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A short section of 1 Enoch (1 En 1:9) is quoted in the New Testament (Letter of Jude 1:14-15), and is there attributed to "Enoch the Seventh from Adam" (1 En 60:8). It is argued that all the writers of the New Testament were familiar with it and were influenced by it in thought and diction. — Wikipedia

So why is the Book of Enoch not regarded as canonical by major Christian denominations?

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Reading the first chapter brought contradiction when enoch spoke about the rain falling on the earth when it did not rain until later on when noah built the ark. –  user2207 Sep 24 '12 at 23:59
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Short Answer: The Book of Enoch is not Scripture. As such, the Holy Spirit did not lead the church to include it in the canon of Scripture.

The Controversy

Jude 1:14-15 says this:

It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

This quote from Enoch is not contained in the Bible, which has led many to wonder where Jude got this information.

In 1956, during the excavation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a book called "1 Enoch" (a.k.a. The Book of Enoch) was discovered. (NOTE: The excavation uncovered a variety of texts, many of which were not Scriptural.)

Enoch 1:9 says this:

And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of holy ones to execute judgement upon all, and to destroy [all] the ungodly: and to convict all flesh of all the works [of their ungodliness] which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners [have spoken] against Him.

Clearly this is very similar to Jude 1:14-15. The question is: Why?

  • Was Jude quoting The Book of Enoch?

    • If so, does this mean the Book of Enoch should be considered Scripture?
  • Were The Book of Enoch and Jude both quoting from an earlier text (i.e. the actual account of Enoch)?

  • Was the author of The Book of Enoch actually quoting from Jude to make their book look more credible?

What we don't know is when The Book of Enoch was written, who the author was, or what Jude was quoting. :) (The best I can tell, the Biblical figure Enoch was not the author, but rather, someone who lived closer to the time of Christ, or possibly even after, based on some of the references.) There are many arguments on all sides of this debate, but the real question in the back of many Christian minds is:

Is it Scripture?

Is this the Holy-Spirit inspired word of God? This is where we can pretty confidently say "no". If it were Scripture, we would expect it to be free of false doctrine. What we find instead is that false doctrine is one of the most prevalent themes in the book!

Taking a cursory look at the text up through Chapter 59, I found the following false doctrines. (I may be off on one here or there, but it should be sufficient to get my point across.)

  • 1:1 Implies restoration during tribulation - not congruent with scriptures.

  • 1:8 In conflict with the doctrine that peace was made at the cross. Also, in the last days tribulation will increase for the righteous - this "verse" seems to dispute that.

  • 2:2-3 Appears to contradict 2 Pet 3:3-7

  • 5:4 Is an admonition to some unknown party - this is very irregular relative to the scriptures (i.e. authentic ancient writings by God-fearing Jews)

  • 6:3 Semjaza seems to be listed as the leader of the angels, which is not scriptural

  • 6:3,8 None of these angels are mentioned in the Bible

  • 8:1 Azazel isn't even listed in 6:8 as one of the angels that fornicated with women

  • 8:3 Araqiel and Shamsiel aren't listed in 6:8 either

  • 10:2 Enoch allegedly wrote about Noah, even though the Bible teaches that Enoch was taken up to heaven years before Noah was born.

  • 10:4-6,12 Implies angels can be bound & hid in holes under rocks. This is contrary to scripture.

  • 10:8 Ascribes all the sin of the fallen angels to one named Azazel - not scriptural.

  • 10:15-11:2 Seems to imply that permanent restoration took place after the flood - clearly not true. It seems the true author of this book confused scriptures pertaining to the future restoration.

  • 13:5-6,14:4-5,7 Implies fallen angels can't talk to God - this contradicts Job. Also implies that angels were repentant, but weren't received back by God - very strange doctrine.

  • 14 Gives a very strange description of Heaven that conflicts with many scriptures

  • 15:8-10 Very strange doctrine about "evil spirits" proceeding from unredeemable giants

  • 17-18,21,23 Gives a very strange description of the earth & universe which is clearly not true. Also alludes to the ancient model of astronomy that held that there were 7 stars (the closest planets) which burned like the sun (they don't.)

  • 19:3 Discredits all other prophecy about the consumation of the ages.

