Pierluigi Piovanelli

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online August 2011 | | DOI:


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.

Article.  13670 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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