the date at which the Book of Enoch was probably written: but when the author, in his character of a divinely inspired seer, extends his vision beyond the horizon of his own age, he discloses the vanity of his predictive pretensions, through prophecies which remain unfulfilled.
If, however, the Book of Enoch had reached us through the Western, as well as the Ethiopic Canon, apologetic theologians would doubtless affirm that centuries are but trifles in prophetic time; and that the predictions of the great antediluvian prophet shall, sooner or later, attain miraculous fulfilment.
p. xxiv Chapters 93-99; 100-104 xciii. to civ. contain the eloquent exhortations of Enoch, addressed to his children, in which he follows Buddha in commending the “Paths of Righteousness,” and anticipates Jesus in pronouncing the doom of sinners and the joys of saints, and gives utterance to the most emphatic assurance of immortality which has ever flowed from human lips: “Fear not, ye souls of the righteous, but wait with patient hope for the day of your death in righteousness.
Grieve not because your souls descend in trouble and sorrow to the receptacle of the dead; for great joy shall be yours, like that of the angels in heaven. And when you die, sinners say concerning you, ‘As we die the righteous die. What profit have they in their works? Behold, like us, they expire in sorrow and in darkness.
What advantage have they over us? Henceforward are we equal; for behold they are dead, and never will they again perceive the light.’ But now I swear to you, ye righteous . . . that I comprehend this mystery; that I have read the tablet of heaven, have seen the writing of the holy ones, and have discovered what is written and impressed on it concerning you.
I have seen that all goodness, joy, and glory have been prepared for you. . . . The spirits of you who die in righteousness shall exist and rejoice; and their remembrance shall be before the face of the Mighty One from p. xxv generation to generation.fn10 Chap. 102-103 cii., ciii.
How profound the impression necessarily produced on the Semitic imagination by this impassioned language, uttered in an age of faith in inspired dreams and celestial visions by a supposed visitant of the unseen world, who had conversed with angels in the presence of the Lord of spirits!
The final chapter of the Book of Enoch records the birth of Noah, and the further prophecies of Enoch, addressed to Methuselah on the subject of the birth of Noah and the future deluge.
In attestation of the relationship between the Book of Enoch and Christianity, we now collate its language and ideas with parallel passages in New Testament scripture.
Parallel Passages in New Testament Scripture ie. http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/bep/bep01.htm
Introduction Part 2
p. xxxiv The bracketed words, in the last quotation from the Book of Enoch, establish its complete identity with the parallel passage in the Epistle of Jude—an identity of marvellous clearness when we consider that the original version reaches us through translations and retranslations from Aramæan, Greek, and Ethiopic, and now assumes the modern form of Anglo-Saxon. Archbishop Laurence, although convinced that the apostle cited the Greek version of the extant Ethiopic manuscripts, was not aware that the last sentence of his quotation is present in the text. We have discovered it in chapter xxvi. 2 of the Book of Enoch; and in thus perfecting the parallelism between prophet and apostle, have placed beyond controversy that, in the eyes of the author of an Epistle accepted as Divine revelation, the Book of Enoch was the inspired production of an antediluvian patriarch.
The attention of theologians has been concentrated on the passage in the Epistle of Jude because the author specifically names the prophet; but the cumulative coincidence of language and ideas in Enoch and the authors of New Testament Scripture, as disclosed in the parallel passages which we have collated, clearly indicates that the work of the Semitic Milton was the inexhaustible source from which Evangelists and Apostles, or the men who p. xxxv wrote in their names, borrowed their conceptions of the resurrection, judgment, immortality, perdition, and of the universal reign of righteousness under the eternal dominion of the Son of man. This evangelical plagiarism culminates in the Revelation of John, which adapts the visions of Enoch to Christianity with modifications in which we miss the sublime simplicity of the great master of apocalyptic prediction, who prophesied in the name of the antediluvian patriarch.
