3 Enoch

The Third Book of Enoch is another biblical apocryphal book, whose origins can only be traced to the fifth century CE.  3 Enoch was supposedly written by Rabbi Ishmael, a leading figure of Merkabah mysticism, who lived after the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  Hugo Odeberg (1898-1973) edited a critical edition of this work in 1928, 3 Enoch, or the Hebrew Book of Enoch.  Some of the same ideas that there were in 1 Enoch appeared here in 3 Enoch.  Enoch went to heaven in a chariot, was transformed into an angel, and was enthroned in heaven, as well as receiving some cosmological secrets about creation.  The main themes running through 3 Enoch were the ascension of Enoch into heaven and his transformation into the angel Metatron.  This Enoch, whose flesh was turned to flames, his veins to fire, his eye-lashes to flashes of lightning, his eye-balls to flaming torches, received a heavenly transformation into Metatron.  It is impossible to reach a very firm conclusion as to the date of 3 Enoch.  The main problem is the literary character of the work, since it is not the product of a single author at a particular point in time.  This work appears to be from a community tradition which incorporated elements from widely different periods.  Certain rough chronological limits can be established.  3 Enoch can hardly have been written later than the tenth century CE.  This work drew some of its materials from the Babylonian Talmud, so that its final redaction can hardly be earlier than the fifth century CE.  Many of 3 Enoch’s ideas about Metatron and about the heavenly world were known in magical circles in the sixth and seventh centuries CE.  Even though 3 Enoch contains some very old traditions and stands in direct line with developments which had already begun in the Maccabean era, a date for its final redaction in the fifth or the sixth century CE seems appropriate.  Thus, it was probably written after the New Testament but before or during the time of the Quran.  Did you ever think that Enoch was this important?

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