This book contains the proceedings of the Fifth Enoch Seminar, held in Naples, Italy, on June 14–18, 2009. The theme of the conference was “Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek: Mediatorial Figures in 2 Enoch and Second Temple Judaism,” covering topics of intrinsic interest for biblical scholars generally, as well as for Latter-day Saints. The book’s subtitle, No Longer Slavonic Only, refers to an important discovery announced at the seminar. The book of 2 Enoch is also commonly referred to as “Slavonic Enoch” because the text has been known only in its Slavonic translation;now Coptic fragments of the text have been found, indicating that this work was more widely used than had been previously thought. This announcement was a highlight of the gathering, and a summary of the importance of this new finding is included at the beginning of New Perspectives on 2 Enoch.
The vast majority of the book, however, discusses the most recent research and best conclusions regarding 2 Enoch that were available to present at the conference prior to this announcement. As 2 Enoch is generally understood to be an ancient Jewish (or perhaps Christian) text from, arguably, the first century AD, it is therefore possible that the earliest Christians, including some of the authors of the New Testament, could have known and been influenced by it.
The primary objective of this review is to look at 2 Enoch and other related texts and the involvement in these texts of characters who figure significantly in Joseph Smith’s inspired version of the early chapters of Genesis: Adam, Enoch, Noah (book of Moses), and Melchizedek (JST Gen. 14). A secondary objective is simply to encourage Latter-day Saint readers to engage on a deeper level with these texts.By means of a brief survey of New Perspectives on 2 Enoch, I hope to encourage such interest and to show that the book of 2 Enoch and similar texts contain a number of elements that are not found in the Bible but that parallel details regarding these figures in Joseph Smith’s revelations.
New Perspectives is divided into two main parts, the first focusing on the book of 2 Enoch and the second section looking at traditions concerning mediatorial figures (Adam, Enoch, and Melchizedek, specifically) in the Second Temple period. After the discussion of the discovery of the Coptic fragments of 2 Enoch and the new paradigm that this discovery has introduced, the volume moves on to targeted studies of specific aspects of the text of 2 Enoch, the Slavonic version specifically. The rest of the book is divided up into the following sections, based on the general topics of the presentations given at the conference:
• Text and Dating of 2 Enoch
• Content and Context of 2 Enoch
• Adamic Traditions
• Melchizedek Traditions
• Bibliography on 2 Enoch
The importance of the discovery of the Qasr Ibrim manuscript in Egyptian Nubia—a Coptic version of 2 Enoch—is outlined in the first chapter. This find opens and expands the boundaries and the contexts in which 2 Enoch may now be studied. This discovery helps support the idea that 2 Enoch is a more ancient text than some scholars have supposed, since the Coptic fragments found antedate the earliest Slavonic witness by about five hundred years. There is some evidence that it was perhaps written in the first century AD (although the author cannot confirm this) in Alexandria as a Jewish text composed in Greek and from thence distributed to Coptic-speaking Egypt and Nubia. This helps disprove the theory held by some that 2 Enoch was first composed in Slavonic in medieval times by a Gnostic-like group known as the Bogomiles, who are thought to have originated in Bulgaria in the tenth century. This gives increased credibility to the theory suggested by some scholars, such as Andrei Orlov, that 2 Enoch could have been available to the earliest Christian authors and may have influenced their writings, including Matthew’s Gospel.
The discovery of the Coptic version of 2 Enoch affects most conclusions in the first section of the book; however, it was not taken into consideration in preparing these conference presentations. One can only wonder how these scholars would have modified their conclusions based on these more recent findings. To some extent, we are compelled to disregard some of the discussions and conclusions because they do not take these findings into consideration. Although the volume is subtitled No Longer Slavonic Only, the impact of the publication is lessened because of this weakness. Having said this, the discovery of the Coptic fragments only serves, to a significant extent, to confirm what some scholars had already postulated regarding the provenance of the text.
