19 Dec 2014

Where I’ve Been

It has been almost two months since I have written anything on The Doc File, and that is, admittedly, a long time. Not surprisingly, that absence has corresponded with a significant busyness in my life—some increased ministry responsibilities, a tough grad school class, and additional writing projects (to be announced at a later date) have taken any free time I would have had to write here.

So, sorry to those who have been looking for new posts and finding…nothing.

Hopefully, that will change in the coming days and weeks. This past semester I studied the providence of God and the problem of evil and suffering in the world, which has generated a lot of thoughts in my head that I’d like to get out in this, my online journal. And of course, also a lot of other random stuff which I enjoy writing about.

All of that to say: don’t give up on me. New stuff is coming.

22 Oct 2014

The Implications of Jude’s Use of 1 Enoch

Jude and Enoch

Introduction

Tucked away near the end of the New Testament, the tiny epistle of Jude is widely regarded as one of the most neglected books in the Bible. Preachers rarely use it as a text for their sermons, it does not appear in lectionary readings, and most Christians have never seriously studied it at all.[1] Because of this neglect and the unfamiliarity that results from it, many Christians are completely unaware of the letter’s most peculiar feature, which is the fact that Jude[2] relies significantly on extracanonical materials, especially the book of 1 Enoch, to enhance his arguments.[3] This extensive use is seen most clearly in Jude 14-15, which is a quotation from 1 Enoch 1:9, but is also apparent in other locations throughout the letter where the events and language of 1 Enoch are alluded to in some way. This paper will seek to provide a brief overview of the book of Jude, describe the different places where Jude uses 1 Enoch in his letter, and finally, discuss the implications of that use: what, if anything, does Jude’s use of 1 Enoch mean for the way we look at each book?

The Form and Content of Jude

The epistle begins with a salutation (vv. 1-2) which identifies the author as “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James” and the recipients as “those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ” (v.1).[4] Verses 3-4 provide the purpose statement of the letter, as Jude had intended to write about the common salvation shared by he and his audience, but his knowledge that false teachers[5] had crept into their midst prompted him to change his plans. Instead, he urges the recipients “to contend for the faith” against the false teachers who twist “God’s grace as license to indulge their desires.”[6]

The next section of the letter (vv. 5-16) provides a series of examples from scripture and Jewish traditional sources which repeatedly focus on the theme of disobedience and resulting judgment. Relating these historical events to his audience’s current predicament with false teachers, Jude then advises his readers how they should live (vv. 17-23), before closing his letter with a doxology (vv. 24-25).[7]

Echoes of Enoch in the Book of Jude

Throughout Jude’s letter, he makes extensive use of the book of 1 Enoch,[8] as well as other Jewish traditional sources to emphasize the idea that disobedience to God results in judgment.[9] The clearest connection between Jude and 1 Enoch occurs in Jude 14-15, which directly quotes 1 Enoch 1:9, but there are several other allusions to 1 Enoch throughout Jude’s letter.

Some of the Enoch references suggested by scholars are somewhat speculative. A good example of this occurs in Jude 4, where it is stated that the false teachers “…deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Carroll Osburn argues that this is an adaptation of 1 Enoch 67:10 which speaks of those who “…deny the Spirit of the Lord.”[10] According to Osburn, this is an “adaptation in which the ancient message is retained while the wording is adjusted in view of Jude’s historical concern and theological understanding.”[11] Perhaps this is so, but it also seems possible that this could merely be an overlap in language of two thematically similar texts rather than a direct allusion or adaptation, and indeed, other scholars do not seem to identify this as a specific allusion to 1 Enoch.

1 Enoch lies much more clearly in the background of Jude 6, which mentions “…angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling.” Although many older commentators argued that Jude 6 was referring to the story of Satan’s rebellion against God,[12] it is now almost universally agreed that this is a reference to the enigmatic story of the “sons of God” of Genesis 6:1-4 who cohabited with the “daughters of men”.[13] This story was expanded significantly in Jewish tradition, and is recounted in great detail in 1 Enoch 6-19, where the “sons of God” were identified as angels (called “the Watchers”) who violated the established order by leaving their domain and having sexual relations with women, and were punished as a result.[14] The reason Jude references this traditional expansion of the biblical story is clear: combined with the stories of Israel in the wilderness and Sodom and Gomorrah, all three provide well-known negative examples of those who were punished as a result of their disobedience.[15] This was an idea that Jude was eager to impress upon his readers, who were struggling with the influence of false teachers.

