The book of Enoch belongs to the so-called Pseudepigrapha books and was apparently written during the first century B.C.–even though some claim that it was written before then.
The term Pseudepigrapha was given to Jewish writings, which were attributed to authors who did not actually write them, but who misappropriated the names of famous people by pretending that they were the authors of those writings. Known “Pseudepigrapha books” include “the Apocalypse of Abraham,” which was probably written in the second century A.D.; “the Apocalypse of Adam,” which was perhaps written in the first or second century A.D.; the “Fourth Book of Ezra (2 Esdras),” which was probably written between 95 and 100 A.D.; and “the Testament of Moses” (or, “Assumption of Moses”), which was written in the first century A.D.
The Pseudepigrapha books also include the Book of Enoch, which is a compendium of four or five Jewish apocalypses, all of which were composed before the destruction of the Second Temple. The book of Enoch is now usually designated as I Enoch, to distinguish it from the later II Enoch, or the “Secrets of Enoch.” The book of Enoch was written by many different writers in different time periods. The whole book is found only in an Ethiopic language, but parts of it have been discovered in Greek and in Aramaic.
In addition, the Pseudepigrapha books include the book of the Secrets of Enoch (2 Enoch or Slavonic Enoch), which is a Jewish apocalypse from the time before the destruction of the Temple. Closely connected to it is the Books of Giants, a writing allegedly associated with Enoch, relating the deeds of the giants who were born by the daughters of men (descendants of Cain) to the sons of God (descendants of Seth, compare our Q&A on Genesis 6:1-4). It is known from fragments found at Qumran and was written before 100 B.C.
In a previous Q&A, we discussed the reasons why the Apocrypha are not to be considered as inspired. Similar reasons exist for the Pseudepigrapha books, including the book of Enoch. In addition, unlike the Apocrypha which are, to an extent, considered as inspired by the Catholic Church, none of the Pseudepigrapha books are considered inspired by either Protestants or Catholics.
From the evidence provided by the Dead Sea Scrolls, we see that this religious Jewish community located at Qumran had writings that included much of the Old Testament. However, other nonbiblical books were also discovered, and this included 1 Enoch along with Tobit, Ecclesiasticus and Baruch 6.
The book of Enoch was quoted in the apocryphal book of Baruch, and in several early writings, including the “epistle of Barnabas,” as well as by Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria. Some have speculated that Jude 14-15 is a quote from the book of Enoch and concluded that Jude regarded Enoch as inspired Scripture. The following two quotes compare Jude 14-15 to the suspected passage in the book of Enoch:
Jude 14-15 reads: “… Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Enoch 1:9 reads: “. . . Behold he comes with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon them, and destroy the wicked, and reprove all of flesh for every thing which the sinful and ungodly have done, and committed against him.”
Even though both passages are close, they are not identical. Jude says that God will “convict” all of the ungodly, but Enoch says that they will be “destroyed.” The rest of the two passages disagree in wording in minor ways.
Therefore, it is not compelling to conclude that Jude quoted from the book of Enoch. Even if he did, he would not have been particularly careful in quoting it verbatim. But apart from the inconsistencies between the letter of Jude and the book of Enoch, and assuming that Jude had quoted from the book of Enoch, this still does not mean that he felt that the entire book had to be inspired.
For an example, Paul quoted a Cretan prophet (whom scholars have identified as Epimenides) in Titus 1:12, but that does not mean that Paul considered the writings of that prophet as godly inspired, or that we should give any additional authority to his writings. Other New Testament quotations from, or allusions to, non-Biblical works include Paul’s quotations of some Greek poets in Acts 17:28 (one of those poets has been identified as Aratus).
In fact, both the Old and the New Testament mention quite a number of books which were not preserved, but which were known to the particular biblical author at the time of his writing. It is obvious that God did not see fit to preserve those books, and they never became part of the canonized Holy Scriptures.
For instance, Numbers 21:14-15 mentions “the Book of the Wars of the Lord.” Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18 refer to and quote from the “Book of Jasher.” 1 Kings 11:41 refers to the “book of the acts of Solomon.” 1 Chronicles 29:29 refers to the “book of Samuel the seer,” “the book of Nathan the prophet,” and “the book of Gad the seer.” 2 Chronicles 12:15 refers to “the book of Shemaiah the prophet” and of “Iddo the seer.” The “book of Jehu the son of Hanani” is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 20:34.
We can deduce from 1 Corinthians 5:9 that Paul wrote another letter to the Corinthians which was not preserved. There is also a reference by Paul to a letter which the Corinthians wrote to him, which is likewise not preserved (compare 1 Corinthians 7:1). Paul makes reference in Colossians 4:16 to an unpreserved “epistle from Laodicea,” which he even instructed the Church at Colossae to read. Luke makes reference to “many” who wrote down events pertaining to the life of Jesus (Luke 1:1-4).
The fact that reference is made in Scripture to some other book or a statement within another book does not mean that those writings were inspired. The same is true for Jude 14. Assuming that Jude quoted from Enoch 1:9, then this still does not indicate that he thought the entire book was inspired or true. All it means is that the particular quoted verse was true.
It is more likely, however, that Jude did not even quote from the book of Enoch. No scholar believes that the book of Enoch was written by the Enoch in the Bible. But it is obvious that the words of Enoch, as quoted by Jude, were something that the true Enoch prophesied. Jude related the prophecy of Enoch, as it had been preserved orally. Notice that Jude introduces Enoch’s words as follows, in verse 14: “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, SAYING…'” This introduction is then followed by the exact wording of Enoch’s oral prophecy, as quoted in verses 14 and 15.
Note, too, that Jude is not even referring to the book of Enoch in the context. He is just making the point that Enoch had made an oral prophecy, under godly inspiration. That one of the authors of the book of Enoch wrote down the substance of Enoch’s prophecy (even though with slight changes) does not render the book of Enoch inspired.
Consider the additional fact that Moses is quoted in Deuteronomy 33:2, using a similar statement as that of Jude: “‘…The LORD came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousands of saints; From His right hand Came a fiery law for them.'”
While this quote does not reference Enoch, it does verify the same truth of what Jude wrote about.
We can safely say, then, that the Pseudepigrapha books, including the book of Enoch, are NOT inspired writings.
As is the case with the Apocrypha, the Jews never considered any of the Pseudepigrapha books inspired. And as we have pointed out in previous Q&A’s, God entrusted the Jews with preserving the “oracles of God,” including the INSPIRED Old Testament writings. In addition, many parts of the Pseudepigrapha contain heresies condemned in the Old Testament. Especially the book of Enoch preaches falsehood and doctrinal error; for instance, that allegedly angels married humans, and that the giants became evil spirits dwelling on earth (Book of Enoch, chapter 15, verses 8-10). Compare for more information Norbert Link’s sermon, titled, “When the Sons of God Saw the Daughters of Men…”
The Pseudepigrapha books also abound in even more historical errors than the Apocrypha.
Finally, the book of Enoch was never referred to by Jesus or any of the New Testament writers as Scripture, and the book was not included in the New Testament by the apostles. As we explained in a prior Q&A, the apostles Paul, Peter and John canonized the New Testament Scriptures, but the book of Enoch was not one of those books.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link