I'm attending two Little Rock Bible studies at nearby churches this summer. How unusual, right? One starts this week and the other started two weeks ago. We met last night for our first session after the introductory session to go over our first set of chapters and homework questions. The chapters were Hebrews 1 & 2. Two weeks is enough time to complete all the commentary reading and questions for a Little Rock study. One week is not enough time.
I'm not sure how we got on the subject of angels but the moderator asked where our Christian ideas about angels come from as the Bible seems to say very little about them. I walked into his trap by mentioning the Book of Enoch as a source for a lot of what Christians believe about angels. In the back of my mind was the rumor Kevin Smith relied on the text for his Dogma drama. Smith's attraction may be Enoch reads like an ancient superhero comic book.
Despite repeated mention that Enoch is apocryphal, several study members reported with alarm not finding the book listed in their Catholic Bible's table of contents. "Thank heaven" was all I could say to such a revelation.
Later, the moderator asked me to prepare a short presentation on 1 Enoch for next time. He said mention of the book had created no small amount of interest and excitement among the study members. I declined, saying I have no desire to talk about angels, although technically I probably believe in the existence of angels.
It seemed the most ironic thing to me. Here's the author of the Letter to the Hebrews insisting that Jesus is superior to angels and the commentary suggests that his audience may have been involved in the worship of angels and 20 centuries later little has changed: God's people are still fascinated with angels.
Since, wanting to keep my research skills as sharp as possible, I retrieved a copy of Charles' English translation from the public library and made copies of relevant sections from Fr. Brown's article on Apocrypha in the (now old) New Jerome Biblical Commentary. I will pass those around next time and talk a little about the contents of 1 Enoch. After all, as Fr. Brown says in his article, "1 Enoch is probably the most important of the pseudepigrapha for understanding ideas in the NT." I was just reminded that my library lacks either volume of Charlesworth's work. I do remember when these two volumes were all the rage, but I didn't buy them then and still don't have them.