Book of Enoch and Canon


#1

Salvete, omnes!

I was wondering simply: Why is the Book of Enoch not in the canon of Sacred Scripture? Do we even really know why? Was it ever actually, at some historic point in time, considered but then rejected? If it was rejected, for what reasons? Do we even know this?

I’m wondering because of some problematic stories within it stating that, for instance, man was taught so-called secret knowledge such as metalwork and women were taught cosmetic arts by fallen angels. (see my post dealing more specifically with these issues here: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=959779 ) Some passages within it even seem to suggest that meat-eating is sinful!

Yet, the Catholic Church seems to accept such arts as are listed above as good things and even as things that we were not taught by fallen angels but that we learned by our own instrumentality. Also, as far as I understand, the Church does not condemn the use of cosmetics but states that, if used for the right reasons, it is approved for women to use them. (Now, I’m not sure whether any of these teaching have been infallibly confirmed, but, don’t they at least have some weight? If so, how much?)

Was the Book of Enoch, if rejected, perhaps rejected fro the above reasons, i.e., that it taught that fallen angels had a hand in teaching us such things as metalwork, astronomy and cosmetics? Indeed, do we really even know for certain why the Book of Enoch was rejected?

Indeed, does the Church reject outright the notion that fallen angels taught us these kinds of arts?

Furthermore, I understand that the Ethiopian Catholic Church accepts this Book in some way. Is it considered at a canonical level equal to that of the “official”(?) Catholic canon? I read somwhere that, while the Ethiopian Church does not accept it on the level of standard “canon”, it does accept it as perhaps somehow at a lower level? Is this true? If it is, do they consider it just as “inspired” as other canonical texts? If not, how do they view this book? Indeed, if they accept it as canonical, why doesn’t the rest of the Church do the same? Aren’t we all supposed to be on the same page on this? I was reading someone on another post who stated that any book that is not considered canon by the Church still has the potential to be “inspired”. Is this true? Or, rather, if a book has not been accepted as canon, is it automatically not to be considered “inspired”? Indeed, has the canon of Sacred Scripture officially been closed after it was solidified long ago? If so, does this mean that no other books may be considered “inspired” other than those that are in the “official”(?) Catholic canon?


#2

Simply because Enoch wasn’t in the Septuagint, the Greek Bible for Hellenistic Jews. There were doubt about it due to the antiquity it claims. This is pre-Noah and assuming it survive the Flood and Noah reproduced it, it wasn’t listed in Ezra’s recovery of OT books.

Augustine in his City of God said:

"We cannot deny that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, left some divine writings, for this is asserted by the Apostle Jude in his canonical epistle. But it is not without reason that these writings have no place in that canon of Scripture which was preserved in the temple of the Hebrew people by the diligence of successive priests; for their antiquity brought them under suspicion, and it was impossible to ascertain whether these were his genuine writings, and they were not brought forward as genuine by the persons who were found to have carefully preserved the canonical books by a successive transmission. So that the writings which are produced under his name, and which contain these fables about the giants, saying that their fathers were not men, are properly judged by prudent men to be not genuine; just as many writings are produced by heretics under the names both of other prophets, and more recently, under the names of the apostles, all of which, after careful examination, have been set apart from canonical authority under the title of Apocrypha. "

newadvent.org/fathers/120115.htm


#3

I think there is some question about the “inspiration” of the book- if not inspired by the Holy Spirit, it may be a book, it may even be historical, but not Canonical.

I did find it interesting that reading in the Book of Tobit last night, Tobit says there are 7 Angels directly serving God. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are directly mentioned in the Bible. But the notes in my study Bible said, “For the names of the rest, see 1 Enoch.” This is a Catholic NABRE study Bible.

So Enoch is not Canonical, but we can trust it for the names of the other Angels. I found that very interesting.


#4

Yikes! That is interesting, and somewhat problematic.

It seems that the Church may have always had a difficult history when it comes to dealing with this book.

I was just thinking that perhaps one reason, aside from its date, for its not having been accepted as canonical was that there are some problematic implications raised by it, such as its statements that fallen angels gave mankind knowledge of, among other things, metal-working, astronomy and cosmetics, all things that, as I understand it, the Church today supports as good things. (Again, for a deeper discussion of these issues, see the link I cited in my oroginal post.) In short, though, if there is even the possibility that fallen angels gave us the knowledge of these things, should we not have pause in continuing to use them and even to thank God for them?


