THINGS YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW
“Are the Apocrypha and Book of Enoch the Word of God?”
Let’s go ahead and open with a verse from the book of Jude to begin our consideration of the book of Enoch.
Jude 14-15 says, “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
So, in his letter Jude makes a reference to Enoch, the seventh from Adam. Now the Bible informs us that the man Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying when he was 365 years old. He’s included in the Hebrews 11 hall of faith where we’re told that his life “pleased God.”
What makes Jude’s reference to Enoch intriguing is that it seems to quote directly from the Book of Enoch. Let’s read the quote:
“1 Enoch 1:9 “Behold, he comes with the myriads of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all, and to destroy all the wicked, and to convict all flesh for all the wicked deeds that they have done, and the proud and hard words that wicked sinners spoke against him.”
Very close, right? Almost word for word. So what is the Book of Enoch?
The book of Enoch comes in three parts—
1 Enoch which is the most quoted of the three (written around 200 BC.)
2 Enoch (Book of the Secrets of Enoch written in around 100 AD)
3 Enoch (a rabbinic text written around 500 AD)
1 Enoch was written during what is called the inter-testamental time period between the closing of the last book of the Bible, Malachi, and the opening of the New Testament with the appearance of Jesus.
It is not included in the canonical Bible, but it was widely read and respected by many early Christians and some of the early church fathers.
The Book of 1 Enoch is filled with visions of the end times, and it provides an alleged detailed account of the fall of the angels.
It also includes the prophecy about the coming judgment that we read a moment ago.
Despite the similarities between Jude and the Book of Enoch, there are also gaping differences. For example, the Book of Enoch includes many fantastical stories, such as angels having relations with humans and producing a race of giants. These stories are not found in Jude or in any other book of the Bible.
Other extra-biblical stories in the Book of Enoch include that after Enoch was taken up to Heaven he was appointed guardian of all the celestial treasures, made chief of the archangels, and became the immediate attendant on the Throne of God.
He was later taught all secrets and mysteries and, with all the angels at his back, personally fulfills whatever comes out of the mouth of God, executing His decrees.
In the book of 3 Enoch, Enoch is identified as an angel called Metatron, who communicates God’s word. Enoch is also shown to be the one who communicated God’s revelation to Moses, and, in particular, as the dictator of the Book of Jubilees.
So the book of Enoch edifies and glorifies Enoch, something the Bible never does.
Now since Jude quoted from Enoch (if indeed he did), does that mean Enoch should be included in the Bible?
Because we ask ourselves—Why would Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, quote from a non-canonical source? Does this mean that Jude considered the Book of Enoch to be inspired scripture? And if so, why is the Book of Enoch not included in the Bible?
It’s important to remember that the early Christian community did not yet have a fixed and settled canon of scripture, and so they read and respected a wide range of religious texts.
So it’s possible that Jude quoted from the Book of Enoch because he found its prophecy about the coming judgment to confirm what God had already shown him. However, it’s important to note that this does not mean Jude considered the Book of Enoch to be on par with the books of the Bible.
It’s worth noting that the early church fathers, who were responsible for determining the canon of scripture, did not include the Book of Enoch in the Bible.
And Jude was not the only Bible author that quoted from a non-Biblical source. Consider some of the sources that Paul quotes.
In Titus 1:12 he says, “One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.” Is Paul saying that this so called prophet or poet should have his writings in the Canon of Scripture? No.
Truth can be found in many places in the unbelieving world. You’ve heard the phrase “a broken clock is right twice a day.” So it is with the book of Enoch. It obviously contains some biblical truth, but that does not mean it should be in the Canon anymore than the poet Paul quotes in Titus 1 should be.
So did Jude quote 1 Enoch? We may never know for sure. What we DO know is that the book of Enoch is not authoritative like Scripture is. And it could never have been written by the real Enoch.
First, Enoch lived before the Tower of Babel when there was one language. After Babel, the universal language was lost to be replaced by a multitude of new languages. So who could have translated his writing from a lost language no one knew?
Second, Enoch lived before the Great Flood of Noah’s time. The only way a volume written by Enoch could have survived the Flood would be for Noah to have taken it onto the ark! No record of such an event is anywhere to be found in Scripture or elsewhere.
