Browsed by
Category: Uncategorized

REVIEW: Re-Reading Job

REVIEW: Re-Reading Job

51rDTQi4J3L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_What matters more – understanding why people suffer, or knowing how we should respond when people are suffering?

I have always been fascinated by the Book of Job.  It’s a messy book, and a subversive book. The biggest take-away I’d always gotten from it was that I had the ability to use Job’s comforters as an illustration and example of how not to comfort who is suffering (IE, with theological platitudes that tend to serve more to comfort the worldview of the comforter than the person actually the suffering.)

I’ve experienced this first hand, as I wrote about earlier concerning my perspectives on my wife’s cancer.

A few weeks ago, a horrible car accident took the life of one the young Sister Missionaries serving in our ward, and sent the other into the hospital with severe head trauma. As I’m writing my thoughts now, we’re in the wake of the horrible Charleston murders. Suffering and tragedy are very much on my mind.

It was in the midst of all this that I sat down to read Michael Austin’s beautiful exploration of the Book of Job, Re-reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World’s Greatest Poem.

If you’re looking for a book to lay out for you in simple language the One True Meaning of the Book of Job, all the while unlocking for all time the Divinely Appointed Reason Bad Things Happen To Good People, you might come away disappointed – but only if you’re unwilling to budge on the idea of there being One True Divine Reason.

What Austin does, in my opinion, is even better – much like David Bokovoy did in the previous volume in Kofford’s Studies in Scripture Series (the excellent Authoring The Old Testament: Genesis – Deuteronomy), Austin guides the reader on a stunning scriptural study that introduces and approaches paradigm-shifting possibilities concerning key aspects of the very nature of scripture, revelation, and literature in a relatable way that, far from leaving a newly disoriented traditional believer in the dust, also offers sincere, practical, and faithful responses and reflections.

And by ‘responses’, I don’t mean he presents ways we can ignore what we just learned, or make it comfortably fit with old ways of thinking, or make it, well, comfortable. I mean that Austin illustrated ways to practically apply Job in ways that expand our own religious perspectives and behaviors.

Austin shows us how, by willing to approach the text in ways that may initially make us uncomfortable, we can find new profound questions and insights that make the text far more relevant and useful to us and our lived religion (and those we claim to serve with our religion) than a cursory or traditional reading of the text might present. It may make the reader come away more useful to the suffering.

So what is the meaning of the Book of Job?

The Book of Job is a difficult text,” writes Austin. “Its multiple voices each present us with a piece of the truth.  But they never quite go together into a single, unified message.

This insight alone – which is easily applicable to the entirety of the scriptural canon – can help the reader to see a consistent flaw in a traditional approach to scripture: the assumption that The Good Guys Are Correct About Everything They Affirm, And The Bad Guys Are Always Wrong, And This Being So Is The Only Way Scripture Would Have Any Value.

Austin shows how he has approached this in regards to his exploration of Job:  “Astute readers will have already noticed that my own interpretations of Job in this book are not all compatible with each other [. . . ] Sometimes, I am on Job’s side and sometimes I am on God’s side – and, in a few places, I have good things to say about both the Comforters and the Devil.  Even if I wanted to be completely consistent about these things, I could not, for Job is a poem about (among so many other things) the impossibility of finding the truth in a single perspective.”

This is a powerful, potentially paradigm-shifting insight in and of itself if one is not accustomed to approaching and studying scripture with this perspective. Scriptures aren’t books of answers – they are prompts to get us asking the right questions that will lead to inspiration, revelation, and repentance. But this broad idea is only one of many key insights offered by the book.

Going back to the first question I posed, Austin’s book not only proposes, but calls for actual compassion for our fellow humans, and not to let our perceptions of The Doctrines of Orthodox Religion get in the way of our foundational covenant commitment of  “mourning with those who mourn, and comforting those who stand in need of comfort”.

As Austin points out, “The more that Job presses his claim to human compassion, the more abstract [his ‘comforters’] arguments become until, in the end, Job ceases to be a human being who needs comfort and becomes simply a theological problem that needs a solution.”

God can take care of Himself;”, Austin later asserts. “our responsibility is to take care of each other.”

