10 APRIL 1964, Page 12

A Conservative For no very obscure reason, this week I

have been reminded of the Book of Enoch, which readers will doubtless' recall ranks among the most important of all the apocryphal Biblical writings. 1 turned to the very spirited account of it by the Rev. R. H. Charles which appears in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Mr. Charles deals briskly with the various 'utterly unin- telligible passages' and analyses the whole, much-disputed text carefully. (A German study, Die Corn position des dthiopische Henochbuchs, is chastised by him because 'it cannot escape the charge of extravagance.') Mr. Charles takes the cautious view that the Book of Enoch- is not the work of a single author, but rather a con- glomerate of literary fragments. The same might be said, of course, of many an article in The Times. He summarises the different sections, dwelling rather meaningfully on that which re- counts three visions, concluding with 'the entire history of the world till the final judgment.' One

difficult section of what is called the Enoch Saga represents 'a primitive and very sensuous view of the eternal Messianic kingdom on earth,' in which the righteous beget a thousand children before they die. (This is giving private enterprise rather a loose rein even in Enochic terms.) Chapters vi-xvi deal quite frankly with a party in search of a pattern—`the fall of the angels, and the condemnation of the fallen angels.'

There is also the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, a new fragment of the Enochic literature which, I read, has only recently come to light. I cannot wait to study the passage summarised thus: `What Enoch saw in heaven . . . Enoch returns to earth, admonishes his sons: instructs them on what he had seen in the heavens . . . Enoch gives fresh instruction . . . Enoch addresses the assembled people . . . Rejoicings of the people on behalf of the revelation given them through

Enoch. . . Or have I read it all somewhere recently? All but the last bit, I mean.