Saturday, August 12, 2017

Jesus and the Book of Enoch (2 Articles)

The Book of Enoch and the New Testament 1893, and, Jesus and the Testament of Solomon by Edward Baldwin 1920 (see below)

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The Book of Enoch is of special interest to the student of the life of Christ, inasmuch as in this book the expected Messiah is described under the title, Son of Man,-the term used by Jesus of himself as the Messiah. Hence, several questions present themselves. Was Jesus familiar with the Book of Enoch? Did he borrow the title from this book? Did the conception of the Messiah in Enoch influence at all his conception of himself as the Messiah? How is the term used in Enoch, and how in the New Testament?

The Rev. R. H. Charles, M.A., Oxford, considers briefly this general subject in the April Expository Times under the heading, "Messianic Doctrine of the Book of Enoch and its Influence on the New Testament." We first consider certain opinions concerning the origin and meaning of the term as used by Jesus, as that of Meyer, who holds to its origin in Daniel, and its meaning as given there; Schleiermacher, who considered it to be equivalent to "the ideal man;" Bartlet in his recent article in The Expositor (Dec. '92), who would subsume under it the conception of the Servant of Jehovah in Isaiah. According to Mr. Charles, the meaning of the term as used by Jesus is a synthesis of the conception of the supernatural Messiah as found in Enoch, and of the conceptions of the Servant of Jehovah, as found in Isaiah. Jesus borrowed the title from Enoch, where were attached to it the supernatural attributes of superhuman glory, and universal dominion, and supreme judicial power. "Whilst therefore in adopting the title, the Son of Man, from Enoch, Jesus made from the outset supernatural claims, yet the supernatural claims were to be vindicated not after the external Judaistic conceptions of the Book of Enoch, but in a revelation of the Father in a sinless and redemptive life, death, and resurrection. Thus in the life of the actual Son of Man, the Father was revealed in the Son, and supernatural greatness in universal service. He that was greatest was likewise Servant of all." Mr. Charles, as is thus seen, holds with the best criticism to the pre-Christian origin of Enoch. He agrees with Meyer in taking John 12:34 to indicate that the term Son of Man was generally understood as a title for the Messiah. Dan. 7 is regarded as the ultimate source of the designation.

We, ourselves, are inclined to think that the use of the title Son of Man by Jesus, was suggested by Daniel rather than by Enoch, and that sufficient weight has not yet been given to the influence of the Daniel passage. It is not clear that the term was in the days of Jesus a generally understood title for the Messiah. In considering the subject, two questions must be kept in some measure distinct, viz: What was Jesus' conception of himself? What was his use of this term? T. H. R.

Jesus and the Testament of Solomon by Edward Baldwin 1920 ( Professor Edward Chauncey Baldwin, Ph.D., University of Illinois,)

A Perplexing passage in Luke (10: 17-18) becomes clear in the light of the extra-canonical work called The Testament of Solomon. The seventy "returned with joy," we are told in the gospel, "saying, Lord, even the demons are subject unto us in thy name. And he said unto them I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven." The obscurity of the phrase "from heaven" as well as the apparent in consequence of Jesus' reference in this connection to Satan's fall, has puzzled commentators not a little. The more ancient expositors, like Gregory the Great (Moral XXIII. 6) understood the words "from heaven" literally, and maintained that Jesus referred to the fall of the angels alluded to in Jude 6. Modern exegetes have generally preferred the symbolic interpretation. Thus Rev. Alfred Plummer in The International Critical Commentary interprets the phrase "from heaven" as meaning from the height of his prosperity and power, and regards the whole vision as a "symbol and earnest of the complete overthrow of Satan."

Of these two, the earlier exegesis is more nearly correct. Jesus' assertion is to be taken literally, not symbolically. He unquestionably stated what he thought was a literal fact; and in so doing he was quite in accord with the current belief of his time. The most authoritative source of our knowledge of current belief regarding demons in the first century A.d. is the pseudepigraphic Testament of Solomon, the work of a Jewish-Christian, written in Greek. This book contains a long list of malignant spirits who are summoned by King Solomon by means of a magic ring provided him by the archangel Michael. Each in turn gives his name, mentions his particular activity, and the means by which he may be exorcised. Among them Ornias, the fierce spirit tells the king how the demons fly about among the stars and overhear the divine decrees which determine men's fate upon the earth. Upon hearing this, Solomon continues:

"I praised the Lord, and again questioned the demon saying: Tell me how you, being demons, are able to ascend into the heaven, and to mingle with the holy angels even in the midst of the stars. And he said: Just as things are brought to perfection in heaven, even so on earth are the types of all of them, for there are principalities, powers, world-rulers, and we demons-fly about in the air, and hear the voices of the celestial ones, and we look upon all the powers. And having no place of rest we become exhausted, and fall as do leaves from the trees. And men, seeing us, think the stars are falling from heaven. But it is not so, O King; but we fall through our weakness, and because we have nothing anywhere to lay hold upon. And we fall as lightnings in the depth of night, and suddenly. And we set cities aflame, and lay waste the fields with fire. For the stars are firmly fixt in heaven, as also the sun and the moon."

In this passage, persistently ignored by commentators, we unquestionably possess the key to the understanding of Jesus' assertion. The popular notion that a flash of lightning or a shooting star was really a falling demon Jesus seems to have shared with his contemporaries. Upon such natural phenomena he appears to have based his belief in the approaching downfall of the kingdom of Satan—a belief which the new power of his followers to cast out demons seemed to him miraculously to confirm.

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