The Book of Enoch for Beginners

Phil Long has a new book out:

The Book of Enoch is a fascinating yet often misunderstood apocalyptic text. It contains unique material on fallen angels, the great flood of Genesis, the final judgment, and the prophecy of a future messiah. This guide provides you with the necessary historical framework to examine and understand it, delving into the key events and figures of its stories, from The Book of Watchers to The Epistle of Enoch.

  • An engaging introduction—Dive right in with an overview that clarifies Enoch’s non-canonical status, explains how the work was rediscovered, and breaks down its place within Judaism and Christianity.
  • All five books—This guide explores all five books of 1 Enoch, providing valuable insight into the development of early religious beliefs.
  • Thoughtful examination—Divided into easily digestible sections, you’ll gain a thorough understanding of Enoch through a combination of smart summaries, key verses, and enlightening commentary.

Demystify the Book of Enoch with this comprehensive and compelling guide.

Phil has written a helpful, precise, and easy to read in a couple of hours volume that will, and should be of interest to every Christian and every New Testament scholar and Professor.  And though he dedicated it to his wife instead of to me (people, right????), it is a remarkably important little volume.  Remarkably important.

Why?  Because the Book of Enoch was a central piece of literature to the early Church and early Judaism.  It may not have been ‘scripture’ to most, it was still extraordinarily popular and as we all should know, sometimes popular trumps official when it comes to the common man’s perception of things.

Take, for instance, the painting by Da Vinci titled ‘The Last Supper’.  It is, historically speaking, utter and complete rubbish.  It gets every detail of the Supper wrong, from the seating arrangement to the type of table used to the presence of chairs (which wouldn’t have been anywhere near a triclinium).  And yet that portrayal of the Last Supper is the one people have in mind when they think of that critical event.

Likewise, the authors of the New Testament and their contemporaries were extraordinarily influenced by the Weltanschauung of Enoch, such that many of the notions that Christianity holds dear are Enochian.

I’m not sure who said it or wrote it or mentioned it in passing at a conference; but at one point someone said in my presence that

You cannot understand the New Testament if you don’t have a firm grasp of the Hebrew Bible and the Book of Enoch.

They were right.

And that’s why this little book by Phil Long is so incredibly relevant and significant.  He leads his readers to a clear understanding of this material so central to so much of Christian thinking.

In 10 pages he introduces Enoch.  And in around 115 (give or take a few) he describes the contents of its parts.  He summarizes what he is about to say, says it concisely and yet accurately, and moves on to say what needs to be said next.  Part by part, he opens up the book of Enoch for contemporary readers and thereby does a service to both the academy and the Church.

He includes ‘sidebars’ (though they aren’t on the side of the page; rather, they are blocks of material set off from the main text but totally intrinsic to the structure of the whole).  Here’s one on ‘demons’ (or as our friend Barth always called them, ‘Nothingness’, ‘chaos’).

He doesn’t reduplicate the whole of the text of Enoch, but he does excerpt ‘key’ bits of it concerning which he then offers his own commentary.

This may seem an excessive excerpt, but it’s necessary, in my view, to allow potential readers of this book an idea of what it is and how it works.

Do I think you should read it?  I do.  Should your students read it?  Yes.  Should your Church Bible Study group read it?  They certainly should.  Especially if the choices are between Oprah’s Book Club Choice and Phil’s book.  At least Phil’s book has the advantage of being related to the Church whereas Oprah’s book club books never do.  (By the way, stop using Oprah’s book recommendations- she gave us Dr Oz and Dr Phil and Joel Osteen.  She isn’t a very good judge of what’s good).

You, to be honest, need to read this work, even if you’re pretty familiar with the Enochic literature.

And that, as they say, is that.

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