The Evolution of the Patriarch Enoch in Jewish Tradition
At a single paragraph in the Bible, Enoch presents a somewhat etiolated figure among the other patriarchs; and yet, outside the Bible, his presence is enormous and ever changing. In this article I examine how the reception of Enoch has evolved over the centuries and millennia since his appearance in Genesis. Initially in the form of several small booklets from the 4th–1st centuries BCE, Enoch is understood as inventor of writing and heavenly traveller, visiting God on his throne and comprehending the astronomical mechanics; but by the time of the medieval Kabbalists he has been transformed into the great angel Metatron, the prototype of all mystics who seek heavenly wisdom, and present at the creation of the universe. In these cases, the theme of the learned seer has developed to meet the expectations of the Jewish communities who were drawn to him, and yet there is a surprising continuity of character even over thousands of years and miles.