Lectionary Calendar
Monday, March 4th, 2024
the Third Week of Lent
There are 27 days til Easter!
StudyLight.org has pledged to help build churches in Uganda. Help us with that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Encyclopedias
Enoch, Books of (Ethiopic and Slavonic)

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Search for…
Prev Entry
Enoch Zundel ben Joseph
Next Entry
Enoch, Books of (Hebrew)
Resource Toolbox

Apocryphal works attributed to Enoch. From Genesis 5:24 ("Enoch walked with God" and "God took him") a cycle of Jewish legends about Enoch was derived, which, together with apocalyptic speculations naturally ascribed to such a man, credited with superhuman knowledge, found their literary expression in the Books of Enoch. Of this literature a collection of fragments or single, independent pieces has come down to us in the socalled "Ethiopic Enoch," whereas the Slavonic Book of Enoch gives, as it were, a résumé of most of the current oral or literary traditions about its hero, which it brings into a certain system of its own. So far as can be judged from these books, the legends of Enoch are the following: (1) He went during his lifetime to heaven, "walked" with God's angels over all heaven (or heavens) and earth, came back to his family and told them what he had seen, and finally was again taken up to heaven. (2) During his journeys he saw the secrets of heaven and earth, that is, the natural phenomena. (3) He saw what had become of the angels, "sons of God," who, according to Genesis 6:1-4, had come to earth and sinned with the daughters of men. (4) He interceded for these fallen angels. In 3 and 4 evidently two different cycles of legends have crossed each other, but whether 3 precedes 4, or vice versa, is hard to tell. These legends, a more popular form of tradition, are, however, not preserved unimpaired, but are strongly influenced and developed by the literary traditions which deal mainly with apocalyptic ideas.

I. Ethiopic Enoch:

In the old Jewish and Christian literatures (for example, in the New Testament Epistle of Jude, verse 14) a Book of Enoch is quoted, and is undoubtedly often used without special reference being made to it. But about 300 the Christian Church began to discredit the book, and after the time of the Greek fathers Syncellus and Cedrenus, who cite it (ninth century), it was entirely lost until (1773) the traveler Bruce discovered in Abyssinia two manuscripts of thebook. In the nineteenth century several editions and translations were made, and many critical inquiries into its contents published. The following is a list of the various editions and translations of the Ethiopic Enoch:

Editions: Laurence, "Libri Enoch Versio Æthiopica," Oxford, 1838, Dillmann, "Liber Henoch Æthiopice," Leipsic, 1851 (from 5 MSS.); Flemming, "Das Buch Henoch," Leipsic, 1902 (from 14 MSS.); another edition, still fuller than that of Flemming, is being prepared by Professor Charles.

Translations: Laurence, "The Book of Enoch," Oxford, 1821; Hoffmann, "Das Buch Henoch," Jena, 1833-38; Dillmann, "Das Buch Henoch Uebersetzt und Urklärt," Leipsic, 1853 (standard translation for 40 years); Schodde, "The Book of Enoch Translated, with Introduction and Notes," Andover, 1882; Charles, "The Book of Enoch," Oxford, 1893; Beer, in Kautzsch, "Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen," 2:217-310, Tübingen, 1900; Flemming, in vol. of "Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller der Ersten Drei Jahrhunderte," Leipsic, 1901. There may also be mentioned here a retranslation into Hebrew () by L. Goldschmidt, Berlin, 1892, from Dillmann's German translation.

Following is an analysis of the contents:

Language and Versions.

