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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, April 20 2023

Is the Book of Enoch sacred writing?

The Book of Enoch is in a group of various books called pseudepigrapha and that name, used by scholars, describes these books and the Apocrypha very specifically. "Pseude" means false. And the "pigrapha" part means writings

The book of Enoch isn't sacred. That is to say, it isn't a part of inspired Scripture. Rather, it is part of a group of books known as "pseudepigrapha," which means "false writings."

According to Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, the Pseudepigrapha are "a collection of Jewish books containing various forms of literature, using names of famous people in Israel's history for the titles of the books. The real authors are unknown. Such names as Ezra, Baruch, Enoch, Solomon, Moses, and Adam are used to add authority to the writing" (1986, article "Pseudepigrapha"). In addition to using a pseudonym, the first chapter of the book of Enoch also makes use of a famous statement made by the real Enoch who lived millennia before the oldest known copies of the book of Enoch came into existence.

A similar (albeit not exact) quotation of Enoch exists in the New Testament book of Jude in verses 14-15. We have no doubt that the real Enoch of Genesis 5 spoke these words and that they had been passed on by tradition from his time. However, the commonality of Jude 14-15 with 1 Enoch 1:9 does not make the rest of the pseudepigraphical book of Enoch "God-inspired" any more than Paul's brief quotations of Aratus (Acts 17:28) and Epimenides (Titus 1:12) would sanctify the entirety of those authors' words.

When holding the book of Enoch up to the "Scripture cannot be broken" test (John 10:35), we find that a major theme in 1 Enoch of sinful angels taking human wives (e.g., 1 Enoch 6:2, 7:1, 12:4, 106:14, etc.) is in direct contradiction to the words of the Word, Jesus Christ, who created "all things…visible and invisible" and knows how they function (Colossians 1:16; compare Hebrews 4:13). In Matthew 22:29-30, Jesus said, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God…they neither marry nor are given in marriage…like the angels…" (see also Mark 12:24-25, Luke 20:34-36). This rebuttal of a major theme of 1 Enoch by the Creator Himself indicates that the Word that was and is God clearly did not consider those stories in the book of Enoch to be truthful, God-inspired "Scriptures." It also moves those Enochic stories into the realm of "…empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ" (Colossians 2:8, NRSV). The unhealthy fascination with and exaltation of angels throughout the book also stands in contrast to the message of Colossians 2:18-19, Revelation 19:10, etc. The stories of Enoch's ascent into heaven (1 Enoch 71:1,5) contradicts Jesus Christ's words in John 3:13, and the tales of an actively conscious afterlife of Enoch and others prior to the resurrection (e.g., 1 Enoch 70:3-4; 65:2-5; 22:7-13, etc.) are in conflict with Ecclesiastes 9:5,10, Job 14:14, Hebrews 11:13,39-40, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16, etc.

A simple example of an Enochic fallacy that very few would sincerely assert as an indisputable, God-inspired fact is the descriptions of Noah as a newborn baby in which "his form and appearance are not like the form of human beings…and his eyes are like the rays of the sun…[which] made the whole house bright. And he stood up from the hands of the midwife and he opened his mouth and praised the Lord of eternity" (1 Enoch 106:10-11,18;107:3).

In summary, when it comes to falsely-attributed writings like the pseudepigraphic book of Enoch, do not "be easily shaken…by any kind of spirit or message or letter allegedly from us" (2 Thessalonians 2:2, NET; compare Galatians 1:8). Also, "Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them" (Hebrews 13:9).