Enoch the Prophet is the third volume in the collected works of Hugh Nibley. After having read only three volumes, I already feel the immense wait of Nibley's work. The man was truly prolific. As with his other works, Enoch the Prophet is a dive into the deep-end of the academic and theological pool, and I think the water is lovely.
As the title of the volume suggests, Enoch the Prophet is an exploration of the prophet Enoch as found within Latter-day Saint canon and doctrine, as well as found in ancient texts. It is in the ancient text that Latter-day Saints will find the most intriguing comparisons. Enoch is hardly mentioned in the Old Testament—albeit he is referenced by Jude in the New Testament, which I did not realize until reading this book. Joseph Smith revealed additional scripture in the Pearl of Great Price that showcases Enoch and his prophecies. In fact, some of the most empathetic insights into God we have are found in Enoch's words, as revealed by Joseph Smith. Nibley recognizes this and spends a tremendous amount of time comparing some of those most unique doctrines with the writings found in ancient texts. Are the same themes found? Are the same events chronicled? Nibley is enthusiastic in his comparative study and asserts the similarities between the Pearl of Great Price record and the little known and little studied (up to that point) ancient texts is some of the most convincing evidence we have of Joseph's prophetic calling.
Not being a trained theologian, it is interesting to me to read about some of the academic methodologies for studying ancient texts. Furthermore, I didn't know something like theodicy even existed. When discussing the doctrine of Christ, D. Todd Christofferson once said that some "faith traditions" rely on "ecumenical councils of the Middle Ages and their creeds. Other place primary emphasis on the reasoning of post-apostolic theologians or on biblical hermeneutics and exegesis." Reading Nibley has given me some insight into those esoteric corners of human knowledge and study. The finding and studying of ancient documents and how they compare to biblical texts causes contention and debate in the Christian world. Yet, to be frank, the great majority of Christians, and most Latter-day Saints, aren't paying much attention. I'm not suggesting they have to in order to solidify their faith, but I have found this information presented by Nibley to be challenging and affirming. It seems obvious after reading Nibley that the Lord is at work in many ways I hadn't fully appreciated before.
Enoch the Prophet opens several doors I didn't even know existed. I learned more about my own faith and its canon, as well as more about the nature of ancient texts and why they would be relevant and important to us today. This book, like Nibley's other books, is not for the casual reader. These volumes require work and intellectual effort. I highly recommend them but only for those willing to pay the price to understand them.
Other Topics of Interest:
Reflections: Old Testament and Related Studies
Reflections: Temple and Cosmos
Reflections: Faith Precedes the Miracle