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Neal A. Maxwell Institute Of Religious Scholarship

The Book of Enoch as a Theodicy
Hugh W. Nibley
Provo, Utah: Maxwell InstituteThe views expressed in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of the Maxwell Institute, Brigham Young University, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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Chapter 3

The Book of Enoch as a Theodicy*

The stories of the Garden of Eden and the Flood have more than any others damaged the credibility of the biblical message, being the easiest to visualize, popularize, and satirize of any Bible accounts. Everyone has seen a garden and been caught in a pouring rain, and it requires no effort of the imagination for a six-year-old to convert concise, straightforward Sunday-school recitals into the vivid images that will stay with him for the rest of his life. These stories are discredited as nursery tales because they are nursery tales, retaining forever the forms they take in the imaginations of small children, defended by grownups who refuse to distinguish between childlike faith and thinking as a child when it is time to "put away childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:11.) It is equally easy and deceptive to fall into adolescent disillusionment, and with emancipated teachers to smile tolerantly at the simple gullibility of bygone days while passing stern moral judgment on the savage old tribal God who, overreacting with impetuous and sadistic violence, wiped out Noah's neighbors simply for making fun of his boat-building on a fine summer's day. The most resounding denunciation of the Christian God since the days of Celsus has been his indiscriminate cruelty in sending the flood.

Aeschylus's Prometheus reflects that long, traditional background of shock and dismay and resentment: Zeus is held responsible for the world upheaval, which makes him appear cruel, capricious, and arbitrary, overreacting violently to any opposition to his will. Prometheus is the pleading Enoch-figure, the champion of the downtrodden race.

But now it is time to grow up. Apocalyptic in general and the writings attributed to Enoch in particular are correctives to the old myopia. By giving what purport to be much fuller accounts of what happened than those contained in the Bible, these texts curb the critics' impetuosity and limit their license. But are these writings to be trusted? Well, what is the purpose of this long line of documents that report repeated calamities and upheavals in dispensation after dispensation and in the process also tell us why such things befell the race? Why should these writers invent horrors which they then have to explain? Why should they depict events that put God in a bad light? How does it happen that they all describe the same types of calamities (though they are charged with letting their Oriental imaginations run wild in what Bousset calls "a brain-sick day-dream"), and that what they describe is completely devoid of those miraculous elements of supernatural intervention that became the stock-in-trade of the later Apocrypha? How is it that those same calamities match so closely the events attendant upon the upheavals now put forward as the normal result of a geology of plate tectonics? These apocalyptic writings were so detested by the Christian and Jewish doctors alike that they were completely expunged from the canon of scripture—without a vestige of right or authority. Never written to be popular, they show all the marks of good faith and historical reliability in their authors. K. Koch notes that whereas the Bible stories were once taken seriously by the ministry and derided by science, the powerful substantiation of those stories, which is now being provided by the emergence of a large and growing corpus of newly discovered apocalyptic writings, is today being taken seriously by the scientists while being decried and resisted by the ministry.

The apocalyptic writings, in the process of telling us in detail what happened in the times of great natural upheavals, necessarily make it clear just why it happened, and they may justly be regarded as intended theodicies. In giving us a much fuller account than the Bible's of how the Flood came about, the book of Enoch settles the moral issue without argument. The telling points we shall note here are (1) God's reluctance to send the Flood and his great sorrow at the event; (2) the peculiar brand of wickedness that made the Flood mandatory; (3) the frank challenge of the wicked to God to do his worst; and (4) the happy side and beneficial outcome of the event.

1. The Hebrew Sefer Hekalot or Book of Enoch (discussed by Jellinek in 1873) has the hero introduce himself to Rabbi Ishmael, who meets him in the seventh heavenly temple, where he is the angel Metatron Sar ha-Panim: "I am Enoch the son of Jared. When the generation of the Flood committed sin and said to God, 'Turn away from us, for the knowledge of thy ways give us no pleasure!' then the Holy One delivered me from them that I might be a witness against them in the high heavens for all ages to come, that no one might say, 'The Merciful One is cruel!'"1 (Cf. Moses 5:13.) In the Syriac Apocalypse of Paul, that apostle is also introduced to Enoch, being told when he asks "Who is this weeping angel?" that "This is Enoch, the Teacher of Righteousness. So I entered into that place," Paul reports, "and saw great Elias who came to meet me; he too was weeping, saying, O Paul, how great are the promises of God and his benefits, and how few are worthy of them!"2 There is, to say the least, no gloating in heaven over the fate of the wicked world of Noah; it is Enoch who leads in the weeping (cf. Moses 7:44), but the surprising thing is that God himself weeps! "When God wept over the destruction of the Temple, Metatron fell on his face and said: 'I will weep; but weep not thou!' God answered and said: 'If thou wilt not suffer me to weep, I will go wither thou canst not come and there I will lament.'" 3 (Cf. Moses 7:28, 29, 31.) The picture of God weeping is one of the surprising contributions of the Enoch literature and in itself exonerates God of cruelty. The "two measures of chastisement" that come upon the race are not to be distinguished from "two tears of the Holy One,"4 and, when God sets about to destroy the wicked, "then the Messiah lifts up his voice and weeps . . . and all the righteous and Saints break out in crying and lamenting with him."5 The angels do not envy God his painful task: "Who can endure the severe judgment which has been executed, and before which they melt away?" says Michael. (Cf. Moses 7:37.) "Who is he whose heart is not softened concerning it, and whose reins are not troubled . . . because of those!" (Cf. Moses 7:41.) Yet as they "stood before the Lord," Michael did not dare intercede lest he seem to challenge the justice of God—it was Enoch alone who dared do that.6

