Chapters 72-82 of 1 Enoch are also known as The Astronomical Book, This section is a lengthy discourse on celestial bodies with the goal of calculating the length of a year correctly.
- Chapter 72 – The Sun
- Chapter 73 – The Moon
- Chapter 74 – Systems of Rotation
- Chapter 75 – The Stars and Their Positions
- Chapter 76 – The Twelve Winds
- Chapter 77 – Four Directions, Seven Mountains, Seven Rivers
- Chapter 78 – Names for the Phases of the Sun and Moon
- Chapter 79 – Conclusions on the Seasons
- Chapter 80 – Parallels Between Sinners and Seasons
In Chapter 81 Enoch is told to read from the “tablets of heaven” and to report this reading to his son Methuselah. These books seem to contain all that will happen to all the flesh of the earth, although this “determinism” is based on astrological prediction. Enoch passes this knowledge on to his son in chapter 82. There is a clear statement in 82:4-6 that the true astronomical year ought to be 364 days. The computations which Enoch learned are true because they were communicated to him by the angel Uriel himself.
This section of 1 Enoch is quite esoteric and seems more or less unrelated to the study of the New Testament. John Collins observes the point of this section is to “prevent sin by calendrical error . . . right observance is determined by an understanding of the heavenly world” (Collins, Apocalyptic Imagination, 62). The major issue at the heart of this section of 1 Enoch is the length of the year. Everything in the unit serves as proof for a 364-day calendar rather than a 360-day calendar.
While an arcane and difficult topic for the modern reader, the issue was of critical importance in the first century since it has ramifications for proper worship. The problem of the calendar is therefore important for the New Testament studies as well as Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship because of the dating of Passover. If one holds Passover according to the wrong calendar, does it count? Is it a sin to celebrate Passover on the wrong date? The Qumran community thought keeping the wrong date to be sinful and condemned the priestly aristocracy for using a 360-day calendar, while the Qumran community used a 364-day calendar. That 1 Enoch supports a 364-day calendar may account for the popularity of the book at Qumran.
I need to make another important observation about this calendar. There is nothing special about the calendar in 1 Enoch (or at Qumran for that matter)! It is simply a solar calendar. It is not “God’s Calendar” nor is it an apocalyptic roadmap for the future.