2 Enoch

The Second Book of Enoch is an apocalyptic text, describing the ascent of the patriarch Enoch, an ancestor of Noah, through ten heavens of an earth-centered cosmos.  2 Enoch is distinct from 1 Enoch, and there is also an unrelated 3 Enoch.  The cosmology of 2 Enoch corresponds closely with beliefs about the ancient metaphysical structure of the universe.  Some scholars attribute 2 Enoch to an unidentified Jewish sect, while others regard it as the work of some first-century Jewish-Christians, but it is not included in either the Jewish or the Christian biblical canons.  Thus, 2 Enoch’s composition must be later than that of 1 Enoch. Scholarly efforts have indicated that the Temple was still standing in Jerusalem when this book was written, since there was no indication of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple.  In fact, 2 Enoch emphasized the importance of sacrificial practices and pilgrimages to this Temple itself.  2 Enoch is also known as “The Book of the Secrets of Enoch”, with its many descriptions of multiple heavens and accounts of battles between angels and devils.  In the first section (chapters 1–22), Enoch, at the age of 365, is taken by two angels through the ten heavens, one by one.  The first heaven is just above the firmament.  The second heaven is where the fallen angels are in prison.  The third heaven is the Garden of Eden.  The fourth heaven is the place of the movements of the sun and the moon.  The fifth heaven is where soldiers of Satan look like human giants.  In the sixth heaven, he sees the angels in charge of governing the cosmos and people.  In the seventh heaven is where the Lord is on his throne.  The eighth heaven is just below the upper firmament in the sky with the constellations.  The ninth heaven is where the change of seasons come from.  The tenth and final heaven is where God’s throne resides and people see God face to face.  In the second section (chapters 23–37), Enoch, now guided by Gabriel, speaks with God in the tenth heaven face to face.  The third section (chapters 38–68) is a list of doctrinal and ethical instructions given by Enoch to his sons.  The last section (chapters 69-73), is sometimes referred to as the Exaltation of Melchizedek.  Thus, some have seen a connection between the Book of Hebrews, chapters 6-8, and this work.  The theological universe of 2 Enoch is deeply rooted in the Jewish Apocalyptic literature of the Second Temple period.  What do you know about apocalyptic literature?


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