The Prayer of Jacob

The Prayer of Jacob only appears in the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM XXIIb), a fourth century collection. David Aune made the translation appearing in Betz’s The Greek Magical Papyri (p. 261). The version in the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha runs 20 lines, in Betz it is 26. Charlesworth states there is no reason to doubt the work was written in Greek, and it is reasonable to assume it was written in Egypt since it “shares ideas with many other Egyptian documents and papyri” (OTP 2:715). For a short introduction to Greek Magical Papyri, see this online lecture by James Davila from April, 1997 at the University of Saint Andrews Old Testament Pseudepigrapha collection.

Ancient magical papyri, The Prayer of JacobIt is difficult to know the goal of this magical text, which is why Charlesworth includes it in his collection of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha despite its presence in Greek Magical Papyri. It does indeed appear to be Jewish. For example, line 17 may allude to Solomon’s request for wisdom: “Fill me with wisdom, empower me, Lord.” God rules over the archangels (line 7) and sits above Sinai (line 8).

The closest to a specific command in the text is line 14: “Make straight the one who has the prayer [fro]m the race of Israel and those who have received favor from you, God of gods.” The verb “make straight (διορθόω) has a medical connotation, as in the binding of broken bones (Hippocrates.Art.38). It is possible then the one who uses this prayer hoped or physical healing. The prayer concludes with the command to “say the prayer of Jacob seven times to the north and east.”

As is often the case, Hebrew words appear in this prayer as magical words. Hebrew was respected as having magical powers but usually not understood. Line nine reads “God Abōth, Abrathiaōth, [Sa]ba[ōth, A]dōnai, astra …the L[or]d of all (things).” In line 15 the word Sabaōth is the “secret name of the God of gods.” As Charlesworth comments, “appears often in the Nag Hammadi Codices; viz. it is in the Apocryphon of John, the Hypostasis of the Archons, On the Origin of the World, and the Testimony of Truth. It is also one of the most popular names in the magical papyri.” (OTP 2:722, note q).

 

Bibliography:

Charlesworth, J. H. “Prayer of Jacob OTP 2:715-23.

Betz, Hans Dieter. The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, Including the Demotic Spells. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Rist, Martin. “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: A Liturgical and Magical Formula.,” JBL 57 (1938): 289–303.

Schewe, Lena M. “Prayer of Jacob,” The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

 

 

The Prayer of Joseph

This prayer of repentance is only known through three fragments embedded in the writings of Origin. J. Z. Smith described the text as “a tantalizing fragment that has left no discernible impact on subsequent literature” (OTP 2:711).

Although the prayer originally ran some 1100 lines, only nine are now extant. Since the longest fragment appears in Origin’s Commentary on John, the prayer dates before A.D. 231. Origin introduced the text as “an apocrypha presently in use among the Hebrews.” J. Z. Smith thought the parallels with Hebrew and Aramaic prayers suggest a date in the first century (OTP 2:700). After observing the uncertainty associated with this text, Stephen Robinson suggests the prayer was written in the first century in either in Aramaic or Greek by a Jewish author (ABD 3:976). In his Lexham Bible Dictionary article, John Barry suggests the possibility the text may have “gnostic undertones” since Jacob is described as elevated figure with special abilities and knowledge.

Of interest to New Testament studies is the description of Jacob as “firstborn of every living being” in line three of the first fragment:

“I, Jacob, who is speaking to you, am also Israel, an angel of God and a ruling spirit. Abraham and Isaac were created before any work. But, I, Jacob, who men call Jacob but whose name is Israel am he who God called Israel which means, a man seeing God, because I am the firstborn of every living thing to whom God gives life.

This is remarkably similar to Colossians 1:15, although the Prayer of Joseph uses πρωτογενός rather than πρωτότοκος. But as Smith points out, both usages have their origin in Exodus 4:22, “Israel is my firstborn” (πρωτότοκός μου Ισραηλ, cf., 4 Ezra 6:58; Sir 36:17; PssSol 18:4). In addition, this fragmentary text also stats Abraham and Isaac were created before anything else.  In John 8:58, Jesus claims “before Abraham was, I am.” In both Colossians and John, the issue is the pre-existence of Jesus, the Prayer of Joseph may be evidence of some interest among some first century Jews in the pre-existence of patriarchs like Abraham and Jacob.

