Category Archives: Enoch


2017-09-04

Meet Paul and Enoch; both come from the same place

by Neil Godfrey
Warning: If you are looking for snazzy gotcha type parallels that demonstrate a genetic relationship between the letters of Paul and Enoch you will be disappointed. This post is not about direct imitation or identification of “a source” for Paul’s letter. The first page addresses form parallels; to see the content and ideas click “read more” to see the remainder.

Professor James M. Scott compares two letters, one by Enoch and the other by Paul, and identifies a few points in common that help us understand a little more clearly the thought-world of both figures. Of course our real interest is in understanding Paul since we tend to see him as having more relevance to our Christian heritage than the evidently mythical Enoch. 

Scott’s essay, “A Comparison of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians with the Epistle of Enoch” is a chapter in The Jewish Apocalyptic Tradition and the Shaping of New Testament Thought (2017, edited by Benjamin E. Reynolds and Loren T. Stuckenbruck). The central argument is that both Paul’s letter to the Galatians and the epistle of Enoch (1 Enoch 92-105) share the same apocalyptic motifs in a common letter format, and that it follows that Galatians belongs to the “apocalyptic tradition” as much as does the letter of Enoch. My interest is in the shared motifs per se, and what they indicate about Paul’s intellectual world.

1 Enoch is generally thought to be made up of five texts that have been stitched together, and one of these initially discrete texts consists of chapters 92 to 105, dated around 170 BCE. If you have sufficient time, patience and interest to read those chapters and have just a vague recollection of Paul’s letter to the Galatians you will wonder how on earth anyone could see the slightest resemblance between the two. Enoch’s letter is full of Old Testament style pronouncements of prophetic woes and doom on sinners while Paul’s letter is about struggles with Judaizers coming along to his converts in Galatia and undermining the pristine faith by telling them they had to be circumcised and follow a few other Jewish observances, too. But a glance at James Scott’s publishing history shows he has spent a lot of time studying all of this sort of literature so let’s continue in faith.

First, look at some “technical” similarities to see that, despite major differences, we are comparing a works of the same genre, a letter form. (The text follows Scott’s chapter closely, though of course the table format is mine.)

 

Genre
Self conscious reference to his own writing as a letter Galatians 6:11 See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! 1 Enoch 93:2 these things I say to you and I make known to you, my sons, I myself, Enoch.

1 Enoch 100:6 And the wise among men will see the truth, and the sons of the earth will contemplate these words of this epistle

Author
The superscription of both letters names the author of the letter, and then, adds an impressive description of the author: Paul is an “apostle” sent by God; Enoch is a “scribe” who writes “righteousness and truth”.

Both Paul and Enoch present themselves as authors who communicate God’s will.

Galatians 1:1 Paul …. an apostle—[sent] not from men nor by man but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead ” This further description of who Paul is establishes from the outset the divine origin and agency of his apostolic commission, and thus, underscores his special authority. 1 Enoch 92:1 Written by Enoch the scribe (this complete sign of wisdom) (who is) praised by all people and a leader of the whole earth.
Addressees
Both Galatians and the Epistle of Enoch are circular letters meant to be passed along to multiple readers in more than one location over the course of time. Enoch’s letter purports to be written in the seventh generation after Adam to be read by Jews and gentiles in the last days.  Galatians 1:2 to the churches of Galatia 

 

1 Enoch 92:1 to all my sons who dwell on the earth, and to the last generations who will observe truth and peace.

 

Both Galatians and the Epistle of Enoch address their respective readers throughout in the second person plural.  Galatians 4:19 My dear children 1 Enoch 92-105  Enoch refers to his addressees as “my children
Salutation
In Galatians, the salutation is clearly identifiable.

The situation in the Epistle of Enoch is more complicated. The typical salutation or greeting is missing in 1 Enoch 92:1. Nevertheless, as Nickelsburg suggests, “it may be hinted at in the word ‘peace'” which comes at the end of the adscription in the same verse.

Galatians 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

 

1 Enoch 92:1 to all my sons who dwell on the earth, and to the last generations who will observe truth and peace.

Nickelsburg also takes the final reference to “peace” in the Epistle (“And you will have peace,” 105:2) as “an epistolary conclusion.”

“Peace” is referenced at the beginning and ending both letters Galatians 1:3; 6:16 1 Enoch 92:1; 105:2
Very last word of both letters is “Amen” Galatians 6:18 1 Enoch 105:2

Okay, that’s done with the “formalities”. We may say that technically we are comparing apples and apples. James Scott’s next section is more interesting for an insight into how much we read in Paul’s letter was part of the wider thought-world of the day and not “just Paul”. Scott turns to their common “apocalyptic elements”. read more »


2014-07-08

The Evolution of the Son of Man, the Human & Divine Messiah

by Neil Godfrey

Throne3This post outlines the way Jewish ideas about God appear to have developed until they found a new form in the Christian Messiah, the heavenly Son of Man. I base it on a range of scholarly articles and books (including Black, Boyarin, Erho, Fossum, Knibb, Rowland, Wolfson) but will not reference each detail in this overview.