Grant Macaskill’s section, “2 Enoch: Manuscripts, Recensions, and Original Language,” discusses the different versions of the text of 2 Enoch and analyzes a couple of passages included in the longer recensions of the text regarding the rebellion of Satan. Following F. I. Andersen’s English translation, the text reads: “But one from the order of the archangels deviated, together with the division that was under his authority. He thought up the impossible idea that he might place his throne higher than the clouds which are above the earth, that he might become equal to my power. And I hurled him out from the height, together with his angels.”In this passage, God reveals to Enoch the story of how Satan was exiled from heaven, along with the “division” of angels who were under his authority. This idea is of course similar to the LDS understanding of Lucifer attempting to usurp God’s power in the premortal realm (Moses 4:1–3; D&C 29:36–37; 76:25–29). Although some scholars note the connection here to the story of the “Watchers” in 1 Enoch (which gives an expanded version of the story of the fallen “sons of God” from Genesis 6, describing them as rebellious angels), the text of 2 Enoch goes on to connect Satan’s fall from heaven to the Adam and Eve story. It explains, in God’s words:
The devil understood how I wished to create another world, so that everything could be subjected to Adam on the earth, to rule and reign over it. The devil . . . will become a demon, because he fled from heaven. . . . In this way, he became different from the angels. His nature did not change, but his thought did, since his consciousness of righteous and sinful things changed. And he became aware of his condemnation and of the sin which he sinned previously. And that is why he thought up his scheme against Adam.
Andrei Orlov’s first chapter, “The Sacerdotal Traditions of 2 Enoch and the Date of the Text,” argues for an early date for 2 Enoch—before the destruction of the Temple in AD 70—based on the strong priestly traditions found in the text. Although Orlov may not be taking into account the possibility of priestly circles continuing to operate and write texts beyond the destruction of the temple, the evidence he cites does seem to point to a time before the rise of Rabbinic Judaism when texts that featured the concerns of the priesthood were likely more prevalent. Orlov highlights the section of 2 Enoch that describes the miraculous birth of Melchizedek. He points out that, like the birth of Noah found in the earlier texts of 1 Enoch and the Genesis Apocryphon,2 Enoch tells the story of Melchizedek’s birth in a way that depicts him as the “high priest par excellence.”
For example, when Melchizedek is born, he is already able to speak and immediately blesses the Lord. He is described as being mysteriously and miraculously conceived and bearing the “badge of priesthood” on his chest when he is born.His father dresses him in the garments of the priesthood and feeds him holy bread. He is subsequently taken up into the heavenly Eden so that he can survive the Flood and return as a high priest in the postdiluvian era. The significance of considering this text to be a Jewish account composed before AD 70 lies in the possibility that it was influential in the formation of early Christian traditions regarding Melchizedek, along with an understanding of Christ’s mission and how he was comparable to Melchizedek.
Leading out the next section on the “Content and Context of 2 Enoch,” Crispin Fletcher-Louis presents “2 Enoch and the New Perspective on Apocalyptic.” I found this to be one of the most informative chapters of the book, worthy of extended discussion. He starts out by highlighting the fact that 2 Enoch “views both Adam and Enoch in exalted terms; as glorious, angelic, but also human.” Fletcher-Louis suggests that when we take into consideration this positive portrayal of humanity, we must begin to reject the traditional notion that apocalypses “propound a negative anthropology.” He asserts that a “new perspective” on the theology of the apocalypses is necessary, one that celebrates the redemption of mankind from the Fall in Eden and welcomes them back to their glorious position in the presence of God. The basis for this paradigm begins, he claims, with the idea that humanity is created to be in God’s image. “The (true) human being was created to have a divine identity and, therefore, an epistemology grounded in the divine life. . . . Revelations of cosmic and divine secrets come directly to and through the human being.”