It is important to observe that it was not the practice of early Christian writers to name the authors whose language and ideas they borrowed. When we therefore detect the teaching and diction of Enoch in Gospels and Epistles, our conclusions are analogous to those of the orthodox theologians who identify passages of Scripture in the pages of the ante-Nicene Fathers, although frequently cited from unnamed sources, with an obscurity of expression more dubious in attestation of their origin, than the remarkable clearness with which the language of Enoch may be recognized in the New Testament. Biblical analysts may question obscure traces of evangelical diction in apostolic Fathers; but what candid and impartial inquirer can doubt the Enochian origin of the “Son of man sitting upon the throne of his glory”—the “new heaven” and the “new earth;” the “many habitations” of p. xxxvi the elect, and “the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels “?
We have merely collated some of the most striking instances of parallel passages in the Book of Enoch and in the New Testament. Our readers can supplement our labours through their own research, in further attestation of the controlling influence exercised by the uncanonical author on the language and ideas of canonical works.
Some orthodox theologians, unwilling to admit that an apostle quoted an apocryphal book, contend that Jude referred to a traditional utterance of the ancient patriarch; but this obviously fanciful theory inevitably vanishes in the presence of the numerous passages from the Book of Enoch, which enter into the composition of New Testament Scripture. Other pious apologists affirm the post-Christian authorship of the book, a theory which involves the most improbable assumption that an author, familiar with the story of a suffering and crucified Messiah, uttered fictitious predictions in the name of an ancient prophet, which depicted the career of the Son of man on earth as the triumphal march of a victorious king. Again, theologians who shrink from the admission that the language and ideas of evangelists and apostles were anticipated in an apocryphal book, suggest that the Messianic passages contain Christian interpolations. But if modern p. xxxvii defenders of the faith thus accuse primitive saints and martyrs of literary forgery, how can they accept an infallible New Testament at the hands of men thus guilty of conspiring for the deception of posterity? Convinced of the honesty of early Christians, we concur with the opinion of Archbishop Laurence, confirmed by Hoffman, that the passages in question are so intimately interwoven with the general context that they cannot be removed without evidently destroying the texture of the whole.
The astronomical calculations on which Archbishop Laurence based his theory of the residence of the author of the Book of Enoch have been questioned; but, once his Hebrew nationality has been admitted, it matters not whether he wrote in or out of Palestine, with this exception, that if the work was not brought from a distant country into Judaea, the facility with which a pseudonymous book was accepted in the locality of its recent composition as the genuine production of an antediluvian prophet, necessarily encourages scepticism as to the dates and authorship of all ancient Hebrew literature. It cannot be said that internal evidence attests the superiority of the Old Testament to the Book of Enoch; for no Hebrew prophet is more eloquent than its author in denouncing iniquity, commending righteousness, and inviting all men p. xxxviii
to place implicit trust in the final vindication of Divine justice.
Internal evidence indicates the presence of independent Tracts in the Book of Enoch, possibly composed by different authors. Thus chapters lxiv. to lxvii.fn11 In “The Evolution of Christianity,” page 355, we mention that “the Greek word αἰών (æon), signifying an age, a generation, or time everlasting,” was the title adopted by … Continue reading record a vision of the Deluge, narrated as if by Noah instead of Enoch, and inserted in the middle of another vision with which it has no connection. But if Pseudo-Enoch borrowed from earlier writers, the presence of the language and ideas of every section of his work in the pages of New Testament Scripture inevitably indicates that the Book or Books of Enoch existed in their present form before the Christian era.
Christianity obviously borrows the terrors of eternal fire from the Book of Enoch. Evangelists and Apostles define the duration of Divine retribution by æons of æonsfn11 In “The Evolution of Christianity,” page 355, we mention that “the Greek word αἰών (æon), signifying an age, a generation, or time everlasting,” was the title adopted by … Continue reading (αἱ αἰῶνες τῶν αἰώνων), or millions of millions of years, expressive of eternity. It is true that the word æon can be used in the sense of finite time, but when the authors of New Testament Scripture speak of æonian fire (τὸ πῦρ τὸ αἰώνιον) they obviously mean eternal flames. Modern humanity, shrinking from so merciless a view of Divine retribution, suggests that when sinners have been p. xxxix tortured for æons of æons they may look forward hopefully to the future. It is questionable whether final despair would not be preferable to this form of “hope deferred;” but if modern believers adopt the terminable theory of æonian fire, this commutation of sentence becomes equally applicable to the devil and his angels, whose punishment has been decreed of same duration as that of human sinners;fn12 Matt. xxv. 41; Rev. xx. 10. and thus the traditional enemies of God and man may hope for joyful restoration to fellowship with Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael, and communion with the saints, whom they once sought to betray by arts infernal. And as the righteous are also only promised their rewards in heaven for æons of æons,fn13 Rev. xxii. 5. if these words mean not eternity, saints may fear, whilst sinners hope for, the vicissitudes of æonian futurity. Again, as the dominion of the Messiah,fn14 Rev. xi. 15. and even the power of God,fn15 Rev. vii. 12. are depicted of æonian duration, any limitation of the infinite in the sacred terminology—æons of æons—imperils the eternal in Divinity.