Austin’s words and explorations of this book hope to shatter a usually uncontested belief that God would rather us take the time to defend Him in the place of serving and loving His children.  This book is filled with powerful, life-saving insights such as these, resulting from a deep and thoughtful encounter with the Book of Job, that should be pinned on every church bulletin board or placard in the land.

This continues on into one of the most potentially life-changing insights in the book: “To meet our obligations to our fellow human beings, we need not believe that God is lacking in either power or goodness.  We just need to understand that He does not require our assistance in dealing with challenges to His authority.  We do not have to protect God from criticisms, complaints, and petitions.  He is not some first-time godling out on a test drive.  He can take criticism.  He can handle complaints.  And He has no need tor when human beings ask Him to do things differently.  Too many people – often from positions of ecclesiastical authority – spend their time trying to make sure that GOd’s feelings do not get hurt.  This is how we become the Comforters when we shold be listening – really listening with out hearts – to the suffering Job.”

There’s a lot more to Austin’s book that I’ve brought up here – as if these selections alone shouldn’t send you scrambling to get your own copy. It’s not big in page count, but it’s packed in wide-ranging thoughtful content.

As a bonus, Austin’s prose is so delightful that you are conflicted between wanting to fly through the pages as quick as you can to soak up the goodness of everything at once – and wanting to stop and ponder after each paragraph to let the ramifications of the proposed thoughts and presented facts sink in.

This book is educational, entertaining, uncomfortable, and inspiring. A quadruple threat if ever I’ve seen one. Pick it up today! Highly recommended.

Meditation on the Word

Meditation on the Word

Consider the word Elephant.

If I break down the word Elephant, I find many parts. Three Es, an L, a P, an imageH, an A an N and a T. I can study each of these letters in isolation for ages. I can learn how they gained their present form, why they interact the way they do, and perhaps how they might have been pronounced or rhymed in a different day.

When I look around, I  will see friends, acquaintances, family members and strangers who misspell the word, and I decide whether or not to call out their ignorance. I can consider that even though I can clearly recognize what they were trying to communicate, they got the symbols wrong, either out of carelessness, or a lack of knowledge.

None of the letters by themselves is an elephant. In fact, there are many non-elephant words that use those letters. I’ve formed several in this meditation, and I will continue to do so. The letters in and of themselves remain useful, even if they aren’t, alone, helping anyone to actually visualize an elephant.

Looking closer, perhaps I may find it significant (or symbolic?) that the letter E is repeated three times, or perhaps I might feel the inclusion of the ‘ph’ is archaic and needlessly elongates the presentation of the word, moreso because it is confusing for non-native English readers (who generally understand our language by hearing it long before they understand how to spell it), and should have been replaced with an ‘f’ a long time ago. That is, if we really want the widest readership to know from this representation that we are indeed talking about an elephant.

This is a rather verbose way of saying that while ELEPHANT is the word that communicates an elephant, E, L, E, P, H, A, N, and T do not need to be affirmed as 8 individual elephants that make up one big elephant. It is absurd for me to declare that I know that the letter “P”, which is part of the Elephant, is truly by itself an elephant, simply because it is part of the makeup of the complete word Elephant.

In fact, when we translate the word ELEPHANT into another language, simply transliterating the individual letters into a different writing system doesn’t end up helping those in the receiving language understand the idea we were trying to communicate any better than if we had left it alone. The entire word/concept must be translated as a whole.

It is silly to say that because the word might be translated elefante, or slon, or 象, that none of those translation are really valid to represent an elephant, because none of them include or properly emphasize the letter ‘P’,

So what?

When I affirm that volumes of Scripture are the Word of God that communicate a messageimage from Him, that does not necessitate that I affirm that every word, story, affirmation, character, jot or tittle make up individually selected words of God.

While sometimes a letter can also happen to serve as a good shorthand summary of the word entire (“I”, for example, might a pretty good summary of “Individual”), at times we can find ourselves far more interested in spreading the letters used by God rather than the actual message – the Word of God. And sometimes the letter we chose changes how we view the Word itself. (What if I chose “U” instead?).

I affirm that the vessel, the word as a whole, indeed communicates something powerful that we are meant to listen to as a whole. I don’t necessarily affirm that the individual parts – in English, Hebrew, Greek, Reformed Egyptian, or otherwise – need to, or are meant to, be seen as equally valuable individual words of God that, in isolation, communicate timeless truth or fact.