Fletcher-Louis goes on to explain that this true human identity can be identified in Jewish temple worship. In the temple, we are shown “the structure of the cosmos and access to its inner secrets.”Some of the early apocalypses (such as 1 Enoch and Daniel) display, in narrative form, the theology and practices of what is known as the temple cult. In the stories of the heavenly journeys of Enoch, Abraham, and others, we see what the rituals of the high priests were meant to signify. “Enoch is a model, in particular, of the true priest who ascends to heaven to receive divine revelation just as the high priest enters God’s innermost place on the Day of Atonement. The priestly character of apocalyptic visions is grounded in the belief . . . that Israel’s high priest recapitulates Adam’s (otherwise lost) identity as God’s image-idol (see esp. Exod 28 where Aaron is dressed in garments proper to a divine cult statue).” Fletcher-Louis sees significance in the fact that Enoch was the seventh from Adam—the number seven standing for completion or perfection—and so is rightly depicted as the “true” human, “entitled to the recovery of the divine identity that Adam lost.” He goes to lengths to demonstrate how traditions regarding Adam and associated themes run throughout the Enochic literature and other apocalypses.
Fletcher-Louis next goes on to highlight how 2 Enoch emphasizes the central place that the temple and priesthood hold in the apocalyptic texts. He notes how at the climax of Enoch’s heavenly ascent (as occurs in other contemporary apocalypses), he is installed as a high priest in the heavenly temple after being clothed and anointed by Michael, the archangel. In 1 Enoch, especially, we see the heavens structured in three tiers,much like the three-zoned architecture of Solomon’s Temple. Interestingly, he points out that perhaps one of the reasons why 2 Enoch presents a heaven of seven levels is because by the time it was written, the Jerusalem temple complex had been divided up into “seven zones of holiness.” In either case, the earthly temple is meant to be understood as a microcosm of the universe, with God’s throne being in the highest (and most central) location. The earthly temple, in 2 Enoch, is also the place from which Enoch ascends into heaven. Another notion both 1 and 2 Enoch present is that, as Fletcher-Louis states, “the hero’s ascent to heaven defines the character of all subsequent (and legitimate) priestly service at Jerusalem in terms of apocalyptic ascent to heaven.”
Priestly themes run throughout 2 Enoch, according to Fletcher-Louis. He refers to similarities between 2 Enoch and Ben Sira, a text that describes the priestly activities of Simon, the high priest, as he performs the temple rituals. In Ben Sira, Simon is described as going out of the Temple in procession and is depicted as “the Glory of God,” having been clothed in “garments of Glory.” He then, in some way, proceeds to make his brothers and fellow priests glorious as well. Fletcher-Louis describes what appears to take place: “There is a chain of glory: the high priest is glorified and then his fellow worshippers are glorified. Whether or not this is a theology and dramatic theme peculiar to Ben Sira, it is striking the way the same language is used in 2 Enoch where there is the expectation that Enoch’s peers ‘will be glorified’ just as he is glorified.”
This theme is also reminiscent of the content of Jesus’s “intercessory prayer” in the Gospel of John. Also like Jesus, and in the manner of the high priest of the ancient temple cult, Enoch is said to be the one “who carries away the sin/s of mankind.” This is also the role of Aaron in his priestly duties as described in Exodus 28:38. Fletcher-Louis sums up this section by explaining that the ancient temple is connected to the priestly features of the Enoch traditions: “The temple is a restored Eden, the priesthood and the wider worshipping community recover through the liturgy all the Glory of Adam.”