The stock reply to the charge of cruelty against God has ever been that man with his limited knowledge is in no position to judge the wisdom or charity of what God does or does not do, the extreme example of the argument being set forth in the Moslem Chadir stories. But this argument significantly is not emphasized in the apocalyptic writings. There God does not say to the holy man who is afflicted by the fate of the wicked, "Who are you to question what I do?" He does not blast Enoch or Abraham or Baruch or Ezra or the Brother of Jared or Job on the spot for daring to question his mercy, but on the contrary commends each for his concern for his fellowman (cf. Moses 7:45), and he explains in effect, "I know just how you feel; what you fail to understand is not that I had good reason for doing what had to be done, but that I feel much worse about it than you ever could!" "For thou comest far short of being able to love my creation more than I!" he tells Ezra,7 and commends the prophet for taking his part (cf. Moses 7:44): "But even on this account thou shalt be honourable before the Most High; because thou has humbled thyself,"8 even as did Abraham in pleading for Sodom and Gomorrah. In the same spirit he replies to Baruch: "Dost thou think that there is no anguish to the angels in the presence of the Mighty One? . . . Dost thou think that in these things the Most High rejoices, or that his name is glorified?"9 When Enoch is distressed beyond measure at the cosmic violence he must behold (cf. Moses 7:44), Michael comforts him: "Why art thou disquieted with such a vision? Until this day lasted the day of His mercy; and He hath been merciful and long-suffering towards those who dwell on earth."10 Mercy is the keynote, not vengeance; God has not hastened to unleash the forces of nature but holds them back as long as possible. When the angels beg God to get on with the work and wipe out the unworthy human race, he replies in a Hebrew Enoch fragment, "I have made and I remove, and I am long-suffering, and I rescue!"11 Further, "[Enoch] showed me the angels of punishment who are prepared to come and let loose all the powers of the waters . . . to bring judgment and destruction on all who dwell on the earth. And the Lord of Spirits gave commandment to the angels who were going forth, that they should not cause the waters to rise, but should hold them in check; for those angels were over the power of the waters."12 On the contrary, the Flood was sent specifically because of the cruelty of men. (Genesis 6:11—12; cf. Moses 7:33.)

2. The violence of the Deluge, the completest of world catastrophes, is shown in the book of Enoch to be the only solution to problems raised by a uniquely horrendous type of wickedness that was infesting the whole world in an order that was by nature fixed and immovable. The Enoch literature elaborates and goes into particulars on the theme of Genesis 6:11—12: "The earth also was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth." Enoch sees "great disorder on the earth, because a man hates his neighbor, and people do evil to people, and nation rises in war against nation, and all the earth will be filled with blood and disorder" 13 and "a man does not withhold his hand from his son, nor from his beloved, to slay him . . . nor from his brother,"14 at a time when "covetousness held in her hand the head of every kind of lawlessness."15 "Ye have trusted in riches," Enoch tells them," . . . ye have not remembered the Most High in the days of your riches."16 Elsewhere, Enoch tells the people, "Ye have gone astray that your riches shall not remain . . . because you have done evil in everything,"17 with all manner of perversions, including "men dressing like women and women like men." 18

The peculiar evil of the times consisted not so much in the catalog of human viciousness, long as it was, as in the devilish and systematic efficiency with which corruption was being riveted permanently on the social order. (Cf. Moses 5:58.) It was evil with a supernatural twist: Those angels or "Watchers" who had been sent down to correct the vices of the race and impart heavenly instructions to men themselves yielded to earthly temptation, mingled with the daughters of men, and used the great knowledge entrusted to them to establish an order of things on earth in direct contradiction to what was intended by God.19 "There will be false priesthoods in the days of Seth," Adam had prophesied, "and God will be angry with their attempts to surpass His power. . . . The angels and all the race of men will use His name falsely for deception."20 The Apocryphon of John tells us that the original attempt to corrupt men and angels through the lusts of sex was a failure, until they set up a more powerful machinery of perversion: "At first they failed, so they came together and created the antimimon pneuma," a clever imitation of the true order of things, "and they brought gold and silver and gifts of all metals and copper and iron, all the treasures of the earth. So they got the women and begot children of the darkness. Their hearts were closed up and became hard by this imitation false spirit." 21 This was a deliberate exploitation of the heavenly order as a franchise for sordid earthly ambitions. "The ordinances had degenerated" to a false baptism of "filthy water,"22 administered by false angels. "Woe unto you who pervert the eternal covenant, and reckon yourselves sinless."23 This was no open revolt against God but a clever misuse of his name; no renunciation of religion but a perverse piety: "The time is approaching when all life is to be destroyed on the earth. For in those days there shall be great disorder on the earth . . . and the Adversary will glorify himself and rejoice in [his followers'] works, to my Lord's affliction." As a result, "the order of the entire earth will change, and every fruit and plant will change its season, awaiting the time of destruction . . . the earth itself will be shaken and lose all solidity." It is the reversal of all values as they "worship not the righteous law, . . . deny the righteous judgment, and . . . take His name in vain."24

