2 Enoch without any doubt is one of the most interesting and enigmatic texts of Slavonic Pseudepigrapha. Since the publication of the first fragments of it in the middle of the 19th century, there has been a protracted debate on all the questions concerning the history of the pseudepigraphon. And the “astronomical information” in it is possibly one of the most mysterious parts of 2 Enoch. The contents of the two main recensions are quite different in the chapter dealing with astronomical material. The paper studies the fragment, in which, in the short recension, it is literally said: “I [Enoch] counted Sun’s faces”.
2 Enoch, or “Slavonic Enoch”,1 or
The first fragments of 2 Enoch were discovered in the middle of the 19th century, and since then there has been a procrated debate on all the questions concerning the history (including the textual history) of the pseudepigraphon in question. Notwithstanding the fact that it has been studied by a number of exceptional experts in the Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity2 and also by highly distinguished Slavists, such as A.Vaillant and N.A. Meshcherskij,3 there is hardly any agreement among scholars on any possible questions referring to its provenance.
‘One of the most remarkable tokens of continued puzzlement over this work is the failure of scholars to decide whether it came from Jewish or Christian circles’.4 Among other aspects, the scholars cannot come to an agreement on the following problems concerning the pseudepigraphon. Where, when and in what language was it created?5 How many recensions of 2 Enoch do we have?6 Which one of the two “main recensions” is primary?7 When, where and how did the other recension appear?8 How many translations from Greek (or other languages) were made into Slavonic? Or in other words: did two recensions previously exist in other languages or was the second recension created already in Slavonic?9
And all of this never-ending discussion was caused, above all, by the fact that we have neither the original of the Slavonic translation (in Greek or a semitic language), nor any really early Slavonic copies of the pseudepigraphon in question.
The latest testament of the text we have is the Coptic fragment that was discovered by Joost Hagen more than 10 years ago,10 but it is quite a short one and, unfortunately, is still unpublished.
Thus, the most important textual evidence is still the Slavonic material, since 2 Enoch is known as an entire text only in Slavonic.
In the Slavonic version the text is preserved in 9 “full” copies and in a number of fragments in Chronicles and in The Scale of Justice (
It is obvious that 2 Enoch must have been revised, redacted, possibly translated a lot of times. And it is also clear that in other languages, and especially in Slavonic, the text must have “suffered” from a non-understanding of the information it contained, which must have caused reinterpreting and changes to the original text.
This explains one of the remarkable features of 2 Enoch: while it is not a very long text, it has quite a lot of obscure or, at least, not so “clear” places.
When I talk about this phenomenon I refer, first of all, to the manuscripts of the short recension, especially to the copies A14 and U.15 There is no agreement among scholars about the textual history of 2 Enoch either, but the philologists seem to agree that in general the most ancient variant of the text is preserved in these two manuscripts.16 Other manuscripts tend to “clarify” the obscure readings or change them.
Since we do not have the original for 2 Enoch, and the Slavonic Pseudepigraphon in question is preserved in late copies, it is really difficult to reconstruct exactly the history of the text. What was the primary translation17 like? To what extent does the most ancient variant of the text that we do have in the Slavonic copies differ from that translation? And if we suppose that the text we have in the manuscripts is already quite changed, what were the changes and in what direction did the transformation of the text take place? Was it changed/redacted several times, or was it the only revision? It is extremely difficult to answer all these questions without the original.
The lack of the original with which we could make a comparison causes particular problems while studying the Pseudepigraphon, because as I have pointed out above, the Slavonic text, in a number of places, is quite unclear. Such “obscurity” might have been caused by a not exact (erroneous) translation of a certain original reading or, on the contrary, by its over-literal translation. It might also be due to a lack of understanding or misunderstanding of the original which contained elements from another cultural tradition, unknown in the Slavic area. Ultimately, the obscurity might be due to both phenomena. Usually we do have the originals for Slavonic translations, so we can be sure that in one case we have a translation error, and in the other case there is an over-literal translation. And thanks to that, we can comment on the character of the translation and clarify an obscure reading in the Slavonic text. In 2 Enoch we cannot do that.
Nevertheless, with the help of the Enochic literature preserved in other languages, and with the help of other Slavonic translated texts we can sometimes grant a kind of interpretation to an “obscure place” in the Slavonic Enoch (I intentionally use this term on some occasions, when I am referring to the Slavonic manuscripts, readings, etc). On one hand, sometimes certain information we can find in 1 Enoch and 3 Enoch can help us, even if they give very “remote” parallels to the Slavonic text. On the other hand, in some cases, when the meaning of a certain word in 2 Enoch is not quite clear, what can help is to look up this Slavonic word in other Slavonic translations, whose originals we have. And it is especially helpful if the Slavonic translations we use have not only the Greek original, but a Semitic Urtext as well. Most scholars agree nowadays that the translation of the Slavonic text was made from Greek. However, “behind” this Greek text, there might have been a semitic source, so that the usage of certain lexemas in the Greek text might have originated from that Semitic text. That is why, for this kind of comparison which could reconstruct possible Slavonic-Greek-Semitic parallels, it can be really useful to refer to the Bible. Matthew Black seems to be quite right when he said about the texts attributed to the Enochic literature: “Their language is that of the Hebrew Bible. And it is the Hebrew Scriptures which supplied the chief source of their inspiration”.18
I seem to have several examples of this fact: the comparison of the usage of the Slavonic word we find in the obscure place with its meanings in other Slavonic texts and also the comparison of the Slavonic word with the Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic words to which it corresponds in translated Slavonic texts (mostly Biblical ones) can help to “clarify” the meaning and suggest a possible interpretation or understanding of the fragment in question. Such parallels between the Slavonic word and the corresponding Greek and Hebrew words in some cases can explain the appearance of a “strange” Slavonic word in certain context and make the place quite ‘clear’ and ‘understandable’. In other words, it can help to clarify a possible obscure place in 2 Enoch.
Certain fragments that need possible conjectures or interpretations can be found in the “astronomical chapter”. Actually, in 2 Enoch we do not have such extensive astronomical information as in 1 Enoch, where we do have a special chapter dedicated to this topic. Nevertheless, we can find certain astronomic data in the description of the fourth heaven (chapter 11 according to the division in Andersen’s translation19) and in the fragment where Enoch told his sons what he saw while being ascended to the Heavens (chapter 40 in Andersen’s translation20).
This data had its origin in the solar calendar known according to 1 Enoch and other Qumran texts, but for the Byzantine-Slavonic tradition it was not familiar at all, so the Slavonic copies “suffered” from a misunderstanding of this different cultural tradition, thus the Slavonic text in general in this fragment has quite a lot of obscure or, at least, not quite clear places.
For instance, in Chapter 40 in the manuscripts A and U (which, as I mentioned before, according to Vaillant, Mescherski and my personal analysis of the textual history of 2 Enoch, in most cases contain the text that is more likely to be primary or, at least, seems to be the most ancient variant among other copies21), we read the following sentence:
However, all the translations (apart from Vaillant’s one, translations made by F. Andersen, by A. Pennington, C. Böttrich, etc.24) suggested the reading
I think, instead, that the reading
Comparing with the Slavonic text, 1 Enoch narrates much more about the movements of the sun, the moon and the stars, but we can hardly find any description of the measuring or counting their rays. Meanwhile, the Astronomical chapter of 1 Enoch in turn contains the following information (4QEnastrb26 – En79:3–5+78:17–79.2):25
[בליליא מן] קצח דמי תזוא דן כדמוח אנש וביממא מן
J.Milik translates it as following: “[… In the night] this appearance looks a little as if it was the image of a man, and in the day [this appearance looks a little …]”.26
In fact, it refers to the description of the moon, but here we are more interested in another thing: in the parallelism between Semitic, Greek and Slavonic. The Aramaic word for appearance is
וְחֶזְוַהּ֖ רַ֥ב מִן־חַבְרָתַהּֽ
It was more terrifying than any of the others (literally “its appearance”).
In Septuagint this Aramaic word corresponds to Greek
חֱזוּ– πρόσοψις– лицеwith possible meanings of all of them as view, appearance, look.
It seems remarkable that in Old Slavonic texts the word
Лице оубо нб͠си оумѣете расѫждати (τὸ μὲν πρόσωπον του̑ οὐρανου̑ γινώσκετε διακρίνειν).
[You can predict the weather by looking at the sky]
The existence of the combination “the face of the sky” seems to make possible the existence of the combination “the face of the sun”.
Nevertheless, in the Slavonic text we have the plural: “faces”. (In the Aramaic text from 1 Enoch that I cited there is a description of the moon; and it is absolutely obvious that the moon changes its “faces”, but how can it refer to the sun?)
But again, in 1 Enoch we can find some lines that tell us about the view of both lights (the sun and the moon):
79.6 Such is the appearance and the picture for each luminary shown to me by the great angel Uriel who is their leader.27
There are also some fragments about the appearance of the sun:
72.27 And the sun has completed its appearances [in all gates] and then returns to these appearances and it rises [again] in all its gates [during] 30 days and it sets opposite to them in the West.28
For instance, Otto Neugebauer and Matthew Black suggested our understanding of these “appearances of the sun” as its appearances (entrances) through certain gates on different days on which the length of the day and the night in different months depend.29
And one more place in 1 Enoch, in my opinion, can speak for a possibility of the primary character of the reading
72.36 And what rises is the great luminary and it is named according to its appearance as the Lord has commanded.30
And a little later it is said that it has 2 names:
78.1 The names for the sun are as follows: the first Oryary and the second Tomas.31
It is possible that these two names correspond to two seasons: the dry one and the wet one.32
It is remarkable that in the former two examples there are references to the sun’s names: in the Slavonic phrase I am analysing, mention is also made of the names of the sun (however, without actually giving them):
All these parallels in 1 Enoch seem to support a proposed understanding of lectio difficilior in 2 Enoch.
