clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A bargain basement Book of Enoch

Some of the things people have read into the Book of Enoch are boggling.
Some of the things people have read into the Book of Enoch are boggling.

The basement of the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco is like basements everywhere. It’s where things are put that don’t seem to go anyplace else.

The top floor of the store is all poetry, photographs of poets and chairs where poets can sit to read the poetry.

The main floor is filled with mainstream books — fiction, nonfiction, European literature, Spanish literature.

But the basement is the catchall. There you’ll find children’s literature, science-fiction, mysteries, cookbooks and two small shelves of books on Christian spirituality. Most of those books are classics — Augustine, Aquinas, etc. But as I mentally ticked through the titles, one book jumped out at me. It was a little book with a cover like burnished bronze.

I thought for a moment City Lights was peddling the Plates of Laban.

It turned out to be "The Book of Enoch," a manuscript supposedly penned by one of the early biblical patriarchs. The book has fallen in and out of favor for hundreds of years. And since the store had signs suggesting visitors find a chair and read a spell, that’s what I did.

Many scholars date the assembling of the Book of Enoch to just before the advent of Christianity. It was an official part of the Jewish scripture until A.D. 90. Today, only two Christian churches consider it sacred, though almost all Christian churches consider it interesting and even enlightening.

And some of the things people have read into the Book of Enoch are boggling.

In the section of prophecies some readers see veiled references to metrosexuals, the modern country of Greece and even prophecies about Facebook.

As for its structure, the book describes the many trips that Enoch made to heaven. And he seems to have been on a regular shuttle bus. He not only visits heaven personally but also goes there in dreams, visions and in his revelations.

Over the centuries, the Book of Enoch has gotten a dose of credibility because the book of Jude in the New Testament mentions it.

I read all over "The Book of Enoch" for about an hour. My first impression was the book holds a few grains of wheat, but they’re stirred up with a great deal of chaff. Still, some of those grains were keepers.

I liked this thought:

Don’t envy other people for what they have. They’re not going to enjoy it that long.

And put a star on this one:

The great joy in life is wisdom.

If you’re wondering if "The Book of Enoch" is worth your time and attention, I’d say looking it over can’t hurt. And you don’t need to fly to San Francisco and visit City Lights to buy a burnished bronze version of the book either.

It’s available online, free of charge.