I do, however, affirm that I see each collection of scripture that we accept as a Church as the Word of God, and as vessels that can, have, and do communicate and provoke profound inspired insight into the relationship between God and Man. Inasmuch as that singular WORD is translated correctly, and we don’t spend all our time trying to transliterate each and every jot and tittle that atomically compose that Word.

And when we take later Words in the divine sentence into consideration, and also anticipate that there will be yet more Words before the arrival of a Period, that, I think, is when the message begins to be able to be received, and understood.

Otherwise, sometimes, we just can’t see the Elephants for the Ps.

Worlds Without Number

Worlds Without Number

hebrew-cosmology-newOne of the most beautiful and profound passages in Adam Miller’s Letters to a Young Mormon (see my review here, and for heaven’s sake, buy the book here!) is in regards to Science, and the Creation – which also happens to be the topic for this week’s Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Class in many wards.

Miller discusses the Genesis creation account, and notes that it is framed using the cosmology, or ‘world picture’ in the mind of the pre-scientific ancients, and that God spoke their language, and used their imagery to inspire an illustration of His work in their world.

Following a beautiful summary of what this world looked like to the ancients, Miller commented:

“I believe in a literal reading of this text. I believe the Hebrews literally thought the world was like that, and I believe that God literally ran with it and revealed his grace at work in their lives through it.  More, I believe that God is just as literally showing himself to us in and through the continually rolling revelation that is science as we know it.  The world given to us is not the same world given to them.  We have two worlds here.  But though our worlds diverge, it is the same God peeping through.  Believing that the God of their world is just as surely the God of ours doesn’t commit us to believing in their version of the world.  Rather, it commits us to believing in a God whose grace is full enough to fill them both.” (p. 54)

It was with this profound thought in mind, that I read through Moses 1 in the Pearl of Great Price again.

The Lord instructs the prophet,

“And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.

And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many.

But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.” (Moses 1:33–35)

In this inspired modern introduction to an inspired revised Bible, we are given instruction that what is about to be presented should be interpreted only in the context of a certain single world[view], and that we are to understand that there are so many more world[view]s out there.

Read More Read More

REVIEW: Letters to a Young Mormon

REVIEW: Letters to a Young Mormon

LettersCover_FINALThe Neal A. Maxwell Institute has just released the first volume in their ‘Living Faith’ series. Letters to a Young Mormon, by Adam Miller, is a small, pocket-sized book with barely 70 full pages of text.

I’m finding it very hard to describe this book. Mainly because I’m trying to restrain my initial impressions to shout HALLELUJAH from the housetops at its very existence.

This book, if read and distributed, has the power to do extraordinary good. If you look at the table of contents, you might think these short chapters are simply a mirror of what you might see in For The Strength of Youth:

Agency, Work, Sin, Faith, Scripture, Prayer, History, Science, Hunger, Sex, Temples, Eternal Life.

I view this book, actually, as a perfect, beautiful and rich compliment, companion, and addendum to that institutional book of standards. The chapter on ‘History’, I think, contains within it a beautiful summary of what this book is – it is noted how the real life experiences of those who grappled with understanding and living Gospel principles can generally be realistically a bit more complicated than some of the simple illustrations and stories we tend to use to address them in Church meetings, and that the struggles and complexity of those in the past is actually a form of good news for us – because we are more like them than we often make clear. Miller writes:

Our church manuals and histories are sometimes shy about this good news. With good intentions, they worry over your faith. Sometimes they seem too much like that friend of a friend who really just wants you to like them, so they pretend to only like the same vanilla things they think you do. But God is stronger stuff than this. And the scriptures certainly are as well.”  (p 47-48).

From my own personal experience writing this, coupled with the other reviews I’ve seen around, such an acknowledgement is empowering, affirming, and incredibly faith-promoting. I know that there are many in the Church who feel this way, but without having contact with someone else saying it, they may sadly feel alone, or like their life experience is out of place what is thought to be the ideal Church experience.