One additional intriguing element of the first fragment is the re-interpretation of the struggle between Jacob and an angel in Genesis 32:22-32. In that canonical story, the identity of the man who wrestles with Jacob is not at all clear; he is never called an angel, but he seems more than human. When he blesses Jacob, the man says “you have striven with God.” Although this may imply the man was an angel (on an incarnation of God), that is not clear in the text. The Prayer of Joseph identifies the angel as Uriel:

And when I was coming up from Syrian Mesopotamia, Uriel, the angel of God, came forth and said that ‘I [Jacob-Israel] had descended to earth and I had tabernacled among men and that I had been called by the name of Jacob.’ He envied me and fought with me and wrestled with me saying that his name and the name that is before every angel was to be above mine. 6I told him his name and what rank he held among the sons of God. ‘Are you not Uriel, the eighth after me? and I, Israel, the archangel of the power of the Lord and the chief captain among the sons of God? Am I not Israel, the first minister before the face of God?’ And I called upon my God by the inextinguishable name.”

This angel is one of the archangels, serving as a “chief captain among the sons of God,” but so too is Israel, the “first minister before the face of God.” Uriel appears in Uriel are those found in The Astronomical Book (1 Enoch 72–82) and guides Enoch in several other heavenly journeys (1 Enoch 19:1; 21:5, 9; 27:2; 33:3-4). 1 Enoch 20:2 identifies him as one of the angels ruling over Tartarus. Since Israel overcomes Uriel, Barry suggests this is an allegory for the elevation of Israel (the nation) over all people.

 

Bibliography: Barry, John D. “Prayer of Joseph” LBD; Newsom, Carol A. “Uriel (Angel),” ABD 6:769; Smith, J. Z. “Prayer of Joseph,” OTP 2:699-714.

 

 

What is Third Maccabees?

This “historical romance” was written in Greek sometime after the battle of Raphia (217 B.C.) and before the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The book seems to know the additions to Daniel and possible the Letter of Aristeas as well, so it is probable the book was written in the first century B.C. The book may also have used 2 Maccabees, there are parallels in vocabulary and style. The book is often included in texts on the Apocrypha. The book is misnamed, since it does not contain a history of the Maccabean period, nor is it a continuation of the other two Maccabean books.  The book concerns an incident unrelated to the Maccabean family, and is titled Ptolemaica in some manuscripts (deSilva, 306).

Image result for third maccabeesSome scholars date the book to the reign of Caligula because of his desire to place an image of himself in the temple in A.D. 40. This sort of fictional “reaction” to Caligula is told in the guise of a similar crisis of the not-too-distant past. The problem with this view is there nothing explicit in the text which points to Rome or Caligula as the real point of the book.

A third possibility is the book was written in response to the shift from Egyptian to Roman control of Egypt in 24 B.C. The civic status of the Jew in Egypt was in question at that time, therefore the author creates a story as a comment on the beginning of Roman rule in Egypt. The evidence for this is a hint in 2:28 to a Roman poll tax.

This is a very thin argument and cannot serve as a final proof of the date of the book either. As Anderson says in his introduction, the real problem with each of these theories is that the book does not read like a “crisis document.” It lacks nearly every important characteristic of the apocalyptic response to a crisis (judgment, retribution, overthrow of the present age by God himself).

3 Maccabees may have been written as a defense of Diaspora Jews written to a Judean Jewish audience (Williams, 17). Since they live outside the land, they are considered to be “still in exile” and are therefore still under God’s judgment. The book demonstrates that God hears the prayers of the Diaspora Jewish community and preserves them in persecution, as he did during the Jewish community in Judea during the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanies. It is possible the Jews in Jerusalem looked down on the Jews living outside the land.  The Jew of the Diaspora has as close of a connection to God as of the Jewish living in the land.

The book certainly addresses the problem of apostasy in the Diaspora since the Jews who have renounced their faith in the book are judged harshly. A major theme of the book is the boundary between the Jew and the Gentile. When Gentiles appear in the story, they are prejudiced, lawless and abominable. Even in Egypt Jews are warned to keep their distance from Gentiles and to avoid apostasy at all cost.

