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The Apocalypse of Noah

And after some days my son Methuselah took a wife for his son Lamech, and she became pregnant by him and bore a son. And his body was white as snow and red as the blooming of a rose, and the hair of his head and his long locks were white as wool, and his eyes beautiful. And when he opened his eyes, he lighted up the whole house like the sun, and the whole house was very bright. And thereupon he arose in the hands of the midwife, opened his mouth, and conversed with† the Lord of righteousness. And his father Lamech was afraid of him and fled, and came to his father Methuselah. And he said unto him: ‘I have begotten a strange son, diverse from and unlike man, and resembling the sons of the God of heaven; and his nature is different and he is not like us, and his eyes are as the rays of the sun, and his countenance is glorious. And it seems to me that he is not sprung from me but from the angels, and I fear that in his days a wonder may be wrought on the earth. And now, my father, I am here to petition thee and implore thee that thou mayest go to Enoch, our father, and learn from him the truth, for his dwelling-place is amongst the angels.’ And when Methuselah heard the words of his son, he came to me to the ends of the earth; for he had heard that I was there, and he cried aloud, and I heard his voice and I came to him. And 1 said unto him: ‘Behold, here am I, my son, wherefore hast thou come to me?’ And he answered and said: ‘Because of a great cause of anxiety have I come to thee, and because of a disturbing vision have I approached. And now, my father, hear me: unto Lamech my son there hath been born a son, the like of whom there is none, and his nature is not like man’s nature, and the colour of his body is whiter than snow and redder than the bloom of a rose, and the hair of his head is whiter than white wool, and his eyes are like the rays of the sun, and he opened his eyes and thereupon lighted up the whole house.  And he arose in the hands of the midwife, and opened his mouth and blessed the Lord of heaven. And his father Lamech became afraid and fled to me, and did not believe that he was sprung from him, but that he was in the likeness of the angels of heaven; and behold I have come to thee that thou mayest make known to me the truth.’  And I, Enoch, answered and said unto him: ‘The Lord will do a new thing on the earth, and this I have already seen in a vision, and make known to thee that in the generation of my father Jared some of the angels of heaven transgressed the word of the Lord. And behold they commit sin and transgress the law, and have united themselves with women and commit sin with them, and have married some of them, and have begot children by them. And they shall produce on the earth giants not according to the spirit, but according to the flesh, and there shall be a great punishment on the earth, and the earth shall be cleansed from all impurity. Yea, there shall come a great destruction over the whole earth, and there shall be a deluge and a great destruction for one year. And this son who has been born unto you shall be left on the earth, and his three children shall be saved with him: when all mankind that are on the earth shall die [he and his sons shall be saved]. And now make known to thy son Lamech that he who has been born is in truth his son, and call his name Noah; for he shall be left to you, and he and his sons shall be saved from the destruction, which shall come upon the earth on account of all the sin and all the unrighteousness, which shall be consummated on the earth in his days. And after that there shall be still more unrighteousness than that which was first consummated on the earth; for I know the mysteries of the holy ones; for He, the Lord, has showed me and informed me, and I have read (them) in the heavenly tablets. 

And I saw written on them that generation upon generation shall transgress, till a generation of righteousness arises, and transgression is destroyed and sin passes away from the earth, and all manner of good comes upon it. And now, my son, go and make known to thy son Lamech that this son, which has been born, is in truth his son, and that (this) is no lie.’ And when Methuselah had heard the words of his father Enoch–for he had shown to him everything in secret–he returned and showed (them) to him and called the name of that son Noah; for he will comfort the earth after all the destruction. (Books of Enoch, chapters 106-107)

This text – which contains fragments of a very ancient story called Book of Noah – tells the wonders that accompanied the birth of Noah. The Noah’s Father – Lamek – impressed by the angelic features of his son, went to consult Enoch in heaven. Enoch explains to him what the destiny of the child will be. He also tells Lamek that the child will be called Noah.

The interesting element is that the text – of apocalyptic nature, that is announcing an intervention of God on earth – speaks about the pessimism of Enoch, who warns Lamek that the deluge will not extinguish the evil on earth and that the situation will even get worse after the flood. Man will have to wait for a generation in which sin will be definitively removed from the earth. In the background, one recognizes one of the characteristic themes of the books of Enoch, namely the sin of the angels that can not be expiated or canceled except through a real destruction of guilt that can not happen only with the deluge. Here are intertwined the main arguments of Enoch, as for example the fact that even if the Giants are destroyed by the waters of the flood, their impure spirit continues to dwell on the earth, inducing sin. A special divine intervention is needed to eliminate this influence and this will happen when the generation of righteousness arrives.

Also of particular interest is the description of the little Noah. The colors used to describe – white, red – and the splendor of the eyes are well-known apocalyptic themes and symbols and designate beings who come from the celestial sphere or who are in charge of particular missions (see e.g. Dan 7).

The theme of the flood experienced a large flowering in the apocalyptic field of Enochic matrix. The flood seen as a true manifestation of divine justice. A theme developed in this way that also led to the literary and theological development of its protagonist, Noah.

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Simone Venturini

Writer and Researcher at Vatican Secret Archives, Professor of Bible at Pontifical University of the Holy Cross od Rome

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