What Miller does is not to criticize the Church, nor to criticize your experience. It is very strongly to affirm and illustrate the essential and vital compatibility of two. In his introduction, he notes,

I mean only to address the real beauty and costs of trying to live a Mormon life. And I hope to show something of what it means to live in a way that refuses to abandon life or Mormonism.” (p. 7)

Sometimes, the inspired models that have been used earnestly and effectively in the past to illustrate and attempt to explain who God is and how he works to a particular audience are unintentionally turned into a conceptual constraining box, rather than a stepladder to being able to accept greater knowledge and understanding. God is bigger than the story boxes used to illuminate who he is – and Miller claims that looking around us, we can see a downpour of revealed knowledge about the world, and how God works. The problem comes when we try to shove new knowledge into old story constructs. That can lead us to feeling stuck, frustrated, and confused. New wine in old wineskins, so to say. His response is liberating:

The question isn’t: ‘can evolution be made to fit with the biblical idea of the world?’ The question is: ‘Can evolution be made to fit with the God who showed himself in that biblical world?’ I don’t have any revelatory answers about how they fit, but given that both God and evolution are real, I assume the answer is yes. They do fit.  Now it’s up to us to open our doors, zip up our slickers, and step out into the storm of revelations raining down upon us. It’s up to us to keep thinking and praying and testing from here.” (p. 55)

Amen, Amen, Amen!

I have far more I want to say about this book. But the more I write about it, the more it’s keeping you from reading this small wonder for itself.

Buy this book. Read this book. Share it with all of your Mormon friends, young and old. Read it with them. Discuss it with them.

At this moment, I can’t think of a more faith-affirming, testimony building, intellectually and emotionally stimulating LDS devotional publication that I have previously read. This book has the potential to help many see the love and works of God at work in their lives clearer than they may have been willing – or able – to acknowledge before. This book fills a need. I extend wholehearted gratitude to the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for the publication of this important volume. I truly believe their namesake would be pleased.

If you really need to read more to be convinced, there is a selection from his chapter on Sin online here. Or just go ahead and buy it on amazon for $8.96. You will not be disappointed.

The Catalyst Theory, or, How Marilyn Manson Caused Me To Write The Story of the Restoration

The Catalyst Theory, or, How Marilyn Manson Caused Me To Write The Story of the Restoration

When I was a Junior in High School, back in 1998, in my Pentecostal Preacher’s Kid years before I had ever even hear of Joseph Smith1 , I was sitting down, bored, in my Algebra II class.

I was bored because it was mostly review, and not because I was any kind of Math Wiz. In fact, the year before I had experienced a very unhappy and difficult Geometry class that required that I actually put forth some effort, and, not wanting to have to do that again, specifically signed up my next year for a Math class of a significantly lower ‘Track’ level than I was accustomed to taking. The class was all review, and I learned nothing new.

So while I was sitting bored, having finished my classwork without any effort during  the first 15 minutes of class, I glanced up at the T-Shirt of a kid sitting directly in front of me.

image

It was an advertisement for shock-rocker Marilyn Manson’s album ‘Antichrist Superstar’. At that point, without ever actually having heard any of Manson’s music, knowing of him only by Evangelical Reputation, I already knew that I Didn’t Like Him.

That aside, I thought the statement professing himself as “Antichrist Superstar” was worth thought.

As a Pentecostal Evangelical, my religious tradition was filled with Eschatological stories of the Future Anti Christ, the future individual World Leader who would stand in opposition to Christianity, and divide the World between his followers, and the True Followers of Christ.

My next thought were as follows, in this order:

  • There’s no way Marilyn Manson would fit that Role.
  • It’s somewhat arrogant to proclaim oneself the AntiChrist.
  • The real AntiChrist would never claim to be the AntiChrist
  • The real AntiChrist would not know that he was the AntiChrist.

Now, that last thought made be ponder a little bit more on the nature of prophecy.

Is it necessary that an individual would not need to know of a prophetic utterance to be able to fulfill it? What if an individual saw a prophecy, and did all he could to fulfill it, to become that individual? What if that was they way the Prophecy was designed to be fulfilled?

As I continued to ponder the nature of Prophecy, and the implications of its role on society today, an image slammed into my mind with great force.

A Book, hidden in the in the ground and long lost, that would bring to light new meaning, information,  and interpretation to the ancient and accepted scriptural record, found by a low member of society.

Wow.

That was such a cool idea, I thought. It was such an amazing original idea in my mind, that I assumed that nobody must ever have thought about it before.

