Introduction

From: 1 Enoch

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Introduction Contents of 1 Enoch 1 Enoch divides into five major sections, which are followed by two short appendices: The Book of the Watchers (chaps. 1–36); The Book of Parables (chaps. 37–71); The Book of the Luminaries (chaps. 72– 82); The Dream Visions (chaps. 83–90); The Epistle of Enoch (chaps. 91–105); The Birth of Noah (chaps. 106–107); Another Book by Enoch (chap. 108). The sections represent developing stages of the Enochic tradition, each one building on the earlier ones—though not in the order in which they presently stand in the collection. Overall they express a common worldview that characterizes this present world and age as evil and unjust and in need of divine adjudication and renewal. With the possible exception of the Book of the Luminaries, they focus on the common concern and expectation that a coming divine judgment will eradicate evil and injustice from the earth and will return the world to God’s created intention. Their authority lies in their claim that they transmit divine revelation, which the patriarch Enoch received in primordial times (Gen 5:21-24) and which is made public in the last times to constitute the eschatological community of the chosen. The Book of the Watchers (Chaps. 1–36) Chapters 1–5 were composed as an introduction to chapters 1–36, but now set the keynote for the entire work. They constitute a tri-partite prophetic oracle, in which “Enoch” announces the coming theophany, when God and the heavenly entourage will render judgment against the rebel angels who introduced evil into the world and against sinful humans, who perpetrate it. The first section (1:1-9) paraphrases part of Moses’ final blessing on Israel (Deuteronomy 33) and an oracle of Balaam (Numbers 24) and bases Enoch’s authority 1 Enoch translation FM.indd 1 Enoch translation FM.indd 1 8/24/2012 10:38:21 AM 8/24/2012 10:38:21 AM 2 1 Enoch on visions received in heaven and interpreted by angels. The second section (2:1—5:4), cast in the language of Israelite wisdom traditions, expands the indictment of “all flesh” (1:9) by contrasting the obedience of the heavenly bodies and the earthly seasons with humanity’s disobedience. The final section (5:5-9) employs language from Isaiah 56–66 to describe the blessings and curses that await the righteous chosen and the sinners. Chapters 6–11 are an interpretation of Genesis 6–9 that identifies events of the primordial past with those of the author’s time. “The sons of God” (Gen 6:2), identified as angels (“watchers”), led by their chieftain Shemihazah, rebel against God by mating with mortal women and begetting giants, who devastate the earth. The giants can be interpreted as stand-ins for the warriors of the author’s own time (the Hellenistic kings). The Genesis description of the Flood flows into a scenario that is appropriate for God’s eschatological judgment and the inception of the new age. Interwoven with the myth of the watchers and the women is a second pair of myths, which identify the sin of the watchers as the revelation of forbidden secrets (metallurgy and mining, magic and the mantic arts) that promote violence and promiscuity. Here the rebel chieftain is Asael, a figure who resembles Prometheus, the rebellious divine figure of Greek myth. Humanity’s plea, heard by the four high angels, triggers the judgment. With the sinful principals annihilated, a new age ensues with blessings for the chosen and those of humanity who have converted to the worship of God. Chapters 12–16 interpret chapters 6–11, employing the form of a prophetic commissioning account. Enoch ascends to heaven, where God commands him to announce judgment on the fallen watchers. Here the watchers’ sin is described as the forbidden intermixture of flesh and spirit. Different from chapters 6–11, the death of the watchers does not annihilate them, but releases their spirits to constitute a realm of evil spirits who plague humanity until the final judgment. Chapters 17–32 enhance the account of Enoch’s commissioning by providing a spatial reference to the previous temporal prediction of a future judgment. Enoch sees the places where the apparatus of judgment has been prepared and where it will be executed. Chapters 17–19 recount Enoch’s journey to the far northwest, where in the company of interpreting angels, he views the places of final punishment for the watchers and certain rebellious stars...