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Cepher Chanoch: On the veracity of the Book of Enoch

We have elected to include the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch (also known as 1 Enoch) within the confines of the את CEPHER. While some historians have rejected Chanoch (Enoch) as heresy, Kepha Sheniy (2 Peter) 2:4-5 indicates that one of the believers in Chanoch (Enoch) was Kepha himself, for he states “. . . For if Elohiym spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to She’ol, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be watched unto the judgment of anguish; 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noach the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the wicked;. . .” The delivery into chains of darkness and the being watched unto the judgment of anguish is discussed primarily in the Cepher Chanoch (Enoch).

While the Ethiopian Bible – the earliest complete collection of  scripture in the world – has always contained both Chanoch (Enoch) and Yovheliym (Jubilees), the decision to include both of these books was made easier when ancient versions of Chanoch (Enoch) and (Jubilees) were found in Cave 4 at Qumran in a collection now referred to as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some fragments are disparate, yet the Ethiopian text comports with these fragments.

The formal name of the book within the את CEPHER is the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch (The Book of the Prophet Enoch), and this was known to early Christian writers as the following quote from Chanoch 2:1 indicates:

Yahudah (Jude) 14-15
And Chanoch also, the seventh (generation) from A’dam, prophesied of these, saying: “Behold, Yahuah comes with ten thousands of his qodeshiym, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are wicked among them of all their wicked deeds which they have wickedly committed, and of all their hard speeches which wicked sinners have spoken against him.”

The Epistle of Barnabas, young Origen, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian all considered 1 Enoch to be Scripture.

Tertullian wrote in Concerning The Genuineness Of The Prophecy Of Enoch; “I am aware that the Scripture of Enoch [Chanoch], which has assigned this order (of action) to angels, is not received by some, because it is not admitted into the Jewish canon either… But since Enoch in the same Scripture has preached likewise concerning the Lord [Mashiach], nothing at all must be rejected by us which pertains to us; and we read that 'every Scripture suitable for edification is divinely inspired.'… To these considerations is added the fact that Enoch possesses a testimony in the Apostle Jude.” [Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. S. Thelwall, vol. 4 (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 15.

The Cepher Chanoch is referenced in what is called the New Testament (Brit Chadashah) at least 40 times. Several of these are even direct quotations, though not directly attributed to Chanoch . In the Cepher Yahudah (Jude) 14-15, there is a direct quotation, attributed specifically to Enoch himself. Many concepts of Chanoch are found in the New Testament, such as the springs of living waters, Yochanon (John) 4:13-14 / Chanoch 49:1; the new heaven and new earth, Chizayon (Revelation) 21:1 / Chanoch 93:16-17; and several of the Beatitudes. Mattithyahu (Matthew) 5, Luqas (Luke) 6 / Chanoch 6:9, 96:8.

Further, there are substantial Messianic prophecies set out in Chanoch :

Chanoch (Enoch) 39:5-6
At that time my eyes beheld the dwelling of the elect, of truth, faith, and righteousness. 6 Countless shall be the number of the holy and the elect, in the presence of Elohiym forever and ever.

Chanoch (Enoch) 40:3-7
Then I heard the voices of those upon the four sides magnifying Yahuah of glory. 4 The first voice blessed Yahuah Tseva’oth forever and ever. 5 The second voice I heard blessing the Elect One, and the elect who suffer on account of Yahuah Tseva’oth. 6 The third voice I heard petitioning and praying for those who dwell upon earth and supplicate the name of Yahuah Tseva’oth. 7 The fourth voice I heard expelling the impious angels and prohibiting them from entering into the presence of Yahuah Tseva’oth, to accuse the inhabitants of the earth.

Chanoch (Enoch) 45:3-4
In that day shall the Elect One sit upon a throne of glory; and shall choose their conditions and countless habitations, while their ruachoth within them shall be strengthened, when they behold my Elect One, for those who have fled for protection to my holy and glorious name. 4 In that day I will cause my Elect One to dwell in the midst of them; will change heaven; will bless it and illuminate it forever.

