In the Second Temple period (516 B.C.E.–70 C.E.), several texts were composed that recount heavenly visions revealed to Enoch, a patriarch briefly mentioned in Genesis 4–5. Some of these writings were compiled into a large, 108-chapter work, known today as 1 Enoch. (For a convenient translation, see Nickelsburg and VanderKam 2004.) It is a composite work, composed of distinct texts written by various authors at various times, ranging from the third century B.C.E. to the first century C.E. First Enoch falls into five major divisions:

  • The “Book of the Watchers” (1 Enoch 1–36)
  • The “Book of Parables” (1 Enoch 37–71)
  • The “Book of the Luminaries” (1 Enoch 72–82)
  • The “Dream Visions” (1 Enoch 83–90)
  • The “Epistle of Enoch” (1 Enoch 92–105)

First Enoch is distinct from two other works, 2 Enoch and 3 Enoch, that are also associated with Enoch. First Enoch is canonical neither in Judaism nor in Christianity, except in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The work, which is preserved in its entirety only in Geʾez (classical Ethiopic), is therefore sometimes referred to as Ethiopian Enoch.

Despite its obscurity, 1 Enoch is an important ancient Jewish document. It is crucial for understanding Jewish apocalypticism. In the Second Temple period the “apocalypse” emerges as a distinct genre (Collins 1998), characterized by a claim of transmission of revealed, supernatural knowledge from a heavenly source, such as an angel. This knowledge, often in the form of a vision, relates to topics such as the final (eschatological) judgment or the nature of the heavenly world. The Jewish apocalyptic tradition flourished especially in second and first centuries B.C.E. and was a foundational element in the formation of Christianity. The “Book of the Watchers” and the “Astronomical Book,” both understood to have been written in the third century B.C.E., are the oldest extant Jewish apocalypses.

First Enoch also constitutes important evidence for understanding biblical interpretation in Second Temple Judaism. As discussed more fully below, the core narrative of the “Book of the Watchers” is a retelling of the flood narrative of the book of Genesis. The “Book of the Watchers” suggests that by the third century B.C.E. at least the early chapters of Genesis existed in a form that is similar to what we have today and that they were considered a legitimate source of knowledge about the distant past. The “Book of the Watchers” and other Enochic books also elucidate how biblical texts were extensively and creatively reworked in this early period of Judaism.

The Text of 1 Enoch and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

For centuries knowledge of 1 Enoch was lost among Western scholars. The book reemerged when James Bruce, a Scotsman who traveled in Africa during the years 1768–1773 to discover the sources of the Nile River, acquired several Ethiopian manuscripts of the work and brought them to Europe. The first modern edition of 1 Enoch was published in 1821 by Richard Laurence.

Recently, interest in 1 Enoch has flourished due to the discovery and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a vast collection of Jewish texts from the second century B.C.E. through the early first century C.E. These writings have brought to light several previously unknown ancient documents with apocalyptic and/or eschatological content, such as the War Scroll, which contains an elaborate description of the final battle between the forces of good and evil (Collins 1997). The scrolls have stimulated interest in Jewish apocalypticism and, by extension, 1 Enoch.

The Dead Sea Scrolls include fragments of eleven Aramaic manuscripts of Enochic books (4Q201-02; 4Q204-12). For the first time, texts of 1 Enoch in Aramaic became available. These manuscripts are the oldest extant witnesses to the books of 1 Enoch. They were published by the Polish scholar Józef Milik in 1976 (see also Knibb 1978; Bhayro 2005). Roughly 19 percent of 1 Enoch now exists in Aramaic. Some parts of the composition are also extant in Greek. The Akhmim manuscript, also known as Codex Panopolitanus (fifth–sixth century C.E.), which was discovered in the late nineteenth century in Upper Egypt, includes the Greek text of 1 Enoch 1:1—32:6. The Byzantine author George Syncellus at the beginning of the ninth century wrote a chronography that includes extensive quotations rom 1 Enoch 6–16. The Chester Beatty-Michigan Papyrus (fourth century C.E.) was published in 1937 and includes the text of 1 Enoch 97:6—107:3 in Greek. In the past few decades there have also been new discoveries of manuscripts in Geʾez (Ethiopic). The emergence of previously unknown manuscripts in Aramaic, Greek, and Ethiopic during the twentieth century has opened up new opportunities for understanding the development of the text of 1 Enoch.

The Aramaic manuscripts have sparked debates regarding the formation of 1 Enoch as a collection of books. Some of the Qumran texts include material from several Enochic writings. The first century B.C.E. 4Q204, for example, contains material that corresponds to portions of the “Book of the Watchers,” the “Dream Visions,” and the “Epistle of Enoch.” This suggests that some sort of collection of Enochic books was in existence by the first century B.C.E. Milik argued that there was an Enochic “Pentateuch” designed to rival the authority of the five books of the Torah. It has also been suggested that there was a pre-Maccabean Enochic “testament” (a genre typically involving exhortation from a speaker on his deathbed) that consists of a version of the “Book of the Watchers” and the “Epistle of Enoch,” linked by 1 Enoch 81:1—82:4, perhaps including other texts of 1 Enoch as well (Nickelsburg 2001). However, the available evidence does not support either of these hypotheses, and suggests that there was not yet a standard or fixed collection of books attributed to Enoch in this period (Greenfield and Stone 1977; Knibb 2002). The Qumran texts indicate instead that different arrangements of Enochic writings existed, suggesting that the compilation of 1 Enoch was a later development. While 4Q204 includes text from the “Book of the Watchers” and other books of 1 Enoch, the manuscripts 4Q201 and 4Q202 contain only material from the “Book of the Watchers.” This suggests that the book circulated both independently from and as part of an assemblage of Enochic texts. The Aramaic manuscripts of the “Book of the Luminaries” (4Q208–211) also give no impression that they are part of a larger Enochic collection.

Authorship and the Figure of Enoch.

First Enoch does not have a single author, although the composition as a whole is attributed to Enoch. Pseudepigraphy, namely attribution to a famous author of a long-ago era, is a common phenomenon in ancient Jewish apocalyptic writings, aimed at endowing texts with authority derived from a revered figure of the ancient past. Enoch lived before the flood, but his writings pertain to the distant future, namely the period during which much of 1 Enoch was written and being read (between the third and first centuries B.C.E.). The opening of the book stresses this point: “Not for this generation do I expound, but concerning one that is distant I speak” (1 En. 1:2).