Thus, “faces of the sun” or “appearances” of the sun can be understood as its appearance in the sky through different gates and respectively the different times of its visibility (its presence) in the sky, from which phenomena the duration of day and night and the sequence of seasons all depend on.
Summing up, in 1 Enoch we kind find fragments that describe the “appearance” of both luminaries (the moon and the sun) and there are no descriptions of the measuring or counting of their rays by Enoch. One of the possible correspondences to Slavonic
This article was prepared with the support of the TransMedia Catalonia research group 2017SGR113.
It used to be called “Slavonic Enoch” until 2009 when Joost Hagen discovered a fragment from it in Coptic manuscripts (J. Hagen, “No Longer “Slavonic” Only: 2 Enoch attested in Coptic from Nubia,” in New Perspectives on 2 Enoch, eds. A. Orlov, G. Boccaccini, assoc. ed. J. Zurawski, Studia Judaeoslavica, 4 (2012), pp. 7–34). However, as a “whole text” 2 Enoch is still known exclusively in Slavonic manuscripts.
For instance: R.H. Charles and W.R. Morfill, The Book of the Secrets of Enoch, Oxford, 1896; G.N. Bonwetsch, Das slavische Henochbuch (Abhandlungen der Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Philologisch-historische Klasse, Neue Folge, Bd.1, Nr.3), Berlin, 1896; N. Schmidt, “The Two Recensions of Slavonic Enoch,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 41 (1921), pp. 307–312; G. Scholem, Ursprung und Anfänge der Kabbala, Berlin, 1962, esp. pp. 62–64; S. Pines, “Eschatology and the Concept of Time in the Slavonic Book of Enoch,” in: Types of Redemption: Contributions to the Theme of the Study-Conference Held at Jerusalem 14th to 19th July 1968, eds. R.J. Zwi Werblowsky and C.J. Bleeker, Leiden, 1970, pp. 72–87; M. Philonenko, “La cosmogonie du ‘Livre des secrets d’Hénoch,’” in: Religions en Egypte: Hellénistique et romaine, Paris, 1969, pp. 109–116; C. Greenfield, “Prolegomenon”, in: H. Odeberg, 3 Enoch or the Hebrew Book of Enoch, New York, 1973, pp. XVIII–XX; U. Fischer, Eschatologie und Jenseitserwartung im hellenistischen Diasporajudentum (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche, 44), Berlin, 1978, pp. 37–70, esp. 38–41; J.H. Charlesworth, “The Society for New Testament Studies Pseudepigrapha Seminars at Tübingen and Paris on the Books of Enoch (Seminar Report),” New Testament Studies, 25 (1979), pp. 315–323; J.J. Collins, “The Genre Apocalypse in Hellenistic Judaism,” in: Apocalypticism in the Mediterranean World and the Near East, ed. D. Hellholm, 1983, pp. 531–548; F. Andersen, “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch,” in: The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. J.H. Charlesworth, New York, 1985  pp. 91–221; M.E. Stone, Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period: Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran Sectarian Writings, Philo, Josephus (Compendium rerum iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum, 2.2); Assen, 1984, esp. p. 406; A. de Santos Otero, “Libro de los secretos de Henoc (Henoc eslavo),” in: Apócrifos del Antiguo Testamento, ed. A. Diez Macho, vol. 4, Madrid, 1984, pp. 147–202; C. Böttrich, Das slavische Henochbuch (Jüdische Schriften aus hellenistisch-römischer Zeit, Band V, Lieferung 7), Gütersloh, 1995; P. Sacchi, Jewish Apocalyptic and its History (Journal for the study of the pseudepigrapha, Supplement series, 20), Sheffield, 1996; A. Orlov, “Melchizedek legend of 2 (Slavonic) Enoch,” Journal for the Study of Judaism, 31/1(2000) pp. 23–38 and other works; G. Macaskill, The Slavonic Texts of 2 Enoch (Studia Judaeoslavica, 6), Leiden, 2013; B. Lourié, “Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, Nubia, and the Syrians,” in: The Other Side: Apocryphal Perspectives on Ancient Christian “Orthodoxies”, ed. T. Nicklas, C.R. Moss, Ch. Tuckett, J. Verheyden (Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus, 117), Göttingen, 2017, pp. 225–250.
A.Vaillant, Le livre des secrets d’Hénoch (Textes publiés par l’Institut d’études slaves, vol. 4), Paris, 1952;
Andersen “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch”, p. 95.
