Thursday, August 12, 2010


More notes from Rolleston



Enoch was considered by the ancient Hebrews, Persians, and Arabs as one of the originators of astronomy. The book now extant in his name was found by Bruce in Abyssinia. It has been translated by Abp. Lawrence, who remarks in his preface, that as the writer gives the length of the day as from eight to twelve hours, he must have lived between 45o and 49o N. Lat., and might therefore be one of the ten tribes located in Media. It is certain that in the second century there was such a book, as Tertullian spoke of it. He thought it inspired; but the more learned Origen rejected it. St. Jude had previously adopted the prophecy of Enoch, but not as a book: it might be received from tradition as spoken.
It has been observed that succeeding prophets frequently use the very words of those who preceded them. Moses, in Deuteronomy 33:2, has been supposed to refer to this prophecy of Enoch, as also Zechariah 14:5. St. Peter, in his Second Epistle (2:17,18), is considered to allude to the prophecy of Enoch, also Jude 12, 13, 15, where the ideas and even the expressions of the two Apostles remarkably coincide. The prophecy expressly quoted by Jude is to be found in the second chapter of the book translated by Lawrence. This passage, standing alone in its magnificence, luminous in the surrounding obscurity, seems to have been the only genuine record of the words of the patriarch that had reached the writer. There is nothing like it, nothing worthy of it in the rest of the volume, which may well have originated with a Jew into whose hands the Epistle of Jude had fallen. The imagery of the Apocalypse seems imitated in it, but not the prophecies. As the translator observes, none of its attempts at foretelling events after the Christian era correspond with history. The seal of inspiration is therefore wanting to the book, though the inspired Apostle has authenticated this one passage, apparently received by tradition as spoken by Enoch. Whether the book found in Abyssinia is that which Tertullian received but Origen rejected, is not known; but it is generally supposed not to be. Origen speaks of the book with which he was acquainted, as asserting that in the time of Enoch the constellations were already named and divided. The book now extant says, in c. 43, "The angel called the stars by their names, and they heard: they are the names of the righteous who dwell upon the earth." If the book seen by Origen said, "of the Righteous One who shall dwell upon the earth," it would agree with the names of the stars relating to the titles and attributes of the Messiah. There is an Indian tradition that the third from Adam, famous for his piety and the salutary precepts he gave to mankind, was translated to heaven, where he shines as the polar star. Enoch was named in tradition as the third with Adam and Seth in the invention of astronomy.
The positive assertion that Enoch was a prophet is founded on the Epistle of Jude. That Epistle, though doubtfully esteemed by some in the time of Eusebius (as it has been in ours), was received by the Council of Laodicea, which, with Origen and Athanasius, held the same books, and no others, to be inspired which are the Canonical Scriptures of the Anglican Church. In addition to this external evidence, the internal is supplied by the test often used as to the other Scriptures. A good man could not have said that he, the writer, was Jude the brother of James, unless he were really so: an evil man, capable of a sacrilegious forgery, could not have written other and highly spiritual parts of the same Epistle. The resemblance to 2 Peter 2:17,18, in verses 6 and 8, 12 and 13, has been explained by supposing both passages to have been taken from the book of Enoch; not that now extant, but that which was known to Origen. A book of Enoch is spoken of in the "Zohar," which was written about the time of the Christian era. It is asserted by many ancient writers that there was a book called the book of Enoch. What the two Apostles quoted as authoritative must have been inspired: but an inspired book would not have perished. Jude does not refer to a book, but to a saying. That prophecy of Enoch might have been traditionally preserved, and inserted in the book called of Enoch and recognized as prophetic by the inspired writers. The very ancient and widely prevalent tradition that Enoch did write a book, to which in some cases was added that it was preserved by Noah in the ark, is remarkable. May he not have written from the dictation of Adam the four first chapters of Genesis, under the guidance of that Spirit by which Moses might recognize and adopt them?

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