In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Enoch

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Enochic Literature in its Second Temple Jewish Setting
  • The Reception of Enochic Literature
  • Translations
  • Collections of Essays
  • Bibliographies

Biblical Studies Enoch
Pierluigi Piovanelli
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 August 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0070


The various books of Enoch, beginning with the five or six booklets that constitute 1 (Ethiopic) Enoch to 3 (Hebrew) Enoch and passing through the intermediary stage of 2 (Slavonic) Enoch, share a common attribution to, or are at least linked with, the intriguing figure of Enoch, the seventh antediluvian patriarch, who lived 365 years and finally “walked with God; then he was no more, for God took him” (Genesis 5:21–24). These writings are among the most important literary artifacts for understanding the evolution of Jewish (and Christian) religious thought and practice, from magic to the millennium and from the millennium to mysticism, over a span of more than eight, critical centuries. Without 1 Enoch, it would be considerably more difficult to appreciate the complex phenomena that characterized the painful acculturation of Judaism into the Hellenistic and Roman world, with different responses from groups such as the Qumran sectarians, the Zadokite elites, the Pharisaic reformers, the members of popular religious movements (including the Jesus group), and the various freedom fighters who brought the Second Temple to its tragic end. Without 2 Enoch, it would be almost impossible to imagine how Jewish and Christian mysticism developed from the redefinition of Second Temple apocalyptic ideas and rituals. Without 3 Enoch, the essential link that exists between the earliest Enochic traditions and the later developments of Hekhalot and Merkavah mysticism would probably be erased. As Zar’a Yā‘qob, the emperor of Ethiopia and theologian (1434–1468 CE), who was one of the most ardent defenders of the canonicity of 1 Enoch, once said to a detractor, “Listen, O creator of controversy, whoever you are, Christian or Jew, without the Book of Enoch you cannot claim to be such: Christian, it is impossible that you are a true Christian, and Jew, it is impossible that you are a true Jew!” From a historical point of view, he was, retrospectively, right.

Introductory Works

Preliminary information can be found in the useful encyclopedia articles of Berger 1988, Nickelsburg 2000, and Uhlig 2005, as well as the introductions to Second Temple Jewish literature by Collins 1998, Denis and Haelewyck 2000, and Nickelsburg 2005. Alexander 1998 and VanderKam 1995 provide more detailed treatments of Enochic texts and motifs.

  • Alexander, Philip S. “From Son of Adam to Second God: Transformations of the Biblical Enoch.” In Biblical Figures outside the Bible. Edited by Michael E. Stone and Theodore A. Bergren, 87–122. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity International, 1998.

    An excellent synthesis of more than a millennium of Enochic traditions and texts.

  • Berger, Klaus. “Henoch.” In Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum. Vol. 14. Edited by Theodor Klauser, 473–545. Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 1988.

    An exhaustive survey of Enochic literature by a renowned German specialist.

  • Collins, John J. The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature. 2d ed. Biblical Resource Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.

    The best introduction to Jewish apocalyptic literature, with extensive treatments of early Enochic texts, the Book of Parables, and 2 Enoch (1st ed., 1984).

  • Denis, Albert-Marie, and Jean-Claude Haelewyck. Introduction à la littérature religieuse judéo-hellénistique (Pseudépigraphes de l’Ancien Testament). 2d ed. 2 vols. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2000.

    A very well-documented introduction to the textual evidence and the complexities of Enochic literature and traditions (1st ed., 1970).

  • Nickelsburg, George W. E. Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah: A Historical and Literary Introduction. 2d ed. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005.

    Another classic and extremely readable introduction to Second Temple Jewish literature, by one of the best specialists on 1 Enoch and related texts (1st ed., 1981).

  • Nickelsburg, George W. E. “Enoch, Books of.” In The Encyclopaedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Vol. 1. Edited by Lawrence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam, 249–253. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

    An excellent overview of 1 Enoch and Enochic literature.

  • Uhlig, Siegbert. “Enoch, Book of.” In Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, Vol. 2. Edited by Siegbert Uhlig, 311–313. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 2005.

    Aside from this short entry, the four volumes of the Encyclopaedia Aethiopica published so far also contain many other articles (e.g., “Bible,” Vol. 1, pp. 563–578; “Manuscripts,” Vol. 2, pp. 738–752; “Melchizedek,” Vol. 3, pp. 914–916) that might provide useful insights into the cultural context of the Ethiopic version of 1 Enoch.

  • VanderKam, James C. Enoch: A Man for All Generations. Studies on Personalities of the Old Testament. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995.

    An exhaustive survey of all of the ancient texts attributed or pertaining to the patriarch Enoch, from Genesis 5 and the Mesopotamian traditions about King Enmeduranki until Tertullian of Carthage and Augustine of Hippo.

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