The History of the Book of Enoch
The book was thought to have been lost, for over 2,000 years, with many ancient sources referring to it, and even quoting parts, but no complete copies were known. Then in 1773, James Bruce brought three copies back from Ethiopia, having spent some years exploring the country.
Enoch had two main reasons for writing his book. The first was because the Watchers instructed him to do it, (see section 15 at 81.5 and 81.6). The second reason; was to save his family from the flood. Enoch wrote his book, after his grandson Lamech was born, but before Noah was born. Noah is only named in the section that Methuselah wrote, (see section 10 at 107.3), and of course in his own section (section 11, The Book of Noah). So, there may still have been 40 – 80 years left before the flood, at the time when Enoch wrote his book.
There is a long gap between the time of the flood and the time when Moses gave praise to Enoch in Genesis. Genesis dates from around 1400 BC, and forms part of the Torah (the first five books of the bible). In Genesis, there is Enoch’s family; as named by him in this book, and a quick recap of some of Enoch’s story.
It seems likely therefore, that copies of the Book of Enoch survived into Egyptian times, 3500 BC, and was known to Moses around 2,000 years later. Moses presumably took a copy of the book with him when they all left Egypt, and he was no doubt pleased to see Enoch’s prophecy fulfilled.
The book probably existed mainly in Hebrew during the thousand years after the exodus. No Hebrew copies exist today, however, although there are some Hebrew passages quoted in some of the Aramaic fragments that survive from a few centuries BC.
The appearance of the book in Ethiopia, is probably due to events in 5
The Book of Enoch
Jerusalem during the reign of King Manasseh of Judah, (695 – 642 BC), which are documented in the Bible, (2Chronicles 33:1 – 20, and at 2Kings 21:1 – 18). King Manasseh was not of the Jewish faith, he erected alters to Baal and Asherah in Solomon’s Temple. In Kings at 21:16, it says that so much innocent blood was shed that it filled Jerusalem from end to end. At this time, the religious establishment left the country, taking the Ark of the Covenant and all the important religious texts with them.
After a number of years in Egypt, the refugees went further south, near to the source of the Nile, at Lake Tana in Ethiopia. The descendants of these people are the Falashas, who even today follow the form of Judaism that had been practiced in Israel only before 620 BC. The Ethiopians translated The Book of Hanokh into Ge’ez, and had enough respect to look after it. Meanwhile, all Hebrew versions disappeared but a substantial part of the book had survived in Greek, and some parts in Aramaic, but until Scottish traveler, and freemason, James Bruce, returned from Ethiopia in 1773, with three manuscripts, no one in the west had ever seen the whole book.
The two commonly available translations were done soon after this and the book was received with an embarrassed silence, for the most part, and not widely read. This book is based on a new translation published in 1978, which was produced as a result of research into a large number of the Ethiopian manuscripts and a review of all other surviving fragments. My hope is that this present edition will be the best version of Enoch’s book available in English.
I think this is an important book, and I have done my best to present it as clearly as possible, and in a way that I hope Hanokh would have approved of.