This vicious order was secured down by solemn oaths and covenants: When the sons of heaven married the daughters of the sons of men, their leader Semiazas said, "I fear you will not be willing to do this thing. . . . So they said: Let us swear an oath, and bind ourselves to each other by them." 25 (Cf. Moses 5:29.) The systematic false teachings of the fallen angels soon "fill all the earth with blood and wickedness," as "the cries of the slain ascend to the Gates of Heaven, and their groaning comes up and cannot depart because of the crimes being committed upon the face of all the earth."26 The great heavenly angels viewing these horrors from above could see only one solution, and they asked God how long he was going to permit Azazel to get away with it.27 This is another aspect of theodicy: Must not God put an end to men whose evil deeds threaten far greater destruction than their own demise would be? The Pistis Sophia [transcribed, as it tells us, from an earlier book of Enoch] asks: "Why did God throw the universe out of gear?" It answers: "For a wise purpose; for those who were destroyed would have destroyed everything." As it is, God had to hold back the spirits until the last moment. And when the power of the wicked aspirants had to be broken, it was done in a twinkling, that is, as painlessly as possible. 28

The great danger to all existence was that the perverters knew too much: "Their ruin is accomplished because they have learnt all the secrets of the angels, and all the violence of the Satans, and all their powers—the most secret ones."29 The threat is from those "who have received the ordinances, but have removed themselves from the Way of Life."30 They have claimed the ordinances without keeping the law of God—that they would observe them his way; while still employing the forms and knowledge brought from on high, they have to set up a counter-religion and way of life. 31 It was a time, says the Zohar, when "the name of the Lord [was] called upon profanely."32 "In the days of Jared my father," says Enoch to Methusaleh, "they transgressed . . . from the Covenant of Heaven . . . sinned, and betrayed the ethos [law of the gospel], mingled with women and sinned with them; they also married and bore children, but not according to the Spiritual but by a carnal order only."33 "Woe to you who write false teachings (logous) and things that lead astray with many lies; who . . . twist the true accounts and wrest the eternal Covenant, and rationalize that you are without sin!"34 This, then was no mere naughtiness, but a clever inversion of values, with forms and professions of loyalty to God, which, in its total piety and self-justification, could never be set right and could only get worse. The Zohar states the general principle that "whenever the Holy One allowed the deep mysteries of wisdom to be brought down into the world, mankind were corrupted by them and attempted to declare war on God."35 The only redeeming feature of the thing was that the fallen angels who perverted the human race "had not learned all the mysteries" in their heavenly condition.36 As it was, their power for evil was almost unlimited, "for in secret places of the earth were they doing evil; the son had connexion with the mother and the father with the daughter: and all of them with their neighbors' wives: and they made solemn covenants among themselves concerning these things . . . [therefore] God was justified in His judgments upon the nations of the earth."37

Part of the apocalyptic picture is the infection of the earth itself by the depravity of man, with the wicked sinning against nature and so placing themselves in a position of rebellion against the cosmos itself; as if one were to drive full speed the wrong way on the freeway during rush-hour. "While all Nature obeys," Enoch tells them, "you do not obey; you are puffed up and vain . . . therefore your destruction is consummated and there is no mercy or peace for you."38 More aggressively, "they began to sin against the birds and the beasts . . . and against each other, eating flesh and drinking blood, while the earth fell under the rule of the lawless" 39 until finally "the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones." 40 Instead of the Flood sent over a surprised community one fine day, we have in Enoch the picture of a long period of preparation during which the mounting restlessness of the elements clearly admonishes the human race to mend its ways. In the Enoch story, darkening heavens, torrential rains, and all manner of meteoric disturbances alternate with periods of terrible drought, when "every cloud and mist and dew shall be withheld because of your sins. . . . If God closes the windows of heaven and hinders the dew and rain from falling because of you, what will you do?" Enoch asks them.41 And, as during the twenty-five recurrent earthquakes that warned Abraham's cities of the Plain to repent, the earth itself became increasingly restless. The sea was first drawn back and then invaded the land,42 and as Enoch foretold, "all the people shall fear . . . and trembling and great fear shall seize them to the extremities of the earth (cf. Moses 7:14), and the high mountains shall be shaken and fall down and be dissolved (cf. Moses 7:13) . . . flow down and be turned into side-channels, and shall melt like wax before a flame; and the earth will be destroyed."43 In the light of the new plate tectonics, this does not sound as fantastic as it once did; any catastrophe of the magnitude of the Flood must have been accompanied by large-scale disturbances exactly like those described.

