Enoch, Slavonic Book of

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ENOCH, SLAVONIC BOOK OF (known as ii Enoch ; abbr. ii En. ; also entitled the Book of the Secrets of Enoch , or several variations on this), apocryphal work translated in the tenth or 11th century from Greek into Slavonic. The dating is deduced from the evidence of certain linguistic peculiarities. The first complete edition of the work was published by A. Popov in 1880. It was edited and studied by M. Sokolov (1899 and 1910) who made a special examination of the quotations from Old Russian literature it contains. An edition and translation of the work into French was made by A. Vaillant (1952). There are considerable differences between the two recensions (one long and one short) found in the manuscripts. Vaillant and other scholars maintain that the short recension is closer to the original text than the long one, which in their view contains many interpolations made by two revisers. Nonetheless the long recension seems to contain some material belonging to the original text omitted from the short recension.

The Slavonic Book of Enoch begins with *Enoch's account of his journey on the wings of angels through the seven heavens. This account, which contains astronomical information and descriptions of various classes of obedient and rebellious angels, recalls, despite considerable differences in detail, similar passages in the Ethiopic Book of *Enoch. In the seventh heaven Enoch sees from afar the Lord, who speaks to him and orders the angel Vreveil to describe to him the workings of heaven and earth, as well as disquisitions on various other topics, and commands Enoch to record these in 360 books. This is followed by an account of the creation given to Enoch which is succeeded in turn by Enoch's exhortations to his sons. These exhortations include moral admonitions, injunctions concerning sacrifices, a description of what Enoch has seen in the heavens, and an eschatology. The tale continues with Enoch being carried away by angels. His son Methuselah is ordained as a priest, offers animal sacrifices, and at the end of his life sees in a vision the Lord, who announces the deluge and commands him to choose Nir, the second son of Lamech (i.e., Noah's brother), as his successor in the priestly office. After the death of Methuselah, Nir offers animal sacrifices. After more than 200 years, when people have changed for the worse, Sophonim, Nir's wife, becomes pregnant in her old age. Rebuked by her husband who believes her unfaithful, she dies. A child comes forth from her corpse. He has the distinctive signs of priesthood and is named Melchizedek. When the time of the deluge approaches, the Lord informs Nir that Melchizedek will be taken to Eden by the archangel Michael and will be forever the priest of priests, or, as Nir puts it, the head of the priests of the "other" people (those who will live after the deluge).

In the long recension the Lord refers to the 13 priests headed by Melchizedek's son Nir who precede the Melchizedek known from the Bible and to 12 priests who follow the second Melchizedek; after them will come the great high priest, the Word of God, who created all things visible and invisible. This allusion to the Christian concept of the Christ has no counterpart in the short recension. The latter, which ends with the removal of the first Melchizedek, is possibly cut short, and in this case the long recension may have preserved some original materials.

Various hypotheses have been put forward on the origin of the Slavonic Book of Enoch and the influences discernible in it. There are unmistakable echoes of Christian doctrine in the long recension, but only doubtful ones, or none at all, in the short. If, as seems probable, the latter text is comparatively free from interpolation, there does not appear to be any firm ground for maintaining, as Vaillant does, that the work originated in a Christian milieu. It is possible that it reflects tendencies of one or even several Jewish groups; there are many quotations from biblical texts and allusions to them and to Ben Sira. It is reasonably likely that the original work, which is more or less represented by the short recension, was an amalgam of two or more texts of differing provenance. A significant clue may be provided by the fact that in two passages – in Enoch's exhortations to his sons (Vaillant, p. 58–59) and in the account of the sacrifice offered by Methuselah (p. 66–67) – the text makes it clear that the four legs of the sacrificial animals should be tied together. A passage in the Babylonian Talmud (Tam. 31b) characterizes this way of tying sacrificial animals as a custom of the sectarians (minim). It is therefore a possibility that some portions of the Slavonic Book of Enoch, or the whole of it, reflect the views of a Jewish sect which was heterodox in rabbinic eyes. In this connection, it may be asked if the story of Melchizedek recounted in this work also belongs to the lore of this sect.

Some portions of the Slavonic Book of Enoch show Iranian influences. A passage in the exhortations of Enoch (Vaillant, p. 56–57) referring to the souls of animals accusing man certainly derives, as W. Otto noted, from the Zoroastrian scriptures; its ultimate source may be found in the Avestic Gathas (Yasna 29). The reference in the same passage to the habitation assigned to the souls of the animals in the Great Aeon may also reflect Zoroastrian views. It may be significant that these passages immediately precede the sectarian passage of sacrificial animals (Vaillant, p. 58–59). A passage in the exhortations of Enoch (p. 60–63) in which he refers to God having established the division of time in the Aeon of Creation and to these divisions (the years, months, days, and hours) disappearing in the eschatological Great Aeon is also reminiscent of Iranian doctrines on the creation of the Time of Long Dominion (which has the ordinary divisions of time) and to its merging at the end with Infinite Time (which has none). It has been claimed, with good reason, that the account of the creation the Lord gives to Enoch (Vaillant, p. 28–31) also contains some Iranian elements. The book also shows an Egyptian influence. The Greek original of the Slavonic text appears to have been full of Hebraisms; it may be supposed that the author was familiar with the language of the Septuagint. However, in at least one case (Vaillant, p. 10) a post-biblical Hebrew expression, porkei ʿol, seems to have been translated.

Chronologically the Slavonic Book of Enoch comes after the Ethiopic Book of Enoch. A terminus a quo is suggested (though not established) by the hypothesis that the Mishnah may include a reference to the sacrificial usages of a sect within which at least some portions of this text may have originated. There are some not wholly conclusive indications that the Greek original of the work may have still existed in the 13th century.


Charles, Apocrypha, 2 (1913), 425–69; G.N. Bonwetsch, Die Buecher der Geheimnisse Hennochs (1922); R. Otto, Reich Gottes und Menschensohn (1934), 160–4; G. Scholem, Ursprung und Anfaenge der Kabbala (1962), 62ff.; D. Winston, in: History of Religions, 5 (1965), 198f.; A. Rubinstein, in: jjs, 13 (1962), 1–21.

[Shlomo Pines]