The context of the Caligula decree seems to make the most sense, but there does not seem to be enough time for a book like this to be written and circulated to make much of a difference in that situation. It is possible the author has in mind “generic” persecution, since a number of Greek and Roman generals sought to enter the temple. Pompey did in fact enter the Holy of Holies without any judgment. It is possible the book was written after Pompey as a sort of “what should have happened” story.

The study of this book is valuable to the student of the New Testament because it describes the Jews as unwilling to compromise their faith even in the Diaspora. When Ptolemy threatens to enter the sanctuary the whole population of Jerusalem join in the protest, but it is a protest to God to step into the situation and stop Ptolemy himself.  God is “the God, who oversees all things, the first Father of all, holy among the holy ones” (NRSV), therefore he can act and do what he needs to in order to defend himself.

Paul’s encounters with Jews in Asia Minor, for example, indicate that most Jews were keeping the law and not particularly interested Paul’s encouragement of Gentiles to “convert” partially by believing Jesus is the Messiah and not keep the Law. Here in this book those Jews who chose to “following their own bellies” and reject the Law in order to gain favor with the King are killed in the climax of the story. It is little wonder Paul’s gospel of freedom from the Law often resulted in riots and physical abuse (2 Cor 12).

 

Bibliography: David A. deSilva, Introducing the Apocrypha (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 304-322; David Williams, “3 Maccabees: A Defense of Diaspora Judaism,” Journal for the Study of Pseudepigrapha 13 (1995), 17-29.

 

2 Peter and Pseudepigraphy

Second Peter is something of a textbook case for Pseudepigraphy. Outside of conservative circles, few accept the idea historical Peter was the author of the book. As J. N. D. Kelly said in 1969, “scarcely anyone nowadays doubts that 2 Peter is pseudonymous.” Despite several excellent commentaries in recent years (Neyrey, Bauckham), there has been little change in this consensus. Bart Erhman deals with this issue in his popular book Forged, drawing attention in the media to the possibility the traditional authors of many of the books in the New Testament are not likely the real authors.

In fact, questions about 2 Peter appear very early in church history, Eusebius said “Peter has left behind one acknowledged epistle, and perhaps a second; for it is questioned” (Hist. Eccl. 6.25.11). Despite this reservation, Eusebius reports that the church did in fact accept 2 Peter as an authentic letter and therefore included it in the canon.

Michael Kruger makes an excellent point in his 1999 article on the authenticity of 2 Peter. He points out that in the second and third centuries a great deal of pseudegraphic literature appear which centered on Peter. Both the Gospel of Peter and the Apocalypse of Peter were rejected by the church because they were not authentic. If there was a possibility Peter was not authentic, it would have been treated the same as other spurious documents.

Is the case against an authentic 2 Peter as strong as Kelly (and others) state it? It is true that the second letter of Peter is very different than the first, although these differences can be accounted for in ways other than different authorship. Remember, “authorship” in the Greco-Roman world did not have to mean that the author literally wrote – an different amanuensis might account for the differences, especially if the amanuensis was given a more free hand in one letter than the other. And as Kruger points out, there enough similarities to make the case the two letters are related. Statistical analysis on two short samples is a serious problem for either side in this argument.

There are several personal references in the letter that seem to come from a “historical Peter.” In 1:17-18 there is an allusion to the transfiguration, an event that Peter witnessed. Again, Kruger does an excellent job pointing out the verbal similarities between this verse and Matthew 17:5 and Luke 9:31. And again, this evidence cuts both ways. Peter might have referred to the transfiguration in his writing (I certainly would have!) But if I were creating a letter in order to “sound like” Peter, I would include these details to give the letter the “ring of truth.” In fact, it is odd the is to Matthew when Peter was associated with Mark. The same observation is true for Peter’s reference to the letters of Paul. This allusions sounds is too suspicious, as if someone was creating more unity between Peter and Paul than Galatians 2 might imply. Still, there is evidence for either side of the discussion.

Theology, on the other hand, is a more serious problem for the traditional view. As Käsemann, observed, the Cross is not a particularly prominent theme in the letter, although 1 Peter mentions the crucifixion and resurrection several times. This is a serious charge, but I think Kruger is correct to point out the purpose of the letter is not soteriology, but dealing with a threat from false teachers. The problem with these particular teachers is not the Cross, but ethical and moral concerns.

