Metatron3 Enoch explains how the Rabbi Ishmael journeyed into heaven and saw God’s throne and chariot guided by the archangel Metatron. The general form is a report of a vision and an explanation of elements of the vision by Metatron. Since this angelic being is not mentioned by name in the Hebrew Bible, so it is important to understand who Metatron was in the post-biblical traditions.

Metatron becomes one of the greatest angels in the Jewish mystical literature, as close to a “son of God” as one gets in this literature. He is “God’s vizier and plenipotentiary” and is sometimes called a “little Yahweh” (R. S. Anderson, “Son of God” in ISBE Revised, 4:572; cf., Hengel, Son of God, 46).  3 Enoch 25:1 says Metatron’s name is “ʾOpanniʾel YHWH.” Because of his righteousness, Metatron is “installed as God’s vice regent and is given authority over all the angels” (3 Enoch 4:3-5 and 10:3-6; Grindheim, 146).

In 3 Enoch 12:5, Metatron is called the prince of the ophanim (אוֹפַנִּימ), a kind of angelic being based on Ezek 1:15. The Hebrew word אוֹפַן refers to a wheel and Alexander points out that although 4QŠirŠabb uses ophanim for literal wheels, but the word refers to a “class of angels in 1En 61:10; 71:7; 2En 29:3” (OTP 1:279, note g).

3 Enoch 12:5 Why is his name called ʾOpanniʾel? Because he is appointed to tend the ophanim, and the ophanim are entrusted to his keeping. Every day he stands over them and tends them and beautifies them: he praises and arranges their running; he polishes their platforms; he adorns their compartments; he makes their turnings smooth, and cleans their seats. Early and late, day and night, he tends them, so as to increase their beauty, to magnify their majesty, and to make them swift in the praise of their Creator. (Alexander, OTP 1:279–280).

Metatron is far more spectacular than the angels in Ezekiel 2. He has “He has sixteen faces, four on each side, and 100 wings on each side. He has 8,766 eyes, corresponding to the number of hours in a year, 2,191 on each side” (25:2). Like God, Metatron has seventy names (3 Enoch 45D:5), he rules the angels in God’s name (10:5) and represents God’s authority when he judges. Metatron “assigned greatness, royalty, rank, sovereignty, glory, praise, diadem, crown, and honor to all the princes of kingdoms, when I sat in the heavenly court” (16:1).

Since 3 Enoch describes Metatron in such exalted terms, some popular writers have tried to see this angelic being as a Jesus-like figure who sits on God’s throne and rules on behalf of God. As Sigurd Grindheim states clearly, “Metatron is not portrayed with an authority of his own that matches the authority of God. He does not act as God acts, but he is consistently on the receiving end of God’s actions” (147). In fact, Grindheim points out that 3 Enoch warns against making too much of Metatron’s power: When ʾAher sees Metatron on the throne, he declares “there are indeed two powers in heaven” (16:3). A divine voice censures ʾAher and he is not allowed to return to God and Metatron himself is punished with “sixty lashes of fire.”  Metatron is therefore not an object of worship and according to 3 Enoch, those who think he might worthy of worship are in serious danger.

Metatron is a very powerful angel in this literature, but he is not divine and certainly not to be worshiped as God. There is no reason to think this being actually exists and even less reason to seek out hidden, mystical knowledge based on these texts in 3 Enoch.

Bibliography: Sigurd Grindheim, God’s Equal: What Can We Know about Jesus’ Self-Understanding? (LNTS 446; London: T&T Clark, 2011).

While the book is attributed to the rabbi Ishmael, who died before the Bar Kokhba revolt, Alexander dates the book to the fifth or sixth century A.D. (Alexander, “3 Enoch,” 223). Odeberg thought the earliest stratum of the text dated to the first century, although the main body of the text was third century. Christopher Rowland described 3 Enoch is described as “a solitary example of the extravagant Enochic speculation preserved in the Jewish tradition” (DDD, 303) As Alexander summarizes: “3 Enoch contains some very old traditions and stands in direct line with developments which had already begun in the Maccabean era, a date for its final redaction in the fifth or sixth century A.D. cannot be far from the truth” (“3 Enoch,” 228). Milik dated the book very late, to the ninth or tenth century. This date is based his belief 3 Enoch was dependent on 2 Enoch, which he dated to the same period. For a bibliography on 3 Enoch, see Andrei A. Orlov, From Apocalypticism to Merkabah Mysticism: Studies in the Slavonic Pseudepigrapha (Leiden: Brill, 2006), 59-63.

