Was the Book of Revelation based primarily on a vision that someone had; or was it based primarily on borrowing passages from ancient literature, combining them in imaginative ways, and opening the book “as though” all of the following information had been received in a “visionary” fashion? I ask this because scholars have discovered that many of the symbols, ideas, and even some phrases and sentences, were borrowed from Daniel, Ezekiel, Psalms, and other Old Testament books, as well as from some Jewish and Christian apocryphal works such as 2 Esdras and the Book Enoch—see footnotes in the Oxford Study Bible, New Jerusalem Bible, New International Bible, and the New English Bible. (Much more on the “Enoch” connection below!)
For instance, the description of Jesus in Revelation 1:13-15 could have been taken from Daniel 7:9,13; 10:5-6, 15-19; and Ezekiel 43:2. (There are also similarities with 1 Enoch 46:1f, the Apocalypse of Abraham 11:2, and other apocryphal works.) Revelation 1:13-15 even borrows several terms from Daniel, including the white robe (Dan 7:9), hair as wool (Dan 7:9; also 1 Enoch 46:1f), blazing throne (Dan 7:9), wheels of fire (Dan 7:9), cloud with the Son of Man (Dan 7:13), fiery eyes (Dan 10:6), Golden belt (Dan 10:5), beryl (Dan 10:6) and other gems, and burnished bronze feet (arms and face in Dan 10:6). Believers in the inerrancy of Scripture would argue that the writers of Daniel and Revelation were seeing the same vision. Others believe that Revelation plagiarizes terms from Daniel, done in order to make Revelation look authentic.
Another indication that the book of Revelation was an edited literary creation are its repetitions (chapters 7 and 14, 13 and 17, etc.) that indicate it may be the product of two or more literary efforts that were later combined and edited together into one. To quote Kevin Henke (a friend who has compared different commentaries on Rev.): “The end of chapter 6, like several other chapters in Revelation, has a scene that looks like the end of the bad guys (of Rev. 19). They appear cornered, and it looks like Jesus is ready to finish them off for good. However, beginning in chapter 7, the battle simply begins again. These ‘endings that begin again’ indicate that the Book of Revelation may be a series of ‘cut and pasted’ apocalyptic works. Clearly the ending of chapter 6 belongs with the final judgment sequence in chapter 19. Further evidence that Revelation has been edited and stitched together from more than one document is provided by the “doublings” that appear throughout the book. The sky is destroyed and then reappears more than once (6:14, 8:12, 12:4); verses seem to be out of chronological order (7:9; 9:20-21; 11:1-2; 11:15f; 11:19b; etc.); and after being told not to worship angels in 19:10, ‘John’ repeats the mistake again (22:8-9). Inerrantists might argue that ‘John’ was using repetition as poetry, or to doubly stress certain points, but others find such repetitions illogical and contradictory. In short, the Book of Revelation appears to be a somewhat carelessly edited combination of at least two synoptic ‘Protorevelation’ manuscripts—which themselves were each created by stitching together ideas and phrases from Hebrew Old Testament and intertestamental works… The darkness curse is repeated in 6:12 and 8:12. A literal reading of chapters 6-16 indicates that the sun is going on and off like a light bulb. Again, it is likely that 16:10, 8:12, and 6:12 are semi-parallel accounts from different and conflicting Protorevelation manuscripts.”
If the book of Revelation was primarily a literary creation, that is not to say that its author(s) may not have felt “inspired” as they strung together borrowed apocalyptic symbols and phrases, and combined them imaginatively. Perhaps the author(s) of Revelation felt like Hal Lindsey did when he wrote The Late Great Planet Earth—an enormous bestseller from the 1970s that featured everything Hal had been taught at Dallas Theological Seminary, combined with Halʼs imaginative interpretations of “todayʼs headlines.” Hal even argued that although there no longer existed any “inspired writers” of new Biblical Scriptures, there did exist “inspired interpreters” of Scripture and suggested he was probably one. So, he admitted that he definitely felt “inspired.” However, it would appear that in both cases (the book of Revelation and The Late Great Planet Earth) what we see are literary citations of previous works, mixed with the authorʼs imagination, and, I might add, failed predictions. Footnote: Revelation has not always enjoyed unanimous approval. Several early Church Fathers and Luther doubted or denied its canonicity. The Churches of Syria, Palestine and Cappadocia did not include Revelation in their canons until the 5th Century AD (New Jerusalem Bible, p. 2028).
