Subscribers to my newsletter know that I have been working on the first of a planned three-volume Reader’s Commentary on the Book of Enoch. That first volume is now shipping on Amazon:

A Companion to the Book of Enoch: A Reader’s Commentary, Vol I: The Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36)

What’s a “Reader’s Commentary”? It’s probably easier to describe what it isn’t. It’s not a comment-on-every-word (or even every verse) commentary, though it is an academic work. It’s not a commentary that requires readers to know Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Ethiopic, though I interact with the ancient languages in which the book of Enoch has survived. Rather, if you can imagine sitting down with me and reading the book of Enoch together, where I comment on words, phrases, and content themes, then you get the idea. A Reader’s Commentary is designed to help someone reading a book know what they’re reading — it’s a “What’s going on and what does it mean?” tool.

There are two highly-technical commentaries on the book of Enoch. An old, turn-of-the-century volume by R. H. Charles, which is peppered with Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Ethiopic, for it presumes users can handle those languages, and the more recent massive 2-volume set by Nickelsburg, which is even more technical than Charles. Until my Reader’s Commentary, nothing exists for the layperson interested in studying 1 Enoch. Here’s what I wrote for the Amazon page:

Though the scholarly literature on 1 Enoch is plentiful, no commentary for the interested lay person exists–until now. A Companion to the Book of Enoch: A Reader’s Commentary, Volume 1: The Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36) was written to fill this void and help students of the Bible understand and appreciate this important and influential ancient book. This reader’s commentary; does not require original language facility on the part of its user. Rather, the purpose of a Reader’s Commentary is to help readers of 1 Enoch comprehend what the book’s content with greater insight and clarity. Consequently, this Reader’s Commentary on 1 Enoch is not written for scholars.

By way of example, here’s the commentary on 1 Enoch 1:1-2 and 1 Enoch 1:9 from the book. I hope many of you will get this new, unique resource!

1 Enoch 1:1-2 – Translation

11 The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect «and» righteous, who will be living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked «and godless» are to be removed. 2 And he took up his parable and said—Enoch a righteous man, whose eyes were opened by God, saw the vision of the Holy One in the heavens, ‹which› the angels showed me, and from them I heard everything, and from them I understood as I saw, but not for this generation, but for a remote one which is for to come.



­The words of the blessing of Enoch – This opening line is similar to Deut 33:1 (“This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death), prompting some scholars to suggest a deliberate imitation. The writer’s motive would be to make 1 Enoch read as Scripture. This suspicion is likely confirmed once we note that “the words of,” while not appearing in Deut 33:1, appear in the first verse of other canonical books of the Hebrew Bible (Neh 1:1; Eccl 1:1; Jer 1:1; Amos 1:1). The content of the book is characterized as a blessing because the book will describe the glorious fate of the righteous and terrible fate of the wicked.

the elect «and» righteous – other translations read “righteous chosen” (N) and “righteous elect” (B). This is no surprise given the double brackets around “and” indicating the conjunction isn’t in all manuscripts. Consequently, it is certain that two separate groups are not in view. Charles’ own commentary on the 1 Enoch notes that the phrase is found elsewhere in 1 Enoch (38:2, 3, 4, 39:6, 7, 48:1, 58:1, 2, 60:13, 63:12, 13, 15, 70:3).[1] Since 1 Enoch is a Second Temple Jewish text, the “elect” has Old Testament Israel as a reference point. The elect are righteous (faithful) Jews.

in the day of tribulation – A time of great judgment. The referent is clarified by the ensuing “when all the wicked «and godless» are to be removed.” This tribulation, then, is not a general time of judgment on Jews. Rather, those judged are the enemies of the righteous and God, regardless of ethnicity.[2] As 1 Enoch precedes the advent of Christianity, there is no sense of Christians escaping judgment at the expense of Jews. The passage is therefore no support for a particular view of Christian eschatology. Rather than a tribulation period of popular eschatology, the ensuing description of the tribulation (vv. 4-9) bears close resemblance to the Old Testament Day of the Lord.

