The Most Important Biblical Character You’ve Probably Never Heard of

If I asked you to name the most important figures in the Christian Bible—who helped shape the world today—you would most likely answer, “Abraham,” Moses” or “Jesus.” If you make the top 10 or even the top 20, you can add Mary, the Mother of Jesus, King David, Paul of Tarsus, a group of the Twelve Disciples, Adam and Eve, or Elijah. These are great figures in history and tradition, whom the artists have chosen to commemorate. Therefore, it may come as a surprise to learn that one of the most influential people in the Bible is mentioned in only four verses and that his story is more of a disappearance case than a biography.

Among the long list of brief mad-lib genealogies in Genesis 5 (name, children, and age) is the case of Enoch. Genesis 5:21-24 tells us that he was Methuselah’s father, a good man who “walked with God” for 365 years, and that “after that,” one day, “he was no more, because God had arrested him. When someone is snatched by the ruler of the universe, people tend not to send a search party, so this is all the Hebrew Bible tells us. But the mysterious conclusion of his life makes people wonder.

Throughout history, there have been certain cases of disappearances that are just people’s imaginations. The fates of Amelia Earhart, Anastasia Romanov, Jimmy Hoffa and Lindbergh Baby have spawned conspiracy theories, TV series, Broadway productions and treasure hunts. Enoch was one of these individuals. Hundreds of years after Genesis 5 was written, later generations of Jewish writers began to write stories in his name. Although they are not found in the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) or the Christian Bible, they are as influential in religious history as any canonical text.

The literary expansion of Enoch’s story began in the third century BC. The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible produced in Alexandria at the behest of Ptolemy II, translates “God carried him away” with “God translated him”. The language of “translation” refers to spatial displacement and implies that God took him and translated him to another place, perhaps the Good Place. Around the same time, others began to produce texts bearing the name of Enoch and these, to put it bluntly, a rather mythical voyage.

There are no less than three books written in Enoch’s name (1, 2, 3 Enoch). The first and most influential is 1 Enoch, is actually a composite text made up of five or six shorter pamphlet-type works. The most famous part is Book of followers. Here, we discover, with some certainty, that our hero was taken to heaven where an angelic guide gave him a tour of the heavens. In the introduction and telling of the pens for the souls of the dead, the cursed valley and the names and functions of the Archangels, we will also learn about the fates of the dead. called Watchers.

This story follows from the biblical flood story in Genesis 6, which refers to angels (“sons of God”) who had sex with humans. The sons of God, or the Angel of the Fallen Watcher, rebelled against God and created their children with human women. The Bible says the children are called Nephilim or Giants. According to the book The Observers, the transgression did not end here. The Watchers also taught humanity a lot of forbidden knowledge such as metallurgy, weapon making, cosmetic and jewelry making, root cutting, “magic” and astrology. Skills that we are happy to have, but the divine Creator wants to keep it a secret. Another problem, like Dr. Archie Wright yes explainMaybe the Giants are super consumers: they eat a lot and, having run out of less irritating sources of protein, they’ve finally set their eyes on humans.

The Genesis-based Enochic story of human sons and their overgrown children is widely believed to be the source of ancient Jewish and later Christian theories of evil. teacher. We should note, as Professors Loren Stuckenbruck of the University of Munich wrote in his book Myths about rebellious angels, that this is not inevitable. There is nothing in Genesis that makes it clear that the Giants were actually evil. In fact, there is a tradition of blaming the “daughters of men” for tempting them (which is why there is a strange passage in Paul’s book). First Letter to CorinthS that tells women to keep their hair covered). Stuckenbruck writes, given the ambiguity of the Genesis account, there may have been emerging traditions about Enoch and the origins of crime that predated our literary records and exploded in the third century. B.C.

The reason for the explosion of interest is easier. After the Israelites returned from their Babylonian exile, during a period when the Jews began to create a distinct Jewish identity, the area was conquered. served by Alexander the Great. Alexander and his successors were practitioners of the kind of cultural imperialism that sought to elevate its values, its educational system, and its language over their subjects. The result is, 1 Enoch shows both traces of Greek mythology and philosophy as well as concern and criticism of these same influences. The story of the Watchers being punished for providing humanity with secret knowledge, for example, is very similar to the Greek myth of Prometheus stealing fire from the Olympians and being punished in Hades. At the same time, as James VanderKam wrote, ancient Greek culture and power are being dismissed outright. The giants were “the prop for the Warriors of the author’s own time” or, in other words, “the Greek kings”.

But the traditions of Enoch’s journey and the development of his reputation as a visionary sage are not only about historical pressure and domination, they are also part of the trend. emerging literary trends. The penchant for writing that emerged during this period included texts written under the names of biblical figures such as David and Moses. We should not assume that writing a text and describing it to others is cheating. Like Annette Yoshiko ReedProfessor of the New Testament and early Christianity at Harvard University, says that, sometimes “writers have a limited number of pseudonyms. [a] creator or author as the trident and guarantor of tradition. In his work, Prof. Eva Mroczek look the development of these traditions is more complex than just a power struggle for power, the expansion of these traditions can be seen as a poetic interest in a “character who is cherish”. Writing in the name of Enoch is a kind of “character-oriented literary creation” rooted in the affection for his character and the mysterious appeal of his story. Or, oversimplify and put it in modern terms: perhaps it’s more like fan fiction.

The Book of followers tends to get most of the attention because of the way it affects subsequent theories about hell, divine retribution, and the origin of evil. But Parables (or Similar) by Enoch all have the same effect. The Similar speaks of the importance of a messianic figure known as “Son of Man” or “The Anointed One.” This should ring the bell for those familiar with the New Testament Gospels and the use of the phrase “Son of Man” for Jesus. In both Similar and the Gospel of Matthew, the Son of Man is a heavenly being who administers God’s judgment in the present age (understood as imminent). If up to now it seemed that Jesus’ description of himself as “Son of Man” in the Bible was tantamount to ostentatious mentioning of himself in the third person, now you know it is a very different kind of daring.

More broadly, however, the apocalyptic sense of the apocalypse is exemplified by Enochic traditions throughout Paul’s writings, the Gospels, and into early Christianity. This kind of apocalyptic key is not only found in the Enoch traditions — you can find it in the book of Daniel, the book of apocalypse. Jubilees, and the Dead Sea Scrolls — but the accumulated traditions of demons, resurrection, apocalypse, unclean spirits, etc. New Testament features would not be the same without Enoch. The Jewish mystical traditions also did not emerge the way they did. Like Pierluigi Piovanelli These works are among the most important literary artifacts for understanding the evolution of Jewish (and Christian) religious thought and practice, from magic to the millennium. century and from millennium to mysticism, for more than eight important centuries. . “

Where Enoch’s influence was felt most profoundly or, perhaps better, appreciated was in the forms of Judaism and Christianity in Ethiopia. Most of Enoch’s writing is preserved only in Ge’ez. There are some fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls in Aramaic and some fragments of Greek and Latin fragments, but 1 Enoch exists only entirely in the Ethiopian. Beth Israel, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church all consider the text canonical and include it in their liturgies. It is through these groups that we know the extent of the influence and importance of the Enochs.

In the fifteenth century, the Ethiopian emperor and theologian Zar’a Yā’qob speak to an interlocutor who dared to question the importance of Enoch, “whoever you are, Christian or Jew, without the Book of Enoch you cannot claim to be yourself. such person: Christian, it is impossible that you are a true Christian, and a Jew, it is impossible that you are a real Jew! “He certainly has a point.

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