Apocalypses: Book of Lights

Apocalypses

Time Period

250-200 BCE, after the Book of the Watchers, before the Maccabean Revolt.

Pseudonym

Part of the 1 Enoch corpus.

‘Behold, I have shown you everything, Enoch.’

Angelic Guide

Enoch receives guidance from Uriel, the angel in charge of heavenly lights.

Uriel, the holy angel who was with me, who is their leader, showed me.

Cosmogony

The entire book is concerned with the structure and movement of the sun, moon, and stars.

The book about the motion of the heavenly lights, all as they are in their kinds, their jurisdiction, their time, their name, their origins, and their months …

Primordial Events

(n/a)

Historical Review

(n/a)

After-the-fact Prophecy

(n/a)

Persecution

There is a brief allusion to persecution in the second-to-last chapter. In context, the persecution seems to come from within the Judean community.

‘Those who do what is right will die because of the actions of people and will be gathered up because of the deeds of the wicked.’

Social Upheaval

Not so much the disruption of society, but of the natural order of the world.

‘Everything on the earth will change and will not appear at their times, the rain will be withheld, and the sky will stand still.’

Resurrection

There is a possible allusion to life after death, though whether it is resurrection or something else is too vague to tell.

‘Blessed is the one who dies righteous and good; regarding him no book of wickedness has been written and no day of judgment will be found.’

Judgment

Some manner of punishment on sinners is described, and there are references to a ‘day of judgment’.

‘Evil will multiply against them and punishment will come upon them to destroy all.’

New Creation

The introduction states that the natural calendar will not be changed until a new world is formed.

‘The entire book about them, as it is, he showed me and how every year of the world will be forveer, until a new creation lasting forever is made.’

Sources

We know from the Dead Sea Scrolls there was significant debate within Second Temple Judaism over the proper calendar: an inaccurate calendar would result in holy days and festivals celebrated on the wrong days. The sect which produced the scrolls appears to have split from the main Jerusalem community in part because of this disagreement. They believed it would be a sin to follow the errant calendar, so they rejected the Jerusalem establishment. The Book of Lights does not explicitly address this issue, but the author does painstakingly explain the lengths of days, months, seasons, and years, and he directly opposes a calendar that differed by four days.

Most of the book appears to come from a single author.

The clearest outlier is chapter 81, the second-to-last chapter, which was inserted after the Book of Lights had already been placed between the Book of the Watchers and the Book of Dreams. This author reorients the topic of the Book of Lights around some kind of persecution.

Units

1 Enoch 72.1: Title and introduction. The book contains Enoch’s revelation about the movement of the heavenly lights, but does not contain the narrative of how he received that revelation, unlike the Book of the Watchers.

1 Enoch 72.2–37: The sun’s movements.

1 Enoch 73.1–74.9: The moon’s movements and change in brightness.

1 Enoch 74.10–17: Changes to the length of the year over time.

1 Enoch 75–77: The movement of stars, winds, heat, the mountains that bring frost to the world, and the seven rivers that run through the world.

1 Enoch 78.1–2: The names of the sun and moon.

1 Enoch 78.3–17: The waxing and waning of the moon.

1 Enoch 79: Enoch’s summary.

1 Enoch 80: Uriel’s summary, and eschatological concerns.

1 Enoch 81: Drops interest in the cosmos and focuses on Enoch’s imminent disappearance.

1 Enoch 81: Enoch dispenses additional comments about the cosmos to his son Methuselah, in the form of a testament.

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