"Before these things Enoch was hidden, and no one of the children of men knew where he was hidden, and where he abode, and what had become of him. And his activities had to do with the Watchers, and his days were with the holy ones. And I Enoch was blessing the Lord of majesty and the King of the ages, and lo! the Watchers called me -Enoch the scribe- and said to me: 'Enoch, thou scribe of righteousness, go, declare to the Watchers...'" ~ (Book of Enoch 12:1-4)
These verses show Enoch being called to ministry. We are told Enoch had been hidden away from mankind, spending time worshiping God with the heavenly host. Enoch was hidden away and after some time he received his call to preach God's message.
When this happened, Enoch lived out as if in parable what would be the future status of the book he wrote. Enoch's book, like Enoch, was hidden away for a time, and only now is gradually coming into the spotlight for which it was purposed when written. Enoch indicated this possibility when he said the book he wrote so long ago was "not for this generation, but for a remote one which is for to come". Enoch also wrote, his book was for the "righteous, who will be living in the day of tribulation". (Enoch 1:1-2)
The period of Enoch being separate and hidden and his calling to his preaching ministry happened before he was translated into heaven. During the days of his earthly sojourn, Enoch the man, entered into the earthly purpose for his life having returned from his days in seclusion.
Like Enoch, the book he wrote has gone through a period of seclusion, or sequestration if you will. That Enoch would say his book was not for his own generation makes sense when you consider those living in Enoch's day had the preaching of Enoch to listen to. On the other hand, Enoch's words in written form, have become a kind of time-capsule for a later generation which is exactly what is beginning to happen today.
The Book of Enoch has passed through several phases in its process of sequestration and re-emergence on the world scene.
The first phase occurred shortly after the ministry of Christ. Though The Book of Enoch had been in wide circulation in the period leading up to the first century A.D., and despite its evident popularity, having been viewed as scripture and quoted in many other books of the day, in the late first century, the spiritual leadership of the Jews at that time, decided upon a strict canon of scripture, one which eliminated Enoch and other books. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has shown that prior to that decision, the Jews had been more willing to consider other writings as scripture and they'd had a special interest in the Book of Enoch in particular; fragments from at least 10 manuscript copies of the book have been found in the Dead Sea Scroll libraries recovered from caves in the Judean desert. Also, the discovery of the Falasha Jewish community of Ethiopia, which had lost contact with the rest of world Jewry before the Christian era has borne this out; the Old Testament of these Jews includes Enoch's book.
Outside of Judaism, however, the Book of Enoch continued for a time to be popular among early Christian writers and in the churches. Enoch's book is referred to in a positive manner in the writings of Irenaeus, Clement, Tertullian, Athenagoras, Tatian, Lactantius, Methodius, Minucius Felix, Commodianus and Ambrose, being often referred to as scripture. Gradually however, Enoch's popularity dimmed within Christianity. As neo-platonic philosophy and Greek ideas about the nature of angels began to permeate Christian thought, the book fell into disfavor. The book was forbidden by the Council of Laodicea in the 4th century A.D. Apparently, Augustine was influential in further pushing the book into obscurity. Ultimately, the Book of Enoch was removed from the accumulated libraries of the churches of the Mediterranean world.
The sequestration of the Book of Enoch was fully underway by the fifth century A.D. The book had passed from being widely available into a state wherein its pages were not allowed read in the churches, neither were its pages thought worthy of being copied and preserved. The book passed into a time in which no one of the children of men in the Greek and Latin worlds knew where it was hidden, and where it abode, and what had become of it. But its hiding was for a purpose. Like Jesus' flight to Egypt, Enoch's book was being preserved for the mission for which it had been purposed at first. From the outset, the Book of Enoch was destined to return from its hidden period to center stage for the benefit of a remote generation which was for to come.
Enoch's book was hidden for a period of at least twelve-hundred years. During this time, the world outside of Ethiopia was oblivious to the fact the book was being preserved by the Falasha Jews of Ethiopia. Fortunately for the Book of Enoch, the Falasha Jews were themselves not in communication with the people of the Mediterranean world throughout this time.
Since then, the Book of Enoch has passed through several phases during a prolonged time of its reemergence. The following were the initial phases of the Book of Enoch's re-emergence.
The first phase occurred in the late 1700's. While searching for the source of the Nile, explorer James Bruce acquired three complete copies of the Book of Enoch in the Ethiopic language, Geez (pronounced 'gaze'). These were brought to Europe. Almost 50 years later the first translation of the book in the English language appeared, translated by Archbishop Richard Laurence, Professor of Hebrew at Oxford. It would be more than 60 years before a full revision would be issued in 1883. Nearly 150 years after its reintroduction to the world outside Ethiopia, in 1913, Robert Henry Charles, issued what has become a preferred translation with corrected chapter and verse numbers.
175 years after the Book of Enoch had re-emerged on the world stage, its message was still discounted by the doubtful who alleged its potential for being a forgery. If the Ethiopic Book of Enoch were a forgery, it would not be the first time someone tried to recreate a 'lost book' and foist it off as original. In fact, there had been forgeries of the Book of Enoch circulated before. The truth is, without some source of external corroboration, a legitimate air of doubt could have remained.
In the 1950's, all doubts that the Ethiopic Enoch was the same one quoted by New Testament writers were dispelled by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. In the Jewish libraries discovered in caves in the Judean desert, fragments from seven copies of Enoch in Aramaic had survived. An additional three fragments of Greek copies of Enoch were also found there. These fragments have been used to authenticate and spot-check the Ethiopic translation of Enoch. Since the Dead Sea Scroll libraries have been dated to the two centuries before Christ, we now know the Ethiopic Enoch is the real deal.
