Book of Enoch

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The Book of Enoch is a pseudepigraphal apocryphal work attributed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. Scholars date its composition to Maccabean times (ca. 160s BC). The Book of Enoch forms part of the official canon of the Ethiopic Church.

Most commonly, the phrase Book of Enoch refers to 1 Enoch, which survives completely only in Ethiopic language. There are also two other books called Enoch, i.e. 2 Enoch (surviving only in Old Slavonic, c. 1st century, R. H. Charles (1896) [1][2]) and a 3 Enoch (surviving in Hebrew,, c. 5th-6th century[3].) The remainder of this article deals with 1 Enoch only.


The book, apparently as a Greek language text, was known to, and quoted by, nearly all Church Fathers.

There was some dispute about whether the Greek text was an original Christian production, or whether it was a translation from an Aramaic text. The chief argument for a Christian author was the occurrence of references to the Messiah as the Son of Man. But the majority opinion clearly favours a 2nd century BC Jewish authorship, linking the prophecies in the text to the politics of the Maccabean revolt.

The book is referred to, and quoted, in Jude, 1:14–15 (KJV):

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

Compare this with Enoch 1:9, translated from the Ethiopian:

And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute judgement upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.

With the possible exception of Tertullian, the Church Fathers deny the canonicity of the book, and some even considered the letter of Jude uncanonical, because it refers to an apocryphal work.

The book was discredited after the Council of Laodicea in 364. Subsequently, the Greek text was lost. The latest excerpts are given by the 8th century monk George Syncellus.


The text of the Book of Enoch was considered lost until the beginning of the 17th century, when it was confidently asserted that the book was found in an Ethiopic translation in Abyssinia, and the learned Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc bought a book that was claimed to be identical to the one quoted by the Epistle of Jude (and the Epistle of Barnabas) and by the Church Fathers: Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origin and Clement of Alexandria. Ludolf, the great Ethiopic scholar of the 17th and 18th centuries, soon proved it to be the production of a certain Abba Bahaila Michael. Better success was achieved by the famous English traveller James Bruce, who in 1773 returned from six years in Abyssinia with three copies of a Ge'ez version. One is preserved in the Bodleian Library, another was presented to the royal library of France (the nucleus of the Bibliothèque National), the third was kept by Bruce. The first translation of the Bodleian MS was published in 1821 by Richard Laurence, afterwards archbishop of Cashel. The first reliable edition appeared in 1851 as Liber Henoch, Aethiopice, ad quinque codicum fidem editus, cum variis lectionibus edited by A. Dillmann, and the famous R.H. Charles edition was published in 1912. .

The Ethiopic version is a translation from the Greek. In the early period of Ethiopic literature, before the introduction of Arabic influence, there was considerable translation activity of much Greek literature into Ge'ez by Ethiopian theologians. Because of this, there are many texts for which both the Ge'ez translation and the Greek original are known, so that the Ge'ez translation of the Book of Enoch allows a reasonably good reconstruction of its Greek original, although occasional misunderstandings on the part of the translators cannot be excluded.

Since Bruce's discovery, an Old Slavonic translation has been identified, Greek fragments (En. 89:42–49, Codex Vaticanus Cod. Gr. 1809) as well as two separate fragments of a Latin translation. Fragments of papyri containing parts of the Greek version were recovered by a French archeological team at Akhmim and published five years later in 1892. Seven fragments from the Book of Enoch in Aramaichave also been identified in the Qumran Cave 4, among the Dead Sea scrolls [4].


The Book of Enoch describes the fall of the Watchers who fathered the Nephilim. The fallen angels then went to Enoch to intercede on their behalf with God. The remainder of the book describes Enoch's visit to Heaven in the form of a vision, and his revelations.

Significant parts of the book contain description of the movement of heavenly bodies (in connection with Enoch's trip to Heaven), and some parts of the book have been speculated about as containing instructions for the construction of a solar declinometer.

Influence from the book has been traced in the Hiberno-Latin poem Altus prosator.

Names of the fallen angels

  • Anane
  • Akibeel/Azibeel
  • Armers/Armaros
  • Asael/Azael
  • Batraal/Batarjal
  • Danel/Daniel
  • Ertael/Ertrael
  • Ramuel
  • Samsaveel/Samsawiel/Samsapeel
  • Saraknyal
  • Samsawiel
  • Tamiel
  • Turael
  • Urakabarameel
  • Yomyael
  • Zavebe

The book of Enoch depicts the interaction of the fallen angels with mankind: "Azâzêl taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals 〈of the earth〉 and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all colouring tinctures".. "Semjâzâ taught enchantments, and root-cuttings Armârôs the resolving of enchantments, Barâqîjâl, astrology, Kôkabêl the constellations, Ezêqêêl the knowledge of the clouds, Araqiêl the signs of the earth, Shamsiêl the signs of the sun, and Sariêl the course of the moon" 1 Enoch VIII v 1. Later Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel look down and see the lawlessness caused by the fallen angels and make a petition to God to act. Uriel is sent to Noah to reveal to him the flood that is coming. Raphael is sent to bind Azâzêl, while Michael is sent to bind Semjâzâ and the others.

Related Links


  • Free Encyclopedia of Thelema (2009)
  • Wikipedia (2005). Book of Enoch. Retrieved July 11, 2005.
    • The Book of Enoch compiled and edited by Ronald K. Brown ISBN 096757370X
    • 1 Enoch: A New Translation, translated by George W.E. Nichelsburg and James C. VanderKam. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004. ISBN 0-800636945

External links