The Book of Luminaries and the Book of Dreams

The last three portions of the Book of Enoch, the last three material elements which have been incorporated into the text of 1 Enoch, are considerably shorter than the first two which most likely represent the most ancient traditions.  These three sections are called the Book of Luminaries, the Book of Dreams, and the Epistle of Enoch respectively.  These three sections also represent more diverse elements in regard to their teachings.  The Book of the Watchers and the Book of Parables (including the Book of Noah) represent apocalyptic traditions both protological, in describing the origin of evil, and eschatological, in describing its final destiny.  These apocalyptic traditions became formative for Jewish communities in Ethiopia, Egypt, and even in Palestine (such as Qumran).  These latter portions of the Book of Enoch, then, represent reflections of those communities upon the history of Israel and their place in it as well as the ordering of their communities.  Enochic literature historically produced such prophetic communities with features that would be incorporated into later Christian monastic traditions, not coincidentally beginning in some of the same regions of the world.  As has already been seen, several New Testament texts, including St. Matthew’s Gospel and the General Epistles, are grounded more deeply in Enochic Judaism than the Torah-based Judaism of the Pharisees which would evolve into Rabbinic Judaism centuries later.

The Book of Luminaries currently constitutes chapters 72-82 of 1 Enoch.  The primary purpose of this material is to layout the basis of the Enochic calendar.  Ultimately, this is a 364-day solar calendar, divided into four quarters of three 30 day months with a single day inserted between the quarters.  Enoch is granted a vision of the heavenly host, the sun, moon, and stars, and their paths through the heavens during the various quarters, or seasons, of the year.  The conception of these members of the heavenly host as beings traveling in chariots is consonant with the general Second Temple view of the sun, moon, and stars.  These angelic beings are tasked with two things, participation in God’s governance of creation (Gen 1:16; Ps 136:8), and communicating on behalf of God, in particular regarding times and seasons (Gen 1:14; Ps 104:19).

After a detailed accounting of dates and seasons, laying out the calendar in prose, the Archangel Uriel makes an application of what might otherwise be merely an obscurantist curiosity of ancient timekeeping (1 Enoch 80-81).  The movements of the sun, moon, and stars are described repeatedly as following Divine ‘laws’.  Their regularity and obedience are perfect.  This is placed in contrast to the way in which humanity conducts itself vis a vis the law of God.  It speaks not only of certain stars that will transgress their laws and be cast out of heaven to the earth as well as those who dwell upon the earth who are disobedient (81:3-4).  To sin is therefore to separate one’s self from the order of God’s creation.  The way in which the will of God is obeyed in heaven is contrasted with the state of disobedience on earth, with these very angelic beings recording all the deeds of men on heavenly tablets or in heavenly books (81:1-4; cf. Rev. 20:12).

The Book of Luminaries concludes with Enoch delivering the books containing his visions to Methuselah to be preserved for posterity (81:5-82:3).  This is connective tissue likely intended to splice the contents of the Book of Luminaries into the larger whole.  The following section of First Enoch is the Book of Dreams.  Now chapters 83-90 of the Book of Enoch, the Book of Dreams consists of Enoch relating a series of his visions to Methuselah, his descendant, causing the introduction of Methuselah at the end of the Book of Luminaries to serve as a segue.

Enoch’s first dream vision is related in chapters 83 and 84.  In it, Enoch sees a vision of the coming flood and the destruction of all flesh for its wickedness.  Enoch says that he had this dream as a youth, and told it immediately to his grandfather Malalel.  In response to the dream, Enoch goes out and prays to the Lord of Glory (cf. 1 Cor 2:8; James 2:1), that he will spare for himself a righteous remnant upon the earth (1 Enoch 83:8).  This vision brings the flood story into the narrative of the righteous preserved remnant flowing through St. Elias’ doubts, the Old Testament prophets, and eventually into the ministry of St. John the Forerunner and St. Paul’s understanding of Israel.  Further, Enoch here directly connects the remnant with the faithful angelic host and the wicked with those who have fallen into sin, incorporating spiritual warfare into the wrath of the flood (83:11; 84:4-6).