The next area of significant overlap between Jude and 1 Enoch occurs in Jude 12-13. Here, Jude uses a variety of nature metaphors (“waterless clouds”, “fruitless trees”, “wild waves of the sea”, and “wandering stars”) to describe the false teachers he is writing against. These same metaphors appear frequently in 1 Enoch, especially in passages like 1 Enoch 2:1-5:4 and 1 Enoch 80:2-8, and seem to suggest that Jude was relying on Enochic imagery to craft his own metaphors.[16] Jude uses these metaphors to emphasize the rebellious nature and resulting fate of the false teachers about whom he writes, people “for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever” (v. 13).

The final significant links to the book of 1 Enoch occur in Jude 14-15, where Jude actually quotes–with some alterations–from 1 Enoch 1:9.[17] Before examining that quotation in detail, it should first be mentioned that the quotation is introduced by attributing it to “Enoch, the seventh from Adam” (v. 14). This way of describing Enoch does not come from the biblical account, but is itself found in two places in 1 Enoch.[18]

The great similarity between the prophecy attributed to Enoch in Jude 14b-15 and the words of 1 Enoch 1:9 is readily apparent:

“Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”[19]

“And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly and to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”[20]

We possess versions of 1 Enoch in several different languages,[21] and scholars are divided as to whether Jude was familiar with an Aramaic version, a Greek version, or both, and as to whether he was working with a copy of 1 Enoch in front of him or was quoting from memory.[22] While the language of Jude’s version of 1 Enoch is unclear, what is clear is that the 1 Enoch passage from which he quotes is itself a combination of different Old Testament accounts of the coming of God.[23] By quoting Enoch, Jude introduces a theophany in the typical style of the Old Testament, while altering it to give it a distinctly Christian meaning by identifying Jesus[24] as the one who comes to execute judgment on the ungodly (v.15), and associating that event with his second coming.[25]

This clear quotation of 1 Enoch 1:9 seems to form a high point of Jude’s argument: Jesus himself will return to execute judgment on the ungodly, which includes the false teachers who threaten to corrupt Jude’s audience.[26]

Implications of Jude’s Use of 1 Enoch

By now, it should be clear that Jude was very familiar with 1 Enoch, and that it served as important source material for him as he crafted his epistle. The fact that Jude relies so extensively on an extrabiblical source has bothered Christians for centuries,[27] and it raises two important questions. First, how does the relationship between Jude and 1 Enoch affect the canonicity of each book? Secondly, how did the author Jude view 1 Enoch?

In response to the question of canonicity, there are three basic possibilities: (1) Since Jude, a canonical book, cites 1 Enoch, 1 Enoch should be considered canonical as well; (2) Since Jude cites 1 Enoch, a non-canonical book, Jude should not be considered canonical; or (3) Jude should be accepted as a canonical book, but his use of 1 Enoch only validates that particular section of Enoch and not the entire book.[28]

The suggestion that Jude’s use of 1 Enoch should lend it canonical status is an ancient one, and was argued by Tertullian in the third century AD, who viewed 1 Enoch as the genuine product of the historical Enoch.[29] Other early witnesses like Clement of Alexandria and the Epistle of Barnabas held similar views, and this view makes sense in light of the great popularity enjoyed by 1 Enoch in the first two centuries.[30]

On the other hand, Jude’s use of 1 Enoch caused others to dispute whether or not the book should be considered canonical at all. Writing in the late fourth century, Jerome mentions that because Jude “quotes from the apocryphal book of Enoch, it is rejected by many,”[31] and Didymus notes the same common objection, although both men actually defended the book themselves.[32]

A third suggestion was that Jude’s use of 1 Enoch indicated that some portions of the book were inspired, but that the book as a whole was not.[33] Augustine, who is representative of this perspective, states, “There is, indeed, some truth to be found in these apocryphal Scriptures; but they have no canonical authority because of the many untruths which they contain.”[34]

This third viewpoint is the one which ultimately came to be accepted: if often ignored, Jude remains securely in the New Testament, while 1 Enoch is, on the whole, excluded from the canon of the Bible.[35] But does this square with the way the author Jude viewed the book of Enoch?