The importance of 3 Enoch is for the study of Jewish mysticism, especially merkabah mysticism. Merkabah mysticism is based on the throne vision of Ezekiel 1-3. A mystic is “caught up” into heaven and receives a vision of the wonders of heaven, the throne of God and the chariot of his glory. The visions are usually filled with fantastic descriptions of angelic beings. This is a very difficult area of study because sources are esoteric and often limited because the visions were secret. The Talmud considered these so esoteric they were not to be discussed (P. Alexander, “Third Enoch” in ABD 2:523).

Ezekiel3 Enoch may be important for the background to the Jewish mysticism in the Colossian heresy. Fred Francis argued the Colossian church was influenced by the merkabah mysticism of early Judaism. This mystical form of Judaism stressed visions (especially visions of the throne room of God.) Because of the obvious connection to the descriptions of the false teachers in the letter, this view has gained a great deal of attention of late.

A second possible New Testament connection to merkabah mysticism is Paul’s vision in 2 Corinthians 12:1-7. In this text Paul describes being “caught up to the third heaven,” language quite familiar to the reader of the Enoch literature. He says he entered paradise and learned secrets he cannot relate. There are any number of problems interpreting the section in 2 Corinthians (for example, when was this vision? What was the point of the vision for his ministry? Was Paul the subject of the vision himself? Is “I knew a man” an ambiguous self-reference?) Merkabah visionary experiences may provide some context for Paul’s experience, but it will be difficult to argue Paul’s vision is the same as the later merkabah visionaries.

The book of Revelation contains elements of merkabah mysticism in chapter 4-5, but there are a number of differences which set the Apocalypse apart from the later mystical texts especially with regard to the throne of God itself. But as David Aune points out, 2 Corinthians 12 and Revelation 4 are the only reports of these sorts of visions in all of early Christianity or Judaism (Aune, Revelation 1-5:14, 276-279). In Revelation, John is caught up into heaven, but he does not pass through stages or layers of heaven. He sees a variety of angelic / heavenly beings, although they are not described in the detail found in 3 Enoch or other any other intertestamental text. It is possible we can think of Revelation 4-5 as an “early” merkabah vision, while 3 Enoch represents a more fully developed form with the stock elements greatly expanded.

 

Bibliography:

3 Enoch: Alexander, P. S. “3 Enoch” in OTP 1:223-254; “The Historical Setting of the Hebrew Book of Enoch,” JJS 28 (1977) 156-180. Christopher Rowland, “Enoch” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. (in K. V. D. Toorn, B. Becking, and P. W. Horst, P., eds. 2nd rev. ed.; Leiden: Brill, 1999).

Merkabah Mysticism: G. G. Scholem, Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and Talmudic Tradition (New York, 1960); David Flusser, “Scholem’s Recent Book on Merkabah Literature,”`JJS 11 (1961). Ithamar Gruenwald, Apocalyptic and Merkavah Mysticism (AGJU 14; Leiden: Brill, 1980).

Colossians and Merkabah mysticism: Fred Francis, “Humility and Angel Worship in Col 2:18,” pages 163-195 in Conflict at Colossae (F. O. Francis and W. A. Meeks, eds.; Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1975). F. F. Bruce argued the heresy is non-traditional Judaism, likely influenced by merkabah mysticism. F. F. Bruce, “The Colossian Heresy,” BibSac 141 (1984):195-208; H. Wayne House, “Heresies in the Colossian Church” BibSac 149 (1992) 45-59; Clint Arnold, The Colossian Syncretism (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1996) 95-100.

Paul and Merkabah mysticism: “There are definite links from the language and ideas of these Jewish texts from Second Temples times and the testimony of Paul to and the Tannaitic and Amoraic Merkabah (and later Hekhalot) traditions….” James D. Tabor, “Heaven, Ascent To” in ABD 3:91-94; Brad H. Young, “The Ascension Motif of 2 Corinthians 12 in Jewish, Christian and Gnostic Texts” GTJ 9:1 (Spr 88) 73-103; J. Bowker, “‘Merkabah’ Visions and the Visions of Paul,” JSS 16 (1971): 157-173; P. Schäfer, “New Testament and Hekhalot Literature: The Journey into Heaven in Paul and in Merkavah Mysticism,” JJS 35 (1984): 19-35.