Why is the First Book of Enoch Important for Studying the Book of Revelation?
The book of 1st Enoch is the oldest of the “books of Enoch,” and it begins by claiming it is an account of heavenly “visions” that “Enoch” saw. That type of “revelatory” beginning would be used by other apocalyptic writers, including the writer of the book of Revelation. Yet no one today believes that the “First Book of Enoch” contains authentic “heavenly visions” (among them, descriptions of an indubitably flat earth), nor even believes that the visions were those of “Enoch, the seventh from Adam,” regardless of the fact that the book begins by mentioning “Enochʼs” name and visionary claims. So if the heavenly “visions of Enoch” in 1st Enoch are literary fabrications, what might that imply about the book of Revelation? 1 Enoch 1:1 “The word of the blessing of Enoch, how he blessed the elect and the righteous, who were to exist in the time of trouble; to the rejection of all the wicked and ungodly (Ps. 1). Enoch, a righteous man, was with God, answered and spoke, while his eyes were open, and while he saw a holy vision which was in the heavens (Gen. 5:24). This the angel showed me.”
1 Enoch 1:2 “From them I heard all things, and understood what I saw; that which will not take place in this generation, but in a generation which is to succeed at a distant period, on account of the elect.” (cf. Dan. 12:4).
1 Enoch 1:3 “Upon their account I spoke and conversed with him, who will go forth from this habitation, the Holy and Mighty One, the God of the world.”
(See Edmund J. Roacheʼs, The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand)
Other Comparisons Between 1st Enoch and New Testament Scriptures
1st Enoch 10:15,16 “To Michael also, the Lord said, Go and announce his crime to Samyaza and to the others who are with him who have been associated with women [the crime of angels associating with humanity and thus spreading sinfulness on earth]… Bind them for seventy generations under the earth, even to the day of judgment, and of consummation until the judgment which shall last forever be completed. Then shall they be taken away into the lowest depths of the fire in torments, and in confinement shall they be shut up forever.”
Jude 6 “The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.”
2 Peter 2:4 “God spared not the angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.”
Revelation 20:10 “The devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone… and shall be tormented day and night forever.”
1 Enoch 18:13 also mentions seven falling stars that resemble burning mountains. They crash onto the Earth. There is another reference to a burning mountain in 1 Enoch 24:1-2, which is later echoed in Revelation 8:8.
1 Enoch 56:5 reveals that the Parthians and Medes were the eastern invaders of Rev. 9:47. They frequently terrorized the Roman Empire.
According to the “New Jerusalem Bible” the Parthians also represent the white rider of Rev. 6:2 and the attackers of Rev. 6:3
Numerous fragments of 1 Enoch were found among the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, and entire manuscripts of 1 Enoch have been found in Ethiopian monasteries. 1 Enoch, chapters 1-36 (also called, “The Book of the Watchers”), dates from between two to three centuries before Revelation was composed.
1st Enoch, Jude, and Lukeʼs 77 Generations
The First book of Enoch is quoted in the Christian Bible (Epistle of Jude 14-15). Its theory that the Messiah would arrive “seventy generations after Enoch” is present in the Gospel of Luke 3.23-38, where we read Lukeʼs genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth.