The terrible insecurity of the times heightened the social disaster as the people began to fight among themselves. "A man shall not know his brother, nor a son his father, or his mother."44 For God permitted certain angels to go to "the sons of adultery, to destroy the sons of the Watchers from among mankind: Set them fighting against each other in war and in destruction." 45 (Moses 7:7.) Emphasis is laid on the pollution of the earth, both physical and moral, for the two go together, and only a great purging of water, wind, or fire, could cleanse it (cf. Moses 7:48), for without such periodic purging, says the Zohar, "the world would not be able to endure the sins of mankind." 46 "And thou wilt cleanse the earth from all uncleanness . . . and all the filthiness [akatharsias] . . . and all earth shall be cleansed from all the pollution [miasma] and from all impurity [akatharsias]."47 "And he shall cleanse [praunei] the earth from the defilement [phthoras] that is in it."48

Characteristic of the sweep and scope of the Enoch apocalypse is the disturbance of the whole cosmos sharing the fate of the violated planet and its destruction: "The whole earth shall be shaken, and tremble, and be thrown into confusion . . . and the heavens and its lights be shaken and trembling."49 (Cf. Moses 7:41, 13.) "I saw how mighty quaking made the heaven to quake, . . . and the angels . . . were disquieted with great disquiet."50 (Cf. Moses 7:56.) The "quaking" of the heavens, often referred to, suggests to present-day knowledge of the shifting or unsteadiness of the earth's axis.

3. In contemplating these terrifying events, Enoch never allows us to forget that the real tragedy is not what becomes of people but what they become. The people in the days of Enoch and Noah were quite satisfied with themselves as they were, and they hotly resented any offers of help or advice from God's messengers. "They will not carry the yoke which I have placed upon them," the Lord told Enoch, "but they will cast off my yoke, and they will accept a different yoke. And they will sow worthless seeds . . . and they renounced my uniqueness. And all the world will be reduced to confusion by iniquities and wickedness."51 (Cf. Moses 6:28.) "The Kings of the earth say, We have not believed before Him . . . but our hope was in the sceptre of our kingship, and in our glory," so that when disaster strikes they must confess that "his judgments have no respect of persons, and we pass away from before his face on account of our own works."52 The refrain is ever "Wo unto you foolish ones, for you shall perish through your own folly!"53 "They denied the Lord and would not hear the voice of the Lord, but followed their own counsel."54 (Cf. Moses 6:43.) "They go astray in the foolishness of their own heart."55 (Cf. Moses 8:21—22.) They know what they are doing when they say to God, "Turn away from us, for the knowledge of thy ways gives us no pleasure!"56 "God gave them promise of all that he would give them and what he wanted them to do; but they have defrauded themselves in refusing to keep the precepts which our Lord gave unto them."57 "Therefore ask no more concerning the multitude of them that perish," said the Lord to Ezra, "for having received liberty they despised the Most High, scorned his Law, and forsook his ways."58 (Cf. Moses 7:32.) "Sin has not been sent upon the earth, but man of himself has created it."59 "Slavery was not given from above but came by transgression, and the barrenness of your women does not come by nature but by your own willful perversions."60

Peculiar to the world of Enoch is not only the monstrously arrogant quality of the sinning that went on, but the high degree of enlightenment enjoyed by the sinners, making them singularly culpable. To Enoch God explains, "I established Adam, and gave him dominion; and I gave unto him his free agency, and showed him the Two Ways . . . and I said unto him: This is good for you, and this is bad."61 (Cf. Moses 7:32.) What more could anyone ask? God had given the race the power of understanding and the word of wisdom. "God created man last of all, in His own form, and put into him eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to reflect, and intelligence to deliberate."62 With eyes wide open they made their choice: "For I waited so they might come to me, but they did not deign to. (Cf. Moses 7:33, 37.) And they glorified an alien [god]. And they joined [to him] . . . and they abandoned the Lord who gave them strength."63

The theme of willfully proud and stubborn men whose rejection of God's word is their undoing rings through Greek literature, beginning with the spoiled young men of Odysseus' crew destroyed in spite of all his heroic exertions to save them—by their own intractable lack of self-control (atasthaloi). 64 This is followed immediately by Zeus's complaint about how men are constantly blaming the gods for the results of their own folly.65 The resounding roll of dios eteleueto boule ("the decision of Zeus has been made") seems to make the buck stop there, deafening the reader to the important fact that Zeus had to lower the boom because his messenger, a prophet of sweet reasonableness, had been cynically thrown out of the camp and had appealed to the god to do something about it. In a way, Odysseus, Chryses, and Tereisias are all Enoch figures, portending dire results but not without offering a way of escape. The mocking kings can say with those of Enoch's day, "We pass away . . . on account of our [own] works . . . descending . . . into . . . Sheol." 66 "The Fallen Angels of their own sweet will plotted, conspired, and apostatized along with their prince."67 (Cf. Moses 5:51.) "Wo to you mindless ones [aphrones], for ye shall perish through your own folly, and ye shall not give ear, and not receive what is good for you."68 Following their own foolish ambitions and dreams, engaging in lying works to realize them, "setting at naught the foundation of the inheritance of their fathers in a spirit of apostasy, they have no peace of mind and no joy."69 Stubbornly and morosely they continue their ruinous course, ignoring God's commandments and blaming others for their misfortunes with "great and hard accusations with an unclean mouth and lies—you are hard-hearted and have no peace."70 They are not beyond getting the point, for when Enoch speaks to them straight, "they could not speak, nor could they raise their eyes to heaven for shame because of their sins, and they were condemned."71 (Cf. Moses 6:47.)

A significant aspect of the Apocalyptic picture is the technological advancement of the doomed and wicked world, in which men defy God confident in their technical and scientific knowledge. To the various fallen angels, designated by name, the Greek Enoch texts assign the introduction among men of the studies of chemistry, "the manufacture of weapons and jewellery, cosmetics, the trade-secrets of the angels," formulas and incantations, drugs, astrology, semeiotika, asteroscopy, selenagogias, and so on.72 They thought to emancipate themselves from dependence on God through technological know-how,73 in the manner of the doomed super-race of Peleus and Thetis.74 "This is not as foolish as it sounds," says the Zohar, "for they knew all the arts . . . and all the ruling chieftains in charge of the world, and on this knowledge they relied, until at length God disabused them by restoring the earth to its primitive state and covering it with water."75 In the days of Enoch, even the children were acquainted with the mysterious arts (what we would have called advanced science); R. Yesa asks: "With all that knowledge could they not foresee destruction?" To this R. Isaac replies: "They did know, but they thought they were safe because they had means of preventing [the angel in charge of fire and the angel in charge of water] from executing the judgment upon them. What they did not know was that God rules the world. [Cf. Moses 4:6.] . . . God gave them a respite all the time that the righteous men Jared, Methusaleh, and Enoch were alive, but when they departed from the world, God let the punishment descend . . . and they were blotted out from the earth."76 "Alas," cries R. Simeon, "for the blindness of the sons of men, all unaware as they are how full the earth is of strange and invisible beings and hidden dangers, which could they but see they would marvel how they themselves can survive on the earth." 77 In Enoch's time they had all sorts of engineering projects for controlling and taming nature (as did Abraham's Nimrod), but the Lord altered the order of creation so that their very mastery of nature as they understood it became their undoing.78 The same scientific hubris that led them to reject God led them to insult nature, and the upheavals that ensued demonstrate the very real ecological connection between the sins of men and the revolt of the elements that was formerly viewed as the fatal extravagance and irrationality of Apocalyptic.

4. What is consistently overlooked in summing up the grim pages of Enoch is that the terrible fate that overtakes the wicked is more than counterbalanced by the benign and constructive forces that reduce the damage to a minimum and follow it up with quick and complete repair. For one thing, in the Enoch account nobody suffers who does not deserve to: The Flood is by no means an indiscriminate slaughter. True, when the destroying angel is abroad, he makes no distinction among his victims, but by that time the wicked as well as the righteous have received ample warning and time to take cover (cf. Moses 7:21), so that no one can complain of cruel or unfair treatment.

From the first, God provided a way out. When "the Great Angels, seeing the bloodshed and violence and all the unrighteousness and lawlessness upon the earth went and reported to God, asking him, What are we to do?" the Lord sent the angels "to teach the righteous what to do to preserve his soul and to flee."79 (Cf. Moses 5:58.) In the Secrets of Enoch, the Lord appears to Nir "in a vision of the night, saying a great destruction is coming upon the earth. . . . As to the child [Melchizedek] I will send my archangel Michael and he will take the child and place him in the paradise of Eden."80 Enoch himself was carried away in such manner physically: "While Enoch was speaking, . . .darkness covered the people who were standing with Enoch. And the Angels hastened and took Enoch and carried him to the upper heaven. . . . And the darkness withdrew from the earth and it was light again, and the people saw, and understood how Enoch had been taken, and they glorified God and returned to their houses [temples]."81 (Cf. Moses 7:26—28.) Again, "in those days a whirlwind carried me off from the earth, and set me down at the end of the heavens. And there I saw another vision."82 Another time, "an angel of the Lord called out to Enoch from heaven . . . and said that he should take him up to heaven, to make him King over the Bene ha-Elohim, even as he ruled over the Children of God on earth."83 So Enoch was the one who mysteriously vanished, "and he was not; for God took him." (Genesis 5:24.)

But he is not alone in his heavenly junkets: the other biblical statement about Enoch is that he led his city of Zion to safety, transported beyond the earth, to return at a later time and join hands with the earthly Jerusalem, the two meeting, in the common concept, in mid-air. It was foretold that when "the rainshowers of God the Almighty [shall] destroy all flesh . . . great angels will come down on high clouds to bring those men to the place where the spirit of life is to be found."84 (Cf. Moses 7:27.) This passage from the Apocalypse of Adam is given more fully in the Chester Beatty Enoch text: "And angels shall come down, descending into secret places in that day; all who aided unrighteousness shall be gathered together in one place . . . and over all the righteous and holy he will set a guard of holy angels . . . and they shall be preserved as the apple of his eye until the tribulations and sin shall give over."85 The image is that of the righteous spirits in the anapausis or refrigerium, but the type is the heavenly city of Enoch. According to R. H. Charles, "the most complete and self-consistent of all the sections" of First Enoch is that dealing with Zion and the New Jerusalem.86 (Cf. Moses 7:62.) The peculiar allure of the tradition is the possible element of tangible reality in it, the haunting science-fiction plausibility of it.87 When God comforts the righteous with the assurance, "I have mounted up to the heights, and this that I might lift up from among them the Elect . . . as a reward," we are reminded of verses like John 12:32, but the Jewish text insists on a mechanism for the thing with "my ranks and hosts and Cherubs and wheels and Seraphim" all taking part.88 There is a separation of the righteous and the wicked, the former being removed physically from the earth: "I will bring upon all earthly creation ten plagues. . . . And then from your seed will be left the righteous men . . . who strive in the glory of my name toward the place prepared beforehand for them,"89 that is, when "my judgments will come upon the heathen who have acted wickedly through the people of your seed who have been set apart for me."90 The separation is a prerequisite: "Therefore have I now taken away Zion, that I may the more speedily visit the world in its season."91 "Afterward great angels will come on high clouds to bring those people to the place where the spirit of life dwells . . . [then they will come] from heaven to earth [and back again], but the whole multitude of flesh will be left behind in the waters."92 At that time "fear and trembling shall seize all men . . . and everything which is upon the earth shall be destroyed," the Lord tells Enoch. "I shall give peace to the righteous, and for the elect I will provide security [synteresis, physical protection] and peace . . . and a light will appear and bestow peace upon them."93

At that same time Enoch takes charge of the operation from the earth side, being from time to time "raised aloft on the chariots of the spirit" while "the angels took the cords to measure for me the place for the elect and righteous, and there I saw the first fathers and the righteous who from the beginning dwell in that place."94 There is a sort of shuttle service operating over a period of time, for it has ever been the practice that "the angels of the ministry are rising and descending from heaven to circulate (1etawel) over all the earth."95 In Enoch's day, they gathered all who would be saved into a special topos, a sort of marshaling area or refugee camp, which according to the Apocryphon of John later became confused with the Ark: it was a sort of island of light in a vast surrounding darkness, barricaded (skepazein) against the forces of destruction; "they entered and wrapped themselves in a cloud of light, and the Lord was among them, for darkness was poured out over all the earth."96 (Cf. Moses 7:26.) "When all the earth was shaking . . . and in confusion, the angels came down and carried out their assignments," which included both "destroying all bastard spirits and sons of the Watchers because of the unrighteousness of men" and seeing to it that "all the righteous shall escape, and continue to go on living for a thousand generations!"97 How? "But ye are come unto Mount Sion [Enoch's community!], and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels." (Hebrews 12:22.)

The City of Enoch is the symbol of escape; the Berlin Manichaean Manuscript sees in the removal of the Church from the wicked world the equivalent of the removal of Enoch's Zion from the same,98 and the Psalms of Solomon 17 depicts the pious sectaries of the desert as fleeing to the place of safety in the same manner.99 We are warned, "Forget not Zion!" against the days "when everything that is shall become the prey of corruption." 100 Enoch leads the parade: "When my Apostle shall raise himself up he shall be lifted up along with his Church, and they shall be lifted up from the earth. And it shall take the form of my ekklesia and be free above [in the height]."101 There is a real motion implied as in the return: "In those days [the] elect and holy children will descend from the high heaven, and their seed will become one with the children of men."102

In the book of Enoch all this traffic between heaven and earth is definitely something more than a spiritual or intellectual beatitude—it is precisely the persistent harping on the physical reality of the thing that turned the Church Fathers against Apocalyptic in general and Enoch in particular. Enoch in his primary role of heavenly scribe is able to visit various levels of heaven and earth and to view things from strange and unfamiliar angels and vantage points. This aspect of Apocalyptic, which has been singled out as its greatest weakness (ancient and modern doctors have only contempt for his harping on a very unspiritual cosmology), may well be its greatest strength. It is the ultimate foundation of all theodicy: we are in no position to judge what is going on because we see things from literally only one angle, and we therefore have no conception of reality. In Enoch, it is not only God who sees things from different levels, but holy men as well are given that privilege—and that makes everything different.103

Though science has conceded an infinite number of possible viewpoints for describing any object, in practice it has always insisted that there is really only one valid viewpoint: the down-to-earth, no-nonsense reality of everyday experience. We see everything, as it were, through a long, thin tube set up at an immovable point and welded in position to face in one direction only. What do we know of reality? For two thousand years the doctors have allowed God in theory unlimited perception while taking it upon themselves to decide how things look from God's point of view. All the astronauts knew quite well what to expect when viewing the earth from outer space; yet several reported that when they actually saw it, they were stunned and overwhelmed with the reality of the thing, and they knew with absolute certainty that there was more going on than science could ever know. The words of Whitehead on his deathbed that the Bible teaches us of infinite possibilities and that "these possibilities are REAL!" admonish us not to be too hasty in condemning Enoch: we really don't see things as they are.

