Dillman's Ethiopic text of 1 Enoch

Dillman’s Ethiopic text of 1 Enoch

I have been asked several times where to get a copy of 1 Enoch to read. As with most books, there are free copies on the internet and expensive books only available in the reserve room at high quality university libraries.  For the student looking to read the text, perhaps the free editions will suffice, but there are some problems with these older, free resources.

Richard Laurence published the first English translation of 1 Enoch in 1883, followed by R. H. Charles (Oxford, 1893, revised in 1913). Both are out of print and
widely available on the Internet (Pseudepigrapha.com; Sacred Texts). The 1893 edition of Charles’s translation is available in Google Books and it is included 1 Enoch in his two-volume Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913). The 1917 edition of 1 Enoch has an introduction to apocalyptic literature by W. O. E. Oesterley (available from Logos).  Wipf & Stock sells a reprint of Charles’s 1912 translation and Dillman’s Ethioptic text of 1 Enoch.

The problem with these older, free resources is the limited manuscript evidence available to the translator. Since the Aramaic fragments of the book were not discovered and published until after 1948, Charles relies on limited Ethiopic and Greek witnesses to the text. An additional problem with these older resources is the tendency to affect a biblical tone similar to the KJV Bible.

Charles-pseudepigraphaMore recently, the translation by E. Isaac (“1 (Ethiopic Apocalypse of) Enoch” in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 1:5-89) is very readable translation although it is part of a much larger volume. Isaacs states in his introduction there are forty Ethiopic manuscripts of the book, but his translation is based on a fifteenth century manuscript (Kebrān 9/II, Hammerschmidt).

George W. E. Nickelsburg’s commentary on 1 Enoch in the Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001) is essential for the study of the book. The first volume covers chapters 1–36 and 81–108.  The second volume on chapters 37–82 was completed by James C. VanderKam in 2012. Since Hermenia commentaries are expensive, it is not cost-effective to buy these two volumes just to read 1 Enoch, Fortress has published the translation in a separate paperback volume in 2012. In the introduction to this volume, the authors state they have consulted fifty of the ninety available Stuckenbruck-Enochmanuscripts of 1 Enoch as well as the Greek, Aramaic, Coptic and Latin fragments of the book. Nicklesburg attempted to translation the “earliest recoverable text” favoring the Aramaic, then Greek, then Ethiopic manuscripts.

Loren Stuckenbruck has two translations of sections of 1 Enoch: The Book of Giants from Qumran (Text und Studien zum Antiken Judentum 63; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1997) and 1 Enoch 91-108 (Commentaries on Early Jewish Literature; de Gruyter, 2007). The latter is an 855 major commentary on few chapters of the book. The translation in the commentary “departs significantly from the strategy adopted in the translation published by Nicklesburg” (18), focusing on the Ethiopic rather than an eclectic text. Stuckenbruck offers detailed textual notes after his translation and provides notes and commentary on the text. Unfortunately the book is expensive and will only be found in quality research libraries.

I will offer one verse of comparison, 1 Enoch 91:11. I chose this verse since the Ethiopic is longer and misplaced.

And after that the roots of unrighteousness shall be cut off, and the sinners shall be destroyed by the sword … shall be cut off from the blasphemers in every place, and those who plan violence and those who commit blasphemy shall perish by the sword. (R. H. Charles, Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, 2:262).

…and through him the roots of oppression shall be cut off. Sinners shall be destroyed; by the sword they shall be cut off (together with) the blasphemers in every place; and those who design oppression and commit blasphemy shall perish by the knife. Isaacs, OPT 1:72–73.

And they will uproot the foundations of violence, and the structure of deceit in it, to execute judgment.  (Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch, 434).

And after that the roots of oppression will be cut off, and the sinners shall be destroyed by the sword; and from every place the blasphemers will be cut off, and those who plan oppression and those who commit blasphemy will be destroyed by the knife.  (Stuckenbruck, 1 Enoch 91-108, 118)

Nickelsburg adds a footnote, “Translation follows 4QEng 1 4:14 (Milik, Enoch, 265)” since he does not follow the longer Ethiopic text, but rather the shorter, Aramaic text from the Dead Sea Scrolls. There is a translation of the longer text in the footnote in his commentary, but not the shorter paperback translation. Isaacs adds a footnote” “4QEne: “And they will have rooted out the foundations of violence and the structure of falsehood therein to execute [judgment].”

Conclusion: The “best value” translation is the Fortress Press reprint of Nickelsburg and Vanderkam from the Hermenia series. Although it has far less textual annotations, the inexpensive paperback format makes it an easy addition. I am sure there are other translations of 1 Enoch available,, what did I miss?