The five sections of the book are as follows: the Book of the Watchers (chs. 1-36), the Similitudes (or Parables) of Enoch, (chs. 37-71), the Book of the Heavenly Luminaries (chs. 72-82), the Dream Visions (chs. 83-90), and the Epistle of Enoch (chs. 91-108). Of these, the most attention is usually focused on the first, second, and fourth sections.
The Book of the Watchers is an expansion of Gen 6:1-7 which explains how evil entered the world. The mysterious "sons of God" (Gen 6:2) are explained as angelic beings who lusted after human women and who, in exchange for their favors, taught humanity the arts of metalworking, sorcery, incantations, medicine, cosmetics and other secret arts. This corrupted humanity to the point where the Great Flood was the only means of rescuing creation. The fallen angels are bound and cast into the nether regions where they beg Enoch to intercede for them before God.

The Similitudes of Enoch contains a set of cosmological journeys where Enoch is shown the mysteries of the cosmos, especially the astrological mysteries. Included is Enoch's exaltation by God where he is identified as the Elect One, the Son of Man. Naturally, scholars of the New Testament are interested in these passages because, if pre-Christian, they present an important predecessor and parallel to the New Testament's use of "Son of Man" as a christological title.

The Dream Visions present ex eventu prophecies clothed in fantastic apocalyptic figures showing the span of Israel's history and the final consummation of God's plan through the exultation of Israel. Particularly memorable is the animal apocalypse where the history of Israel is told with barnyard animals.

In summary, 1 Enoch is an apocalyptic work set in an elaborate spirit-filled cosmos that deals with the end of history and the consummation of God's plan for Israel. The Great Flood is the paradigmatic first great judgment that serves as both a warning and example to the faithful remnant.

Derek A. Olsen

A translation of the Akhmim fragment can be found at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.