By Heather Riggleman, Crosswalk.com
Depending on what Christian background you come from, you may have heard of the “Book of Enoch,” however it’s not included in the Bible. The Book of Enoch is considered to be in the category of pseudepigrapha meaning this book was written under a pseudonymous name which are falsely attributed works. The author claims to be someone but is not actually the true author. Pseudonymous writings were common during the time the Bible was written.
Who Was Enoch in the Bible?
There are four different men in the Bible named Enoch (Enoch (Genesis 4:17; 5:18; 25:4; 46:9). However, it should be noted that only the NIV gives the name “Hanok” while other translations use the name Enoch. Hanok in Hebrew translates to Enoch (Genesis 4:17, 5:18). Some translations use a different spelling such as Hencoch or Hanoch.
Enoch was the great-great-great-great-grandson of Adam. Genesis 5:22–24 says, “After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” Enoch was also the great-great-grandfather of Noah.
We can also find more text on Enoch in the Hall of Faith found in Hebrews 11:5: “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’ For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”
It is interesting to note that most assume being “taken away” is what Enoch is most well-known for—as well as Elijah. Both men were the only two people the Bible references in which they were chosen by God to escape death. Enoch appears to have been given this privilege because he “walked faithfully with God and pleased God. The Bible doesn’t mention the purpose of God taking Enoch to heaven but the most common assumption is that he could serve as one of the two witnesses as part of the End Times. The other witness is assumed to the prophet Elijah.
Jude also mentions Enoch which is a prophecy in Jude 14:14-15. “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’”
Why Was the Book of Enoch Removed?
Because the Book of Enoch could not be factually attributed to Enoch, however this does not mean the Book of Enoch is inspired by God and should be in the Bible. It is interesting to note that no scholars truly believe the Book of Enoch was actually written about Enoch himself.
Not only is the Book of Enoch considered to be a pseudepigraphal writing, it is also considered an Apocryphal writing. Apocryphal writings means that it should be true and correct it is in fact false and often times historically inaccurate. When it comes to reading these texts, they should be treated as fallible historical texts, whereas the Bible should be treated as the inspired, infallible, and authoritative Word of God.
You can read a copy of the Book of Enoch here. But please do so with caution and discernment. Jim Hamilton, a Professor of Biblical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says “All students of the Bible would do well to acquaint themselves with 1 Enoch, as it provides a fascinating look into the way that the OT was interpreted in the years prior to the birth of Jesus. Especially significant is what appears to be the book’s messianic interpretation of Daniel’s son of man.”
Are There Any Bibles That Have the Book of Enoch?
Outside of the Ethiopian Orthodox church, there are no Bibles nor denominations that believes 1 Enoch is divinely inspired by God. However, Jews include it in the Apocrypha as external texts. The Book of Enoch is also called: The Book of Enoch (or 1 Enoch), The Book of the Secrets of Enoch (or 2 Enoch) and The Hebrew Book of Enoch (or 3 Enoch).
Most believe these books were not divinely inspirited Scripture even though it does contain some facts. Because of the references in other books like Jude and Hebrews, it was various early churches considered 1 Enoch considered the book as a part of Scripture and was canonized in the third century. Later, when the Bible was “canonized” the book of Enoch was removed.
How Was It Decided What Books of Bible Would Be Included?
The term “canon” is used to describe the books of the Bible that are divinely inspired by God. Determining what is divinely inspired was a process that first began by Jewish rabbis and scholars. Even though human beings began this process, it should be noted God ultimately decided what belonged in the Bible. It was a matter of God directing and inspiring not only the writers of the Bible but those who began the process of determining which books belonged in the Bible. This process began with the canon of the Hebrew Scripture.
The first “canon” was the Muratorian canon which was compiled in AD 170 which included all of the New Testament except James, Hebrews, John 3 and 1 and 2 Peter. The first canon was the Muratorian Canon, which was compiled in AD 170.
The Muratorian Canon included all of the New Testament books except Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, and 3 John. In AD 363, the Council of Laodicea considered the Old Testament and 26 books of the New Testament as canonical and to be read in churches. This included nearly everything except Revelations. Later, the Council of Hippo (AD 393) and the Council of Carthage (AD 397) also affirmed all 27 books of the New Testament to be divinely inspired.
To be considered divinely inspired the following principles to determine what was considered to be the authoritative Word of God included:
- Was the author an apostle or have a close connection with an apostle? Was the writer authenticated by miracles or others to confirm the message?
- Does the book reflect the work of the Holy Spirit in terms of high morals and spiritual values? Does the book have the divine capacity to transform lives?
- Was the text consistent with the general doctrine and orthodox teaching?
- Is the text accepted by the body of Christ at large? Was it accepted as God’s Word by the people to whom it was first delivered?
Despite these human principles, it is crucial to remember that God and God alone determined what would be in the Bible. We do know without a doubt, our ways are not God’s ways.
Scripture reminds us:
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Deuteronomy 4:2 “You must not add to or subtract from what I command you, so that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I am giving you.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
The human process of collecting these books is flawed, but God in His sovereignty knows what we need to nourish our spirits and provided a spiritual compass through His Word. In other words, God’s Word was inspired and authoritative from its inception--it "stands firm in the heavens" (Psalm 119:89).
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez
Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.