Dear Father Angelo,
Why was the book of Enoch not accepted into the canon despite Jude referring to it in his Epistle?
If the Book of Enoch is apocryphal, shouldn’t the Epistle of Judah be too, since it refers to it?
Thanks for your reply
The priest’s answer
- Here is what the Epistle of Jude says in the passage to which you refer: “Enoch, of the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied also about them when he said, “Behold, the Lord has come with his countless holy ones to execute judgment on all and to convict everyone for all the godless deeds that they committed and for all the harsh words godless sinners have uttered against him.” (Jude 1: 14-15)
- Here Jude refers to popular tradition.
He does not expressly speak of the book of Enoch, even though the words related by Jude correspond to those of the book.
- Judas recognizes the prophetic nature of those words.
But true words are to be found in many texts by Greek poets.
One of these is reported by St. Paul in his famous speech at the Areopagus, when he says: “For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’ as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.'” (Acts 17, 28).
But these words do not make the whole text written by Aratus of Soli prophetic (this is thought to be the name of the poet quoted by St. Paul).
- This was also the thought of St. Jerome in Titus 1: 12, who stated that an inspired author, citing a profane book, does not approve at all everything that is written there, but his approval is limited to the reported quotation.
So does St. Jude, who with that quotation does not intend to approve all the myths written in the homonymous book.
- The book of Enoch has always been considered an apocryphal book, the reading of which was prohibited in sacred assemblies.
Apocryphal means hidden, secret, and indicates a book falsely attributed to a generally known character, while the true author is actually unknown.
- Enoch is the seventh antediluvian patriarch mentioned at the beginning of the book of Genesis.
It was apocryphal to the Jews themselves, because the first five books of Sacred Scripture were thought to have been written by Moses, who is also temporally much later than Enoch.
- We have three books of Enoch, depending on the language in which they were written: Ethiopian, Slavic, Hebrew.
- The best known is the Ethiopian one.
It is divided into five sections, preceded by a prologue and followed by an epilogue.
In the first of these five parts it talks about the relationships of the sons of God (the angels) with the daughters of men, from which the giants would be born and then narrates the journey made by Enoch through heaven and earth under the guidance of an angel who explains to him their mysteries.
- As can be seen, this fairy-tale language is profoundly different from that of the books that compose Sacred Scripture.
The quote from Judas is taken from the prologue.
- Enoch, the antediluvian patriarch, is mentioned, albeit briefly, also in the famous sermon on purity given by St. Giovanni Bosco to the boys of the oratory.
I wish you well, I remind you to the Lord and I bless you.
Translated by Chiara P.