This leads Fletcher-Louis into his second major subject, the “theological anthropology” of a typical apocalypse. He describes how mankind is depicted as exalted and glorious when they are brought up to the heavenly realm. Adam is described as “a second angel, honored and great and glorious,” incomparable on the earth among God’s creations. When Enoch is taken up into heaven, he is given an exalted position and receives prostration from his fellows. He becomes an angelic/divine being of great glory. He sees God’s glorious face and his own becomes like God’s, just as God created Adam “in a facsimile of his own face.” Fletcher-Louis emphasizes what we should understand from these texts and their relationship to temple and priesthood: this glory is not reserved for a privileged few who are divine mediators, but the intention is to share a message regarding “what it means to be human.” Enoch declares, after his return from heaven to his own people, that although he has become glorified above the angels (Fletcher-Louis even uses the term “deification”) and has been given more knowledge than they, he is still human. Fletcher-Louis essentially asserts that the notion of a gap between humans and the divine is artificial for the authors of the apocalypses. This “gap” is bridged in the traditions of humans ascending to heaven and gaining divine qualities—or, more correctly, having their divine qualities restored to them. He quotes Philip Alexander as saying: “Enoch, having perfected himself, in contrast to Adam, who sinned and fell, reascends to his heavenly home and takes his rightful place in the heights of the universe, above the highest angels. . . . Enoch thus becomes a redeemer figure—a second Adam through whom humanity is restored.”
In another interesting passage of 2 Enoch, God explains to Enoch how he taught mankind from the beginning to choose the right and to love him over sin and darkness. Latter-day Saints may note that 2 Enoch 30:15–16 is very similar to a passage in the Pearl of Great Price:
And I gave him his free will, and I pointed out to him the two ways—light and darkness. And I said to him, “This is good for you, but that is bad,” so that I might come to know whether he has love toward me or abhorrence, and so that it might become plain who among his race loves me. Whereas I have come to know his nature, he does not know his own nature. That is why ignorance is more lamentable than the sin such as it is in him to sin. And I said, “after sin there is nothing for it but death.”
One may compare this to lines in Moses 7:
The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood. . . . But behold, their sins shall be upon the heads of their fathers; Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer? But behold, these which thine eyes are upon shall perish in the floods; and behold, I will shut them up; a prison have I prepared for them. (Moses 7:32–33, 37–38)
Just as the text of 2 Enoch ends with a description of the birth of Melchizedek, Fletcher-Louis ends his piece with a discussion of the parallels between Adam, Enoch, and Melchizedek. He argues that the author of 2 Enoch may have been interested in ending the document with the figure of Melchizedek, as he represents the dual-function of king and priest. He argues that the author had hope in the Melchizedek figure as the ultimate political realization—one who was a priest but who would also rule as king. The author’s “hopes are now pinned,” according to Fletcher-Louis, on the Melchizedek order, and the book ends with the expectation that this priest-king would return to rule on earth. The author holds on to the hope of Melchizedek, he argues, because Adam was known to be king but not a priest, and Enoch was known to be priest but not a king, and so neither figure is able to fulfill the author’s political and religious expectations.
Finally, I would point out that Fletcher-Louis does recognize that in the wider body of traditions surrounding the patriarchs, Adam and Enoch are both variously portrayed as being priests and kings. I think Fletcher-Louis correctly notes that the author of 2 Enoch denies them one of these positions in order to favor the superior position of Melchizedek as both priest and king. He states, “The author of 2 Enoch is thankful for the Enochic priesthood, but his hopes are now pinned on a new order; the order of Melchizedek. . . . It is the Melchizedek figure . . . whom he believes will embody the perfect political and cultic constitution.”Melchizedek has the combined traits of Adam and Enoch, is clearly defined in the Bible as both priest and king (Gen. 14), and a Melchizedekian ruler is declared to be seated at the right hand of God (Ps. 110). For the author of 2 Enoch, he embodies the human who is both royal and priestly and who becomes exalted to sit at the right hand of God—which is the true potential and nature of humankind.
Andrei Orlov’s second chapter looks further at “the fallen angels traditions in 2 Enoch.” Orlov treats a number of the same trends in 2 Enoch that were discussed in the previous chapter, especially the important role that Adam plays in 2 Enoch. Orlov brings up a side point that may be of interest to Latter-day Saints: in the traditions recorded in 1 Enoch, scholars have noticed a “remarkable leniency of the Enochic writers towards the mishap of the protological couple.” He notes that when Adam and Eve are mentioned in these earliest Enochic texts, “they try to either ignore or ‘soften’ the story of their transgression and fall in the garden.”This leniency toward that first transgression stands in opposition to the remaining account in Genesis 3 and also to later traditions regarding the Fall.