In the beginning God

Let’s start with the visions of God on his throne in 1 Kings 22:19-22 and Isaiah 6:1-8.

In the Kings passage the prophet Micaiah tells king Ahab of a vision he had of the Yahweh sitting on his throne in heaven. In this vision God commissioned an evil spirit to go and inspire false prophets to tell lies and lure the wicked king to his doom. The significant detail for our purposes here, though, is that Yahweh himself ordered the commissioning of the prophets through a lower angel. One angel from among the multitudes of angels volunteered to carry out God’s request.

So God clearly acts from above and without equal.

The second passage tells us of Isaiah’s vision of God on this throne, but this time the throne is in the Temple — on earth. This time God is accompanied by a presumably higher order of angel called seraphim. Again God is high above and has no equal. A seraphim approaches Isaiah to place a burning hot coal he has taken from the altar of the temple on his lips and prepare him for God’s call. God then commissions Isaiah to take his message of judgment to Israel.

So far we have seen God act exactly as we would expect him to act given our clear monotheistic understanding of how God is supposed to be.

Now we come to Ezekiel and suddenly something seems to go slightly askew.

read more »


2013-08-07

Christ Before Christianity, 2: A Man Ascended to Heaven

by Neil Godfrey

The Messiah figure (or Christ) in the Book of Enoch, specifically in the Parables or Similitudes section of that book, has several attributes and performs certain functions that make him a precursor of the Christ figure who became the focus of Christianity.

Paul’s understanding of who and what Christ was appears to have been influenced by the Book of Parables in 1 Enoch. Paul says that his gospel was revealed to him so it is easy to assume that either God revealed Christ to him in a vision or that he developed his own Christ concept to preach. However, the similarities of his Christ with the Christ/Messiah in Enoch are striking. Moreover, the same Enochic literature teaches that Christ is a figure unknown except to those to whom he is revealed from heaven. Or was he revealed to Paul, at least in part, through the Book of Enoch?

This account of at least one Jewish group’s beliefs about the Messiah before the time of Paul (and Jesus) is taken from The Messiah: A Comparative Study of the Enochic Son of Man and the Pauline Kyrios by James A. Waddell. The previous post in this series is here.

First things first. Let’s establish where in the Parables of Enoch (or Book of Parables, BP) we read the actual term “Messiah” or “Christ” — meaning “Anointed One”. The word occurs twice:

1 Enoch 48:10

And on the day of their affliction there shall be rest on the earth,
And before them they shall fall and not rise again:

And there shall be no one to take them with his hands and raise them:
For they have denied the Lord of Spirits and His Anointed.
The name of the Lord of Spirits be blessed.

1 Enoch 52:4

And he said unto me: ‘All these things which thou hast seen shall serve the dominion of His Anointed that he may be potent and mighty on the earth.’

We shall see through this series that this Christ, the Anointed One, is also named the Righteous One, the Chosen One, the Son of Man, and Name of the Lord of Spirits. We begin to look at some of the attributes or nature of this being in this post, and then we will (courtesy of Waddell) study the functions, the role, of this Messiah.

A Human Being

The Messiah in the Book of Enoch is a human being. It is the man Enoch himself who is (near the end of the book) declared to the Messiah himself. Enoch is the sixth human generation after Adam, or the seventh, counting inclusively. The human nature of Enoch is driven home in the following:

1 Enoch 37:1

The second vision which he saw, the vision of wisdom — which Enoch the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, saw.

Compare 60:8 (Noah speaking)

the garden where the elect and righteous dwell, where my grandfather was taken up, the seventh from Adam, the first man whom the Lord of Spirits created.

So Enoch, we are emphatically assured, belongs to the human race. He is a descendant of Adam.

Then at the end of the BP this same human Enoch is explicitly identified with the Son of Man: read more »


2013-08-05

Christ Before Christianity, 1: Dating the Parables of Enoch

by Neil Godfrey
waddell-messiah

James Waddell

The Christ we read about in the letters of the Apostle Paul has many striking similarities to another Christ we read about in the earlier Second Temple Jewish Book of the Parables of Enoch. So much so that James A. Waddell, Philip Markowicz Visiting Professor of Jewish Biblical Studies at the University of Toledo, argues in The Messiah: A Comparative Study of the Enochic Son of Man and the Pauline Kyrios that Paul belonged to that stream of Jewish intellectual tradition that developed its concept of Christ, the Messiah, out of the messiah traditions we read about in the Book of Enoch.

