The “Book of Enoch” (1 Enoch) is a collection of texts composed between about 350 B.C.E. and the turn of the era. It is the earliest extant example of an apocalyptic blend of Israelite prophetic and wisdom theologies best known from the Book of Daniel, and it witnesses the variety within Israelite religion in the Greco-Roman period.

Two myths shape the Book of Enoch. The first, related to Genesis 6:1–4, a ascribes the origins of evil to the rebellion of certain angels who mated with women and begat a race of giants that devastated the earth and whose demonic spirits continue to produce sin and misery. According to the second myth, Enoch (as said in Genesis 5:21–24) was taken to heaven, where he learned the secrets of the universe and of the coming judgment.

The Enochic texts claim to be Enoch’s revelations transmitted through his son, Methuselah. The various parts of 1 Enoch were composed in Aramaic and translated into Greek, and from Greek into ancient Ethiopic, in which version alone the entire collection has survived.

Qumran Cave 4 yielded fragments of 11 Aramaic manuscripts of parts of 1 Enoch that cover perhaps one fifth of the Ethiopic text, as well as nine Aramaic manuscripts of “the Book of the Giants,” atext not included in 1 Enoch.1 The 1 Enoch manuscripts attest both to how closely the Ethiopic text corresponds to its Aramaic prototypes in some places and to where it differs in others. The Giants fragments indicate that the Enochic tradition was richer than 1 Enoch suggests. Missing at Qumran are fragments of the Book of Parables (1 Enoch 37–71), a Jewish text that provides a context for New Testament “Son of Man” christology. The absence of the Book of Parables from Qumran probably indicates that this expression of Enochic theology developed in circles different from those directly ancestral to the group that collected the texts at Qumran. The other Enochic writings were authoritative at Qumran, however, and were popular among early Christian writers as well. The Enochic texts remain a canonical part of the Bible of the Ethiopian Church.—George W.E. Nickelsburg, The University of Iowa