The Evangelical Universalist Forum

the use of Aiôn in the apocryphal Book of Enoch

after coming across this book for several times, I’ve examined the Greek text of it avaiable - it’s quite interesting, I’ve checked all occurances of aiôn and its adjective in the entire avaible Greek text, chapter 10 I’ve examined especially carefully, you’ll find as a pdf. file in the attachment, the rest I’ll post later.

I’m quite interested if you share my conclusion and need help with translation, this book is interesting as it seems it was the first Jewish literature containing the idea of hell, a concept foreign to the Old Testament.

the verse I need help is this:


καὶ δῆσον αὐτοὺς ἑβδομήκοντα γενεὰς εἰς τὰς νάπας τῆς γῆς μέχρι ἡμέρας κρίσεως αὐτῶν καὶ συντελεσμοῦ, ἕως τελεσθῇ
τὸ κρίμα τοῦ αἰῶνος τῶν αἰώνων.

kai dêson autous ebdomêkonta geneas eis tas napas tês gês mechri êmeras kriseōs autōn kai synthelesmou eōs telesthê to krima tou aiōnos tōn aiōnōn

bind them for seventy generations underneath the earth, until the day of judgment, and of their consummation, till the conviction of the Aeon of the Aeons will be completed.

is this translation right? does this verse imply a limited punishment, what do you think?

the Book of Enoch was popular among some early Christian, even those holding to universalism like Origen as far as I know, personally I came to the conclusion the Book of Enoch does not necessarily teach endless punishment.
I know this book is apocryphal and maybe should better not be read, but it’s kind of interesting. I would appreciate your help.
Enoch 10 English.pdf (62.5 KB)

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here is the rest of my study, all occurances of aiôn in the Greek Enoch text, you’ll find it in the attachment, I commented it, maybe you can tell me if my conclusions and translations are right. Maybe it helped you
aeon english.pdf (108 KB)

Cool! – it’ll take us a while to peruse through it, of course. :slight_smile:

Many thanks for the material to chew on, though!

It’s {suntelesmou}, not {sunthelesmou}, by the way. (A letter {tau} not a letter {theta}.) Compare with {telesthê} shortly afterward. The two words are identical, grammatic suffixes aside, except that the first word has a prefix meaning ‘together’.

Also, I’m at least half sure there’s supposed to be a rough breathing (an ‘h’) in front of {êmeras}, thus {hêmeras}.

So, a little more literally, the sentence could be read in English: and bind them for seventy generations in the nape of the earth, until the day of crisising and of their together-completion, that is completion [or ‘is completed’ perhaps]: the suffering of the Eon of the Eons.

{krima} is a difficult word to translate into English. It has obvious connections to the word “crime” in English (and in other languages), but in a judicial context means ‘punishment’.

For a universalistic perspective, the word {suntelesmou} is of primary interesting, along with {eōs telesthê}, whatever {eōs} means (which I’m not quite enough on the ball to suss out. :wink: ) If {eōs} also means ‘until’, then the final clause might mean “until the completion of the suffering of the Eon of the Eons.” (“that is completed: the suffering” etc. would mean much the same thing, too.)

But the key word in any case is {suntelesmou}: their together-completion. It is difficult to read that word, even in context, and not interpret it to mean something hopeful for reconciliation.

Nevertheless, the author may still not be meaning that. Plenty of people speak of “retributive” punishment without really meaning that the punishment leads to the restoration of the criminal into fellowship with authority, “re-tributive”. So those people would say, reading this sentence, “yep the retribution will be complete in the Age of Ages!” and a universalist (who accepts Divine wrath and punishment in love) would say, “yep the retribution will be complete in the Age of Ages!”–but one would mean something hopeless and one would mean something hopeful.

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yes I see it, was just a mistake

I appreciate your help, krima I think can mean jugdment but rather the verdict or the sentence, krisis would be the judgment as far as I know - you translated it with suffering?

my main question was intended to be if by age of ages the writer could have thought of endlessness in the context or if this verse possibly proofs that age of ages doesn’t mean eternal.

eôs (Strong number 2193) is defined as *till, until * and seems also to mean unto

btw the Greek text can be found here:

Thanks for the Strong’s reference for {eôs}, by the way.

I translated {krima} that way (although I left {kriseôs} as ‘crisis’ in some kind of verb form).

Both words are used for judgment and verdict, as you say, although the emphasis for {krim-} is on the punishment of the guilty, who is the ‘kriminal’ (so to speak.) I don’t recall it ever being used in the New Testament to refer to the result of a judgement where the accused is acquitted as innocent.

The word has a more primary meaning, though, from which the notion of judicial punishment was derived. The concept of using the term {krima} to refer to this judicial result and enforcement, may be compared to the precept “Let the punishment fit the crime”. This is a Biblical concept, too, common to both the Old and New Testaments. The ‘criminal’ is being punished in a fashion corresponding to the ‘crime’ that he has committed; in Greek, this judicial sentence itself is called (oddly for English speaking readers) a ‘crime’. But since that would sound super-weird (or worse!) in English, I’ve tried to go back beyond that derivative use of the word to the shared concept underlying both uses: suffering.

Meanwhile, I like leaving {krisis} as “crisis”. It tells you that the person is in serious trouble, and also that this situation isn’t final: it’s leading somewhere. There are obvious reasons why the word would be used for judgment, but the state of affairs being described is a process.

I would want to see more of the wider context of the author (thanks to the links for that, by the way!) But the verb for completion seems to be connected to the noun {krima}, so it is the punishment that is being completed. The phrase could be read to mean either way: but the main point is that the punishment will accomplish something. Or will be fulfilled. The punishment might continue in its fulfillment, or end in its fulfillment.

The key word is still {suntelesmou}. I think this is supposed to be telling what the crisising (or judgment) is leading toward: together-fulfillment. That’s a very hopeful word!–and it’s applied to the criminals: their day of Crisis and together-fulfillment.

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I appreciate your help, but the Book of Enoch has no authority on the subject of universalism at all I think, it is of course interesting, but there is no need to study this verse exhaustive, don’t get me wrong, it’s very interesting, but the Book of Enoch is hardly inspired, therefore its only real value is to examine the use of aiôn here in my opinion.

PS: you should read 10:13, it doesn’t seem to mean anything good, you’ll find it in the first attachment, the only interesting point is, as I said, does age of ages imply a limited duration in the context?, whether the result of this verdict is positive or not. Sorry that I didn’t post this before.

my main interest was, does the Book of Enoch show that aiôn wasn’t understood as eternal, there are other especially interesting verses

XV (15)

4 καὶ ὑμεῖς ἦτε ἅγιοι καὶ πνεύματα ζῶντα αἰώνια ἐν τῷ αἵματι τῶν γυναικῶν ἐμιάνθητε, καὶ ἐν αἵματι σαρκὸς ἐγεννήσατε καὶ ἐν αἵματι ἀνθρώπων ἐπεθυμήσατε. καθὼς καὶ αὐτοὶ ποιοῦσιν σάρκα καὶ αἷμα, οἵτινες ἀποθνήσκουσιν καὶ ἀπόλλυνται.

You being spiritual, holy, and possessing a life aeonion, have polluted yourselves with women; have begotten in carnal blood; have lusted in the blood of men; and have done as those who are flesh and blood do.

the German translation has it in past tense, which implies they had but no longer have aeonian life, therefore not endless or eternal, see also verse 6, is this true to the Greek?

6 ὑμεῖς δὲ ὑπήρχετε πνεύματα ζῶντα αἰώνια καὶ οὐκ ἀποθνήσκοντα εἰς πάσας τὰς γενεὰς τοῦ αἰῶνος.

But you were aeonian living Spirits, which should have been immortal for all the generations of the Aeon.

aeonian refers here also to all the generations of the Aeon, do you think here is thought of eternity? - I doubt this, generations rather belong to time than to eternity.

There are other interesting verses which I will post later to examine them carefully, but I think this is enough for the moment.

Obviously, the further one gets from authoritative inspiration, the less authoritative one should consider the claimed inspiration of the text; but concepts and wording picked up from authoritative inspiration can be used in such texts. I’ve noted previously already that different people can mean rather different things by identical wording; but also that sometimes people who use a word one way should have perhaps been paying better attention to the underlying meaning of the word (like ‘retribution’). I would not be surprised to find that “together-fulfillment” is not used in any hopeful way; but its inclusion is so odd in contrast to that use, that I would consider it tantamount to ‘preparatio evangelica’: a type of inspiration preparing for reception of the gospel.

And my answer was that the grammar is such that it could go either way. :wink:

As far as I can tell, ὑμεῖς ἦτε does mean “you who were”. (Or “you you-were”, but in context it’s like a pronoun setting up for other verbs later.)

“Aeonian” however has some extra considerations as to what its meaning should be. If it means “Godly life”, i.e. life from God’s own essential nature, then they could have that at one time and not at another (much as Satan or any previously unfallen entity must have had zoe eonian but could hardly be said to have it now.)

The phrase πνεύματα ζῶντα αἰώνια is clearly the same as that which is translated “aeonian living spirits” in your next quote, though. To me this looks like the correct translation. Note the form ζῶντα.

So, for 15:4: And you who were holy and eonian living spirits have done these bad things.

ὑπήρχετε in verse 6 is a version of the Greek word ‘to exist’. It’s a pretty strong word.

So, for 15:6, Now you existed as living eonian spirits, and should not have been dying into all the generations of the Eon.

“Aeonian” here doesn’t really refer to “all the generations of the Aeon”. It’s a quality adjective of some sort instead.

One thing to keep in mind when a writer goes between mentioning Eons and Eon: he could be thinking of all the eons of the final Eon–the day of the Lord which will continue forever. Writers both in scripture and in apocryphal texts can be pretty loose about how they use the term Eon; it might mean the present age, or a particular age to come. An eon of eons is an eon comprised of eons, and if they’re talking about the Day of the Lord then (hopefully!) there is no further arch-eon beyond that.

Meanwhile, “eons of eons” is a group of eons each comprised of eons.

So the final Eon could have a continually increasing number of eons, each comprised of their own eons. Thus this Seventh Day to come can be considered an Eon in itself, an Eon of eons, or eons of eons. (Or even an Eon of eons of eons! :mrgreen: – although I know of no scriptural writer who ever puts it like that.) :laughing:

Relatedly, “this present eon” itself can be considered to be comprised of eons: the eon before the flood, the eon after the flood, the eon before the giving of the law, the eon after the giving of the law, the eon before the diaspora, the eon after the diaspora, etc. And those eons can overlap.

Obviously an eon can end: we’ve had eons already which are over. An eon of eons can end, too: we’ve had those already which are over. Even eons of eons can end.

But that isn’t really the question. First, does the final age, the Age of the Lord, ever end? We had better hope not! But second, does the punishment ever end? For this, we really shouldn’t be looking at the time descriptions anyway: aside from indicating some long period of time, they’re irrelevant. The fallen angels (whom your first selections from Enoch are talking about, by the way) have been punished for ages and for ages of ages which have already ended. They might be punished for unending ages more; even if they are, those ages will also end and transition into new ages. It is only the Age of the Lord which (we should hope) will never be ending.

But we should not be considering even that Age in the sense of mere time. We should be considering the intentions of God, from Whom the punishment is coming, and Whose Age is finally coming never to be transitioned out of. It’s a good idea to consider what it means for this final Day of the Lord to never be ending, since this could easily have some bearing on God’s relationship to those being punished for rebellion, but the mere length of it has little real relevance. Why is this coming age the Age of the Lord (or the Day of the Lord)? That’s an important question.

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but you agree that aeonian in itself does in no way express the idea of endlessless and that also here in Enoch endlessness is not that which aeonian expresses?

there are some more interesting verses:

XXI (21)

10 καὶ εἶπεν Οὗτος ὁ τόπος δεσμωτήριον ἀγγέλων· ὧδε συνσχεθήσονται μέχρι αἰῶνος εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.

This, he said, is the prison of the angels; and here they are kept here until the Aeon of the Aeon.

I’m not sure whether aiōna is plural (age of ages) here or not, but mechri (μέχρι), until, implies possibly a limited punishment and age of age therefore not eternal, what do you think? there are more similar verses but I want to keep slow.

Verrrrrrry slowly catching up on posts (in a sort of haphazard fashion…)

The final phrase is curious, because literally it reads “until (the/an) age, in(to) the ages.” Perhaps it means “until an age in the ages”?

I really like that phrase {ho topos desmo_te_rion a(n)gelo_n}. It means something like ‘land of the angel’s domain’. Far more colorful than ‘prison’, though that’s contextually implied from elsewhere of course.

How similar is this to the phrases used in Rev. 10:5; 11:14; 15:7; and 20:10?

(And does the apocryphal book of Enoch ever use such phrases in reference to God?)

Sort of surprised to see others asking this very question regarding the Book of Enoch.

First, it is sort of rare to find someone who even believes in Universal Restorationism or Pseudo-Universalism (which probably would be the boat I am in. A combination of Annihiliationism and Universal Restorationism).

At any rate, from my studies, I generally fall back on Plato’s definition of he term Aion.

Which basically is that only God or something that extends in perfection from God is “eternal” when using the term aion.

All other usage, is generally a finite period of time. And one would then have to ask, is Heaven eternal? Yes, as it is perfect.

However, hell is not a perfect idea, as it includes something that is not in the right state (punishment which would lead to?)

This also seems to be the case with a lot of the early fathers. Even Origen uses aion when refering to Hell, yet it is well known, he was a universalist.

The thing that really brought home the point to me that Hell is not “endless punishment” was just the mere definitions of the phrase, “aion kolassis”.

As Kolassis is a punishment which benefits the one receiving it. And one would have to ask, how could endless punishment benefit anyone?

I wrote a very long and detailed article here on this very topic:

Hi Sven.

I hope you don’t mind but I have posted your question on the Tentmaker Forum, as folks there might be able to help your question also. :slight_smile:


I agree with Arwoodco,
“To God ALONE who is eternal, be all the glory and praise”
For anything to be eternal, it must be unchanging, the first and the last, the creator of time itself.
Only God fits that definition.

(Although Carl Sagan tried to give those attributes to our decaying universe)

Thats no problem I was there also in the past, maybe you share the results here.