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The Book of Enoch and Paradise Lost

  • Grant McColley (a1)

For many years it has been the accepted belief that ‘from the fourth century of our era’ the Book of I Enoch ‘gradually passed out of circulation, and became lost to the knowledge of Western Christendom’ until 1773, ‘when an Ethiopic version of the work was found in Abyssinia by Bruce.’ It is doubtless true that I Enoch was not in any exact sense known to Europe until the return of Bruce, but the belief that he was the first to ‘discover’ the book or its Ethiopic translation appears erroneous. This discovery had been made approximately two centuries before 1773. In his widely read Relation of a Journey George Sandys informs the reader that in a mountain fastness the

Abissens or A Ethiopians…have…the goodliest Librarie of the world: where many bookes that are lost with vs, or but meerely mentioned, are kept entire: as hath bin lately reported by a Spanish Frier that hath seene them, if we may beleeue him: amongst which, they say, are the oracles of Enoch (with other mysteries that escaped the Flood, ingrauen by him vpon pillars) and written in their vulgar language.

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1 I quote from Charles R. H., The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Oxford, 1912, II, 163. Charles lists (pp. 165–166) twenty-nine Ethiopic manuscripts of Enoch, and of Enoch and other works.

2 A Relation of a Iourney begun An: Dom: 1610, London, 1621, p. 171. The first edition appeared in 1615; others in 1627, 1632, 1637, 1652, and 1673.

3 London, 1626, pp. 744–745. This is the fourth edition, and was published as volume five of Purchas his Pilgrimes. The first edition appeared in 1613, others in 1614 and 1617. In his Commonplace Book (Camden Society, 1876, pp. 3, 6 [13, 57]) Milton cites three times the five volume edition of 1625–1626. The poet's use of the page in Purchas upon which the description of the library opens has, I believe, been adequately demonstrated by Professor Cooper Lane, The Abyssinian Paradise in Coleridge and Milton, MP, III (19051906), 327332.

4 Cosmography in Four Books, London, 1674, IV, 53. This work, an enlargement of the Mικρόκοσμος, 1625, 1626, 1627, 1629, 1630, 1633, 1636, was given its present title in 1652, and reprinted in 1657, 1666, etc.

5 The most complete statement of the indebtedness of New Testament and other writers to I Enoch is that provided by Charles in his Introduction to the Book of Enoch, ed. cit., pp. 177184.

6 H. F. Fletcher, Milton's Semitic Studies, Chicago, 1926, and Milton's Rabbinical Readings, Urbana, 1930, especially chapter VIII; Baldwin E. C., Some Extra-Biblical Semitic Influences upon Milton's Story of the Fall of Man, JEGP, XXVIII (1929), 366 ff.

7 Letters IX, XIX, and XXII.

8 The latest discussion of Milton's apparent use of Sandys' Relation, commented upon by various editors of Paradise Lost, is that of Bush Douglass, Notes on Milton's Classical Mythology, SP, XXVIII (1931), pp. 259, 261 ff., passim. The poet's acquaintance with Heylyn was suggested by Todd Henry in his edition of the Poetical Works (London, 1809, III, 102n). I shall provide further evidence of Milton's knowledge of the Cosmography in a note in preparation.

9 Chapters vi–x, 14, and xv, 8–xvi, 1, of the Book of Enoch, from which several verses are cited as correspondences for passages in Paradise Lost, are given with other Enoch fragments by George Syncellus in his Chronographia, one of the works published in the Corpus Byzantinae Historiae. According to John Fabricius (Bibliothecae Graecae, Lib. V, pars altera, cap. V, sec. 1), the book was printed (with a Latin translation by Goar) in 1652. Professor Hanford James Holly (The Chronology of Milton's Private Studies, PMLA, XXXVI (1921), 280n and 284n), suggests that the poet possessed in 1658 all volumes of the Corpus available by that year, including the Chronographia. Saurat Denis, apparently the first student of the present century to connect Milton and the Syncellus fragments (Milton: Man and Thinker, New York, 1925, pp. 254 ff.) accepts Professor Hanford's conclusion. The evidence presented shows beyond question that Milton utilized two and sought to purchase six other volumes of the Corpus. It is in addition highly probable that he possessed a copy of the detailed prospectus issued in 1648. I am inclined, however, to believe that he selected and purchased individual volumes, in part because of the fact that he mentions in the Commonplace Book two works published in 1647 and 1648, and does not refer to six others published in 1645, 1647 and 1648. The ordering in 1657 or 1658 (Letter XXII, trans. Tillyard, p. 40) of a book published in 1649 (Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Historia …) shows that he had not purchased all the volumes as they appeared. His request at this time for two specific books among a score of unpublished works (Michael Glycas, 1660, and Joannes Sinnamus, 1670) quite obviously is selection.