 

Bingham, D. Jeffrey and Glenn R. Kreider, Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel, 2016. 501 pp. Hb; $36.99.   Link to Kregel

Although the fact is not mentioned on the cover of this book or on the Kregel website, this collection of essays on eschatology is a Festschrift for Craig A. Blaising on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday. Steven L. James offers a short biographical sketch and bibliography of Blaising’s publications. Blaising has served as president of the Eschatology-BinghamEvangelical Theological Society in 2005 and was active in the Dispensational Study Group at ETS in the late 1980s. As a result of that study group, he co-edited Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church (Zondervan, 1992) and co-authored Progressive Dispensationalism (Baker, 1993) with Darrell Bock. As the editors point out in their preface, although Blaising is primarily known for his work in dispensationalism and eschatology, he contributed articles and conference talks on theological method, Athanasius of Alexandria, patristic biblical interpretation, and John Wesley.

The twenty-six essays in this collection are divided into four parts. The first section, The Doctrine of the Future and Its Foundation, concern theological method. D. Jeffrey Bingham deals with what he considers the fundamental problem of biblical theology, do the difference between the Old and New Testament involve discontinuity between the testaments? Despite the reputation dispensationalism has for favoring discontinuity, Bingham cites Blaising as arguing Christ gives the dispensations their unity. Stanley Toussaint contributes a biblical theology of hope, concluding that a proper study of prophecy will lead to renewed hope in a sovereign God. Charles Ryrie has a short essay on what he considers the “weakening of prophecy” by preterist interpreters. The article is too brief to engage preterists directly (he only cites R.C. Sproul as an example) and engages in a weak rational defense of prophecy using statistics.

More helpful is an article on predictive prophecy and the doctrine of God by John D. Laing and Stefana Dan Laing. By examining prophecies which were fulfilled within the Old Testament itself, the authors argue messianic prophecies ought to be taken seriously, especially since Jesus himself invited his followers to interpret the “signs of the times” (Matt 16:3) in order to understand God’s redemptive plan. Conservative readers will have no problem with Laing’s Old Testament examples of Daniel’s four kingdoms or Isaiah’s prediction of Cyrus the Great. However anyone holding to a later date for Daniel or Isaiah 40-55 will see these as vaticinium ex eventu, prophecies written after the event, rendering the argument of the essay less sure.

The second section, The Doctrine of the Future in the Bible, collects eight essays to form a biblical theology of the future. Essays cover major sections of the Old Testament, including the Deuteronomy (Daniel I. Block), the Historical Books (Gregory Smith), The Psalms (George Klein), and the Prophets (Mark Rooker). Block’s essay on eschatology in Deuteronomy is the highlight of the book. He argues the book of Deuteronomy anticipates the “first phase” of Israel’s distant future and our past (the exile), but also a “second phase” in our future (restoration from exile). The eschatological vision of Deuteronomy includes not only the preservation of Abraham’s seed among the nations, but also a change in the Lord’s disposition towards them so that he will restore them to the Promised Land (133). Block thinks the return from Babylon was a partial fulfillment of prophecy since those who returned were small in number and only occupied a small portion of the land. More importantly, although they were blessed by God, the restored temple was a shadow of what was expected and doomed to be destroyed again in A.D. 70.

Four essays on the New Testament include the Synoptic Gospels (Darrell Bock), John’s Writings (David Turner), Paul’s Writings (W. Edward Glenny) and Hebrews and the General Epistles (David Allen). Bock’s article is representative of the application an “already-not yet” view of prophecy common in progressive dispensationalism. David Turner’s essay on John’s view of the future must first argue that John’s Gospel has an eschatology, since the Gospel is often dismissed as an example of realized eschatology. Based on his collection of evidence from the Gospel fo John, Turner argues the ‘difference between John and the Synoptic Gospels should not be overly pressed” (225).

The eleven essays in the third section, The Doctrine of the Future in the History of Christian Thought, range from historical theology in the Apostolic fathers (Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origin, Athenasius, Augustine), the Reformation (Calvin, Anabaptist thought, Jonathan Edwards), and contemporary theology (Baptist, Dispensationalism, Jürgen Moltmann, and “contemporary European theology”). It may seem odd to see Calvin, Anabaptists, Moltmann and Dispensationalism in the same volume, but this is an indication that dispensational idea are found in many different streams of theology (even if the combination of these threads is unique to dispensationalism). Mark Bailey’s essay on the future in Dispensationalism is refreshing since it avoids the kind of wild predictions most people associate with the system.

Finally, the three essays under the heading The Doctrine of the Future and Christian Ministry include pastoral care (J. Denny Autrey), Contemporary Challenges (R. Al Mohler, Jr.) and The Marketplace (Stephen Blaising, Craig’s brother). The first two of these essays are rooted in historical theology. Mohler, for example, uses the model of Augustine’s two cities to argue any doctrine of the future must engage with contemporary culture.

