The Book of Enoch has gone from a relatively obscure reference to an object of fascination by millions. It is one of the oldest known Jewish works, but it was not included in the Hebrew biblical canon even though evidence suggests that it was well known at the time. This relegated Enoch to near-obscurity. Recently, however, the Book of Enoch has been shoved rather suddenly into the limelight. What has caused this sudden obsession with this esoteric text?
AngelsInterest in angels has increased dramatically in recent years. People seek angel healings, practice divination with angel cards and hungrily read anything they can find on the internet that talks about angels. There are dozens of blogs and articles dedicated to helping people grow their own angel wings, communicate with angels or recognize angels when they appear on Earth. Regardless of how correct or incorrect people’s perceptions of angels are, the fact remains that angels have become the latest craze, and Enoch has a great deal to say about angels. Enoch contains two lists of archangels as well as what each angel’s job is in heaven. Enoch also names some of the angels that he claims fell from heaven. As a general rule, people like lists. They also like to feel like they are privy to secret drama, and Enoch’s list of names lets some people feel that they were able to have a window into a heavenly squabble.
Descriptions of HeavenMost people who believe in an afterlife have wondered what that afterlife will look like when they finally die and visit it. Enoch has one of the most detailed descriptions of heaven that has currently been discovered. As such, people want to read about what is on the other side. In Enoch, they find tales of the fiery Tree of Life, houses that hold snow and morning dew and other incredible images. The vision Enoch crafts is beautiful enough to fit with what many people imagine heaven to be like but otherworldly enough to convince people that his descriptions may not simply be a man’s imaginings but an actual glimpse of heaven.
Enoch also includes a description of God. This, of course, is of great interest to people of both Jewish and Christian faiths. Once again, the details in Enoch paint a picture that is unexpected enough to convince people that they may be reading about God’s actual appearance.
UniquenessIf Enoch were seen as simply another book about a prophet trying to get people to repent, it is unlikely that the text would have gained as much attention and interest as it has so far. Enoch, however, is very different from other Hebrew writings. Beyond the elaborate descriptions of heaven and God, Enoch contains stories that are not found in other writings and expands upon those that are found elsewhere. The tale of the fallen angels, for example, is unusual in ancient writings. Similarly, the tale of the Nephilim is expanded upon.
The Nephilim are mentioned very briefly in the creation story, but there is only a passing reference to these giants. Enoch, however, expands upon the tale of who and what these giants were and why God felt they needed to be destroyed.
Enoch also has an interesting section that is reminiscent of the ancient Greek stories of Prometheus or Haida stories of the Raven. In this portion of Enoch, it is said that humans were taught many things by the fallen angels who had sired the Nephilim just as the ancient Greeks and Haida believed that humans were taught by the tricksters of their own pantheons. Among the things that fallen angels, especially Azazel, supposedly taught mankind were metalworking, knowledge of the constellations and how to track the course of the moon.
Media AttentionCultural and societal interests in various things often form feedback loops. When a large number of people become interested in something, those who had never heard of the thing want to know what is interesting everyone. This gets even more people interested in it. The more the group of interested people grows, the more that outsiders want to know what is happening. When enough people become interested, the media begins to take notice. The media then dedicates time to talking about how so many people have become interested in this thing. This, in turn, makes more people interested since they are hearing about it on the news.
As interest in Enoch grew, the book began to appear in various media outlets. The History Channel referenced it repeatedly in various shows. Blogs and websites that dealt with everything from scholarly articles about ancient texts to attempts to predict the end of the world began to reference Enoch. Interest grew, and more people began to look for information on Enoch. This led to more people putting out information on Enoch. A feedback loop formed, and it has not collapsed yet.
AgeEnoch is an old book. This alone has gotten it quite a bit of attention. As a general rule, the older a text is, the more people are curious about what is written inside it. Enoch is no exception to this. Its age and the fact that it was excluded from canon make it a source of fascination to many people.
Enoch is the perfect mix of old, unusual and trendy that has led everyone to be curious about this ancient text. Given that a feedback loop has formed, it is unlikely that public interest in this ancient book is going to wane anytime soon. Until then, Enoch will continue to be both a source of fascination and a cause of great frustration to many when people realize exactly how much of the book is, unfortunately, lost to time.