Jude’s heavy use of 1 Enoch indicates that he valued it as a source, and indeed, scholars emphasize Jude’s high view of Enoch, variously describing him as regarding it with “high respect”,[36] considering it to be “authoritative”,[37] “inspired”,[38] and “Scripture”.[39] Scholars frequently tie Jude’s high view of 1 Enoch to his apparent understanding of the patriarch Enoch as the author,[40] and Reicke even claims that “due to its presumed antiquity, First Enoch is placed on an even higher level than the Old Testament prophets.”[41] Although there is a degree of overlap in the terms used above, they do help to paint the general picture that scholars consider Jude to have a high view of Enoch, with some claiming that he holds it to be on the level of Scripture.[42]

While not denying Jude’s high view of Enoch, some scholars correctly emphasize that he did not necessarily regard it as inspired Scripture. Douglas Moo, responding to the argument that Jude viewed 1 Enoch as inspired based on his reference to Enoch’s prophecy in Jude 14, rightly points out that Christians in the first century were already working with a “closed” Old Testament canon which did not include 1 Enoch, and that we should not assume that Jude felt differently without very strong evidence.[43] Also, Moo notes that Jude does not refer to the 1 Enoch prophecy using the word γραφη, which is the word used throughout the New Testament to introduce Old Testament quotations.[44] With this in mind, Jude’s citation of Enoch’s prophecy would be similar to Paul’s quoting of Greek poets Epimenides, Aratus, and Menander,[45] or a modern-day preacher referencing a well-known Christian author from the pulpit:[46] the quotations from such texts do not suggest that they are inspired, but just that the particular statements which are quoted are true.

Still, one wrinkle remains: Jude’s apparent claim that the pseudepigraphical 1 Enoch was written by the biblical Enoch (v. 14a). Shouldn’t Jude, an inspired author, know that the biblical Enoch did not write 1 Enoch?

There are at least three possibilities regarding Jude’s view of the biblical Enoch as the author of 1 Enoch.[47] First, it is possible that Jude in fact believed the biblical Enoch to be the source of the prophecy of Jude 14-15, and that, since modern scholarship universally holds 1 Enoch to be pseudepigraphical, he was simply mistaken in this.[48] This would certainly be troubling to some believers today, but emphasizing that the content of Jude’s citation was still true regardless of the identity of the original author would perhaps alleviate some of those concerns.[49]

Secondly, it is possible that Jude believed that the historical Enoch was the source of the prophecy of Jude 14-15 and that he was correct in his thinking. Tertullian argued that Enoch was an authentic work, and that it had either been preserved in some way by Noah (Enoch’s grandson) on the ark, or that it could have been recovered somehow through the power of the Spirit.[50] Moo suggests something similar, saying that “God could well have seen to it that the unknown author of 1 Enoch included at this point in his book a genuine prophecy of Enoch.”[51] This suggestion seems unlikely, however, and Green states that it “appears as nothing more than special pleading.”[52]

A third and perhaps best option stems from the interesting way in which Jude introduces the prophecy of v.14-15. The source of the prophecy is described as “Enoch, the seventh from Adam.” As was discussed earlier, this was not a biblical way of describing Enoch, but instead came from multiple instances in 1 Enoch itself.[53] With this in mind, it seems possible that by using the traditional description to introduce the prophecy, Jude simply intended to refer to the so-called “Enoch” who authored the source that both he and his readers were familiar with.[54]

Conclusion

Jude wrote his epistle to a group of Christians who were threatened by the presence and influence of false teachers. To combat these teachers, Jude provided a series of examples taken from the Old Testament and Jewish traditional sources to highlight the fact that disobedience and ungodly behavior invariably results in judgment.

As part of Jude’s literary strategy, he makes significant use of the pseudepigraphical book of 1 Enoch throughout his letter: he possibly uses language from 1 Enoch in Jude 4, a 1 Enoch expansion of the biblical story of Genesis 6:1-4 almost certainly lies behind Jude 6, the nature metaphors of Jude 12-13 are inspired by 1 Enoch, and then most clearly, the prophecy of Jude 14-15 is a quotation of 1 Enoch 1:9.

Jude’s citation of a non-canonical source led to various opinions on the appropriate status of the two books: some felt that Jude’s use of 1 Enoch validated its inclusion in the Old Testament canon, while others felt that connection between the two should disqualify it from the New Testament canon; ultimately, the consensus was that Jude was canonical, but his citation of 1 Enoch only indicated that that portion of the book, rather than the book as a whole, was inspired.