Conclusion. This collection of essays serves as a worthy tribute to Craig Blaising, even if it is marketed as a textbook on Eschatology rather than a Festschrift. Many of the writers either self-identify with dispensationalism or are familiar with the contributions of progressive dispensationalism. This too is overlooked in the marketing of the book, but not unexpected given the current antipathy for dispensational thought in scholarship. But the essays in this collection absolutely do not represent the kind of wild-eyed craziness that passes for dispensationalism today. In fact, most of the essays in the collection which can be fairly pigeon-holed as dispensational are very similar a narrative theology, seeking to find the unity of the whole canon of Scripture via the teaching of the whole Bible on the past, present and future.

The book provides an overview of eschatology from a moderately conservative and vaguely dispensational perspective. Given these constraints, Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches would indeed make a good textbook for a Bible college or Seminary classroom, although most of the articles will be valuable to pastors and teachers preparing to teach on the future in their churches.

NB: Thanks to Kregel for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

In Chapter 64 Enoch once again is about to go up into heaven, this time as 2000 people watch. Enoch is described in this chapter as “glorified before the face of the Lord for all eternity” and the one the Lord chose in preference to all the people of the earth. OTP 190 note c comments this is such high praise it would not have pleased either Jew of Christian. The manuscript evidence show a high degree of “embarrassment” over this glowing endorsement of Enoch!

As with the previous moments when Enoch was about to go into heaven, he instructs the gathered people rather than ascend into heaven (chapters 65-67). Like the previous sections, Enoch exhorts his audience to good works based on the creation of the universe. In 66:6 there is an “affliction list” – walk before the Lord in longsuffering, meekness, affliction, distress, faithfulness, truth, hope, weakness, derision, assaults, temptations, deprivations, and nakedness. This list is not unlike Romans 8:35 and Paul’s own list of afflictions in 2 Cor. 4:8 and 11:16-29. The righteous ought not to expect an easy life even when they seek the Lord.

MethuselahChapters 69-73 contain a version of the flood narrative beginning with Enoch’s translation into heaven (68:1-4) and the response by his son Methusalem. This section reads quite differently than the rest of the book; Enoch is no longer the subject, Methusalem and later Melchizedek, Nir and Noah are the main characters. There is less ethical exhortation and more prose narrative than anywhere else in the book. This section is therefore probably from another source.

Enoch and his brothers construct an altar on the spot where Enoch ascended and sacrificed “in front of the face of the Lord.” (68:5-7). Chapter 69 describes Methusalem’s sacrifices. After the people bring the animals to sacrifice, Methusalem’s face glows radiantly and prays aloud to the Lord, asking him to accept the sacrifice.

As he prays, the altar is shaken and the knife leaps into his hand. From that time on he is honored as a prophet. Methusalem remained at the altar of the Lord for ten years, during which time not a single person “turned away from vanity” (chapter 71). Methusalem’s son Lamekh has two sons, Nir and Noe. After Methusalem is given a disturbing vision of the coming flood, Nir is made a priest. Methusalem dies and people continue to turn away from the Lord. The devil, we are told, came to rule a third time (70:24-25).

Nir’s wife Sopanim becomes pregnant in her old age, having been sterile (chapter 71). This is described as a “virgin” birth. While this story has elements similar to Matthew 2 and Luke 2, the differences are fantastic and legendary. She is embarrassed by this pregnancy and hides herself until the child is due. When Nir discovers she is pregnant he rebukes her and intends to send her away because she has disgraced him, but instead she falls dead at his feet.  Noe discovers this and tells Nir that the Lord has “covered up our scandal.” They bury the Sopanim in a black shroud in a secret grave.

The child, however, was not dead and came out of the dead mother as a fully developed child. This terrifies Nir and Noe, but since the child is “glorious in appearance” they realize the Lord is renewing the priesthood in their bloodline. They name the child Melkisedek. We are told that Melkisedek will be the head of “thirteen priests who existed before” and later there will be another Melkisedek who will be the head over twelve priests as an archpriest. Melkisedek is only with Nir for forty days, then the Lord instructs Michael to go and take the boy up to heavEnoch The Lord calls him “my child Melkisedek” (72:1-2). The child is to be placed in Paradise forever. Nir is so grieved by the loss of his son. He also dies leaving no more priests in the world, allowing the world to become even more evil. Noe is therefore instructed to build the ark in chapter 73.

melchizadeckThis strange miraculous birth story for Melkisedek is part of an interest in the King of Salem first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 14:18. Psalm 110:4 describes the king / messiah as a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. This text is cited twice in Hebrews 5:6-10 and 7:1-17 and applied to Jesus. The writer of Hebrews is likely tapping into a common image of a true priesthood which runs outside of the line of the Levites and Aaron. In the case of 2 Enoch, the “legendary” elements of Melchizedek’s story pre-date the flood. This could be used to argue for an early date for this section as well, since the Melchizedek legend was popular in the first century. It is possible a medieval writer created a pre-flood Melchizedek birth story, but it is more likely 2 Enoch is reflecting a first century or earlier tradition.