I decided at that moment that I would write a story about it, and that in years to come, it would make be a gazillion dollars. At that moment, flooded with ideas, I immediately wrote two pages about the discovery of this mysterious book, which I decided would be called the Book of Mortalis.

image

In working on the development of the story, and trying to work out more complex concepts, I turned to the nature of a prophet. As I pondered out the implications and process of a prophet having his first sacred experience, another scene came to my mind, which I quickly wrote down.

It involved a young man caught in a time of confusion and contention over the nature of Truth. The young man was walking in isolation, pondering the destructive contention in the world around him. He approached a beloved, yet isolated, place of nature’s beauty  – perhaps a lake?- When he arrived there, the following occurred, which I expressed in writing, the best I could, in  Spring 1998 , presented here as transcribed from the handwritten David Tayman Papers *grin*:

Jannes suddenly stopped walking, untied unlaced his shoes, took them off, and stepped into the lake. He then raised his head towards the heavens, and yelled out a plea for divine intervention, asking anyone who was listening if there was anything he could do to stop this dread war.

That’s when it happened. A small metallic sphere of light rose up from the bottom of the lake, and floated to a position right in front of Jannes. The description Jannes later gave of this Sphere was amazing – and almost unbelievable. He described it as pure energy, glowing and ‘alive’ from its core to its surface. It radiated an amber-hued light that immersed him. Jannes then heard a voice – not an audible voice, but rather he sensed a voice in his mind. A voice, calm and gentle, speaking as a father would to his most beloved son.

I then wrote what I assumed the message would be, announcing his sacred role to bring peace and unity to the world. The vision then ended.

And then the sphere disappeared. Jannes stood there shaking, not knowing whether he was shaking in fear or in excitement, and ran off to inform others of this amazing news. At first, few believed him. But then others began to have a vision similar to the one Jannes had, Confirming all that he had said, and more.

This handwritten document of mine continues, speaking of reactions to prophetic messengers:

The story goes that this prophet was scorned by the other [contemporary religious leaders] because of his position in the city, perhaps his occupation or beliefs. Some believed him to be a liar, claiming he never witnessed a vision.

His initial experience would be known in the story as the ‘Primary Vision’.

I eventually envisioned this story as being a sort of sci-fi/fantasy tale, with weapons being lasers, Tasers, etc. But then one day, the thought came to be that it would be far more interesting if it took place with limited technology, in an era equivalent (but different) from our American Civil War period. Armies would have equivalents of powder muskets and knives. Travel would be by horseback. Things would be dirty, and used. That, I thought, was even cooled, and would make the story stand out, and make it even more unique. Prophecy and Guns. Awesome, right?

I spent the next few years working on developing this story in bits, trying to find out where it was going. I began to believe that the story already existed, and I was a bit of an archaeologist, diggings around, trying to find the bits and pieces of the story that already existed, and to link them together.

I eventually learned and wrote that this prophetic figure, ( Jannes D’Corrian was his name), would be striving to build up a prophetic community which viewed itself as a pacifist independent Nation, distinct from, but currently subject to, the warring nations around him. In time Jannes would die ( I never developed how that would be), and while in his lifetime the basic framework of the Pacifist Nation was set up, others of future generations would continue his work to bring forth the Ideal, which would eventually culminate in an Era of Peace and Unity.

As part of the story, I worked on trying to understand its underlying cosmic mythology, its system of gods, etc.  At one point, during my Freshman year of college, in trying to understand a hierarchy of demigods, I wrote a list of their names, and shared them with a recent internet acquaintance. “I like them,” he said, “Except for one.”

“Which one?”

“Monori.”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“The Mormons believe in an angel named Moroni. People will think you either ripped it off, or are a Mormon.”

“Yikes. Can’t have that happening.”

I changed the  name.

It would be a few years before I actually got a copy of the Book of Mormon, and rejected it out of hand, and immediately went to anti-Mormon books to show my new-at-the-time Mormon friends why their beliefs were ridiculous.

To make a very long story short, time passed, and  I eventually received spiritual confirmation that Joseph Smith was a prophet, the Book of Mormon was inspired, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was of God.

It was shortly after I was baptized (in 2004) that I thought about my by-that-time-mainly-abandoned old story again. And I suddenly saw elements of it in a new light, re-teaching me core elements of the Story of the Restoration: The First Vision,  the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the building up of Zion.

