2 (Slavonic) Enoch

Andrei A. Orlov

 2 Enoch is a Jewish pseudepigraphon preserved solely in the Slavonic language. The central theme of the text is the celestial ascent of the seventh antediluvian patriarch Enoch through the heavens, his luminous metamorphosis near the Throne of Glory, and his initiation into the heavenly mysteries.

The book, which combines the features of an apocalypse and a testament, can be divided into three parts. The first part (chapters 1–38) describes Enoch’s heavenly journey that culminates in his encounter with the Deity revealing to the seer the secrets of creation. After the encounter Enoch returns to earth to instruct his children in the celestial knowledge received from God and the angels. The second part (chapters 39–67) begins with Enoch’s testamentary admonitions to his sons during his short visit to earth and ends with the second ascension of the patriarch. The third part of the book (chapters 68–73) describes the priestly functions of Enoch’s family and the miraculous birth of Melchisedek, and ends with the Flood.

Manuscripts and Recensions
2 Enoch has survived in more than twenty Slavonic manuscripts and fragments dated from 14th to 18th centuries C.E. These Slavonic materials did not circulate independently but were included into collections that often rearranged, abbreviated, or expanded them. Typically, Jewish pseudepigraphical texts in Slavic mileux were transmitted as part of larger historiographical, moral, and liturgical codexes and compendiums where ideologically marginal and mainstream materials were mixed with each other. Only a small number of the manuscripts, namely A (0:1–72:10), U (0:1–72:10), B (0:1–72:10), and R (0:1–73:9), give a full account of the story leading up to the Flood. Manuscript J (0:1–71:4) goes to chapter 71. Manuscripts P (0:1–68:7), N (0:1–67:3), V (1:1–67:3), and B2 (1:1–67:3) contain only the first two parts of the book and end with Enoch’s second ascension. Manuscript L (0:1–33:8) goes to chapter 33. The rest of the manuscripts give only fragments of the different parts of the book: P2 (28:1–32:2), Tr (67:1; 70–72), Syn (71;72), Rum (71:1–73:1), G (65:1–4; 65:6–8), Chr (fragments from 11–58), Chr2 (11:1–15:3), K (71:1–72:10), I (70:22–72:9). A large group of the manuscripts (MPr, TSS 253, TSS 489, TSS 682) are copies of the compilation of rearranged materials from chs. 40–65 of 2 Enoch from a judicial codex “The Just Balance” ("Merilo Pravednoe").
Scholarly consensus holds that 2 Enoch exists in longer and shorter recensions, although some scholars proposed the existence of three or even four recensions (Andersen, 1983). The longer and shorter recensions of 2 Enoch differ not only in length but also in the character of the text, and both of them preserve original material. MSS R, J, and P are the manuscripts of the longer recension. MSS U, A, B, V, N, B2, and L represent the manuscripts of the shorter recension. P2, Tr, Syn, Rum, MPr, TSS 253, TSS 489, TSS 682, G, Chr, Chr2, I, and K represent fragments of the longer or shorter recensions. Although several stemmas of the relationships between the manuscripts were offered, they can be considered only as provisional until the critical editions of the major manuscripts become available (Andersen, 1983).

Original Language
Most scholars believe that the Slavonic version was translated from Greek, since the text attests to some traditions that make sense only in the Greek language, for example a tradition found in 2 Enoch 30 that derives Adam’s name from the Greek designations of the four corners of the earth. The Semitisms, such as the words Ophanim, Raqia Arabot, and others found in various parts of the text, point to the possibility of the Semitic Vorlage behind the Greek version. Nevertheless, some scholars warn that the Semitisms might be “due to the cultivation of a biblical style in the Greek original” (Andersen, 1983). The hypothesis about the possibility of direct translation from Hebrew into Slavonic was also proposed (Mescherskij, 1965). Yet this suggestion met strong criticism from experts who “find it thoroughly unlikely that translations from Hebrew into any sort of written Slavic were made in any region of Slavdom before the middle of the fifteenth century” (Lunt/Taube, 1988).

