This is a debate that pops up from time to time in Christian circles. Until recently, I had not read First Enoch, or The Book of Enoch as it is popularly known. I finally took the time to sit down and read it and I was blown away by what I discovered. I’m just going to hit the major points here in this article. For more detail, see the video above. My focus here is to ask this question. Did Jesus and the New Testament authors think that the Book of Enoch was scripture?
Peter clearly alludes to the Book of Enoch
I use the term loosely here. I realize that 2 Peter most likely wasn’t written by Peter. The point is that Church tradition holds that it was, so I will address it here as if he did. In 2 Peter 2:4-5 we read the following. I will use the Berean Literal Bible translation because it brings the crucial Greek word into the English text.
For if God did not spare the angels having sinned, but having cast them down to Tartarus, in chains of gloomy darkness, delivered them, being kept for judgment; 5and He did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, one of eight, having brought the flood upon the world of the ungodly;2 Peter 2:4-5 BLB
There are a few things to note here. First, he uses the word Tartarus, and this is the only place in the Bible where this word appears. Secondly, he ties these events to the time of Noah’s flood. Below are citations from the Book of Enoch that tie directly into this text. In sequential order, these quotes are from 1 Enoch 18:15, 19:1, and 20:2.
15. Then the angel said, This place, until the consummation of heaven and earth, will be the prison of the stars, and the host of heaven.
1. Then Uriel said, Here the angels, who cohabited with women, appointed their leaders;
2. Uriel, one of the holy angels, who is over the world and over Tartarus.
This doesn’t establish it as scripture, but it does indeed show that the author of 2 Peter was aware of the Book of Enoch and thought it to be reliable.
Jude Quotes the Book of Enoch
This is interesting. However, what is more interesting is what he says about his quote. This is from Jude 14-15.
14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
This is a direct quote from Enoch 1:9.
9 And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of ⌈His⌉ holy ones
To execute judgement upon all,
And to destroy ⌈all⌉ the ungodly: And to convict all flesh of all the works ⌈of their ungodliness⌉ which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners ⌈have spoken⌉ against Him.
Jude calls this prophecy. Prophecy is a message from God in the mouth of a man. Hence, Jude is clearly saying that at least this section of text in First Enoch is the word of God.
Did Jesus See First Enoch as Scripture?
I use several other examples in the video, but for brevity I will use my best argument here. In Matthew 22 Jesus is approached by a group of Saducees. Remember, they don’t believe in the resurrection nor the afterlife. So to prove the silliness of the idea, they confront Jesus with a scenario. A woman is married, her husband dies, so she remarries. This happens several times. Therefore, she has several legitimate husbands. Which one will be her husband in the resurrection? In verses 29-30, Jesus responds as follows.
29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
Now clearly, Jesus is saying that the resurrection is an example of the power of God. The Saducees don’t believe God is powerful enough to raise the dead. He is also saying that they don’t know their scriptures, because they don’t know that angels neither marry nor are given in marriage. The problem? Nowhere in Tanakh does it say that angels don’t get married. Where is this concept taught? In Enoch 15:6-7
6. But you from the beginning were made spiritual, possessing a life which is eternal, and not subject to death for ever. 7. Therefore I made not wives for you, because, being spiritual, your dwelling is in heaven.
This barely scratches the surface of the parallels between the Book of Enoch and the Christian Bible or New Testament. I think it is clear that Jesus and his followers believed the Book of Enoch to be the word of God. As for me personally however, I see it to be a fictional work of 2nd Temple Judaism that is heading down a path that is culminated in New Testament theology. It appears to be a bridge from the one God of Israel to the Trinity and a divine messianic figure. I see it as heretical to Judaism, but a necessary tool for understanding the fundamental principles of Christianity.