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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Jude

Chapter 1

Book Overview - Jude

by Henry Alford

CHAPTER VII

JUDE

SECTION I

ITS AUTHORSHIP

1. THE author of this Epistle calls himself in 2 John 1:1, ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ δοῦλος, and ἀδελφὸς ἰακώβου. The former of these appellations is never thus barely used, in an address of an epistle, to designate an Apostle. It is true that in Philippians 1:1 we have παῦλος καὶ τιμόθεος δοῦλοι χριστοῦ ἰησοῦ: but a designation common to two persons necessarily sinks to the rank of the inferior one. In every other case where an Apostle names himself δοῦλος, it is in conjunction with ἀπόστολος; see Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1(207). That I see no exception to this in James 1:1, is plain to the readers of my Prolegomena to that Epistle.

2. That an Apostle may have thus designated himself, we of course cannot deny; but we deal with analogy and probability in discussing evidence of this kind.

3. The second designation, ἀδελφὸς ἰακώβου, still further confirms the view that the Writer is not an Apostle. Whoever this ἰάκωβος may be, it is extremely improbable, that an Apostle of the Lord should have put forward in the opening of an Epistle of solemn warning and exhortation, not his exalted commission from Christ himself, but his mere earthly relationship to one who was better known than himself.

4. But this is met by some with the allegation, that we have elsewhere the Apostle Judas called the brother of James, ἰούδας ἰακώβου, Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13. Even were this so (and it is uncertain whether we are making the right supplement, see note on Matthew 10:2 ff.), that designation must stand on its own independent ground, and being mere matter of conjecture, cannot claim to enter as evidence here. If the considerations arising from this Epistle itself tend to shew that the Jude who wrote it was not an Apostle, then either we must 1) otherwise fill up the ellipsis in that ἰούδας ἰακώβου, or 2) leave that difficult appellation in entire uncertainty. From the nature of the case, this must rule that other, not that other, this.

5. The question for us is, How would the probability arise, that any one should call himself “brother of James?” and the reply to this will depend somewhat on the personal dignity of the James here mentioned. If this person be assumed to be the well-known bishop of the church at Jesusalem, then there will be no difficulty in the Writer of this Epistle thus designating himself.

6. And this has been the general supposition. Those who see in that James, the Apostle James, son of Alphæus, regard our Writer as the Apostle Jude, also the son of Alphæus: the “Judas not Iscariot” of John 14:22. Those, on the other hand, who see in that James, not one of the Twelve, but the actual (maternal) brother of our Lord, the son of Joseph and Mary, regard our Writer as the Judas of Matthew 13:55, another brother of our Lord, and a younger son of Joseph and Mary.

7. The reader will at once gather from what has been said in the Prolegomena to the Epistle of James, that this latter is the view here taken. The other seems to me to be beset with insuperable difficulties: involving us as it does in the wholly unjustifiable hypothesis, that those who are called in Scripture the brethren of our Lord were not his brethren, but his cousins, sons of Alphæus (Clopas).

8. It may be asked, if this Writer were indeed the brother of James, and thus the brother of the Lord Himself, should we not rather expect that he would give himself this high character, stating his relationship to Jesus, rather than that to James? But surely such a question would shew great ignorance of the true spirit of the apostolic writers. It would be the last thing I should expect, to find one of the brethren of the Lord asserting this relationship as a ground of reception for an Epistle. Almost all agree that the Writer of the Epistle of James was the person known as the brother of the Lord. Yet there we have no such designation. It would have been in fact altogether inconsistent with the true spirit of Christ (see Luke 11:27-28), and in harmony with those later and superstitious feelings with which the next and following ages regarded His earthly relatives. Had such a designation as ἀδελφὸς τοῦ κυρίου been found in the address of an Epistle, it would have formed a strong à priori objection to its authenticity.

9. I have before remarked in the Prolegomena to 2 Peter that such expressions as that in our Luke 11:17, μνήσθητε τῶν ῥημάτων τῶν προειρημένων ὑπὸ τῶν ἀποστόλων τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, cannot be fairly alleged as evidence of the apostolicity or non-apostolicity of a writer(208).