Would a pseudepigrapic 2 Peter be less authoritative? Suppose someone did in fact create a letter in Peter’s name at the end of the first century which reflected Peter’s response to declining morals in the church. Perhaps a writer was simply using Peter as a literary device to deal with important issues in the late first century. Does this make it less worthy of the canon? J. D. Charles (Faithful to the End, 129f) would say that it does indeed matter. If we now know for sure Peter is not really the author of the letter, then it has no more claim to authority than 1 Clement, a letter written about the same time for approximately the same reasons. What is more, most scholars are confident there was a “historical Clement” who wrote 1 Clement. If 1 Clement is authentic and 2 Peter is not, why not treat the teachings of Clement as authoritative?

Bibliography:

Michael J. Kruger, “The Authenticity Of 2 Peter,” JETS 42 (1999): 645-71.
Ernst Käsemann, Essays on New Testament Themes (London: SCM, 1971) 183-184.

Resources for 2 Enoch (Slavonic)

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.

The Dream Visions – 1 Enoch 82-83

1 Enoch 83-90 is a new section since there is a break from the astronomical speculations of the previous section, although it is related to chapter 82 as a continuation of Enoch’s dialogue with Methuselah (83:1). These two chapters serve as an introduction to the Animal Apocalypse, a slightly veiled allegory of history up to the Maccabean period.

bookofenochEnoch received these visions before he was married and still living with his grandfather, Mahalalel (Gen 5:12-17). After Enoch receives a vision of the coming flood (83:2b-2), he relates his dream to his grandfather Mahalalel. This is Enoch’s first vision, and like Samuel and Eli (1 Sam 3), Enoch requires guidance from his grandfather to understand the vision.

Within the world of the story, the vision refers to the coming flood. But the description goes beyond Genesis 7 to convey “a picture of cosmic collapse and annihilation” (Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch, 349). As is typical in the Enoch literature, the imagery of the flood is conflated with the ultimate judgment of God.

1 Enoch 83:3-4 I saw in a vision the sky being hurled down and snatched and falling upon the earth. When it fell upon the earth, I saw the earth being swallowed up into the great abyss, the mountains being suspended upon mountains, the hills sinking down upon the hills, and tall trees being uprooted and thrown and sinking into the deep abyss. (OTP 1:61)

Mahalalel explains that sin is so great the earth must “sink into the abyss” (primordial chaos), but there is a possibility God would allow a remnant to remain on the earth. He therefore counsels Enoch to pray for the earth (83:6-9), which he does (83:10-11, 84:1-6).  Enoch first praises God and acknowledges his greatness (83:2-4). These two verses resonate with many texts in the Hebrew Bible, although it is remarkably similar to Daniel 2:37-38 (describing Nebuchadnezzar) and 7:14 (describing the rule of the Son of Man), but also Isaiah 66:1-2 (heavens as God’s throne, the earth as his footstool).

1 Enoch 84:2 Blessed are you, O Great King, you are mighty in your greatness, O Lord of all the creation of heaven, King of kings and God of the whole world. Your authority and kingdom abide forever and ever; and your dominion throughout all the generations of generations; All the heavens are your throne forever, and the whole earth is your footstool forever and ever and ever.

Enoch makes request on behalf of the present generation. Even if the angels must come under judgment, Enoch prays that God would allow a remnant of humans survive the devastation. He asks God to raise up the righteous and true flesh “as a seed-bearing plant” (84:6). Within the world of the story, this obviously refers to the world after the flood and the family of Noah as a righteous family to repopulate the world: 1 Enoch 10:3; 65:12; 67:3 each describe Noah as a preserved seed.

But the image of a plant which survives the coming judgment resonates with description of the righteous remnant in Isaiah 6:13. At the time 1 Enoch 83-84 was written, the final judgment is still in the future. The prayer is that God will once again preserve the righteous remnant in that coming apocalyptic judgment.

The Book of the Heavenly Luminaries – 1 Enoch 72-82

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 onto 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.

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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 a 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.

The Parables of 1 Enoch and the New Testament

The general apocalyptic context of the parables section of 1 Enoch may provide context for the reading of the New Testament, especially the Gospels. When John the Baptist and Jesus appear preaching the Kingdom of God as “at hand,” the original audience would have been quite familiar with the phrase and all that it represented. For the Jew of the first century, the idea of “kingdom” was clear – it was to be the time when God reestablished Israel in the Land. 1 Enoch shares many of these ideas, especially the Book of Parables. It is difficult to know the extent to which the language and themes of the Parables influenced popular thinking in first century Palestine, especially since this section is the only part of 1 Enoch missing from the Qumran literature. With these caveats in mind, the following themes seem to be present in both the Parables and the Gospels.

