WITH OUR FINAL CHAPTER, WE RETURN TO CONSIDER THE JEWISH Nachleben of the Book of the Watchers. Here, we find ourselves on less solid ground. For the preceding inquiry into the Christian transmission of this apocalypse in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, our evidence included several primary witnesses to the text itself as well as secondary witnesses representing different geographical locales and varieties of Christianity. By contrast, we have much less data from which to reconstruct its reception-history in late antique and early medieval Judaism, and what data we do possess prove more difficult to interpret.
Apart from the Aramaic fragments from Qumran, the latest of which dates from the first century bce, no Jewish-transmitted copies of our apocalypse, or even excerpts, survive. Moreover, our extant Jewish literature from Late Antiquity contains no explicit statements about the “book(s) of Enoch” akin to the Christian evidence surveyed in Chapters 4, 5, and 6. In later medieval Jewish literature, we find a few references to Enoch's writings, consistent with the resurgence of interest in the figure of Enoch in post-Talmudic times. Even these, however, are opaque. The Zohar, for instance, speaks of a “Book of Enoch” on several occasions, but it is a book “preserved in heaven, which no eye can see” (I 37b).
In addition, questions of dating are complicated by the fact that few Jewish texts from this time are “authored” in the simple sense of the term.