  • 20 Lists strange angels not in scripture, and incorrectly assigns the roles of Michael (the warrior) and Gabriel (the messenger)

  • 21:7-10 Seems to contradict Biblical descriptions of the present & final judgement places for the fallen angels

  • 22 Contradicts the Biblical descriptions of past, present & future dwelling places for the righteous who die

  • 32:2-6 Seems to imply the Garden of Eden was still in existance after the Flood

  • 33:1-2 Says Heaven rests on a foundation that is at the Eastern edge of the earth

  • 33:3 He claims he counted the stars & individually mapped them, which is impossible scripturally (& scientifically)

  • 34 Says the winds come out of a "portal" at the Northern edge of the earth

  • 36:3 Says the stars come out of portals at the Eastern edge of the earth & move West

  • 38:5-6 Contradicts Daniel & other prophecies about the Mellinial Reign

  • 39:1-2 Very strange implications here about the "seed" of angels dwelling with men at the end... this contradicts the scriptures

  • 40:7 Talks about the "Satans" - plural, different than the Bible, who gives that name to only one fallen angel. Also, implies Satan can't stand in God's presence, contrary to Job.

  • 40:9 Once again mixes up the roles of the 2 Archangels & adds more names in. Michael's role in scripture is related to conquoring nations & fighting spiritual wars, while Gabriel's relates to bringing messages & visions to people.

  • 41:1-2 Says the Kingdom of God is divided - it's not & can't be scripturally. Also describes sinners being repelled from a mansion, which is also not scriptural, unless you look at a parable Jesus told, which was not intended to be literal.

  • 41:4-5 Says the sun, moon, winds, etc. are stored in chambers & released at appointed times.

  • 41:6-7 Implies the sun & moon move opposite of each other

  • 43:1-3,44 Very weird model of the nature of stars & lightning

  • 47:4 Says God requires the blood of the saints... very strange

  • 51:1 Says Sheol & Hell will give back to the earth, which isn't scriptural - also Hell is a NT term, not OT

  • 51:2 Disputes the Biblical doctrine that we are chosen. (We don't have to wait until Christ's return to be chosen.) This isn't scriptural.

  • General: Seems to imply Enoch came back down to earth after being taken up to Heaven, which is not scriptural.

Summary

I think Paul's words are very pertinent here:

As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

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If you have questions about specific claims I made in my list, it would probably be more appropriate to post a separate question on C.SE about whether the Enoch "verse" in question is in conflict with Scripture, as opposed to debating it in the comments. –  Jas 3.1 Jul 20 '12 at 3:01
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This is really helpful. Did you actually read the book of Enoch and come up with this yourself, or did you get it from somewhere? –  Aleighd Jul 20 '12 at 3:09
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I agree with your conclusion in general, but this list seems kind of issues seems kind of bogus to me. One could easily compile a list that looked much like that for some works that ARE in the Canon, and if the same hermeneutics we apply to the rest of Scripture were applied, many of the issues you raise would vaporize as variously interpreted as alegory, symbolism or even the author not knowing how to properly describe what he was seeing. Reading Hezekiel with the same eye you have applied to Enoch would produce a similar list of bizarrities. Again I agree overall, but your evidence is weak. –  Caleb Sep 10 '12 at 8:37
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@Caleb I am starting with the presupposition that the Bible is the standard by which we judge all other teachings. When we use the Bible as a standard and read "Enoch 1", it comes up short. I think that is pretty easy to discern (which is why it's not in the Bible!) The list was an attempt to illustrate that without writing a commentary on the entire book. You might consider reading some of the verses I referenced; it might make more sense what I was talking about. Regarding "Hezekiel" (Ezekiel?), a series of prophetic visions, that is not the same as historical narrative or discourse. –  Jas 3.1 Sep 10 '12 at 19:24
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@TheMonkeyMan The original question was "Why is the Book of Enoch not regarded as canonical?" The question implies that at least some Christians do not regard it as canonical (which is true) and asks Why? I have answered the question. I think your disagreement is with the assumption behind the question. In other words, I have answered from the perspective that it is not canonical, which is precisely the perspective the OP was interested in. –  Jas 3.1 Oct 29 '12 at 17:54
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Abstract

The Jewish canon was still in a state of flux when the New Testament was being written. Therefore, early Christian authors drew freely from a wide variety of works, some of which were excluded from both the Jewish and Christian scriptures at a later date. 1st Enoch falls into that category.