It is, however, certain that Milton knew and utilized Syncellus, regardless of whether or not he purchased the 1652 edition before or after 1658, or borrowed either this edition or a manuscript. The availability of the Chronographia prior to Goar's edition is, I believe, adequately indicated by the use made of it by Scaliger Joseph in the Notae, pp. 244 ff. and passim, of his Thesaurus Temporum, Eusebii Pamphili… Chronicorum … Leyden, 1606. With incidental differences and slight omissions, the latter composed largely of the duplications in Syncellus, Scaliger reprints the Book of Enoch fragment preserved in the Chronographia. The major portion of Scaliger's reprint was later translated into English by Purchas Samuel, op. cit., p. 31. I am indebted to William W. Rockwell, Librarian of Union Theological Seminary, for his courtesy in permitting use of Scaliger's Thesaurus Temporum by inter-library loan.

10 Among these extra-Biblical commonplaces are the conceptions that the fallen angels assumed new forms and seduced mankind (Enoch, xix, 1 — PL., I, 357 ff.), and that Hell contained the rivers and other details of classical mythology (Enoch, xvii, 5 ff. — PL., II, 575 ff.).

11 Milton's Rabbinical Readings, p. 244.

12 III, 648–650.

13 Professor Fletcher, op. cit., p. 244, believes that The Midrasch Rabba to the Book of Numbers provides ‘the origin of the conception of Uriel as Angel of the Sun, shedding his light and letting his rays travel over the whole of the Created Universe’ in the following passage: ‘Uriel is at his (God's) left, toward Dan, which is in the North. Why is his name called Uriel? Because of the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings inline-graphic For the Holy One blessed-be-He through Uriel (as through the Sun) spreads his light over Israel and over them (the other nations) as it is said (Isaiah 60.1) “Arise, shine for thy light is come.”’ In view of the fact that Professor Fletcher states (p. 243) that the composite discussion of the Midrasch describes Uriel ‘as one of the Four Presences that surround inline-graphic (the Throne of Divine Majesty)’ we must, I believe, consider the possibility that the expression, ‘through Uriel (as through the Sun) spreads his light,’ is a figurative description of the activity of Uriel as a Presence and personal representative or messenger of God.

14 III, 654 ff. The phrase, ‘Regent of the Sun,’ occurs III, 690.

15 III, 708 ff.

16 IV, 125; 561 ff.

17 VI, 362–365.

18 xx, 2; xix, 1. In these and in all subsequent quotations from Enoch I use Charles' translation.

19 ix, 1 ff.

20 xx, 1–2; ix, 1 ff., x, 1. Uriel is described as one of the four presences only in the Noah fragment. In the genuine Enoch he is replaced by Phanuel, as in xl, 9.

21 xx, 2; xxxiii, 2 ff.; lxxii, 1 ff.; lxxxii, 8. Uriel's astronomical revelation, The Book of the Heavenly Luminaries, extends eleven chapters (lxxii–lxxxii), and opens with The Sun.

22 VI, 44 ff.

23 VI, 363 ff.

24 x, 4 ff.

25 liv, 6.

26 VII, 542–544.

27 xxxii, 5 ff.

28 In the Divine Weekes of Du Bartas, which, as Professor George Coffin Taylor has shown, Milton employed frequently in Paradise Lost ( Milton'sUse of Du Bartas, Cambridge, 1934, especially chapter IV), the dream vision is utilized in the final pages of the Handy-Crafts. As in Paradise Lost, the dreamer is Adam.