Since the 1990's, the text of the Book of Enoch has been freely available on the internet. For the first time in history, the Book of Enoch is potentially available to people living anywhere on the planet. Surely the light of the truth contained in the pages of the book Enoch wrote is shining brighter with each passing day. It would appear that against all the odds, Enoch's prophecy concerning the future ministry of his book is in the process of being realized. We are told however, that the Book of Enoch's best days are yet future, for its purpose is for a generation to come.
"The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and righteous, who will be living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked and godless are to be removed. And he took up his parable and said -Enoch a righteous man, whose eyes were opened by God, saw the vision of the Holy One in the heavens, which the angels showed me, and from them I heard everything, and from them I understood as I saw, but not for this generation, but for a remote one which is for to come. Concerning the elect I said, and took up my parable concerning them: The Holy Great One will come forth from His dwelling, and the eternal God will tread upon the earth, even on Mount Sinai, and appear from His camp, and appear in the strength of His might from the heaven of heavens." ~ (Book of Enoch 1:1-4)
The prophets of Israel from the earliest times, predicted a future time of worldwide trouble that would exceed all other periods of crisis for the world and especially for the descendants of Jacob. The prophets have called this period of time by many names. The two most common titles given to the final period of worldwide trouble in scripture are, "The Day of the Lord" and "The Tribulation", (or "Great Tribulation"). Enoch prophesies his book will be a blessing to those living in "The Day of Tribulation".
Based upon the above-referenced verses, it is evident Enoch is referring to the biblical Great Tribulation period for the following reasons:
For many there remain pertinent doubts concerning the text of Enoch as it has come down to us in our day.
Much of Enoch's current problem lies with the trustworthiness of its transmission. Had the book been kept entire and transmitted from generation to generation intact in the Hebrew language, people may be more prone to accept it than in its current state. Because the only complete text of Enoch today is the Ethiopic one, it leaves room for people like Jozef T. Milik to be skeptical about its reliability. Milik states that since the extensive middle portion of the book, which portrays the Son of Man sitting in judgment on God's Throne of Glory, has not been corroborated by fragments from the Dead Sea Scroll caves, its composition is from the late 3rd century after Christ. Milik does see Jesus in the Book of Enoch, and because he does, Milik assumes those portions are of Christian origin.
Fifty years ago the Book of Isaiah had a credibility problem every bit as bad as Enoch does today. Isaiah in the Hebrew scriptures was based upon a Hebrew text from the 9th century AD. The question about Isaiah's transmission led liberal scholars to pose that Isaiah's text as it had come down, had been corrupted during its transmission over the centuries; liberal scholars of an earlier generation had proposed the text of Isaiah had been corrupted by Christian additions.
The discovery of a complete copy of Isaiah at the Dead Sea put an end to that sort of speculation when it was discovered it was essentially the same textual tradition that the Jews had been preserving since the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.
In the eyes of many, perhaps the credibility of the Book of Enoch could be resurrected should a more ancient copy of the book be found. Should another cache of ancient books be uncovered in which a complete copy of Enoch in Hebrew turns up, the book's importance to salvation history could once again be restored.
Many who, for the first time discover the wonders of the Book of Enoch ask the question, 'Why was Enoch not included in the Bible?'
A careful examination of the Book of Enoch will show that in many ways it is very unlike other biblical books though in spirit it is thoroughly similar. In light of this, the real wonder is that it was so widely received by so many for so long.
Among these differences we find the terminology used in Enoch's book is very unlike other biblical books. For instance, one is hard-pressed to find in Enoch anything clearly Judaic in nature. The Law of Moses is nowhere to be found in Enoch. The Sabbath or Sabbath observance is not mentioned. Enoch is bereft of any terminology remotely Mosaic in tone or flavor. This alone makes Enoch unlike any other biblical book including the books of the New Testament.
The Book of Enoch is also unlike any other biblical book in that it has no reference to the two major covenants. Enoch refers to neither the old covenant made by God with the descendants of Jacob nor to the new covenant made by God with any, both Jew and Gentile, who will put their faith in Jesus, Israel's Messiah.
These and other differences in the Book of Enoch could have afforded honest questions about its validity (as was also the case with some other old covenant books).
Despite this, the evidence is there that by the time Jesus arrived, Enoch's Book was widely circulated and highly esteemed. Numerous copies of Enoch were so highly valued as to have been included in the Jewish libraries secreted in the Judean desert and later recovered at the Dead Sea. Consider too, Enoch was alluded to a number of times in the New Testament and even quoted as scripture by Jude the brother of Jesus.
So, why was Enoch not included in the Bible? How did this wonderful book come to be excluded by Judaism in the Roman Empire after the destruction of Jerusalem, and two and a half centuries later how did it become a banned book within Christendom? Whatever chain of events one can uncover, I believe God's hand can nevertheless be seen in those events. Banished by the religious leaders of Judaism and banned by an organized Christendom, Enoch's book was exiled yet preserved and kept by God amongst a group of Jews who apparently fled Israel's northern kingdom (with Enoch in hand) nearly 800 years before Christ.
Like a comet on a wide elliptical orbit around the sun, Enoch is a biblical book on an elliptical orbit around the Biblical corpus; its orbit at times bringing it back into closer relation with the rest of the Biblical canon as it is doing in these last days and at such a time as this.© 2007 R.I. Burns