Revision: January 18, 2019

The Dead Sea Scrolls Reveal the Transmission Path for
The Book of Enoch

Read: The Book of Enoch
Messianic Prophecy Edition


“Time-Capsule to the Last Generation”

Among the revelations to come out of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery of the mid-20th century, was the vindication of the Ethiopic version of the Book of Enoch. Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found a legitimate air of suspicion hung over Ethiopic Enoch. The unanswered question was whether the Ethiopians had been faithful to preserve the Book of Enoch. In other words, was the Book of Enoch of the Ethiopians the same book quoted by Jude, and the Apostles, or had it been significantly altered? We now know the answer to this question. From the many fragments of Aramaic Enoch found in the Dead Sea Scrolls scholars have determined that Ethiopic Enoch is an essentially faithful, formal translation of the book.

Since that has now been established, there is yet another astounding revelation that rises from these now famous, incredibly fragmentary remnants of parchment and paper from the Judean desert... we can now piece together the preservation and transmission path of the Book of Enoch from its most ancient times!

The reader should remember that the first two verses of the Book of Enoch contain the incredible prophecy that the Book of Enoch would indeed survive until the end of the age, "The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and righteous, who will be living in the day of tribulation,a when all the wicked and godless are to be removed. 2And he took up his parable and said- Enoch a righteous man, whose eyes were opened by God, saw the vision of the Holy One in the heavens, which the angels showed me,b and from them I heard everything, and from them I understood as I saw, but not for this generation,c but for a remote one which is for to come". (Enoch 1:1-2) In the light of this verse, it is truly outstanding to note there was an attempt in history to destroy all copies of the book, once it fell into disfavor in Christendom.

Since that has now been established, there is yet another astounding revelation that rises from these now famous, incredibly fragmentary remnants of parchment and paper from the Judean desert... we can now piece together the preservation and transmission path of the Book of Enoch from its most ancient times!

Ethiopic Enoch

From the Book of Enoch itself, there is abundant mention of Enoch's son Methuselah being entrusted with Enoch's oracles... "And now, my son Methuselah, all these things I am recounting to thee and writing down for thee, and I have revealed to thee everything, and given thee books concerning all these: so preserve, my son Methuselah, the books from thy father's hand, and see that thou deliver them to the generations of the world". (Enoch 82:1) Further examples of this can be found in, Enoch 79:1, 81:6, 83:1, and 91:1. But there are other documents in the Dead Sea Scrolls which give us further evidence of the transmission of the book through history.

The Genesis Apocryphon

There is a book in the Dead Sea Scrolls which was early misnomered by scholars as "A Genesis Apocryphon". As it turns out, the book is not a retelling of the Book of Genesis at all. Incredibly, the book purports to be the written accounts of the earliest patriarchs of the Bible recorded in their own words in the first person! Sadly, the first few pages which include the words of Enoch himself were lost in modern times. Only fragment of these remain, including a more detailed account of the uncanny birth of Noah than what we have in Enoch 106. But a little further in the book we have the words of Abram. Abram writes that after spending five years in the land of Egypt, "[…] three men of the princes of Egyp[t came …] from Phara[oh] Zoa[n] on account of [my] words and of my wife. They gave [me many presents expecting from me] goodness, wisdom and truth. I read in front of them the [book] of the words of Enoch" (1QapGen Col. XIX 24-25).A Here Abram is seen in possession of "Book of the Words of Enoch". But that's not all...

A Biblical Chronology

Another scroll preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls is a genealogy of the patriarchs which states the relative ages of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when they each had children. In Jacob’s case it is his child Levi upon whom the passage focuses. In the passage it is related that Levi is entrusted with the Book of the Words of Enoch for preserving and passing on. "[. . .Abraham was] nin[ety-nine ye]ars old [when he fathered Isaac. Is]aac was [sixty years o]ld [when he fathered] [Jacob. Jacob was] sixty-five y[ears old when he fathered Levi.] [He gave to Levi the Book of the Words of] Enoch [to preserve and pass on]" (4Q559 Col. II 3-10).B

Unfortunately for us all, it is estimated that less than 5% of the total Dead Sea Scrolls library that was initially hidden in the Judean desert has survived. With only the little we have, it is significant that these two documents shed light on the almost entirely lost earliest history of the incredible Book of Enoch.

You can read more about the phenomenal history of the Book of Enoch here: Rediscovering Enoch, and here: The Sequestration of Enoch.



Footnotes
A Garcı́a Martı́nez, F., & Tigchelaar, E. J. C. (1997-1998). Vol. 1: The Dead Sea scrolls study edition (translations) (41). Leiden; New York: Brill.
BWise, M. O., Abegg, M. G., Jr., & Cook, E. M. (2005). The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation (565). New York: HarperOne.

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