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The Mystery of Enoch
By D. Anderson
This article will examine Mrs. White's writings about Enoch and uncover the mysterious sources she used. This article will also reveal that Mrs. White's account of Enoch differs sharply from the Biblical account in certain details.
Enoch the Adventist
Enoch is an all-important figure in the writings of Ellen White. Despite the fact the Bible only mentions him in a handful of verses, Ellen White mentions him hundreds of times in her writings. According to her writings, Enoch, attained to a perfection of character that allowed God to take him to heaven. Therefore, Enoch is an apt representation of what all Seventh-day Adventists need to strive to become before their translation into heaven at the second coming of Christ.
Perhaps part of the reason Mrs. White identified so closely with Enoch is that she believed him to be an Adventist like herself:
"Enoch was an Adventist."1In fact, at one point early in her career she claimed to have held a conversation with Enoch on a mysterious planet with seven moons:
"Then I was taken to a world which had seven moons. There I saw good old Enoch, who had been translated. On his right arm he bore a glorious palm, and on each leaf was written 'Victory.' Around his head was a dazzling white wreath, and leaves on the wreath, and in the middle of each leaf was written 'Purity,' and around the wreath were stones of various colors, that shone brighter than the stars, and cast a reflection upon the letters and magnified them. On the back part of his head was a bow that confined the wreath, and upon the bow was written 'Holiness.' Above the wreath was a lovely crown that shone brighter than the sun. I asked him if this was the place he was taken to from the earth. He said, 'It is not; the city is my home, and I have come to visit this place.' He moved about the place as if perfectly at home."2
Unraveling the mystery of Enoch: Clue #1 - The City
In her vision Mrs. White said Enoch told her "the city is my home." What city is Enoch talking about? A clue is found in one of her Testimonies:
"But Enoch's heart was upon eternal treasures. He had looked upon the celestial city. He had seen the King in His glory in the midst of Zion."3Here we are informed that Enoch looked upon a celestial city named Zion.
The Mormon Connection
Not surprisingly, Enoch was also an all-important figure to Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. In fact, Smith was sometimes referred to under the pseudo-name of "Enoch." Like Mrs. White, Smith elaborates greatly upon the life of Enoch. In his writings entitled Pearl of Great Price, Smith describes how Enoch founded a city named Zion:
"And Enoch continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God. And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even ZION."4Enoch built a city named Zion. Beginning to sound familiar? "But wait," you say, "this city was on earth, not in heaven, right?" Well, it started out upon the earth, but Smith tells us that soon this earthly city became a celestial city:
"And it came to pass that the Lord showed unto Enoch all the inhabitants of the earth; and he beheld, and lo, Zion, in process of time, was taken up into heaven. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Behold mine abode forever."5According to Smith, Enoch's city of Zion was moved to heaven and became the celestial city where God abode. Now let's read those quotes from Ellen White one more time:
"I asked him [Enoch] if this was the place he was taken to from the earth. He said, 'It is not; the city is my home...'"6It seems like more than a coincidence that both Sister White and Brother Smith talk about Enoch's celestial city of Zion. But the coincidences do not stop there.
Unraveling the mystery of Enoch: Clue #2 - Enoch the Christian
According to Mrs. White, Enoch was not only an Adventist, but also a Christian:
"Enoch was a representative of Christ as surely as was the beloved disciple John. ... That God who walked with Enoch was our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He was the light of the world then just as He is now. Those who lived then were not without teachers to instruct them in the path of life; for Noah and Enoch were Christians."8Mrs. White describes Enoch as being a Christian thousands of years before the first Christians were called such at Antioch in the first century A.D.10 Traditionally, in order to become a Christian one must believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In fact, one must not only believe in Jesus Christ, but also be baptized for the remission of sins.11
Another Mormon Connection
One of Joseph Smith's fundamental teachings about Enoch was that he was a Christian. In fact, in the following quote we find Enoch going about preaching Jesus Christ, calling people to repent and be baptized:
"And he also said unto him: If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you."12Is the fact that both Joseph Smith and Ellen White taught that Enoch was a Christian merely another mysterious coincidence?
Unraveling the mystery of Enoch: Clue #3 - Enoch's Visions
In Patriarchs and Prophets Mrs. White informs us that Enoch was given visions of the future:
"Through holy angels God revealed to Enoch His purpose to destroy the world by a flood, and He also opened more fully to him the plan of redemption. By the spirit of prophecy He carried him down through the generations that should live after the Flood, and showed him the great events connected with the second coming of Christ and the end of the world."13Notice six points from the above quotes:
More Mormon Connections
Please notice that Joseph Smith wrote about all five of the above items in Pearl of Great Price, Moses chapter 7:
1. Received visions of the future: Verse 4--...and he said unto me: Look, and I will show unto thee the world for the space of many generations. ... 23--...Enoch beheld, and lo, all the nations of the earth were before him; 24--And there came generation upon generation...The parallels between the writings of Joseph Smith and Ellen White on Enoch are simply too amazing to ignore. It appears that Mrs. White did not receive her teaching on Enoch from the Bible or from angels but from the Mormons.