10. Of this Judas, one of the Lord’s brethren, we know nothing from early ecclesiastical tradition. The only trace of him is found in an interesting story which Eusebius gives from Hegesippus (H. E. iii. 20) of Domitian, in jealousy of the survivors of the family of David, sending for and examining two grandsons of this Judas ( ἀπὸ γένους τοῦ κυρίου υἱωνοὶ ἰούδα, τοῦ κατὰ σάρκα λεγομένου αὐτοῦ ἀδελφοῦ), and dismissing them, on finding that they were poor working men, and hearing that the kingdom of Christ which they expected was not to be in this present world.

11. In this defect of our knowledge of the personal history of the Writer, we can only say that he, like his greater brother St. James, did not believe on our Lord during His ministry, but became a convert after the resurrection, and, as in Acts 1:14, consorted usually with the Apostles and followers of Jesus. All else respecting him is left to be gathered from the spirit and style of this Epistle: and will be found treated in the section devoted to that part of our subject.

SECTION II

AUTHENTICITY

1. Eusebius reckons our Epistle, as indeed all the Catholic Epistles except 1 John and 1 Peter, among the ἀντιλεγόμενα. τῶν δʼ ἀντιλεγομένων, γνωρίμων δʼ οὖν ὅμως τοῖς πολλοῖς, ἡ λεγομένη ἰακώβου φέρεται καὶ ἡ ἰούδα … H. E. iii. 25.

And again, H. E. ii. 23, οὐ πολλοὶ γοῦν τῶν παλαιῶν αὐτῆς ἐμνημόνευσαν, ὡς οὐδὲ τῆς λεγομένης ἰούδα, μιᾶς καὶ αὐτῆς οὔσης τῶν ἑπτὰ λεγομένων καθολικῶν· ὅμως δὲ ἴσμεν καὶ ταύτας μετὰ τῶν λοίπων ἐν πλείσταις δεδημοσιουμένας ἐκκλησίαις.

2. Tertullian however cites it as authentic, and attributes it to the apostle Jude: “Enoch apud Judam apostolum testimonium possidet.” … De cultu fæmin. i. 3, vol. i. 1308.

3. Clement of Alexandria gives citations from it as from Scripture: ἐπὶ τούτων οἶμαι καὶ τῶν ὁμοίων αἱρέσεων προφητικῶς ἰούδαν ἐν τῇ ἐπιστολῇ εἰρηκέναι … (citing our Acts 1:8; Acts 1:17) Strom. iii. 2 (11), p. 515 Potter.

And again: εἰδέναι γὰρ ὑμᾶς, φησὶν ὁ ἰούδας, βούλομαι, ὅτι ὁ θεὸς ἅπαξ ἐκ γῆς αἰγύπτου τὸν λαὸν σώσας, κ. τ. λ. (Acts 1:5-6) Pæd. iii. 8 (44), p. 280 P.

And Eusebius says of Clement, H. E. vi. 14, ἐν δὲ ταῖς ὑποτυπώσεσι, ξυνελόντα εἰπεῖν, πάσης τῆς ἐνδιαθήκου γραφῆς ἐπιτετμημένας πεποίηται διηγήσεις, μηδὲ τὰς ἀντιλεγομένας παρελθών, τὴν ἰούδα λέγω καὶ τὰς λοιπὰς καθολικὰς ἐπιστολάς, τήν τε βαρνάβα καὶ τὴν πέτρου λεγομένην ἀποκάλυψιν.

4. The Muratorian fragment speaks of the Epistle as genuine and canonical: “Epistola sane Judæ, et superscripti Johannis duas in catholica habentur.” Routh, Rel. Sacr. i. p. 396.

