PSCO Presentation: 18 March, 2010

“‘Enoch’ as Inspired Prophet: Authorial Self-Presentation in the Epistle of Enoch”

Loren Stuckenbruck (Princeton Theological Seminary)


Taking the description of the Enochic writer in 1 Enoch 12:4 as a "scribe of righteousness", the paper explores the discourse about writing in the early Enoch tradition, asking how the text, as presented to its audiences, relates to other forms of writing which are mentioned in that text. How does the activity of the respective "Enochic writers" relate to (a) writing commissioned to Enoch, (b) records of deeds committed by the wicked, (c) writing by sinners, and (d) the heavenly tablets? Whereas the writers clearly distinguish their scribal activity from that of the wicked, the relation between heavenly records and what Enoch records is less apparent. The link established between the Enochic messages and recorded heavenly knowledge is, of course, vital to the authors' claims to revelation. However, the principled distinction between their writing and heavenly records (especially in Apocalypse of Weeks and Epistle of Enoch), which presents the works as essentially derivative in character, serves the same end. Since revelation, in its fictive and unassailable form, is written in heaven, it requires mediation to be conveyed at all. The Enochic writers employ this strategy to enhance their function as tradents of esoteric knowledge, while at the same time, as in the Epistle, finding therein license to provide pronouncements against "sinners" and assurances of reward to the pious that will count as decisive testimony in the divine court. The writer of the Epistle is thus so self-assured that he not only mediates esoteric knowledge but also seizes the opportunity to manipulate received sacred tradition (whether "biblical" or from the Book of Watchers) to his own ends.

Meeting and Dining

This meeting is scheduled for Thursday, 18 March, 7:00–9:00 pm in the second floor Lounge of Logan Hall at the University of Pennsylvania. All are welcome!

Those wishing to dine together before the seminar will meet at 6:00 pm in the Cohen Hall Second-Floor Lounge to go next door to the food court in Houston Hall.

Suggested Readings

(PDFs of articles available on request)

Devorah Dimant, "The Biography of Enoch and the Books of Enoch", Vetus Testamentum 33 (1983), pp. 14-29.

Hindy Najman, "Interpretation as Primordial Writing: Jubilees and Its Authority Conferring Strategies", JSJ 30 (1999), pp. 379-410.

George W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1 (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), pp. 416-429.

Loren T. Stuckenbruck, 1 Enoch 91-108 (CEJL; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2007), pp. 185-216.

James C. VanderKam, Enoch: A Man for All Generations (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995), pp. 17-101.