Sunday, 5 August 2012

Jude's Alleged Use of Pseudonymous Sources

     Jude refers to a prophecy of "Enoch, the seventh from Adam" (vv. 14-15), and a similar passage is found in the Jewish pseudepigraphical work The Book of Enoch (a.k.a. Ethiopic Enoch or I Enoch), leading many to conclude that Jude quoted from this non-canonical source (viz. I Enoch 1.9, with possible allusion to 60.8; 93.3).
     It is important to note, however, that Jude does not suggest his information came from anything Enoch had supposedly written (i.e. Enoch is not cited as "scripture"). Even if it is presumed that The Book of Enoch (whomever the author/s) was a contemporary work from which Jude may have quoted, remember also Paul’s practice of sometimes using quotes from secular literature to illustrate or emphasize a point (cf. Acts 17:28; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Titus 1:12) and the inadvertent prophecy made by Caiaphas (John 11:49; 18:14). In other words, Jude simply recognized that what was said by Enoch had turned out to be an accurate description in view of the immoral conduct of certain false teachers. As demonstrated in Paul’s teachings, referencing a true statement from an extrabiblical source does not legitimize the entire work, does not lend credence to everything the work might prescribe, does not imply divine inspiration of the work, and does not suggest that the work should be inserted into the Bible.
     Nevertheless, it is of interest that The Book of Enoch is not included among the books of the Apocrypha that were written during the third to first centuries BC. The Greek text was known from at least the mid-second century AD (and onwards) to the author of the Epistle of Barnabas (4.3; 16.5-6), Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. 4.16.2), Justin Martyr (Apol. 2.5), Clement of Alexandria (Eclogae prophetice 2), Tertullian (On Female Dress 2), and Origen (De Principiis 8). Tertullian, who was familiar with both the prophecy in Jude (Idol. 15; Apol. 22) and writings ascribed to Enoch (On Female Dress 2), does not connect the former to the latter.
     Aramaic fragments of the work have been discovered in Qumran, mostly in Cave 4 (see J. T. Milik, Books of Enoch). While fragment 4Q204 (4QEnc) has presumptuously been identified as the passage from which Jude quoted (cf. R. H. Charles, Book of Enoch 274-75), this tiny scrap of parchment only has about sixty letters in four broken lines, a number of which are indiscernible, with merely seven words that can be deciphered conclusively. When compared to other major texts of this section of I Enoch, only one word ("harsh") is found to be in common with the Greek version. In studies comparing this fragment and Jude’s quotation (e.g. C. D. Osburn, "Christological Use of I Enoch" 334-41), the standard text that tends to be used is not 4Q204 itself but Milik’s supplemented reconstruction of the text! There is no compelling evidence showing a clear literary parallel with Jude’s quoted prophecy.
     Furthermore, there is a conspicuous absence among these Qumran fragments of significant portions of I Enoch’s current content, not the least of which is 37-71 (Similitudes), which can readily be dated in the third century AD (J. T. Milik, Books of Enoch 89-98) and not prior to the late first- or early-second century AD (cf. J. H. Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha 89), with apparent allusion to passages in the Gospels of Matthew and John (see J. D. G. Dunn, Christology in the Making xxxix n. 81, 77-78, 297 nn. 75-82).
     The extant Book of Enoch (discovered in 1773) is actually a conglomeration of fragments of various authorship, and the date(s) of these writings are uncertain. If the ancient Jews and the Christians of the New Testament era had known of these writings, they apparently did not consider them canonical. Because The Book of Enoch, in its current form, contains numerous parallels to passages in the New Testament (at least forty-nine passages from sixteen different New Testament books), it is not improbable that Jude’s epistle was the primary source from which the writer(s) of The Book of Enoch borrowed the prophecy in question. Jude may have received knowledge of Enoch’s prophecy through divine revelation or oral tradition, but since Jude does not provide any more information, speculation is futile.
     Jude’s account of the dispute over the body of Moses (v. 9) is purportedly based on another pseudepigraphical work, namely the Assumption of Moses (a.k.a. the Testament of Moses). However, Jude does not attribute his information to any particular source. The Assumption of Moses is of uncertain date and authorship, and the only extant portion of it is a sixth-century AD fragmentary Latin manuscript that was discovered in the mid-nineteenth century. Since no surviving portion of this work contains the passage in question, and since similar words are found in Zechariah 3:1-2, the element of divine revelation notwithstanding, it is just as likely that the material came from a common source or tradition rather than having been the result of literary dependency.
--Kevin L. Moore

Related Posts: Epistle of Judas, Why Argue Over the Body of Moses?Collection & Canonization NT Part 1Collection & Canonization NT Part 2, Biblical Inspiration

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