Copied the Spurious Book of Jasher
Of course, not all of Mrs. White's teachings about Enoch originated with Joseph Smith. Her description of the light upon Enoch's countenance (PP 86) matches a similar description from the Book of Jasher:
More confusion about Enoch
"God determined to purify the world by a flood; but in mercy and love He gave the antediluvians a probation of one hundred and twenty years. During this time, while the ark was in building, the voices of Noah, Enoch, and many others were heard in warning and entreaty. And every blow struck on the ark was a warning message."15She places Enoch's departure as occuring "just before" the flood:
"Enoch's translation to Heaven just before the destruction of the world by a flood, represents the translation of all the living righteous from the earth previous to its destruction by fire."16She even goes further and says that Enoch was taught by Noah:
"Enoch first received instruction from Noah, and he observed the law of God, and served him with singleness of heart."17Did Enoch preach while the ark was being built? Did he receive instruction from Noah? Was he translated "just before" the flood? Take a look at the table on the right. According to the Biblical genealogy in Genesis 5:
Comments on the Pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch
Mrs. White makes this observation in the SDA Bible Commentary:
"Enoch the First Prophet.--Enoch was the first prophet among mankind. He foretold by prophecy the second coming of Christ to our world, and his work at that time. His life was a specimen of Christian consistency. Holy lips alone should speak forth the words of God in denunciation and judgments. His prophecy is not found in the writings of the Old Testament. We may never find any books which relate to the works of Enoch, but Jude, a prophet of God, mentions the work of Enoch ( Ibid.)"18There are a couple of issues with this statement. First, Mrs. White describes Jude as "a prophet of God." Nowhere in the Bible is Jude called a "prophet." He was Jesus' half-brother, the brother of James (cf. Mark 6:3, Matt. 13:55). He is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible and if it were not for the brief letter of Jude, we would know virtually nothing about him. There is nothing prophetic in the book of Jude except for one verse about the second coming, and that statement is simply a quote from another book, so there is no basis upon which to call Jude a prophet.
Mrs. White says that Jude "mentions the work of Enoch." This statement is in context with her eariler statement that Enoch prophesied the second coming of Christ. From this we can conclude that Mrs. White believed Enoch prophesied Christ's second coming based upon Jude 1:14. Unfortunately, that statement in Jude 1:14, however true it may be, did not come from Enoch, but from a spurious author who wrote an apocryphal book called the Book of Enoch.
The "Book of Enoch" is part of the pseudepigrapha, a collection of spurious writings from 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. that are falsely attributed to authors such as ancient prophets. Parts of the "Book of Enoch" were found among the Dead Sea scrolls and date back to 168 B.C. The book was considered part of Scripture by some early Christians, and some of the church fathers quoted from the book. It was well-known and widely read during the first three centuries of Christianity but fell out of favor after the Council of Laodicea. After dropping out of circulation for over 1,000 years, a copy was discovered in Ethiopia in 1773. In 1821, an English translation was made in England. Apparently Mrs. White was unaware that the book had been rediscovered. The pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch was the one Jude quoted from:
Nearly all scholars are agreed that the book was not written by Enoch. Because fragments were found among the Dead Sea scrolls, most scholars agree the book appears to have been written during the second century before Christ. There is no mention of the book being in existence prior to that time. It is evident that Mrs. White had no idea the book Jude quoted from was a spurious work written long after Enoch died. We are told by her supporters that Mrs. White, as a prophet of God, was able to "detect error", and yet Mrs. White writes as if Jude is quoting from the actual writings of Enoch instead of a spurious work written by an anonymous author long after Enoch died.
Whether or not Mrs. White had divine insight into the life of Enoch is a matter of debate. Nevertheless, it is apparent that her writings on Enoch seem to form a striking parallel with Joseph Smith's writings on Enoch. Furthermore, her comments about Enoch preaching while the ark was being built cast further doubt on her credibility.
Mrs. White's writings on Enoch are interesting and they often provide a good moral lesson. However, based upon the evidence presented above, a question remains: Are her writings of Enoch historical facts gleaned from her visions, or are they merely a fictional account based upon the writings of others?
1. Ellen White, Signs of the Times, Oct. 12, 1904.
2. Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 39.
3. Ellen White, Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 330.
4. Joseph Smith, Moses 7:19.
5. Smith, Moses 7:21.
6. White, Early Writings, p. 39.
7. White, Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 330.
8. Ellen White, Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 392.
9. Ellen White, Signs of the Times, Jan. 13, 1898, para. 9.
10. See Acts 11:26.
11. See Mark 16:16.
12. Smith, Moses 6:52.
13. Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 85. See also Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 330.
14. Ibid., pp. 85-86.
15. Ellen White, Australasian Union Conference Record, Sep. 15, 1902. Note: Mrs. White seemed to have conflicting views about the effectiveness of Noah's preaching:
16. Ellen White, Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 59.
17. Ellen White, Review and Herald, Apr. 29, 1875.
18. Ellen White, S.D.A. Bible Commentary Vol. 1, p. 1088.
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