Melchizedek was an important figure for the Qumran community, 11QMelch is a poorly preserved but an important fragment in which the character Melchizedek is tied to Old Testament texts on the Jubilee and describes him as returning to proclaim liberty, probably based on Is. 61:1 (line 6). There are no real parallels between this Melchizedek legend and anything in the first century, implying this section is to be dated rather late.

When Enoch returns to his family in chapter 38 he begins to instruct them in what he has learned while in heaven. Enoch He mourns for his children who have not seen the face of the Lord (chapter 39) and then urges them to pay close attention because all which he is about to say he learned directly from the Lord (40:1). He recounts heavenly wonders (the storehouses of the winds, etc.) Enoch-Mysteriesand describes to them the horrors of hell (chapter 40, 42:1-2). He describes the wonders of Paradise in a series of “happy is he . . .” formulas akin to the Beatitudes found in the Sermon on the Mount (41:3-14). Of note among these beatitudes the admonishment to “sow the right seed” (cf. Matt 13:1-9) and clothing the naked and feeding the hungry (Matt 25:34-39).

People can have more or less honor than others, chapter 43 has a list of the things which may bring honor to a person in this life. The best of all of these is the one who fears God – “he will be the most glorious in that age” (Chapter 43). Chapter 44 instructs the reader on how to speak without insult, since this too will be judged on the “great day of judgment.” God requires a pure heart rather than sacrifice, pure gifts rather than bribery (Chapter 45-46). This will all be judged when the Lord sends out a “great light” which will judge without favoritism. This is often thought to be a Christian interpolation, OTP 172, note c. If it is, it is not a very obvious one and is present in manuscripts of both recensions. It may simply refer to the final judgment without detailing who the judge will be. Enoch hands over the books he created in heaven with a special emphasis on the 364-day year once again (chapter 47-48).

Enoch forbids his children to swear oaths, but rather they should say “Yes Yes” or “No, No” (Chapter 49). This is obviously similar to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 5:34-37. As in the Gospels, the emphasis in 2 Enoch is on telling the truth in the first place. This is the most obvious of several links to the Sermon on the Mount in this section of 2 Enoch. There are significant differences as well. In chapter 53 Enoch warns his children not to rely on the fact their father is in heaven (“do no say, “our father is in heaven”) while the Lord’s Prayer begins by addressing God directly as father. Likely Jesus is working through the same common stock of rabbinical ethical teachings in the Sermon on the Mount which the author of 2 Enoch has in mind. It is also possible 2 Enoch is influenced by Matthew. The difference is the increased internalization of the commands of God found in Matthew 5-7. Murder is bad, but hatred and anger are worse. Adultery is bad, but lust is worse. This “internalized ethic” is missing from 2 Enoch.

  • Beatitudes (2 Enoch 41:3-14, Matt 5:1-11)
  • Murder (2 Enoch 60, Matt 5:21-26)
  • Oath Making (2 Enoch 49, Matt 5:34-37)
  • Vengeance (2 Enoch 50, Matt 5:38-48)
  • Treasures in Heaven/Alms (2 Enoch 51, Matt 6:1-4; 19-24)
  • Praising God (2 Enoch 52, Matt 6:5-13)

In chapters 54-57 Enoch announces he is about to return to heaven, so Methuselah asks for a blessing from his father. Enoch asks that all of the children be brought to him so that he may bless them all. This blessing reviews much of the previous material, exhorting his family toward proper ethical conduct using the beatitude form (chapters 58-63). There are a number of parallels to Jesus in this section as well. For example, 2 Enoch 61:1 has a version of the “golden rule” (cf. Matt 7:12). In 61:2 Enoch states there are “many shelters prepared for people, good ones for the good and bad ones for the bad,” which is roughly parallel to John 14:1-2. The obvious difference is that Jesus refers only to his own disciples, while Enoch refers to houses for all the dead, and far more for the wicked dead than the righteous. 2 Enoch 63 describes the doing of good to the poor without complaint. If one does this good deed, God will reward him. This idea is possibly in the background when Jesus responds to the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:21 (and parallels).

