Friday, May 11, 2007
THE BOOK OF ENOCH
In Scripture, the New Testament Letter of Jude, verse 14-15, reads:
Enoch, of the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied also about them when he said, "Behold, the Lord has come with his countless holy ones to execute judgment on all and to convict everyone for all the godless deeds that they committed and for all the harsh words godless sinners have uttered against him."
The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us:
It influenced not only later Jewish apocrypha, but has left its imprint on the New Testament and the works of the early Fathers. The canonical Epistle of St. Jude, in verses 14, 15, explicitly quotes from the Book of Henoch; the citation is found in the Ethiopic version in verses 9 and 4 of the first chapter. There are probable traces of the Henoch literature in other portions of the New Testament.
Passing to the patristic writers, the Book of Henoch enjoyed a high esteem among them, mainly owing to the quotation in Jude. The so-called Epistle of Barnabas twice cites Henoch as Scripture. Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and even St. Augustine suppose the work to be a genuine one of the patriarch. But in the fourth century the Henoch writings lost credit and ceased to be quoted. After an allusion by an author of the beginning of the ninth century, they disappear from view.
So great was the oblivion into which they fell that only scanty fragments of Greek and Latin versions were preserved in the West. The complete text was thought to have perished when it was discovered in two Ethiopic manuscripts in Abyssinia, by the traveler Bruce in 1773. Since, several more copies in the same language have been brought to light. Recently a large Greek fragment comprising chapters i-xxxii was unearthed at Akhmîn in Egypt.
Scholars agree that the Book of Henoch was originally composed either in Hebrew or Aramaic, and that the Ethiopic version was derived from a Greek one.
The Jewish Encyclopedia tells of two versions of the book, the Ethiopian and the Slavonic. It would appear that it is to the Slavonic book of Enoch that those interested in practicing magic with the aid of angelic beings would refer.
Of the Slavonic, the Jewish Encyclopedia states:
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.G. E. Li.
A version of the Book of Enoch is online at Sacred Texts.
Of the Book of Enoch, Eliphas Levi, in THE HISTORY OF MAGIC, Book I, The Derivations of Magic, tells us:
This legend of the Kabalistic Book of Enoch is a variant account of the same profanation of Mysteries which we meet with under another form of symbolism in the history of the sin of Adam. Those angels, the sons of God, of whom Enoch speaks, were initiates of Magic, and it was this that they communicated to profane men, using incautious women as their instruments. They split upon the rock of sense-attraction, becoming enamoured of the female sex, and the secrets of royalty and priesthood were extracted from them unawares. Primitive civilisation collapsed as a consequence, and the giants, who typified brute force and unbridled appetite, fought together for the world, which escaped only by immersion in the waters of the deluge, wherein all traces of the past were effaced.(pp. 55-56)
Let us recur, however, to the BOOK OF ENOCH, and it is to him that we must therefore trace back the teachings embodied in the SEPHER YETZIRAH, which is the elementary work of the Kabalah, its compiler--according to the Rabbins--being the patriarch Abraham, as the heir of the secrets of Enoch and as the father of initiation in Israel. Enoch would seem in this manner to be identical with the Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus, while the famous BOOK OF THOTH, written throughout in hieroglyphics and in numbers, would be that occult Bible, anterior to the book of Moses and full of mysteries, to which the initiated William Postel alludes so frequently throughout his works, under the title of the GENESIS OF ENOCH.(pp. 57-58)
Albert Pike also writes about Enoch in MORALS AND DOGMA, XIII Degree, Royal Arch of Solomon:
Enoch...we are told, walked with God three hundred years, after reaching the age of sixty-five--"walked with God, and he was no more, for God had taken him." His name signified in the Hebrew, INITIATE or INITIATOR. The legend of the columns, of granite and brass or bronze, erected by him, is probably symbolical. That of bronze, which survived the flood, is supposed to symbolize the mysteries, of which Masonry is the legitimate successor--from the earliest times the custodian and depository of the great philosophical and religious truths, unknown to the world at large, and handed down from age to age by an unbroken current of tradition, embodied in symbols, emblems, and allegories.(p. 210)
MORALS AND DOGMA, XXIII Degree, Chief of the Tabernacle:
"The ancient Greeks declare that Enoch is the same as Mercury Trismegistus [Hermes], and that he taught the sons of men the art of building cities, and enacted some admirable laws...He discovered the knowledge of the Zodiac, and the course of the Planets; and he pointed out to the sons of men, that they should worship God, that they should fast, that they should pray, that they should give alms, votive offerings, and tenths. He reprobated abominable foods and drunkenness, and appointed festivals for sacrifices to the Sun, at each of the Zodiacal Signs."(p. 363 - there is no attribution for the quote marks in the book)