Review of Nickelsburg and VanderKam’s Translation of 1 Enoch

1 Enoch. A New Translation by George W. E. Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004. 170pp. Paper, $16.00.

Published in The Southwestern Journal of Theology 46.3 (2004), 101-102

George W. E. Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam have produced a fresh translation of 1 Enoch, perhaps the most important of the extra-canonical Jewish Apocalypses. The translation is based on the Hermeneia commentary on 1 Enoch, the first volume of which was published by Nickelsburg in 2001 and the second is forthcoming. The translation of 1 Enoch most commonly used is undoubtedly the one by Ephraim Isaac contained in vol. 1 of Charlesworth’s Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (OTP). Isaac’s translation is based on one Ethiopic manuscript, though it does have a textual apparatus. This new Nickelsburg/VanderKam translation is “based on a critical reading of all the ancient textual sources” (vii). Isaac’s translation in OTP is accompanied by a number of cross-references, most of which are to Biblical texts but some of which refer to other pseudepigraphal literature. Unfortunately, the Nickelsburg/VanderKam translation is not accompanied by such cross-references, though it does come with a helpful introduction and outline of the text. One of the best features of this handy volume is the annotated bibliography of texts and studies of 1 Enoch (14–17). Those who will not need more than one translation of 1 Enoch should definitely acquire the two volume Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. For those who are doing more direct work on the text of 1 Enoch, requiring access to a critically constructed translation, this volume makes such a translation available without the necessity of purchasing the two volume Hermeneia commentary on 1 Enoch. All students of the Bible would do well to acquaint themselves with 1 Enoch, as it provides a fascinating look into the way that the OT was interpreted in the years prior to the birth of Jesus. Especially significant is what appears to be the book’s messianic interpretation of Daniel’s son of man.

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