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Enoch, D&C 78, and the Pseudepigrapha


David T

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It appears to be the common consensus of many scholars that the Book of 1 Enoch, in its present form, was written in the post-exilic period, and uses the framework of the Enoch and the Watchers myth as a polemic against what is viewed as wicked priests and the corrupt religious/political situation going on in Jerusalem. That the writer places himself in the persona of Enoch, and not only warns, but also prophesies, and promises great blessings to the Righteous, who are believed to be the members of his own community, which may be related to the Qumranic communities.

In March 1832, Joseph Smith presented a revelation to the people of the Church that would establish a mercantile institution for the welfare of those living the united Order. Names of those responsible are named, and promises of blessings are given to the faithful, and warnings are given to those who will break such covenants.

This revelation was first published in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, and when it was, there were several changes from how it appears in the manuscript Book of Commandments and Revelations. First, it was re-framed as a Revelation to Enoch. Names were changed to ancient sounding names (Newel Whitney became Ahashdah, Sidney Rigdon became Pelegoram, and Joseph was 'Enoch, or Gazelem') - Israel was changed to Zion. Mercantile Society was changed to Storehouse. Jesus Christ was changed to The Son Ahman. The reference to Christ's second coming becomes a reference to the taking up of the City of Enoch. Where the saints are originally told they will join with the Church of the Firstborn, the new versions declares the recipients to be the Church or the Firstborn, that will soon be taken up.

(It's interesting while that in the latest edition of the D&C the 'code names' for Joseph, Sidney, and Whitney have been changed back to their originals (and this is even noted in the current header), the other changes making this an Enochian revelation were retained - you can see a great side by side comparison of the versions here.)

What I think is fascinating is that we're seeing here an illustration of how much of what we know as the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha was formed. Religious leaders writing to their own communities in coded, 'biblical' or 'apocalyptic' language that would serve as a form of protection, and also hide the agenda of the Community from outsider opponents. I think D&C 78, when viewed in its historical (and textual) context, can teach us a lot about ancient religious history - history that Joseph would not have been aware of.

I think it also gives additional contextual insight as to how we should interpret the Enoch writings in the Joseph Smith Translation / Book of Moses.

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I was under the impression that the code names were supposed to protect people (I'm probably wrong). Did people think that the code names were real names and the revelation was really to Enoch? That's what the Book of Enoch seems to be doing. It seems to be a forgery that looks like an ancient book so people will listen to what the author is trying to preach.

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I was under the impression that the code names were supposed to protect people (I'm probably wrong). Did people think that the code names were real names and the revelation was really to Enoch?

What I said was, "What I think is fascinating is that we're seeing here an illustration of how much of what we know as the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha was formed. Religious leaders writing to their own communities in coded, 'biblical' or 'apocalyptic' language that would serve as a form of protection, and also hide the agenda of the Community from outsider opponents. "

That's what the Book of Enoch seems to be doing. It seems to be a forgery that looks like an ancient book so people will listen to what the author is trying to preach.

While I think later down the road it was interpreted as such by opponents, and those who were not initiated in the tradition, I think it's very possible that in the communities where it was initially developed, added upon, and compiled, it was understood to be a revelatory text by their Righteous leader, wrapped in an ancient framework to draw scriptural connections, and to help the Community visualize themselves as living through Scriptural History. Which is what I also think a large part of the JST Book of Moses is.

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