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The metaphor of heavenly books is common in both the biblical and apocalyptic materials. This is a stock image drawn from a court room scene. In Dan 7:10, for example, thrones are set in place and the Ancient of Days takes his place at the head of the court. Once the court was seated, “the books were opened.” Based on the content of these books, the blasphemous “little horn” is thrown into blazing fire. So what is the content of an “apocalyptic book”?

Angel BooksSometimes these books record the names of the redeemed; or conversely, the names of the wicked are “blotted out” of the books. This is probably based on Exodus 32:32–33. In this non-apocalyptic text, the Lord says “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book.” The Psalmist asks God to blot out the names of his oppressors from “the book of the living” (Ps 69:28). Originally this meant a name carved in stone that would be obliterated if the named-person offended the king. Perhaps this was based on a citizenship roll or something of the sort, but the idea a text exists containing the names of those who are part of the kingdom. Isaiah 4:3 some people have been destined to survive in Jerusalem, “everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem.” In 2 Baruch 24:1, the opened books contain both the righteous deeds of the righteous and the wicked deeds of the wicked. These books are opened after a period of oppression, “When horror seizes the inhabitants of earth, and they fall into many tribulations and further, they fall into great torments” (2 Baruch 25:3) after which the messiah comes.

In other apocalyptic contexts books contain hidden secrets sealed up to be revealed at the appropriate time. In Daniel 12:9-10 there are secrets sealed up in a book “until the end of time.” In Rev 10:4 John was prepared to write down what the seven thunders said, but he is told to “seal it up” and not writer it down. The seven thunders are therefore some hidden secret not to be revealed at that time. There are examples of this phenomenon in other apocalyptic books as well. In 1 Enoch, the seer has a great deal more revealed to him that he is permitted to write at that time,.

1 Enoch 81:1-2 Then he said unto me, “Enoch, look at the tablet(s) of heaven; read what is written upon them and understand (each element on them) one by one. So I looked at the tablet(s) of heaven, read all the writing (on them), and came to understand everything. I read that book and all the deeds of humanity and all the children of the flesh upon the earth for all the generations of the world.

In an expansion on the biblical story. Jubilees 32.20–22, at Bethel Jacob is given seven tablets determining everything that would happen to his sons in the future.

Jubilees 32.20–22 And Jacob watched until he went up into heaven. And he saw in a vision of the night, and behold an angel was descending from heaven, and there were seven tablets in his hands. And he gave (them) to Jacob, and he read them, and he knew everything which was written in them, which would happen to him and to his sons during all the ages.”

But more commonly the books contain the sins of the person under judgment. In Jude 4 the judgment against the false teachers was written down (προγράφω) long before they secretly crept into the churches. In the Animal Apocalypse, the names of the good and bad shepherds are carefully recorded in books for future judgment (1 Enoch 89:62; 90:14-22). In 1 Enoch 104:7 sins are investigated and “written down every day.” In Jubilees 5:13-14 sins are carefully written down and judgments are “are ordained, written, and engraved.”  Describing the judgment awaiting the sins of Lot’s daughters, the writer of Jubilees says:

 Jubilees 16:9 “And behold it is commanded and it is engraved concerning all of his seed in the heavenly tablets so that he will remove them and uproot them and execute their judgment just like the judgment of Sodom and so that he will not leave seed of man for him on the earth in the day of judgment.”

Bringing this back to the throne room in Revelation 5, the scroll functions similarly the last category in that the opening of the scroll subjects the world to judgment. The final judgment is the coming of the Messiah to set up thrones and render justice (Rev 20:1-6). By taking the Hebrew Bible as the immediate background and tracing the development of a metaphor in the Second Temple Period apocalypses, we are more likely to understand the metaphor as John intended.

fire-tortureThe final section of 3 Enoch contains several heavenly features in a somewhat random order. Metatron reveals these “secrets of the cosmos.”

  • Chapter 41 describes the letters by which the world was created. These letters are not identified in this section, but in chapter 44 the letters of the Torah are specifically mentioned so it is not unlikely the letters that created the universe are the Hebrew letters of the Torah.
  • Chapter 42 describes the raqia’, the firmament of Genesis 1 and the power of the name of God, who is an everlasting rock and everlasting fire.
  • Chapter 43 describes a storehouse of souls of the righteous. Some of these souls have returned and others have not yet been created.
  • Chapter 44 describes the wicked in Sheol and lists the angels in charge of the place as well as the souls of the patriarchs who pray before the Holy One. Souls are brought “to punish them with fire in Gehinnom, with rods of burning coal” (v. 3). There is a hint at purgatory in this section, since these tortured souls “are tainted until purified of their iniquity by fire.”
  • Chapter 45 describes the “curtain of the Omnipresent One.” On this curtain are printed each generation of the world, which are listed from Adam until the time of the Messiah. There appear to be two messiahs here, one who is the son of Joseph and one who is the son of David (verse 5). There are a number of potential rabbinical sources for the “nebulous figure” of the first messiah, son of Joseph, as a forerunner of the Davidic messiah (OTP 1:298 note t).
  • Chapter 46 describes the “the spirits of the stars” which live in the raqia’. The section specifically quotes Psalm 147:4 (God counts and names all of the stars) and Psalm 19:1 (the heavens declare the glory of God), and there are allusions to several other texts from the Hebrew Bible.
  • Chapter 47 describes the ministering angels who are punished by the fiery coals whenever they “do not recite the song at the right time or in a proper and fitting manner.”

