|Introduction to the Commentary on the
Book of Enoch
Another source, The Legends of the Jews, mentions Yehuveh providing angel-protection “for thy writings and for the writings of thy fathers, Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, and Jared thy father.” Did all these men leave writings? If so, did they learn to write from Enoch after he learned it from heavenly beings? Or is the above statement that Enoch was “the first . . . on the earth to learn writing” incorrect? At present I have no sources to answer these questions.
The text used here, the left column, is taken from The Book of Enoch I translation by R. H. Charles, Oxford, 1912. There are occasional changes where his supplied words have been omitted. This book, containing extensive commentary (which I have not found to be helpful under most circumstances because it is mostly of a German Higher Criticism perspective and therefore quite skeptical and slanted), is available from Artisan Publishers for $12.00. Another translation of The Book of Enoch by Laurence, without much commentary, is also available from the same publishers for $7.00. For information or to order these or many other excellent books, write or call Artisan Publishers, P. O. Box 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402; 918-682-8341; or go directly to this publisher’s website: www.artisanpublishers.com.
The Book of Enoch was widely known and frequently quoted among the ancients until the rise of Catholicism and their canonization of “acceptable” Scriptures in the third and fourth centuries A.D. Because the contents of The Book of Enoch could not be harmonized with Catholic teachings and would discredit their beliefs and power, it was banned by such authorities as Hilary, Jerome, and Augustine, and efforts were made to destroy its very existence.
Then about two centuries ago “an Ethiopic [Hebrew] version of the work was found in Abyssinia by Bruce, who brought home three manuscripts of it, from one of which Laurence made the first modern translation of Enoch.” R. H. Charles, The Book of Enoch I, Introduction pp. x-xi.
Mr. Charles states that “The Book of Enoch, like the Book of Daniel, was written originally partly in Aramaic and partly in Hebrew.” From other evidence it is obvious that this conclusion is highly doubtful, for at present we have no original manuscript and his statement can therefore be only an assumption founded on extant manuscripts. “From an Aramaic original is derived [Chapters] 6-36, and possibly [Chapters] 83-90, while the rest of the book comes from a Hebrew original. . . . For four-fifths of the text we have only a translation of a translation. . . . The resemblances between the two languages are so great that frequently retranslation from the Ethiopic into either is sufficient to explain corruptions in the former.” Ibid., p. xi.
“Greek Versions have only in part been preserved. Chapters 1-32:6 and 19:3-21:9 in a duplicate form were discovered in 1886-1887 at Akhmîm by the Mission Archéologique Française at Cairo, and published by M. Bouriant in 1892.” Ibid., xiv.
Numerous other fragments and copies are now known to exist in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin and some other languages. Several translators have published their versions of these writings and many of these are still available. The Introduction to Mr. Charles’s version provides an extensive (110 pages) discussion of all these matters. He lists all the known manuscripts, their translators and where they are presently preserved.
Originally Written: 15 September 2006
Latest Update: 15 September 2006
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