Like all genealogies in preliterate societies, it is not reliable: we may be confident that Jesusʼ father was a man named Joseph, but it is questionable whether his grandfather was indeed called Eli. (Matthew 1.16 calls him Jacob.) Going further back, the family tree becomes increasingly unreliable, although it is of course possible that the family of Jesus remembered correctly that it descended from David. The discovery of a first-century CE tomb of the ‘house of David’ in Jerusalem proves that descendants of the legendary king were recognized in Jesusʼ age.
The genealogical truth was, of course, not Lukeʼs real aim. He wanted to show that Jesus was of Davidic descent and could therefore be the Messiah. Luke plays an interesting game in this genealogy, which we can appreciate by comparing his text with its sources. /snip But why ‘seventy-seven’ generations? The answer lies in the First book of Enoch, a collection of texts that share an interest in the patriarch Enoch, about whom it is written that ‘he was taken away’ instead of ‘he died’ (Genesis 5.24). This line caused many to think that Enoch had ascended to heaven and had written reports about it. One of the five parts of 1 Enoch is the so-called ‘Book of the Watchers,’ which was written in the third century BCE. It describes the fall of the angels and their punishment:
And the Lord said to [the arch-angel] Raphael: ‘Bind [the rebel] Azazel hand and foot and throw him into the darkness!’ And Raphael made a hole in the desert, which was in Dudael, and cast him there. On top of him, he threw rugged and sharp rocks. And he covered Azazelʼs face in order that he may not see light and […] may be sent into the fire on the great day of judgment. […] And to Michael the Lord said: ‘[…] Bind them for seventy generations underneath the rocks of the ground until the day of their judgment is concluded.’ [1 Enoch 10.4-6, 11-12; tr. E. Isaac]
In other words, the day of judgment was to take place seventy generations after Enoch. Now this patriarch, “Enoch” was recorded as having lived in “the seventh generation from Adam,” and we may therefore conclude that the author of the Book of the Watchers assumed that the end of history would be in the seventy-seventh generation from Adam, or the seventieth generation from Enoch.
In another part of the First book of Enoch, the so-called ‘Book of Similitudes’ (first half first century BCE), we learn more about the last judgment. We read how the Messiah, who is said to be created before the universe and is called the ‘son of man’, will judge mankind, which has risen from the death.
Back to Luke. By making Jesus of Nazareth the seventy-seventh of the list, he is obviously playing with these thoughts. What he is in fact saying is that Jesus was the Messiah and that the last judgment is very, very near. After all, when Luke composed his gospel during the persecution by the emperor Domitian, there were only a few survivors of the generation of Jesus.
Bible Review, April 2003, Featured Three “Must Read” Articles on the Book of Enoch
“Enoch and Jesus” (Describes the fact that there were supernatural mediators in Jewish thought prior to Jesusʼ day, including “Enoch” Who also was portrayed as sitting at Godʼs right hand I think (I skimmed it a while back). Some Jews considered the “two throne” view heresy, and that there should only be a single throne in Heaven. Hence the high priestʼs tearing of his robe when Jesus allegedly said at his trial that he would be seen “seated at the right hand of God.”)
“Enochʼs Vision of the Next World”
(Unusual apocalyptic/eschatological teachings found in the Book of Enoch)
“Thatʼs No Gospel!” (Fascinating story about the detective work done on some Dead Sea Scroll papyrus fragments that a conservative Christian scholar had contended were from the book of Matthew, but it turns out, they were from the Book of Enoch instead)
The Importance of 1 Enoch
The importance of 1 Enoch is poorly appreciated outside the scholarly community. Comparison of its text with New Testament books reveals that many Enochian doctrines were taken over by early Christians. E. Isaac writes:
There is little doubt that 1 Enoch was influential in molding New Testament doctrines concerning the nature of the Messiah, the Son of Man, the messianic kingdom, demonology, the future, resurrection, final judgment, the whole eschatological theater, and symbolism. No wonder, therefore, that the book was highly regarded by many of the apostolic and Church Fathers [1986, 10].
