[Editor’s note: This person is asking about the book of Enoch and its discovery in the eighteenth century]


Before James Bruce stole the book in Ethiopia, Western world Christians did not know the book [of Enoch] existed, so why after studying the book, did they say the book is false or non canonical?  Was it because it came from Africa? Who gave the authority to Western Christians to disregard this book as canonical and why do western Christians consider only their teaching to be included in the bible?


I assume you are talking about the Book of Enoch.  Is that correct? It is true that James Bruce found a copy of this important Jewish document in the eighteenth century, bringing it back with him from an expedition to what was up to that time the mysterious nation of Ethiopia (mysterious to Europeans, that is).  He presented his manuscript to King Louis XV in 1773.  That the Book of Enoch existed was already known by westerners because ancient writers referred to it, but there were no ancient copies available before the three found by Bruce while traveling on his famous journey of exploration in Ethiopia.

You ask why this book is not included in the canon of the Old Testament (I assume you refer to the Old Testament as it was written before the time of Christ). The answer is that it was not included because the Jews were the custodians of the Hebrew Scripture.  If the Jews did not accept Enoch it was because they did not consider it inspired.  In fact, as far as I know, Enoch was not even written in Hebrew. It comes from perhaps as late as the second century BC.  It is NOT Christians who choose the content of the Hebrew Bible, and it certainly is not Westerners who chose the canon of Scripture.  The Jews decided what books should be in the Hebrew Bible.  No one says that Enoch is a “false” book.  Well, actually, it is in a sense a “false” book in that it is pseudepigrapha, which means falsely attributed to Enoch. We can assume that Enoch did not write this book!  In any case, it is the opinion of virtually all believers that it does not belong in the Old Testament canon.  You seem to imply that it may have something to do with Western prejudice against Africans.  I do not deny that there is great prejudice against black Africans on the part of Westerners, but whether or not Enoch is included in the Jewish Scripture has nothing to do with the fact that there were manuscript copies of the book in Ethiopia–with it being “African.” Historically, modern Westerners had no role in the canonization of the Old Testament.  Apparently, some believers in Ethiopia used the book and perhaps even some of them considered it canonical, but let me repeat that the Jews decide what is the canon of the Hebrew Bible, so this is not a matter of prejudice but it has to do with the means by which God saw to the choosing of the Old Testament canon.

John Oakes

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