Theologians who seek to vindicate Divine clemency through the dubious expedient of substituting æonian for eternal retribution, overlook the fact that their theory imputes to Divine wisdom the adoption of torture as the most effectual means of transforming p. xl sinners into saints,—a theory which practically invites us to follow the Divine example by torturing our criminals into reformation. How much more consistent for those who cannot reconcile eternal fire with infinite mercy, to take one step further in the paths of scepticism, by rejecting everlasting torture as the nightmare of Enochian visions; instead of assuming that revelation speaks in language so ambiguous that primitive saints condemned unbaptized babes to eternal fire, whilst modern piety would even rescue hardened sinners from the flames! If inspired terminology encouraged spiritual ferocity in the age of St. Augustine, and fosters theological humanity in the nineteenth century, what may not be the future interpretation of words, now supposed to convey an infallible meaning to students of Scripture?
The Book of Enoch teaches the preexistence of the Son of Man, the Elect One, the Messiah, who “from the beginning existed in secret,”fn16 Chap.61 lxi. 10. and whose “name was invoked in the presence of the Lord of spirits, before the sun and the signs were created.”fn17 Chap.48 xlviii. The author also refers to the “other Power who was upon earth over the water on that day,”fn18 Chap.60 lx.—an apparent reference to the language of Gen. i. 2. We have thus the Lord of spirits, the Elect One, and a third Power, seemingly foreshadowing the p. xli Trinity of futurity; but although Enoch’s ideal Messiah doubtless exercised an important influence on primitive conceptions of the Divinity of the Son of man, we fail to identify his obscure reference to another “Power” with the Trinitarianism of the Alexandrine school; more especially as “angels of power” abound in the visions of Enoch.
That remarkable passage in the Book of Enoch, which declares that the heathen “sacrificed to devils as to gods,”fn19 Chap. xix. 2. is the obvious source of that superstition through which primitive Christianity saw in Olympian deities, not the mere phantoms of man’s imagination, but the fallen angels who, driven forth from heaven, sought compensation in spiritual dominion on earth,—a superstition still further confirmed by universal belief in miracles, wrought, not merely by the Supreme, but by subordinate powers, whether good or evil.
Thus far we learn that the Book of Enoch was published before the Christian era by some great Unknown of Semitic race, who, believing himself to be inspired in a post-prophetic age, borrowed the name of an antediluvian patriarch to authenticate his own enthusiastic forecast of the Messianic kingdom. And as the contents of his marvellous Book enter freely into the composition of the New Testament, it follows that if the author was not an p. xlii inspired prophet, who predicted the teaching of Christianity, he was a visionary enthusiast whose illusions were accepted by Evangelists and Apostles as revelation—alternative conclusions which involve the Divine or human origin of Christianity.
It may be said that if the author of the Book of Enoch was not the patriarch in whose name he wrote, was he not obviously an impostor? In treating of Hebrew divination in “The Evolution of Christianity,” we refer to the oracles of Urim and the predictions of Prophets. There was, however, a third form of divination, known as Bath Kol, or the Daughter of the Voice, through which the Israelites consulted the Deity by accepting some preconceived sign in attestation of the Divine approval of contemplated action. This method of artificial (τεχνικη?<Ι?>?) divination is said to have succeeded the revelation of prophets, but was practised by the Israelites at a much earlier period of their history. Thus the servant of Abraham predetermined the sign through which he would recognize the future wife of Isaac as divinely chosen; and Jonathan, the son of Saul, preconcerted the verbal omen through which the Israelites might know that Jehovah had delivered the Philistines into their hands.
