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Understanding Enoch

June 24, 2016

 

Hebrews 11:5

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”

 

We do not know much about Enoch either. The Bible contains very few verses of scripture that talk about him. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints contains more information about the life and mission of Enoch. My search to find out about Enoch led me to a book called Enoch the Prophet written by Hugh Nibley. I have to admit, when I first read the verse above and studied what little was written about Enoch in the Bible, I was stuck. However, I remembered that I had bought my husband the book I just mentioned for Christmas. I spent two whole months studying that book, and I gained a testimony of the amazing man Enoch was. My focus today is to share with you what I learned about Enoch.

 

First of all, let’s briefly talk about Dr. Hugh Nibley. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Los Angeles and completed his Ph.D. as a University Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley.1 He began teaching at Brigham Young University in 1946, where he taught history, languages, and religion.1 I have read a couple of his books, and I cannot begin to tell you how talented and knowledgeable this man was. I encourage you to one day read one of his works. Maybe you will start by reading Enoch the Prophet.

 

I will begin by giving a brief overview as to why we do not have much information about Enoch in the Bible. I am quoting directly from Dr. Nibley, but if you want the original sources, please refer to his book.

 

“It is strange that the man to whom the Bible gives only a few brief sentences should be the colossus who bestrides the Apocrypha as no other. Everywhere we catch glimpses of him. He is identified with more other great characters than any other figure of the past. He is the most mysterious, individual, and unique of characters, yet he is the most universal of them all.” (Nibley, 1986, p.19).  

 

“There was once indeed an ancient book of Enoch, but it became lost and was not discovered until our own time, when it can be reliably reconstructed from some hundreds of manuscripts in a dozen different languages…We do not have the golden plates nor the original text of the book of Abraham, but we do have at last, in newly discovered documents, a book which is the book of Enoch if there ever was one. And so we have only to place the Joseph Smith version of the book of Enoch—Moses 6:25 through 8:3 with associated texts—side by side with the Enoch texts, which have come forth since 1830, to see what they have in common and to judge of its significance.” (Nibley, 1986, p.94).

              

“How could a book of such long-standing influence, authority, and veneration possibly have become lost? Very simple: it ran afoul of ideas held by the doctors of the Jews and Christians alike after those worthies had fallen under the influence of the University of Alexandria, whose modern descendants resumed their censure of it after it was discovered and have continued to condemn it to this day.” (Nibley, 1986, p.97).

 

“Thus, until recently, the only surviving fragments of Enoch have come from Christian copyists, and not a single Jewish text of the Twelve Patriarchs, which draws heavily on Enoch, survives; moreover, not a single picture of Enoch has ever been identified in either Jewish or old Christian art.” (Nibley, 1986, p.98).

 

Now, I would like to share one final quote about Enoch’s attributes and roles before we return to Hebrews 11:5.

 

“The combination of certain traits—independence, intelligence, compassion, and power—is Enoch’s signature, setting him apart from all others by the superlative degree to which he possesses them. His is the independent intelligence always seeking further light and knowledge. He is the great observer and recorder of all things in heaven and earth, of which God grants him perfect knowledge. The great learner, he is also the great teacher: Enoch the Initiator into the higher mysteries of the faith and secrets of the universe; Enoch the Scribe, keeper of records, instructor in the ordinances, aware of all times and places, studying and transmitting the record of the race with intimate concern for all generations to come. He offers the faithful their greatest treasure of knowledge. He is the seer who conveys to men the mind and will of the Lord. Enoch is the great advocate, the champion of the human race, pleading with God to spare the wicked and “refusing to be comforted” until he is shown just how that is to be done. He feels for all and is concerned for all. He is the passionate and compassionate, the magnanimous one who cannot rest knowing that others are miserable. He is the wise and obedient servant, the friend and helper of all, hence the perfect leader and ruler. For his work Enoch is endowed with power—the power of the priesthood. He had but to speak the word of the Lord and mountains shook and rivers turned from their courses. He is the king who is given power from on high to organize and lead the people of God in their migration and in the building of their city and in the great missionary program that went out from it. He is their leader as both priest and king, the founder and director of their sacred society on earth.” (Nibley, 1986 p.21-22).

 

From Hebrews 11:5, we understand that it was Enoch’s faith that caused him to be translated and not taste of death. The attributes and roles I listed give us a glimpse into Enoch’s great faith and into how he pleased God. He literally had the faith to turn the rivers from their courses and to shake mountains when he spoke the word of the Lord. I personally like that he was always seeking further light and knowledge, that he was the Initiator into the higher mysteries of the faith, that he could not rest knowing that others were miserable, and that he was the friend and helper of all. I truly enjoyed learning about Enoch from this book. It gave me many new insights about him and God’s plan for His children. I invite all of you at some point to read the book or any sources that expand your knowledge about this great prophet of God. May we all develop faith as strong as Enoch’s and please God throughout our lives. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the quotes I mentioned or any other sources you know that discuss Enoch.

 

 

 

 

Need to review the previous posts of the series?

A Foundation of Faith

Abel’s Sacrifice of Faith

 

Follow along with the Hebrews Part 1 study guide by signing-up here.

 

References

  1. Wikipedia Hugh Nibley (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2016 from Wikipeda: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Nibley.

  2. Nibley, H. (1986). The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Volume 2: Enoch the Prophet. Harrisonburg, VA: R R Donnelley.

 

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