Questions about how Jude felt about the book of 1 Enoch and who he considered the author to be are harder to answer. Did Jude use Enoch so extensively because he thought it was inspired, or was he simply taking advantage of a well-known text to illustrate the point he was making? Did he regard the historical Enoch as the author of the book, or did he merely give credit using the author’s pseudonym? Ultimately, these questions cannot be answered with certainty, but what is certain is that Jude’s use of 1 Enoch was ideal for his purposes: to encourage his readers to “contend for the faith” by opposing false teaching, and by doing so, to avoid the judgment that invariably follows disobedience and ungodliness.

_______________________

[1]Douglas Rowston, “The Most Neglected Book in the Bible,” New Testament Studies 21, no. 4 (1975): 554, and Bryan J. Whitfield, “To See the Canon in a Grain of Sand: Preaching Jude,” Word & World 29, no. 4 (Fall 2009): 422, both speak of Jude’s neglected status. J. Daryl Charles, “Jude’s Use of Pseudepigraphical Source-Material as Part of a Literary Strategy,” New Testament Studies 37, no. 1 (January 1991): 130, suggests that the lack of study Jude receives is related in large part to the confusion surrounding its historical setting and use of extra-biblical sources.

[2]The authorship of Jude is an often debated topic, but is beyond the scope of this paper. I assume that the epistle is not pseudepigraphical and that Jude was the author, and write accordingly in this paper.

[3]Gene L. Green, Jude and 2 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 26, states, “That Jude knows, echoes, and even quotes this literature [1 Enoch] is beyond dispute.

[4]All scripture references are taken from the English Standard Version.

[5]Jude does not identify the false teachers that he writes against in his letter, and scholars significantly dispute how they should be described. They have been variously described as proto-gnostic, antinomian, itinerant charismatic teachers, Pauline-teachers, or none of these things. For a sampling of views, see Charles, 139; Joseph B. Mayor, The Epistles of St. Jude and the Second Epistle of St. Peter (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1965), 25; Lewis R. Donelson, I & II Peter and Jude: A Commentary (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 164; Ralph P. Martin, The Theology of the Letters of James, Peter, and Jude (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 75; Stephan J. Joubert, “Facing the Past: Transtextual Relationships and Historical Understanding in the Letter of Jude,” Biblische Zeitschrift, n.s., 42, no. 1 (1998): 57; Simon J. Joseph, “’Seventh from Adam’ (Jude 1:14-15): Re-Examining Enochic Traditions and the Christology of Jude,” Journal of Theological Studies, n.s., 64, no. 2 (October 2013): 465. In the midst of all this confusion, Carroll D. Osburn, “The Christological Use of I Enoch I.9 in Jude 14,15,” New Testament Studies 23, no. 3 (April 1977): 339, suggests that Jude may not have written to a particular church at all, and thus was not discussing a specific heresy, but rather was describing false teachers in a general way. Ultimately, Jude does not give enough information to firmly identify the false teachers he writes against, and so all of these suggestions are somewhat speculative.

[6]Whitfield, 423.

[7]Ibid., 423.

[8]1 Enoch is a composite work written over a lengthy period (roughly the third century B.C. to first century A.D.) by unknown authors (i.e., not the biblical Enoch). It is composed of five sections: The Book of the Watchers (1-36); Book of the Similitudes (37-71); Book of Heavenly Luminaries (72-82); Dream Visions (83-90); and The Two ways of the Righteous and the Sinner (91-107), followed by a Conclusion (108). Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 452. It “was an influential book in Jewish circles for whom apocalypticism was a defining mark, as at Qumran and throughout the early church,” David A. deSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament: Context, Methods, & Ministry Formation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 870. Although 1 Enoch was never accepted into the Old Testament canon by either Judaism or Christianity at large, deSilva mentions that it was read as canonical in the Ethiopic church. Green, 28, mentions that it is also seen as authoritative by the Mormon church.

[9]Although this paper focuses only on Jude’s use of 1 Enoch, it is worth mentioning the other books and traditions to which he refers. Jude 9-10 describes a dispute between the archangel Michael and the devil over the body of Moses which is taken not from the Old Testament but rather The Assumption of Moses, a text which was either the lost ending to or a separate work from the pseudepigraphical Testament of Moses. In v. 11, Jude references Cain, Balaam, and Korah, three biblical characters whose stories had been significantly expanded in later traditions. Finally, Jude 18 contains a quotation from “the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” which is nowhere preserved in the New Testament. Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1997), 752-53. Clearly, Jude felt free to use extrabiblical traditions to make his arguments, whether they were of Jewish or Christian origin. See also Whitfield, 423-25.