First Enoch influenced Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, and several other New Testament books. The punishment of the fallen angels described in 2 Peter seems to come directly from 1 Enoch, as does much of the imagery (or even wording) in Revelation. The Epistle of Jude contains the most dramatic evidence of its influence when it castigates “enemies of religion” as follows:
It was to them that Enoch, the seventh in descent from Adam, directed his prophecy when he said: “I saw the Lord come with his myriads of angels, to bring all men to judgment and to convict all the godless of all the godless deeds they had committed, and of all the defiant words which godless sinners had spoken against him (Jude 14- 15).”
The inner quote, 1 Enoch 1:9, is found in the original Hebrew on a recently-published Qumran fragment [Shanks, 1987, 18]. By attributing prophecy to Enoch, Jude confers inspired status upon the book.
Many early Church Fathers cited the Book of Enoch (i.e., First Book of Enoch, or “Ethiopian Enoch”) and considered it to be a true historical work.
“The Book of Enoch enjoyed a high esteem among them, mainly owing to the quotation in Jude. The so-called Epistle of Barnabas twice cites Enoch as Scripture. Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and even St. Augustine suppose the work to be a genuine one of the patriarch.”
Irenaeus and The Book of Enoch
Irenaeus draws heavily on 1 Enoch 6-9 when he writes the following:
And wickedness very long-continued and widespread pervaded all the races of men, until very little seed of justice was in them. For unlawful unions came about on earth, as angels linked themselves with offspring of the daughters of men, who bore to them sons, who on account of their exceeding great were called Giants. The angels, then, brought to their wives as gifts teachings of evil, for they taught them the virtues of roots and herbs, and dyeing and cosmetics and discoveries of precious materials, love-philtes, hatreds, amours, passions, constraints of love, the bonds of witchcraft, every sorcery and idolatry, hateful to God; and when this was come into the world, the affairs of wickedness were propagated to overflowing, and those of justice dwindled to very little.
Tatian, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian all echo Irenaeusʼ statements and his use of 1 Enoch in attributing to the fallen angels the origin of the magic arts and cosmetics. It is not difficult to account for the influence of 1 Enoch on the early church writers. After all it was the only (what we now call) apocryphal book explicitly cited in the New Testament (Jude 14, cf. 1 Enoch 1:9). The Ethiopian church accepted the book into its canon and the writer of the Epistle of Barnabas approved of it,as did Tertullian, even though the majority rejected it. Interestingly some of the later Fathers doubted the canonicity of Jude precisely because it cited apocryphal books such as Enoch. The influence of the Book of Enoch and the popularity of the Septuagint (which translated “sons of God” as “angels”) in the early church may explain why no Christian writer challenged the view that the Sons of God were angels until the third century AD. With the rejection of the canonicity of Enoch there was a corresponding decline in the ‘angel’ interpretation of the ‘sons of God’. In a similar way the idea of a fall (or second fall) of the angels prior to the Flood drops out of theological history after the time of Lactantius. From that point on the view that the Sons of God were purely human - the descendants of Seth - began to dominate. As can be seen from Table 5.2 the other early references to the Sethite theory were found in Jewish sources that few of the early Christian would have had access to. It was not until after the middle of the second century that a Christian writer (Julius Africanus) suggested that the ‘sons of Godʼ were Sethites.
Tertullian wrote a fairly long passge in which he argued in favor of the Book of Enoch being historical:
On the Apparel of Women, Book One, Chapter III.
Concerning the Genuineness of “The Prophecy of Enoch.”
