The Unintentionally Canonical Enoch, Part I


The generation of Jesus and his apostles passed on, and a few decades later the generation of their successors began to pass. In the third generation, near the end of the first century AD, one Christian decided to write a letter to his community, pretending to be Judah (the brother of Jacob the Just, the revered leader of the Christian community in Jerusalem and brother of Jesus).

The 'Letter' of 'Judah' is another one of those pseudepigraphical texts that made it into the New Testament.

By the time of Jesus and his apostles, there was no established 'bible' yet. All of the Judean sects — the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, the Greek-speaking Hellenists, etc. — used the Torah. Most of them had Joshua, Judges, Kingdoms, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Proverbs, Job, the Books of the Maccabees, and a handful of others were popular as well. Then there were fringe books. The Fourth Book of the Maccabees, a book of philosophy, was preserved in the Greek translation of Hebrew scriptures. Then there was the Book of Enoch, popular with the Essenes, a highly apocalyptic sect.

Sometime during the Babylonian exile, prophetic books began to take on a certain style and tone we call 'apocalyptic'. They didn't just expose and condemn the social evils happening around them, like we find in Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel. These apocalypses began looking into the hidden spiritual world, revealing why those social evils were so prevalent. (The word 'apocalypse' means 'a revealing'.) These apocalypses had a range of ideas, but it usually came down to the presence of demons in the world, monstrous invisible powers pulling the strings of the earthly kingdoms in spite of God.

In the late fourth century BC, a Judean author wrote an apocalypse under the pseudonym of Enoch. He talked about the Watchers, angels who had abandoned heaven before Noah's time. 'Enoch' talked about the Giants, the children born to the angels when they married human women. He talked about the end of the world, about resurrection, judgment, heaven, hell, and paradise.

Over the next few centuries, other authors wrote their own books under Enoch's name, borrowing themes and ideas from the first book, and their works were added onto the original text. The resulting Book of Enoch (now called '1 Enoch') was likely complete by about 50 BC. It was written in Hebrew or Aramaic (or portions in each language), but it was translated into a handful of other languages.

While readers of Judah will quickly notice the author quoting a 'prophecy of Enoch' in verse 14, few know what source he is quoting from. Some Christian readers know about the Book of Enoch, but few have read it. And then there are some who have read Enoch, but refuse to accept that the Letter of Judah is quoting from it: Judah is in the bible, 1 Enoch is not, so Judah couldn't possibly be quoting from it. (Even though their Greek translations of the original text are nearly identical.)

However, Judah doesn't just quote 1 Enoch the once. The whole letter (all 25 verses of it) is permeated by the Book of Enoch's themes and language. Verse 14 isn't an idle, off-handed reference to an obscure passage from a long-lost book; the author fully embraced the ideas found in 1 Enoch.

I have provided below the major parallels throughout the two books for you to examine. While Judah was written in Greek to begin with, the Book of Enoch has only partly been preserved in Greek, so those explicit verbal parallels are shown below. Other parallels, which are determined by context, are shown too.

Enoch // Judah

1.8: But he will make peace with the righteous, and there will be protection and peace over the elect (ekeletous), and mercy (eleos) will be upon them. And they will all belong (suntērēsei) to God, and he will grant them his good pleasure. And he will bless them all, and he will assist them all and he will help us. And the light of God will shine upon them, and he will make peace (eirēnē) with them. 1: Judah, a servant of Jesus the Messiah, and brother of Jacob, to those called (klētois), sanctified in God the Father and kept (tetērēmenois) in Jesus the Messiah: may mercy (eleos) and peace (eirēnē) and love be multiplied to you.
1.9: to make judgment (krima) upon all, and to destroy all the irreverent (asebeis)

48.10: For they have denied the Lord of Spirits and his Messiah (Greek: christos).

67.10: For the judgment comes over them, because they believe in the lust of their flesh, and deny the spirit of the Lord.
4: For certain men came unnoticed, who long ago were written to this judgment (krima), the irreverent (asebeis), who perverted the grace of God into sensuality, and deny our only master and lord, Jesus the Messiah (christos).
10.4-6: And to Raphael he said, 'Bind (dēson) Azael hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness (skotos). And make an opening in the desert that is in Dadouel. And cast him there, and lay upon him sharp and jagged stones. And cover him with the darkness, and let him dwell there forever. Cover up his face, and do not let him see the light. And on the day of the great judgment (tē hēmera tēs megalēs tēs kriseōs), he will be led away to the conflagration of fire.'

12.4: 'Enoch, righteous scribe, go and declare to the watchers of heaven who abandoned (apolipontes) the high heaven, the sanctuary of their eternal station, and have defiled themselves with women. And they themselves act as the sons of earth do, by taking wives for themselves. Tell them: "All of you have wrought great desolation on the earth..."'
6-7: And angels did not keep their first, but abandoned (apolipontas) their own dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains (desmois) under gloomy darkness (zophon), until the great day of judgment (krisin megalēs hēmeras). In this way, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities surrounding them, which likewise turned to sexual immorality and followed after different flesh, are set as examples of suffering the justice of the eternal fire.
70.8: 'my [Noah's] great-grandfather was taken up, the seventh from Adam' 14: And also about these Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying,
1.9: He is coming with his myriads and his holy ones, to make judgment upon all, and to destroy all the irreverent, and to convict all flesh of all the irreverent works which they did irreverently, and the proud and harsh words that irreverent sinners have spoken against him. 14-15: 'Behold, the Lord comes with myriads of his holy ones, to make judgment upon all and to convict all of the irreverent for all their irreverent works which they did irreverently, and for all the harsh things that irreverent sinners spoke against him.'
Οτι ερχεται συν ταις μυριασιν αυτου και τοις αγιοις αυτου ποιησει κρισιν κατα παντων και απολεσαι παντας τους ασεβεις και ελεγξαι πασαν σαρκα περι παντων εργων της ασεβειας αυτων ων ησεβησαν και σκληρων ων ελαλησαν λογων κατ αυτου αμαρτωλοι ασεβεις 'ιδου ηλθεν κυριος εν μυριασιν αγιαις αυτου ποιησαι κρισιν κατα παντων και εξελεγξαι παντας τους ασεβεις αυτων περι παντων των εργων ασεβειας αυτων ων ησεβησαν και περι παντων των σκληρων ων ελαλησαν κατ αυτου αμαρτωλοι ασεβεις'