The Strange Book of Jude

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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Greetings Pilgrims,

How are we to take Jude's use of two extra-biblical Jewish writings to present his case against ungodliness in general and sexual immorality in particular? I'm referring to the books of First Enoch and the Assumption of Moses.

"1st Enoch" (Jude 14-15)
Compare Jude with 1st Enoch:

(Jude 14-15a) It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all.

(1st Enoch 1:9) Behold, [God] shall arrive with ten million of the holy ones in order to execute judgment upon all. He will destroy the wicked ones and censure all flesh on account of everything that they have done, that which the sinners and the wicked ones committed against him.

"Assumption of Moses" (Jude 9)

(Jude 9) But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'"

It also seems that in verse 6, there may be an allusion to the story in Genesis 6, giving credibility to the interpretation that it was angels that cohabited with human women. I.e., angels having sex with women. And then, in verse 7, we have the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, where men desire to have sex with angels.

Jude 6 & 7
And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (see 2 Peter 2:4-10 for pretty much the same message)

All of which seem strange to our modern Reformed ears. Is Jude using fiction to make his spiritual points? Is Jude relating truths found in extra-biblical writing that give an inspired interpretation of the related stories in the canonical writings?

Here's a link to an article that was helpful to me and asking my question. The article gives many other Old and New Testament examples where excerpts from these extra-biblical writings teach truths that we are to receive as canonical.
 

PointyHaired Calvinist

Puritan Board Sophomore
I tend to think the prophecy of Enoch and the story of Moses’ body were true, and the apocryphal accounts were an expansion (ancient fanfic?) of the true records. These apocryphal books are no more canonical than the Greek poets Paul cites at Mars Hill.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
They represented a worldview that was a given in Palestine at the time. Jude's use of Enoch would have resonated with his listeners.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
And an author's use of a source has nothing to do with canonicity. Paul quotes pagan, pantheistic poets and no one thinks they should be canon. Further, from a historical standpoint, the text of Enoch was never widespread in its completed condition. The reason it wasn't in the Old Testament canon (aside from inspiration issues) is that few communities had access to a completed text.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
And an author's use of a source has nothing to do with canonicity. Paul quotes pagan, pantheistic poets and no one thinks they should be canon. Further, from a historical standpoint, the text of Enoch was never widespread in its completed condition. The reason it wasn't in the Old Testament canon (aside from inspiration issues) is that few communities had access to a completed text.
Wasn't this a common argument used for canonicity of Enoch in the early church though? Tertullian used this argument for example.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
As Jacob alluded to, I think the quote from Enoch can be taken as simply factual without having to concede the Book of Enoch as canonical.

The "body of Moses" I thought referred to the priesthood, and the allusion was to Zechariah 3 - is there a Jewish text this is more likely to allude to? Is there credible evidence that the "Assumption of Moses" predates the Epistle of Jude?

Verse 6 doesn't lend any credence to the bizarre theory that angels procreated with humans. A natural reading of the text would not lead anyone to deduce that, and the text would only come up as a weak support that theory if one was scratching about for any evidence to support it. There is not a lot of info in scripture about the original sin of the fallen angels, but it seems to have involved pride and attempting to gain a position above that which God had assigned them in creation. If that is so it chimes easily with Jude 1:6 without the need for fantasy theories.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Wasn't this a common argument used for canonicity of Enoch in the early church though? Tertullian used this argument for example.

People have used that argument for canonicity before. It's not a good one. I understand Tertullian might have used it. He almost certainly would not have had the complete text of Enoch, though as an African he would have had better access to most of Enoch.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
As Jacob alluded to, I think the quote from Enoch can be taken as simply factual without having to concede the Book of Enoch as canonical.

The "body of Moses" I thought referred to the priesthood, and the allusion was to Zechariah 3 - is there a Jewish text this is more likely to allude to? Is there credible evidence that the "Assumption of Moses" predates the Epistle of Jude?

Verse 6 doesn't lend any credence to the bizarre theory that angels procreated with humans. A natural reading of the text would not lead anyone to deduce that, and the text would only come up as a weak support that theory if one was scratching about for any evidence to support it. There is not a lot of info in scripture about the original sin of the fallen angels, but it seems to have involved pride and attempting to gain a position above that which God had assigned them in creation. If that is so it chimes easily with Jude 1:6 without the need for fantasy theories.

We've disagreed on that before and I certainly wouldn't want to rehash the debate. Whether Jude 6 talks of the fallen beney ha-elohim mating with humans, and I grant that it might not mean that, Enoch certainly understood the beney ha-elohim to be mating with human. That's a huge argument of the book.

You are correct, though, that Scripture says almost nothing about the original sin of angels.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
So Jude puts words in Enoch's mouth, which someone else had done previously in a popular work. The original text, I believe, is Dt.33:2, undisputedly an inspired text. Enoch was a prophet, and his words (whatever they were exactly, we can safely say that they are consistent with the rest of the prophets, starting with Moses) as we take these to be substantially, are set (by this NT inspiration) in opposition to the boastful words of the other "seventh from Adam," namely Lamech.

Lamech is a godless fellow, who does not believe in final judgment but in his own right to judge and live as he sees fit. Enoch walked with God, and his words oppose and warn men like Lamech that God is coming in judgment. It was true at the beginning of the world, in Gen.4, and it's true at the other end of the Bible, and more true and certain because of Jesus Christ's first advent. He is coming again, to judge.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
We've disagreed on that before and I certainly wouldn't want to rehash the debate. Whether Jude 6 talks of the fallen beney ha-elohim mating with humans, and I grant that it might not mean that, Enoch certainly understood the beney ha-elohim to be mating with human. That's a huge argument of the book.

You are correct, though, that Scripture says almost nothing about the original sin of angels.
Yes we don't need to revisit it. I'm not familiar with the Book of Enoch so couldn't comment on whether or not that's a huge argument in the book. Anyway it hardly matters - as you rightly pointed out, the Book of Enoch is not Scripture. It likely also was not written by Enoch, even if it contains some material that dates back to Enoch and could therefore be quoted by Jude as such.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
So Jude puts words in Enoch's mouth, which someone else had done previously in a popular work. The original text, I believe, is Dt.33:2, undisputedly an inspired text. Enoch was a prophet, and his words (whatever they were exactly, we can safely say that they are consistent with the rest of the prophets, starting with Moses) as we take these to be substantially, are set (by this NT inspiration) in opposition to the boastful words of the other "seventh from Adam," namely Lamech.

Lamech is a godless fellow, who does not believe in final judgment but in his own right to judge and live as he sees fit. Enoch walked with God, and his words oppose and warn men like Lamech that God is coming in judgment. It was true at the beginning of the world, in Gen.4, and it's true at the other end of the Bible, and more true and certain because of Jesus Christ's first advent. He is coming again, to judge.
Interesting take - this actually seems a much more likely explanation than that Jude is quoting the Apocryphal book.
 
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