[10]Quotations from 1 Enoch are taken from R. H. Charles, ed., The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, 2 vols., (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913).

[11]Carroll D. Osburn, “1 Enoch 80:2-8 (67:5-7) and Jude 12-13,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 47, no. 2 (April 1985): 300-02.

[12]Douglas J. Moo, 2 Peter and Jude, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 240-41, notes the traditional interpretation before suggesting that Jude 6 is actually referring to the events of Genesis 6:1-4.

[13]Charles, “Jude’s Use of Pseudepigraphical Source-Material as Part of a Literary Strategy,” 135: “Virtually all commentary, past and present, has related Gen 6.1-4 to Jude 6 and 2 Pet 2.4.” For a strong exception to this general rule, see James Burton Coffman, Commentary on James, 1&2 Peter, 1,2&3 John and Jude (Austin: Firm Foundation Publishing House, 1979), 530-31: “There is not any reference whatever in this place to Genesis 6:1ff and the wild and speculative talks about angels having intercourse with women…”

[14]For a variety of scholars who hold to this interpretation, see Whitfield, 426; Joubert, 59-60; Richard J. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 50 (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1983), 52; Jörg Frey, “Judgment on the Ungodly and the Parousia of Christ: Eschatology in Jude and 2 Peter,” in Eschatology of the New Testament and Some Related Documents, ed. Jan G. van der Watt (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011): 498-99; Pheme Perkins, First and Second Peter, James, and Jude, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, John Knox Press, 1998): 150; deSilva, 872.

[15]Bauckham, 46-47, argues that these three biblical examples were part of a “traditional schema” used in several Jewish traditional works (including Sirach, 3 Maccabees, and the Testament of Naphtali) to emphasize the dangers of disobedience. Joubert, 58-59, says something similar, referring to these stories as three “archetypes” of sin from the past.

[16]Carroll D. Osburn, “1 Enoch 80:2-8 (67:5-7) and Jude 12-13,” 297-302; Whitfield, 426; Joubert, 63; Bauckham, 89. Speaking of the “wandering stars”, Bauckham explains that in 1 Enoch, the Watchers (see discussion of Jude 6 above) are represented as seven stars “…which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord in the beginning of their rising, because they did not come forth at their appointed times” (1 En. 18:15), tying this metaphor more closely to Jude’s earlier references to 1 Enoch. See also Perkins, 153; John H. Elliott, I-II Peter/Jude, Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1982), 179; C. E. B. Cranfield, I & II Peter and Jude: Introduction and Commentary (London: SCM Press, 1960), 164; Osburn, “The Christological Use of I Enoch I.9 in Jude 14,15”, 340.

[17]Moo, 268, “…No Old Testament book contains the prophecy quoted here–or for that matter, any prophecy of Enoch. But we do find almost these exact words in the Jewish intertestamental book, 1 Enoch. Clearly, then, Jude takes this prophecy from 1 Enoch.” In this instance, even Coffman, 540, seems to agree.

[18]I En. 60:8; 93:3. Moo, 269, and Jerome H. Neyrey, 2 Peter, Jude: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible, vol. 37C (New York: Doubleday, 1993): 81, also mention that Enoch is described in the same way in the intertestamental book of Jubilees 7:39.

[19]Jude 14b-15.

[20]1 En. 1:9.

[21]Neyrey, 79, states that there are extant versions of 1 Enoch in Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and Ethiopic.

[22]J. N. D. Kelly, A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and of Jude (New York: Harper & Row, 1969), 257, 276, Mayor, 45, and Boudewijn Dehandschutter, “Pseudo-Cyprian, Jude and Enoch: Some Notes on 1 Enoch 1:9,” in Tradition and Re-Interpretation in Jewish and Early Christian Literature, ed. J. W. van Henten (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1986), 114-20, all see a Greek version of 1 Enoch behind Jude’s quotation. Osburn, “The Christological Use,” 334-41, argues forcefully that Jude was familiar with the Aramaic version, and likely had the text in front of him as he wrote. Green, 105, thinks that Jude was familiar with Greek and Aramaic versions, and was quoting from memory.

[23]Frey, 497-98, specifically mentions Deut. 33:1-3, Jer. 25:31, and Mic. 1:3-4 as examples of texts from which 1 En. 1:9 borrows certain elements. See also J. VanderKam, “The Theophany of Enoch I 3b-7, 9,” Vetus Testamentum 23, no. 2 (April 1973): 129-50, who demonstrates the significant dependence of 1 Enoch 1:9 on the Old Testament.

[24]J. VanderKam, 131, defines theophany as “a description of God’s advent and the upheaval in nature which ensues.” The scholarly consensus is that Jude inserted the word κυριος to refer to Jesus. See Moo, 270; Osburn, “Christological Use,” 337; Kelly, 276; Frey, 498.

[25]Bauckham, 96, says that here Jude “applies a prophecy of the eschatological coming of God…to the Parousia of the Lord Jesus. In doing so he follows what seems to have been a widespread practice in primitive Christianity, of applying OT theophany texts to the Parousia.”

[26]Ibid., 100.

[27]Gary Holloway, James & Jude, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1996), 139-40. See also Brown, 754; Donelson, 179.

[28]Green, 26-33, lays out in detail the basic options for the canonicity of Jude and 1 Enoch.

[29]Tertullian On the Apparel of Women 1.3; Tertullian On Idolatry 4.

[30]Thomas H. German, Jr., “Maranatha: Jude 14,15 and 1 Enoch 1:9,” Guided Research Paper, Harding Graduate School of Religion, 1974, 1; Bauckham, 10; Nicholas J. Moore, “Is Enoch Also Among the Prophets? The Impact of Jude’s Citation of 1 Enoch on the Reception of Both Texts in the Early Church,” Journal of Theological Studies 64, no. 2 (October 2013): 504-07.

[31]Jerome On Illustrious Men 4.

[32]Green, 29. In a recent article, Moore, 498-515, argues that concerns about Jude’s use of 1 Enoch did not arise until the fourth century, and that the early dispute of whether or not Jude should have been included in the canon was because of its non-universal attestation, not because of its ties to 1 Enoch. In other words, according to Moore, Jerome misunderstood the reasons for the controversy surrounding Jude.

[33]Moo, 272; Green, 30-31.

[34]Augstine City of God 15.23.

[35]See footnote 8 above for those who accept 1 Enoch as part of the canon of Scripture.

[36]Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, The International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1946), 309.

[37]J. J. Collins, “Enoch, Books of,” in Dictionary of New Testament Background, ed. Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 317; Joseph, 463; Green, 101; deSilva, 870; Whitfield, 427.

[38]Frey, 498; Kelly, 278; Whitfield, 427

[39]Cranfield, 165; Matthew Black, “The Christological Use of the Old Testament in the New Testament,” New Testament Studies 18, no. 1 (October 1971): 10.

[40]Bo Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter, and Jude: Introduction, Translation, and Notes. The Anchor Bible (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964), 209; deSilva, 542; Neyrey, 81.

[41]Reicke, 209.

[42]Charles, 144, suggests that Jude’s literary strategy in crafting his epistle involves using a “work highly esteemed by his readers or the heretics themselves,” and offers an alternative translation of Jude 14a: “For even (your own) Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying…” From this perspective, Jude 14-15 would not be a quotation of 1 Enoch because Jude valued it highly, but rather because he knew others valued it highly and would thus be likely to be persuaded by the reference. Charles’ suggestion is interesting and works grammatically in the text but remains a conjecture.

[43]Moo, 273. Contra Donelson, 190: “Debates about whether Jude considered 1 Enoch to be canonical are anachronistic. It is unlikely that Jude had a working notion of canon.”

[44]Ibid., 273: “To be sure, Jude claims that Enoch “prophesied.” But this word need not mean “wrote an inspired prophetic book”; it could well mean simply “uttered in this instance a prophecy.” See also Edmond Hiebert, “Selected Studies from Jude Part 2: An Exposition of Jude 12-16,” Bibliotheca Sacra 142, no. 568 (July-September 1985): 245. Cory D. Anderson, “Jude’s Use of the Pseudepigraphical Book of 1 Enoch,” Dialogue 36, no. 2 (Summer 2003): 48-52, attempts to answer Moo’s arguments, but to my mind, unsuccessfully.

[45]Paul quotes Epimenides in Acts 17:28 and Titus 1:12, Aratus in Acts 17:28, and Menander in 1 Corinthians 15:33. He even introduces the Epimenides quotation of Titus 1:12 by calling him a “prophet”. See Gary M. Burge, Lynn H. Cohick, and Gene L. Green, The New Testament in Antiquity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 407; Holloway, 140.

[46]R. L. Webb, “Jude,” in Dictionary of the Later New Testament & Its Developments, ed. Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 614.

[47]Or at least, the quotation from 1 Enoch that he uses in Jude 14-15, as this is the only material explicitly attributed to “Enoch”.

[48]deSilva, 542.

[49]Neyrey, 80, emphasizes that the quotation from 1 Enoch which Jude uses is quite orthodox. Certainly the idea that Jesus would return and render judgment on the ungodly is a common theme in Christianity, and a statement concerning that event would seem to be acceptable to Jude, regardless of the source.

[50]Tertullian On the Apparel of Women 1.3

[51]Moo, 274.

[52]Green, 31.

[53]See footnote 20 above. Charles, 143: “The number seven retains great symbolic importance throughout 1 Enoch, as it did for Jews traditionally…With respect to Hebrew genealogies, minor alterations were customarily made to place individuals worthy of attention in the seventh position of a tree.”

[54]Moo, 274.

 

21 Oct 2014

Getting More Out of Your Bible Study

You don’t have to be a seminary-trained biblical scholar in order to read Scripture in a responsible way. Relevant Magazine published a really good article on “9 Things Everyone Should Do When Reading the Bible”. These easy-to-understand practical suggestions will go a long way toward making the most of your Bible study time. Here is a taste:

6. Realize That Prophecy is More Often FORTH-Telling Than FORE-Telling.

So often, our focus in approaching prophecy is to ask “what did they say about the future?” However, often the prophets weren’t talking about the future (foretelling), they were explaining and interpreting Israel’s history and current predicaments in light of their covenantal behavior (forth-telling), and had little to do with the future. Israel may have painfully aware that they had just suffered military defeat at the hands of the Babylonians, but it took the prophet’s words to explain from God’s perspective why this had happened and what lessons they were to learn from their experience. Poor old Jeremiah.

Take a few minutes to read the article; it is not long, and I think you will be blessed by doing so.

16 Oct 2014

The Paradox of Christianity

The Paradox of ChristianityThe other day while I was in the shower (I do a lot of thinking in the shower) it occurred to me that Christianity is somewhat of a paradox in that it is a religion which is incredibly inclusive and exclusive at the same time.

Inclusivity

Christianity is inclusive in the sense that it excludes no one on the basis of race, color, gender, nationality, or socioeconomic level.

Christianity is not tied to a specific geographical area: it thrives in incredibly diverse settings across the globe: places like West Africa, China, and South America are very very different, but all maintain large and growing Christian populations. Contrast that with most other world religions, which are either tied significantly to a certain place or follow a certain ethnic group as it migrates or expands.

Christianity is not tied to a specific language: Muslims believe that the Qur’an can only truly exist in Arabic (translations into other languages or not considered to be the Qur’an itself, but only a translation of the teachings of the Qur’an), so if you want to be able to read it, you better learn Arabic! On the other hand, for hundreds and hundreds of years, it has been an accepted belief among Christians that the Christian scriptures should be translated into as many languages as possible so that people could read about Jesus in their native tongues.

Christianity is not tied to a specific gender: it does not teach that women are inferior, or that they have some lesser or marginal role to play either now or in the afterlife. While I won’t claim that Christianity has a perfect track record on this, Jesus himself spent considerable time with women, and interacted with them in a way which showed concern and respect that was wholly out of place with the culture of his day. Clearly, women are valuable to God and have a place in his family.

Christianity is not tied to a specific ethnicity or culture: it took a lot of concerted effort and teaching from men like Paul and others to make this point, but it was not necessary for someone to be a Jew in order to become a Christian. Similarly, it was not necessary for someone to give up being a Jew in order to become a Christian. Over the years, certain Christian missionary efforts have at times lost sight of this truth, but generally speaking, it has been recognized that you don’t have to give up your cultural heritage in order to follow Christ (though certainly, the teachings of Christ critique certain aspects of all cultures and demand that we repudiate those).

Exclusivity

But for all of those inclusive characteristics, Christianity is fundamentally exclusive: its repeated teaching is that it is only through Jesus Christ that salvation can be obtained (emphasis added):

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3.16).

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14.6).

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4.12).

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus… (1 Timothy 2.5).

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5.11-12).

Of course, when viewed properly, this seeming paradox really isn’t one at all. Christianity is the most inclusive of all faiths in that it teaches that God invites all of humanity regardless of gender, ethnicity, language, or socioeconomic status into intimate relationship with him. However, that relationship is exclusively possible through his Son, Jesus Christ.

15 Oct 2014

Book Review: Seven Congregations in a Roman Crucible

Oster, RevelationWhile on vacation, I was glad to be able to read Seven Congregations in a Roman Crucible: A Commentary on Revelation 1-3 by Richard Oster.

Dr. Oster is one of the professors at Harding School of Theology, and is known for his extensive knowledge of New Testament backgrounds, particularly through the study of ancient inscriptions, artwork, and numismatics (coins). In Seven Congregations, Oster does a masterful job of using that knowledge to help better explain John’s letters to the seven churches of Asia in the early chapters of the Book of Revelation.

Oster’s commentary focuses on the Asian congregations, and the challenges they faced as they were forced to choose between faithfulness to Christ and assimilation to the surrounding Roman culture. Interpretatively, Seven Congregations emphasizes the relevance of Revelation to the churches to whom it was written, rather than being a series of predictions of what would happen some 2,000 years in the future (which is exactly how far too many people read it). In addition to this emphasis and the fascinating background information, one of my favorite things about the book is the way in which Oster does not shy away from presenting ideas that are a part of Revelation but are not popular in today’s culture (you’ll see some of this reflected in the excerpts below).

I’ve selected some quotations which I enjoyed and which I think provide a good feel for the book (I have bolded certain parts for emphasis):

“As surprising as it might seem in light of centuries of mistaken emphasis, a careful examination of these six specific verses reveals that there is in fact no explicit reference to a temporary millennial enthronement of Christ in Revelation (20:4, 6). Furthermore, if this traditional view were true, then this millennial interregnum of Christ would stand in clear contradiction to the teachings of the rest of the New Testament regarding Christ’s cosmic enthronement.” (p.11)

“…The prophetic message of John is not designed only to comfort the afflicted. John’s words were also clearly written to afflict those Christians who were guilty of assimilation to idolatry, immorality, and emperor worship, either in the present or future. Without doubt the letters destined for the seven churches of Asia contain the promise of blessings to the faithful, the overcomes, but with equal clarity they contain the assurance of divine punishment and retribution for those believers who surrendered themselves to the pressures of the surrounding culture and its mores.” (21)

“The christophany of Rev 1:12-16…contains powerful and horrific imagery and does not portray a Jesus into whose lap one can sit and be cuddled.” (21)

“Indeed, the relevance of prophetic books lies in their specific connection with their own historical setting and not in their predictions about remote history and the end of humankind.” (24)

“Although it might initially sound strange to some futurists, this mention of Jesus’s “coming with the clouds” is one of the few references to Christ’s Second Coming in the entire book of Revelation. Most of the references to impending punishment in Revelation are either against the seven churches or are plagues, bowls of wrath, and the like, against the Roman Empire. Rarely in Revelation is the wrath of God and the Lamb directed against the entire planet with all its inhabitants.” (64)

“Specifically, John’s sectarian outlook considers all synagogue attending Jews who did not accept the messiahship of Jesus as no longer the true Jews…Thus Revelation agrees with other New Testament writings in its support of a modified replacement understanding of Israel and the Christ based congregation (cf. 1 Cor 3:11) of God…According to John, identification as a real Jew is determined on the basis of devotion to the Lamb rather than upon traditional Jewish criteria, e.g., birth and upbringing, adherence to Jewish statues and ceremony.” (124)

“Even though spiritual intolerance is currently the “unforgivable sin” in most areas of contemporary culture, both sacred and secular, this prevailing Western perspective does not represent the outlook revealed to John by Christ.” (148)

“…Christ’s kingdom is always subversive and has appeared explicitly to destroy alternative nations, empires, and their values, until “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever” (11:15).” (158)

“…This scene presented to the Laodicean congregation is patently not a prototype of the evangelical “sinner’s prayer” where Jesus is invited into the heart of the unregenerate sinner.” (191)

“…The meaning of repentance in Scripture is to change the direction of one’s life, not merely changing elements of intellectual assent.” (192)

“Unless intercession is only artificial role playing, then God’s future actions may be altered by the intercession of his people.” (207)

The commentary is 276 pages including notes and appendices, and though very scholarly, is still written in an engaging way (I was able to read it in a few days). I think the background information Seven Congregations provides is invaluable, and I look forward to reading the next volume.