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The First Book of Enoch

A page of the Book of Enoch

A page of the Ethiopic text of the "Book of Enoch" (British Museum MS. Orient. No. 485, Fol. 83b) containing a description of one of Enoch's visits to heaven, and how the archangel Michael took him by the hand and showed him the mysteries of heaven.

From The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament R.H. Charles Oxford: The Clarendon Press


First Enoch may be divided into the following five major sections:

1. The Book of the Watchers (chs. 1—36). Enoch is a righteous man who has received heavenly visions. The book is a collection of revelations regarding divine judgment. It describes the rebellion of angels. The fallen angels, called "Watchers," have sexual intercourse with human women, who give birth to a race of wicked giants. The giants lay waste to the earth and humanity, and so become the occasion for the flood, in which they are destroyed. But once their demonic spirits are released from their dead bodies, these demons wreak havoc in the world until the end time of judgment.

2. The Book of the Similitudes (or Parables; chs. 37—71). Enoch again receives heavenly visions, which are interpreted by angels. The primary character of these revelations is the "son of man." Other titles employed to name this messiah figure are “the Chosen One” (the most common title), God’s “Anointed One,” and “the Righteous One.” This heavenly being is God’s agent for the final judgment and vindication of the righteous.

3. The Book of Astronomical Writings (or Heavenly Luminaries, chs. 72—82). Visions of heavenly and earthly occurrences advocate a 364-day solar calendar, as opposed to the controversial lunar calendar. Enoch describes to his son Methuselah his journey through the stars above the earth, guided by the angel Uriel.

4. The Book of Dream Visions (or Animal Apocalypse, chs. 83—90). Enoch recounts two visions to Methuselah. The first vision is of the sky falling and the earth undergoing cataclysmic disasters as a result. The second vision takes the form of an apocalyptic allegory describing the history of humanity from the creation of Adam to the final judgment. In it, humans are represented as animals and angels are represented as human beings. The apocalypse details the relationship of Jews with Gentiles and the end-time judgment.

5. The Book of the Epistle of Enoch (chs. 91—107). This epistle is written by Enoch for later generations. Righteousness and wickedness are contrasted throughout the letter in order to show that goodness and truth will be rewarded by God, but evil and sin will be punished by God. This sober eschatological prophecy admonishes readers about the final divine judgment.

Title: Also called the Ethiopic Apocalypse of Enoch


Attempts to explain some enigmatic passages from the book of Genesis

Influenced by the canonical books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel

Canonical Status: Old Testament Pseudepigrapha

Author: Anonymous Jews

Date: 250 BC – AD 50

The five books within First Enoch were apparently written at different times by different authors.

Their probable chronological order from earliest to latest is: 3 — 1 — 4 — 5 — 2.

Original Language:

Though written originally in either Aramaic or Hebrew, this book is fully extant only in ancient Ethiopic (Ge’ez) translation.

Fragments exist in Latin, Greek, and Aramaic

Some fragments have been identified among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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Last modified: 2011-10-06

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