If Christfried Böttrich is correct and there is a “Jewish core” in 2 Enoch which pre-dates the fall of Jerusalem, it may then be fair to ask why so much of this material is like the Sermon on the Mount. If the parallels were “Christian,” then one would think they would be closer to Jesus’ teaching than they are. As they appear in 2 Enoch, the various topics and beatitude forms are close enough to make us recall Jesus’ teaching, but not close enough to suggest direct dependence. It is probably the case that Jesus and the author of 2 Enoch both reflect the ethical teaching of the pre-A.D. 70 period. Philip Sigal argues that Jesus had an anonymous impact on the rabbinic halakah (Philip Sigal, The Halakah of Jesus of Nazareth According to the Gospel of Matthew [Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986]))

It is well beyond the evidence to argue these parallels in 2 Enoch are drawn from Jesus’ teaching via rabbinic material, but it is possible to observe the topics and methods of ethical teaching in this section of 2 Enoch roughly parallel the topics and themes of the Sermon on the Mount. Another aspect which muddies the argument is the status of the Sermon on the Mount as an actual “teaching setting” of Jesus. While it is certain Jesus taught the material in Matthew 5-7, it is also fairly certain Matthew has arranged the material in the way it now appear. It is possible Matthew and 2 Enoch reflect a tradition of rabbinic debates on these topics. Matthew is following a distinctly Christian one (something like Q, perhaps), while 2 Enoch follows a more Jewish collection.

2-Enoch-PerspectivesI am happy that Jim Davila  has been posting links to my Enoch series on his PaleoJudaica blog.  He also included a few links to older posts on PaleoJudaica that might be of interest.

I failed to mention in my introductory post that 2 Enoch was only known in Slovonic until recently.  In No longer ‘Slavonic’ only: 2 Enoch attested in Coptic from Nubia, Jim reports on the re-discovery of fragments of 2 Enoch in Coptic. The fragments of 2 Enoch chapters 36-42 were found in 1972. Joost Hagan published his paper in New Perspectives on 2 Enoch: No Longer Slavonic Only (Andrei Orlov, Gabriele Boccaccini, eds.; Leiden: Brill, 2012). If Brill wants to send me a copy, I’d be glad to review this book!

2 Enoch: ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US is a report from The fifth Enoch Seminar held in Naples in 2009. Interesting note: “Even so, very few scholars know Slavonic. Of the sixty delegates of this year’s Enoch Seminar, only eight were specialists in this language.”

Slavonic-EnochOLD CHURCH SLAVONIC WATCH: The “Other” Lost Scriptures: Beyond the Dead Sea Scrolls, Slavonic texts break all the rules (Philip Jenkins, Aleteia). here Jim takes some issue with Jenkins’s claim that “The shorter, older version takes us back to a work written by an Alexandrian Jew somewhere around the 1st century AD—roughly the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls.” As he rightly objects, “he Greek text went through a long period of transmission in the Byzantine period, then it was translated into Old Church Slavonic and again underwent a long period of transmission before the surviving late medieval manuscripts were produced.”

Jim also had a short note on Grant Macaskill, The Slavonic Texts of 2 Enoch (Leiden, Brill, 2013). According to the Brill catalog, “The book also includes an introductory discussion of the manuscripts and the problems associated with text-critical work on them, and a translation of the neglected manuscript B, with notes on the significance of its readings for the reconstruction of an ur-text.”

I should also mention Andrei Orlov’s collection of resources for Slavonic Enoch.

After he becomes like the angels, Enoch is instructed by Vrevoil, the swiftest of the archangels who records all the Lord’s deeds. After being instructed for 30 days and 30 nights, Enoch records this instruction in 366 books (22:10-23:6; Recension A has 360 books). After writing the books, Enoch is invited to sit next to the Lord with Gabriel.

God proceeds to explain “mysteries” of creation and the fall to Enoch:

