30 July 2008

The Book of Enoch (Pt 2)

I just found a great introductory piece describing the background and some history surrounding the Book of Enoch and church history. Well worth a read.

About the Book of Enoch

The Book of Enoch (also known as 1 Enoch) was once cherished by Jews and Christians alike, this book later fell into disfavor with powerful theologians - precisely because of its controversial statements on the nature and deeds of the fallen angels.

The Enochian writings, in addition to many other writings that were excluded (or lost) from the Bible (i.e., the Book of Tobit, Esdras, etc.) were widely recognized by many of the early church fathers as "apocryphal" writings. The term "apocrypha" is derived from the Greek word meaning "hidden" or "secret". Originally, the import of the term may have been complimentary in that the term was applied to sacred books whose contents were too exalted to be made available to the general public.

In Dan. 12:9-10 we hear of words that are shut up until the end of time and, words that the wise shall understand and the wicked shall not. In addition, 4 Ezra 14:44ff. mentions 94 books, of which 24 (the OT) were to be published and 70 were to be delivered only to the wise among the people (= apocrypha). Gradually, the term "apocrypha" took on a pejorative connotation, for the orthodoxy of these hidden books was often questionable. Origen (Comm. in Matt. 10.18; p. 13.881) distinguished between books that were to be read in public worship and apocryphal books. Because these secret books were often preserved for use within the esoteric circles of the divinely - knit believers, many of the critically - spirited or "unenlightened" Church Fathers found themselves outside the realm of understanding, and therefore came to apply the term "apocryphal" to, what they claimed to be, heretical works which were forbidden to be read.

In Protestant parlance, "the Apocrypha" designate 15 works, all but one of which are Jewish in origin and found in the Septuagint (parts of 2 Esdras are Christian and Latin in origin). Although some of them were composed in Palestine in Aramaic or Hebrew, they were not accepted into the Jewish canon formed late in the 2nd cent. AD (Canonicity, 67:31-35). The Reformers, influenced by the Jewish canon of the OT, did not consider these books on a par with the rest of the Scriptures; thus the custom arose of making the Apocrypha a separate section in the Protestant Bible, or sometimes even of omitting them entirely (Canonicity, 67:44-46). The Catholic view, expressed as a doctrine of faith at the Council of Trent, is that 12 of these 15 works (in a different enumeration, however) are canonical Scripture; they are called the Deuterocanonical Books (Canonicity, 67:21, 42-43).

The three books of the Protestant Apocrypha that are not accepted by Catholics are 1-2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh. The theme of the Book of Enoch dealing with the nature and deeds of the fallen angels so infuriated the later Church fathers that one, Filastrius, actually condemned it openly as heresy (Filastrius, Liber de Haeresibus, no. 108). Nor did the rabbis deign to give credence to the book's teaching about angels. Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai in the second century A.D. pronounced a curse upon those who believed it (Delitzsch, p. 223). So the book was denounced, banned, cursed, no doubt burned and shredded - and last but not least, lost (and conveniently forgotten) for a thousand years. But with an uncanny persistence, the Book of Enoch found its way back into circulation two centuries ago.

In 1773, rumors of a surviving copy of the book drew Scottish explorer James Bruce to distant Ethiopia. True to hearsay, the Book of Enoch had been preserved by the Ethiopic church, which put it right alongside the other books of the Bible. Bruce secured not one, but three Ethiopic copies of the book and brought them back to Europe and Britain. When in 1821 Dr. Richard Laurence, a Hebrew professor at Oxford, produced the first English translation of the work, the modern world gained its first glimpse of the forbidden mysteries of Enoch.

Most scholars say that the present form of the story in the Book of Enoch was penned sometime during the second century B.C. and was popular for at least five hundred years. The earliest Ethiopic text was apparently made from a Greek manuscript of the Book of Enoch, which itself was a copy of an earlier text. The original was apparently written in Semitic language, now thought to be Aramaic.