The date of the text can be deduced solely on the basis of the internal evidence since the book has survived only in the medieval manuscripts. It is noteworthy that the overwhelming majority of the crucial arguments for the early dating of the text have been linked to the themes of the Jerusalem Temple and its ongoing practices and customs. The vast majority of scholarly efforts have been in this respect directed toward finding possible hints that might indicate that the Sanctuary was still standing when the original text was composed. These discussions are not new, since already in his first systematic exploration of the text published in 1896, R. H. Charles used references to the Temple practices found in the Slavonic apocalypse as main proofs for his hypothesis of the early date of the apocalypse which he placed in the first century C.E. before the destruction of the Second Temple (Charles/Morfill, 1896).
Charles and scholars after him noted that the text gives no indication that the catastrophe of the destruction of the Temple had already occurred at the time of the book’s composition. Critical readers of the pseudepigraphon would have some difficulties finding any explicit expression of feelings of sadness or mourning about the loss of the sanctuary.
Affirmations of the value of animal sacrifice and Enoch’s halakhic instructions found in 2 Enoch 59 also appear to be fashioned not in the “preservationist,” mishnaic-like mode but rather as if they reflected sacrificial practices that still existed when the author was writing his book. There is also an intensive and consistent effort on the part of the author to legitimize the central place of worship, which through the reference to the place Akhuzan—a cryptic name for the temple mountain in Jerusalem—is explicitly connected in 2 Enoch with the Jerusalem Temple. Scholars have also previously noted in the text some indications of the ongoing practice of pilgrimage to the central place of worship. These indications could be expected in a text written in the Alexandrian Diaspora. Thus in his instructions to the children, Enoch repeatedly encourages them to bring the gifts before the face of God for the remission of sins, a practice which appears to recall well-known sacrificial customs widespread in the Second Temple period (Böttrich, 1992). Further, the Slavonic apocalypse also contains a direct command to visit the Temple three times a day, an advice that would be difficult to fulfill if the sanctuary had been already destroyed.

Although several hypotheses about Christian authorship of the book were proposed, none of them was able to withstand scholarly criticism. Besides the early hypothesis about the Bogomil provenance of the work (Maunder, 1918) that was met with skepticism, the most consistent effort of justifying the Christian provenance of the work was offered by the French Slavist André Vaillant (Vaillant, 1952). His position was later supported by Josef Milik who argued that the apocalypse was written by a Byzantine monk in the ninth century C.E. (Milik, 1976). Both Vaillant’s and Milik’s positions generated substantial critical responses since the vast majority of readers of 2 Enoch had been arguing for the Jewish provenance of the original core of the text.

Geographical Provenance
Since the pioneering work of R. H. Charles the hypothesis about the Alexandrian provenance of the apocalypse has dominated the landscape of scholarly discussion. Charles proposed that the apocalypse was written by a Hellenized Jew in Alexandria. The text appears to attest to some themes that were distinctive of the Alexandrian environment. One such cluster of motifs deals with the Adamic tradition that is salient in the Slavonic apocalypse. Thus in 2 Enoch 30:13 the Lord tells Enoch that he created Adam out of the seven components and assigned to Adam a name from the four components: from East – (A), from West – (D), from North – (A), and from South – (M). The early testimony to this tradition about the anagram of Adam’s name can be found in the third book of Sibylline Oracles, a composition probably written in Egypt around 160–50 B.C.E. Another reference also comes from the Egyptian milieu and is found in the writings of the Hermetic author Zosimos of Panopolis who lived in Alexandria in the late third or early fourth century C.E. (Böttrich, 1995).
Some other Adamic motifs found in 2 Enoch, such as the tradition about Adam’s role as the governor of the earth, also seems to stem from Alexandrian milieu, exhibiting similarities to the developments found in Philo (Opif. 88; 148).
The description of phoenixes and chalkydras, the mythical creatures whom Enoch encounters during his celestial tour, might also point to Egypt. Already Charles was arguing about the Egyptian provenance of this imagery (Charles/Morfill, 1896). Van den Broek’s study of the phoenix traditions confirms Charles’ hypothesis, proposing that the symbolism found in the Slavonic apocalypse stems from the Egyptian syncretism of Roman times (Van den Broek, 1972).