Chapter 48A is the most eschatological section in the book. This chapter describes the right hand of God which created the 955 heavens. This right hand is “banished behind him” because of the destruction of the Temple. When it weeps five rivers flow out of it and split the earth in five ways, five times. When the Lord reveals his arm to the world, Israel will be saved from the Gentiles (verses 9-10). This re-gathering of Israel is described as a banquet and even the gentiles will share in this eschatological with meal with Israel and the Messiah. This final eschatological statement may also allude to the banquet on Zion in Isaiah 25:6-8, but this is not as clear as Isaiah 66:20.

3 Enoch concludes by drawing together Isa 52:10, Deut 32:12 and Zech 14:9 to show the Lord will rule over the whole world, both Jew and Gentile. If 3 Enoch is the product of a ninth century Christian monk, it is strange that Israel would have first place in the kingdom since by this point Israel has been theologically replaced by the Church as God’s people and eschatology such as this played down or allegorized.  This eschatological conclusion seems to imply an early tradition present in 3 Enoch, although it is impossible to know how old this tradition is.

The book has a higher view of the man Enoch than the previous Enoch pseudepigrapha. We learn in chapter 4 the angel Metatron is actually Enoch himself, having been elevated by God himself to the level of an angel (6:1-2). Enoch is described as the “choicest of all” and worth all of the rest of humans in righteousness. He is brought up to heaven angel-of-firein the Shekinah glory of God and brought into the divine presence itself (chapter 7). He is blessed with 1,365,000 blessings, his body is enlarged and he is given 72 wings, each wing is large enough to cover the whole world, and he is given 365,000 eyes each like the Great Light (the sun, chapter 9). The number 365 repeats throughout the book in a variety of forms (hundreds, thousands, etc.)

This is based on Enoch’s age when taken into heaven, and probably reflects the 365-day calendar theme from the early Enoch literature. Enoch is given a throne in glory at the door of the seventh palace and the Lord commanded that all should obey him (chapter 10). Enoch was given a name (“little Yahweh”), a robe and a crown (chapter 12-13). This crown is inscribed with “the letters by which heaven was created.”

All of the angels worshiped him, and their names are listed in 14:4 along with their responsibility in the order of creation. He is finally transformed into fire (chapter 15). In Chapter 16 Metatron is dethroned, but this is likely a secondary addition since it is entirely out of place in the context of the glorification of Enoch. (OTP 1:268, note a).

In chapters 17-40 there is a detailed listing of the names and responsibilities of the angels and other personnel in heaven. This material goes far beyond the biblical teaching on angels. There is a mind-boggling level of complexity for the hierarchy of the angelic beings!  The seven honored princes of heaven are listed as Michael, Gabriel, Šatqiʾel, Šaḥaqiʾel, Baradiʾel, Baraqiʾel, and Sidriʾel; each are attended by 496,000 myriads of ministering angels. In addition to these are several princes in charge of “special angels.” These are all described like the angelic beings in the Hebrew Bible, majestic and powerful and unimaginably huge: The height of ʾOpanniʾel’s body is “a journey of 2,500 years.”

  • The princes of the “wheels” (the throne-chariot from Ezekiel), Rikbiʾel YHWH, “the great and terrible Prince.”
  • The prince of the holy creatures (the four-faced creatures from Ezekiel), Ḥayliʾel YHWH. The holy creatures are described in chapter 21 and they are far more amazing than Ezekiel 1. Each of their four wings covers the whole world, that their faces are crowned with 2000 crowns, each like a rainbow.
  • The prince of the cherubim, Kerubiʾel YHWH. This angel is described in terms similar to the angelic being in Daniel 10,
  • The prince of the ophanim, ʾOpanniʾel YHWH. This angel has 16 faces, and has 8,766 eyes, corresponding to the number of hours in a year.
  • The prince of the seraphim, Śerapiʾel. This creature wears a crown with the name “Prince of Peace.”
  • The heavenly archivist, Radweriʾel YHWH. This being has a sealed scroll box containing heavenly records

Chapters 29-40 describe the Watchers and other angelic beings in a “heavenly law court.”  These scenes contain the typical rivers of fire, thundering voices and earthquakes. Like the overly fantastic sizes of the angels, the numbers of the angels in this section are innumerable: 496,000 myriads of camps of angels with 496,000 angels in each camp (which works out to 246,016,000,000 angels!) There are seven rivers of fire 365,000 parasangs long (about 1,360,802 miles each), and they are 248,000 myriads of parasangs deep.

All of these overwhelming descriptions overwhelm the reader with the unimaginable greatness of heaven and the heavenly creatures. Although much of the imagery is drawn from the Hebrew Bible (especially Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1-3, and Daniel 10), the book multiplies these descriptions to infinity and beyond.

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 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 be 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 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.

Third Enoch is especially important 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 Revelation 4-5 is an example of a “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.

 

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 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 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. 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 is the admonishment to “sow the right seed” (cf. Matt 13:1-9) and to clothe the naked and feed 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 heaven. 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 garden. Enoch 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 moral living 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 Mount 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 Enoch 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.

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Christian Theology

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