#5

Thanks for this. It was truly helpful.

Might Augustine (and others?) have considered the stories of the fallen angels and their role in humanity’s development as “fables” also, or is this, indeed, implicit in Augustine’s statement above?

Have others commented on the lack of cononicity of this book? If so, could their comments be helpful to us in determining why it was ultimately not considered canonical?

Also, forgive my ignorance, but, are there any “official” documents that speak to the book’s official exlcusion for the canon and the reasons behind it?

Again, I’m mainly wondering all these things because of the problematic passage about the fallen angels. The mere possibility that this reflects a true and authentic tradition has some disturbing implications (again, that I have gone into with more detail in the other thread cited above).


#6

Actually, there’s probably no such thing as a ‘Greek Bible for Hellenistic Jews’. Leaving the ‘Bible’ issue aside (there were ‘Writings’ or ‘Scriptures’, but no ‘Bible’), what you did have then were different, independent translations of Jewish literature (held to have a sort of authority or sacredness by Jews) into Greek. These translations weren’t really collected into a single volume or set yet.

In fact, I’d say that the ‘Septuagint’ (as the term is often taken now) is really a Christian invention: in other words, it was really a Christian (not Jewish) idea to have a sort of collection of Greek translations of OT books. Originally, there was this famous legend about a Greek translation of the Torah/Pentateuch (made during the 3rd century BC) to the effect that it was made by seventy-two Jews under the orders of the (Greek) king of Egypt. The Church Fathers somehow changed the story a bit so that now, these elders translated not just the Torah, but the other sacred Jewish writings into Greek as well. They basically considered Greek translations of the Scriptures available to them to be these same translations. It was them who came up with the term ‘the version of the Seventy’ - versio septuaginta in Latin.

So IMHO it’s kind of anachronistic to refer to ‘Septuagint’ (in the common sense of the word) or even to ‘Bible’ in a Jewish (pre-Christian) context. Both are really Christian ideas.

I actually was going to make a thread about it. Stay tuned. :wink:

There were doubt about it due to the antiquity it claims. This is pre-Noah and assuming it survive the Flood and Noah reproduced it, it wasn’t listed in Ezra’s recovery of OT books.

Well, technically, Ezra is said to have recovered only ‘the scroll of the law of Moses’. But we aren’t sure as to what the term exactly means. Is it the Torah in the form that we have it today, or some kind of earlier version? And assuming that it is the Torah, is it the full Torah or just a single book or portion of it? (Deuteronomy is a popular candidate.)


#7

I’ll let you in a secret here: historically speaking, when we speak of ‘canon’ in the Christian (well, since it’s also really a Christian idea) context, it’s always in terms of addition, inclusion. The only people who subtracted from the canon are the ones who usually ended up being branded as heretics: people like Marcion or maybe even the Reformers. (Of course, all this talk of addition assumes that the canon is still ‘open’.)

The thing is, the Jews originally never really had a clear view of ‘canon’. They had a de facto set of literature that are considered to be above the rest and have a sort of special status: the 24 (as per the Jewish way of dividing the books) or 39 (the Christian reckoning) protocanonical OT books.

But at the same time, there’s also other writings that are not really on par with these ‘set-apart’ (‘sacred’) writings but enjoy some sort of relative popularity among certain segments of the Jewish population (but not necessarily all of it): works like Tobit, Sirach, Maccabees, Jubilees or Enoch. Some, like Tobit and Sirach, are very popular (in fact, later Jews still knew and revered the author of Sirach, Ben Sira, and kept producing retellings of Tobit); others as mentioned had a sort of limited fanbase because they kinda have a very specific content. (The very pro-Hasmonean 1 and 2 Maccabees were really for the folks who loved the Hasmonean dynasty; books like Enoch were favored by the more mystic/apocalyptic types.)