So that makes the author of 1 Enoch an impostor right off the bat. He’s telling us he’s someone he’s not. So how can we trust anything he writes? Or include his writings in the Holy Bible?
In conclusion, if you like fairy tales and fables you might enjoy reading Enoch. But it is in no way a part of the eternal Word of God!
Now we come to the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha is a collection of 14 books written by Jewish writers. These books are considered Scripture by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, but not by Protestant denominations.
The list of books is as follows:
The First Book of Esdras
· The Second Book of Esdras
· The Book of Tobit
· The Book of Judith
The Book of Wisdom
· The Book of Sirach
· The Book of Baruch
· The Epistle of Jeremiah
· The Prayer of Manasses
· The Additional Psalm
· The First Book of Maccabees
· The Second Book of Maccabees
· The Third Book of Maccabees
· The Fourth Book of Maccabees
Most of these books have separate storylines and characters from the other books found in your Bible. For example, the books of the Maccabees come after the Old Testament canon and describe the Maccabees revolting against empires that controlled Israel.
But why were the Apocryphal books rejected as Scripture?
There were a number of church councils throughout early church history where church leaders discussed what books were divinely inspired and chosen to be part of the Old Testament or the New Testament.
One council, the Council of Hippo in 393, did in fact include the apocryphal books in the Old Testament.
Then during the same fourth century, the most notable objection to the Apocrypha came from St. Jerome when he was translating the Septuagint into Latin for his Latin Vulgate. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate became THE Bible for the church for well over a thousand years.
Jerome concluded there was a problem with the Apocrypha and advised against considering them as Scripture. Others disagreed, and the Council of Rome in 382 proceeded to include the Apocrypha in its list of canonical Scripture.
Then came the Council of Trent (which took place over multiple meetings from 1545 and 1563). It reiterated that the Roman Catholic Church considered the Apocrypha to be canonical Scripture.
Then when the Protestant Reformation took place, Martin Luther released his German Bible translation with the Apocrypha as a separate section. Luther apparently believed the Apocrypha “are not considered equal to the Holy Scriptures but are useful and good to read.”
Most Protestant denominations (including high church denominations like the Church of England) have agreed with this stance. The Apocrypha is useful in some ways, but not inspired Scripture.
So why Do We Reject the Apocrypha as genuine Scripture? Here are five of the clearest and simplest reasons:
1. Not enough manuscript evidence
One important question scholars ask when analyzing the Scripture canon is if books have supportive copies. So, if we were to find the additions the Apocrypha makes to Esther, Daniel, and the Psalms, we don’t have the manuscript evidence to make good historical cases for these additions as Scripture.
2. The canon was already closed
Hebrew Bible scholars believe that at a certain time (after Malachi) OT prophecy stopped. The apocryphal books were written after that period. So for them, the Apocrypha were interesting books, but not divinely inspired.
3. Tonal shifts
Some of the Apocryphal books are written in ways that don’t fit with the accepted Scriptural texts. For example, Carey A. Moore notes in an article for the Encyclopedia of Jewish Women that the additional scenes about Esther feel like “high drama” added by a later writer.
4. Thematic problems
Many of the Apocryphal books have themes or messages that don’t fit with the rest of Scripture. For example, the Book of Wisdom describes the soul as good but the body as bad, “a weight upon the soul” (Wisdom 9:15), and the Book of Tobit says that people can be saved by giving alms (Tobit 12:9).
5. Lack of apostolic evidence
One super important consideration is whether Jesus or the Apostles quoted from the Apocrypha and described them as Scripture. Jesus quoted or referred to Old Testament books many times (such as his discussions about the law in the Sermon the Mount), yet never quotes the Apocrypha.
Paul and other Apostles referred to and quoted the Old Testament many times too, but none of them quote the Apocrypha or describe them as Scripture. The closest we get to that is Jude referencing Enoch, which is not part of the Apocrypha.
So in summary, neither the book of Enoch nor the Apocrypha are inspired Scripture, and should not be authoritatively quoted as on the same level.