Were the New Testament Writers Influenced by the Book of Enoch?
Absolutely—at least that’s the claim of best-selling biblical scholar, Dr. Michael S. Heiser.
Fresh on the heels of his best-selling book, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, Heiser is dropping another mind grenade with Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ (Defender, 2017).
The Book of Enoch (referred to as 1 Enoch by scholars) was written three centuries before the time of Jesus.
Fragments of the ancient book found among the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm its antiquity and revered status among Jews is confirmed by fragments of the Second Temple Period (ca. 500 B.C.—70 A.D.), an era more commonly referred to as the “Intertestamental Period.”
The Book of Enoch has generated controversy among Christians for thousands of years, mostly because certain sects of Judaism and several important early church fathers believed it belonged in their Bible next to the other inspired books. Heiser clarifies: “1 Enoch was widely read by both Jews and Christians before and during the time of Jesus. Jews at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, quoted it as authoritative Scripture. Celebrated early church thinkers like Irenaeus and Tertullian did the same thing. The modern dismissal of the Book of Enoch is just that—modern.”
Heiser doesn’t consider the Book of Enoch to be inspired, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t important to New Testament writers—or that it isn’t just as important today. In fact, he asserts, there are passages in the New Testament whose intended meaning is lost or obscured without the context of certain passages in 1 Enoch. This is especially true, argues Heiser, of the episode for which 1 Enoch is best known—the fall of the angelic Watchers and their intentional corruption of humanity.
“Enoch’s story of the sin of the Watchers had theological significance for gospel writers, Peter, Paul, and John, the author of the book of Revelation,” Heiser explains. For Jews of Jesus’ day and early church authorities, the reason for human depravity wasn’t only the Fall in Eden. The evil influence of the Watchers was an equal catalyst.”
Enoch’s influence on the theology of the New Testament writers isn’t a mere academic point of interest. Rather, Heiser contends, “it’s at the heart of the mission of Jesus.
“What Reversing Hermon really shows readers is that Jews and early Christians saw the messiah as more than the deliverer of Israel or the antidote for eternal death and estrangement from God. They expected the messiah to reverse what the Watchers had done in corrupting humanity and restore the earth to the Edenic state once evil and the effects of its proliferation had been purged.”
As was his method in The Unseen Realm, Heiser makes the best of peer-reviewed scholarship accessible to non-specialists in Reversing Hermon. “This isn’t a work of speculation,” Heiser adds. “Reversing Hermon is the first book in either academia or popular readership to discuss all the places in the New Testament framed by the story of the fall of the Watchers in 1 Enoch. It’s high time modern Christians got a glimpse of this book held in such high regard by the apostles.”
ABOUT DR. MICHAEL HEISER:
Dr. Michael S. Heiser is a biblical scholar, author, blogger, professor, and podcaster. He specializes in the Hebrew Bible and biblical theology and the history, languages, and religions of the ancient Near East. Mike earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Before attending the UW-Madison, Mike earned an M.A. in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania where his major fields were Ancient Israel and Egyptology. He is the author of a number of peer-reviewed journal articles in biblical studies and several books, most notably the best-selling book, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible.
Mike Heiser has over a dozen years of classroom teaching experience on the college level and ten years of online teaching at the seminary level. Mike is currently Scholar-in-Residence at Faithlife Corporation, the makers of Logos Bible Software. He blogs at his homepage, drmsh.com, and is the host of the popular Naked Bible Podcast.
Introduction / Background
- Aside from the points of your bio, who is Dr. Mike Heiser?
- There aren’t a lot of biblical scholars that write books for people who won’t take seminary classes – why do you do that?
- What led you to write Reversing Hermon?
- What’s the basic thrust of the book – what is it really about? What’s “Hermon”?
- The subtitle of the book mentions Enoch and the Watchers? Who are you talking about there?
- What’s the “forgotten mission” of Jesus?
- How do we know the New Testament writers took the story of Genesis 6 supernaturally?
- Why is the book of Enoch important for understanding Genesis 6?
- Other than the Genesis 6 story, how else do we know the New Testament writers were familiar with the book of Enoch? What are some other examples?
- Why don’t we hear about these things in Church?
- Do you think the book of Enoch belongs in the Bible?
- What do you hope readers get out of Reversing Hermon?
CONTACT: To schedule an interview with Dr. Mike Heiser, call Christy McGlothlin at: 919-437-0001 or email@example.com