First, this section anticipates a time of suffering and testing for the elect. The righteous have suffered and shed blood (47:1-2, 4). In 56:5-8 the Parthians and Medes will invade and trample the holy city. The righteous are downcast (62:15) and are being afflicted by the wicked (50:1). The suffering of the elect is not as detailed as the eventual suffering of the wicked, although it is implied in the descriptions of the wicked. The suffering of the wicked is described as birth-pains (62:4). In the Olivet Discourse Jesus used similar language to describe the period just prior to the Parousia. The Similitudes do not have anything like the suffering described in Revelation or the Olivet Discourse, but there is an implication throughout that the righteous are “innocent victims” of the evil schemes of the fallen angels and the kings of this world.

Second, this time of suffering will come to an end when “that Son of Man” is placed on his glorious throne and judges the oppressors. When the Elect One comes the day of salvation has come for the righteous (39:6-7, 50:1-2, 51:2, 62:12-13) and the whole earth will rejoice at the coming of the Elect One (51:4-5). The coming of the Elect One will result in rest from oppression for the righteous (53:6-7). The Elect One will sit on a “throne of glory” to establish justice (45:3-5, 62:3) The righteous will become like the light of the sun and the days of their life will be unending (58:1-3, 61:5-6). Heaven and earth will be transformed into a blessing (44:5-6) and there will be a period of peace. In fact, it was the fallen angels who taught man to make war and weapons of war. The Elect One will restore man to his peaceful state. (52:8-9).

Third, the judgment of the wicked and sinners is quite detailed in 1 Enoch. When the Righteous One appears, the sinners “will be driven from the face of the earth” (38:1) and melt like wax, powerless (52:6). The Elect One will judge Azaz’el and “all the hosts in the name of the Lord of Spirits” (55:4). Kings and rulers will perish (38:5) and the sinner will not be allowed to ascend into heaven (45:2). The Elect One will sit on the seat of glory to make a selection based on the deeds (45:3, 61:8) and there will be no time for repentance for the wicked (62:1-4).  Angelic beings are set enoch-visionsaside for punishing the kings of this world (53:3-5). The wicked will be punished in a deep valley of burning fire and molten metal where they will be in chains with rough stones on their jaws (54:1-6, 67:6). They will be scourged by “angels of punishment” in this abyss-like valley (56:1-4, 67:1-8) The judgments which will fall on the sinners are called “punishments” (41:2, 53:3, 54:7, 56:1, 60:6) and “wrath” (55:3, 60:12). In later apocalyptic the punishment of the wicked is described in increasingly gory detail (100:3, cf. Ezek. 39:17; Rev 14:20, SibOr. 3:796-808).

In the teaching of Jesus there are a number of parables which make the same sort of statements about the coming messianic age. At that time there will be a harvest and the good wheat will be separated from the bad weeds (Mt 13:24-30) or clean fish from the unclean (13:47-50). In each of these two examples, the “bad” element is placed in a place of fire (a furnace, to be burned up) but the “good” element is placed where it ought to go (the barn, for example.) The Olivet Discourse contains five parables which run along the same lines. There is an unproductive or unprepared character (a lazy servant, foolish virgin, the “goat”) who faces judgment at the surprise return of the delayed central character (the master, the bridegroom, the king). The productive and prepared characters are rewarded by the central character when he unexpectedly returns.

Fourth, the last of these parables is the most eschatological, the so-called Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Jesus constantly refers to himself as the Son of Man in the gospels, a title that is probably derived from Daniel 7:13-14, where someone who is “like a son of man” comes before the ancient of Days to receive the authority to rule (see Mt 19:28, Rev. 1:13). There is little doubt that his disciples could miss his point that this is the “second coming” that they asked about at the beginning of chapter 24. There is a combination of several metaphors in this passage. Jesus is the Son of Man, the King of Glory, and the Great Shepherd all at the same time. This glorious arrival of the Son of Man is accompanied by “all his angels” (Zech. 14:5). When the Son of Man returns as king, he will sit upon a glorious throne and judge the nations, assigning them to their eternal destiny. This general outline is quite compatible with the general apocalyptic outline of the Similitudes.

