Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 2, No. 2 Page 15 February 2000

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles
By Louis Rushmore

In your article concerning canonicity you fail to make mention of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha which is a collection of an

Old Testament Pseudepigrapha

 

In your article concerning canonicity you fail to make mention of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha which is a collection of ancient documents that includes portions of some sixty-five different writings.  In particular you fail to discuss the apparent quotation of 1 Enoch by Jude in verses fourteen and fifteen of Jude’s epistle.  Why the omission? ~ David Mullins

 

The article to which you refer makes no claim of exhausting the topic of biblical canonicity.  There is no special reason not to mention, in passing, Old Testament pseudepigrapha and the article will be amended to do just that.  The thrust of that article, though, remains to present an overview of biblical canonicity and bolster the Bible believer’s confidence in Holy Writ.

 

However, per your query, please notice some observations regarding the relationship of Jude 14-15 to the pseudepigraphical book of 1 Enoch.  First, though, notice the definition of pseudepigraphon (or as it is usually observed in the plural, pseudepigrapha).

 

1 plural : apocrypha; 2 : any of various pseudonymous or anonymous Jewish religious writings of the period 200 b.c. to 200 a.d.; especially : one of such writings (as the Psalms of Solomon) not included in any canon of biblical Scripture — usually used in plural[1]

 

PSEUDEPIGRAPHA. The term is used to describe those Jewish writings which were excluded from the OT Canon and which find no place in the Apocrypha. For the purpose of this article the term will also exclude the sectarian documents of the Qumran library (Dead Sea Scrolls). Unlike the Apocrypha, which were included in the Greek Scriptures, these pseudepigrapha never approached canonical status. They nevertheless played an important role during the intertestamental period and are valuable for the light they shed on the Jewish background of the NT.[2]

 

. . . pseudepigrapha (i.e., prophecies issued under the names of heroes of the distant past). Though Jews might hope for the time when prophets would appear once more (I Macc. 4:46; 14:41), they were keenly aware that the age of prophecy had ended (ch. 9:27): to learn the divine will one must consult the Book of the Law (ch. 3:48).[3]

 

The distinction between apocrypha and pseudepigrapha is that the latter are falsely ascribed to better-known and revered writers.  However, that distinction is not always observed and sometimes in discussion pseudepigrapha are lumped together with apocrypha.  Notice that the following quotations, for instance, refer to the pseudepigraphal book of 1 Enoch as part of the apocrypha.

 

A few books of the Apocrypha have also been identified, including Tobit (in Aramaic and Heb.), Ecclesiasticus (in Heb.), the Epistle of Jeremiah (in Gk.), 1 Enoch (in Aramaic) and Jubilees (in Heb.).[4]

 

(14, 15) Enoch is the Old Testament person of that name (Gen. 5:18–24), the man who “walked with God.” The quotation is from the apocryphal Book of Enoch.[5]

 

Before treating the comparison of Jude 14-15 with 1 Enoch, consider the origin and nature of 1 Enoch.  Better understanding 1 Enoch may improve the objective perspective of the relationship between the canonical book and the pseudepigraphal volume under consideration herein.

 

1 Enoch (Ethiopic Enoch) is among the most important intertestamental works. The complete text survives only in Ethiopic, but sections are extant in Greek and important fragments of the original Aramaic are now available from Qumran. 1 Enoch comprises five books: the Book of Watchers (1-36), the Similitudes (37-71), the Astronomical Book (72-82), the Book of Dreams (83-90) and the Epistle of Enoch (91-105). The Qumran mss include fragments of all these except the Similitudes, which are therefore now generally dated no earlier than the 1st century ad. Also from Qumran there are fragments of a hitherto almost unknown Book of Giants, which was probably the original fifth book of the Enoch Pentateuch, for which the Similitudes were later substituted. The Qumran mss help clarify the dates of these works. The oldest sections are the Astronomical Book and 6-19: these date from no later than the beginning of the 2nd century bc and may be as early as the 5th century. The Book of Watchers (incorporating 6-19) cannot be later than the mid-1st and is probably from the mid-3rd century bc. The Book of Dreams is from 165 or 164 bc. The Epistle of Enoch and Book of Giants may date from the end of the 2nd century bc.[6]