Chanoch (Enoch) 49:1-4
Wisdom is poured forth like water, and glory fails not before him forever and ever; for potent is he in all the secrets of righteousness. 2 But iniquity passes away like a shadow and possesses not a fixed station: for the Elect One stands before Yahuah Tseva’oth; and his glory is forever and ever; and his power from generation to generation. 3 With him dwells the Ruach Da’ath v’Chokmah, (Spirit of knowledge and wisdom) the Ruach Ha’Torah (Spirit of Instruction) and Gevurah, (Spirit of Power) and the ruach of those who sleep in righteousness; he shall judge secret things. 4 Nor shall any be able to utter a single word before him; for the Elect One is in the presence of Yahuah Tseva’oth, ac-cording to his own pleasure.

Chanoch (Enoch) 51:1-3
In those days shall the earth deliver up from her womb, and She’ol deliver up from hers, that which it has received; and destruction shall restore that which it owes. 2 He shall select the righteous and holy from among them; for the day of their yeshu`ah (salvation) has approached. 3 And in those days shall the Elect One sit upon his throne, while every secret of intellectual wisdom shall proceed from his mouth, for Yahuah Tseva’oth has gifted and glorified him.

Chanoch (Enoch) 55:5
O you kings, O you mighty, who inhabit the world you shall behold my Elect One, sitting upon the throne of my glory. And he shall judge Aza’zel, all his associates, and all his hosts, in the name of Yahuah Tseva’oth.

Chanoch (Enoch) 61:8-12
Then they received the commandment, all in the heavens above; to whom a combined power, voice, and splendor, like fire, were given. 9 And first, with voice, they blessed him, they exalted him, they glorified him with wisdom, and ascribed to him wisdom with the word, and with the breath of life. 10 Then Yahuah Tseva’oth seated upon the throne of his glory the Elect One; 11 Who shall judge all the works of the holy, in heaven above, and in a balance shall he weigh their actions. And when he shall lift up his countenance to judge their secret ways in the word of the name of Yahuah Tseva’oth, and their progress in the path of the righteous judgment of El Elyon; 12 They shall all speak with united voice; and bless, glorify, exalt, and praise, in the name of Yahuah Tseva’oth.

Chanoch (Enoch) 62:1
Thus, Yahuah commanded the kings, the princes, the exalted, and those who dwell on earth, saying: Open your eyes, and lift up your horns, if you are capable of comprehending the Elect One.

Also see Cepher Chanoch (Book of Enoch) 46:1-3; 48:2; 62:9-10; 63:15, 69:38-41; 70:1; 71:17; 48:11; and 52:4.

In Daniy’el 12:9-10, the text refers to words that are sealed until the end of time:

Daniy’el (Daniel) 12:9-10
And he said, Go your way, Daniy’el: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

And the Cepher Chanoch (Enoch) is directed to this unsealing at the end.

Chanoch (Enoch) 1:1
The word of the blessing of Chanoch, how he blessed the elect and the righteous, who were to exist in the time of trouble; rejecting all the unrighteous and wicked. Chanoch, a righteous man, who with Elohiym, answered and spoke, while his eyes were open, and he saw a holy vision in the heavens.

In addition, Ezra Reviy`iy (2 Esdras, the text of which is contained within the enclosure of the את CEPHER) says the following about the number of Cepheriym:

Ezra Reviy`iy (4 Ezra/2 Esdras) 14:44-48
In forty days they wrote two hundred and four books. 45 And it came to pass, when the forty days were filled, that El Elyon spoke, saying, The first that you have written publish openly, that the worthy and unworthy may read it: 46 But keep the seventy last, that you may deliver them only to such as be wise among the people: 47 For in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the stream of knowledge. 48 And I did so.

