The Book of Enoch was a major stimulus for the modern study of apocalyptic literature and how it describes the emergence of Satan, the fallen angels, the Nephilim, and the end of time. The stories of Enoch provide moralistic teachings for the reader, demonstrating the religious piety that biblical figures possessed and serving as models for how the religious followers of the Bible should act. The apocalyptic genre within the Book of Enoch reveals divination in the decoding of mysterious signs that foretell the events that lead up to the end time and what the end of time will be like for humanity.
I Enoch, the story of the Watchers, is an apocalyptic work that focuses on the divinely appointed order and the evil forces at work that threaten it. The figure of Enoch himself is a mysterious figure of the Old Testament. Enoch appears in the book of Genesis (5:21-24) as the seventh patriarch in a genealogy from Abraham to Noah. Enoch was the father of Methuselah and a man of great piety. Enoch was said to have walked with God, and as a reward for his piety at the age of 365, God raised Enoch up to heaven. Some scholars have even suggested that this is the basis for the calendar with 365 days. God raised Enoch up to heaven giving Enoch divine knowledge and recognition, for he knows God. In Islam, Enoch is regarded as one of their many prophets.
The work of Enoch is not included in the Bible or the Apocrypha, yet Enoch and his work are widely known both before and after the time of Jesus and have enjoyed much prestige. Eleven manuscripts of Enoch's works were produced for the elusive Qumran community located in the Israeli desert, and it stretched into even greater circles and farther lands including Ethiopia. The original text of I Enoch was written in Aramaic, the common language of the time, and later was translated into Greek.
I Enoch was an apocalyptic text, and apocryphal writers of the time were well aquainted with Enoch's literature. References to the text can be seen in the New Testament and the Apocrypha. The cosmic journey of Enoch, the clear separation between good and evil, and the punishments and rewards that await humans become inlaid in further apocalyptic literature based on I Enoch. I Enoch carried the same authority of the canonical Bible under major Christian Fathers such as Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian until the third century C.E. In the fourth century, Jerome and Augustine demoted the authority of the text and its authority fell in the Western Church, while in the Eastern Church, I Enoch continued to be handled with great respect until the ninth century C.E. The content of Enoch is not composed by Enoch himself, but by a collaboration of authors implementing a writing phenomenon of the time called pseudepigraphy, which presents ideas by putting oneself in the position of well-respected biblical primordial figures. By using Enoch's name, the writers anticipated well that the text would be read and respected.
I Enoch reflects the stresses and strains in ancient Palestine, the Antiochan persecutions, and the domination of foreign peoples. The narrative is richly interspersed with prophecies of the end of time-the final cataclysm. The Watchers provides a paradigm for the origin of evil and sin. The tendency to explain the human situation in mythic terms is characteristic of apocalyptic literature.
The visions of Enoch are of astronomical, cosmic, and divine nature, in his journeys to heaven and hell, to the realms of good and evil. Enoch is a mediator between God and the Watchers and speaks openly with God and the fallen angels, which further elevates the popularity of Enoch for having contact with God. The text tells of a band of angels led by Lucifer who visited earth and consorted with women. The angels were involved in sexual relations with the women and taught them knowledge that was forbidden, such as crafting weapons. The offspring from the angels and the women were the Nephilim (Gen. 6:1-8), giantlike creatures that ravaged the earth and that are mentioned briefly in the Bible. The birth of the Nephilim gives explanation to the Flood to wipe out all things that were evil on the earth.
God punished Lucifer and the band of angels for disobeying his orders and sentenced them to meet their doom and to live in Sheol (hell). These angels introduced chaos into the ordered world, and they were banned from heaven and cast to remain in perpetual torment in a place that Enoch saw with colossal pillars of fire, a fiery abyss.
The Watchers is a prototype for all of humanity that those who fall from God's grace will be punished, just as God punished his angels. The good will be rewarded in paradise, in heaven, with God. The tension of good and evil, the evolution of how Satan came to be, is one of the most influential aspects of I Enoch, and this notion of the fallen angel has been the means to explain how Satan and evil came to be. I Enoch still survives in its legend of Satan, the fallen angels, evil, and the end of time to come. The figure of Enoch has found a place within the Islamic faith as one of their prophets, for Enoch was so beloved by Allah (God) and the legends that spawned from the Watchers are still echoed in Christian churches on Sunday mornings. Enoch, a silent figure in the Old Testament and model religious devotee to Yahweh, serves as a spiritual model for others to follow.