I am aware that the Scripture of Enoch, which has assigned this order (of action) to angels, is not received by some, because it is not admitted into the Jewish canon either. I suppose they did not think that, having been published before the deluge, it could have safely survived that world-wide calamity, the abolisher of all things. If that is the reason (for rejecting it), let them recall to their memory that Noah, the survivor of the deluge, was the great-grandson of Enoch himself; and he, of course, had heard and remembered, from domestic renown and hereditary tradition, concerning his own great-grandfatherʼs “grace in the sight of God,” and concerning all his preachings; since Enoch had given no other charge to Methuselah than that he should hand on the knowledge of them to his posterity. Noah therefore, no doubt, might have succeeded in the trusteeship of (his) preaching; or, had the case been otherwise, he would not have been silent alike concerning the disposition (of things) made by God, his Preserver, and concerning the particular glory of his own house. If (Noah) had not had this (conservative power) by so short a route, there would (still) be this (consideration) to warrant our assertion of (the genuineness of) this Scripture: he could equally have renewed it, under the Spiritʼs inspiration,after it had been destroyed by the violence of the deluge, as, after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian storming of it, every document of the Jewish literature is generally agreed to have been restored through Ezra.
“But since Enoch in the same Scripture has preached likewise concerning the Lord [i.e., “The Son of Man” figure in the Book of Enoch who comes in judgment according to that book. — E.T.B.], nothing at all must be rejected by us which pertains to us; and we read that “every Scripture suitable for edification is divinely inspired.” [See 2 Tim. iii. 16 — Interesting citation of 2 Tim, donʼt you think? Iʼve read elsewhere that this is one way of interpreting 2 Tim. — E.T.B.] By the Jews it may now seem to have been rejected for that (very) reason, just like all the other (portions) nearly which tell of Christ. Nor, of course, is this fact wonderful, that they did not receive some Scriptures which spake of Him whom even in person, speaking in their presence, they were not to receive. To these considerations is added the fact that Enoch possesses a testimony in the Apostle Jude.
ORIGIN cited the book of Enoch as a truthful endorsement of certain Christian beliefs in his De Principiis.
The Letter of Jude in the New Testament Cites the Book of Enoch and Calls that Citation a “Prophecy”
However, scholars doubt that an apostle wrote the so-called letter of “Jude.”
Kummel presents the reasons that most scholars suspect Jude to be a pseudepigraph (Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 428):
The author was presumably a Jewish Christian, since he knews such Jewish-apocalyptic writings as the Ascension of Moses (9) and the Enoch Apocalypse (14), and the Jewish legends (9, 11). But the author “speaks of the apostles like a pupil from a time long afterward” (17). Not only does he assume a concept of “a faith once for all delivered to the saints” (3), but against the statements of the false teachers of the End-tim, he adduces in similar manner Jewish and early Christian predictions (14 f, 17). All this points to a late phase of primitive Christianity, and the cultivated Greek language as well as the citations from a Greek translation of the Enoch Apocalypse do not well suit a Galilean. The supposition repeatedly presented that Jude really does come from a brother of the Lord is accordingly extremely improbable, and Jude must be considered a pseudonymous writing. That is all the more fitting if Jude 1 contains a reference to a pseudonymous James (see 27.4).
Norman Perrin writes the following on Jude (The New Testament: An Introduction, p. 260):
The letter is pseudonymous, as is all the literature of emergent catholicism in the New Testament.
The most interesting features of this letter are the characteristics of emergent Catholocism it exhibits. The letter speaks of “the faith once for all delivered to the saints”; faith is the acceptance of authoritative tradition, and the writer denounces the heretics and admonishes the faithful on the authority of that tradition. There is also evidence of a developing Christian liturgy. In verses 20-21, “pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ” testifies to the liturgical development of a trinitarian formula. The closing benediction is a magnificent piece of liturgical language, so different in style and tone from the remainder of the letter that the writer has probably taken it from the liturgy of his church. Jude is dependent on James, and II Peter is dependent on Jude, setting the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem for this epistle. It would be fair to date it to the turn of the second century.
