mystic, and biblical mystery, speculation concerning the patriarch
Enoch exploded in the Second Temple period. The result was a set
of apocalyptic writings (1, 2, and 3 Enoch) hailing him as their
and traditions linking him with God's future actions in history.
Originally influential in apocalyptic Jewish circles including early
Christianity, the writings eventually faded from view due to rabbinic
and ecclesiastical censure, but the traditions remained alive and
well throughout the medieval period.
the two Enochs appearing in the opening chapters of Genesis this
one is the son of Jared, of the line of Seth rather than Cain's
son, Enoch. Other than a genealogical note in 1 Chronicles,
Enoch appears only in one passage of the Hebrew Bible, Gen 5:21-24,
but what the early exegetes found there fired their imaginations.
Four factors singled out Enoch as a figure worthy of attention.
v. 22 and 24 state that "Enoch walked with God" (ibid.). As the
first patriarch to walk with God since Adam's expulsion from the
Eden, this was read as a sign of special favor. In addition, the
Hebrew name for God used here (Elohim) is technically a plural
that can be alternately translated as "gods".
Since the presence of multiple deities was completely incompatible
with Jewish belief, many Second Temple interpreters understood it
as referring to angels when it obviously could not refer to the
one and only God.
Thus, Enoch's walking was read as either walking with God or with
the angels given the proclivities of the reader. The result of this
piece of evidence is that Enoch quickly became associated with otherworldly
journeys; despite their differences, all three Enochic writings
contain these cosmological explorations.
among his long-lived relatives Enoch's lifespan is quite unusual.
In contrast to his father Jared who lived 962 years and his son
Methuselah who lived 969 years, Enoch lived for 365 years. Not only
is this number abnormally short but it also corresponds exactly
to the length of a solar year, a point not overlooked by sages interested
in things astronomical and astrological. At
a time when the calendar was a polemical issue, Enoch was quickly
adopted as a champion and mouthpiece for the movement advocating
a solar calendar over the lunisolar calendar preferred by the Jerusalem
according to the letter of the text, Enoch never died: "Enoch walked
with God; and he was not, for God took him" (Gen 5:24, RSV). The
complicates the issue by saying that "God translated him." Thus,
Enoch, like the prophet Elijah, was a living human being dwelling
in heaven. Since his death is never mentioned, it must never have
occurred and he must be yet in heaven, privy to the secrets of the
As a result, certain Jewish
and later medieval traditions suggested that Enoch (with Elijah)
would return to the earth to proclaim repentance before the Day
in addition to the other factors, Enoch was the seventh patriarch
from Adam. For sages with apocalyptic and astrological interests
this was a particularly important number symbolizing fullness or
completeness. While this may not have meant much by itself, in conjunction
with the other factors, it only served to enhance Enoch's reputation.
four factors identified Enoch as a figure uniquely qualified to
present divine truths, especially those concerning astrological
and cosmological mysteries. Since the passage and computation of
time is intricately connected to these mysteries, Enoch was also
assumed to have knowledge of the last days-when they would occur
and what would befall Israel and/or the Church within them.
Pseudepigraphical writings - writings attributed to a figure of
great antiquity-flourished in the Second Temple period. The intent
of attributing the writings to these figures was not deception as
we might think but protection and continuity. Since many of these
documents were politically and theologically subversive attribution
to a figure of the past was safer for the author or community producing
the document. Also, it demonstrated a continuity of thought; the
author wrote what they believed the patriarch would have written
had the opportunity been open to them. (Back)
1 Chron 1:3 (Back)
This in no way compromises the unity of God but is understood as
the plural of majesty. Thus, the plural denotes God's surpassing
greatness that cannot be contained within a singular word. (Back)
Two clear examples are Ps 82:1, 6. (Back)
The issue at stake was whether certain festivals were being celebrated
at the time at which God had commanded them to be celebrated. Opponents
of the Jerusalem establishment argued that the Temple's use of the
incorrect calendar resulted in ritually incorrect offerings and
celebrations, a situation sure to rouse the wrath of God. (Back)
Septuagint (LXX) was the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures
produced in Alexandria for the use of Diaspora Jews who no longer
were familiar with Hebrew. The translation process probably began
in the third century BCE with the Pentateuch and was completed sometime
in the first century BCE. The LXX was considered authoritative for
Diaspora Jews and was the first Old Testament of the Christian church.
1 En 106 where Methuselah goes to the ends of the earth to ask Enoch
in heaven about the unusual birth of Noah. (Back)
1 En 90:31. (Back)
is a doctrine of the end times or 'last things' (a literal rendering
of the Greek word eschaton). Because it deals with endings-especially
the end of the world-eschatology is often confused with apocalyptic.
The difference is a matter of perspective. Calling a work 'apocalyptic'
makes a statement about literary form; calling a work 'eschatological'
makes a statement about content. The two are related, overlapping,
non-exclusive categories. Thus, a work can be apocalyptic without
being eschatological like an otherworldly journey, eschatological
without being apocalyptic like a scientific treatise on the heat-death
of the universe (a modern eschatology), or both like an exposition
on the Day of Judgment.
come in diverse forms and worldviews but are most easily categorized
based on whatever is ending. Thus, a personal eschatology is one
that focuses on an individual's demise-the existential condition.
This is ably represented within our literature by works like Soul
and Body I that focus upon the individual experience of death. Communal
or national eschatology focuses on the ending of a group of people.
Wulfstan's Sermo Lupi ad Anglos is representative of this approach.
Cosmic eschatology is probably the most familiar-the traditional
"end of the world"-wherein the cosmos itself comes to some kind
of end. Examples of this include St. Bede's De Die Iudici and Christ
III, especially lines 867-1080. Needless to say, a single work can
contain a blending of two or more of these: Judgment Day II, for
instance, folds personal and cosmic eschatology together.
should be noted that most eschatologies are not "ultimate" eschatologies-they
are often an end but are rarely the end. It is an end of a particular
way of being that does not preclude other modes of existence. In
other words, bodily death is an end. While a secular existential
eschatology may see this as the end, medieval Christian eschatology
sees it as an end because the soul continues personal existence
albeit in a different form. Indeed, only the most arrogant of existential
eschatologies would fail to realize that while a personal ending
ends that individual's perception of the world, the world does not
end along with the perceiver. In the same way, cosmic judgment and
destruction does not preclude a new creation.
Exeter Book is the largest of the four major miscellanies of the
The manuscript was given to the Exeter Cathedral by Leofric, the
first bishop of Exeter, who died in 1072. It was probably written
about 940 and contains today 131 parchment leaves. Folios 1 to 7
are of a later date, though. The original book begins today with
folio 8, but the missing beginning of the first poem, Christ, suggests
that at least one folio has been lost.
Even though a large part of the content of the Exeter Book is of
religious nature, some of the content is secular or even - as in
the case of some riddles - highly ambiguous at the least.
individual poems in the Exeter Book are not titled. The beginning
of a new poem is indicated by a large initial capital, and is usually
marked by one or two empty lines, even though the latter is becoming
ever more rare towards the end of the manuscript.
the following list, I am using the titles of the edition of Krapp
and Dobbie, which are mostly generally accepted by now: