Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Book of Enoch

Dover Publications has just this year reprinted the 1917  S.P.C.K. edition of R. H. Charles's translation of  The Book of Enoch, with an introduction by W. O. E. Oesterley.  Although somewhat costly (at $7.95) for a paperback book of only 160 pages, I could not resist the temptation to buy a copy so that I might once again read this most fascinating of apocryphal and apocalyptic works.   (An earlier translation, by C. H. Schodde, is available online at also has texts of numerous other apocryphal works and many interesting theological tracts from the 19th century and earlier.)
Enoch, also known as 1 Enoch  or Ethiopic Enoch to distinguish it from a later work also ascribed to Enoch, is unique among the apocryphal works because it is quoted in a canonical work,  a work firmly established as part of the New Testament, specifically verses 14 and 15 of Jude.   Verse 13 of Jude ("Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever") also has a source in Enoch, chapter 18, verses 12-16:  "12.  And beyond that abyss I saw a place which had no firmament of the heaven above, and no firmly rounded earth beneath it:  there was no water upon it, and no birds, but it was a waste and horrible place.  13.  I saw there seven stars like great burning mountains, and to me, when I inquired regarding them,  14.  The angel said:  'This place is the end of heaven and earth:  this has become a prison for the stars and the host of heaven.  15.  And the stars which roll over the fire are they which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord in the beginning of their rising, because they did not come forth at their appointed times.  16.  And He was wroth with them, and bound them till the time when their guilt should be consummated even for ten thousand years.' "  (This interpretation is taken from The Interpreter's Bible.)
According to Rev. Oesterley's introduction, Enoch was most probably written by Sadducees, not Pharisees, sometime around 200 to 100 B.C.  He notes that the solar calendar of the Sadducees is advocated in Enoch, which is very heavily laden with astronomical lore, rather than the lunar calendar of the Pharisees.  Also, the fact that Enoch suggests that some gentiles will be saved is a strong indicator of authorship by a party other than the Pharisees, who foresaw only damnation and extinction for all peoples other than the Jews.  (With the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 A.D., of course, the Pharisees became the de facto ruling party in Judaism.)
Julius Evola, in his Revolt Against the Modern World, stresses the fact that the Semites were worshippers of the moon goddess while the Indo-Europeans were worshippers of the sky god.   This would explain the image of the star and crescent moon in Islam.  Evola's generalization is supported in part by Carroll Quigley in his Evolution of Civilizations.  Some of the beliefs of the Sadducees, especially their denials of a bodily resurrection and of the existence of angels and demons, suggest that they were open to Indo-European influences in their thinking, unlike the Pharisees.   The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901) states that the Sadducees came under Hellenistic influences.
Enoch presents a fascinating tour of the heavens and the earth by its protagonist.  It is exceedingly difficult to conceptualize this, but attempts have been made to draw maps, or schematic charts, of the world as revealed by Enoch's journey.  Enoch's mention of the mysterious Watchers has enhanced its popularity among followers of the New Age.   Whitley Strieber, famous author of accounts of people being abducted by "aliens" from outer space, identifies the latter with the Watchers.   The "Greys," the most popular representation of "aliens" from outer space, would seem to have little to do with angels, fallen or otherwise.  They seem to be closer to demons.   If I recall correctly, one survey of public opinion revealed that eleven percent of the general population of the USA believe that some people have been abducted by "aliens" from outer space.  That explains a lot of things!
Postscript:   Could the seven stars of the 18th chapter of Enoch be the Pleiades?  The Pleiades are recognized by that name in the King James Version in Job 9:9; 38:31.   The Geneva Bible also recognizes the Pleiades in Amos 5:8.     Neither Charles nor Schodde, in their respective notes on Enoch, refers to the Pleiades, not further defining the seven stars.   Also, the seven stars in Enoch seem to be outcasts, abodes of evil.  That does not accord with the popular image of the Pleiades among the so-called UFO contactees.  Billy Meier, especially, sees all good coming from the Pleiades.  The Pleiades of Enoch would seem to be an appropriate headquarters for the sinister "Greys."

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