The Glossary of Terms



Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms,, or

Enoch, seventh patriarch from creation in Gen. 5:18-24; he was the son of Jared and the father of Methuselah. He lived 365 years, walked with God, and God took him (Elohim, the Heb. word usually rendered as ‘God’ may, in the first instance, be more appropriately translated as ‘angels’). The figure is modeled in part on ancient Mesopotamian heroes, especially Enmeduranki, the seventh king. In the Hellenistic age (300 b.c.-a.d. 300) a corpus of apocalyptic writings was attributed to Enoch (1 Enoch, 2 Enoch). In later Jewish mysticism he was identified with Metatron, the ‘Little Yahweh,’ or angel closest to God himself.

The New Bible Dictionary

(Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1962)


1. Son of Cain (Gn. 4:17) after whom a city was named.

2. Son of Jared and father of Methuselah (Gn. 5:18, 21). Enoch was a man of outstanding sanctity who enjoyed close fellowship with God (Gn. 5:22, 24: for the expression ‘walked with God’, cf. Gn. 6:9; Mi. 6:8; Mal. 2:6). Like Elijah (2 Ki. 2:11), he was received into the presence of God without dying (Gn. 5:24).

It is probable that the language of Pss. 49:15; 73:24 reflects the story of Enoch. In that case the example of Enoch’s assumption played a part in the origin of Jewish hope for life with God beyond death. (In the Apocrypha, Wisdom 4:10-14 also treats Enoch as the outstanding example of the righteous man’s hope of eternal life.)
In the NT, Heb. 11:5f. attributes Enoch’s assumption to his faith; the expression ‘pleased God’ is the lxx translation of ‘walked with God’ (Gn. 5:24). Jude 14f. quotes a prophecy attributed to Enoch in 1 Enoch 1:9.

In the intertestamental period Enoch became a popular figure: see Ecclus. 44:16; 49:14, 16 (Heb.); Jubilees 4:14-26; 10:17; and 1 Enoch. Probably the legend of Enoch was elaborated in the Babylonian diaspora as a counterpart to the antediluvian sages of Mesopotamian legend. So Enoch became the initiator of the art of writing and the first wise man, who received heavenly revelations of the secrets of the universe and transmitted them in writing to later generations.

In the earlier tradition his scientific wisdom is prominent, acquired on journeys through the heavens with angelic guides, and including astronomical, cosmographical and meteorological lore, as well as the solar calendar used at Qumran. He was also God’s prophet against the fallen angels. Later tradition (2nd century bc) emphasizes his ethical teaching and especially his apocalyptic revelations of the course of world history down to the last judgment. In the Similitudes (1 Enoch 37-71) he is identified with the Messianic Son of man (71:14-17), and some later Jewish traditions identified him with the nearly divine figure Metatron (Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan, Gn. 5:24; 3 Enoch). Early Christian apocalyptic writings frequently expect his return to earth with Elijah before the End.

1 Enoch (Ethiopic Enoch) is among the most important intertestamental works. The complete text survives only in Ethiopic, but sections are extant in Greek and important fragments of the original Aramaic are now available from Qumran. 1 Enoch comprises five books: the Book of Watchers (1-36), the Similitudes (37-71), the Astronomical Book (72-82), the Book of Dreams (83-90) and the Epistle of Enoch (91-105). The Qumran mss include fragments of all these except the Similitudes, which are therefore now generally dated no earlier than the 1st century ad. Also from Qumran there are fragments of a hitherto almost unknown Book of Giants, which was probably the original fifth book of the Enoch Pentateuch, for which the Similitudes were later substituted.

The Qumran mss help clarify the dates of these works. The oldest sections are the Astronomical Book and 6-19: these date from no later than the beginning of the 2nd century bc and may be as early as the 5th century. The Book of Watchers (incorporating 6-19) cannot be later than the mid-1st and is probably from the mid-3rd century bc. The Book of Dreams is from 165 or 164 bc. The Epistle of Enoch and Book of Giants may date from the end of the 2nd century bc.

Other works under the name of Enoch are from the Christian era. The Similitudes (1 Enoch 37-71) (important as perhaps illustrating the background to the use of ‘Son of man’ in the Gospels) seem to be a Jewish work, though some argue for Christian origin. 3 Enoch (Hebrew Enoch) is a Jewish work of disputed date. 2 Enoch (Slavonic Enoch) is a late Christian work which may incorporate Jewish material.

Bibliography. R. H. Charles, The Book of Enoch, 1912; P. Grelot, Recherches de Science Religieuse 46, 1958, pp. 5-26, 181-210; J. T. Milik, The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments from Qumrân Cave 4, 1976.

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Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer
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