 

This book, known to the Church Fathers of the second century, lost for some centuries with the exception of a few fragments, was found in its entirety in a copy of the Ethiopic Bible in 1773 by Bruce. It consists of revelations purporting to have been given to Enoch and Noah. Its object is to vindicate the ways of divine providence, to set forth the retribution reserved for sinners, and to show that the world is under the immediate government of God.[7]

 

The most important post-canonical Jewish apocalypses are: 1 Enoch, a collection of writings of which the earliest may date from the 5th century bc and the latest from the 1st century ad; The Testament of Moses (also called Asumption of Moses), which should be dated either c. 165 bc or early 1st century ad; 4 Ezra or 2 Esdras, (in the English Apocrypha), 2 Baruch and the Apocalypse of Abraham, all from the period ad 70-140.[8]

 

So, during the intertestamental period, after the cessation of direct revelation from God, the pseudepigrapha began to appear.  Religious ghostwriters, so to speak, were overwhelmed with the prevailing perception of impending doom. Therefore, they emboldened their written utterances by associating them with esteemed prophets of former years.  Doubtless, they imagined that they were providing valuable expression of the prophetic will of God formerly exclaimed by the Old Testament prophets.

 

The leading object of the writer, who was manifestly imbued with deep piety, was to comfort and strengthen his contemporaries.  He lived in times of distress and persecution, when the enemies of religion oppressed the righteous.  The outward circumstances of the godly were such as to excite doubts of the divine equity in their minds, or, at least, to prevent it from having that hold on their faith which was necessary to sustain them in the hour of trial.  In accordance with this, the writer exhibits the reward of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked.  To give greater authority to his affirmations, he puts them into the mouths of Enoch and Noah. . . . Doubtless the author lived amid a season of fiery trial, and, looking abroad over the desolation, sought to cheer the sufferers by the consideration that they should be recompensed in the Messianic kingdom.  As for their wicked oppressors, they were to experience terrible judgments.  The writer occasionally delights in uttering dire anathemas against the wicked.  It is plain that the book grew out of the times and circumstances by which he was surrounded.[9]

 

Apocalypse means “revelation.” It proposes in esoteric language to unlock the secrets and set forth the program of the last events, which were thought to be imminently impending. No systematic description of apocalyptic is possible, for it was of all things not systematized—as he who has perused the Pseudepigrapha knows to his dismay. Authors of such writings were convinced that the age was drawing to an end and that events of their own day gave signs that the cosmic struggle between God and evil, of which earthly history was the reflection, was moving on to its climax. They were concerned to describe the impending denouement, the Final Judgment, the vindication of the elect, and their felicity in the new age about to dawn. Apocalyptic is characterized by the device of pseudonymity. Since the age of prophecy had ended, apocalypticists were obliged, their works being of a predictive nature, to place their words in the mouths of prophets and worthies long dead. They were fond of describing bizarre visions in which nations and historical individuals appear as mysterious beasts. They sought by manipulating numbers to calculate the exact time of the end—which would be soon. They reinterpreted the words of earlier prophets to show how they were being fulfilled, or were about to be. A marked dualistic tendency is observable. History’s struggle is viewed as the reflex of the cosmic struggle between God and Satan, light and darkness. The world, led astray by fallen angels and polluted by sin, is under judgment; it is an evil world, a world in rebellion against God, a secular world, very nearly a daemonic world. Yet it was not doubted that God was in control and would soon come to judge the world, consigning Satan and his angels and those who have obeyed him to eternal punishment, and saving his own.[10]

 

Many in Israel had apocalyptic ideas during that era. The Qumran writers were not the only Jewish elite who anticipated a cataclysm.  Nonetheless, Qumran fragments of various Jewish writings classed as Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha prove that writers carried with them a sense in which the end was coming.  The Messianic hope was not dim during the darkest days of the period.[11]

 

First Enoch, though falsely ascribed to the esteemed prophet, Enoch, is of late origin and uninspired.  It is not comparable to canonical books of either the Old or New Testament. 

 

Notwithstanding the quotation in Jude, and the wide circulation of the book itself, the apocalypse of Enoch was uniformly and distinctly separated from the canonical Scriptures.  Tertullian alone maintained its authority, while he admitted that it was not received by the Jews . . . Origen, on the other hand, and Augustine definitively mark it as apocryphal . . .[12]

 

Yet, Jude 14-15 and a passage from 1 Enoch 1:9 are similar.  Compare the following renderings.

 

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15).

 

Behold he comes with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon them, and to destroy the wicked, and to strive (at law) with all the carnal for everything which the sinful and ungodly have done and committed against him.

(1 Enoch 1:9).

 

Why, then, does a quotation from an admittedly inspired book (Jude), perhaps of more recent origin, compare favorably with an uninspired volume (1 Enoch)?  Scholars differ as to whether Jude quoted 1 Enoch or an oral Jewish tradition of longstanding, that also appears in 1 Enoch.  “. . . Jude . . . the words of the apostle leave it uncertain whether he derived his quotation from tradition or from writing . . .”[13]  “It is quoted from the apocryphal book of Enoch, directly, or from a tradition based upon it.”[14]

 

The source from which Jude derived this passage respecting the prophecy of Enoch is unknown. . . . There is no clear evidence that he quoted it from any book extant in his time.  There is, indeed, now an apocryphal writing called ‘the Book of Enoch,’ containing a prediction strongly resembling this, but there is no certain proof that it existed so early as the time of Jude, nor, if it did, is it absolutely certain that he quoted from it.[15]

 

For those who manifest strong confidence in the divinely inspired origin of the Bible behind the human penman, it is enough to know that the matter is sealed as true information by the stamp of God.  Therefore, it matters not at all whether uninspired, human sources also exclaimed the same message, even using similar wording.  In any case, what Jude recorded in verse 14-15 reflects the eternal purpose of God, apparently which was known to mankind from near his debut on planet earth.

 

From what source did Jude obtain the prophecy of Enoch to which he refers?  It is sufficient for our purpose merely to answer, from inspiration, whether directly or from traditional sources, is of little consequence.  Authenticated by the approval of the Holy Spirit under whose inspiration Jude wrote, it matters little what the method was by which it was brought to his attention.  It is alleged by many scholars that this prophecy which Jude cites was taken from an apocryphal book entitled “Book of Enoch,” . . . There are sharp variations between the statement allegedly cited by Jude and the actual statement as it appears in Jude.  There is more reason for supposing that the book of Jude is older than this so-called “Book of Enoch,” and that the author quoted from Jude rather than Jude from him!  In the same fashion that Peter knew that Noah was a preacher, that Lot was vexed in Sodom, and that Paul knew the names of the Egyptian magicians; Jude learned of Enoch’s prophecy – by inspiration.[16]

 

[First Enoch, in which the comparison to Jude 14-15 appears, according to various evaluations, dates to the intertestamental period.  Other sections, though, apparently were composed later.]

 

The following quotations assign 1 Enoch as the source from which Jude quoted in verses 14-15.

 

The Epistle of Jude, a, “brother of James” (the Just), is very short, and strongly resembles 2 Peter 2, but differs from it by an allusion to the remarkable apocryphal book of Enoch and the legend of the dispute of Michael with the devil about the body of Moses.[17]

 

The lxx mss are paralleled by the writings of the early Christian Fathers, who (at any rate outside Palestine and Syria) normally used the lxx or the derived Old Latin version. In their writings, there is both a wide and a narrow Canon. The former comprises those books from before the time of Christ which were generally read and esteemed in the church (including the Apocrypha), but the latter is confined to the books of the Jewish Bible, which scholars like Melito, Origen, Epiphanius and Jerome take the trouble to distinguish from the rest as alone inspired. The Apocrypha were known in the church from the start, but the further back one goes, the more rarely are they treated as inspired. In the NT itself, one finds Christ acknowledging the Jewish Scriptures, by various of their current titles, and accepting the three sections of the Jewish Canon and the traditional order of its books; one finds Revelation perhaps alluding to their number, and most of the books being referred to individually as having divine authority; but none of the Apocrypha. The only apparent exception is the reference to 1 Enoch in Jude 14f., which may be just an argumentum ad hominem to converts from the apocalyptic school of thought, who seem to have been numerous.[18]

 

Did Jude really quote the Book of Enoch?  A simple comparison of the language of the apostle and that found in the corresponding passage of the extant book seems to settle this question conclusively in the affirmative . . .[19]

 

Not surprisingly, the NT refers to the Enoch literature but has no Enoch tradition of its own. Lk. 3:37 is based on Gen. 5:21ff. Heb. 11:5 repeats ideas found in Ethiopian Enoch and Jubilees. Jude 14 quotes literally from Eth. En. 7[sic]:9.[20]

 

Still others assign Jude’s references to Enoch, not to 1 Enoch, but to oral tradition.

 

The false ascription may have been occasioned by the use of materials traditionally handed down in association with some famous name. Some scholars, for instance, have virtually maintained this viewpoint when suggesting that Jude cites not the Book of Enoch but an earlier oral ascription believed to have been a true saying of Enoch which was later incorporated into the pseudonymous book (cf. Jude 14).[21]

 

Even were Jude to quote from 1 Enoch, it would be little different from the other occasions of uninspired sources being quoted in God’s Word.  Paul quoted uninspired Cretians and made an application thereby:

 

“One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:12-13).

 

Quotations other than from the OT also appear. Eph. 5:14 (cf. 1 Cor. 15:45b; 1 Tim. 5:18b) may be an excerpt from an early Christian hymn or oracle; Jude 14 is taken from the pseudepigraphical book of Enoch; and Acts 17:28 is a quotation from a pagan writer.[22]

 

The apostle Paul quotes several of the heathen poets, yet who ever supposed that by such references he sanctions the productions from which his citations are made, or renders them of greater value?  All that can be reasonably inferred from such a fact is, that if the inspired writer cites a particular sentiment with approbation, it must be regarded as just and right, irrespective of the remainder of the book in which it is found.  The apostle’s sanction extends no farther than the passage to which he alludes.[23]

 

The message is believable, namely, that Enoch prophesied that God ensures an ultimate compensation upon the ungodly, even if they manage to avoid the consequences of their sins in life.  “The judgment which awaits them at the parousia was foretold by Enoch (vv. 14f.; cf. 1 Enoch 1. 9).”[24]

 

There is no mention made in the writings of Moses of the fact that Enoch was a prophet; but nothing is more probable in itself, and there is no absurdity in supposing that a true prophecy, though unrecorded, might be handed down by tradition.[25]

 

Endnotes



[1]Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, (Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated) 1993.

[2]The New Bible Dictionary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1962.

[3]Bright, John, A History of Israel, (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Westminster Press) 1981.

[4]The New Bible Dictionary.

[5]Wuest, Kenneth S., Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) 1997.

[6]The New Bible Dictionary.

[7]Wuest.

[8]The New Bible Dictionary.

[9] M‘Clintock, John and Strong, James, “Enoch, Book of,” Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. III, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House) 1969, p. 227.

[10]Bright.

[11]Randall A. Weiss, Jewish Sects of the New Testament Era, (Cedar Hill, TX: Cross Talk) 1994.

[12] M‘Clintock and Strong, p. 226.

[13]Ibid., p. 225.

[14] Vincent, Marvin R., Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. 1, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.) 1975, p. 719.

[15]Barnes, Albert , Notes on the New Testament, James – Jude, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House) 1974, p. 400.

[16]Woods, Guy N., A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles of Peter, John and Jude, (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Co.) 1973, pp. 398-399.

[17]Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[18]The New Bible Dictionary.

[19]M‘Clintock and Strong, p. 229.

[20]Kittel, Gerhard, and Friedrich, Gerhard, Editors, The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) 1985.

[21]The New Bible Dictionary.

[22]Ibid.

[23]M‘Clintock and Strong, p. 229.

[24]The New Bible Dictionary.

[25] Barnes, pp. 399-400.



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