Nickelsburg adds “and the righteous will be saved” to the end of 1:1 after “when all the wicked «and godless» are to be removed.” While the phrase is not found in Ethiopic here, it is found in the parallel verse of 1 En 10:17.


his parable – (See also v. 3). N has “his discourse,” perhaps to avoid a connotation of allegory. The Greek reads parabolē, which can be reconciled with the Aramaic fragment of the verse (4QEna 1 1:2) where the noun is matlâh. This Aramaic noun is cognate to Hebrew mashal, which is to be understood as a wise proverbial saying, not an allegory. In the Septuagint, parabolē is the predominant translation of mashal. Silva writes that mashal “. . . simply denotes a proverb, which may often contain a comparison (1 Sam 10:12; 24:13; Ezek 18:2); if the saying or comparison makes fun of or disparages a person as a bad example, the term takes on the sense “taunt” (Isa 14:4; Hab 2:6).”[3] Parables are fundamentally about comparison. The means of the comparison (allegory or not) can vary.

Enoch – Enoch is here referred to in the third person, making it clear that the biblical Enoch of Gen 5:21-24 is not cast as the author of 1 Enoch. Rather, an unknown writer purports to quote the biblical Enoch, and so 1 Enoch is about Enoch, not authored by Enoch.


[1] Robert Henry Charles, ed., Commentary on the Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (vol. 2; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), 188.

[2] A survey of the judgment phrases in 1 Enoch informs us that “day of judgment” is more common than “day of tribulation. See Daniel Assefa, Matthew’s Day of Judgment in the Light of 1 Enoch,” in Enoch and the Synoptic Gospels: Reminiscences, Allusions, Intertextuality (ed. Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Gabriele Boccaccini; Early Judaism and Its Literature 44; SBL Press, 2016), 199-213 (esp. 204).

[3] Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 609.


1 Enoch 1:9 – Translation

9 And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of ‹His› holy ones
To execute judgement upon all,
And to destroy ‹all› the ungodly:
And to convict all flesh
Of all the works ‹of their ungodliness› which they have ungodly committed,
‹And of all the hard things which› ungodly sinners ‹have spoken› against Him.


This verse is quoted in Jude 14-15, almost in its entirety, as a prophecy from “the seventh from Adam” (Enoch).[1] Though the Enochic source of the statement is clear from observing the Greek of Jude and 1 Enoch 1:9, the Enochic writer may have also been influenced by two other Old Testament passages:

Jer 25:30-31

“‘The Lord will roar from on high,
and from his holy habitation utter his voice;
he will roar mightily against his fold,
and shout, like those who tread grapes,
against all the inhabitants of the earth.
The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth,
for the Lord has an indictment against the nations;
he is entering into judgment with all flesh,
and the wicked he will put to the sword,
declares the Lord.’

Isaiah 66:15-16

“For behold, the Lord will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
For by fire will the Lord enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the Lord shall be many.

ten thousands of ‹His› holy ones . . . to execute judgement – The descriptive phrase “holy ones” is “a common Enochic term for heavenly beings, which appears in the absolute form and in combination with ‘watchers’.”[2] The statement brings to mind passages like Deut 33:1-2 and Dan 7:10 (cp. Dan 7:18, 22, 25) and 1 Enoch 14:22-23, where multitudes of holy ones are present with God to dispense the law (Deut 33:1-2) or render judgment.[3]


[1] Ibid., 149. Nickelsburg notes that Jude “quotes all but line c.” Bauckham adds that “the seventh from Adam” is “a traditional description of Enoch (1 Enoch 60:8; 93:3 = 4QEng 1:3:23–24; Jub. 7:39; Lev. Rab. 29:11), arrived at by reckoning the generations inclusively (Gen. 5:3–19).” Richard J. Bauckham, 2 Peter, Jude (vol. 50; Word Biblical Commentary; Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 96. The reader will note from Bauckham’s citation that we have Aramaic evidence for this quotation. Bauckham (p. 94) raises the obvious questions: “Has Jude followed the Greek version (C) or made his own translation from the Aramaic? . . . Has Jude adapted the text to meet his own requirements?” See the discussion on pp. 94-95 of Bauckham’s commentary.

[2] Ibid., 149. Examples listed by Nickelsburg include: 9:3 (Eth); 14:23, 25; 47:2, 4; 57:2; 60:4; 61:10, 12; 69:13; 71:4; 81:5; 93:11.

[3] For Old Testament examples of the heavenly host coming with or at the behest of Yahweh for judgment, see Heiser, Angels, 52-54. For New Testament examples, see the same resource at pp. 136-138.