Samuel Zinner (PhD, University of Nebraska–Lincoln), an independent researcher and Holocaust scholar, publishes his extensive studies on 1 and 2 Enoch in a new book from The Interpreter Foundation. Zinner performs a valuable service in this series of nineteen essays by taking on some of the most difficult questions in the field of Enoch studies. He provides new and refreshing perspectives on a wide variety of topics that range from the issue of the identification in 1 Enoch of Enoch as “the Son of Man” to textual and historical problems in the texts of both 1 and 2 Enoch that have puzzled scholars for decades. His explorations respond to some of the biggest players in the field, including George Nickelsburg, James VanderKam, and Daniel Boyarin. The majority of the essays focus on issues surrounding the text of 1 Enoch, which is perhaps the more widely known and read of the Enoch writings, but he also touches on some interesting and important topics from 2 Enoch as well. The last chapter of the book provides an analysis by Zinner, who is not LDS, of the topics of Zion/Jerusalem and Lady Wisdom in early Jewish texts and also in Moses 7 and the Tree of Life vision in 1 Nephi.
Zinner takes an innovative approach to a number of problems and controversies in the field, making several positive contributions. His discussions on the title “Son of Man,” both as it is applied to Enoch and as it is used in 1 Enoch and the biblical book of Daniel, are helpful for making sense of a phenomenon in early Jewish and Christian writings that depicts the apotheosis (or deification) of human beings so that they can function in the celestial realm. He also compares his conclusions for the Enochic writings to what early Christians believed about Christ, providing a helpful perspective. He tackles the question of the dating of some of the Enochic writings (he argues for an earlier date than is commonly suggested) and whether this extrabiblical text had an influence on canonical books such as Daniel. Zinner’s essay on Zion as Lady Wisdom, how this idea is expressed in both biblical and extrabiblical texts, and how Zinner sees parallels in Restoration scripture is a fascinating perspective that most LDS readers will not have encountered previously.
Because Zinner engages the texts he analyzes at a high level of scholarship, this book will be of interest to those who have previous experience with a serious study of the Enochic, and related, literature. Latter-day Saint readers with at least a moderate interest in and experience with these texts will likely find the discussions of the Son of Man and also the last chapter involving Restoration scripture to be refreshing and useful.