In the book of Genesis, Enoch is mentioned only briefly in 4:17–18 and 5:21–24, but is given unusual distinction (VanderKam 1984). His presentation in Genesis 5 is paramount for 1 Enoch. In the genealogy of this biblical chapter, Enoch is the seventh generation after Adam, the son of Jared and the father of Methuselah. (In the variant genealogy of Genesis 4, Enoch is the son of Cain and the father of Irad.) Genesis 5 states that Enoch lived three hundred and sixty-five years (v. 23), which is the number of days in a solar year. This motif is utilized in the “Book of the Luminaries,” which endorses a solar calendar (see below). Genesis 5:24 asserts, according to most English translations, that “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him” (v. 24). This presumably refers to being taken up to heaven. The verse's claim that he walked with “God” uses the common Hebrew term for God, but also has a definite article (hā-ʾĕlōhîm), which may lead instead to an interpretation that he walked instead with “the angels,” an understanding that pervades 1 Enoch. Throughout the composition Enoch is shown aspects of the heavenly world by angels. This motif is central, for example, in the “Astronomical Book” and the “Book of the Watchers” (see below).

Enoch is presented as a sort of heavenly scribe (1 En. 12:4; 15:1). He learns esoteric knowledge revealed to him by angels. He reads books in heaven in which the destiny of humankind is recorded (1 En. 81–82). He writes down what he saw and learned. This understanding of the character helps explain why texts composed in the Second Temple period were attributed to Enoch.

The figure of Enoch, in terms of his presentation in Genesis, is generally understood as a Jewish appropriation of Mesopotamian myth (VanderKam 1984; Kvanvig 1988) concerning the mythical Mesopotamian king Enmeduranki, the seventh king in the Sumerian King List, which describes the reigns of Mesopotamian kings in the distant past. Enmeduranki is also known from the writings of the early third century B.C.E. Babylonian historian Berossus. Enmeduranki was revered as the founder of a guild of practitioners of divination and as someone who received revelations from heaven. This king ruled the Mesopotamian city of Sippar, a center for the worship of the sun god Shamash. This recalls the number of Enoch's years, three hundred and sixty-five (Gen 5:23). The development of Enoch presumably constitutes a Jewish effort to have a patriarch who could rival, in terms of both his antiquity and ability to receive revelations from the heavenly world, revered figures of Mesopotamian myth such as Enmeduranki.

The “Book of the Watchers,” (1 Enoch 1–36).

The “Book of the Watchers”, particularly chapters 6–11, contains a narrative that is appropriated and refashioned several times elsewhere in 1 Enoch. Because a Qumran manuscript from the first half of the second century B.C.E. (4Q201) contains parts of the “Book of the Watchers,” some version of the book existed during the third century B.C.E. and perhaps somewhat earlier.

The “Book of the Watchers” comprises several distinct sections:

  • 1 Enoch 1–5, an introduction
  • 1 Enoch 6–11, a reformulation of the biblical flood story
  • 1 Enoch 12–16, a reconfiguration of the narrative of chapters 6–11
  • 1 Enoch 17–19, an account of Enoch's journey with the angels to the northwest
  • 1 Enoch 20–36, an account of Enoch's journey with the angels to the east

Chapters 1–5 set the tone for the rest of the book. This unit stresses the sinfulness of humankind and the inevitability of judgment. Chapter 1 describes God descending to earth with the host of heavenly angels, causing the mountains to shake and break apart, in order to judge humankind (1:4–9). The view that the wicked will be destroyed during God's judgment occurs throughout the book. In that sense the first chapter of 1 Enoch establishes the entire book's eschatological horizon.

In 1 Enoch 2:1—5:4 Enoch acts as a prophet, rebuking humanity for its sins. He asks people to observe the regularity of the cosmos, with its seasons and standard movements. The stars, trees, and other elements of the natural world, he argues, faithfully obey God's commandments. People, by contrast, disobey God (5:4), so God's eschatological judgment will destroy the wicked. The “chosen” will afterward live in a state of utopian bliss in which sin does not exist (vv. 8–9). The emphasis on the “chosen” may indicate that the “Book of the Watchers” was produced by a group that considered its members to have elect status. Neither this book nor 1 Enoch as a whole, however, provides enough evidence to claim that a distinct sectarian community authored some or all of its contents.

First Enoch 6–11 creatively expands the biblical flood story, in particular the very enigmatic Genesis 6:1–4, where “Sons of God” come down from heaven and sleep with human women. They can be reasonably understood as angels, but the text never states this directly. The “sons of God” produce offspring who are “heroes,” literally in Hebrew “the mighty men” (ha-gibbōrîm). They are figures “of old and men of renown” (Gen 6:4). This description is brief but positive. It is unclear how these “heroes” or their fathers should be related to the rise of evil in the world which triggers the biblical flood. Genesis 6:1–4 also refers to the enigmatic “Nephilim,” literally “the fallen ones.” This may be another term for the offspring of the angels, but Genesis 6 never explains who they are.

First Enoch 6–11 fills out details that are unclear in Genesis 6:1–4. The “sons of God” are now unambiguously angels. The “Book of the Watchers” describes them with the term “watchers,” an Aramaic word for angel that also occurs in the book of Daniel (4:13, 17, 23; 1 En. 6:2). Unlike Genesis 6, 1 Enoch specifies the number of angels who descended to earth and provides names for twenty of them, each of whom is a “chief” of ten angels, giving a total of two hundred watchers (6:6–7). A watcher by the name of Shemihazah is the leader of the group. Asael is prominent as well. His name in some manuscripts of 1 Enoch is Azazel, the demonic figure associated with the scapegoat ritual in Leviticus 16. (For example, in the Greek of 1 En. 8:1—in both the Syncellus and Panopolitanus texts—he is Asael but the Ethiopic text of the same verse gives his name as Azazel.) The watchers go to earth in order to marry women and have children, aware that this constitutes a sin (6:3). Shemihazah makes them swear an oath on Mount Hermon, the tallest peak of the region, to ensure that they carry out their plans. They not only sleep with women but also, in a departure from Genesis, teach them forbidden knowledge regarding a range of subjects, including metallurgy, allowing for the production of metal weapons (7:1; 8:1–4). The “Book of the Watchers,” like the Greek myth of Prometheus, attributes knowledge that is basic to human civilization to an unsanctioned disclosure of heavenly revelation.

