Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shades of Enoch: Steadfast in Keeping the Commandments

There are a number of Book of Mormon passages that appear to converge with themes from Enochian literature. One of these occurs when Lehi pleads with his sons Laman and Lemuel to be as consistent and steadfast as certain elements in nature:
9  And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!
10  And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!­ (1 Ne 2:9–10)
Enoch expresses a fairly similar thought in I Enoch 5:3–4 as translated by R.H. Charles:
3. And behold how the sea and the rivers in like manner accomplish {and change not} their tasks {from His commandments.}
4. But ye—ye have not been steadfast, nor done the commandments of the Lord . . . (I Enoch 5:3–4)[1]
Note that the translation by E. Isaac is slightly different:
3. And look at the seas: They do not part; they fulfill all their duties.
4. But as for you, you have not been long-suffering and you have not done the commandments of the Lord . . . (I Enoch 5:3–4)[2]
The textual points of contact are certainly not explicit, but there does seem to be an overlap in the use of simile and imagery to make a very similar point. One wonders how much of Enoch's writings were available to Lehi.

1. R.H. Charles, The Book of Enoch the Prophet (York Beach, ME: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2003) 3. The words enclosed in brackets represent words found in the Greek Version but not the Ethiopic Version.
2. James H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol 1 (New York: Doubleday, 1983) 15.

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