From the Greek. In Old English a group of short poems in the Exeter Book whose subject is the transcience of the world, sometimes relieved by Christian consolation, are called elegies (Wanderer; Seafarer; Deor; Ruin).
  This entry is a citation from the Oxford Companion to English Literature
Enoch (by Derek A. Olsen: derekolsen@apocalyptic-theories.com)

Progenitor, 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 authorClick for footnote 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.

Of 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 ChroniclesClick for footnote, 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.

First, 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 pluralClick for footnote 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 GodClick for footnote. 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.

Second, 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 establishmentClick for footnote.

Third, 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 SeptuagintClick for footnote 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 divine council.Click for footnote As a result, certain JewishClick for footnote and later medieval traditions suggested that Enoch (with Elijah) would return to the earth to proclaim repentance before the Day of Judgment.

Fourth, 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.

These 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)

The 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. (Back)

Note 1 En 106 where Methuselah goes to the ends of the earth to ask Enoch in heaven about the unusual birth of Noah. (Back)

See 1 En 90:31. (Back)

Eschatology (by Derek A. Olsen: derekolsen@apocalyptic-theories.com)

Eschatology 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.

Eschatologies 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.

It 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.

The Exeter Book

The Exeter Book is the largest of the four major miscellanies of the Anglo-Saxon periodClick for Footnote. 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.

The 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.

In the following list, I am using the titles of the edition of Krapp and Dobbie, which are mostly generally accepted by nowClick for Footnote:

Christ Soul and body II
Guthlac Deor
Azarias Wulf and Eadwacer
The Phoenix Riddles 1-59
Juliana The Wife's Lament
The Wanderer Judgement Day I
The Gifts of Men Resignation
Precepts The Descent into Hell
The Seafarer Alms-Giving
Vainglory Pharao
Widsith The Lord's Prayer I
The Fortunes of Men Homiletic Fragment II
Maxims I Riddle 30b
The Order of the World Riddle 60
The Riming Poem The Husband's Message
The Panther The Ruin
The Whale Riddles 61-95
The Partridge
  Further Reading: Krapp & Dobbie, The Exeter Book
  The other miscellanies are the Cotton Vitellius A XV Manuscript (containing Beowulf), the Vercelli Book and the Junius Manuscript.
The Descent into Hell, for example, is also known as The Harrowing of Hell.