Orlov presents other interesting details in 2 Enoch that go beyond what is evident in the biblical texts regarding Satan. Second Enoch presents Satan as “the prince” (compare John 12:31; Mark 3:22) of a group of rebellious angels that had previously fallen from heaven and that Enoch now sees imprisoned while on his otherworldly journey. Satan and his angels are cast out of heaven due to disobedience, but the commandment to which they are disobedient may be surprising to most readers. In 2 Enoch (and a few other apocalyptic texts that focus on Adamic traditions), Satan and his angels are cast out because they refuse to venerate Adam, whom God has created as his image. In what may be an act of reconciliation, when the fallen, imprisoned angels see Enoch, they bow down before him, recognizing him as a man (perhaps meant to reflect the Hebrew for “man,” ʾadam) of God. This act of veneration on the part of Satan’s demonic followers is intriguing in light of the fact that in both biblical and modern revelation, Satan tries to convince man to worship him (as with Jesus—the second Adam—in the Gospels, and Moses in Moses 1).
Orlov brings up another Enoch tradition in later texts that mentions Enoch as his angelic alter ego, Metatron, who is presented as leader of the celestial worship of God. In these texts, he is repeatedly called “youth” or “the lad,” which is significant for Latter-day Saints in light of Joseph Smith’s revelation in Moses 6:31, where Enoch bows before the Lord and refers to himself pejoratively as “a lad.” This chapter by Andrei Orlov contains many more insights into the complex and intriguing way in which the authors of 2 Enoch combine ancient Enochic and Adamic traditions into a text that emphasizes the status of the patriarch Enoch as, in Orlov’s words, “a specimen of the theomorphic humanity.” Not only does Enoch become glorious like the angels, as we see in 1 Enoch, but now Enoch is portrayed as a being who is superior to the angels, the “lesser Yahweh,” the “replica of the divine body.”He is a new Adam who has regained the glory initially given to the First Adam, and is now worthy of worship by the angels. This is the understanding of the redemption of humanity portrayed in 2 Enoch—that man can return to God and inherit his rightful place in the heavenly realm, exalted above the angels.
The second half of the book covers Adam, Enoch, and Melchizedek as mediatorial figures. A number of especially noteworthy items will be briefly treated here. John Levison’s chapter on “Adam as a Mediatorial Figure” provides an interesting discussion of traditions that regard Eden as a prototypical temple. He notes how many Jewish interpreters of the Adam and Eve story in Genesis “believed that Adam lost access to a templesque Eden or an edenic temple.”He describes how the story of Eden in Genesis is full of allusions to the Israelite temple, as it is also in many of the Psalms. Connections between Eden and the temple can also be found in Isaiah, Ezekiel, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other Jewish religious literature. The Book of Jubilees clearly describes Adam performing the duties of a priest and later states that Noah knew “that the garden of Eden was the holy of holies and the dwelling of the Lord.” The book of 2 Baruch points to the idea that both the true Jerusalem (with its temple?) and Eden were taken up into heaven at the time of Adam’s transgression, and 4 Ezra refers to an Eden that was planted and inhabited by Adam before the Earth was created. In the end times, mankind would once again be allowed to enter this supernal Jerusalem and Eden, partake of the tree of life, and gain immortality.
These traditions are also found in the Enochic literature. In 1 Enoch 24, Enoch sees the high mountain—the temple—where God’s throne is and receives the promise that the fruit of the tree of life which is there “in the house of the Lord” will once again become accessible to humans. This access brings about what the text seems to describe as the resurrection of the dead and extraordinarily long life for mortals, as in the days of the antediluvian patriarchs. Levison emphasizes in his paper the tendency in Second Temple Judaism to take what is written of Adam in scripture and apply it to refer to mankind in general.