29 VII, 28–29; IX, 21–23.

30 The Book of Enoch and Paradise Lost close with what Charles describes in the former as ‘A Book of Exhortation and promised Blessing for the Righteous and of Malediction and Woe for the Sinners’ (xci–civ). The final chapter of Enoch (cv) is, again following the caption of Charles, ‘God and the Messiah to dwell with Man.’

31 IV, 542 ff.

32 Argument, XI; XI, 757 ff.; XII, 8–9; Argument, XII.

33 xx, 7.

34 lx, 2 ff. This a Book of Noah fragment.

35 lxxi, 2 ff.

36 Chapters lxxxiii ff., Charles' captions.

37 Op. cit., pp. 254 ff.

38 Op. cit., p. 284.

39 Professor Fletcher quotes among others (p. 285), these suggestive lines:

Marcus … / Ever by tricks … confirming the doctrines of error …

Which Satan, thy true father, enables thee still to accomplish,

By means of Azazel, that fallen and yet mighty angel, —

Thus making thee the precursor of his own impious actions.

40 Op. cit., pp. 286 ff.

41 Cf. x, 4, xiii, 1; lv, 3–lvi, 4; liv, 3 ff.

42 Milton wrote in part (I, 531–534):

[Satan] straight commands that, at the warlike sound

Of trumphets loud and clarions, be upreared

His mighty standard. That proud honour claimed

Azazel as his right, a Cherub tall …

43 I, 44 ff., and passim; V, 718 ff.

44 I, 357 ff.

45 liv, 3 ff., and passim; lxviii, 4.

46 xix, 1.

47 vi, 7.

48 VI, 369 ff.

49 Ibid. Professor states Fletcher (op. cit., p. 272), … ‘the form of Ariel from the thirty-third chapter of Isaiah that we have considered above, occur[s] twice in the Book of Enoch as a class of Angels. It should be noted that their occurrences fall within the fragment of the work to be found in Syncellos. These are in the fourteenth and thirty-ninth chapters respectively.’

50 Milton is to an appreciable degree drawing upon the conception that the sons of Seth lived upon the hills, but came down to, or were led down by, the daughters of Cain. As I mention below Syncellus presents this conception both preceding and following the initial Enoch fragment. What the poet appears to have done is to bring together this idea and the Enoch tradition that the evil angels lusted after the daughters of men. In Paradise Regained, II, 173 ff., Milton utilizes only the tradition:

Belial … thou … doat'st on womankind, admiring

Their shape, their colour, and attractive grace …

Before the Flood, thou, with thy lusty crew,

False titled Sons of God, roaming the Earth,

Cast wanton eyes on the daughters of men,

And coupled with them, and begot a race.

The similarity between the ‘false titled Sons of God’ of this passage and the ‘titled them the Sons of God,’ of Paradise Lost, XI, 622, is apparent.

51 Enoch is mentioned XI, 664 ff., and 700 ff., and occupies an important place passage seventy-three lines in length (638–710).

52 XI, 573 ff.

53 XI, 638 ff.

54 I, 798 (final line); II, 345 ff.

55 vi, 1 ff.

56 xix, 2.

57 xiii, 8 ff.

58 xv, 2 ff.

59 vi, 2 ff.

60 The Christian Doctrine, I, xxxiii.

61 It may be mentioned that in the Book of Enoch (xxii) and Paradise Lost (III, 440 ff.) the spirits of deceased men are confined in a place separate and distinct from the prison of the fallen angels. In Enoch this Sheol or Hades is located in the far west, apparently beyond the world, and contains divisions for the righteous, the wicked who have not met with retribution during life, and the wicked who have. Milton places his somewhat comparable Hades on the outside shell of the mundane universe. It is populated only by the unrighteous, some of whom are segregated in ‘a Limbo large and broad, since called the Paradise of Fools.’ We also may compare the Book of Enoch's description (Gg xxii, 11), ‘Here their spirits shall be set apart in this great pain … so that (there may be) retribution for their spirits,’ with Milton's more detailed statement (III, 442 ff.):

Other creature in this place … was none;

None yet; but store hereafter from the Earth … when sin

With vanity had filled the works of men —

… here find / Fit retribution …

62 I, 73–74.

63 II, 912 ff. Lines 3–5 of this quotation precede lines 1–2.

64 I, 61 ff.

64a VI, 53–55.

65 xviii, 5 ff.

66 xxi, 1 ff.

67 XI, 575 ff.

68 Syncellus Georgius… ex recensione Guilielmi Dindorfii, Bonnae, 1829 (Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae), I, 26. In Goar's Latin version, the text runs as follows: Erat autem omnis ilia Cain progenies ob traductum cum sanguine a patre maledictum corporis mole brevior ac depressa forma, ex adverso vero filii Seth, ceu proceri Gigantes, et angeli dei, in excelsa morabantur regione. Porro filiae Cain ad eos profectae musicis tibiis, et cinyris illectos felici loco et excelsa regione deorsum egerunt, nupseruntque illis, crescenteque eorum nequitia factum est diluvium. In a second amplification of Genesis 6, 1 ff., which occurs immediately preceding the Enoch fragment in question (ibid., I, 19), two hundred sons of the house of Seth descend, select wives, and as in Paradise Lost (XI, 683 ff.) produce giants: … αὐτοῦ δὲ τοῦ Σὴθ ἑπτακοσιοστοῦ ἑβδομηκοστοῦ, πλανηθέντες κατέβησαν καὶ ἔλαβον ἑαυτοῖς γυναῖκας ἐκ τῶν θυγατέρων τῶν ἀνθρώπων, καὶ ἐγέννησαν τοὺς γίγαντας τοὺς ὀνομαστους, ὤς ϕησιν ἡ γραϕή. (In Latin: … ipsius Seth septingentesimo septuagesimo, ducenti ex eius stirpe egregori seducti descenderunt, et ex filiabus hominum sibi delegerunt uxores, nominatis-simosque illos, de quibus scriptura [loquitur], procrearunt Gigantes:)—

Although in the final passages of his Handy-Crafts Du Bartas does not, as do Milton and the Book of Enoch, connect the character Enoch with the violence which followed the marriage of angels and the ‘Sons of God,’ it is worthy of mention that a glorification of Enoch thirty lines in length is followed by a brief description of the union between the houses of Seth and Cain, of the violence occasioned by the issue from this union, and of the flood:

Thy pupil Henoch, selfly-dying wholly,

(Earths ornament) to God he liveth solely …

Adieu, dear Henoch … / Dwell there with God …

O strange to be beleev'd! the blessed Race …

Do follow sin, most beastly-brute and tame-less,

With lustfull eys choosing for wanton Spouses …

Mingling so the houses / Of Seth and Cain; preferring

Foolishly / Frail beauties blaze to vertuous modesty.

From these profane, foul, cursed kisses sprung

A cruell brood, feeding on blood and wrong,

Fell Gyants strange … / Plagues of the World …

Then, righteous God … resolves the Fall…

Heav'ns crystall windows with one hand he opes …

The passages from Du Bartas, whose connection with Paradise Lost has been pointed out by Professor Taylor George Coffin (Milton's Use of Du Bartas, Cambridge, 1934, pp. 115 ff.), the Enoch fragments of Syncellus, the two passages immediately preceding and following the first of these fragments, and the pertinent verses cited above from the ‘extra-Syncellus Enoch,’ contain the material essential to Paradise Lost, XI, 573–710.

69 Ibid., I, 60. (Goar's translation: … quid mensis, quid solis conversio, quid annus … archangelus Uriel astris praepositus Enocho revelavit.) This fragment, if it may be called a fragment, is not mentioned by Oesterley W. O. in the latest edition of the Book of Enoch (London, 1935), or by Charles in the Oxford edition of 1912, although it may be the ‘additional fragment’ which he does not identify.

70 lxxviii, 11–15.

71 III, 729–731.

72 The important contemporary influences which in large measure explain Milton's interest in space and in flight are discussed in detail by Professor Nicolson Marjorie in Milton and the Telescope, ELH, II (1935), 19 ff., and in the forthcoming, The Theme of Flight in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.

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