The practice of Bath Kol was doubtless familiar to the Semitic author of the Book of Enoch; let us not therefore condemn him as an impostor, knowing p. xliii that through the accidental synchronism of some pre-arranged sign, he may have personated Enoch in the conscientious conviction that he was piously fulfilling the will of the Deity.
The recent death of Dr. Pusey recalls the fact, that the learned translator of the Book of Enoch was his predecessor as Professor of Hebrew in the University of Oxford. The friends and admirers of the eminent theologian, who was one of the authors of the Tractarian movement, propose to found a memorial Library in his name, with “two or more clergymen, who shall act as librarians, and shall promote in whatever way the interests of theological study and religious life within the University”—a programme which seems to inaugurate the reign of original research within the domains of ecclesiastical theology. But if, as we are informed by the promoters of the proposed endowment, Dr. Pusey was above all things “a Christian apologist, the advocate and champion of the Church of eighteen centuries,” how can the disciples, who saw in him the “great pillar which once sustained the fortunes of the Church of England,” encourage a freedom of inquiry, in his name, which may result in conclusions adverse to the ecclesiastical faith in which their master lived and died?
Eminent theologians tell us that the future p. xliv librarians “should be students of theology—the queen of sciences,—among whom Dr. Pusey held a position in the first rank;” and yet that he was a zealous supporter of “a movement which embodied truths included ages ago in the formularies of the Church.” But how can theology be enrolled among the sciences if its professors reason in ecclesiastical fetters? As well might a modern astronomer demand the assent of his pupils to the mediæval theory of the earth’s immobility, before proceeding to investigate the laws of the solar system: and thus, doubtless, most theologians seek Divine truth, weighted with a heritage of foregone conclusions, adverse to the admission of unorthodox facts.
We all can sympathize with the desire of his disciples to do honour to the memory of the Tractarian apostle, of many virtues, in whom they see a “great man, raised up by God Almighty to live and labour for His Church;” but men who take this transcendental view of a movement, in which others simply see progress on the road to Rome, can scarcely consider the prescriptive rights of primitive or mediæval dogmas, in that impartial mood to which theologians must attain before theology becomes the “Queen of Sciences.”
Archbishop Laurence was an industrious worker in the scientific laboratory of theology, when he translated the Bodleian manuscript of the Book p. xlv of Enoch, and thus unconsciously placed in our hands the Ethiopic key to “the evolution of Christianity.” It remains for future generations to determine whether his labours, or those of his successor in the Semitic chair of Oxford, shall prove more conducive to the religious enlightenment of posterity.
Palæontologists who compare the organic fossils of distinctive epochs in geologic time, and discover in the more recent formations, organisms partially divergent in structure from pre-existent forms, attribute variation, not to creative miracles, but to the continuous action of natural causes fashioning species, throughout the ages, in harmony with the natural law of ” Survival of the Fittest.” We also, having identified the kindred fossils of Enochian and Evangelical epochs, inevitably infer that modified versions of pre-existent ideas are traceable, not to miraculous, but to natural sources,—conclusions which inaugurate the science of theologic palæontology, and invite all learned travellers to follow the example of Bruce, by searching the world for ancient manuscripts which may disclose the merely human origin of dogmas and mysteries, now accepted as Divine.
Archbishop Laurence, when Professor of Hebrew in the University of Oxford, translated the Book of Enoch within the walls of the Bodleian Library, p. xlvi and when appealed to by the Rev. I. M. Butt, in 1827, to publish the Ethiopic original, answered, “I cannot, the manuscript not being my own, but belonging to the University of Oxford.” In his preface to the third edition of his translation, the Archbishop adds, “If the University of Oxford would oblige the literary world by publishing the original Ethiopic from the manuscript in its possession, I am persuaded that Ethiopic scholars would not be wanting to accomplish more than has been hitherto done for this long regretted book, after its sleep of ages.” Since these words were written, great progress has been made in the study of comparative philology; and there are now doubtless many eminent linguists in England, on the Continent, and in the United States, who could still further illumine the pages of the Book of Enoch, through co-operative criticism of the Ethiopic text. Is not the time therefore come for the University of Oxford to publish the original manuscript in their possession, that learned Jews and Gentiles may study the inspired predictions of a great Hebrew prophet, or admire the sublime imagery of the Semitic Milton who ascended to the heavens to dramatize Divinity?
