Thursday, March 31, 2016
The Importance of the Book of Enoch 1890
The Importance of the Book of Enoch 1890
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From A.D. 30 onwards we have plenty of literature illustrating the state of Palestine, its history and its thought. Indeed, the dictum of the Evangelist seems almost now taken too literally; and, but for the necessity of lighting several million fires every morning, the whole world soon could not really contain the books written in this epoch. But from A.D. 30 backwards books are very scant. We have Philo and Josephus and the "Kabbala" and the "Book of Adam," but our spiritual pastors and masters raise their eyebrows a little and whisper "Post Christian" when most of these are mentioned.
This is unfortunate, for a clever Frenchman has said that "history and comparative mythology are teaching every day that creeds grow slowly up. None come into the world as if by magic. The origin of events is lost in the infinite. A great Indian poet has said, 'The beginning of things evades us. Their end evades us. We see only the middle.'" A little book, strangely neglected, throws much light on this epoch, the "Book of Enoch."
Jude cites Enoch as a prophet. Tertullian places the "Book of Enoch" in the list of inspired books. The book disappeared in the early centuries of Christianity, and was supposed to be irretrievably lost. Bruce the traveller, however, discovered three copies of the Ethiopic version. He brought them home, and one was deposited in the Bodleian Library. In 1821, Dr. Laurence, Archbishop of Cashel, formerly Professor of Hebrew at Oxford, published a translation, which seems to have excited little attention. Abroad this work made much more stir, thanks to the labours of Hoffman and Dillman. Kalisch predicted that the "Book of Enoch" " will one day be employed as a most important witness in the history of religious dogmas."
Enoch is the ancient Enoch who was caught up to Heaven without tasting death, and the fiction is kept up that he is addressing his son Mathusala—"And now, my son Mathusala, I have shown thee everything; and the account of every ordinance of the stars is finished"--and so on, and so on.
But Dr. Laurence, from internal evidence, thinks it was written by a Jew in the country near the Northern districts of the Caspian and Euxine seas about B.C. 54. But there is this difficulty about this extreme modernising, that the "Kabbala" quotes it again and again. How, too, could the Jews of the time of Christ have attached so much importance to it if it had no better pedigree?
For it is plainly shown by the author of the "Evolution of Christianity," who has brought out a new edition of Archbishop Laurence's translation, that the idea of a triumphant Messiah coming from the clouds with legions of angels cannot be found in the canonical Old Testament, but comes from the "Book of Enoch."
Jude writes thus:—
"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 that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds, which they nave ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
Plainly Jude had this passage of the "Book of Enoch" before him when he was writing:—
"Behold He comes with ten thousand of His saints to execute judgment upon them, and destroy the wicked, and reprove all the carnal for everything which the sinful and ungodly have done and committed against Him." (Chap, ii.)
"He shall sow the congregation of the saints and of the elect, and all the elect shall stand before him in that clay. All the kings, the princes, the exalted, and those who rule over the earth shall fall down on their faces before Him and shall worship Him. They shall fix their hopes on this Son of Man, shall pray to Him and petition Him for mercy." (Chap. lxi.)
Of secondary importance are the views of this prophet on Heaven, hell, election, devils, angels, etc. I will write down a few of them:—
"After this I beheld thousands of thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand, and an infinite number of people standing before the Lord of Spirits.
"In that day shall the Elect One sit upon a throne of glory, and shall choose their conditions and countless habitations."
"The former heaven shall depart and pass away. A new heaven shall appear."
"And I will place each one of them upon a throne of glory, of glory peculiarly his own."
The souls of the wicked are "separated by a chasm."
"I beheld that valley in which arose strong smell of sulphur which became mixed with the waters, and the valley of the angels who had been guilty of seduction burned underneath its soil. Through that valley also rivers of fire were flowing."
Of importance are Enoch's views on "election":—
"When righteousness shall be manifested in the presence of the righteous themselves who will be elected for their good works duly weighed by the Lord of Spirits. And when the light of the righteous and the elect who dwell on earth shall be manifested where will the habitation of sinners be? . . . It would be better for them had they never been born."
Commenting on this the author of the "Evolution of Christianity" says :—
"Election here is traced to its original source, and means nothing more than the selection of the fittest—a theory more consistent with the justice of God than St. Paul's doctrine of predestination."
Angels And Devils.
Origen against Celsus announces the functions of the various great angels—"To Raphael is assigned the work of curing and healing; to Gabriel, the direction of wars; to Michael, the duty of hearing the prayers and supplications of men." Where did Origen obtain this superhuman knowledge? asks the author of the "Evolution of Christianity." The answer is—in the fortieth chapter of the "Book of Enoch."
He tells also the names of the devils. They figure freely.
"Woe unto you sinners who say, 'We are rich, possess wealth, and have acquired everything which we can desire. Now, then, will we do whatsoever wo are disposed to do.' They shall surely die suddenly." "Woe unto you who are rich."
"Woe to those who build up their houses with crime." "Woe to those who build up iniquity and oppression and lay the foundation of fraud."
The Tree Of Life.
"He has prepared this tree for the saints. The sweet odour shall enter their bones. They shall live a long life on the earth."
The Water Of Life.
"In that place I beheld a foundation of righteousness which never failed, encircled by many springs of wisdom. Of these all the thirsty drank and were filled with wisdom."
The "Treasures Of Sophia And Gnosis."
"This is the Son of Man who will reveal all the treasures of that which is concealed."
I think Enoch here is better than St. Paul. It is the advent of a spiritual Kingdom that will allow the treasures of Gnosis (interior knowledge) to develop in the heart of each individual. A writer in the latest edition of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," in defining the true and the false Gnosis says that the " true Gnosis" is to be obtained by consulting carefully the books of the Old and New Testament. A funny kind of interior knowledge.
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