The Sealed Book” Motif
A Motif Shared by Daniel, Enoch and Revelation
Some verses in 1 Enoch were composed to give the reader the impression that the book had been written long ago for the sake of the elect of God who would one day find themselves in a time of trouble, a distant time of messianic expectation that the author foresaw. So “Enoch the seventh from Adam” was granted heavenly visions for that much later time and those visions finally found their way into books that simply appeared out of nowhere at just the right time in history.
The motif of books being “sealed up” or “not sealed up” is something that Daniel, Enoch, and Revelation all apparently share.
According to the author of the book of Daniel he was commanded to “seal up” his book “until the end of time”: “Conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time. these words are concealed and sealed up until the end of time.” (Daniel 12:4,9) The book of Daniel was composed from the alleged point of view of a Jew living in ancient Persia who had visions of “the end of time,” or, “the end of the age,” when all men would “rise again” and be judged. (12:2,13) “Seal up the book,” he was commanded, or so the story goes.
Meanwhile, the author of Revelation tipped his hat to Daniel, and/or Enoch, by stating this: “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book,” adding that what is revealed in it “must shortly take place.” The intent of the author of Revelation in alluding to the “non-sealing” of his book is obvious, the author believed and predicted that Jesus was about to “come” and judge the world “quickly.”
However, note in this regard that Daniel, Enoch, and Revelation all appear to be false prophecies, since all three of those books have been “unsealed,” each in their own day, but long before the “final judgment” or “resurrections” they decribed had arrived.
For instance, Daniel 12:1-2 predicted (falsely) about the time when his book would be “unsealed”:
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
The books of Daniel and Enoch were both apparently “unsealed” far too early, far too many centuries before “the final judgment” and “resurrection.” Meanwhile, the book of Revelation ought to have been “sealed” instead of remaining “unsealed.” (Inerrantist Christians employ a host of metaphorical interpretations and guesses to try and make the books of Daniel and Revelation appear inerrantly wise the things they symbolicaly foretold, just as todayʼs believers in the prophecies of “Nostradamus” use their imaginations to discover “inerrant” prophecies in his symbolic predictions. But the Book of Enoch is there to ground us in some sort of sanity—a book that was produced between the time of Daniel and Revelation, which reminds us how such ancient motifs and means of speech and predictions prove little.)
Visions of a Flat Earth in the First Book of Enoch
1st Enoch makes explicit the flat-earth cosmology of Hebrew Scriptures, and provides a connecting link between Old Testament cosmology and the equally flat New Testament cosmology (of Matthew and Revelation).
“The Ends of the Earth” In The Book of Enoch
The angel Uriel guided Enoch in most of his travels. They made several trips to the ends of the earth, where the dome of heaven came down to the surface. For instance, Enoch says:
I went to the extreme ends of the earth and saw there huge beasts, each different from the other and different birds (also) differing from one another in appearance, beauty, and voice. And to the east of those beasts, I saw the ultimate ends of the earth which rests on the heaven. And the gates of heaven were open, and I saw how the stars of heaven come out…(1 Enoch 33:1-2).
(The sharp-eyed reader will note what I suspect is an editing error in the Isaac translation. The earth resting on the heaven makes no sense. R. H. Charles has “whereon the heaven rests.”)
Again, Enoch says, “I went in the direction of the north, to the extreme ends of the earth, and there at the extreme end of the whole world I saw a great and glorious seat. There (also) I saw three open gates of heaven; when it blows cold, hail, frost, snow, dew, and rain, through each one of the (gates) the winds proceed in the northwesterly direction (1 Enoch 34:1-2).” This accords well with Jeremiah 51:16 which says, “he brings up the mist from the ends of the earth, he opens rifts for the rain and brings the wind out of his storehouses.” In subsequent chapters, Enoch journeys “to the extreme ends of the earth” in the west, south, and east. In each place he saw three more “open gates of heaven.”