The Ethiopic Enoch was originally written in Hebrew, and then translated into Greek. From this version an Ethiopic and probably a Latin translation were made. Of the Greek version ch. - are preserved in a manuscript discovered at Gizeh in 1886-87 by the French Archeological Mission, and published by Bouriant in the "Mémoires" of that mission (1892, vol. , fasc. ), by Dillmann in the "Sitzungsberichte der Berliner Akademie der Wissenschaften" (1892, pp. 1079 et seq.), by Lods, "Le Livre d'Hénoch" (Paris, 1892), by Charles, "Book of Enoch" (1893, Appendix C), and by Swete, "The Old Testament in Greek" (2d ed., 3:789 et seq., Cambridge, 1899). Furthermore, ch. -9:4, 8:4-10:14, 15:8-16:1 have come down to us through Syncellus (about 800), and 89:42-49 is found in a manuscript in the Vatican. These fragments are reproduced by Charles (1893), and again by Swete (1899). Of the Latin translation only 1:9 and 106:1-18 are known. The first passage occurs in Pseudo-Cyprian and Pseudo-Vigilius (see Beer, c. p. 237); the second was discovered by James in an eighth-century manuscript in the British Museum, and published by Charles, c., Appendix E, and by James, "Apocrypha Anecdota," pp. 146-150. Whether or not the whole book was translated into Latin can not be established with certainty from these fragments. All the Greek and Latin fragments are republished in Flemming and Radermacher, "Das Buch Henoch." Leipsic. 1901.

Composition and Date.

Almost from the beginning it was recognized that Ethiopic Enoch was composed of various independent works, and it was assumed that three sources were to be distinguished: (1) the "groundwork," -, -; (2) the similitudes, -; (3) Noachian interpolations, chiefly to be found in the similitudes. Different scholars gave different analyses: it is not possible to enumerate all their views, nor can all their works and articles be mentioned here. The most recent ones, in which the earlier views are usually given in full (see especially Schürer, Charles, and Clemen) are:

  • Schürer, Gesch. 3:190 et seq., Leipsic, 1898; Eng. ed. div. , 3:54-73;
  • Charles, Book of Enoch, pp. 9 et seq., 310-311;
  • Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl. 1:220-225;
  • Lawlor, Early Citations from the Book of Enoch, in Jour. of Philology, 1897, 25:164-225;
  • Clemen, Die Zusammensetzung des Buches Henoch, in Theologische Studien und Kritiken, 1898, pp. 212-227;
  • Beer, in Kautzsch, Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen, 2:217-235;
  • Bousset, Neueste Forschungen auf dem Gebiete der Religiösen Litteratur des Spätjudentums, in Theologische Rundschau, 1900, pp. 369 et seq.;
  • J. van Loon, Eschatologieën van den Hasmoneëntijd Volgens het Boek Henoch, in Theolog. Tijdschrift, pp. 421-463, Leyden, 1902.

Charles definitely proved that the so-called "groundwork" was in itself not by any means uniform. Another important step in the interpretation of the book was gained by Clemen's article, in which Gunkel's theory of apocalyptic "traditions" was applied. Charles distinguished five sections (1893) or parts (1898), to which as a sixth part the Noachian and other interpolations were added: (1)-, written before 170 B.C.; (2) -xc., written between 166 and 161 B.C.; (3) -, not earlier than 134 B.C.; (4) -, the similitudes, written between 94 and 79, or between 70 and 64 B.C.; (5) -, the Book of Celestial Physics, the date of which can not be determined.

Clemen arrived at the following conclusion: "The Book of Enoch is based on twelve independent traditions or groups of traditions: (1) -; (2) -; (3) -; (4) -; (5) (?)-xxxvi; (6) -; (7) -; (8) -91:10,18,19; (9) 91:12-17, , , -; (10) -; (11); (12) the Noachian fragments, 54:7-55:2, , -69:25. Probably No. 3, perhaps No. 6, certainly Nos. 9, 11, and 12, were taken from written sources." According to him, the date is a little doubtful, since some of the traditions may not have been written down at once. Beer in the main follows Clemen, but gives for a part a more detailed analysis. Clemen's hypothesis of traditions seems the most acceptable, as also his analysis, except that his tenth tradition should perhaps be counted as a part of his No. 12, e., as a Noachian fragment.

Separate Strata.