In the “Book of the Watchers” the offspring of the angels and the women are dangerous and chaotic giants who wreck havoc in the world. According to Greek Panopolitanus text and the Ethiopic, they are over 3,000 cubits tall, well over half a mile in height. This incredible stature is not attested in the Qumran manuscripts of the book, but this could be because of their poor state of preservation. The appetites of the giants are insatiable (Goff 2010), and they eat the food produced by humans. Remaining hungry, they eat the humans themselves, along with other creatures of the animal kingdom, such as fish and birds. Then they eat each other (1 En. 7:3–5). They also drink the blood of their victims, a taboo in biblical law (e.g., Lev 17:10–11). The “Book of the Watchers” transforms the enigmatic “heroes” of Genesis 6:4 into creatures who are unambiguously destructive and evil. Unlike the Genesis account, the violence and bloodshed that fills the earth before the flood (Gen 6:11) are attributed directly to these giants. The rampages of the giants may evoke the upheaval and bloodshed of the late fourth century B.C.E., during which the generals of Alexander the Great struggled after his death to assert control over the vast areas he conquered, including Palestine (Nickelsburg 2001; 1977).

In the wake of the giants’ crimes, the earth and its victims cry out (1 En. 7:6; 8:4; 9:2–3), and the four archangels (Michael, Sariel, Raphael, and Gabriel) are commissioned by God to cleanse the world (1 En. 9:1; 10:1–22); this corresponds to the biblical flood narrative. The “Book of the Watchers,” however, retains very little of the flood story. Noah is warned by Sariel of the coming devastation in 1 Enoch 10:2 (contrast Gen 6:13–21, in which Noah is informed about the flood by God). The book, however, says nothing about an ark or saving animals. The watchers are to witness the destruction of their sons, the termination of their family line on earth (10:12, 15). The angels are to be imprisoned for “seventy generations” in the earth, where they are to await their punishment in the final judgment. Leaping forward to the end of history, the text envisages the eschatological purification of the earth, in which all iniquity will be eradicated (10:16—11:2). Afterward the “righteous” are to enjoy a joyful existence.

The watchers myth illustrates how some Jews in the late Second Temple period conceived of the rise of evil that led to the flood: the horrid crimes of the giants are a consequence of their angelic fathers’ descent to earth. The spread of evil has a supernatural origin and humans are the victims, not the agents, of this development. The rise of iniquity in the world is attributed to the free will of sinful angels rather than to a choice made by Adam or any other human being. The popularity of the “Book of the Watchers” in Second Temple Judaism (see “Reception History” below) suggests that its interpretation of the flood narrative, to a greater extent than the Adam and Eve story, provided a framework for Jews in this period for understanding the origin of evil in the world.

First Enoch 6–11 is itself a composite text. Scholars make a distinction between a strand of the narrative in which the angel Shemihazah is prominent and secondary material in which Asael comes to the fore (e.g., Newsom 1980; Yoshiko Reed 2005). In the Shemihazah narrative the main crime of the angels is their illicit sexual union with human women. First Enoch 8:1–3 is a good example of the secondary stratum. These verses interrupt the narrative (read 8:4 immediately after 7:6) and give prominence to Asael over Shemihazah. First Enoch 8:1–3 presents the crime of the angels not as sexual transgression but rather illicit instruction, since they teach the women forbidden knowledge from heaven (cf. 10:8; 16:3). The Qumran manuscripts 4Q201 and 4Q202, from the first half of the second century B.C.E., already attest the combination of the Asael and Shemihazah strands of the narrative. The Asael and Shemihazah sections were probably redacted together during the third century B.C.E.

First Enoch 12–16 retells key elements of the story of the watchers. The figure of Enoch, who never appears in chapters 6–11, is incorporated into the narrative. Enoch is “taken,” presumably up to heaven (12:1–2), and commissioned to rebuke the watchers for their crimes and proclaim their destruction (12:3—13:3). Chapters 12–16 also emphasize that the angels’ marriages violate the boundary between the heavenly and earthly realms (15:3–4). To a greater extent than chapters 6–11, the watchers feel remorse for sleeping with the women. Feeling too much shame to approach God themselves, they request that Enoch intercede on their behalf to ask God for mercy (13:4–5). He writes out their petition and has a vision in which he ascends to heaven and proceeds to God's throne room (13:6, 8; 14:4): “I saw a lofty throne; and its appearance was like ice, and its wheels were like the shining sun…and from beneath the throne issued rivers of flaming fire” (14:18; cf. Ezek 1). God finds it unnatural that angels on earth have a human in heaven beseech God for mercy on their behalf, and therefore gives no credence to their petition (15:1–4). Enoch travels back to earth to convey God's rebuke of the watchers and assert that they will be punished (15:4; 16:4; cf. 12:4; 13:1–2). The angels are understood to have existed originally in spirit form. Their offspring the giants are construed as an unsanctioned admixture of flesh and spirit (15:8).

The fate of the giants in chapters 12–16 diverges significantly from 1 Enoch 6–11. The giants are not utterly obliterated. Rather only their flesh is destroyed (15:8–9; contrast 10:12, 15). Their spirits live on to plague humankind, echoing the violent crimes which they committed in bodily form (Wright 2005). The spirits of the giants do things such as “make desolate, and attack and wrestle and hurl upon the earth” (15:11). Some of these actions are probably explanations of illnesses such as epilepsy, which are attributed to the machinations of these evil spirits. First Enoch 15:11 also states that they attack women, being once born from them, a claim that presumably understands problems in childbirth as a consequence of the activity of these evil spirits. Chapters 12–16 attempt to explain not only the nature of evil in the primordial period but also its continuation in the world. The attribution of illnesses or difficulties in childbirth to demonic, malevolent forces was long-standing in the ancient Near East. First Enoch 12–16 offers a novel etiology for such demonic powers—they are the spirits of the giants, the sons of the watchers.

A precise date of composition for 1 Enoch 12–16 cannot be established. The chapters were written after 1 Enoch 6–11, which was produced in the third century B.C.E. A portion of chapters 12–16 is preserved in a Qumran manuscript (4Q202) that was written in the mid-second century B.C.E. A rough date of composition between 300 and 250 B.C.E. (or somewhat earlier) for 1 Enoch 12–16 is probable. The visionary activity of Enoch is not located in Jerusalem but rather Upper Galilee, in the vicinity of Dan, a religious center of the northern kingdom of Israel (1 En. 13:7–9; cf. 1 Kgs 12:29–30). This may indicate that these chapters were written in this area, although the locale may simply continue the focus in chapters 6–11 on Mount Hermon, which is also in this region (Nickelsburg 1981). Alternatively, chapters 12–16 may have been written as a critique of the Jerusalem priesthood. The defilement of the angels by mingling with the blood of women (15:4) can be understood as a polemical allusion to the marriage practices of priests and their violation of purity laws. The story of the watchers in chapters 6–11 can be interpreted as a critique of exogamy, which was written against priests who were considered not to have sufficient standards of purity (Suter 1979). At the very least 1 Enoch 12–16 questions the centrality of the Jerusalem Temple establishment, as Enoch ascends directly to the heavenly throne, without any reliance whatsoever on the Temple or its rituals.

The second half of the “Book of the Watchers” (1 En. 17–36) shifts the focus from primordial history to geography. Enoch is taken up and given extensive tours by angels, journeys that include locales not normally accessible to humans. The composition provides detailed itineraries of his journeys. He claims, for example: “I saw the treasuries of all the winds.…I saw the foundation of the earth and the cornerstone of the earth.…I saw the paths of the angels. I saw at the ends of the earth the firmament of heaven above” (18:1–5). He sees where the fallen angels are bound (18:11; 19:1; 21:7–10), demonstrating reliance on the account of their fate in 1 Enoch 10. He is shown a hollow mountain in which the souls of the dead await judgment (ch. 22). Enoch also sees the “paradise of righteousness” which contains “the tree of wisdom” from which Adam and Eve ate (32:3–6; cf. 25:1–5).

First Enoch 17–19 and 20–36 are distinct sections that describe different journeys (Coblentz Bautch 2003). Chapters 17–19 may presuppose that Enoch is in the heavenly throne room, from which he begins his travels (see 17:1). In his first journey (1 En. 17–19) Enoch travels to the western ends of the earth, where he sees a river of fire and the mouth of all the rivers of the world (17:3–5). Then in chapters 20–36 Enoch begins in the west and moves eastward. He goes to Jerusalem, which is regarded as the center of the earth (chs. 26–27), and from there he travels to the eastern edge of the world, and then circumnavigates the entire disk of the earth (chs. 29–36). Taking 1 Enoch 17–36 as a whole, there are western locales that Enoch visits twice, first when he heads to the west and again as he journeys from the west to the east (compare, for example, 18:6–9 with 24:2–5; 18:10—19:3 with 21:1–5). First Enoch 17–19 probably developed as a variant tradition of Enoch's travels to the heavenly throne (ch. 14) that was joined secondarily to chapters 12–16. First Enoch 20–36 can be understood as a later expansion and continuation of chapters 17–19. Fragments of 1 Enoch 20–36 found at Qumran (4Q204–206) have been dated to the early first century B.C.E. If chapters 17–19 were written before chapters 20–36, they were probably composed in the early or middle of the second century B.C.E., although a somewhat earlier date cannot be discounted.

The “Book of Parables” (1 Enoch 37–71).

The “Book of Parables,” also called the “Book of Similitudes,” consists primarily of three units, called “parables,” that focus on the eschatological fates of the righteous and the wicked (chs. 38–44, 45–57, and 58–69). It is described at the outset as “the vision of wisdom that Enoch saw” (37:1). Much of the content of the book is presented as knowledge shown or told to him by angels (e.g., 41:1–2; 46:1–2; cf. 39:3). The composition concludes with two distinct epilogues in 1 Enoch 70–71 (70:1–2; 70:3—71:17).

No text of the “Book of Parables” has been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is the only book of 1 Enoch for which this is the case, and may indicate that the document was written after the Dead Sea Scrolls were composed. Some scholars argue that the work is not Jewish at all but rather a Christian composition from the third century C.E. (Milik). While this view is too extreme, the “Book of Parables,” which shows familiarity with other parts of 1 Enoch, was written later than the other books of the Enochic collection. In chapters 54–56, for example, Enoch visits the place where the fallen watchers are bound, as in chapters 19 and 21 (cf. 39:1). The reference to the Parthians and the Medes in 1 Enoch 56:5–7 suggests knowledge of the invasion of Palestine by the Parthian Empire of Persia in 40 B.C.E. The Gospel of Matthew probably shows some familiarity with traditions attested in the “Book of Parables” (see below), which would suggest an approximate date of composition for the “Book of Parables” between 25 B.C.E. and 50 C.E.

The “Book of Parables” contains a range of characteristic vocabulary and themes that are not found in the other books of 1 Enoch. God, for example, is often referred to as the “Lord of Spirits” (e.g., 38:2; 39:9; 41:7). The book frequently refers to the eschatological destruction of the kings and mighty of the earth, a topic that is not stressed elsewhere in 1 Enoch (e.g., chs. 53, 63; note, however, the woes against the rich in the “Epistle of Enoch,” discussed below).

The most important theme that is distinctive to the “Book of Parables” is the “Son of Man.” As an angel explains to Enoch: “this son of man whom you have seen—he will raise the kings and the mighty from their couches, and the strong from their thrones.…He will overturn the kings from their thrones and their kingdoms, because they do not exalt him or praise him” (46:4–5). He is a messianic figure who plays a crucial role in the final judgment. He is called God's “Anointed One,” the literal meaning of the word “messiah” (48:10; 52:4). He is also called the “Righteous” or “Chosen One” (e.g., 49:1; 53:6).

The “Book of Parables” is a crucial text for understanding the eschatological sense of the phrase “son of man” in Judaism and Christianity. Although throughout the Hebrew Bible the expression means simply “human being” (note the synonymous parallelism in Ps 8:4), its use to describe an eschatological figure derives from Daniel 7:13. In that passage, it is not a title; rather, the verse describes one who is “like a son of man.” This probably means that the figure in question resembles a human being but is not actually human. He is reasonably identified as an angel, perhaps the archangel Michael (cf. Dan 10:21; 12:1). In the New Testament, the phrase “son of man” has several meanings; one is as the title of a messianic figure who will carry out God's eschatological judgment. The Gospel of Matthew, for example, describes the son of man seated on a throne of glory to judge (Matt 19:28; 25:31; cf. 1 En. 61:8; 62:2). This is more like the son of man in the “Book of Parables” than the one like a son of man in Daniel 7. This suggests that the New Testament does not simply draw on the book of Daniel, but appropriates Danielic traditions that changed and developed after Daniel was written, traditions attested in the “Book of Parables” (cf. 4 Ezra 13). The book functions as an important missing link that helps fill in the background of the phrase “son of man” in the New Testament.

In the “Book of Parables” the son of man does not simply judge the wicked but also provides eschatological hope to the righteous. As the Righteous and Chosen One, he has a special relationship with the righteous and the chosen: “the righteous and the chosen will be saved on that day.…And the Lord of Spirits will abide over them, and with that son of man they will eat, and they will lie down and rise up forever and ever” (1 En. 62:13–14). There is some evidence that the book was intended for a specific community that was understood to have elect status; 1 Enoch 38:1, for example, refers to the “congregation of the righteous.” The exact nature of the community in question cannot, unfortunately, be recovered.

The figure of the son of man changes in the ending of the “Book of Parables.” In chapters 70–71 Enoch ascends to heaven and is taken to the heavenly throne-room, as in 1 Enoch 14. In 1 Enoch 70:1 he may be raised before both the Lord of Spirits and “that son of man,” but some manuscript variants for this text do not have God and the son of man together in heaven. In 1 Enoch 71:14 an angel identifies Enoch as the son of man: “You are that son of man who was born for righteousness, and righteousness dwells on you.” This is completely at odds with the rest of the “Book of Parables.” Throughout the work Enoch sees visions that include the son of man, without any indication that the two figures are one and the same. The book provides no clear reason for this discrepancy. Parts of 1 Enoch 70–71 can be explained as an addition to the “Book of Parables” that was written in Jewish circles after the emergence of Christianity. So understood, the added material was designed to assert that Enoch, not Jesus, is the son of man.

The “Book of the Luminaries” (1 Enoch 72–82).

The “Book of the Luminaries,” also known as the “Astronomical Book,” is, like the “Book of Watchers,” one of the oldest books of 1 Enoch and one of the earliest examples of a Jewish apocalypse. Four Qumran manuscripts of this work are available (4Q208–11), the oldest of which (4Q208) dates to the end of the third or beginning of the second century B.C.E.

The bulk of the “Book of the Luminaries” is a compilation of cosmological and astronomical knowledge. First Enoch 72:2–3 provides an impression of the contents of the book: “This is the first law of the luminaries: the luminary (called) the sun has its emergence through the heavenly gates in the east and its setting through the western gates of the sky. I saw six gates through which the sun emerges and six gates through which the sun sets.” The book contains no account of Enoch's ascent to heaven. Such a journey, however, is implied by the text's wealth of celestial information which, one is told at the outset, was shown to Enoch by the angel Uriel (72:1). The astronomical knowledge of the book is at times quite detailed and difficult to comprehend (e.g., ch. 73). The older version of the “Book of the Luminaries,” in Aramaic from Qumran, contains many details that are not in the previously known version in Ethiopic, suggesting that some astronomical data was truncated in the book's transmission.

The “Book of the Luminaries” tabulates the length of the year as 364 days (1 En. 72:32; 74:12; 82:6) and thus advocates a solar calendar of exactly 52 weeks. The determination of the calendar was a contentious issue in Second Temple Judaism (VanderKam 1998; Ben-Dov 2008), when there were disagreements regarding the proper days of festivals. The “Book of the Luminaries” does not polemicize against the lunar calendar of 354 days (see 1 En. 74), but seeks to correct the view that the calendar is composed of 360 days (75:1–2; cf. 82:5–6). The lack of stress in the work on the precise dating of festivals may mean that it was written by a religious community that followed the same calendar as the Temple establishment (but see 82:9). The “Book of Luminaries,” however, was likely to have been read by the Dead Sea sect, which did depart from the ritual calendar employed by the Temple (e.g., 1QpHab 11:4–8; CD 6:11–12).

Like other sections of 1 Enoch, the “Book of Luminaries” is informed by eschatological interests. First Enoch 72:1, for example, states that the book's account of the motion of heavenly bodies will be accurate “until a new creation lasting forever is made” and chapter 80 envisages a time when the cosmos will lose its regularity and predictability: “In the days of the sinners the years will grow shorter.…Everything on the earth will change and will not appear at their times” (v. 2). At that time “the moon will change its order and will not appear at its (normal) time” and stars “will change their ways and actions and will not appear at the times prescribed for them” (vv. 4, 6). Like the “Book of the Watchers,” the “Book of the Luminaries” associates the rise of human sin with celestial disobedience. There is also an association in 1 Enoch, as in other Second Temple Jewish literature, between angels and the stars in heaven (e.g., 1 En. 21:5–6; 82:13–20; Dan 12:3; cf. Job 38:7). First Enoch 80 differs from chapters 1–5, which contrast obedient nature with wayward humans. The proclamation of a coming period of increased sin and cosmic disarray is not accompanied in the final section of the book by an account of eschatological judgment (but see 81:9).

First Enoch 81:1—82:4 is quite different from the rest of the “Book of the Luminaries.” Enoch is in heaven and reads a book which contains God's deterministic plan that guides the actions and destinies of all humans, including those yet to be born (81:2). The supernatural revelation Enoch receives in this section includes nothing about the motion of heavenly bodies, in striking contrast to the rest of the book. There is also an emphasis on Enoch's transmission of heavenly knowledge that is not attested elsewhere in the “Book of the Luminaries.” In an apparent elaboration of Genesis 5:24, Enoch is sent back to the earth for one year to write down what he learned for his son Methuselah, after which time he will be taken back up to heaven (81:5–6; cf. 82:1–3). It has been argued that 1 Enoch 81:1—82:4 is not original to the “Book of the Luminaries” and that it followed immediately after chapters 1–36 in an earlier form of the Enochic collection (Nickelsburg 2001); this view is not impossible but is unsupported by clear evidence. Nevertheless, 1 Enoch 81:1—82:3 is an odd fit within the “Book of the Luminaries” and may reasonably be considered an addition to the book. By contrast, 1 Enoch 82:4–20, the closing section of the book, reiterates key themes of the composition, such as the accuracy of a 364-day calendar (82:6), and functions well as a conclusion.

The “Dream Visions” (1 Enoch 83–90).

This unit, also known as the “Book of Dreams,” comprises two dream visions of Enoch. The first, 1 Enoch 83–84, pertains to the destruction of the earth in the flood. The second, chapters 85–90, is known as the “Animal Apocalypse.” It allegorically retells the full scope of history, from creation to final judgment, with the key figures envisioned as animals (Tiller 1993). Enoch conveys both visions to his son Methuselah (83:1; 85:2; cf. 91:1–2). The “Dream Visions” thus show continuity with the end of the “Book of the Luminaries,” which emphasizes that Enoch is to transmit his visions to Methuselah (81:1—82:3; esp. 81:5; 82:1).

Enoch's first vision takes place in the house of his grandfather Mahalalel (cf. Gen 5:15): “Heaven was thrown down and taken away and it fell down upon the earth. And when it fell upon the earth, I saw how the earth was swallowed up in the great abyss. Mountains were suspended upon mountains, and hills sank down upon hills” (83:3–4). Mahalalel interprets the vision for him: the earth is to be destroyed and Enoch should beseech God so that a remnant may survive (vv. 7–8). Enoch does so, blessing God and asking for mercy (83:11—84:6). The vision relies upon an understanding of the biblical flood as a paradigm for eschatological judgment. This is also the case in 1 Enoch 10 (see above), suggesting that chapters 83–84 reflect familiarity with the “Book of the Watchers” or some early version of it. The emphasis on Enoch supplicating God to spare a remnant provides an explanation why he did not utterly destroy humankind but saved Noah and his family.

In the second vision, the “Animal Apocalypse,” Enoch claims: “every deed of humanity was shown to me in its order” (1 En. 90:41). The “Animal Apocalypse” reveals the nature of history rather than the cosmos, in contrast to the “Book of the Luminaries” or 1 Enoch 17–36. The “Animal Apocalypse” draws upon the “Book of the Watchers” and can be viewed as complementing it, filling in the vast chronological gap between the imprisonment of the watchers in the primordial period and eschatological judgment, both described in 1 Enoch 10–11.

The “Animal Apocalypse” divides human history into three major periods: from creation to the flood (1 En. 85:3—89:8); from the postdiluvian restoration of the world to the final judgment (89:9—90:27); the eschatological transformation of the earth into a utopian paradise (90:28–38). The document, like the “Book of the Watchers,” shows tremendous interest in the primordial period and draws extensively upon the opening chapters of Genesis. The “Animal Apocalypse” begins with Adam and Eve, with Adam recast as a white bull (85:3). A “young heifer” (Eve) bears two bull calves, one black, one red. The former strikes the latter, alluding to the Cain and Abel story. The watcher myth, absent from Genesis, is presented as a key part of antediluvian history. Stars fall from heaven and take the form of bulls (1 En. 86:3). They mate with cows, who bear elephants, camels, and wild asses, who signify the giants (v. 4). They terrify human beings and devour the bulls (their fathers) and each other (86:5—87:1; cf. 7:3–5). Not unlike 1 Enoch 9–10, four “white men,” who stand for the four archangels, have the giants destroyed and throw their fathers into the earth's abyss (87:1—88:3). In contrast to the “Book of the Watchers,” the “Animal Apocalypse” provides a full narrative of Noah and the flood (89:1–8).

In the version of the history of Israel portrayed in the “Animal Apocalypse,” the Israelites are sheep and the gentiles unclean and predatory animals. In the text's retelling of the Exodus story, for example, the Egyptians are wolves (e.g., 89:13–14). The gentiles consistently attack and devour the sheep. The sins of the sheep typically involve blindness and turning away from God (e.g., 89:54). The period after the Babylonian Exile (586–538 B.C.E.) is characterized by seventy shepherds who are neglectful stewards of Israel (89:59—90:19). Since humans in the “Animal Apocalypse” are generally represented by animals, these “human” shepherds are probably angels (like the four “white men” of 1 En. 87:2), who have been appointed by God to destroy some of the sheep (89:60). They overstep their mandate and are excessive in their destruction, evoking the theme of wayward angels in a way that differs from the “Book of the Watchers” (vv. 61–64).

Like the book of Daniel, the “Animal Apocalypse” alludes directly to the Maccabean Revolt. First Enoch 90:9 mentions a sheep who sprouts a horn—a reference to Judas Maccabeus, the leader of the Judean uprising that began during the reign of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–164 B.C.E.). This suggests that the “Animal Apocalypse” was written around 165 B.C.E., or at least that an older version of the book was updated at this time, when the final version of Daniel was written. As in this biblical book, the “Animal Apocalypse” asserts that the Maccabean Revolt will be followed shortly by the end of history and the final judgment (Dan 11:29—12:3). God sits upon a throne and judges the wayward stars (the watchers) and the seventy shepherds (1 En. 90:20–27). The Temple in Jerusalem is replaced with a superior one (vv. 28–29). All the remaining animals are transformed into white bulls. The same animal represents Adam (85:3), evoking the view that the utopian bliss of the eschatological period is a restoration of the garden of Eden; the view that the end of time mirrors its beginning is common in apocalypses of this period. Like the book of Daniel, the “Animal Apocalypse” provided hope for the pious who were suffering during the Maccabean era. The book's comprehensive review of history helps legitimate its eschatological scenario. Since earlier periods of history are “predicted” by Enoch before the flood, then his account of the eschatological period can be easily considered correct as well.

The “Epistle of Enoch” (1 Enoch 92–105).

This unit is the last major section of 1 Enoch. Chapters 92–105 constitute a letter by “Enoch the scribe” written “to all my sons who will dwell on the earth, and to the last generations who will observe truth and peace” (1 En. 92:1). An overriding theme of the letter is sin and its inevitable punishment by God in judgment. It is prefaced by Enoch's exhortation in chapter 91 to Methuselah to summon family members so that they can hear his words (vv. 1–10, 18–19; cf. 82:1–3).

Much of the epistle takes the form of six discourses (94:6—96:3; 96:4—98:8; 98:9—99:10; 99:11—100:6; 100:7—102:3; 102:4—104:8), offering oracles of woe against sinners and exhortations to the righteous to persevere in their good standing before God (Stuckenbruck 2007). First Enoch 97:3, for example, proclaims: “And what will you do, O sinners, and where will you flee on that day of judgment, when you hear the words of the prayer of the righteous?” The sinners use their wealth unjustly and abuse the poor (cf. 94:8; 96:4–5; 97:7–8). They are also accused of improper religious practices, such as blasphemy (94:9; 96:7) and idolatry (99:7). The righteous are comforted: “Be hopeful, O righteous; for quickly the sinners will perish before you, and you will have authority over them as you desire” (96:1; cf. 95:3; 97:1). The pious but poor righteous are not to be dismayed at the current prosperity of the wicked (104:6; cf. 100:6; 102:4–11), nor at how they are victimized by sinners (103:9–13; cf. 102:4–5). Rather they should expect eschatological rewards after death: “Take courage, then; for formerly you were worn out by evils and tribulations, but now you will shine like the luminaries of heaven; you will shine and appear, and the portals of heaven will be opened for you” (104:2; cf. v. 4; 96:3).