Now what happened is, early Christians seem to have considered some of these ‘other’ writings to have the same status as the protocanonical OT books, in effect elevating them; these were pretty much set in stone when the Church got around to the rudiments of canonization. (Technically, it was Christians who got entangled with the issues of canon and whatnot; the Jews never really did anything ‘official’ but simply stuck to the de facto system that they’ve been using for years: 24/39 sacred writings. What the Reformers did meanwhile was take out what the early Christians had added in.)

As for 1 Enoch, as mentioned, it’s a work well within Jewish apocalypticism/mysticism - it’s really one of the granddaddy works. Since Christianity happened to be an offshoot of the ‘apocalyptic’ segment of Judaism (= it was originally an apocalyptic Jewish sect), it wouldn’t be surprising that 1 Enoch found some use among some early Christians.

It never eventually made it into the Christian canon though, because … well, to be honest, there’s really so much that we don’t know about the whole process of the canonization of Scripture, so we can only guess, but maybe it’s probably just like you said: 1 Enoch is too curmudgeonly (the whole ‘humans actually learned technology from fallen angels’ bit), not to mention that its concept of angels is not very compatible with the burgeoning Christian beliefs concerning Satan and demons, plus there’s the whole ‘how did this work survive the Flood?’ issue. In other words, upon further reflection, most Christians found it too incredible, so they didn’t include it in the canon. It was only good when Christians were trying to mine what they thought were hints and prophecies about Jesus from it.

(On the Jewish side, meanwhile, after AD 70 there was a conscious move among the Rabbis to reduce the apocalyptic / mystic strand of Judaism. The very apocalyptic Enoch would have been unacceptable. That’s why it was pretty much allowed to be lost to oblivion, unlike some of the ‘safer’ popular non-scriptural literature like Tobit or Sirach.)


#8

Augustine’s did comment on the sons of God, angels of God, sons of gods depending on the translation. May be helpful to read the whole article.

Other than that, I have not come across any writings that specifically address how books were determined canonical. From what I can deduced, it is by popular usage. Some that were popular and read may over time ceased to be read. And those that were disputed may later joined the list. This is just a small job for the HS to make sure we have the correct books.:smiley:


#9

I do understand the misnomer of the naming of the Septuagint. Unfortunately, through popular usage, the name has stuck. But the meaning and intention of most writers when they mention Septuagint is this collection of translated works, whether or not all the books are in the Christian canon. I believe you have mentioned that in another thread and I still remember :). Having said that, unless we are going into detail , proper definitions and all that, I think most do understand the Septuagint is just the Greek OT in broad brush strokes +/- certain books.

I actually was going to make a thread about it. Stay tuned. :wink:

Well, technically, Ezra is said to have recovered only ‘the scroll of the law of Moses’. But we aren’t sure as to what the term exactly means. Is it the Torah in the form that we have it today, or some kind of earlier version? And assuming that it is the Torah, is it the full Torah or just a single book or portion of it? (Deuteronomy is a popular candidate.)

I have been interested in the Greek OT developments for some time now. Would be good to see your thread. Perhaps I can pick up some more knowledge about it.


#10

In my opinion, I think the CC just thought it was too bizarre to be included, it mentioned, in detail, alot of things that seem totally off the wall, but I do hold stock in this book, and do believe everything did happen like it stated, it makes perfect sense, it all comes down to Satan trying to corrupt the human seed, so Jesus could not be born into this world as a real human, back then, Satan attempted a more ‘brute force’ method to achieve such things, of course in modern times, he is more sly, stays in the shadows.

Satans greatest trick was (and is) to keep people thinking he does not really exist, if the CC readily taught and preached about some of the crazy things he did back then, and proof of such things, this would not be a good thing for Satan, it would shine a spotlight on him.

The one I still do not understand about Enoch though is concerning the flood, its pretty clear, God sends the flood, one reason was to kill off all the Nephilim, but it clearly says, they were here before AND AFTER the flood…??? I thought Noah, his family, and the animals were the only thing to survive this? If this is true, that means, AFTER the flood, Satan was able to do the same thing?

Plus, there is proof of them existing AFTER the flood, we have a serpent mound fairly close to us in southern Ohio, they have the mound, and a museum there, they have a few artifacts as well (which are very large), they claim these serpent mound builders were either real nephilim or some kind of relative, they all had double rows of teeth, 6 fingers and toes, they also lacked skull ‘plates’ that humans have.


#11

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