Some of the apocalyptic portions, above all the similitudes, seem to have been literary tradition from the beginning. But another very difficult question arises: How and in what order were the different portions of the book put together? Probably -, possibly -, are the stock, to which other portions, younger or perhaps in part older, were gradually added. Ch. - were intended to tell the story of the fallen angels and Enoch's relation to them: - and -, taken from two different cycles of legends, were united; and, in order to show the execution of the punishment of the angels, -, narrating the journey during which Enoch is a witness of it, were added. It was very natural to join to this portion -, another tradition concerning Enoch's journey. The next step in the composition may have been the adding either of the similitudes or of one or several of the traditions in - But it seems more probable that a redactor united - with -, and wrote the introduction, -, and perhaps also the conclusion, This intermediate book would then have a proper beginning and conclusion.

The redactorial changes within the different portions of - may also have been made at this time. Thirdly and lastly would have been added the similitudes, probably together with the Noachian fragments 39:1,2a, 54:7-55:2, , 65:1-69:25, , Of the latter, et seq. were probably added by some one who wished to carry the story on a little farther—a very common occurrence in literary history. He may have been the redactor who added the similitudes and inserted in them several other portions from the same source from which he took et seq. This theory is strongly supported by evidence which has only recently been discovered; namely, the true date of the Book of Jubilees, which has been proved, mainly by Bohn and Charles, to be as early as the last third of the second century B.C. In the Book of Jubilees (4:17-23) writings of Enoch are mentioned, and Charles ("Book of Jubilees," 1902, p. 37) concludes that the author refers only to Ethiopic Enoch -, -, -xc. But Book of Jubilees 4:23 may include Enoch - as well, and 4:18 ("recounted the weeks of the Jubilees") is perhaps an allusion to the Apocalypse of Weeks, which by many critics is considered the oldest portion of Ethiopic Enoch. Thus it is very likely that the book referred to in Jubilees was the intermediate one just mentioned. Moreover, the similitudes, which were evidently unknown to the author of Jubilees, date from the first century B.C.—that is, later than Jubilees—and the Noachian fragments also were probably added in the first century, because in the second century reference (Jubilees 10:13) seems to have been made to a complete apocalypse of Noah. Last of all, was added to Ethiopic Enoch; this may have happened long after - had become one book (about 60 B.C.). The whole book originated and was put into writing in Palestine.


The Ethiopic Book of Enoch is one of the most important pieces of apocalyptic literature; it furnishes extensive contributions to our knowledge of Jewish folk-lore in the last pre-Christian centuries; it shows apocalyptic literature in its beginnings, and above all it is a source of information upon the religious ideas of Judaism, especially concerning the Messiah; finally, it also pictures the feelings of the people during the time of the Hasmoneans. More details with regard to these questions are to be found in Charles, "Book of Enoch," introductions to the single sections, and in Van Loon's article, mentioned above.

II. Slavonic Enoch:

A book called "The Book of the Secrets of Enoch," preserved, so far as is known, only in Slavonic, was introduced to the scientific world but a few years ago, when certain manuscripts found in Russia and Servia were edited, and subsequently translated into German and English. Following is an analysis of its contents:

