The Enoch Root of Cryptonomicon is a mysterious character of unknown origin. He is described as being of German or New Zealand origin, a Catholic Priest, and a member of the mysterious eruditorum organization. He also appears to not age much from World War II to the late 1990s. There also seems to be rather unambiguous references to his death in 1943, despite the fact that he is alive some 50+ years later. In other words, Enoch may not be human.
I am surprised that there is not more information about this on the internet, because such a mysterious character in a hacker novel is usually the kind to supply endless debate. There seems to be quite a few references to him having both mysterious purposes and powers, such as:
- Enoch Root's death. This is described in detail on page 540-542, which takes place in Sweden c. 1943. It clearly references such things as "the date and time of Enoch Root's demise" and "when Enoch Root dies". Those are pretty clearcut statements. The only way that these statements can be ambiguous is the fact that "the doctor is out of the room when Enoch dies", and the fact that the only people present with him are his coconspirators, who perhaps want people to think he is dead. However, it is not made explicitly clear that his death is a ruse.
- On page 893, it makes reference to Enoch (in the 1990s) using something akin to magic. "a coherent, wraith shaped cloud of smoke is drifting away from Enoch over the surface of the river, just coming into the sun where it is suddenly brilliant. Enoch is just standing there holding a great big old .45 and moving his lips in the unsettled cadences of some dead language". This could also refer to a description seen though someones befuddled eyes of a man shooting a gun. However, the passage does seem to describe a "coherent, wraith shaped cloud", which sounds almost like a summoned magical spirit or something along those lines.
- On page 908 "Enoch Root spends some time alone with her, and suddenly her leg gets a lot better. He explains that he applied a local folk remedy, but Amy refuses to say anything about it", this in the context of a woman who needed to have her leg amputated. So Enoch has some kind of power to perform near miraculous feats of medicine, which could be a sign of magical power.
- Several times Waterhouse refers to Root as a wizard, a term he takes from Tolkien. In many ways, Enoch Root does resemble Gandalf, manipulating people for their own good, and seeming to know way more then he should. Since Tolkien's Wizards were not human, but rather angelic, it may be fair to assume that Root was the same way.
However, I do not know myself one way or another. Like many things in good books, it remains a mystery.
It seems that with each new book, more evidence will come up.I have decided to leave this node as it is. It can now be viewed as a historical reminder of the possible confusion the first book left in our minds.