The greater body of the Book of Dreams consists of what is known as the Animal Apocalypse.  This is not some sort of massacre of animal life, but rather an apocalyptic vision that depicts the history of the world from beginning to end in the form of the interactions of a variety of animals both wild and domestic.  As with most apocalyptic literature, the intent here is not merely to tell the history of the world by means of an allegorical fable, but to bring together both the reality of material history and happenings within the spiritual realm in one narrative.  Particularly within apocalyptic literature, history is not seen as a chain of earthly cause and effect occasionally interrupted by divine intervention.  Rather, the chain of cause and effect ripples through both the visible and invisible realms with each affecting the other and beings crossing over from one to the other in regular interactions.

Enoch relates this vision, the Animal Apocalypse, to his son Methuselah as well.  It begins with a bull who comes out of the ground and a heifer who also “comes out” clearly intended to represent Adam and Eve.  Their sons and descendants are then described, also as bulls, including Enoch himself (1 Enoch 85:3-10).  It is at this time that Enoch beholds a star fall from heaven (86:1), connecting the fall of the devil to events surrounding Adam and Eve and the expulsion from Paradise.  This star lays hold of Cain, the black bull, and begins to operate through him (v. 2; cf. 1 John 3:12).  Shortly thereafter, he sees many stars fall to earth and begin to, in rather graphic fashion impregnate various heifers (1 Enoch 86:3-4).  The cows so impregnated give birth to all manner of wild, bloodthirsty beasts.  This clearly represents the fall of the Watchers and the beginning of the Nephilim.  The third fall of man is described later when God entrusts the wild animals representing the 70 nations to 70 shepherds with the command that their deeds in shepherding them will be recorded for later judgment (89:59-60; cf. Deut 32:8).

All of the humans before the flood are described as bulls, likely connected to the symbolism of Behemoth described previously.  Adam and Eve were created as beings both spiritual and earthly and despite the fall into sin, their spiritual nature lingers as expressed by greatly extended lifespans described in the genealogies of Genesis before the flood.  One exception of this is Noah, who is born as a bull but becomes a man (1 Enoch 89:1).  More will be said about the special nature of Noah in Enochic literature in the next posting regarding the Epistle of Enoch, 1 Enoch’s final portion.

The fallen angels are punished by the seven archangels and the flood comes destroying wicked humanity and the Nephilim (88:3-89:8).  From the bulls of Noah’s sons, the nations are born (v. 10).  Shem begets another white bull, representing Abraham, but Abraham is the last bull described in the descent of man in the Animal Apocalypse (89:10).  Abraham, this last and unique white bull, represents the last of the type of man begun with Adam, carried through the line of Seth, ending with Noah and Shem.  His son Isaac is a white calf who gives birth to a wild boar and a white sheep, representing Edom and Israel respectively (v. 12).  From this point forward in the narrative, Israel and all of his descendants are depicted as sheep, over against the wild beasts of the nations, many of them predatory or scavengers.  God is presented from this point forward in the narrative as the Lord of the sheep, i.e. the God of Israel (cf. Heb 13:20).  The identity of the remnant of Israel as ‘sheep’ is a recurring theme through the Gospels (cf. Matt 9:36; 10:6; 15:24; 25:32-33; 26:31; John 10:1-16; 26-27; 21:16-17).

The Egyptians, within the narrative of the Animal Apocalypse, are portrayed as wolves, among whom the sheep were sent to pasture by the Lord.  Despite the responsibility of the shepherd of Egypt and thereby the Egyptians to protect the sheep, they turned and preyed upon them (1 Enoch 89:13-15; cf. Matt 7:15; 10:16).    Moses is here presented as one of the sheep (1 Enoch 89:16ff.).  While subtle, the emphasis on demoting Moses and thereby the Torah as definitive for faith and life within Enochic literature is reflected here.  Previous figures up to Abraham and even by extension Isaac are bulls.  David and his descendants will be rams.  Moses, and Aaron for that matter, are simply sheep like the others.  It is the Lord himself who delivers the sheep out of Egypt.

Beginning with the sin involving the golden calf and continuing through the rest of the narrative, many of the sheep are blinded (1 Enoch 89:33).  The language is important.  These are not blind sheep, as if they were born blind, but sheep which, due to their wickedness and rebellion, have been blinded.  Their blindness is not a fault of their creation but a punishment brought about by hard-heartedness (cf. Matt 12:22; 15:14; 23:16-26; John 9:39-41; 12:40).

