Why is the Book of Enoch not in the Bible if Jude quotes from it? Also, how could a modest sized boat such as the ark hold all those animals?
There are two questions that have been troubling me. 1) The Ark – how
could such a modest sized boat keep so many creatures alive for so long?
2) Why is the book of Enoch not part of the Bible. Surely if the apostles
could quote from it it should carry some weight?
Did we meet in Joberg? I do not believe that literally every single
species of animal found its way onto the ark. There is no way that duck
billed platypusses crawled from Australia to Mesopotamia to climb on the
ark. I believe that the animals on the ark were those who were from the
immediate area near the ark. How large an area the “immediate area” is I
do not know. This would require speculation on my part. I believe that
God miraculously allowed Noan and his family to drive an amazing variety
of both domesticated and wild animals onto the ark. We are talking about
perhaps many dozens or many hundreds of kinds of animals.
The next question, then, is what happened to the other animals? I am not
sure, so I will have to speculate, which is always tricky. Perhaps the
flood was truly worldwide in its effect, but not total in its
destruction. Perhaps there were islands of survivors, both animal and
human. Perhaps God miraculously re-created species. Although I strongly
doubt it, perhaps the flood was a true judgment, but it was only
relatively local–judging those peoples around Noah who refused to repent
when he preached. I am uncomfortable with this interpretation is the use
of all and every in the flood account is really strong! Bottom line, the
Bible does not say and I do not know. Nevertheless, I believe there was
sufficient room on the ark for it to carry hundreds of animals for a few
months while the flood covered the land.
About why Enoch was not chosen, you will have to ask the Jews who, by
consensus, chose the books of the Old Testament why they did not include
Enoch. They did not leave behind a record of how they chose the books we
have in our canonical Old Testament. A good guess is that Enoch was
written well beyond the date of the last book which ended up in the Old
Testament. Scholars have placed the book in the second century BC–about
three hundred years after the canonical Old Testament was completed. The
Jews were not adding to their canon of scripture at that time. It was
considered by many to be closed (although some would have argued this
point). Another possible reason Enoch is not in the Old Testament is that
it is not inspired by God. Remember that although God used human beings
to write and to collect the books of the Bible, ultimately, God had a hand
in both the writing of the books, and presumably in the process by which
they were collected. 2 Peter 1:19-21 talks about the inspiration of the
Old Testament, as does 2 Timothy 3:16. Enoch is pseudepigriphal. This is
a fancy word which means that the book was written as if it were from
Enoch, when anyone reading the book knows that Enoch had nothing to do
with this book. It is hard to imagine a book which is falsely attributed
to an author ending up in the Bible.
Actually a better question than the one you asked (at least in my opinion)
is why did Jude quote from (or more precisely allude to) the book of
Enoch? Is Jude imputing inspiration to Enoch? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It
is not at all unusual for preachers to quote from non-inspired books in
sermons in order to make a point. We do not always carefully remind the
reader that the quote is from a non-inspired book, but rely on the
knowledge of our hearers to make the distinction at times. It is possible
that the things referred to in Enoch are true, while the book itself is
not inspired. It is also possible (though not likely in my opinion for
what it is worth) that the book of Enoch is in fact inspired, yet never
made it into the Hebrew canon of scripture. It is hard to say. What we
do know is that Jude referenced a story in Enoch as if it were a true
story. Whether he does so simply to make a point or to actually imply
that this is a factual event is a bit hard to say. We will have to let
the experts in Jewish modes of communication help us out on this one. I
suggest you look up some commentaries on Jude to get more of an idea how
to think about this.
One last comment about Enoch and apocryphal books in general. The Jews
did not hold the identical view to most of us on the idea of inspiration.
They saw inspiration (to use a word they would not have in their
vocabulary, as far as I know) on different levels. The Pentateuch (the
first five books) was held in highest regard. The former and
latter prophets were considered inspired, ie from God, but of lesser
weight, while the writings were perhaps even a step down from there. The
Jews may have considered such books as 1 Macabees, Judith, Ecclesiasticus
and perhaps 1 Enoch as useful–carrying some weight from God as well. It
is possible that they saw things more on a continuum, while we, with our
Western mindset, tend to see things more as ones and zeroes. Totally
inspired, end of story, or definitely not considered inspired at all.
Which is the correct perspective, I am not absolutely sure, but it is
worth bearing in mind that we think differently on this than the Jews in
the time of Jesus.
John Oakes, PhD