There were other things to be seen at the ends of the earth. Earlier, we deferred discussion of the King James version of Job 26:7, “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.” On several occasions when Enoch and the angel are out beyond the dome of heaven, Enoch comments that there is nothing above or below. For instance, “And I came to an empty place. And I saw (there) neither a heaven above nor an earth below, but a chaotic and terrible place (1 Enoch 21:1-2).” Could this be the kind of nothingness referred to in Job?
An angel also showed Enoch the storerooms of the winds (18:1) and the cornerstone of the earth (18:2).
The Sun and Moon
And what of the sun and moon? Psalm 19:4-6 (quoted earlier) suggest that the sun holes up at the ends of the earth until it is time to rise. Enoch expands upon this idea. In 1 Enoch 41:5, he “saw the storerooms of the sun and the moon, from what place they go out and to which place they return…” Further, “they keep faith one with another: in accordance with an oath they set and they rise.”
Enoch discusses the solar and lunar motions at length, explaining why the apparent azimuths of their rising and setting varies with the season. The explanation, found in the section called “The Book of the Heavenly Luminaries,” begins thus:
This is the first commandment of the luminaries: The sun is a luminary whose egress is an opening of heaven, which is (located) in the direction of the east, and whose ingress is (another) opening of heaven, (located) in the west. I saw six openings through which the sun rises and six openings through which it sets. The moon also rises and sets through the same openings, and they are guided by the stars; together with those whom they lead, they are six in the east and six in the west heaven. All of them (are arranged) one after another in a constant order. There are many windows (both) to the right and the left of these openings. First there goes out the great light whose name is the sun; its roundness is like the roundness of the sky; and it is totally filled with light and heat. The chariot in which it ascends is (driven by) the blowing wind. The sun sets in the sky (in the west) and returns by the northeast in order to go to the east; it is guided so that it shall reach the eastern gate and shine in the face of the sky (1 Enoch 72:2-5).
The openings in the vault of heaven in the east and west are matched to the seasons. On the longest day of the year, the sun rises and sets through the northernmost pair. On the shortest day, it rises and sets through the southernmost pair. The return routes of the sun and moon are outside the dome. Perhaps they rest in their “storerooms” during their time off.
Like the Bible, 1 Enoch typically depicts stars as living, anthropomorphic beings. The Sons of the Gods are also dealt with in 1 Enoch, and they are associated with stars. This is consistent with Job 38:7, which says that when the earthʼs cornerstone was laid “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted aloud.”
As mentioned earlier, Matthew 24:29 and Revelation 6:13 deal with stars that fall to earth. The image comes from Enoch, but Matthew and John omit some details. In 1 Enoch 88:1, a star that fell from the sky is seized, bound hand and foot, and thrown into an abyss. A few verses later, other stars “whose sexual organs were like the organs of horses” are likewise bound hand and foot and cast “into the pits of the earth (1 Enoch 88:3).”
Most stars just go through their motions night after night. Some stars never set, and Enoch was shown their chariots (1 Enoch 75:8). Stars that do rise and set do so through openings in dome, just like the sun and moon. God, according to 1 Enoch, runs a tight universe, and stars that do not rise on time are thrown into the celestial slammer. Showing Enoch a hellish scene, the angel Uriel explains:
This place is the (ultimate) end of heaven and earth: it is the prison house for the stars and the powers of heaven. And the stars which roll over upon the fire, they are the ones which have transgressed the commandments of God from the beginning of their rising because they did not arrive punctually (1 Enoch 18:14-15).
Enoch was not told the sentence for tardy rising, but Uriel later shows him other stars “which have transgressed the commandments of the Lord,” for which they were doing ten million years of hard time (1 Enoch 21:6). Enoch also was shown an even more terrible place, a fiery prison house where fallen angels were detained forever (1 Enoch 21:10).
1 Enoch deserves study for its cosmology, but there is much more of interest. It profoundly influenced Christian eschatology, and it is necessary reading for anyone trying to understand Hebrew religious thought at the dawn of the Christian era.
From “The Flat Earth Bible” by Bob Schadewald