As already mentioned, as the history of Israel continues to unfold, first Saul and then David appear as rams (1 Enoch 89:42-48).  Solomon, another ram, builds the temple which is described as a low house and a high tower.  The purpose of the house is sacrifice, which is here described as a wide table being spread before the Lord of the sheep.  Sacrifice, then, is understood to be the Lord feeding his sheep (v. 50).  St. Elias, the prophet Elijah, is a sheep whom the other sheep attempt to kill before he is brought up to Enoch in heaven to dwell with him there, connecting these two figures (v. 52).  As the northern and southern kingdoms are judged, Enoch is portrayed as being in heaven and interceding through prayer for the sheep below that the Lord would have mercy on them (v. 57).  The sheep are sent into exile, given over to the shepherds of the nations who give them over, each in turn as the empires succeed one another, to be devoured (v. 68).  The temple is destroyed (v. 66-67).  The rebuilding of the temple under Ezra and Nehemiah is described, but here the second temple is clearly rejected as unclean, another emphasis of the Enochic literature (v. 72-73).  The blinding and deafening of the sheep is continuous and ongoing until it produces a latter-day generation that is utterly unable to see and hear the Lord of the sheep (90:7).

The Animal Apocalypse ends on a note of eschatological promise, despite the wickedness of the deaf and blind sheep and the swarming beasts of the nations feeding upon the few innocent lambs.  Finally, the man charged with recording the deeds of the shepherds reveals their deeds at the last day to the Lord of the sheep and in response, he rends heaven and earth (90:17-18).  All of the books are opened and judgment ensues, facilitated by the seven archangels.  First, the devil is judged (v. 21).  Then the other stars who fell, the Watchers are judged (v. 24).  Then the 70 shepherds of the nations are judged (v. 22-23, 25; cf. Ps 82).  All of those judged are thrown into an abyss of fire.  Once the wicked spiritual powers have been judged, the blind sheep who refused to see and hear through wickedness receive the same fate (1 Enoch 90:26-27; cf. Rev 20:9-15).

Two images follow of the coming Messiah.  The first is of a new temple, the second temple having been discarded as unclean.  This temple builds from the symbolism of the promised temple of Ezekiel but associates it clearly with the Messianic age (90:29-36).  Importantly, this house is filled not only with the righteous sheep but also with all manner of wild animals and birds from the other nations (v. 33).  Coming into the house restores their sight (v. 35).  These are not the animals that were perfect, but the ones who did not persist in hardening themselves and so were healed.  Those within this new house are then transformed.  They are transformed because the Messiah is born among them, the greatest and most powerful white bull who is worshipped by all (v. 37).  His being born among them transforms them from sheep into white bulls themselves, like Adam and Eve, and the other humans of old (v. 38).  Five hundred years before St. Athanasius, before the birth of Christ, Enoch’s vision here anticipates the understanding that the incarnation of Son of Man will restore and transform the human race in his image.

Enoch then awakes from his dream and glorified the Lord of righteousness for this second vision, then weeps at the memory of his first and the destruction of the flood (v. 39-42).  The next post will discuss the final portion of the book, the Epistle of Enoch.

3 comments:

  1. question: In regards to “the wild animals representing the 70 nations to 70 shepherds with the command that their deeds in shepherding them will be recorded for later judgment (89:59-60; cf. Deut 32:8).” Are these shepherds the sons uv God, that is the angels? And was this prior to their transgressing and taking human women as wives? And if so, then were they replaced with faithful servants or are the fallen still presiding over the 70 nations (or what the nations have morphed into)?
    I really appreciate and find very edifying your luminating the Scriptures and how thorouuly you do so is wonderful. God bless! And keep up the great work!
    Here’s something edifying to give back to you which I discovered in translating John 8:15 which is rendered such as “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.”

    I found that’s not what He said by looking into the the two words that make the compound word translated as “no one, nothing”. Here’s my translation: You judge according to the flesh [which] I not judge no thing but if judge also I, my judgment is true because not alone am but I and the sending me Father.

  2. P.S. somehow the transmission cut-out what I had put in my translation between “greater than” and “lesser than” marks. Here’s what was lost in transmission regarding “no thing” / not so as to be / uv no value. found in A Greek-English Lexicon to the New Testament, with Additions and Alterations, Revised by T S Green by William Greenfield.

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