3 Enoch and the Similitudes of Enoch


by Bankole Davies-Browne

[Bankole Davies-Browne is a postgraduate student working on the M.Phil. degree at the Divinity School of the University of St. Andrews.–JRD]

In my paper I have attempted to establish the relationship between 3 Enoch 3-15 and the Similitudes (1 Enoch 37-71); the former being a Hekhalot text. It is this section that deals with the elevation and transformation of the patriarch, Enoch. In my introduction I gave a brief background of both passages (pericopae). I did spend a fair bit of time discussing the relationship between 3 Enoch 3-15 and 3 Enoch (the Hebrew book of Enoch) as a whole; and also its relationship to chapter 16.

I noticed that the parallels between the Similitudes and 3 Enoch 3-15 are centred around eight elements in both pericopae: (1.) The heroes of the work (Rabbi Ishmael and Enoch: a biblical character and an extra-biblical character) (2.) Angelology (good and evil angels) (3.) Enoch / Metatron versus the “elect one” “the son of man. ” (4.) The throne and the Shekinah (5) Eschatology; ( 6). The oath / power inherent in letters, (7.) The heavenly ascent; and (8.) Wisdom. By the way, this is not an exhaustive list of parallels. My task was to try to explain some of these parallels. However, I decided to focus my attention on the Enoch/Metatron figure. Moreover, some of the aforementioned elements are interrelated to this figure in a rather complex manner. I have looked at the parallel from two different perspectives: (1). Apocalyptic tradition (See Saldarini and Himmelfarb) and (2). Hekhalot tradition (See Suter). There is evidence to show that 3 Enoch was dependent on the Similitudes. The thorny subject is to explain the parallels. Is 3 Enoch 3-15 (representing a later tradition) a product of exegesis or is it a result of a genuine mystical experience of a community?


Alexander, P., “3 Enoch and the Talmud,” Journal for the Study of Judaism 18 (1987): 40-68

—————, “The Historical Setting of the Book of Enoch,” Journal of Jewish Studies 28(1977): 156-180

Davila, J. R. “The Hekhalot Literature and Shamanism” SBL Seminar Papers. 33 (1994): 767-789

___________ “Initiatory, Disintegration and Reintegration” (ch. 5 of an unpublished monograph provisionally entitled “Descenders to the Chariot: The Community Behind the Hekhalot Literature”)

___________”Utnapishtim, Marduk, and Metatron: Babylonian Myth in 3 Enoch” (unpublished ms presented in the Divine Mediator Figures Consultation during the 1992 SBL annual meeting)

Halperin, David, The Faces of the Chariot : Early Jewish Responses to Ezekiel

Himmelfarb, Martha “Heavenly Ascent and the Relationship of the Apocalypse and the Hekhalot Literature” Hebrew Union College Annual 59 (1988) 73-100

Rowland, Christopher. The Open Heaven: A Study of Apocalyptic in Judaism and Early Christianity London: SPCK, 1982

Saldarini, Anthony , J. “Apocalypses and Apocalyptic in Rabbinic Literature and Mysticism,” Semeia 14 (1979): 187-205

Schaefer, Peter , The Hidden and Manifest God. New York: State University of New York, 1992

Suter, David, Winston. Tradition and composition in the Parables of Enoch. SBL Dissertation Series 47; Scholars Press, Missoula MT, 1979

(c) 1997
Reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the author.

Contact details

St Mary’s College
The School of Divinity
University of St Andrews
South Street
St Andrews
Fife KY16 9JU
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 462850 
Fax: +44 (0)1334 462852