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Book of Enoch

Culturalmente Imparando

The Book of Enoch is one of the most famous and mysterious apocryphal texts in history, arrived to us in an ancient extinct language of Ethiopian origin (the ge'ez). According to historians it is a reworking of some previous sacred texts written in Aramaic. The Book of Enoch was not accepted among the Hebrew or Christian biblical texts (except the Coptic Bible). The work is believed to date back to the first century B.C., but to reconstruct its events and origins is extremely difficult. The refusal to include the Book in the Jewish canonical tradition dates back to the first century A.D., the Christian one to the fourth century A.D.

The events of Enoch are contained in the Book of Genesis, common to Jewish and Christian sacred texts. According to biblical tradition, Enoch is a direct descendant of Adam and Eve by Set, the third child of the couple. Enoch lived 365 years and was the father of Methuselah and Noah’s great-grandfather. His end is also mentioned in the New Testament, and it is particularly difficult to understand. It simply seems that God called Enoch to heaven because he wanted him near. However, the Book of Enoch speaks of something else: it is said of angels who created giants by mating with women on Earth, which enraged God to the point of punishing all his "children", both divine and earthly.

Despite the fact that the Book of Enoch was set aside by its apocryphal being, the interest in this mysterious work did not fade. From the Renaissance to the contemporary age, many authors and intellectuals dedicated themselves to the translation and exegesis of the text. These include Pico della Mirandola, the historian Joseph Justus Scaliger, the bibliographer Johann Albert Fabricius, the linguist Silvestre de Sacy and the scholar Robert Henry Charles.

The latter translated the Book of Enoch into English at the end of the 19th century, based on all the available material. Decisive in this sense was the diffusion in Europe (dating back to about a century before) of some copies of the apocryphal text in ge’ez by Scottish explorer James Bruce, who, however, did not know the identity of what he brought with him from a trip to Ethiopia.

The ancient five distinct parts in Aramaic that would later compose the nucleus of the Book of Enoch were divided as follows: Book of Vigilantes, Book of Parables, Book of Astronomy, Book of Dreams and Letter to Enoch. But the perception of it was completely changed, even in mass culture, by the famous finding of the manuscripts of the Dead Sea around the fifties of the twentieth century. Among the invaluable wealth of information and writings found and then translated, there were fragments of the Book of Enoch in Aramaic language, which contributed to broaden its knowledge and subsequent translations.


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  • L'Autore

    Mario Rafaniello

    Mario Rafaniello Vice Responsabile della rubrica “Culturalmente Imparando”. Partecipa anche all’entusiasmante progetto “Japan 2020” e si interessa di arte, cultura e letteratura.

    Laureato in Giurisprudenza e laureando in Relazioni Internazionali. Attualmente collabora con diversi portali online.

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