Though it was once believed to be post-Christian (the similarities to Christian terminology and teaching are striking), recent discoveries of copies of the book among the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran prove that the book was in existence before the time of Jesus Christ. But the date of the original writing upon which the second century B.C. Qumran copies were based is shrouded in obscurity. It is, in a word, old. It has been largely the opinion of historians that the book does not really contain the authentic words of the ancient biblical patriarch Enoch, since he would have lived (based on the chronologies in the Book of Genesis) several thousand years earlier than the first known appearance of the book attributed to him.

Despite its unknown origins, Christians once accepted the words of this Book of Enoch as authentic scripture, especially the part about the fallen angels and their prophesied judgment. In fact, many of the key concepts used by Jesus Christ himself seem directly connected to terms and ideas in the Book of Enoch. Thus, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Jesus had not only studied the book, but also respected it highly enough to adopt and elaborate on its specific descriptions of the coming kingdom and its theme of inevitable judgment descending upon "the wicked" - the term most often used in the Old Testament to describe the Watchers.

There is abundant proof that Christ approved of the Book of Enoch. Over a hundred phrases in the New Testament find precedents in the Book of Enoch. Another remarkable bit of evidence for the early Christians' acceptance of the Book of Enoch was for many years buried under the King James Bible's mistranslation of Luke 9:35, describing the transfiguration of Christ: "And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my beloved Son: hear him." Apparently the translator here wished to make this verse agree with a similar verse in Matthew and Mark. But Luke's verse in the original Greek reads: "This is my Son, the Elect One (from the Greek ho eklelegmenos, lit., "the elect one"): hear him." The "Elect One" is a most significant term (found fourteen times) in the Book of Enoch. If the book was indeed known to the apostles of Christ, with its abundant descriptions of the Elect One who should "sit upon the throne of glory" and the Elect One who should "dwell in the midst of them," then the great scriptural authenticity is accorded to the Book of Enoch when the "voice out of the cloud" tells the apostles, "This is my Son, the Elect One" - the one promised in the Book of Enoch.

The Book of Jude tells us in vs. 14 that "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied..." Jude also, in vs. 15, makes a direct reference to the Book of Enoch (2:1), where he writes, "to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly..." The time difference between Enoch and Jude is approximately 3400 years. Therefore, Jude's reference to the Enochian prophesies strongly leans toward the conclusion that these written prophesies were available to him at that

Fragments of ten Enoch manuscripts were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The famous scrolls actually comprise only one part of the total findings at Qumran. Much of the rest was Enochian literature, copies of the Book of Enoch, and
other apocryphal works in the Enochian tradition, like the Book of Jubilees. With so many copies around, the Essenes could well have used the Enochian writings as a community prayer book or teacher's manual and study text.

The Book of Enoch was also used by writers of the noncanonical (i.e.apocryphal or "hidden") texts. The author of the apocryphal Epistle of Barnabas quotes the Book of Enoch three times, twice calling it "the Scripture," a term specifically denoting the inspired Word of God (Epis. of Barnabas 4:3, 16:5,6). Other apocryphal works reflect knowledge of the Enoch story of the Watchers, notably the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and the Book of Jubilees.

Many of the early church fathers also supported the Enochian writings. Justin Martyr ascribed all evil to demons whom he alleged to be the offspring of the angels who fell through lust for women (from the Ibid.)-directly referencing the Enochian writings. Athenagoras, writing in his work called Legatio in about 170 A.D., regards Enoch as a true prophet. He describes the angels which "violated both their own nature and their office." In his writings, he goes into detail about the nature of fallen angels and the cause of their fall, which comes directly from the Enochian writings.

Many other church fathers: Tatian (110-172); Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (115-185); Clement of Alexandria (150-220); Tertullian (160-230); Origen (186-255); Lactantius (260-330); in addition to: Methodius of Philippi, Minucius Felix, Commodianus, and Ambrose of Milanalso-also approved of and supported the Enochian writings.

One by one the arguments against the Book of Enoch fade away. The day may soon arrive when the final complaints about the Book of Enoch's lack of historicity and "late date" are also silenced by new evidence of the book's real antiquity.


