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Religious Revolutions

The Book of Enoch

Short Description

An apocalypse attributed to the mysterious biblical figure Enoch who is said to have “…walked with God; then he was no more, for God took him” (Gen. 5:24), the Book of Enoch appears to have been of some importance to certain Jewish communities of the intertestamental period as well as to early Christians. The copy displayed here, written in Ethiopic, represents one of the earliest known manuscripts of the text.

Remnant Trust Description

Commonly referred to by biblical scholars as 1 Enoch, or as the Ethiopic Book of Enoch, this text is believed to be the oldest of the three pseudepigrapha attributed to the biblical figure Enoch, said in the Book of Genesis to have been the seventh descendant of Adam and Eve who “...walked with God; then he was no more, for God took him” (5:24). A composite text composed primarily during the later Second Temple Period, its many vivid eschatological passages and repeated criticism of exploiters and oppressors seem to point towards the time of the Maccabean Revolt (164-142 BCE) against the Seleucids of Syria—events which ushered in a brief period of Jewish independence prior to the Roman annexation of Judea in 63 BCE. As with many pseudepigraphical works, however, both the book and its history are possessed of a marked opacity. The text itself seems to have been known not only to certain Jewish communities of the intertestamental period, especially the Essenes, but to early Christian communities as well. It is quoted, for example, by the author of Jude in the New Testament as well being known to many of the early Church Fathers. The Book of Enoch only survived in full, however, in the Ethiopian Church, in which it still holds a notable position. This newly discovered copy of the Book of Enoch written on parchment in Ethiopic (Ge’ez), represents the earliest known manuscript of the text outside of Ethiopia, having been copied c. 1450-1500 CE.