(The Book of Parables is also known as the Similitudes of Enoch. In this post I will follow Waddell and use BP to refer to this text.)

Too late?

Some readers will immediately ask if the Enochic Book of Parables is too late. Is it not from a post-Gospel era? Waddell informs those of us who still think this that we are out of date:

Only recently has specific research on the date of BP created a shift in the scholarly consensus among specialists of the Enoch literature. This consensus established the messiah traditions of BP, if not the text itself, to a date prior to Paul. (p. 22 of The Messiah)

Waddell’s book was published in 2010 and his claim about the scholarly consensus is supported by reference to half a dozen articles in Boccaccini’s Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man (2008) among a list of earlier publications.

To me, and I am sure to many others, questions of dating are important. So this post attempts primarily to explain Waddell’s rationale (presumably shared by many of his peers) for dating the BP to a pre-Christian era. The next post will begin to examine the nature of the Christ/Messiah as understood before Paul among the Jews associated with this document.

Maurice Casey’s ‘Son of Man’ arguments

Other readers may wonder about the stress upon the “Son of Man” in both the above titles given that (1) Paul never uses the “Son of Man” in relation to Christ, and (2) Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey is reputed to have written “the definitive” work on the Son of Man and supposedly buries any notion that “son of man” was employed as a messianic title up to and including the time of Jesus. As for (1), Waddell’s thesis includes a cogent theological explanation why Paul would have shunned the term in relation to his Christ; as for (2), Waddell exposes inconsistencies in Casey’s treatment of the evidence and generally leaves Casey’s approach to the question looking tendentious indeed.

Larry Hurtado’s ‘worship’ arguments

Another contemporary Emeritus Professor addressed by Waddell is Larry Hurtado. Waddell agrees with Hurtado’s case that the evidence argues that the Christ Jesus was worshiped “from the moment of the Easter experience” (jargon designed to harmonize the Gospel-Acts narrative with modern rationalist sensibilities) for the beginning of Christianity, but rejects Hurtado’s complementary claim that the worship of any other figure apart from God himself was unknown among Jews before Christianity. Waddell argues that evidence contradicting a scholar’s personal faith has been treated tendentiously. The BP do indeed depict early Jewish worship of a being alongside God.

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The Date of the Parables of Enoch

read more »


2012-01-29

Pre-Christian Foundations of Christianity (Couchoud)

by Neil Godfrey

Having traced Couchoud’s argument for the development of the New Testament it’s time I returned to the beginning of his two volume work, The Creation of Christ, and outline his views on the development of Christianity itself. (The entire series is archived here.)

I once posted links to pdf version of Couchoud’s opening chapters:

Foreword (approx 2.2 MB pdf)

Apocalypses (168 b.c. – a.d. 40)

I. Preliminary (approx 1.8 MB pdf)

II. Profaned Temple (approx 2.2 MB pdf)

III. The Dream of Daniel (approx 3.3 MB pdf)

IV. Revelations of Enoch (approx 6.7 MB pdf)

V. Revelations of Moses (approx 2.8 MB pdf)

I will comment on only a few aspects of some of these chapters. Read them — they are not long — to understand Couchoud’s argument for the background to Christianity and the references to much of what is below. I will only address a few points here.

These chapters are an overview of the pre-Christian development of the Jewish concept of the heavenly Son of Man figure. Daniel begins the process with a clearly symbolic figure, but later apocalypses turned that symbol into a more literal Heavenly Man. read more »


2011-06-11

Heavenly Visions: the foundation of Paul’s Christianity

by Neil Godfrey
The Ladder of Divine Ascent is an important ic...

Ladder of Divine Ascent: Image via Wikipedia

The New Testament epistles inform us that the original Gospel was a revelation from God. That means it did not originate by means of spoken tradition relayed from historical events, by word of mouth, from eyewitness or preacher to others. Rather, one might almost say that the medium itself was the message: the revelation or vision was, in a signifcant sense, the Gospel and conversion experience.

Thus Paul — thought by some scholars to be the real founder of Christianity — says that he was not taught the Gospel by men. “In Galatians 1, Paul claims that he did not receive the gospel from a human source. . . . In Galatians Paul speaks of his conversion as a revelation (apocalypse [1:12])” (Segal, 1990: 35, 36)

I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. . . . But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. (Galatians 1:12, 16) read more »


2010-10-01

Peter, in the Enoch tradition, commissioned to replace the High Priest?

by Neil Godfrey
Jesus Gives the Keys to Peter
Image via Wikipedia

How do we account for Christianity growing out of Judaism yet being so unlike Judaism? Part of one possible answer lies in the recognition that there was no normative Judaism as we understand it prior to the destruction of the Temple in the year 70. Noncanonical Second Temple writings such as the Book of Enoch point to the existence of Jewish sectarians who had radically different ideas about contemporary Temple practices and priesthood, cosmology, the law, wisdom, even the angelic world and Godhead prior to the rise of rabbinic Judaism following the destruction of the Temple. Margaret Barker and others have noticed quite a few distinctively Christian ideas resonating in some of these early books such as the Book of Enoch and that came to be sidelined by later Jewish rabbis. We know, of course, that the Book of Enoch is even quoted in New Testament writings.

