Scholarly Papers on 1 Enoch Available For Free

Hey book of Enoch fans …

This link from the Ancient World Online (AWOL) will take you to a few dozen SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) seminar papers that have been made available for free. There were several academic papers on 1 Enoch that caught my eye:

Annette Yoshiko Reed, McMaster University Beyond Revealed Wisdom and Apocalyptic Epistemology: The Redeployment of Enochic Traditions about Knowledge in Early Christianity

Leslie Baynes, Missouri State University Enoch, the Angels, and Heavenly Books

Rebecca Lesses, Ithaca College Women, Magic, and the History of 1 Enoch

When Uninformed Journalists and Antiquity Collide: The Book of 1 Enoch

This post from Jim Davila’s PaleoJudaica blog made me chuckle. He comments on how a report on an opera based on the book of 1 Enoch being performed in New York makes bonehead errors related. Classic. Davila is an expert on the Pseudepigrapha and Second Temple Judaism. Here’s a sample:

Reporter: “Christian and Jewish scholars were surprised to find quotes from the Book of Enoch as many as 128 times in the Old Testament, more than any other book, and consider it to be scripture.”

Davila: Uh, no. Completely wrong. But there is one quotation from 1 Enoch in the New Testament in Jude 14-15. I suspect that the Parable of the Sheep and Goats in Matthew 25:31-46 also shows some familiarity with the book.


Classes in the Book of Enoch

1 Enoch to be more precise. I thought I’d mention this since my MEMRA course sequence in 1 Enoch begins March 14. There are three six-week modules scheduled.  March 14 inaugurates Module 1. I’m hoping we get through chapters 1-36 in Module 1, but that may be optimistic.  At any rate, I also bring it up because there are already ten signed up, and I don’t like to have classes of more than 20.  Here is the link to enroll (scroll toward the bottom and look for the PayPal registration link; cost is $50).  Registration ends on March 6.

I should also note that this is an academic course, not paleobabble.  No Elizabeth Claire Prophet on Enoch nonsense.

X-Box PaleoBabble: The Book of Enoch as a Video Game

Someone sent me this link today, knowing I’ve spent a good deal of time studying 1 Enoch. The book of 1 Enoch is now the basis for an impending X-Box video game (there is a sample trailer at the link – Japanese version).  Check it out. What I saw looks cool, but I’d say a more appropriate description would be “very loosely based” on 1 Enoch. For instance, it was *not* Enoch’s mission to bring the fallen angels back to heaven. In the story he was sent by God to tell them they were toast and would never be coming back — having been asked by the offending angels to try and soften up God on their behalf.

As far as the link goes, there’s also some paleobabble to that. The blog calls 1 Enoch “heretical.” I guess he’s unaware that the Qumran sect were very theologically conservative, that 1 Enoch was known and used in Judaism outside Qumran, and that the NT imbibes on its content in various ways. It was never considered canonical in the Church (though it had its defenders in the early church, namely Origen), but that does not mean it is heretical. The book was well-respected in early Judaism and Christianity, despite not being bumped up to the level of canon.  It was only with Augustine (who knew neither Hebrew nor Greek, and so should not be considered a biblical theologian) that 1 Enoch fell into disrepute, no doubt due in part to Augustine’s own falling out with the Manicheans, who revered 1 Enoch.

I would suggest that blogger (and anyone else so interested) try to obtain the following for reading:

Studies in 1 Enoch and the New Testament: Proceedings of the Nineteenth Meeting of the New Testament Society of South Africa (Stellenbosch, 1983)

R. H. Charles’ commentary on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Charles notes OT and NT connections all the time).

Parables of Enoch, Early Judaism, Jesus, and Christian Origins, ed. Darrell Bock and James H. Charlesworth

1 Enoch, Enochi Motifs, and Enoch in Early Christianity,” Chapter Two in The Jewish apocalyptic heritage in early Christianity, by James C. VanderKam

The Stones of Fire in Ezekiel 28

A  reader recently asked me about these references. I’m asked this question often enough I thought I’d blog on it. Let me say from the outset that, though I will disagree (with a high degree of security in my mind) with common interpretations, particularly those of Tom Horn and Dave Flynn, I do not regard their identification of the stones of fire with planets wacky.  It’s just not right. I’ll try to explain why.

Here is the passage in Ezekiel (28:14-16; ESV):

14 You were an anointed guardian cherub.

I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;

in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.

15 You were blameless in your ways

from the day you were created,

till unrighteousness was found in you.

16 In the abundance of your trade

you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;

so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,

and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,

from the midst of the stones of fire.