Gradually, the term “apocrypha” – books reserved only unto the wise among the people – took on a pejorative connotation, as the orthodoxy of these hidden books was sometimes questioned. Origen (Comm. in Matt. 10.18; p. 13.881) distinguished between books that were to be read in public worship and apocryphal books. Because these secret books were often preserved for use within the esoteric circles of the elite believers, many of the “unenlightened” church Fathers found themselves outside the realm of understanding, and therefore came to apply the term “apocryphal” to what they claimed to be heretical works, and therefore forbidden to be read.

In the Protestant world, “the Apocrypha” designated 15 works, all but one of which were Hebraic in origin and mostly found in the Septuagint (that is, the Greek translation of Ivriyt (Hebrew) and Aramaic texts by “the seventy”). There is a claim that parts of 2 Esdras are Christian or Latin in origin, and that 4 Maccabees was post-dated. Although some of them were composed in the Levant in Aramaic or Ivriyt, they were not accepted into the Jewish canon (Tanakh) formed late in the 2nd century A.D. (Canonicity, 67:31-35). The Reformers, influenced by the Jewish canon of the Old Testament, did not consider these books on par with the rest of the Scriptures. Thus the custom arose of making the Apocrypha a separate section in the Protestant Bible, or sometimes even omitting them entirely (Canonicity, 67:44-46). The Catholic view, expressed as a doctrine of faith at the Council of Trent, is that 12 of these 15 works (in a different enumeration, however) are canonical Scripture. They are called the Deuterocanonical Books (Canonicity, 67:21, 42-43). Many of the books were excluded due to discrepancies with the formulation of the Talmudic calendar, a calendar which established a new year in the fall, rather than in the spring as required in the Torah. Further, the Council of Trent did not have the benefit of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The books of the Protestant Apocrypha that are not accepted by Catholics are 3-4 Ezra (1-2 Esdras), the Prayer of Menashsheh, and 3-4 Makkabiym (Maccabees).

The Protestant Apocrypha excludes also Chanoch, Yovheliym and Yashar. The theme of the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch dealing with the nature and deeds of the fallen angels so infuriated the later church fathers that one, Filastrius, actually condemned it openly as heresy (Filastrius, Liber de Haeresibus, no. 108). Nor did the rabbis deign to give credence to the book's teaching about angels. Rabbi Shim`on ben Jochai in the second century A.D. pronounced a curse upon those who believed it (Delitzsch, p. 223). So, the book was denounced, banned, cursed, burned and destroyed - and last but not least, lost (and conveniently forgotten) for a thousand years. But with an uncanny persistence, the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch found its way back into circulation two centuries ago.

In 1773, rumors of a surviving copy of the book drew Scottish explorer James Bruce to Ethiopia. True to hearsay, the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch had been preserved by the Ethiopic church, which put it right alongside the other books of the Bible. Bruce secured not one, but three Ethiopic copies of the book and brought them back to Europe and Britain. When in 1821 Dr. Richard Laurence, an Ivriyt (Hebrew) professor at Oxford, produced the first English translation of the work, the modern world gained its first glimpse of the forbidden mysteries of Chanoch. Many scholars say that the present form of the story in the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch was penned sometime during the second century B.C. and was popular for at least five hundred years. The earliest Ethiopic text was apparently made from a Greek manuscript of the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch, which itself was a copy of an earlier text.

It is believed, however, that the original was written in a Semitic language (possibly Paleo-Ivriyt). The Laurence text is the underlying text within the את CEPHER, with comparative interlineations from both the Charles and the Knibb editions, we believe the Laurence version to be the most literal.

Though it was once believed to be post-Christian (the similarities to Christian terminology and teaching are striking), recent discoveries of fragments of the book among the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran prove that the book was in existence before the time of Yahusha Ha’Mashiach. But the date of the original writing upon which the second century B.C. Qumran copies were based is shrouded in obscurity. It is, in a word, old. Some historians claim that the book does not really contain the authentic words of the ancient biblical patriarch Chanoch, since he would have lived (based on the chronologies in the Cepher Bere’shiyth (Book of Genesis) several thousand years earlier than the first known appearance of the book attributed to him. Such a conclusion would render the book pseudepigraphal – that is, of a pseudo epigraph (which means attribution to an author not actually writing the book). However, this same conclusion can be applied to all of the works of Mosheh.