This post continues earlier ones taken from a 1981 Journal of Biblical Literature article by George W. E. Nickelsburg, “Enoch, Levi, and Peter: Recipients of Revelation in Upper Galilee”. (Note, though, that I am not reproducing many of N’s details. This post is only a selection of the points he makes.)

It considers the details of Peter’s commissioning as the Rock of the Church in the context of narratives found in Enoch and their adaptations again later in the Testament of Levi (pre-Christian version). Peter emerges as a possible replacement to the High Priest of the Temple, which was, of course, doomed to destruction. The story of Peter and his role in the Gospel of Matthew, at least, grew out of that branch of Jewish religion that opposed the Temple practices and drew upon writings such as the Book of Enoch that did not make it into the rabbinic and later Christian orthodox canon.

I suspect the narrative was composed long after the temple’s destruction, and is an etiological tale to explain how the Church is now the new Temple and Kingdom of God with the Jews having been punished be destruction, slavery and scattering.

read more »


2010-08-08

Galilee, where Angels fell and Jesus came; and where the Temple was condemned

by Neil Godfrey

In both 1 Enoch and the Gospel of Mark the location of God’s revelation is in Galilee, and especially upper Galilee in the Tel Dan region extending through Caesarea Philippi to Mount Hermon. It was outside Caesarea Philippi that Jesus was acknowledged as the Christ, and at a nearby mountain where he was transfigured.

In both books, this northern location that has long been associated with sacred sites of Jewish and pagan origin is set in opposition to the earthly and corrupt priesthood and Temple system based at Jerusalem.

It may not be insignificant that in the Hebrew scriptures, Dan (part of this region), is regularly associated with apostasy from the faith centred at the Jerusalem Temple and priesthood.

(I would not normally have thought of this region as strictly “Galilee” but I am using the term as used by George W. E. Nickelsburg in his 1981 JBL 100/4 article, “Enoch, Levi, and Peter: Recipients of Revelation in Upper Galilee”, on which this post is based.)

The Galilean setting of Enoch’s vision and the fallen angels

1 Enoch 13:7-9

7. And I went off and sat down at the waters of Dan, in the land of Dan, to the south of the west of Hermon: I read their petition till I fell asleep. 8. And behold a dream came to me, and visions fell down upon me, and I saw visions of chastisement, and a voice came bidding (me) I to tell it to the sons of heaven, and reprimand them. 9. And when I awaked, I came unto them, and they were all sitting gathered together, weeping in ’Abelsjâîl [Abel-Maîn], which is between Lebanon and Sênêsêr [Senir], with their faces covered.

So Enoch delivered his message of judgment against the fallen angels seven kilometers from Dan, at Abel beth Maacah: read more »


2010-08-07

Rivers & Revelation: Enoch, Jesus and the Jordan River

by Neil Godfrey
Baptism of Christ
Image via Wikipedia

Strelan’s article on the Fallen Watchers and the Disciples in Mark led me to a 1981 article by George W. E. Nickelsburg of particular interest: Enoch, Levi, and Peter: Recipients of Revelation in Upper Galilee (JBL 100/4 (1981) 575-600). I suspect Nickelsburg is touching on aspects of the Book of Enoch that ought to have major significance for the question of Christian origins, and in particular for the origin of the geographic symbolism we encounter in the Gospel of Mark. The idea that Galilee represents the place of the Kingdom of God while Jerusalem is in bondage to archons and apostasy is not original to the Gospel of Mark. Mark seems to have inherited this among a number of other ideas from those we find also in the Book of Enoch.

But here I share just one detail from this article, one that has to do with the baptism of Jesus as the means of his entry into the narrative of the gospel.

This is Nickelsburg’s sentence that caught my eye:

At the sacred place, [Enoch] sits down by the waters — traditionally a place of revelation — and reads himself into a trance in which he is conveyed into the presence of God.

Here Milik (Le Testament de Lévi, Revue Biblique, 62 (1955) 405) is referenced as citing the following:

Ezekiel 1:1

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year . . . as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

Daniel 10:4-7

I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris. I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in colour, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.

And the Enochian passage in question is

Enoch 13:7-8 read more »