Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Explanatory Notes: Jude 14-16

I know I'm getting way ahead of myself in the General Epistles, but we are in 1 Enoch in Intertestamental Literature, so I thought I would go ahead and blog on Jude 14-16.
14-15 And the seventh from Adam, Enoch, also prophesied about these, saying, "Behold, the Lord has come with his ten thousand holy ones to effect judgment against all and to convict every soul in relation to all their works of ungodliness which they commit in godlessness and in relation to all the terrible things that ungodly sinners speak against him."

Up to this point Jude's interaction with apocalyptic and Enochic traditions has been very general. But now Jude explicitly quotes the pre-Christian Jewish book 1 Enoch (1.9). 1 Enoch is a library of five distinct units, the first of which is called the "Book of the Watchers" (chaps. 1-36), in which this quote appears. Although the Book of the Watchers probably itself is made up of parts written at different times, something close to its final form probably dates to around 200BC.

We have no evidence to suggest that Jude is quoting some independent tradition that 1 Enoch also quotes. Nothing from any part of 1 Enoch is known in the Old Testament and the Book of the Watchers was apparently composed originally in Aramaic. Even this particular part of the Book of the Watchers was probably added as a kind of introduction as the various materials of these chapters were collected and put together.

The presence of the Enochic books among the Dead Sea Scrolls, along with their similar apocalyptic outlook, may suggest that they were particularly valued by the Essenes, perhaps even that the Essenes considered them Scripture. Jude does not give us enough evidence to know whether he considered 1 Enoch to be Scripture, although he does seem to take the attribution of the quote to Enoch literally. Here is a warning that the way the New Testament authors referenced the Old Testament and other Jewish writings may simply reflect the way people at the time referenced such books and understood authorship, the point being not the attribution but the content of what is referenced.

One wonders whether there might have been some significant intersection between the Essenes and the earliest Christians. John the Baptist seems to bear at least a superficial resemblance to them. The Essenes may also have been the most apocalyptic of the known Jewish groups--and thus more similar to the earliest Christians than either the Pharisees or the Sadducees. The heavy intersection of Jude with possibly Essene literature--including the possible allusion to the Testament of Moses in Jude 9, also makes us wonder. At the same time, Jesus' emphasis on inclusion and reclamation of sinners probably would not have sat well with most Essenes.

Although it is unclear in Jude 9 whether the Lord God or the Lord Jesus Christ is in view, Jude 17, 21, and 25 all clearly refer to Jesus as Lord. We should probably therefore understand the Lord of this verse as the Lord Jesus Christ, who will come in judgment with ten thousands of angels. This fits with what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 where Jesus descends with the voice of the archangel, probably to commence the judgment of men (1 Cor. 6:2) and angels (6:3).

16 These are grumblers, complainers, going according to their own desires, and their mouth speaks boastful things, showing favoritism for the benefit [to themselves].
The material that Jude shares in common with 2 Peter 2 now continues (2 Pet. 2:18). If we continue with the assumption that 2 Peter is drawing on Jude, it is fascinating that 2 Peter has omitted the references to 1 Enoch. As we saw with the omission of the Testament of Moses material, some have suggested that 2 Peter is already demonstrating a movement toward a New Testament canon--one that does not include the Enochic literature.

The list is, as the earlier lists, more generic than specific. Jude is railing against individuals within the Christian community who do not belong there, and these are thus characteristics that should not apply to Christians. They should not be grumblers and complainers. They should follow God's will rather than satisfying their own desires. They should not boast but trust in God's grace, power, and glory. They should not show favoritism--especially not for their own benefit since Christians are to put others above their own interests.

1 comment:

John Mark said...

I am preaching through Jude on Sunday nights; thanks for this post.
I find the whole history of how we got out canon fascinating. I have worked my way through over 500 pages of Jesus Is Lord, and have learned a great deal. Thank you for this book, which has been enjoyable as well as illuminating. I took a NT survey course decades ago, but literally slept through it. One of my many academic regrets; but I am trying to make up for it in my mature years.
Two questions: When did the church for practical purposes consider the canon closed?
And... is there anything equivalent to Jesus Is Lord for the OT?