The Historical Jesus in Context

By Amy-Jill Levine; Dale Allison Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

5
First and Second Enoch:
A Cry against Oppression and the
Promise of Deliverance

George W. E. Nickelsburg

The Book of Enoch, or 1 Enoch, is a collection of apocalyptic (revelatory) texts that were composed between roughly 350 BCE and 50 CE in the name of the patriarch mentioned in Genesis 5:18–24. The collection as a whole is extant only in an Ethiopic translation of a Greek translation of Aramaic origins, eleven fragmentary manuscripts of which were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 9–20). The literary form of apocalyptic revelations is usually a firstperson account of a vision or audition that one has received in a dream or in an ascent to heaven that might have occurred in a dream. The revelations themselves pertain to the hidden things of the cosmos and/or to God's adjudication of the evils and injustices experienced by the authors and their communities. Other examples include Daniel 7–12, 2 and 3 Baruch, 4 Ezra, and the Apocalypse of Abra- ham (see Collins, 78–92, 155–204).


I Enoch 92–105

1 Enoch 92–105 differs in its literary form from other apocalyptic revelations in that it does not recount a vision or audition but purports to be an Epistle that is based on Enoch's visions, which are recounted in 1 Enoch 1–36 and 81:1–4. In the Epistle, the ancient patriarch addresses his children and his spiritual descendants, “the righteous, the pious, and the chosen,” who will live in “the last generations.” The perspective is “eschatological,” that is, related to the end-time (Greek eschaton). In a series of “woes” that imitate biblical oracles (e.g., Isaiah 5:8–25; Jeremiah 22:13–19), the author predicts in detail how the end-time will be marked by false religious teachings that pervert divine Law and by the unjust oppression of the righteous and lowly by the rich and powerful (1 Enoch 94:6–100:9). The

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