Despite its unknown origins, many followers of Yahusha once accepted the words of this Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch as authentic Scripture, especially the part about the fallen angels and their prophesied judgment. In fact, many of the key concepts used by Yahusha himself seem directly connected to terms and ideas in the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch. Thus, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Yahusha had not only knowledge of the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch, but also respected it highly enough to adopt and elaborate on its specific descriptions of the coming Kingdom and its theme of inevitable judgment descending upon “the wicked” - the term often used in the Old Testament to describe the Watchers.

There is abundant proof that Yahusha approved of the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch. Over one hundred phrases in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) find precedent in the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch. Another remarkable bit of evidence for the early followers of Yahusha’s acceptance of the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch is found in an accurate translation of Luke 9:35, describing the transfiguration of Messiah: And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved son: hear him.” Apparently, the translator here wished to make this verse agree with a similar verse in Matthew and Mark. But Luke's verse in the original Greek uses the phrase “ho eklelegmenos”, which means, literally, “the elect one”: Hence, we have set forth the verse as: This is my yachiyd, the Elect One; hear him. The “Elect One” is a most significant term (found fourteen times) in the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch. If the cepher was indeed known to the apostles of Ha’Mashiach, with its abundant descriptions of the Elect One who should “sit upon the throne of glory” and the Elect One who should “dwell in the midst of them,” then great scriptural authenticity is accorded to the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch when the “voice out of the cloud” tells the apostles, “This is my yachiyd, the Elect One” - the one promised in the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch.

The Cepher Yahudah (Jude) makes mention in verse 14 that Chanoch, the seventh from A’dam, prophesied. Yahudah makes reference in verse 15 of chapter 2, verse 1 of the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch (2:1), where he writes, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are wicked. The time difference between Chanoch and Yahudah is approximately 3400 years. Therefore, Yahudah’s reference to the Chanochian prophecies gives credence to the idea that these written prophecies were available to him at that time.

The number of fragments of Chanoch manuscripts were also found among the Dead Sea Scrolls were ten. The famous scrolls actually comprise only one part of the total findings at Qumran. Much of the rest was Chanochian literature, copies of the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch, and other apocryphal works in the Chanochian tradition, such as the Cepher Yovheliym (Book of Jubilees).

The Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch was also used by writers of other apocryphal texts. The Chanochian story of the Watchers, is also referenced in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and the Cepher Yovheliym (Jubilees). An oblique reference appears in the Cepher Baruk Sheniy (2 Baruch).

The Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch was in existence centuries before the birth of Ha’Mashiach and yet is considered by many to be more Messianic in its theology than Jewish. It was considered Scripture by many early followers of Messiah. The earliest literature of the “church fathers” is filled with references to this mysterious cepher. Second and third century “church fathers” like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen, and Clement of Alexandria all made use of the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch. Tertullian (160-230 A.D.) called the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch “Holy Scripture.” The Ethiopic Church added the Cepher of the Prophet Chanoch to its official canon. It was widely known and read in the first three centuries after Ha’Mashiach.



For further reading...

What is Canonization?

Canonicity: The Septuagint – Part 1

Canonicity: The Ethiopic Bible – Part 2

Canonicity: The Synod of Jamnia – Part 3

Canonicity: The Council of Nicea – Part 4

Canonicity: The Council of Laodicea – Part 5

Qs and As on the Cepher Chanoch (Book of Enoch)

The Cepher of Chanoch (Book of Enoch) - its structure

The Cepher of Chanoch (Book of Enoch) - its credibility

Cepher Chanoch: Understanding the Book of Enoch


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