Fifth, one of the more striking parallels to Elect One / Lord of Spirits is Luke 4:18. Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:1-2, “the Spirit of the Lord has anointed me,” and applies this text to himself. In Matthew 25:31 the King returns and is seated in his “glorious throne” and gathers the nations to judge them, an apocalyptic influenced parable-like saying in which Jesus makes clear he is the returning king. The frequent self-description of Jesus as the “Son of Man” is also critical in this context. When Jesus used this phrase, along with many of the other apocalyptic images used in the Similitudes, did his original listeners hear them in the context of texts like 1 Enoch 61 and 62? When he cited Isaiah 61:1-2 as fulfilled that day, his hearers certainly understood Jesus was claiming something extraordinary although we cannot be sure exactly what it was they were reacting to in Jesus’ claim.

Sixth, those who possess salvation are often described in terms of pure clean garments in the New Testament (62:15, 71:1). Paul describes salvation as a “heavenly dwelling” and garment in 2 Cor. 5:2-4. Revelation makes use of this image several times: 3:5-6 describes the righteous in Sardis as not having “soiled their clothes” while the unrighteous of Laodicea were still shamefully naked. Several times in Revelation those who worship the throne of God are described as “dressed in white” (4:4, 6:11, 7:9, 13, 14, 19:14).

Conclusion. Although there is no New Testament text that can be described as a quote or a direct allusion to the Book of Parables in 1 Enoch, some of the writers if the New Testament have the same apocalyptic spirit. This is no surprise since they both are products of Second Temple period Judaism.

The Third Parable – 1 Enoch 64-71

Chapters 64-69 returns to the subject of the judgment of the Flood. After a brief note describing the fallen angels who sinned in the earth (chapter 61), the narration shifts to Noah. In chapter 65 Noah goes to his grandfather Enoch and complains about the wickedness in the world. Enoch responds by crying out sorrowfully and predicting the destruction of the world. In 65:6-12 Enoch describes the sins of the world which have resulted in the coming deluge.

Rubens-Michael-AngelsEnoch then shows to Noah the angels who have been prepared to cause the destruction of the flood (65). Noah is told by the Lord that the angels have constructed an ark which he will bless to preserve Noah and his family so that they alone survive the coming flood. The flood is intended to imprison the fallen angels although the flood waters will be a poison to the kings and princes of the world (67:8-9). These kings and princes are punished because they denied the “spirit of the Lord (67:8, 10). Michael instructs Noah in the “secret things” which were written in Enoch’s book (68:1). Michael and Raphael lament the destruction of the flood, but agree it is a just judgment (68:2-5).

Chapter 69 forms a conclusion to the flood narrative by listing the names (onomastica) of the fallen angels along with their role in bringing sin to humanity. Twenty-one names are listed in verse two, nearly the same list as in 6:7. Several names are listed with additional commentary:

  • Yeqôn – the one who lead the angels to come to earth in the first place.
  • Asb’êl – The angel who advised the other angels to go to the daughters of men.
  • Gâdr’êl – The angel who lead Eve astray and taught men to kill; he shows humans how to make weapons and armor, the “instruments of death.”
  • Pênêm’e – The angel who taught men the secret wisdom of making paper and ink, causing men to sin “eternity to eternity and until this day.”
  • Kâsdeyâ – This angel taught humans “wicked smitings” of “flagellations of evil,” including how to smite an embryo in the womb to kill it (i.e., abortion).

The angel Bîqâ has a hidden name which he reveals to Michael when he swears an oath (66:16-26). This secret oath describes all of creation as glorifying God and thanking him forever. The oath results in great joy because “that Son of Man” has been revealed. Here the Son of Man is described as eternal (“he will never pass away from the earth,” verse 27) and once again seated on a throne of glory in judgment.

Chapters 70-71 form an appendix to the Similitudes since the last line of chapter 69 is the end of the third parable. In this appendix Enoch is taken to heaven in a “wind chariot” and placed between two winds. An angel measures the place of the elect where Enoch sees the patriarchs of old (70:4). His spirit continues to ascend until he is in the “heaven of heavens” (71:5). There he sees a structure made of crystals with four sides, surrounded by “living fire.” He sees countless angels, including the four archangels, all worshiping the Antecedent of Days. From this point on there will be peace and righteousness (71:15-16).