Lester Grabbe, in “Better Watch Your Back, Adam,” emphasizes some Adamic traditions that Levison did not, especially those that deal with Adam being clothed in glory both before his fall and after his death. He talks about the image of Adam in the Testament of Abraham, enthroned in glory in heaven, rejoicing when he sees his children entering the celestial realm. He notes how 2 Enoch states that Adam was set up as a king in Eden and suggests that his enthronement in the Testament of Abraham and other texts is not simply a “post-mortem transformation but his original state in Eden” (280). He mentions how Philo understood Adam and Eve to have had glorious bodies before their fall, being much larger than normal humans and with more acute senses. After the Fall, these characteristics only gradually deteriorated over the space of many generations.He discusses how in the text of The Life of Adam and Eve, Adam was clothed with glory before his fall. In the Apocalypse of Baruch, he continues, Adam’s transgression brought death into the world, as well as illness and also “the conception of children” (279, compare 2 Ne. 2:22–23).
Johannnes Magliano-Tromp, in “Adamic Traditions in 2 Enoch,” reviews some similar traditions regarding the first man, focusing on the idea that Adam was initially set up to be the ruler of the world, but because of his fall, this potential would only be fulfilled by Christ at his second coming.
In the chapter “Adamic Traditions in Early Christian and Rabbinic Literature,” Alexander Toepel discusses the Apocalypse of Moses, which, like the LDS Book of Moses, contains an account of the story of Adam and Eve that provides details not included in the biblical account. Eve retells the story of the Fall in greater detail, including the fact that God promised that Adam and Eve could be redeemed and would one day be resurrected and be able to finally partake of the fruit of the tree of life.We also find an account of Adam’s death, burial, and ascent into heaven. In the Latin version of The Life of Adam and Eve, we see the story of Adam and Eve’s repentance after the Fall, including a ritual somewhat similar to baptism, where they are required to stand in the rivers Tigris and Jordan for forty days. We also find here the explanation for why Satan decided to deceive Adam and Eve: he was outraged that he had been required by God to worship Adam as the image of God, and when he refused, he was cast out of heaven. As he begins to discuss later Christian and Rabbinic traditions, Toepel mentions that Christian authors saw Adam not only as king but also as prophet and priest. Some Christian writings depict Adam as wearing glorious and specifically priestly garments while he was living in the Garden of Eden. He discusses how Philo described Adam as the “chariot-driver” and “vice-regent” of God and how the animals (which may actually be a reference to the angels as created beings) worshipped Adam after his creation.
Eric Mason provides a broad survey of ancient Jewish texts that mention the figure of Melchizedek in “Melchizedek Traditions in Second Temple Judaism.” This is a great paper for anyone who wants a brief overview of almost everything that has been said about Melchizedek in all of ancient literature.Mason raises the point that whereas much of Jewish literature discusses Melchizedek using Genesis 14 and his meeting with Abraham as their source, the Qumran texts tend to use the mention of his name in Psalm 110:4 to depict him as a human high priest who has been exalted to sit at the right hand of God. Some texts may describe him as the leader of the angelic priesthood and as instrumental in the great battle of the last days. Divorah Dimant’s paper discusses how it is not hard to see why the author of Hebrews in the New Testament would have seen it appropriate to compare Melchizedek to Jesus Christ. Charles Gieschen, Daphna Arbel, and others likewise provide very informative discussions of the Melchizedek traditions, which should be of great interest for Latter-day Saint readers.
This review has been similar to picking at a smorgasbord of delicious tidbits rather than a full-course meal. Hopefully a taste of what this marvelous volume has to offer will be enough to entice Latter-day Saints readers to engage with the volume itself. Although this book presents complex material of the highest scholarly quality, I have no reluctance in recommending it to readers of any level who have an interest in learning more about ancient traditions regarding these early biblical figures.
Extrabiblical texts like 2 Enoch have much to offer anyone fascinated by the figures of Adam, Enoch, and Melchizedek. Because of their importance to the revelations of the Restoration, LDS readers will find here many details of particular interest. However, all people are free to consider how Joseph Smith, without access to these accounts, produced translations with so many striking convergences to these ancient texts.