The passage is part of the diatribe of Ezekiel against the prince of Tyre, in which Ezekiel utilizes the story of a divine being in the garden of Eden who was expelled from the garden. Many scholars think the language speaks of Adam. I believe it refers to the Shining One (the nachash – in my view incorrectly understood as a snake) in Genesis 3.1

The context makes it quite clear that we aren’t talking about planets. How? Because the “stones of fire” are on the holy mountain of God, a reference to the Garden of Eden. Eden?  Yes – if you look at Ezek 28:13 (one verse before the citation above) you’ll see that the anointed cherub is also said to be in Eden (the verse should pup up for you here in this blog).  Anyone familiar with divine council imagery knows that there are two places where Yahweh and his council (like all deities with councils in ancient literature) meet for business and, in fact, “live”–mountains and well-watered gardens. Eden is where Yahweh lived, and that is why Eden is described as both in the Old Testament. I have a whole chapter on this in my book, but suffice it to say here that imagery from Eden is carried on through to other holy (cosmic) mountains ON EARTH – Sinai and Zion. Recall that Sinai was a mountain (a large “stone”) whose top was afire, and where God met people in/with fire (think of the burning bush here, among other scenes on Sinai; Exod 3, Deut 33; Ezekiel 1, 2 Sam 22:4ff., etc.). God often meets people with fire or in association with fire. Additionally, the divine beings associated with Yahweh’s throne room are referred to as “flames of fire” (Psa. 104:4; see also Ezekiel 1′s references to fire).  It’s all very familiar within Old Testament scholarship and the study of Israelite religion. Whoever this is, they are in Eden / the mountain of God – i.e., the place where Yahweh lived at the beginning after he created humans on earth. Nothing unusual.

There is a lot of supporting material for this view. Other than works on the cosmic mountain imagery in the Old Testament and the ancient Near East,2 we can look at the visions of Enoch in the book of 1 Enoch. During his flight through the sky over earth (not on another planet), Enoch sees certain geographical places that are described very similarly to the language in Ezekiel. Note the wordings in the passage below that also appear in Ezekiel 28: fire, precious stones, flame.

1 Enoch 18:6-11

6     I came and saw a place that was burning night and day, where (there were) seven mountains of precious stones-three lying to the east and three to the south. 7/ And of those to the east, <one was> of colored stone, and one was of pearl, and one was of <jasper>. And those to the south were of flame-colored stone. 8/ And the middle one of them reached to heaven like the throne of God-of antimony; and the top of the throne was of lapis lazuli. 9/ And I saw a burning fire. 10     And beyond these mountains is a place, the edge of the great earth; there the heavens come to an end. 11/ And I saw a great chasm among pillars of heavenly fire. And I saw in it pillars of fire descending; and they were immeasurable toward the depth and toward the height.

19:1     And Uriel said to me, “There stand the angels who mingled with the women. And their spirits-having assumed many forms-bring destruction on men and lead them astray to sacrifice to demons as to gods until the day of the great judgment, in which they will be judged with finality. 2/ And the wives of the transgressing angels will become sirens.”3

It’s quite obvious Ezekiel is viewing the earth – he gets as far as the place where the firmament of heaven meets the earth (recall that, in ancient thought — including the Bible — the earth was thought to be round and flat, with a solid dome over its top, the edges of which met the earth’s edge or was “held up” by the mountains).4.

Enoch’s description is actually a striking description of the “world tree” mythology – that the dome over the top of the earth was held up by a huge tall tree (or mountain), which went through the center of the earth, and down into the abyss (note the abyss [“chasm” language in the above citation). The stones of fire = the cosmic mountain, the place where heaven and earth meet, where the gods (or in this case, the God of Israel) lives and renders judgment.  At the bottom of that mountain, in its deep recesses, the sons of God who committed the sin of Genesis 6 are kept imprisoned (read on to 1 Enoch 19:1ff.). This has nothing to do with outer space.

There is a pile of material written on this passage and its associated topics. The best books is: Kelley Coblentz Bautch, A Study of the Geography of 1 Enoch 17-19: ‘No One Has Seen What I Have Seen’ (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2003). It is very expensive and very technical. Likewise for the discussion of the passages cited above in the best 1 Enoch commentary in print, George Nickelsburg’s (cited below in footnote 3).

Luckily, Google Books allows a preview of some pages in Bautch’s book. I was able to piece together screen shots of 12 pages corresponding to the above discussion. Since these pages are available to public viewing on the web, I felt I could PDF them for you all and link to them HERE.

  1. For more on my views on Genesis 3, readers can subscribe to my newsletter archive (available at to get the draft of my book-in-process on the divine council worldview.
  2. The classic treatment is Richard J. Clifford, The Cosmic Mountain in Canaan and the Old Testament (Harvard Semitic Monographs 4; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972.
  3. Nickelsburg, G. W. E., & Baltzer, K. (2001). 1 Enoch : A commentary on the book of 1 Enoch. Includes the text of the Ethiopic book of Enoch in English translation. (276). Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress.
  4. For the round, flat earth cosmology, see the PowerPoint File here. That the firmament was considered to be SOLID in the Old Testament is obvious from passages like Job 37:18 – “firm as a mirror of cast metal”)