  • Ch. i-: Introduction: Life of Enoch; his dreams, in which he is told that he will be taken up into heaven; his admonitions to his sons before he departs.
  • Ch. -: The main part of the book:Ch. -: Enoch in heaven:(a: -): The first heaven: a great sea; the elders and the rulers of the stars; the habitations of the snow; the treasuries of dew, oil, and different colors.(b: ): The second heaven: the fallen angels imprisoned, awaiting the eternal judgment; they ask Enoch to intercede for them.(c: -): The third heaven: the Garden of Eden, with the tree of life and an "olive-tree always distilling oil"; to the north of it the place of the damned.(d: -): The fourth heaven: the courses and the gates of sun and moon; the wonderful singing creatures which wait upon the sun, namely, phenixes and chalcidri; a singing host of angels.(e: ): The fifth heaven: the watchers ("gregori"=ἐγρή-γοροι), silent and mourning for their fallen brethren, who are being tormented in the second heaven.(f: ); The sixth heaven: seven bands of angels who arrange and study the revolutions of sun, moon, and stars; the angels who are put over the souls of men and write down their lives and works; furthermore, seven phenixes and seven cherubim and seven six-winged creatures.(g: -): The seventh heaven: the Lord sitting on His throne and the ten great orders of angels standing before Him. Enoch is clothed by Michael in raiment of God's glory, and is told by the angel Vretil (Vreteel, Pravuel) all the secrets of heaven (natural phenomena) and of earth (concerning men). He is ordered to write them down in366 books. God reveals to Enoch His own great secrets, His creation, the story of the fallen angels and of Adam; furthermore, He tells him about the seven millenniums of the earth and the eighth at the end. God also accuses the wicked, and then orders Enoch to go back to earth for thirty days to teach his children and grandchildren.Ch. is probably a later addition.Ch. -: Enoch back on earth. He admonishes his sons; tells them what he has seen in the heavens; gives them his books and urges them to transmit these to others; moreover, he relates to them what God has promised to men and what He expects them to do, and asserts that there is no intercession of departed saints for sinners. In Methuselah asks a blessing from his father. In all the sons of Enoch with their families and the elders of the people are called, and Enoch gives renewed instructions as to a righteous life. In the Lord calls Enoch, the people assemble to kiss him in Achuzan, and he addresses them for the last time.
  • Ch. lxvii-: Conclusion:Ch. : Enoch's translation into heaven.Ch. : Recapitulation of Enoch's life and doings; Methuselah and his brothers build an altar in Achuzan, and they and the people "make a great festivity, praising God who had given such a sign by means of Enoch, who had found favor with Him."

Language and Origin.

The Slavonic Enoch was written in Greek, as is shown by the derivation of Adam's name from the four quarters, 'Ανατολή, Δύσις, Ἄρκτος, Μεσημβριά, and by several coincidences with the Septuagint; but perhaps parts of it are based on Hebrew originals. From the Greek it was translated into Slavonic. Of this version there are five manuscripts extant, which are described in the introduction to Charles and Morfill, "The Book of the Secrets of Enoch," Oxford, 1896 (reviewed by Bonwetsch in "Theologische Literaturzeitung," 1896, cols. 153-156) and to Bonwetsch, "Das Slavische Henochbuch," in "Abhandlungen der Königlichen Gelehrten Gesellschaft zu Göttingen," 1896 (reviewed by Schürer in "Theologische Literaturzeitung," 1896, cols. 347-350).

The Slavonic Enoch seems to be an attempt to bring all the current traditions about Enoch into a certain system, which is partly furnished by the special scheme of the seven heavens. It is therefore, with the exception of a few interpolations, derived from one author. This author, according to Charles, was probably a Jew living in Egypt, since he has certain speculations in common with Philo and other Hellenistic Jews, and since several other elements in the book betray Egyptian origin.

Date and Value.

The book was probably written between 50 B.C. and 70 A.D.; the first date is given by the fact that Ethiopic Enoch, Ecclesiasticus, and Wisdom of Solomon are used; the second by the fact that the destruction of the Temple is not mentioned at all. The quotations from Slavonic Enoch in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, which Charles uses as additional evidence in establishing the date, are strongly doubted by Schürer. The Slavonic Enoch furnishes new material for the study of religious thought in Judaism about the beginning of the common era. The ideas of the millennium and of the seven heavens are the most important in this connection; both have been treated in detail by Charles in his introduction and commentary, published together with Morfill's translation. Another very interesting feature is the presence of evil in heaven—the fallen angels in the second heaven, and hell in the third. This belief, although probably at first current among the Christians also, was, together with the idea of the seven heavens, afterward rejected by the Church. The idea of hell in the third heaven may have been derived from expectations expressed in Isa. 1xvi. 23, 24; that is, that the pleasures of the righteous in paradise will be enhanced by seeing the sufferings of the wicked.

E. Li.
Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Enoch, Books of (Ethiopic and Slavonic)'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​e/enoch-books-of-ethiopic-and-slavonic.html. 1901.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile