Does the Book of Enoch have anything of importance to tell us about the Synoptic Gospels? Despite the great progress that has been made in refining the historical-critical method in order to understand the synoptic texts, such methods and intensive analyses have only recently been applied to the Enochic corpus. Moreover, professional Enochic scholarship and “historical Jesus” scholarship are often too compartmentalized in academia to be brought into conversation with one another.
Dr. Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Dr. Gabrielle Boccaccini in their volume 1 Enoch and the Synoptic Gospels make a valiant effort at bringing these two spheres of Second Temple scholarship into conversation with one another. As the authors of said text point out, there is a “possible genetic connection between early Enochic tradition and the presentation of Jesus as Son of Man in the Synoptic Gospels. […] [A] conversation with Enochic tradition can be profitable, without requiring a close-knit argument that the one tradition has had an influence upon the other.” 
 Stuckenbruck, L. and Boccaccini, G. (n.d.). Enoch and the Synoptic Gospels. pp.7,9.
This paper shall seek to show that bringing the Synoptic Gospels into conversation with 1 Enoch can shed light on what has become commonly known in biblical scholarship as the “delay of the parousia.” While scholars ranging from Albert Schweitzer to Bart Ehrman have argued that the historical Jesus preached his Second Coming would occur within the 1st century, other widely respected scholars such as G. B. Caird, Richard France, and N. T. Wright have argued for understanding the fall of the Jerusalem Temple as the locus of Jesus’ prophecies. Renowned Yale historian Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan wrote that “[O]ne looks in vain for proof of a bitter disappointment over the postponement of the parousia or a shattering of the early Christian communities by the delay of the Lord’s return.”  Pelikan, J. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1 pp. 124
This is the evidence that historians must find an explanation for. If the early Church sincerely understood the Olivet Discourse as referring to the end of the world (not, as I will argue, something else), then we would certainly have found signs of defectors and bitterly disappointed writings after 70 AD came and went. Not only do we not find this, we tend to see the opposite. Our “Enochic Answer” will seek to offer a novel way to explain these facts.
Throughout the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus makes numerous references to his contemporaries as “this wicked generation” (for similar references see, for example, Mark 8:12, Luke 9:41, Luke 11:29, Matthew 16:4, Matthew 12:39). This culminates in the shocking claim made in Matthew 24:34, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
However, as we pointed out our introduction, studies of early church documents and the surrounding historical milieu reveal no shattering of the early Christian communities when this prediction failed to manifest itself. We must tread cautiously here, as it is far too easy to retroactively read two-thousand years of significance into Jesus’ words and thereby divorce ourselves from the way in which Jesus’ 1st century disciples, Second Temple Jews, would have understood them. Why didn’t Matthew 24:34 cause more scandal? Why wasn’t it omitted from later copies of the Gospels?
Insights from 1 Enoch
As we have already mentioned in our introduction, significance-filled terms such as “the Son of Man” were already being borrowed from the Enochic corpus and being utilized to convey certain meanings to the audiences of the Synoptic Gospels. It would not be importunate to ask, then, if perhaps the “γενεὰ” to which Christ constantly refers is of similar “Enochic significance.”
As it happens, in 1 Enoch 91, in the “Apocalypse of Weeks,” significance is given to a “wicked generation” which has long gone overlooked by modern scholarship. In the Apocalypse of Weeks, each prophetic “week” consists of one-thousand years. Enoch explains the course of Israel’s history and future over the course of ten prophetic weeks (or ten-thousand years). Weeks One through Six are considered “historic weeks” as they recount events in Israel’s history such as the Great Flood (Week Two), Abraham’s covenant (Week Three), the giving of the Torah to Moses (Week Four), the building of Solomon’s Temple (Week Five), and the destruction of the Temple and Exile (Week Six). This brings us to Week Seven, which the author of the Apocalypse of Weeks considered himself to be living in (approximately 100 BC), and it is during Week Seven that a “wicked generation” arises and is given special attention in the prophecy. Dr. Loren T. Stuckenbruck writes, “The rise of evil in week two has its counterpart in the rise of the wicked generation at the start of week seven. The writer thus regards the wicked of his time as following the pattern of the rise of wickedness before the flood […] The First Temple (week five), which was burned (week six), is restored or rebuilt (week eight). Here, the writer bypasses the existence of the Second Temple of his day. The relation between the election recounted in week three (Abraham, the plant of righteousness) and the election mentioned in week seven (the chosen from the eternal plant of righteousness) involves a reduction. The “wicked generation” at the start of week seven denotes apostatizing members of Israel, while the chosen elect ones of that week are the true heirs of Abrahamic election.” It is only in Week Ten (or approximately two to three thousand years later) that the “new heavens and new earth” finally make their appearance, consummating the eschaton. Stuckenbruck, L. (n.d.). 1 Enoch 91-108. pp.55-60.
What is significant here is that the rise of the “wicked generation” of 1 Enoch is unequivocally not a synonymous event with the consummation of the eschaton (which, again, only takes place at the conclusion of the Tenth Week). It therefore stands to reason that, speaking to an audience immersed in the Enochic milieu of the Second Temple period (again, see Stuckenbruck & Boccaccini for their work in showing these connections), the historical Jesus could well have been seen as casting his own generation as that of Week 7 in the Apocalypse of Weeks. More to the point, if the historical Jesus was indeed drawing on 1 Enoch in order to signify his own role as the Son of Man (and his own contemporaries as the “wicked generation” of Week 7) then it cannot be the case that Matthew 24:34’s “this generation shall not pass” is a prediction regarding the end of the space-time order. It would be, at most, a prediction that Week 7 on the Enochic timeline was about to be closed out, and Week 8 was about to begin. One must also keep in mind that Week 8 was to be the week in which, as Stuckenbruck notes, the chosen elect constructs a temple which would far surpass the glory of Herod’s temple. One can already see glimmers in the Pauline corpus portraying the individual members of the Church as “living stones” in the “temple of God.”
This short treatment has only been able to sketch the possibilities that lie in reading the Synoptic Gospels in the light of 1 Enoch. In doing so, we have seen that alternative explanations can be given to claims of a “delayed parousia.” If the historical Jesus was attempting to draw on 1 Enoch 91 in order to cast his contemporaries as the “wicked generation” of Week 7 in the Apocalypse of Weeks, then the likelihood that he was predicting the Second Coming and the end of the world within a forty-year period would be extremely diminished. It would be much more likely that he was asserting that Week 7 in the Enochic timeline was about to draw to a close, and that Week 8, the week in which the elect were to build the new temple, was about to launched (together with a new, spiritualized understanding of what that temple was to be like). The upshot of this interpretation is that is neatly explains the historical fact, noted by Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan, that there was no shattering of the early Christian community when the parousia failed to occur within forty-years’ time. The answer would appear to be that the early Christian communities simply did not understand Jesus to be predicting the end of the space-time order with his words. Rather, this is a presupposition that modern historical-critical scholars have mistakenly read into his words due to being unfamiliar with the broader milieu of Second Temple literature. While it is beyond the scope of this paper to develop these ideas to their fullest potential, we hope that this constructive proposal can help to drive biblical scholars to approach, such as the “delay of the parousia” in new ways by drawing on more recent developments in the broader corpus of Second Temple literature scholarship.
 Stuckenbruck, L. and Boccaccini, G. (n.d.). Enoch and the Synoptic Gospels. pp.7,9.
 Pelikan, J. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1 pp. 124
Stuckenbruck, L. (n.d.). 1 Enoch 91-108. pp.55-60.