Idel begins by pointing out that in Heikhalot literature there is “no developed mystical conceptions regarding the cosmic nature of Adam. Instead, in Heikhalot literature and later Kabbalah writings the “Supernal Adam” is replaced by Enoch who becomes Metatron. The absence of a cosmic Adam from Heikhalot literature is striking because in contemporary Gnostic theosophies there was a concentration on developing the meaning of the name Adam. Also, early kabbalistic literature extensively discussed the mystic nature of the “Supernal Adam.” Idel dismisses two explanations for this omission in Heikhalot literature, Jewish opposition to Gnosis and Christianity. Whether, however, this omission was because Jewish ideas were suppressed in Jewish texts for centuries, or because the concept of the Supernal Man only entered Judaism from Gnostic ideas in a post-Amoraic period, is perhaps irrelevant. In either case one must assume a lengthy esoteric tradition which Idel admits there is very little detailed evidence.
The first way Enoch is connected to Adam in Heikhalot literature is that Enoch regains Adam’s original status by becoming Metatron. Interpretations of Gen. 5:24 say that when Enoch ascended into heaven he was transformed into Metatron. Idel points out that this ascent parallels the descent of Adam. According to Gen. Rab. 20:12 Adam original garments were garments of light, but when he lost these he received garments of skin. Enoch, in contrast, when he is identified with Metatron, is given a garment of light (3 En. 12). Also, while Gen. Rab. 8:1 says that Adam was gigantic, only to be reduced in size, in 3 En. 9 Enoch undergoes the opposite transformation. In Jewish mystical literature the large size of both Adam and Enoch cause some to be confused and led into heresy, with the result that they are both punished. The exact relationship between Adam and Enoch is not entirely clear, but it is clear that Enoch was thought to have achieved the life in the Garden of Eden which had been Adam’s before his sin and therefore Enoch regained the pristine situation of man.
The second way Enoch is connected to Adam is that Enoch is understood as having willingly atoned for Adam’s sin. Heikhalot literature understands Enoch as flawless and righteous, a judgment which rabbinic literature apparently tries to mitigate. In the Armenian text “The Words of Adam and Seth” Adam has become an animal after his departure from Eden, but when Enoch was in the garden he fasted from the trees of the garden and then was “found worthy of the divine glory and light.” An unpublished manuscript likewise indicates that before this transformation Enoch was “stripped of the natural animal skin.” This idea is further developed in the Zohar which says that Enoch “was enwrapped in the supernal soul that had left Adam.” Idel believes, therefore, that there exists an underlying tradition which transferred the divine splendor from Adam to Enoch.
Enoch in Heikhalot literature is also the model of the idea mystic. In Kabbalah Metatron was identified with the Supernal Adam. In Jewish mystical literature the union of man with the active intellect is described as the union of Enoch with Metatron, who is the ideal Adam. In Heikhalot literature this means that Enoch is bodily transformed into an angel. In Kabbalah this transformation is not physical, it is rather a transmutation of the soul. When Enoch adheres to Metatron (a separate being) he becomes identified with him. This attachment is of the human intelligence to the active intellect: Metatron. Idel sees here a degree of continuity between the earliest form of Jewish mysticism and the Middle Ages, though he admits that new elements have been introduced over the years.
Idel concludes by acknowledging that he is using a diverse range of sources, and, while recognizing that there is no direct link between these sources, Idel asserts that they are “branches of early Jewish thought that evolved in differing forms and in different literary contexts.” A reconstruction of this early Jewish thought is problematic, not the least because Idel believes that this earliest form were neither written down nor systematically constructed. Nonetheless, Idel believes that merely the pursuit of this earliest form may clarify the texts which arise from it.