  • Chapter 24 – God created visible from invisible.
  • Chapter 26 – An invisible thing (Adiol) descends and God commands it to disintegrate. A great light comes from this creature; the great light becomes the “great age” of creation. God established his throne in this creation.
  • Chapter 27-28 – God creates water and land from the light and darkness. Seven circles are established for seven stars. This is the first day of the creation week.
  • Chapter 29 – On Monday (the second day) God fashions rock from the fiery substance of heavEnoch On this day Satanail falls, he was hurled out of heaven and is now flying around in the air above the bottomless pit.
  • Chapter 30 – On Tuesday (the third day) God commands the earth to create trees and grasses; God laid out paradise as a gardEnoch On Wednesday (the fourth day) God establishes the stars, sun and moon in the various circles of the heavens. On Thursday he commands the seas to bring forth fish and birds. On Friday God creates Man out of seven components with seven properties. Man was assigned to the earth as a second angel, to reign as a king. He was named Adam and given free will to either love God or hate him (30:15).
  • Chapter 31 – Adam is given a single task but the devil entered paradise and corrupted Eve. This devil did not speak to Adam, therefore it is on account of Eve the Lord curses mankind. This is obviously at odds with Romans 5:12-21 where Adam is blamed for death and sin, Eve is not mentioned.
  • Chapter 32 – Adam is removed from the garden after his transgression (after only five and a half hours!)
  • Chapter 33 – Enoch is told there will be 7000 years of human existence, with an eighth thousand with not days, months, or years (probably an eternal state.) Presumably there will be one thousand for each of the days of creation. The idea of seven creational days = 7000 years of human history crosses over into Christianity via the Epistle of Barnabas but is not found in the Bible.
  • Chapter 34 – The judgment of the flood on the sinner who accepted a different yoke than the Lord’s yoke. The sins listed here are fornication and sodomy.
  • Chapter 35 – God promises to allow one righteous man from Enoch’s line to survive the flood for the purpose of passing along the words of Enoch.
  • Chapter 36 – Enoch is commanded to live for thirty days on the earth for the purpose of passing on the wisdom he has learned during his heavenly journeys.
  • Chapter 36 – Enoch is returned to earth by one of the senior angels.

While this section claims to survey human history from creation to the flood, the point is to exhort the reader to a moral in the light of imminent judgment. Creation is the basis for morality, sin is not the normal state, nor is sin the fault of Adam (Eve is to blame; Satan is to blame; but not Adam). While God will surely judge the sinner, he offers salvation for the one committed to following his commands. These commands make up the bulk of the rest of the book. There are some obvious differences from the biblical text with respect to salvation history in 2 Enoch, primarily in Adam’s culpability for the fall. Even in Genesis Adam is held ultimately responsible; Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:24 make clear it was through Adam sin entered the world. To shift the blame to the woman exalts Adam.

The book begins with Enoch’s vision soon after he fathered Methuselah. He is caught up into heaven by glorious angelic beings (chapter 1). He then instructs his sons to walk before the Lord by praying and giving generous gifts to the Lord (2:2). In chapters 3-6 Enoch describes his trip through the first heaven where he sees the angels who govern the stars and the various storehouses of heaven. In chapter 7 he is brought to the second heaven where he saw prisoners hanging in darkness, awaiting judgment. This “hanging prisoner” theme will be used by later apocalypses for images of Sheol, Hades, etc. (Apoc. of Ezra 4, Vision of Ezra 19-22).

Paul was caught up into the Third Heaven (2 Cor 12)

Paul was caught up into the Third Heaven (2 Cor 12)

The third heaven contains Paradise which is described as an ideal and beautiful place prepared for the righteous (chapter 8-9). The righteous are defined as those who are just, who clothe the naked, feed the hungry, lift up the fallen, and help the injured and the orphans and worship the Lord only. This list of “virtues” is not unlike Matthew 25:40 in which Jesus describes the “sheep” are those who have done these things to the “least of my brothers.” In chapter 10 Enoch is carried to the north where he witnesses all manner of torture and “cruel darkness.” This place is prepared for those who did not glorify God and practiced sin (which are listed in verse 4-5 in detail.) This too is not unlike the fate of the “goats” in Matthew 25:41-46 as they go to the “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Enoch ascends to the fourth heaven where he sees the paths of the sun and moon (chapter 11-17). This is a rather difficult section which is similar to the Astronomical Book of 1 Enoch. The section argues for a 364 and a quarter-day year (14:1) and attempts to precisely define each of the 12 months (16:2).

The fifth heaven contains an innumerable army lead by Grigori, the Greek word for “watchers” (chapter 18). The whole army is downcast since these are the angels which turned from the Lord along with the prince Satanail. The angels descended to Matt Hermon where they intermarried with the daughters of men and defiled the earth. Enoch recommends they repent, pray to the Lord and perform a liturgy in order appease the Lord’s wrath.

The sixth heaven contains seven groups of angels who are glorious, but all identical (chapter 19). There are angels which worship God and record the deeds of mEnoch In this scene there are seven phoenixes (a hint for an Egyptian provenance; cf., SibOr 8:139-159, 2 Baruch 6), seven cherubim, and seven “six-winged beings” singing in unison.