The details were off. It was Jannes and not Joseph. It was the Book of Mortalis, and not the Book of Mormon. It was Monori and not  Moroni. And it was the Pacifist Nation, and not Zion.

But I recognized newly intellectually learned and accepted historical and spiritual truths, figures, and events that I now understood as having already been made known to me, as a process over the last several years, but layered into a fictional overlay that I was given freedom to explore, and strive to understand and interpret.

You might say it was after the manner of my own language and understanding.

And this is why I look with interest to (and don’t discount out of hand) Catalyst theories of the coming forth of modern day scripture.

  1. To be more accurate, I once heard a friend I later learned was Mormon make reference to Joseph, but assumed she was talking about John Smith from Disney’s Pocahontas, and proceeded to lightheartedly mock her viewing habits. She looked at be slightly befuddled. That was the extent of my exposure to anything having to do with Mormonism []
Joseph Smith: “Ignorance, Superstition and Bigotry” impedes progress and prosperity of the Church

Joseph Smith: “Ignorance, Superstition and Bigotry” impedes progress and prosperity of the Church

Selections of Joseph Smith’s powerful March 20, 1839 letter from Liberty Jail have been canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants. However in reading through the full letter this morning, I was especially struck by one paragraph that comes directly in between two canonized verses.

I strongly wish this section was canonized, because the wisdom within it is just as applicable (if not more so) today, and should definitely be taken into consideration when looking at specific aspects of the history and progress of the Church.

While reading this, keep in mind that ‘The Church’ is constituted of its individual members. You, and I. ‘The Church’ is not limited to its organizational leadership.

Here is the paragraph, found in the original directly between D&C 121:32 and D&C 121:33:

But I beg leave to say unto you, brethren, that ignorance,superstition and bigotry placing itself where it ought not, is oftentimes in the way of the prosperity of this Church; like the torrent of rain from the mountains, that floods the most pure and crystal stream with mire, and dirt, and filthiness, and obscures everything that was clear before, and all rushes along in one general deluge; but time weathers tide; and notwithstanding we are rolled in the mire of the flood for the time being, the next surge peradventure, as time rolls on, may bring us to the fountain as clear as crystal, and as pure as snow; while the filthiness, floodwood and rubbish is left and purged out of the way.

What can we personally do to actively help make sure “Ignorance, Superstition and Bigotry” is not even temporarily impeding, or “damming up” the progress and prosperity of the Church in our own personal realms of stewardship?

It’s incredibly easy to only apply this principle to forces outside the Church. And it is true that those elements certainly do contribute to attacks against us and our doctrines. At times, there are things we can do to help clarify outside misconceptions.

However, those elements, “ignorance, superstition and bigotry” are also substantially at work within the Church as well, from those who would consider themselves otherwise faithful and active members.

This is what concerns me most – the Impediments from within, among those of us who should know better.

What are we personally doing to purge the ‘filthiness, floodwood and rubbish’ out of our own lives, so that we ourselves are not serving as stubborn and perhaps unwitting barriers to the progress and prosperity we could otherwise be seeing in our own lives, and even collectively as a Church?

The Birth of a Son of God: Mark’s Christmas Story

The Birth of a Son of God: Mark’s Christmas Story

The Nativity and Baptism of our LordAt this time of year, we are surrounded by illustrations of the classic Nativity Scene (I have a beautiful one on my mantel), often an amalgamation of the imagery in Matthew and Luke’s Birth Narratives.

The imagery is often filled with angels, shepherds, wise men, a manger and a stable. It is a beautiful and powerful scene. There is much to learn from and appreciate from it.

However, I’d like to invite a different perspective to Christmas – placing an emphasis on the Birth of the Son of God as presented in Mark’s Gospel – and express how this sacred event has significance to each and every one of us.

Read More Read More

The Book of Enoch: An Introduction

The Book of Enoch: An Introduction

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. Genesis 5:24

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. Hebrews 11:5

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. Jude 1:14–15

In the Bible as presently constituted, these verses, with the addition of his genealogy, is all that is said of the Enoch figure. The reference in Jude, however opens a flood of questions. This short reference hints of a larger record of Enoch, regards him as a prophet, and even quotes from one of his prophecies. What was Jude’s source? What is it about? What does it mean? The balance of this post attempts to briefly sum up and summarize some answers to these questions.

Read More Read More