At the era of the Renaissance, when enfranchised thought turned from Aristotle to Plato, it is said that Cardinal Bellarmine advised Pope Clement p. xlvii VIII. to discountenance a philosophy which approached so closely to the truths of the gospel—obviously meaning that it would be inexpedient for the Church to favour a merely human system which anticipated the Trinitarian theosophy of alleged revelation: is it not possible that further delay in presenting the world with the Ethiopic text of Enoch, may suggest to adverse critics, that Oxford neglects the Hebrew patriarch for the same reason that Rome slighted the Athenian philosopher?
Archbishop Laurence’s translation, now however, places the Book of Enoch within the reach of all English readers. Catholics may disregard its contents, as it is not found in the sacred Canon of their infallible Church; but Protestants, who adhere to the principles of the Reformation, and whose tenure of Christianity is therefore contingent on the appeal to reason, must inevitably enroll Enoch among the prophets, or reconsider the supernatural in Christianity.
It is important for readers of the Book of Enoch to recollect that we owe the Reformation to independent study of sacred literature, previously withdrawn from the people through the oblivion of dead and untranslated languages. The long neglected Book of Enoch now stands in analogous relationship with modern seekers after religious truth; and it remains for its readers to exercise that right of p. xlviii private judgment, to which Protestantism owes its existence, by impartially considering the inevitable modifications of faith involved in the discovery, that the language and ideas of alleged revelation are found in a pre-existent work, accepted by Evangelists and Apostles as inspired, but classed by modern theologians among apocryphal productions.
[In revising the proof-sheets of the Book of Enoch, we have been still further impressed by its relationship with New Testament Scripture. Thus, the parable of the sheep, rescued by the good Shepherd from hireling guardians and ferocious wolves, is obviously borrowed by the fourth Evangelist from Enoch.89 lxxxix}., in which the author depicts the shepherds as killing and destroying the sheep before the advent of their Lord, and thus discloses the true meaning of that hitherto mysterious passage in the Johannine parable—”All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers”—language in which we now detect an obvious reference to the allegorical shepherds of Enoch.]
Original Sources: sacred-texts.com
|↑1||fn0 Compare Book of Enoch ii.|
|↑2||fn1 Heb 11:5 [xi. 5.]|
|↑3||fn2 “Against Heresies,” iv. 16. Compare Book of Enoch xv.|
|↑4||fn3 “On Female Dress,” ii.|
|↑5||fn4 “De Principiis,” viii.|
|↑6||fn5 Book of Enoch 40:8,9 [xl. 8, 9.]|
|↑7||fn6 “Halleluiah” appears upon the cups; and thus a word, with which ancient Syro-Chaldæans conjured, has become, through the vicissitudes of language, the Shibboleth of modern “Revivalists.”|
|↑8||fn7 “On Female Dress,” bk. i. chap. i.|
|↑9||fn8 Chap. xviii.|
|↑10||fn9 Chap. xxxviii. 2.|
|↑11||fn10 Chap. 102-103 cii., ciii.|
|↑13||fn11 In “The Evolution of Christianity,” page 355, we mention that “the Greek word αἰών (æon), signifying an age, a generation, or time everlasting,” was the title adopted by Valentinus for Divine emanations.|
|↑14||fn11 In “The Evolution of Christianity,” page 355, we mention that “the Greek word αἰών (æon), signifying an age, a generation, or time everlasting,” was the title adopted by Valentinus for Divine emanations.|
|↑15||fn12 Matt. xxv. 41; Rev. xx. 10.|
|↑16||fn13 Rev. xxii. 5.|
|↑17||fn14 Rev. xi. 15.|
|↑18||fn15 Rev. vii. 12.|
|↑19||fn16 Chap.61 lxi. 10.|
|↑20||fn17 Chap.48 xlviii.|
|↑21||fn18 Chap.60 lx.|
|↑22||fn19 Chap. xix. 2.|