The elect will dwell with “that Son of Man” who rules in the name of the Lord of Spirits forever. Who is this son of man? The “Head of Days” tells Enoch that “You (are) that Son of Man who was born for righteousness” (71:14). Charles dropped this line from his translation since he did not think the author would identify Enoch as the son of man, but as VanderKam points out, “Charles’s tour de force, however, has no foundation in the MSS” (1 Enoch 2, 328). The suggestion that the Head of Days says Enoch is “a son of man” is also rejected by VanderKam. He concludes the phrase does identify Enoch as the son of man, but this is “an installation formula,” commissioning Enoch. It is perhaps “a first step toward the angelification” of Enoch in the Enoch literature.

The Third Parable – 1 Enoch 58-63

Chapters 58-71 contain the third “parable” of the Similitudes. Chapter 58 introduces this last parable as the “glorious portion” awaiting the righteous and elect. The content of the parable is more concerned with revealing to Enoch mysteries and secrets of creation and the angelic order. Chapter 59, for example, is a brief description of the mysteries of lightning and thunder. Enoch is taught how to divine good or bad from thunder and lightning.

Chapters 60-61 are lengthy descriptions of creation not unlike the final chapters of the book of Job. In the opening paragraph Enoch is caught up into heaven where he sees millions of angels and the Antecedent of Time sitting on a throne surrounded by glory. As is typical in apocalyptic vision literature, Enoch is struck with great fear by the amazing scene and is unable to stand. Michael the archangel lifts Enoch and strengthens him. Michael explains to Enoch that the day of mercy has lasted until the present time but now a day of punishment has arrived (60:1-6).

Behemoth-William-BlakeTwo mythical monsters have been prepared for this day, Leviathan from the “fountains of the Waters” and Behemoth who holds an invisible desert in his chest. This desert is called Dunadayin, possibly the “land of Nod” from Genesis 4:16 (OTP 1:40, note p).

In verses 11-25 another angel gives Enoch a “tour” of the storerooms of heaven, concluding with the two monsters turning into food for the righteous in the garden (60:24-25). The garden is measured in chapter 61 by angles using long ropes. By measuring the garden the angels seem to be defining the place not only where the elect ones will dwell but who the elect are – the dead will return and stay in the place along with the Lord of Spirits and his Elect One. Measuring has a connotation of both protection (Zech 2:1-5) and judgment (2 Kings 21:13, Amos 7:7-9 Isaiah 34:11) in the Old Testament. The most important “measuring” scene in the background of 1 Enoch is likely Ezekiel 40:1-42:20, cf. Revelation 10.

After the garden is measured, the Elect One is placed on his “throne of glory” by the Lord of Spirits and all of the elect worship him (61:8-9). This worship is joined by all of the ranks of angels in heaven, all singing with one voice “Blessed is he and may the name of the Lord of Spirits be blessed forever and evermore” (61:12). Even the Elect One is included in this worship.

Chapters 62 and 63 turn to the fate of the “ruling class” who have oppressed the righteous. The rulers of this world are commanded to look upon the Elect One, who in chapter 60 was placed on a throne of glory by the Lord of Spirits. Now it is the Lord of Spirits who is seated on the throne of glory and the spirit of righteousness is poured out on him (62:2). Heb. 12:23 is quite similar to the overall context of the third similitude, although there is no direct connection. Those who have demonstrated faith have come to the holy city (rather than a garden) along with thousands upon thousands of angels, the “elect” in the form of the church, and to God, the judge of all and all the men who have the “spirit of righteousness.”

This judgment is described as “birth pangs” (62:4); all the kings of the earth will be terrified and dejected when they see “that Son of Man” who was concealed by the Most High One until he was revealed to his elect ones (62:7). The elect will rejoice over the judgment of their oppressors (62:12) and will dwell with the Son of Man in peace “forever and ever” (62:14). This congregation of the elect will have “risen from the earth” and will be clothed with eternal “garments of glory” given to them by the Lord of Spirits (62:15-16). Those who are under the judgment of the Lord of Spirits worship the Lord and beg for mercy and confess what they have done (63:1-10). This long prayer by the judged seems to underscore the righteousness of the judgment against them. The Lord of Spirits is correct and fair in his condemnation of the kings of the earth.