The early church probably held theological views most similar to the Pharisee sect of Judaism. That meant that they would have accepted a larger selection of books than just the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), but not the full range of texts that have been found in the Qumran library. Enoch was not found in the 132 BCE translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek (the Septuagint). Most likely, the text was not in it's final form at that time. However, many church fathers quoted Enoch, so it must have been translated into Greek by the first and second century CE. Only a few fragments of Greek copies remain.

It's clear that the author of Jude directly quoted Enoch 1:9 and properly attributed the quotation:

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”—Jude 1:14-15 (ESV)

Whether he had a Greek translation available or translated it directly from Aramaic (or some other language) is unknown. There are textual variations, but we can be pretty confident that this quotation comes from Enoch and not Deuteronomy 33:2.

Tertullian directly addresses the issue:

But since Enoch in the same Scripture has preached likewise concerning the Lord, nothing at all must be rejected by us which pertains to us; and we read that “every Scripture suitable for edification is divinely inspired.” By the Jews it may now seem to have been rejected for that (very) reason, just like all the other (portions) nearly which tell of Christ. Nor, of course, is this fact wonderful, that they did not receive some Scriptures which spake of Him whom even in person, speaking in their presence, they were not to receive. To these considerations is added the fact that Enoch possesses a testimony in the Apostle Jude.

His argument uses an ingenious interpretation of 2nd Timothy to show that Enoch was inspired because it contains prophecies about Jesus. He also argues that it was rejected by the Jews for that same reason. That Jude quoted a portion is merely secondary evidence.


Given this promising start, why didn't the church accept Enoch? Ultimately, I think the answer lies in the difficulty the church had in deciding on the Christian texts to be included. Even at the time of Eusebius the question of which texts belonged in the New Testament was disputed. 2nd Peter, for instance, was considered doubtful. The Old Testament was a less pressing matter and it seems that the church generally accepted the Jewish Scripture. Eusebius quotes Origen:

It should be stated that the canonical books, as the Hebrews have handed them down, are twenty-two; corresponding with the number of their letters.

Of course, the numbers don't quite add up. Even the smallest reckoning is 24 books. But the point is that Christians began to accept the Jewish canon as authoritative. That meant ignoring books like Enoch that weren't broadly accepted by 1st and 2nd century Jews.

Before Jerome, most Christians simply used the Septuagint (or Latin translations of it) because it was convenient, it was quoted (and therefore used) by the apostles, and some (such as Augustine) considered the translation itself inspired. Obviously, Enoch was not found in that collection. After Jerome, the Latin church shifted to using the Vulgate, which also didn't include Enoch. So for the vast majority of Christian traditions Enoch simply fell out of use.

It should be noted that at 108 chapters and about the same number of pages in a modern edition, Enoch is a relatively long book to be copied and translated. Before Gutenberg, a text really needed to justify its value in order to be propagated. While the text contains much detail that isn't found elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, the material is fairly esoteric and not terribly applicable for the early church (unlike Revelation). The formation of the canon (from a historical viewpoint) was a chaotic process.

Summary

There's a ton of interesting things in Enoch and other non-canonical works, but as a Christian, I don't feel like we are missing out on much by not reading them. God has used the Church, with all of her missteps and human failings, to produce a canon that fully describes His character and plan for the world.

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I think that the easiest answer is that it was excluded because it was never properly included. None of the groups who formed a version of the canon felt that this book accurately reflected Jewish values sufficiently to be included in the Tanak or the LXX. Christians just followed suit.

Just because a book is cited by the Bible, that does not make for automatic inclusion. Just because a book is not cited by the rest of the Bible that does not mean that it would be right to exclude it (Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes come to mind)

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It is regarded as canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Eritrean Orthodox Church, but no other Christian group. –  Jomet Jul 19 '12 at 13:16
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I like the point about citation not implying canonicity. Paul quotes from the Phaenomena of Aratus in Acts 17:28, but that's not in the Biblical canon. –  James T Jul 19 '12 at 17:09
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Yeah, but WHY did the groups who formed the canon feel it did not reflect Jewish values sufficiently to be included? I don't feel this really answers the question. –  Aleighd Jul 20 '12 at 3:06
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