The epistle's contrast between the righteous and the sinners may suggest that the document was written for a particular group and that the “righteous” should be regarded as a particular sect. This is also supported by the claim that the sinners write false books, with which they lead people astray (98:15; 104:10). The righteous, by contrast, are to obtain books written by Enoch, from which they will receive joy and wisdom (104:12–13). This presupposes the tradition that Enoch wrote down the knowledge he acquired from heaven (82:2) and may refer to an early version of 1 Enoch. The epistle, however, provides very little detail regarding such a sect and the assertion that it was written by a distinct community is uncertain.

It is difficult to establish a precise date for the “Epistle of Enoch.” Parts of the epistle are preserved in one Qumran manuscript (4Q212), which was written in the first century B.C.E., allowing the epistle in its final form to be plausibly dated to the second century B.C.E. or slightly later.

The epistle in its present form is a composite work. It includes a supplementary distinct composition known as the “Apocalypse of Weeks.” Much like the “Animal Apocalypse,” this work transmits a revelation to Enoch regarding the nature of history. The “Apocalypse of Weeks” organizes history, from creation to judgment, into ten distinct periods or “weeks” (cf. Dan 9, which refers to 490 years as “seventy weeks of years.”). The first seven weeks are in 1 Enoch 93:1–10 and the last three are in 91:11–17. It had long been suspected that these texts form a unit of ten weeks and that their arrangement in chapters 93 and 91 of 1 Enoch reflects an error in transmission. This has been confirmed by the Qumran manuscript 4Q212, which records the sequence of weeks in its correct order. The “Apocalypse of Weeks” contains a briefer review of history than the “Animal Apocalypse.” Enoch is born in the first week. The second is characterized by a rise of wickedness, alluding to the era of the fallen watchers before the flood. In the fourth week the Torah is revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai (93:6); at the end of the sixth week the Jerusalem Temple is destroyed (v. 8). The seventh week is characterized by another rise of wickedness and the determination of the elect. They will destroy the wicked in the eighth week and at the end of the tenth week the final judgment will occur (v. 15). The heavens will fade away and a new heaven will appear, and the elect will enjoy eternal life in piety and righteousness (93:16–17). The events of the seventh week probably allude to the upheaval of the Maccabean period, and like the “Animal Apocalypse,” it was likely written during this difficult time. The composition would have provided Jews with eschatological hope, proclaiming that the present age, with all of its upheaval, was a prelude to the imminent destruction of the wicked and the exaltation of the righteous.

First Enoch concludes with two appendixes, one about the birth of Noah (chs. 106–107), and an oracle that affirms the destruction of the wicked (ch. 108). In the first, Lamech, the son of Methuselah, is disturbed by the appearance of his son, who has just been born. Another version of the story appears in the Genesis Apocryphon from Qumran (1QapGen 2:1—5:27). The baby, the infant Noah, is “whiter than snow and redder than a rose” (1 En. 106:2). His face is “glorious” and his eyes fill the house with light. He looks more like an angel than a human (v. 5). Lamech becomes afraid of the child and asks Methuselah to travel to Enoch, who can explain the matter (v. 7). Enoch proclaims that God will send a flood, and that the baby and his future sons will be saved from this destruction (vv. 15, 18). There will be a second, eschatological sequence of sin and punishment, during which “evil and wickedness will end, and violence will cease from the earth” (107:1). These chapters, like the “Book of the Watchers,” rework the flood narrative. Noah's exceptional birth legitimates his central role in the story of the flood. His affinity with the angels adapts the claim in Genesis that he “walked with God (or: the angels),” as does Enoch (Gen 6:9; cf. 5:24; see “Authorship and the Figure of Enoch” above). As in 10:16—11:2, the flood functions as a paradigm for the eschatological transformation of the earth.

First Enoch 108 purports to be “another book” that Enoch wrote for his son Methuselah (cf. 82:1–3). It highlights a major Enochic theme—the opposed eschatological fates of the righteous and the wicked. Enoch asserts that the wicked will soon be eliminated; the angels even show him the fiery abyss into which they will be thrown (108:6). In contrast, he says of the righteous: “Indeed, I will bring forth in shining light those who loved my holy name, and I will seat each one on the throne of his honor, and they will shine for times without number” (v. 12).

The History of Traditions about 1 Enoch.

The books of 1 Enoch suggest that in Palestine during the Second Temple period, there were widespread and popular traditions regarding the antediluvian patriarch Enoch and his reception of heavenly visions. Other books from the era provide this impression as well. For example, the book of Jubilees, probably written in the second century B.C.E., reworks biblical narratives that cover the period from the creation of the world to the establishment of the covenant on Mount Sinai (Gen 1–Exod 24); it utilizes the flood story from Genesis and incorporates details found in the “Book of the Watchers.” Jubilees 7:21, for example, states that the flood occurred because of the fornication of the watchers with women on earth (cf. 5:1–11). Jubilees also extols Enoch, suggesting that he invented writing and “wrote in a book the signs of heaven according to the order of their months” (4:17), a claim that fits well with the “Book of the Luminaries” (1 En. 72–82). Enoch also “wrote a testimony and testified to the children of men throughout the generations of the earth” (4:18). Jubilees 4 claims further that Enoch had a vision of how humans will act until the final judgment (v. 19). The book also asserts that Enoch received divine knowledge about human history, similar to the “Animal Apocalypse” and the “Apocalypse of Weeks.” Jubilees does not simply praise Enoch but shows familiarity with traditions about him that are prominent in the books of 1 Enoch.

The Dead Sea Scrolls provide additional evidence for the popularity of Enochic traditions in the Second Temple period. Several Qumran manuscripts attest to a fragmentary composition written in Aramaic known as the Book of Giants (1Q23, 1Q24, 2Q26, 4Q203, 4Q530–533, 4Q206 2–3 and 6Q8; Stuckenbruck 1997). It reworks aspects of the “Book of the Watchers,” placing greater focus on the offspring of the watchers, even naming the giants (e.g., Mahaway, Ohyah and Hahyah). They eat voraciously, murder, and cause destruction, as in 1 Enoch 7, although a full narrative of their crimes is not preserved (4Q531 1 5–6; 4Q532 1 ii + 2 9–10; Goff). Ohyah and Hahyah, who are brothers, each have a vision alluding to the giants’ imminent destruction in the flood (4Q530 2 ii 3–20). They convey their dreams to the other giants, who are disturbed and confused by them. They commission Mahaway to travel to Enoch, who can interpret them, not unlike Methuselah's journey to Enoch in 1 Enoch 106 for an explanation of Noah's strange appearance (4Q530 2 ii 21–24; 4Q530 7 ii; 6Q8 1). Mahaway returns with tablets written by Enoch that rebuke both the giants and their fathers and proclaims their judgment (4Q203 8; cf. 4Q530 2 ii 14). The view that the Book of Giants was the second work in a collection of Enochic books that circulated at Qumran, to be replaced later by the “Book of Parables,” is unlikely (Milik).

