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3 Enoch and the Similitudes of Enoch


by Bankole Davies-Browne

[Bankole Davies-Browne is a postgraduate student working on the M.Phil. degree at the Divinity School of the University of St. Andrews.--JRD]

In my paper I have attempted to establish the relationship between 3 Enoch 3-15 and the Similitudes (1 Enoch 37-71); the former being a Hekhalot text. It is this section that deals with the elevation and transformation of the patriarch, Enoch. In my introduction I gave a brief background of both passages (pericopae). I did spend a fair bit of time discussing the relationship between 3 Enoch 3-15 and 3 Enoch (the Hebrew book of Enoch) as a whole; and also its relationship to chapter 16.

I noticed that the parallels between the Similitudes and 3 Enoch 3-15 are centred around eight elements in both pericopae: (1.) The heroes of the work (Rabbi Ishmael and Enoch: a biblical character and an extra-biblical character) (2.) Angelology (good and evil angels) (3.) Enoch / Metatron versus the "elect one" "the son of man. " (4.) The throne and the Shekinah (5) Eschatology; ( 6). The oath / power inherent in letters, (7.) The heavenly ascent; and (8.) Wisdom. By the way, this is not an exhaustive list of parallels. My task was to try to explain some of these parallels. However, I decided to focus my attention on the Enoch/Metatron figure. Moreover, some of the aforementioned elements are interrelated to this figure in a rather complex manner. I have looked at the parallel from two different perspectives: (1). Apocalyptic tradition (See Saldarini and Himmelfarb) and (2). Hekhalot tradition (See Suter). There is evidence to show that 3 Enoch was dependent on the Similitudes. The thorny subject is to explain the parallels. Is 3 Enoch 3-15 (representing a later tradition) a product of exegesis or is it a result of a genuine mystical experience of a community?


Alexander, P., "3 Enoch and the Talmud," Journal for the Study of Judaism 18 (1987): 40-68

---------------, "The Historical Setting of the Book of Enoch," Journal of Jewish Studies 28(1977): 156-180

Davila, J. R. "The Hekhalot Literature and Shamanism" SBL Seminar Papers. 33 (1994): 767-789

___________ "Initiatory, Disintegration and Reintegration" (ch. 5 of an unpublished monograph provisionally entitled "Descenders to the Chariot: The Community Behind the Hekhalot Literature")

___________"Utnapishtim, Marduk, and Metatron: Babylonian Myth in 3 Enoch" (unpublished ms presented in the Divine Mediator Figures Consultation during the 1992 SBL annual meeting)

Halperin, David, The Faces of the Chariot : Early Jewish Responses to Ezekiel

Himmelfarb, Martha "Heavenly Ascent and the Relationship of the Apocalypse and the Hekhalot Literature" Hebrew Union College Annual 59 (1988) 73-100

Rowland, Christopher. The Open Heaven: A Study of Apocalyptic in Judaism and Early Christianity London: SPCK, 1982

Saldarini, Anthony , J. "Apocalypses and Apocalyptic in Rabbinic Literature and Mysticism," Semeia 14 (1979): 187-205

Schaefer, Peter , The Hidden and Manifest God. New York: State University of New York, 1992

Suter, David, Winston. Tradition and composition in the Parables of Enoch. SBL Dissertation Series 47; Scholars Press, Missoula MT, 1979


(c) 1997
Reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the author.

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