The ultimate vindication of God's goodness in Enoch is the final disposal of the issue. The fallen angels and their followers were to be cast into a special prison (cf. Moses 7:38) and kept in chains of darkness, but only for a certain set period of time, after which they were to be given another chance to repent (cf. Moses 7:39) and then stand a fair trial. Repentance would receive forgiveness through the power of the atonement. To make sure that they receive every opportunity of salvation, they receive the kerygma from the Lord himself (cf. Moses 7:47), among others, who goes down to teach and deliver the very spirits who rejected Enoch's teachings: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust . . . quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah." (1 Peter 3:18—20.) "Why art thou disquieted?" Michael asks Enoch. "That day is prepared . . . for sinners an inquisition . . . that the punishment of the Lord of Spirits may not be in vain. . . . Afterward the judgment shall take place according to his mercy and his patience."104

A longsuffering God is not a cruel one. Enoch's mission—warning against the Flood—is from first to last a humane one. As to the slaying of innocent animals (a charge brought by the Sophists against Zeus as well), R. Ishmael can only conclude that if the animals suffered they must have deserved it: "For they have sinned, all of them, the multitudes of that time, their wives, sons, daughters, horses [mules], their property, and all the birds that were in the world, which God destroyed with them in the Flood. All that sinned were swept away."105 Note that R. Ishmael insists on the proposition that not one innocent creature suffered. But if death is the ultimate disaster, then God is cruel to all creatures. At what point does justice become a serious matter? Always. God is always just. At what point does pain? There we are dealing with a very relative matter. This is not the same thing. What does it take to frighten a child? All creatures experience fear and alarm, unpleasant sensations, as a basic prerequisite to survival. And we can take God's word for it to Ezra: "You come far short of being able to love my creation more than I love it."106

But Ezra gives a clear rebuttal to Rabbi Ishmael's hardline reasoning when he reminds us that men and animals experience things differently, so much so that death is tragic only to humans, for animals know nothing of it at all: "We perish and we know it. Let the human race lament, but let the beasts of the field be glad! Let all the earth-born mourn, but let the cattle and the flocks rejoice! For it is far better with them than with us; for they have no judgment to look for, neither do they know of any salvation promised to them after death." As far as they are concerned, it is all just one unchanging life; the real anguish of death is the anticipation of annihilation, and of that the brute creation knows nothing.107


*   The strongest argument of the atheist has ever been the indiscriminate cruelty of great natural catastrophes and wars. The most effective refutation of the argument is provided by the Book of Enoch, once accepted by Jews and Christians alike, but renounced by the schools and no longer found in the Bible. The following paper was read at a gathering of ministers and priests (a regional meeting of the Society for Biblical Literature in 1974), to whom both the thesis and the sources were unfamiliar, and who received the message most gratefully. To keep things simple, references were confined to non-LDS sources. These have been added here in parentheses, which, though annoying to the reader, supply interesting confirmation for both the ancient and apocryphal accounts and the inspiration of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

1.   A. Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrash (hereinafter BHM), 6 volumes (Jerusalem: Wahrmann Books, 1967) 5:xlii, 171.

2.   "Apocalypsis Pauli Syriace," Orientalia 2 (1933): 2ff., 19.

3.   L. Blau, "Metatron," in The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1904) 8:519.

4.   Zohar, Shemoth 19b.

5.   Zohar, Shemoth, 8a.

6.   1 Enoch 68:2—4.

7.   4 Ezra 8:47.

8.   4 Ezra 8:49.

9.   2 Baruch 67:2—3.

10.   1 Enoch 60:5—6.

11.   Jellinek, BHM 5:172.

12.   1 Enoch 66:1—2.

13.   Secrets of Enoch 22, in Andre Vaillant, ed., Le livre des secrets d'Hènoch (Paris: Institut d'études slaves, 1952), p. 72; 2 Enoch 34:1—2.

14.   3 Enoch 4 (99, 15).

15.   Apoc. Abraham 24:9 cf. 1 Timothy 6:10; 1 Enoch 67:8—11; 3 Enoch 5:7—9.

16.   1 Enoch 84:8; cf. Helaman 13:22.

17.   F. G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Papyrus (London: Emery Walker Ltd., 1941) 96:10. Samuel the Lamanite plainly drew on the Enoch texts that must have been included in the brass plates of Lehi. (Cf. Helaman 13:31.)

18.   Ibid., 98:1.

19.   Apocalypse of Adam 3:12—15 (71).

20.   Apocryphon of John I, 73—74.

21.   Apocalypse of Adam 84:78.

22.   Greek Enoch 3; cf. 1 Enoch 99:2.

23.   Secrets of Enoch 22, in Vaillant, Secrets, p. 72.

24.   1 Enoch 60:6.

