Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Johan Söderholm (Sederholm) Journal and the Swedish Book of Enoch

It startles me to learn that my pioneer ancestor from Sweden, Johan Söderholm, of Brigham City, Utah, was familiar with a Swedish translation of the pseudepigraphical Book of Enoch. How little we know of the intellectual life of our forebears! The family loved to sing--his journal contains many hymns of Zion--both copies and originals--but how to picture them seated around the hearth reading about angels and the secrets of the heavens?

One wonders whether Johan Söderholm considered the apocryphal Book of Enoch to have been an inspired work like the Prophet Joseph Smith's Selections from the Book of Moses, a work which contains many of the visions and teachings of Enoch. These Selections from Moses have been published to the world in a volume of Scripture known as The Pearl of Great Price; though, of course, we don't know whether the Söderholm family ever knew of or read that Scripture, which was available only in English. The Book of Mormon was another matter: here was evidence abounding of Scripture found outside the biblical canon. A sunburst of new Revelation and new Scripture now bathed the world in light.

Three pages in Johan Söderholm's journal make up an extract taken from a Swedish version (1826) of the first English translation (1821) of the Book of Enoch, made by Richard Laurence from Ge'ez (Ethiopic). The Ethiopian Christian Church, at any rate, held the Book of Enoch as true Scripture.

The extract in the journal matches the first twelve verses of Chapter 69 (not LXVIII as written at the top of one of the pages). Chapter 69 of the Book of Enoch is said to be a fragment taken from the Book of Noah--prophetic books everywhere!--and includes a list of the names of the fallen angels and a description of their illicit revelation of the heavenly secrets to humankind.

After comparing the journal with the published version of the 1826 Swedish translation, I find only slight differences in spelling, punctuation, and abbreviation; in particular, there are some differences in the spelling of the angelic names. These are best explained by treating the journal entry as having been written from dictation. Perhaps father was reading aloud, his wife or daughter writing.

Chapter 69:1-12, The Book of Enoch (or I Enoch, the Ethiopic Enoch)

1 After this judgment they shall be astonished and irritated; for it shall be exhibited to the nations of the earth. 2 Behold the names of those angels. These are their names. The first of them is Samyaza; the second, Arstikapha; the third, Armen; the fourth, Kakabael; the fifth, Turel; the sixth, Rumyel; the seventh, Danyal; the eighth, Kael; the ninth, Barakel; the tenth, Azazel; the eleventh, Armers; the twelfth, Bataryal; the thirteenth, Basasael; the fourteenth, Ananel; the fifteenth, Turyal; the sixteenth, Simapiseel; the seventeenth, Yetarel; the eighteenth, Tumael; the nineteenth, Tarel; the twentieth, Rumel; the twenty-first, Azazyel.
3 There are the chiefs of their angels, and the names of the leaders of their hundreds, and the leaders of their fifties, and the leaders of their tens.
4 The name of the first is Yekun: he it was who seduced all the sons of the holy angels; and causing them to descend on earth, led astray the offspring of men.
5 The name of the second is Kesabel, who pointed out evil counsel to the sons of the holy angels, and induced them to corrupt their bodies by generating mankind.
6 The name of the third is Gadrel: he discovered every stroke of death to the children of men. He seduced Eve; and discovered to the children of men the instruments of death, the coat of mail, the shield, and the sword for slaughter; every instrument of death to the children of men [compare the use of the verb discover in Alma 37].
7 From his hand were these things derived to them who dwell upon earth, from that period for ever.
8 The name of the fourth is Penemue: he discovered to the children of men bitterness and sweetness; And pointed out to them every secret of their wisdom.
9 He taught men to understand writing, and the use of ink and paper. Therefore numerous have been those who have gone astray from every period of the world, even to this day.
10 For men were not born for this, thus with pen and with ink to confirm their faith;
11 Since they were not created, except that, like the angels, they might remain righteous and pure. Nor would death, which destroys everything have effected them; But by this their knowledge they perish, and by this also its power consumes them.
12 The name of the fifth is Kasyade: he discovered to the children of men every wicked stroke of spirits and of demons: The stroke of the embryo in the womb, to diminish it; the stroke of the spirit by the bite of the serpent, and the stroke which is given in the mid-day by the offspring of the serpent, the name of which is Tabaet [Tabaet calls to mind the Egyptian uraeus (the cobra worn on the royal crown or on the nemes headress). The uraeus is also known as (Egyptian) or tepie (Old Coptic), "that which belongs to (is worn on) the head" = crown-with-uraeus].


For both the Laurence Enoch (1821) and the Swedish translation (1826), under title of Propheten Enoch, please see Book of Enoch: 5 Translations with Interlinear at Under the heading "Notes", a scanned copy of the title page of Propheten Enoch may be seen. A later translation into Swedish bears the title Henochs Bok (1901). Both Propheten Enoch and Henochs Bok happen to give the same translation for Chapter 69.

For Archbishop Richard Laurence and his translation of the Book of Enoch, see Hugh Nibley, Enoch the Prophet (1986), 104ff; for how little known the Ethiopic Enoch was among Latter-day Saints, see p. 112.

Elder Cecil B. Samuelson of the Seventy, formerly president of BYU and currently president of the Salt Lake Temple, descends from Per Olof Pettersson, an older half-brother of Johan Söderholm, both sons of Daniel Pettersson of Östergötland County, Sweden. Daniel Pettersson passed the Pettersson surname to all his children. Johan is thus also known as Johan Danielsson (his birthname), Johan Danielsson Pettersson, and more simply, as Johan Söderholm, a name he chose for himself. In America, he was also simply known as John Sederholm. The name refers to the idealized setting of a little isle, or holm, as in the little islands, south of Stockholm, often visited on pleasure excursions.

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