The Third Book of Enoch (Hebrew: ספר חנוך לר׳ ישמעאל כ׳׳ג, abbreviated as 3 Enoch) is a Biblical apocryphal book in Hebrew. 3 Enoch purports to have been written in the 2nd century, but its origins can only be traced to the 5th century. Other names for 3 Enoch include The Book of the Palaces, The Book of Rabbi Ishmael the High Priest and The Revelation of Metatron.
Most commonly, the Book of Enoch refers to 1 Enoch, which survived completely only in Ge'ez. There is also a Second Book of Enoch, which has survived only in Old Slavonic, although Coptic fragments were also identified in 2009.
Modern scholars describe this book as pseudepigraphal, as it says it is written by "Rabbi Ishmael" who became a "high priest" after visions of ascension to Heaven. This has been taken as referring to Rabbi Ishmael, a 3rd generation Tanna and a leading figure of Merkabah mysticism. However, this Ishmael lived after the Siege of Jerusalem (70 CE) and the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. He thus could not have been a High Priest of Israel. An alternative identification would be the earlier Tanna Ishmael ben Elisha, who lived through the Siege of Jerusalem.
The name Sefer Hekhalot (Hekhalot meaning palaces or temples), along with its proposed author, places this book as a member of Hekalot or Merkabah mysticism. Its contents suggest that 3 Enoch's contents and ideas are newer than those shown in other Merkabah texts. The book does not contain Merkabah hymns, it has a unique layout and adjuration. All these facts make 3 Enoch unique not just among Merkabah writings, but also within the writings of Enoch.
3 Enoch contains a number of Greek and Latin words. The book appears to have been originally written in Hebrew. There are a number of indications suggesting that the writers of 3 Enoch had knowledge of, and most likely read, 1 Enoch.
Some points that appear in 1 Enoch and 3 Enoch are:
- Enoch ascends to Heaven in a storm chariot (3 Enoch 6:1; 7:1)
- Enoch is transformed into an angel (3 Enoch 9:1–5; 15:1–2)
- Enoch as an exalted angel is enthroned in Heaven (3 Enoch 10:1–3; 16:1)
- Enoch receives a revelation of cosmological secrets of creation (3 Enoch 13:1–2)
- The story about precious metals and how they will not avail their users and those that make idols from them (3 Enoch 5:7–14)
- Hostile angels named 'Uzza, 'Azza, and Azaz'el/Aza'el challenge Enoch before God (3 Enoch 4:6) and are mentioned again in passing (5:9)
This Enoch, whose flesh was turned to flame, his veins to fire, his eye-lashes to flashes of lightning, his eye-balls to flaming torches, and whom God placed on a throne next to the throne of glory, received after this heavenly transformation the name Metatron.— Scholem, Gershom G (1961) , Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, p. 67.
- Hugo Odeberg (ed.), 3 Enoch or The Hebrew Book of Enoch, Cambridge University Press 1928 (edition and translation).
- Craig A. Evans (1992). Noncanonical Writings and New Testament Interpretation. p. 24.
- "2 Enoch". www.earlyjewishwritings.com.
- "St. Andrews". Archived from the original on 2006-02-20. Retrieved 2006-03-08.
- "2 Enoch in Coptic!". Antiquitopia. 2009-04-10. Retrieved 2009-04-13.
- Swartz, Scholastic Magic, 178ff
- Alexander, Philip, 3 Enoch, p. 245.
- Dan, Joseph, The Ancient Jewish Mysticism, p. 110.
- Schäfer, The Hidden and Manifest God, 144.