In the seventh heaven Enoch sees the fiery armies of archangels and a wide variety of angelic beings (chapter 20). Enoch is so frightened the angelic guides must pick him up and strengthen him. They show him the throne of the Lord at a great distance (it is in the tenth heaven). He moves to the very edge of the seventh heaven here he sees the seraphim. The angel guides depart and are replaced by Gabriel, the archangel (chapter 21). With Gabriel he sees the eighth heaven, which contains the zodiac.

Enoch is then brought by Michael into the presence of the Lord in the tenth heaven (chapter 22). The Lord is described as “so very marvelous, and supremely awesome and supremely frightening.” Michael strengthens Enoch and asks the Lord to allow Enoch to stay before the throne of God forever. The Lord has Michael “extract Enoch from his earthly clothes,” which seems to be removing his soul, since after he is anointed with oil he had become like the glorious ones but without any physical difference.

“In every respect 2 Enoch remains an enigma” (OTP 1:97). Dates for 2 Enoch range from pre-Christian to early medieval.  Józef Milik thought the book was the work of a Christian monk dated the book to the ninth or tenth century A.D. based on a neologism which describes Enoch’s copying of 360 manuscripts from the Angel Vreveil (Uriel? chapter 23).  Milik reconstructs a Greek term which accounts for a mistake by the Slavonic translator. This Enochterm is found no earlier than the early ninth century, therefore the author is a Greek monk from that century (Milik, 111-112).  On the other hand, Anderson suggests elements of the book go back to the turn of the era, perhaps written by the Theraputae described by Philo (although they seem to have revered Moses rather than Enoch, OTP, 1:96). It is hard to know if the book came from Jewish or Christian circles, it is “hardly in the mainstream of either” (OTP, 1:95).

Christfried Böttrich has argued for a three-stage composition of the book: A Jewish core, dated prior to A.D. 70 and deeply mystical; a Christian redaction interested in typological equivalents, and a final Byzantine redaction which was mainly interested in chronology (Böttrich, 40).

John Collins considers 2 Enoch to be a Jewish document dating to no later than the first century A.D. on the basis of the book’s interest in sacrifice. Since it was written in Greek and has allusions to Egyptian mythology as well as some affinity with Philo of Alexandria, an Egyptian provenance is likely (Collins, Apocalyptic Imagination, Third Edition, 302-3).

The most compelling evidence for a Jewish origin of at least chapters 68-73 is the date of Enoch’s final translation into heaven – the sixth day of Tsivan, the beginning of the festival of the first fruit.  Anderson states there are a number of places in the apocalyptic literature when early historical events are linked to this festival.  It would be nearly impossible for a medieval Slav creating this text to have known about such a practice (Anderson, OTP 196, note c).  It is possible, however, a Slavic monk took the date from another source because it was so common.  On the whole, Anderson’s point is well made even though buried in a footnote.

Since the publication of Anderson’s translation, which includes both the shorter and longer recension side by side, there have been a number of studies on 2 Enoch including translations into Greek, English, Spanish and French. Of main interest are the Melchizedek traditions found in the book since it is quite different from both Jewish (Qumran) and Christian traditions (including a virgin birth probably based on Matthew 2 and Luke 2, but with several quite a bizarre departures!)

 

Bibliography: Christfried Böttrich, “Recent Studies in the Slavonic Book of Enoch” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 9 (1991): 35-42; Józef Milik, Enoch, The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4 (London:  Oxford, 1976).

Martinez-DSScrolls-Trans_PB_Reprint07.qxdI plan on continuing my series on the Enoch Literature after the weekend, but since this is a holiday weekend, I thought I would give away a book to celebrate.

I have an extra copy of Florentino Garcia Martinez’s The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English (Leiden; Grand Rapids. Mich.: Brill; Eerdmans, 1996). This is a “barely used” paperback copy of the book and I purchased it myself.

The Eerdmans Website describes the book as:

“One of the world’s foremost experts on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran community that produced them provides an authoritative new English translation of the two hundred longest and most important nonbiblical Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, along with an introduction to the history of the discovery and publication of each manuscript and the background necessary for placing each manuscript in its actual historical context.”

The Journal for the Study of the Old Testament said this volume is “the most useful of the available collections not merely for its completeness but for its complete list of Qumran MSS serving also as an index to the context. Absolutely invaluable!” If you do not have a copy of the Dead Sea Scrolls in English, this is the volume to have.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this thread with your name and your favorite Dead Sea Scroll. Or at least your name.

I will generate a winner at random and announce that winner in two weeks, on July 14. Good luck!

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