View the other parts of the topic

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

The Book of Enoch (Pt 1)

And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (Genesis 5:21-24)
So, where did God take Enoch? Why did He take Enoch?

The answers do not lie in what we hold as the canonical Old Testament scriptures, but such answers can be found in books like the Book of Jasher and the Book of Enoch, ancient Jewish writings, that for one reason or another were rejected (or missing) when the canon was decided upon. But do these books hold any truth to the happenings of the time, or are they just fictitious stories for the fanciful minds of Jewish children?

I "discovered" and read through the Book of Enoch a few years ago. I found it very fascinating, and while I found it answering many questions as well as filling in spots of my thinking that I had previously considered, I still took the book with a grain of salt.

As I continued reading not only the Scripture, but other Jewish history writings and general histories of the Jewish people, I found myself drawn back to considering some of these writings as more than just folklore. As I found more and more quotes, terms and references in the New Testament, that come directly from Enoch, I had to consider the weight of the matter. Whether the book is to be considered canonical or not, it is definitely worth our time to read it, because it is evident that not only was it widely known by Christ and the Apostles (enough for them to quote from), but the language itself is a precursor to the very language we find throughout prophecy writings, especially those in Revelation.

Some examples of NT quotes/references to the Book of Enoch:

For if God spared not the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment; - 2 Peter 2:4

And the angels who kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great Day - Jude 6
Both verses refer directly to stories found in directly in the Book of Enoch. For those of you totally unfamiliar with Enoch and the story behind where this fits in, let me give a brief background. Enoch shows up in Genesis 5, being the great-grandfather of Noah. When you jump into Gen. 6, you find:
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God ("angels of God" in the Septuagint) saw the daughters of men, that they were fair; and they took for themselves wives of all whom they chose. There were giants on the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men who were of old, men of renown. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagining of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD repented that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him in His heart. And the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping thing and the fowls of the air, for I repent that I have made them."
Many commentators have gone to great lengths to dispell the thoughts that these "sons of God" were actually angels, but in doing so, leave verses like those from 2 Peter and Jude just hanging out there with less explanation. The fact that the term "sons of God" can be interpreted to mean angels, and the fact that the Septuigint translates it as "angels of God" should give us reason enough to stop and consider this avenue of thought.

It is during this time that Enoch was taken by God, and during this time, after these sons of God procreate and create giants, that "GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth." What is the connection between these "giant" offspring, and the sudden pronouncement of the wickedness of men? Only the details of the Book of Enoch give clarity to the situation.

The Book of Jasher also gives a much more detailed background story of the life and times of Enoch, and how he was very righteous and a sought after teacher of the things of God. It tells of his calling by God, and his removal to heaven to stand as a sort of judge/mediator for these fallen angels who procreated with women. The Book of Enoch expounds on the happenings once he was taken to heaven, and all of the dealings with these fallen angels and the Lord. The judgment brought by God upon these angels is what is being directly quoted by both Peter and Jude above. But the Jude section goes further in establishing this fact:

...even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, in like manner (to the angels) giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Both the angels and Sodom and Gomorrah are described here condemned for "giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh," so unless we can find other Biblical examples of angels leaving their habitation to give themselves over to this kind of fornication and thus being bound in chains till judgment, then it adds that much more creedance to the story of Enoch.

Going even further into Jude though, we also find:

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all who are ungodly among them of all their godless deeds which they have godlessly committed, and of all the harsh speeches which godless sinners have spoken against Him." Jude 14-15
So, all I am saying for now is, that the Book of Enoch has been quoted directly in Jude, was referenced/quoted by Peter and Jesus, it also contains a very impressive parable/prophesy of the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70, as well as giving us a "behind the scenes" working of angels, fallen angels, evil spirits, judgment and a foundational prophetic terms that appear throughout the New Testament scriptures. It was commonly known among not only by the Apostles and Jesus, but for the first couple hundred years of church history, was still in circulation and wildly read. I feel it is well worth reading in our day and age based on these points alone.

View the other parts of the topic

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

25 July 2008

Race Over Grace

Last night I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Charles Roberts, author of the book Race Over Grace: The Racialist Religion of the Christian Identity Movement on the radio podcast I co-host, Covenant Radio. The book discussed the foundation and some history of the modern day Christian Identity theology, which, as the title of the book suggests, is a theology based on racialist distinctions.

Because of my long history supporting and being around various branches of the Southern Heritage movement, I had occasionally heard the term mentioned, but never full understood much about who they were, or what they exactly taught; I just knew it had something to do with a racial aspect of things.

I found the book very informative, and enjoyed the overall conversation with Dr. Roberts on the subject last night. The interview is archived on our site, dated last night 7/24/08, and being show #53 in the archive.

I encourage you, if you know little to nothing about this theology, to give it a listen, or grab the book for a foundational understanding of some of the key issues involved.

24 July 2008

Prayer...in the name of...?

I wrote a similar article on this back on the old blog, and am rehashing it now because I have noticed the issue more and more since writing the original post.

There seems to be a epidemic going around today in prayer. I believe people are not really stopping to seriously think before they pray. It has become too much of a habit for us to just "jump" into prayer without contemplating the serious reverence and awe for what we are doing. We are coming into the direct lane of communication with the Almighty, and should be doing so in boldness because of Christ, but in reverence because of the Father, our Creator. The manner and attitude with which you enter into prayer is directly related to your belief and respect for the one you pray to.

But, the next question I would like to consider, is exactly how should we as Christians pray? What does the Bible say about the logistic of prayer? Are we to pray to the Father? the Son? the Holy Spirit? take turns with all three, or combine all three into one prayer?

I find it more and more common to hear people these days praying to Jesus, and ending with "...in your name we pray" or even "...in Jesus name we pray." Does anyone stop to really think of what they are doing and saying?

What does the Bible instruct us to do when it comes to prayer? Is it just a haphazard smorgasbord of choices and we can do as we please? I have only begun to give it more serious thought, but upon my initial examination, I find that we have been given a pretty clear instruction on the details.

Jesus says in Matt 6:6 "But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Then, in giving us the Lord's Prayer, we are taught to pray saying "Our Father..."

So in both instances, Jesus instructs his followers to pray to the Father.

John 16:13 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you."

Here we are told by Jesus to ask of the Father, in his (Jesus) name. So, in all of these cases, it is evident that we are to pray to the Father, in the name (authority/power) of Jesus. Jesus is the bridge that opened the conduit for us to directly approach the throne in prayer, so it is through his power and authority...in his name, not our own, not a priest, nor any other intercessor, that we lift prayers to the Father.

So, what about the Spirit?

John 14-16 give us much about the coming Comforter, and in all cases it appears that the Spirit is just that, a Comforter, and not one that seeks to be directly addressed in prayer.

John 16: 13-14 "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you."

The Spirit's job is to glorify and speak of the Son, not to be glorified or addressed in prayer.

Rom 8:26 "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."

Are we to pray to the Spirit? The evidence seems to be that the Spirit assists us in praying, and is not the one being addressed in prayer.

Richard Baxter (
1615-1691) sums is up quite well:
True Christian prayer is, the believing and serious expression or acting of our lawful desires before God, through Jesus our Mediator, by the help of the Holy Spirit, as a means to procure of him the grant of these desires.
Christian Directory, Chapt 23, Direct I
All I am saying is, stop and think before you pray. Who are you addressing, and in whose name do you come? Honestly, it just seems kind of odd to me to pray to Jesus in his own name. Anyone else have thoughts on the subject?

23 July 2008

Here we are again

Well, my original blog was hijacked and abused by spammers, and was shut down by the hosting company. So, here I am, starting over, with all of my old tidbits and jewels of information lost (for the second time actually). But no worries, I didn't have much to say over there anyway. So here we are! I have a handful of interesting (to me) thoughts that I have been eager to post, I just have to formulate them in a digestible means for you all, and then they'll appear. Stay tuned!