Other Second Temple Jewish texts allude to Enochic traditions. The Damascus Document, in a review of the history of Israel, mentions the downfall of the watchers and their sons (CD 2:18–19). A text known as the Pesher on the Periods (4Q180–181) shows familiarity with the descent of the watchers and their sexual activity on earth, understanding their leader to be Azazel, without reference to Shemihazah. The book of Sirach, dating to the early second century B.C.E., praises Enoch and refers to his transfer to heaven (49:14; his ascent is also mentioned in 44:16, but not all ancient manuscripts of Sirach include this verse and it is probably a later addition). In rabbinic Judaism Enochic writings fell out of favor. There is scant evidence in post-Second Temple Judaism that 1 Enoch was considered authoritative (Yoshiko Reed). A collection of midrashim (interpretations) of the book of Genesis known as Genesis Rabbah that was compiled in the fifth century C.E. condemns the view that Genesis 6:1–4 refers to angels at all (Alexander 1972). According to this text one rabbi, Simeon b. Yohai, states that the phrase “sons of God” of Genesis 6:2 refers to “sons of judges,” and thus human beings. He curses anyone who calls them “sons of God,” that is, angels (Gen. Rab. 26:5). This exegesis avoids the theologically problematic view that angels sinned in the primordial period, and undercuts the presupposition upon which the “Book of the Watchers” is based, that the “sons of God” are angels. Some Enochic traditions, however, are preserved in rabbinic Judaism. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan understands the term “Nephilim” of Genesis 6:1–4 as referring to “Shamhazai and Azael” who fell from heaven. A rabbinic compilation from the early medieval period known as “the Midrash of Shemhazai and Azael” describes two brothers, Heyya and Aheyya, who are the sons of Shemhazai, who eat insatiably and are to be destroyed in the flood. This reflects not only reliance on traditions attested in the “Book of the Watchers” but the Book of Giants as well, in which Ohyah and Hahyah are brothers. Pirqe Rabbi Eliezer also alludes to the myth of an angelic descent and the birth of the giants (ch. 22), and there are occasional allusions to Enochic traditions in the Babylonian Talmud (e.g., b. Nid. 61a). An originally Jewish work known as Second Enoch, found in manuscripts in Slavonic, is preserved in the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition. Some fragments of the composition in Coptic were discovered in 2009. Second Enoch is an apocalypse in which the secrets of creation are revealed to Enoch. Its date and origins are uncertain. Finally, a work known as 3 Enoch, describes the ascent of Rabbi Ishmael to heaven where he meets Enoch, who has been transformed into an angel and renamed Metatron. The work, which was written in Hebrew, perhaps in the fifth or the sixth century C.E., is a blend of apocalyptic and mystical themes.

In the early stages of Christianity 1 Enoch is often cited and there are frequent allusions to the work (Yoshiko Reed; VanderKam and Adler 1996). In the New Testament, the letter of Jude cites 1 Enoch 1:9 as authoritative scripture (vv. 14–15). The eschatological “son of man” Christology of the New Testament probably relies upon Enochic traditions; in the Enochic “Book of Parables” the Son of Man sits upon a throne of glory to judge humankind, as, for example, in Matthew 19:28; 25:31. The church father Justin Martyr (103–165) in his Second Apology (ch. 5) associates the origin of sin with the watchers. He writes that they had sex with women, who gave birth to demons, drawing upon the “spirits of the giants” tradition (see the section on the “Book of the Watchers” above). Tertullian (ca. 160–ca. 220) in his On the Apparel of Women (1.2), written around 210, argues that women should dress modestly because various kinds of feminine adornment were among the illicit forms of knowledge which the watchers disclosed to their wives (cf. 1 En. 8:1). He is aware that some Christians doubt the authenticity of 1 Enoch because it is not in the Jewish canon. He disputes this view, endorsing the antiquity of the book on the basis of its authorship by Enoch (On the Apparel 1.3). Origen (ca. 185–ca. 254) also considers 1 Enoch authoritative (see e.g. On First Principles [4.4.8], where he cites 1 En. 21:1), though later in his career he shows hesitation regarding the authority of the book. In his Homilies on Numbers (28.2), written around 244, he states that he shall refrain from citing 1 Enoch, preferring to rely upon writings that have unquestioned scriptural authority, and he notes, like Tertullian, that some Christians question the status of 1 Enoch since its authority is denied by the Jews. Around the year 250 Origen accuses the pagan philosopher Celsus of not knowing that “in the churches the books that bear the name of Enoch do not at all circulate as divine” (Against Celsus 5.54). Both Origen and Tertullian attest growing doubts among Christians in the third century regarding the scriptural authority of 1 Enoch. Some Christians, such as Augustine (354–430), were troubled by the view that Genesis 6:1–4 referred to sinful angels, as were some early rabbis (City of God 15.23; cf. Gen. Rab. 26:5). In this period, however, the utilization of Enochic material by Christians did not completely cease. The Pseudo-Clementine Homilies, a fourth-century text attributed to Clement of Rome (late first century C.E.), for example, includes an extensive version of the myth of the descending watchers (8.10–20). Nevertheless, in the fourth and fifth centuries, when church leaders standardized the doctrines of the faith and the books to be regarded as scripture, 1 Enoch, the status of which had already been in decline, had no advocate. Consequently the book never entered the official canon of the Bible in Western Christendom, while the composition's scriptural status in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church reflects its importance earlier in the history of Christianity.

Not being in the Old Testament canon, 1 Enoch lapsed into obscurity in the West. Only in the past few decades, with the renewal of interest in Second Temple Judaism sparked by the Dead Sea Scrolls, has the importance of 1 Enoch for understanding both ancient Judaism and early Christianity been recognized.



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Matthew Goff