Epistle of Jude

Epistle of Jude

The brief Epistle of Jude is the penultimate book in the Christian New Testament canon.

Author and date

The epistle is titled as written by "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James" (NRSV). If taken literally this means that the author claims to be a brother of Jesus, an attribution which is now increasingly considered as the most probable. [Chester, A and Martin, RP (1994), 'The Theology of the Letters of James, Peter and Jude', CUP, p.65] [Bauckham,RJ (1986), Word Biblical Commentary, Vol.50, Word (UK) Ltd. p.14]

Though it is held as canonical in the majority of Christian churches, some scholars consider the letter a pseudonymous work written between the end of the first century and the first quarter of the 2nd century, arguing from the references to the apostles (verse 17-18), tradition (3); the book's competent Greek style and the opposition to Gnosticism. Nevertheless, conservative scholars date it between 66 to 90. [http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/jude/jude.htm USCCB - NAB - Jude ] ] [Norman Perrin, (1974) "The New Testament: An Introduction", p. 260] [Bauckham,RJ (1986), Word Biblical Commentary, Vol.50, Word (UK) Ltd. p.16]

"More remarkable is the evidence that by the end of the second century Jude was widely accepted as canonical...' [Bauckham,RJ (1986), Word Biblical Commentary, Vol.50, Word (UK) Ltd. p.17] Clement, Tertullian and the Muratorian canon considered the letter canonical. The authorship was called into question when Origen of Alexandria first spoke of the doubts held by some—albeit not him. Eusebius classified it with the "disputed writings, the "antilegomena." The letter was eventually accepted as part of the canon by the Church father Athanasius and the Synods of Laodicea (c. 363) and Carthage (397). Doubts regarding Jude's authenticity were revived at the time of the Protestant Reformation.

The debate has continued over the author's identity as the apostle, the brother of Jesus, both, or neither. Some scholars have argued that since the author of that letter has not identified himself as an apostle and actually refers to the apostles as a third party, he cannot be identified with the Jude who is listed as one of the Twelve (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13; cf John 14:22). Others have drawn exactly the opposite conclusion ie as Jude was an apostle, he would not have made such a claim on his own behalf. [Bauckham,RJ (1986), Word Biblical Commentary, Vol.50, Word (UK) Ltd. p.14f] The person intended is sometimes identified as another Jude, named in the gospels among the relatives of Jesus (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3), and the James referred to as his brother James, to whom the Letter of James is attributed. Little is known of this Jude, which would explain the apparent need to identify him by reference to his better-known brother.


The "Epistle of Jude" is a brief book of only a single chapter with 25 verses. It was composed as an "encyclical letter"—that is, one not directed to the members of one church in particular, but intended rather to be circulated and read in all churches. The form, as opposed to the earlier letters of Paul, suggests that the author knew Paul's "Epistle to the Ephesians" or even that the Pauline epistles had already been collected and were circulating when the text was written.

The wording and syntax of this epistle in its original Greek demonstrates that the author was capable and fluent. The epistle is addressed to Christians in general (1:1), and it warns them about the doctrine of certain errant teachers to which they were exposed. Examples of heterodox opinions that were circulating in the early 2nd century include Docetism, Marcionism, and Gnosticism.

The epistle's style is combative, impassioned, and rushed. Many examples of evildoers and warnings about their fates are given in rapid succession. The epithets contained in this writing are considered to be some of the strongest found in the New Testament.

The epistle concludes with a doxology, which is considered to be one of the highest in quality contained in the Bible.

The fact that the Epistle of Jude is notably similar to "Second Epistle of Peter" indicates the possibility that the writing of one of the epistles was influenced by the content of other. Because this epistle is much shorter than 2 Peter, and due to various stylistic details, the scholarly consensus is that Jude was the source for the similar passages of 2 Peter.

References to other books

The Epistle of Jude references two other books, one which is non-canonical in all churches, the other non-canonical in most churches.

Verse 9 refers to the dispute between Michael the Archangel and the devil about the body of Moses. A passage in a non-canonical book, the Assumption of Moses, provides an account of this dispute. According to Origen the insertion of verse 9 into the book of Jude lead to the writting of the Assumption of Moses.

Verse 14-15 contains a direct quote of a prophecy from the Book of Enoch. It also attributes the quote to "Enoch, the seventh from Adam", indicating Jude accepts the antediluvian patriarch Enoch as the author. The Book of Enoch is not considered canonical by most churches, although it is by the Ethiopian Orthodox church.


External links

Online translations of the Epistle of Jude:
* [http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/jude/jude.htm Jude in New American Bible]
* [http://www.gospelhall.org/bible/bible.php?passage=Jude+1 "Online Bible" at GospelHall.org]
* [http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible?language=english&version=NIV&passage=Jude Jude at Bible Gateway] (various versions)
* [http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/jude.html Early Christian writings: "Epistle of Jude:" comparable translations and interpretations]

Additional information:
* [http://www.christianbiblelinks.com/Jude.htm Christian Bible Links]
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08542b.htm Catholic Encyclopedia]
* [http://www.watton.org/studies&stories/jude/index.htm Comprehensive study the Epistle of Jude]
* [http://www.wlsessays.net/authors/PQ/QuandtJude/QuandtJude.PDF An Exegesis of Jude by Michael Quandt]
* [http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2235 A reaction to the apparent regarding of Enoch and the Assumption of Moses as canonical by Jude]

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