The theological universe of the Slavonic apocalypse is deeply rooted in the Enochic mold of the Jewish apocalypticism of the Second Temple period. Yet along with appropriations of ancient traditions about the seventh antediluvian hero, the text attempts to reshape them by adding a new mystical dimension to the familiar apocalyptic imagery. The figure of Enoch portrayed in the various sections of 2 Enoch appears to be more elaborate than in the early Second Temple Enochic tractates of 1 Enoch. For the first time, the Enochic tradition seeks to depict Enoch, not simply as a human taken to heaven and transformed into an angel, but as a celestial being exalted above the angelic world (Orlov, 2005). In this attempt, one may find the origins of another image of Enoch, very different from the early Enochic literature, that was developed much later in rabbinic Merkabah and Hekhalot mysticism–the image of the supreme angel Metatron, “the Prince of the Presence.” The titles of the patriarch found in the Slavonic apocalypse appear to be different from those attested in early Enochic writings and demonstrate a close resemblance to the titles of Metatron as they appear in some Hekhalot sources (Odeberg, 1928). These developments demonstrate that 2 Enoch represents a bridge between the early apocalyptic Enochic accounts and the later mystical rabbinic and Hekhalot traditions.

Andersen, F. 1985, "2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch," The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. J. H. Charlesworth; New York: Doubleday, 1. 91-221. Böttrich, C. 1992, Weltweisheit, Menschheitsethik, Urkult: Studien zum slavischen Henochbuch, WUNT, R.2, 50; Tübingen: Mohr. Böttrich, C. 1995, Adam als Mikrokosmos: eine Untersuchung zum slavischen Henochbuch, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Charles, R. H. and W. R. Morfill, 1896, The Book of the Secrets of Enoch, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Lunt, H. G. and M. Taube. 1988, “Early East Slavic Translations from Hebrew,” Russian Linguistics 12:147–87. Maunder, A. S. D. 1918, "The Date and Place of Writing of the Slavonic Book of Enoch," The Observatory 41:309-316. Meshcherskij, N. 1965, "K voprosu ob istochnikah slavjanskoj knigi Enoha," Kratkie soobshchenija Instituta narodov Azii 86:72-8. Milik, J. T. 1976, The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Odeberg, H. 1928, 3 Enoch or the Hebrew Book of Enoch, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Orlov, A. 2005, The Enoch-Metatron Tradition, TSAJ, 107; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck. Sokolov, M. I. 1910, "Materialy i zametki po starinnoj slavjanskoj literature. Vypusk tretij, VII. Slavjanskaja Kniga Enoha Pravednogo. Teksty, latinskij perevod i izsledovanie. Posmertnyj trud avtora prigotovil k izdaniju M. Speranskij," Chtenija v Obshchestve Istorii i Drevnostej Rossijskih 4:1-167. Vaillant, A. 1952, Le livre des secrets d'Hénoch: Texte slave et traduction française, Paris: l'Institut d'études slaves. Van Den Broek, R. 1972, The Myth of the Phoenix according to Classical and Early Christian Traditions, Leiden: Brill.







  • Latin Translation (Part I   Part II   Part III   Part IV) [ M. Sokolov, “Materialy i zametki po starinnoj slavjanskoj literature. Vypusk tretij. VII. Slavjanskaja Kniga Enoha Pravednogo. Teksty, latinskij perevod i izsledovanie. Posmertnyj trud avtora prigotovil k izdaniju M. Speranskij,” COIDR 4 (1910) 1–167]
  • English Translation (Ms. J)  [F. Andersen, “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch,” The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.; ed. J. H. Charlesworth; New York: Doubleday, 1985 [1983]) 1.91–221] (password: apocalyptic)
  • English Translation [R. H. Charles and W. R. Morfill, The Book of the Secrets of Enoch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896)]
  • Russian Translation [Navtanovich, L. M. (Навтанович, Л. М.) “Книга Еноха,” in: Lihachev, D. S. (ed.), Библиотека литературы Древней Руси (20 томов; С.-Петербург, 1999) 3.204-241.]
  • Russian Translation
  • Russian Translation

Research on 2 (Slavonic) Enoch


New Books



New books on the Slavonic Pseudepigrapha: