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Book of Moses Insights
#005: Enoch’s Teaching Mission: Were Ancient Enoch Manuscripts the Inspiration for Moses 6–7?
(Moses 6–7)

This series is cross-posted with the permission of Book of Mormon Central
from their website at Pearl of Great Price Central

Listen to or download an audio recording of this Insight:



Book of Enoch P, Chester Beatty XII, leaf 3 (Verso), 4th century.[1] The leaf shown includes 1 Enoch 1:9 in Greek, cited in Jude 1:14–15.

In this Insight, we will introduce the most well-known ancient Enoch manuscripts and review the possibility that Joseph Smith could have derived the Enoch accounts in Moses 6–7 from any of them.[2] Pioneering insights on the relationship between ancient Enoch manuscripts and the Book of Moses can be found in the writings of Hugh W. Nibley, who wrote a series of articles on the subject for the Ensign magazine in 1975–1977.[3]

1 Enoch

Of the extant Enoch manuscripts, the best-known is 1 Enoch, also referred to as Ethiopic Enoch, or simply The Book of Enoch. 1 Enoch is one of the most important Jewish works of pseudepigrapha, highly valued in the early Christian community and explicitly[4] (and implicitly[5]) cited in New Testament epistles.[6]

Except for quotations of 1 Enoch found in Christian patristic literature, the full form of the text was unknown to the Western world until 1773, when it was discovered in Abyssinia by James Bruce. While this discovery brought 1 Enoch out of obscurity, it remained largely untouched until it was translated into English by Richard Laurence in 1821.

What is the likelihood that Joseph Smith knew about Laurence’s translation?[7] In his 2010 master’s thesis, Salvatore Cirillo[8] cites and amplifies the position of Michael Quinn,[9] who more than a decade earlier had argued that Joseph Smith’s access to this translation of 1 Enoch had moved “beyond probability—to fact.” However, Cirillo’s confidence is at odds with the views of other scholars who have addressed this issue. For example, renowned Latter-day Saint historian Richard L. Bushman concluded:[10] “It is scarcely conceivable that Joseph Smith knew of Laurence’s Enoch translation.”[11]

Because Cirillo agrees that Joseph Smith likely didn’t have access to the 1821 printing of Laurence’s translation, he has argued that the Prophet may have used a purported 1828 American edition of the work. However, evidence has now been provided that there was no such edition.[12] Though researchers will no doubt continue their search for sources through which Joseph Smith could have become aware of 1 Enoch, conclusively arguing that he actually saw and studied such sources will likely prove difficult. More importantly, for reasons we outline further below, 1 Enoch as a whole would have been a relatively unfruitful source of ideas when compared with other ancient Enoch texts that Joseph Smith could not have known.

Most Enoch scholars break the text of 1 Enoch into five separate books: (1) The Book of the Watchers (chapters 1–36); (2) The Book of the Parables[13] or Similitudes (chapters 37–71); (3) The Book of the Luminaries or the Astronomical Book (chapters 72–82); (4) The Dream Visions or Book of Dreams (chapters 83–90); and (5) The Epistle of Enoch (chapters 91–108).[14]

In contrast to the other four books in 1 Enoch, the Book of Parables will hold special interest for students of the Book of Moses.[15] Notably, both the Book of Moses and the Book of Parables describe heavenly ascents of Enoch that include visions with a central figure and a common set of titles. For instance, the title “Son of Man,” which is a notable feature of the Book of Parables,[16] appears in marked density throughout Enoch’s grand vision in the Book of Moses.[17] Remarkably, the titles “Chosen One,”[18] “Anointed One,”[19] and “Righteous One”[20] also appear prominently in both texts.[21] Other passages in the Book of Parables speak of the resurrection of the righteous in the last days who will be gathered to a place of glory and holiness and “with that Son of Man they will eat and lie down and rise up forever and ever.”[22]

However, aside from the shared prominence of the “Son of Man” and related motifs in the Book of Parables and the Book of Moses, very few unique and unmistakable parallels have been identified between the two Enoch chapters of the Book of Moses and the sizable text of 1 Enoch.[23] Resemblances are relatively sparse and the story lines are mostly divergent. A study by Latter-day Saint historian Jed Woodworth concluded that the principal themes of “Laurence’s 105 translated chapters do not resemble Joseph Smith’s Enoch in any obvious way.”[24] In an online review of the evidence, And even one one well-informed scholar who is skeptical of the divine origins of the Book of Moses informed commentator concluded that “the literary connections between Moses 6–8 and 1 Enoch are in my opinion very loose, and more time and attention should be placed elsewhere.”[25]

In summary, ongoing research has shown that it is not only improbable but also off the mark to conclude that 1 Enoch served as the primary inspiration for Joseph Smith’s writings about Enoch. In spite of all the spilled ink spent on 1 Enoch, more striking significant affinities are found in other pseudepigrapha described below.

2 Enoch

2 Enoch, also known as Slavonic Enoch or The Book of the Secrets of Enoch, is a Jewish pseudepigraphal text that describes the heavenly ascent of the antediluvian patriarch Enoch and his initiation into the divine mysteries. Although most scholars argue for a first century CE Greek original, no Greek fragments have been found. 2 Enoch comes to us principally through medieval Slavic Christian manuscripts.[26]

Latter-day Saint readers of the Book of Moses will find interest in the 2 Enoch account about Enoch’s ascension to the highest heaven and his initiation into the heavenly mysteries in that celestial realm.[27] At one point, the Lord commands Michael to anoint and clothe Enoch, saying: “Go and take Enoch and remove his earthly garments, and anoint him with my sweet ointment, and put him into the garments of My glory.”[28] As a result of this investiture, Enoch declares: “I looked at myself, and I was transformed into one of his glorious ones.”[29] Other details of this heavenly ascent resemble aspects of Enoch’s vision in Moses 7. Moreover, God teaches Enoch about the Creation—how things were first created spiritually, then physically. God also informs Enoch that his words would be again revealed in a distant generation—a theme that is echoed in Moses 1:41.

What are the chances that Joseph Smith could have known 2 Enoch? The likelihood is nil, since its first publication in a Western language (Latin) did not occur until 1899.[30]

3 Enoch

3 Enoch, also known as the Hebrew Apocalypse of Enoch or the Book of Palaces, is a Jewish pseudepigraphal text written later than 1 Enoch and 2 Enoch. 3 Enoch can be seen to draw on the traditions found in the earlier Enochic literature, especially on the Similitudes Book of Parables of 1 Enoch. It is often grouped together with the texts of the Hekhalot literature, a body of esoteric Jewish writings that feature the idea of ascension to the heavenly realm. The date of its creation is highly disputed, and most scholars suggest that it is a composite work written by multiple authors in different time periods.

In a previous Insight,[31] the title of Enoch as a “lad” in Moses 6:31 and 3 Enoch was discussed. Other items of interest to Latter-day Saint readers include the scene in 3 Enoch where R. Ishmael reaches the entrance to the highest heaven. In addition, echoing the similar account in 2 Enoch, Metatron (an Enoch figure in later Jewish tradition) recalls for R. Ishmael the transfiguration that occurred during his being taken up to heaven.[32] God revealed to Enoch the heavenly secrets and gave him a throne similar to the throne of glory, as mentioned in Moses 7:59.[33]

Metatron also showed R. Ishmael the spirits of the dead, both righteous and wicked, and also the spirits of those yet to be born.[34] This corresponds to Moses 6:36, which states that Enoch “beheld the spirits that God had created” and also to Moses 7:57 where Enoch sees in vision that “as many of the spirits as were in prison came forth, and stood on the right hand of God; and the remainder were reserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.”

Could Joseph Smith have known 3 Enoch? There is no possibility of that, since none of the extant manuscripts of 3 Enoch were published in his lifetime.[35]

Other Enoch Sources

In a previous Insight,[36] we explored some of the significant Mandaean sources that intersect with the Book of Moses Enoch account. Moreover, in 2018, John C. Reeves and Annette Yoshiko Reed published the first volume of their book series entitled Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.[37] This volume makes available in English many little-known texts about Enoch from Jewish, Christian and Islamic sources. Examples of the resemblances in these texts to the Book of Moses have been explored elsewhere.[38]

Like the ancient Enoch sources discussed above, none of these additional sources would have been accessible when Joseph Smith translated the Book of Moses.

Book of Giants

The Book of Giants is a collection of fragments from an Enochic book discovered at Qumran. It is not found within the collection of writings in the Ethiopic book of 1 Enoch[39] and, as a whole, resembles little else in the Enoch tradition. Material related to the Book of Giants is included in Talmudic and medieval Jewish literature, in descriptions of the Manichaean canon,[40] in citations by hostile heresiologists, and in third and fourth century fragments from Turfan published by Henning in 1943.[41] Later, several fragments of a related work were identified among the Qumran manuscripts.

The fragmentary Book of Giants has proven to be of tremendous importance to Enoch scholarship. It was very popular at Qumran, more popular than 1 Enoch itself. Even more significantly, it is arguably the oldest extant Enoch manuscript.[42] Although fragments of the Book of Giants had been found previously in the writings of Mani, its discovery at Qumran as part of the “Dead Sea Scrolls” showed that its composition “is at least five hundred years [earlier] than previously thought.”[43] Thus, it helps us “to reconstruct the literary shape of the early stages of the Enochic tradition.”[44]

Note that the term “giants” in the title of the book is misleading.[45] Actually, the book describes two different groups, referred to in Hebrew as the gibborim and the nephilim. In discussing Enoch’s mission among the gibborim, it is probably more appropriate to read the term with its customary connotation in the Bible of “mighty hero” or “warrior.”[46] Later, the terms gibborim and nephilim (the latter term originally used to refer to what seems to have been a remnant of a race of “giants”) were equated in some contexts.[47] Consistent with this distinction, Joseph Smith, in his Enoch account, specifically differentiated “giants” (nephilim?) from Enoch’s other adversaries (gibborim?).[48]

Although the combined fragments of the Book of Giants scarcely fill three pages in the English translation of García Martinez,[49] we find in it the most extensive series of significant parallels between a single ancient text and Joseph Smith’s account of Enoch’s preaching mission and subsequent battles with his enemies. These resemblances range from general themes in the story line (secret works, murders, visions, earthly and heavenly books of remembrance that evoke fear and trembling, moral corruption, hope held out for repentance, the crying out of the earth, the gathering of the righteous, and the eventual defeat of Enoch’s adversaries in battle—ending with their utter destruction and imprisonment) to specific occurrences of rare expressions in corresponding contexts (the reference to a “wild man,” the name and parallel role of Mahijah/Mahujah, and the “roar of the wild beasts”).

Event Book of Moses Book of Giants
Secret works and murders[50] 6:15 1Q23, 9+14+15:2-4
A “wild man”[51] 6:38 4Q531, 22:8
Mahijah/Mahawai questions Enoch[52] 6:40 4Q530, 2:20-23
Enoch reads record of deeds[53] 6:46-47 4Q203, 7b col. ii; 8:1-11
Trembling and weeping after Enoch reads[54] 6:47 4Q203, 4:6
Call to repentance[55] 6:52 4Q203, 8:14-15
Conceived in sin[56] 6:55 4Q203, 8:6-9
Enoch defeats gibborim[57] 7:13 4Q531, 22:3-7
The “roar of wild beasts”[58] 7:13 4Q531, 22:8
Imprisonment of wicked gibborim[59] 7:38 4Q203, 7B 1:5[60]
Repentant gathered to holy city/cities[61] 7:16-18, 69 Mani Book of Giants, Text G
The earth cries out against the sinners[62] 7:48 4Q203, 9-10

Examples of parallel themes and expressions in the Book of Giants and Moses 6-7 accounts of
Enoch’s preaching mission, battles, and gathering of the righteous

We will draw on parallel themes and expressions from the Book of Giants like those above one by one in several subsequent Insights.


It would have been virtually impossible for Joseph Smith in 1830 to have been aware of the most important resemblances to ancient literature in his Enoch revelations. Other than the limited few unique and typically loose parallels found in 1 Enoch (which was unlikely to have been available to Joseph Smith is unlikely to have encountered in any detail), the texts that would have been required for a nineteenth-century author to derive significant parts of Moses 6–7 had neither been discovered by Western scholars nor translated into English. Moreover, even if other relevant traditions outside the Enoch literature (e.g., Masonic or hermetic traditions[64]) had been available to Joseph Smith by 1830, they would not have provided the Prophet with the suite of specific and sometimes peculiar details that are shared by Moses 6–7 and pseudepigrapha like 2 Enoch, 3 Enoch, and the Book of Giants.

But it is not merely the mass of disparate details from the ancient world that attracts us to the Enoch account in the Book of Moses, but rather the beauty, truth, and coherence of the story as a whole. How on earth could Joseph Smith, left to his own devices, have actually accomplished what so few others of his time might have even dared to attempt? Referring to the translation of the Book of Mormon, which in several ways is analogous to the translation of the Book of Moses, Hugh Nibley describes the wonder of it all:[65]

A Victor Hugo or an Anatole France can tell a convincing story when he is near to his own land and time, but let any writer, even the most learned, slip back a couple of thousand years and a few thousand miles around the globe, and he finds himself in a treacherous terrain from which the only escape lies in taking to the wings of fantasy. … [The author of Moses 6-7] imparts his information in such simple, effortless, and matter-of-fact discourse that the reader easily overlooks the vast amount of detail that is woven into the natural and uncomplicated pattern. What writer of historical fiction has ever remotely approached such an achievement?

This article was adapted in part from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ryan Dahle. “Could Joseph Smith have drawn on ancient manuscripts when he translated the story of Enoch? Recent updates on a persistent question (4 October 2019).” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 33 (2019): 305–373.


Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 467–477 (Annotated bibliography on Enoch pseudepigrapha. Colby Townsend was the lead author of the section on 1 Enoch).

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ryan Dahle. “Could Joseph Smith have drawn on ancient manuscripts when he translated the story of Enoch? Recent updates on a persistent question (4 October 2019).Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 33 (2019): 305–373.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986, pp. 91–121, 276–277.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, pp. 263–267.

Reeves, John C., and Annette Yoshiko Reed. Sources from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 2 vols. Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages 1. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 1–16.



Alexander, Philip S. “3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 223-315. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Andersen, F. I. “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 91-221. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Angel, Joseph L. “Reading the Book of Giants in Literary and Historical Context.” Dead Sea Discoveries 21 (2014): 313-46.

———. “The humbling of the arrogant and the “wild man” and “tree stump” traditions in the Book of Giants and Daniel 4.” In Ancient Tales of Giants from Qumran and Turfan: Contexts, Traditions, and Influences, edited by Matthew Goff, Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Enrico Morano. Wissenschlaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 360, ed. Jörg Frey, 61-80. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2016.

Barlow, Philip L. “Decoding Mormonism.” Christian Century, 17 January 1996, 52-55.

Bautch, Kelley Coblentz. “Peter and the patriarchs: A confluence of traditions?” In With Letters of Light: Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Early Jewish Apocalypticism, Magic, and Mysticism, edited by Daphna V. Arbel and Andrei A. Orlov. Ekstasis: Religious Experience from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, ed. John R. Levison, 13-27. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter, 2011.

Ben Tov, Yakov. “The Book of Enoch, the Book of Moses, and the Question of Availability,” Faith-Promoting Rumor (blog), Note that this blog post has since been removed without explanation, but was not disavowed by the author and may be accessed currently at

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., Jacob Rennaker, and David J. Larsen. “Revisiting the forgotten voices of weeping in Moses 7: A comparison with ancient texts.” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 2 (2012): 41-71.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. “Freemasonry and the Origins of Modern Temple Ordinances.” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 15 (2015): 159-237. (accessed May 20, 2016).

———. 2018. Could Joseph Smith Have Drawn On Ancient Manuscripts When He Translated the Story of Enoch? In Interpreter Foundation Old Testament KnoWhy JBOTL05C. (accessed November 23, 2018).

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ryan Dahle. “Could Joseph Smith have drawn on ancient manuscripts when he translated the story of Enoch? Recent updates on a persistent question (4 October 2019).” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 33 (2019): 305-73. (accessed October 23, 2019).

Brooke, John L. The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Brown, Matthew B. Exploring the Connection Between Mormons and Masons. American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 2009.

Bruno, Cheryl L. “Congruence and concatenation in Jewish mystical iiterature, American Freemasonry, and Mormon Enoch Writings.” Journal of Religion and Society 16 (2014): 1-19.

Bushman, Richard. “The Mysteries of Mormonism.” Journal of the Early Republic 15, no. 3 (Fall 1995): 501-08.

Bushman, Richard Lyman. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, A Cultural Biography of Mormonism’s Founder. New York City, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.

Cirillo, Salvatore. “Joseph Smith, Mormonism, and Enochic Tradition.” Masters Thesis, Durham University, 2010.

Davis Bledsoe, Amanda M. “Throne theophanies, dream visions, and righetous(?) seers.” In Ancient Tales of Giants from Qumran and Turfan: Contexts, Traditions, and Influences, edited by Matthew Goff, Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Enrico Morano. Wissenschlaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 360, ed. Jörg Frey, 81-96. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2016.

Drawnel, Henryk. “The Mesopotamian background of the Enochic giants and evil spirits.” Dead Sea Discoveries 21 (2014): 14-38.

Fleming, Stephen Joseph. “The Fulness of the Gospel: Christian Platonism and the Origins of Mormonism.” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2014.

Grossman, Jonathan. “Who are the sons of God? A new suggestion.” Biblica 99, no. 1 (January 2018): 1-18. (accessed February 16, 2020).

Hamblin, William J., Daniel C. Peterson, and George L. Mitton. “Mormon in the fiery furnace or Loftes Tryk goes to Cambridge.” Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6, no. 2 (1994): 3-58.

———. “Review of John L. Brooke: The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844.” BYU Studies 34, no. 4 (1994): 167-81.

Henning, W. B. “The Book of the Giants.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 11, no. 1 (1943): 52-74. (accessed January 25, 2018).

Kósa, Gåbor. “The Book of Giants tradition in the Chinese Manichaica.” In Ancient Tales of Giants from Qumran and Turfan: Contexts, Traditions, and Influences, edited by Matthew Goff, Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Enrico Morano. Wissenschlaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 360, ed. Jörg Frey, 145-86. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2016.

Martinez, Florentino Garcia, ed. The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English 2nd ed. Translated by Wilfred G. E. Watson. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1996.

Milik, Józef Tadeusz, and Matthew Black, eds. The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments from Qumran Cave 4. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1976.

Newington, Samantha. “Greek titans and biblical giants.” In Ancient Tales of Giants from Qumran and Turfan: Contexts, Traditions, and Influences, edited by Matthew Goff, Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Enrico Morano. Wissenschlaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 360, ed. Jörg Frey, 33-40. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2016.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986.

———. 1952. Lehi in the Desert, The World of the Jaredites, There Were Jaredites. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 5. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1988.

Nickelsburg, George W. E., ed. 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36; 81-108. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001.

Nickelsburg, George W. E., and James C. VanderKam, eds. 1 Enoch: A New Translation. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2004.

———. 1 Enoch 2: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 37-82. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2012.

Orlov, Andrei A., and Gabriele Boccaccini, eds. New Perspectives on 2 Enoch: No Longer Slavonic Only Studia Judaeoslavica 4. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012.

Parry, Donald W., and Emanuel Tov, eds. The Dead Sea Scrolls Reader Second ed. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013.

Penner, Ken M. “Did the Midrash of Shemihazai and Azael use the Book of Giants?” In Sacra Scriptura: How ‘Non-Canonical’ texts functioned in early Judaism and early Christianity, edited by James H. Charlesworth and Lee M. McDonald, 15-45. London, England: Bloomsbury, T&T Clark, 2014. (accessed May 13, 2020).

Quinn, D. Michael. Early Mormonism and the Magic World View. Revised and Enlarged ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1998.

Reeves, John C. Jewish Lore in Manichaean Cosmogony: Studies in the Book of Giants Traditions. Monographs of the Hebrew Union College 14. Cincinnati, OH: Hebrew Union College Press, 1992.

Reeves, John C., and Annette Yoshiko Reed. Sources from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 2 vols. Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages 1. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Shipps, Jan. Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years among the Mormons. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. 1902-1932. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Documentary History). 7 vols. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1978.

Stuckenbruck, Loren T. The Book of Giants from Qumran: Texts, Translation, and Commentary. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1997.

———. “The Book of Giants.” In Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture, edited by Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel and Lawrence H. Schiffman. 3 vols. Vol. 1, 221-36. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 2013.

Tuval, Michael. “‘Συναγωγὴ Γιγάντων’ (Prov 21:16): The giants in Jewish literature in Greek.” In Ancient Tales of Giants from Qumran and Turfan: Contexts, Traditions, and Influences, edited by Matthew Goff, Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Enrico Morano. Wissenschlaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 360, ed. Jörg Frey, 41-57. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2016.

Vermes, Geza, ed. 1962. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English Revised ed. London, England: Penguin Books, 2004.

Webb, Stephen H. Jesus Christ, Eternal God: Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Wise, Michael, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, eds. The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. New York City, NY: Harper-Collins, 1996.

Woodworth, Jed L. “Extra-biblical Enoch texts in early American culture.” In Archive of Restoration Culture: Summer Fellows’ Papers 1997-1999, edited by Richard Lyman Bushman, 185-93. Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History, 2000.

Wright, Archie T. The Origin of Evil Spirits. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 198, ed. Jörg Frey. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2005.



[2] See J. C. Reeves et al., Enoch from Antiquity 1, pp. 1–16 for a comprehensive overview of the vast Enoch “library” that has been created by Jews, Christians, Muslims, Manichaeans, and “gnostics” from antiquity to the Middle Ages.
[3] These articles have been reprinted in H. W. Nibley, Enoch. For his introduction to the ancient Enoch literature, see especially 91–121, 276–277. Regrettably, after Nibley completed his initial research for the Ensign articles, he turned his attention to other subjects and never again took up a sustained study of the relationships between Moses 6–7 and ancient writings on Enoch. Unfortunately, Nibley received one of the most important manuscripts relevant to his study—Józef Milik and Matthew Black’s 1976 publication of the first English translation of the Book of Giants—only days before the publication deadline for the last article in the series. As a result, of the more than 300 pages Nibley devoted to Enoch in the volume that gathered his writings on the subject, only a relative handful were dedicated to these significant Aramaic “Enoch” fragments.
[4] See Jude 1:14–15. Cf. 1 Enoch 1:9.
[5] For example, within 1 Peter and 2 Peter. For an overview of the confluences between Enoch and the Peter’s writings, see K. C. Bautch, Peter.
[6] Though 1 Enoch is a Jewish compilation and can be found in a fragmentary form in several languages, its text has been fully preserved only in the Ethiopic Ge’ez language tradition.
[7] We observe that since Joseph Smith was well aware that the biblical book of Jude explicitly quotes 1 Enoch (Jude 1:14–15. For evidence of Joseph Smith’s awareness of theses verses, see J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, December 1830, 1:132), the most obvious thing he could have done to bolster his case for the authenticity of the Book of Moses (if he were a conscious deceiver) would have been to include the relevant verses from Jude somewhere within his revelations on Enoch. But this the Prophet did not do.
[8] S. Cirillo, Joseph Smith.
[9]D. M. Quinn, Magic 1998, p. 193.
[10] R. L. Bushman, Rough Stone, p. 138.
[11] Citing D. M. Quinn, Magic 1998, pp. 190–192, Bushman notes (R. L. Bushman, Rough Stone, p. 591 n. 52):Michael Quinn claims there is a link to Laurence’s 1821 translation of Enoch and cites a reference to Enoch in a book advertised in a Palmyra newspaper. He does not find the actual Book of Enoch in Palmyra or vicinity, only this reference in a scholarly commentary.
[12] Y. Ben Tov, Book of Enoch. Note that this blog post has since been taken down without disavowal or other explanation. It may be accessed online at
[13] The term “Parables” has a different meaning in the title of the book than in the New Testament. It does not refer to symbolic stories, but rather to prophecies of latter-day judgments and rewards for the righteous and the wicked.
[14] Chapters 106–108 are usually seen as later additions.
[15] For further discussion, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, pp. 36, 78–79, 117, 153–154.
[16] G. W. E. Nickelsburg et al., 1 Enoch 2, 46:2–4, p. 153; 48:2, p. 166; 60:10, p. 233; 62:5, 7, 9, 14, p. 254; 63:11, p. 255; 69:26–27, 29, p. 311; 70:1, p. 315; 71:14, 17, p. 321.
[17] Moses 7:24, 47, 54, 56, 59, 65.
[18] Moses 7:39. Cf. Moses 4:2. See G. W. E. Nickelsburg et al., 1 Enoch 2, 39:6, p. 111; 40:5, p. 130; 45:3–4, p. 148; 49:2, 4, p. 166; 51:5a, 3, p. 180; 52:6, 9, p. 187; 53:6, p. 194; 55:4, p. 198; 61:5, 8, 10, pp. 243, 247; 62:1, p. 254.
[19] In other words, “Messiah.” See Moses 7:53. See G. W. E. Nickelsburg et al., 48:10, p. 166; 52:4, p. 187.
[20] Moses 6:57; 7:45, 47, 67. See G. W. E. Nickelsburg et al., 38:2, p. 95; 53:6, p. 194. The term also appears by implication in 39:6, p. 111; 46:3, p. 153; 49:2, p. 166; 62:2–3, p. 254.
[21] For more on this subject, see Insight #15.
[22] G. W. E. Nickelsburg et al., 1 Enoch 2, 62:13–16, pp. 254–255. George Nickelsburg and James VanderKam find this passage as a “compelling” reference to resurrection (ibid., p. 268). See also, e.g., , 45:5, p. 148. For more on this theme, see Insight #29.
[23] These include elements of Enoch’s call, the oaths of the conspirators, the motif of weeping, which is also found in 2 Enoch (J. M. Bradshaw et al., Revisiting; see also Insights #25, #26 and #27), the rise of secret combinations (also found in the Book of Giants; see Insight #9), allusions to Enoch’s “land of righteousness” and his journey to the “sea east”/”waters of Dan,” (see also the Book of Giants and Insight #24), allusions to a “book of remembrance” (also found in the Book of Giants and many other ancient sources; see Insight #10), and destruction and imprisonment of the wicked (also found in the Book of Giants; see Insight #13).As can be seen, few of these parallels with the Book of Moses are unique— nearly all of them plus many more can be found, often with greater clarity, in other Enoch books besides 1 Enoch that Joseph Smith could not have known. A more complete and systematic comparison of resemblances between Moses 6–7, 1 Enoch, and other Enoch pseudepigrapha is underway as part of a joint project by Book of Mormon Central and The Interpreter Foundation.We note C. L. Bruno, Congruence and Concatenation, p. 2 lists additional parallels with 1 Enoch, some of which are so loose as to be almost nonsensical. For example, in 1 Enoch 10:4–5 an account of Asael’s binding (which Bruno describes as an instance of “Foreknowledge and prophetic warning of the destruction of the world”) is compared with Moses 7:41–67. In another instance, an account of the flood and final judgment in 1 Enoch 60 (which Bruno describes as “A revolutionary social order”) is compared with Moses 7:18–19. Further strained parallels could be cited.
[24] R. L. Bushman, Rough Stone, p. 138. Cf. .
[25] Y. Ben Tov, Book of Enoch.
[26] Several older Coptic fragments of 2 Enoch have been found in Egyptian Nubia. For more about this text, see A. A. Orlov et al., New Perspectives.
[28] See F. I. Andersen, 2 Enoch, 22:8 [J], p. 138.
[29] See ibid., 22:20 [J], p. 138.
[30] See ibid., p. 97.
[33] P. S. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 10:1, p. 263. See Insight #22.
[34] Ibid., 45, pp. 296-299.
[35] Ibid., p. 224.
[37] J. C. Reeves et al., Enoch from Antiquity 1.
[38] J. M. Bradshaw et al., Could Joseph Smith Have Drawn (2019).
[39] However, 1 Enoch and the Book of the Giants both touch on some related themes. For a summary of the literary relationship between the 1 Enoch Book of Watchers and the Book of Giants, see L. T. Stuckenbruck, Book of Giants, pp. 24–28.
[40] Homilies 25:2–5, Psalm-Book 46:21–47:4, Kephalia, 5:22–26.
[41] For a comprehensive study of the manuscript evidence, see J. C. Reeves, Jewish Lore. Reeves concludes that this foundational work of Manichaean cosmogony is indebted in important respects to traditional Jewish interpretations of Genesis 6:1–4.
[42] L. T. Stuckenbruck, Book of Giants, p. 31 dates the Book of Giants to “sometime between the late 3rd century and 164 BCE.” For a more recent summary of the literature concerning dating and geographical origins of the book, see J. L. Angel, Reading the Book of Giants, p. 315 n. 5. Angel generally agrees with Stuckenbruck’s dating. See ibid. for a summary of evidence relating to Mesopotamian and Hellenistic influences in the Book of Giants.Regarding the popularity of the Book of Giants at Qumran, K. M. Penner, Did the Midrash, pp. 44-45 writes:If the identification of Qumran fragments belonging to Giants is correct, the work was very popular at Qumran: about ten copies were found, in four caves. The significance of these numbers becomes apparent when compared to those of the Aramaic book of [1 Enoch] itself: only seven copies found, all in a single cave.49 The only books more popular at Qumran are Psalms (36 copies), the books of the Pentateuch (23-24, 16, 12-13, 9, 35 copies respectively), Isaiah (21), Jubilees (17), and the Community Rule (13); the Damascus Document and Rule of the Congregation each have ten.

Notwithstanding the unrivaled prominence and antiquity of the Book of Giants at Qumran, the first reflex of some scholars is to attribute any resemblances to 1 Enoch to “borrowing” from the latter source. However, caution should be exercised in concluding a straightforward dependence of the Book of Giants on 1 Enoch. For example, comparing Ezekiel 1, Daniel 7, 1 Enoch 14, and the Book of Giants, A. M. Davis Bledsoe, Throne Theophanies, p. 85 argues that 1 Enoch 14’s adoption of the Danielic idea of the deity shows only that this idea was “accepted even at a late period, and does not automatically make [1 Enoch 14] older even if the tradition may be observed in generally more ancient writings.” More generally, ibid., p. 90 concludes “that all three of these texts drew from a common tradition(s) regarding the heavenly throne and then adapted it to fit within their individual context.”

Regarding Angel’s thesis that the Book of Giants, as we have it, reflects “the realities of life under Hellenistic imperial occupation,” the author himself hints at more ancient and complex roots for the story (J. L. Angel, Humbling, p. 80):

[T]here are hints in the Book of Giants that signal a more nuanced and developed plot. The giants argue with one another and there are perhaps different factions among them. Thus, if I am correct that the Book of Giants models the humbling of Hellenistic figures of power, it seems that the composition now before us preserves only the remains of a complex allegory, whose original referents cannot be recovered.

[44]M. Wise et al., DSS, p. 290.
[44] G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, p. 11.
[45] The current convention of using terms that correspond to “giants” to refer to the gibborim is due largely to the later influences of the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible (see, for example, A. T. Wright, Evil Spirits, pp. 83–84) and of widespread transmission of various translations of the Book of Giants within the works of Mani. Though the title of Mani’s Book of Giants appear “in several Manichaean and anti-Manichaean document scattered throughout Europe and through Africa as far as Asia Minor and Chinese Turskistan, almost nothing was known of the contents of this document before the appearance of the remarkable article by W. B. Henning” in 1943 (J. T. Milik et al., Enoch, p. 298; W. B. Henning, Book of the Giants).Wright gives two possibilities for the somewhat unexpected use of gigantes, the Greek word for “giants” in the Septuagint (A. T. Wright, Evil Spirits, p. 92):It may be suggested that the Greek translators of the Hebrew Bible had difficulty in understanding some of the Hebrew terminology (e.g., nephilim and gibborim) in the text and therefore translated the terms imprecisely, thus enhancing the ambiguity of the passage. Another possibility is that modern scholars have misunderstood what the Greek translators meant by their use of the term [gigantes]. It appears that more work needs to be done in order to discover the use of this term in the Greek literature prior to the translation of the [Septuagint].

For more on the impact of the Septuagint on later traditions and on interactions among related Jewish and Greek conceptions of the “giants,” see M. Tuval, Giants in the Jewish Literature; S. Newington, Greek Titans. For Mesopotamian influences in descriptions of the “giants” in 1 Enoch, see H. Drawnel, Mesopotamian Background.

[46] See, for example, this sense of gibborim in Moses 8:21 (the children of the self-proclaimed “sons of God”), Genesis 10:8–9 (Nimrod), Genesis 10:25 (Peleg), Genesis 11:4 (the builders of the Tower of Babel who wanted to make themselves a name). See also the discussion of Nimrod as a gibbor in Insight #12.
[47] J. C. Reeves, Jewish Lore, pp. 69–70 gives the following summary of the complex and somewhat controversial meanings that have been attributed to these terms, as well as to the semi-divine “Watchers” (see also A. T. Wright, Evil Spirits, pp. 79–95):The term gbryn is the Aramaic form of Hebrew gibborim (singular gibbor), a word whose customary connotation in the latter language is “mighty hero, warrior,” but which in some contexts later came to be interpreted in the sense of “giants.” [The term is translated seventeen times with the Greek word for “giants” in the Septuagint.] … Similarly nplyn is the Aramaic form of the Hebrew np(y)lym (i.e., nephilim), an obscure designation used only three times in the Hebrew Bible. Genesis 6:4 refers to the nephilim who were on the earth as a result of the conjugal union of the [“sons of God” and the “daughters of Adam”] and further qualifies their character by terming them gibborim. [More plausibly, Wright (ibid., pp. 81–82 and J. Grossman, Who Are the Sons of God?, pp. 5-8 argue for Genesis 6:1–4 as being a description that proceeds in strict chronological order, concluding that the nephilim were on the earth prior to this conjugal union between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of Adam.”] Both terms are translated in [Septuagint] Genesis 6:4 by [“giants”] and in Targum Onkelos by gbry’. Numbers 13:33 reports that gigantic nephilim were encountered by the Israelite spies in the land of Canaan; here the nephilim are associated with a (different?) tradition concerning a race of giants surviving among the indigenous ethnic groups that inhabited Canaan. A further possible reference to both the nephilim and gibborim of Genesis 6:4 occurs in Ezekiel 32:27. The surrounding pericope presents a description of slain heroes who lie in Sheol, among whom are a group termed the gibborim nophelim [sic] me‘arelim. The final word, me‘arelim, “from the uncircumcised,” should probably be corrected on the basis of the Septuagint … to me‘olam, and the whole phrase translated “those mighty ones who lie there from of old.” …The conjunction of gbryn wnpylyn in QG1 1:2 may be viewed as an appositional construction similar to the expression ‘yr wqdys — “Watcher and Holy One” …. However, the phrase might also be related to certain passages that suggest there were three distinct classes (or even generations) of Giants, names for who of which are represented in this line. … [C]ompare Jubilees 7:22: “And they bore children, the Naphidim [sic] … and the Giants killed the Naphil, and the Naphil killed the ’Elyo, and the ’Elyo [killed] human beings, and humanity (killed) one another.”