Some scholars have considered it to have been created in Greek, others have believed that it must have first been written in a semitic language. Regarding the date of the pseudepigraphon there have been hypotheses ranging from the 1st century up to the 12–15th centuries. See, among others: Charles and Morfill, The Book of the Secrets of Enoch; Schmidt, “The Two Recensions of Slavonic Enoch”; Pines, “Eschatology and the Concept of Time in the Slavonic Book of Enoch,” A. Rubinstein, “Observations on the Slavonic Book of Enoch”, Journal of Jewish Studies 13 (1962), pp. 1–21; A. Maunder “The Date and Place of Writing of the Slavonic Book of Enoch,” The Observatory, 41 (1918), pp. 309–316; J. Milik, The Books of Enoch: Aramaic fragments of Qumran Cave 4, Oxford, 1976, p. 294; Böttrich, Das slavische Henochbuch; Orlov, “Melchizedek legend of 2 (Slavonic) Enoch”.
Nowadays the existence of 2 main recensions of 2 Enoch is generally accepted by scholars. However, there have been quite different opinions on the subject. One of the first scholars who studied the ‘Slavonic Enoch’, M.I. Sokolov, wrote about 3 recensions: a long one, an intermediary one and a short one (пространная, промежуточная и краткая); A. Vaillant distinguished 3 different recensions: a short one (primary one), the first revision (based on the short recension), the second revision (based on the long one – the first revision), F. Andersen proposed to differentiate 4 recensions: short and very short, long and very long, etc.: M.
The pseudepigraphon has an extensive bibliography on the subject. Here I provide only a very concise commentary on the opinions concerning the relation between the recensions. In the first works on 2 Enoch, the long recension was considered to be primary. The first scholar to reconsider this opinon was N. Shmidt (in 1921), but only after the study undertaken by A. Vaillant, the result of which was his critical edition of the text in 1952, the short recension began to be considered primary and was considered so in most works for about 40 years. In the 1990s, C. Böttrich reverted to the idea of the primary nature of the long recension. That was argued by scholars, among others, by A. Orlov and myself. See, for instance: Charles and Morfill, The Book of the Secrets of Enoch;
According to the answer on the previous question, the scholars consider it to be either an expansion of the short recension or an abbreviation of the long recension. Some bibliography on the topic:
Among the scholars who considered that two main recensions existed already in Greek or in a semitic language there have been, among others, N. Shmidt, A. de Santos Otero, B. Lourie. Among those who considered that the long recension appeared already in Slavonic, there have been, above all, Slavists: A.Vaillant, N. Meshcherski and myself. Shmidt, “The two recensions of the Slavonic Enoch”; De Santos Otero, “Libro de los Secretos de Henoc (Henoc eslavo)”; Lourié, “Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, Nubia, and the Syrians,” Vaillant, Le livre des secrets d`Hénoch;
Hagen “No Longer “Slavonic” Only”.
See, for instance: Shmidt, “The two recensions of the Slavonic Enoch”; C. Böttrich, “The “Book of the Secrets of Enoch” (2En): Between Jewish Origin and Christian Transmission. An overview”, in New Perspectives on 2 Enoch, eds. A. Orlov, G. Boccaccini and J. Zurawski, SJS, 4 (2012), pp. 37–67; A. Orlov, “The Sacerdotal Traditions of 2 Enoch and the Date of the Text”, in New Perspectives on 2 Enoch, eds. A. Orlov, G. Boccaccini and J. Zurawski, SJS, 4 (2012), pp. 103–116.
Vaillant, Le livre des secrets d`Hénoch, pp. V–XV;
The Slavonic text is preserved in late copies and it might be quite different from the translation that might have been made some centuries earlier. When I refer to this “first” variant of the text (the translation without any later changes, mistakes, revisions, etc.) I call it “primary translation”.
M. Black, The Book of Enoch or 1 Enoch, Leiden, 1985, p. 7.
Andersen, “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch,” pp. 91–221.
Vaillant, Le livre des secrets d`Hénoch, pp. V–XV;
According to 2 Enoch, the sun rises through certain gates in the East and sets through the corresponding gates in the West.
Vaillant, Le livre des secrets d`Hénoch, p. 40.
Vaillant, Le livre des secrets d`Hénoch, pp. 40; Andersen, “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch,” p.165; A. Pennigton, “2 Enoch,” in The Apocryphal Old Testament, ed. H.F.D. Sparks, Oxford, 1984, pp. 321–362, here p. 342; Böttrich, Das slavische Henochbuch, p. 947.
Milik, The Books of Enoch, p. 294.
Black, The Book of Enoch, p. 410.
Ibid, p. 391.
Ibid, p. 395.
Ibid, p. 391.
Ibid, p. 408.
Ibid, p. 417.