25.   Charles, R. H., The Book of Enoch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912), appendix 1, "The Gizeh Greek Fragment of Enoch," VI, 1, 2, 5 (hereinafter "Gizeh Fragment").

26.   Greek Enoch 7:4, 9:8—10.

27.   Ibid., 9:1—4.

28.   Pistis Sophia, G. R. S. Mead, ed. and tr. (London: John M. Watkins, 1921), pp. 31—33.

29.   1 Enoch 65:6.

30.   F. Tempestini, "Le livre d'Adam," in J.-P. Migne, Dictionnaire des Apocryphes, 2 vols. (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1856) I:161.

31.   2 Enoch 12.

32.   Zohar, Bereshith 56a.

33.   Kenyon, Beatty, 106:13.

34.   Greek Enoch 98:15.

35.   Zohar, Noah 75b.

36.   Gizeh Fragment, XVI, 3.

37.   Psalms of Solomon 8:9—11, 27.

38.   Greek Enoch 3:4—5.

39.   Gizeh Fragment, VII, 4.

40.   1 Enoch 7:6

41.   Greek Enoch 100:11.

42.   1 Enoch 60:16.

43.   Gizeh Fragment, I, 5.

44.   1 Enoch 56:5—7.

45.   Gizeh Fragment, X, 9.

46.   Zohar, Bereshith 58b.

47.   Gizeh Fragment, X, 20—22.

48.   Kenyon, Beatty, 106:176.

49.   Greek Enoch 102:1.

50.   1 Enoch 60:1.

51.   2 Enoch 34:1—2.

52.   1 Enoch 63:7—8.

53.   Greek Enoch 98:2.

54.   Secrets of Enoch 4, in Vaillant, Secrets, p. 8.

55.   Kenyon, Beatty 99:8.

56.   Jellinek, BHM 4:171.

57.   "Apocalypsis Pauli Syriace," Orientalia 2 (1933): 2ff.

58.   4 Ezra 8:55—56.

59.   1 Enoch 98:4.

60.   Greek Enoch 98:5.

61.   Secrets of Enoch 22, in Vaillant, Secrets, p. 100—1.

62.   Secrets of Enoch 18, in Vaillant, Secrets, pp. 60—63.

63.   Apocalypse of Abraham 31:6—8.

64.   Odyssey, I, 6—9.

65.   Ibid., I, 32—34.

66.   1 Enoch 63:9—10.

67.   Secrets of Enoch Ms. R 3 in Vaillant, Secrets, P. 93ff.

68.   Kenyon, Beatty 98:9.

69.   Ibid., 99:8.

70.   Gizeh Fragment, II, 3—5.

71.   Gizeh Fragment, XIII, 3.

72.   G. Syncellus, Chronol., 23; Greek Enoch 8:3.

73.   Zohar, Noah 74b.

74.   P. Oksala, "Die Göttliche Hochzeit und der Hain der Götter—Catulls Gedicht 64," Temenos 4:81—91.

75.   Zohar, Bereshith, 56a.

76.   Ibid., 56b.

77.   Ibid., 55a.

78.   M. J. bin Gorion, Sagen der Juden (Frankfurt am Main: Rütten & Löning, 1913—27) 1: 167—68.

79.   Gizeh Fragment, VII—X, Gs3.

80.   Secrets of Enoch 23, in Vaillant, Secrets, p. 80.

81.   Secrets of Enoch 18, in Vaillant, Secrets, p. 64.

82.   1 Enoch 39:3—4.

83.   Jellinek, BHM 4:130.

84.   Apocalypse of Adam 96.

85.   Kenyon, Beatty 100:4.

86.   Charles, The Book of Enoch, pp. 1—1i.

87.   The Moslems teach that the Kaaba was put into orbit around the earth during the flood, descending again after the danger was over, certainly suggesting the nature of the thing as a meteoric stone (Tha'labi). (Qiṣaṣ al-Anbiyā' [Cairo: Muṣṭafā Bāb al-Halabī, A. H. 1340], p. 214f.)

88.   Jellinek, BHM 5:173.

89.   Apocalypse of Abraham 29:15—17.

90.   Apocalypse of Abraham 29:14Abraham 29:14.

91.   2 Baruch 20:1—3.

92.   Apocalypse of Adam 3:4—5.

93.   Gizeh Fragment, I, 8.

94.   1 Enoch 70:1—4.

95.   Jellinek, BHM 5:127.

96.   Apocryphon of John I, 73; III, 37.

97.   Kenyon, Beatty 102:2—3.

98.   Manichäische Handschriften der Staatlichen Museen Berlin (Stuttgart: 1940), p. 12.

99.   Psalms of Solomon 17:16—20.

100.   2 Baruch 31:3—5.

101.   Manichäische Handschriften, p. 12.

102.   1 Enoch 39:1.

103.   2 Enoch 39:5.

104.   1 Enoch 60:5.

105.   Jellinek, BHM 5:171.

106.   4 Ezra 8:47.

107.   4 Ezra 7:64—66.

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