Ibid., p. 18 further proposes that “the sons of God are in fact [identical with] the giants mentioned in [Genesis 6:4], whereas the ‘heroes’ [i.e., gibborim] described at the end of the story are the results of these giants’ [i.e., the nephilim] coupling with the daughters of man.” While it may well be that the gibborim were the descendants of these mixed marriages and while the Book of Moses agrees with Grossman’s conclusion that the nephilim (aka “sons of God”) were not divine nor even “especially close to God” (ibid., p. 10) — the rationale for the latter conclusion differs, as we discuss in Insight #6.

[48] Moses 7:14–15.
[49] F. G. Martinez, DSS Translated, pp. 260–262. Of course, different translations differ in page size and comprehensiveness. The Book of Giants occupies two pages in the translation of Geza Vermes (G. Vermes, Complete, pp. 549-550) and six pages in the more complete translation of Michael Wise et al. that includes an introduction and commentary (M. Wise, et al., DSS, pp. 290-295). The most complete publication of the Book of Giants, including translations of many tiny fragments and both the Aramaic original and the English translation runs thirty-six pages (D. W. Parry, et al., DSSR (2013), pp. 938-974). Even comparing Parry and Tov’s most extensive English version to Nickelsburg and VanderKam’s English translation of 1 Enoch reveals that the Book of Giants is only about 12% the size of 1 Enoch (G. W. E. Nickelsburg, et al., 1 Enoch, pp. 19-170).

In practical terms this means that one would expect significant resemblances to Moses 6-7 in 1 Enoch be eight times more numerous than in the Book of Giants. In actuality, however, the parallels in 1 Enoch are far less dense and generally less relevant than those in the Book of Giants, especially if one excludes 1 Enoch Book of Parables where some of the most important and singular resemblances occur. Not also that a good proportion of the resemblances between the Book of Giants and the Book of Moses are unique while many of the resemblances in 1 Enoch are also found in the Book of Giants.

[60] “he has imprisoned us and overpowered yo[u” (L. T. Stuckenbruck, Book of Giants, 7 B 1:5, p. 226); “he imprisoned us and has power [ov]er [us]” (J. C. Reeves, Jewish Lore, p. 66). Cf. G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 10:4–6, pp. 215, 221–222; traditions about the imprisonment of the giants in Book of Giants texts among the Chinese Manichaeans (G. Kósa, Book of Giants Tradition, pp. 175–176).
[63] For more about these and other examples, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, pp. 41–49; J. M. Bradshaw, Could Joseph Smith Have Drawn.
[64] For example, John L. Brooke (J. L. Brooke, Refiner’s Fire, p. 195) seeks to make the case that Sidney Rigdon, among others, was a “conduit of Masonic lore during Joseph’s early years” (W. J. Hamblin et al., Mormon in the Fiery Furnace, p. 52) and then goes on to make a set of weakly substantiated claims connecting Mormonism and Masonry. These claims, including connections with the story of Enoch’s pillars in Royal Arch Masonry, are refuted in ibid., pp. 52-58; cf. W. J. Hamblin et al., Review of John L. Brooke, pp. 178-179. Non-Latter-day Saint scholar Stephen Webb (S. H. Webb, Jesus Christ, p. 260) agreed with Hamblin, et al., concluding that “actual evidence for any direct link between [Joseph Smith’s] theology and the hermetic tradition is tenuous at best, and given that scholars vigorously debate whether hermeticism even constitutes a coherent and organized tradition, Brooke’s book should be read with a fair amount of skepticism.” See also P. L. Barlow, Decoding; R. Bushman, Mysteries; J. Shipps, Sojourner, pp. 204-217. Noting the unconvincing nature of Brooke’s arguments about hermeticism, Stephen J. Fleming has recently argued that similar ideas might be explained in terms of affinities to Christian Platonism (S. J. Fleming, Fulness of the Gospel.).Elsewhere, Bradshaw has summarized the history and important role of Freemasonry in Nauvoo, while highlighting difficulties in the argument that modern temple ordinances are a simple derivation from Freemasonry (J. M. Bradshaw, Freemasonry). In a separate study, Matthew B. Brown presents evidence for similar conclusions (M. B. Brown, Exploring). A manuscript by Brown that deals with this topic in more depth still awaits publication.
[65] H. W. Nibley, Lehi 1988, p. 120.


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