5. Origen, Comm. on Matthew 13:55, tom. x. 17, vol. iii. p. 463, says: ἰούδας ἔγραψεν ἐπιστολὴν ὀλιγόστιχον μέν, πεπληρωμένην δὲ τῶν τῆς οὐρανίου χάριτος ἐῤῥωμένων λόγων, ὅστις ἐν τῷ προοιμίῳ εἴρηκεν, ἰούδας ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ δοῦλος, ἀδελφὸς δὲ ἰακώβου.

And again, on Matthew 22:23, tom. xvii. 30, p. 814: εἰ δὲ καὶ τὴν ἰούδα πρόσοιτό τις ἐπιστολήν, ὁράτω τί ἕπεται τῷ λόγῳ διὰ τὸ ἀγγέλους τε τοὺς μὴ τηρήσαντας κ. τ. λ.

And again, on Matthew 18:10, tom. xiii. 27, p. 607: καὶ ἐν τῇ ἰούδα ἐπιστολῇ, τοῖς ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ ἠγαπημένοις κ. τ. λ.

See also pp. 692 f., where he argues on Jude 1:6; and several other places in the Latin remains of his works, cited in Davidson, Introd. vol. iii. p. 498. In two of these latter he calls the Writer of the Epistle “Judas apostolus.”

6. Jerome, Catalog. script. Ecclesiastes 4, vol. ii. p. 834 f., says: “Judas frater Jacobi parvam quidem quæ de septem catholicis est epistolam reliquit. Et quia de libro Enoch, qui apocryphus est, in ea assumit testimonium, a plerisque rejicitur: tamen auctoritatem vetustate jam et usu meruit, ut inter sacras Scripturas computetur.”

7. In the older copies of the Peschito the Epistle is wanting: but Ephrem Syrus recognized its authenticity.

8. In later times, the Epistle has been generally received as authentic. The circumstance that the Writer does not call himself an Apostle, has ensured for it a more favourable reception than some other books of the N. T., with those who are fond of questioning the genuineness of the Epistles. Even De Wette thinks there is no reason why we should suspect it to be spurious. He is willing to pass over the phænomena in it which have appeared stumbling-blocks to others: its citation of the book of Enoch, its probable acquaintance with the Epistle to the Romans, its difficult but apparently Greek style.

9. Schwegler, on the other hand, though acknowledging its very simple and undeveloped character in point of doctrine, yet draws from Jude 1:17-18 a proof that it belongs to the post-apostolic times. He thinks that the forger prefixed the name of Jude, brother of James, in order to give his writing the weight of connexion, in point of doctrine and spirit, with this latter great name.

10. But as Huther well remarks, had this been so;—in other words, for so the hypothesis seems to imply, had the Epistle been written in the interests of Judaizing Christianity against Pauline, we should surely have found more indications of this in it: and as to the superscription we may reply, that a forger would hardly have attributed his composition to a man otherwise so entirely unknown as Jude was

11. The fact that doubts were entertained respecting the authenticity of the Epistle in early times, and that we do not find many traces of its use in the primitive Fathers, may easily be accounted for from its shortness, from its special character, from its presumed reference to apocryphal sources from its apparently not being written by an Apostle.

SECTION III

FOR WHAT READERS AND WITH WHAT OBJECT WRITTEN

1. The readers are addressed merely as Christians: perhaps, as De Wette suggests, because the matters mentioned in the Epistle are little to their credit. The evil persons stigmatized in it do not seem to have been heretical teachers, as commonly supposed(209), but rather libertines, practical unbelievers (Jude 1:4; Jude 1:8), scoffers (Jude 1:18), whose pride and wantonness (Jude 1:8; Jude 1:10; Jude 1:12 f.), whose murmuring, and refractory and party spirit (Jude 1:11; Jud_1:16; Jud_1:19), threatened to bring about the destruction of the church. In 2 Peter, as I have already observed above, ch. iv. § iii. 4, these persons are developed into false teachers: one of the circumstances from which I have inferred the posteriority of that Epistle.

2. It is mainly to warn his readers against these, that St. Jude writes the Epistle: “to exhort them that they should contend earnestly for the faith once,” and once for all, “delivered to the saints.”

3. When we come to ask whether the readers formed a circumscribed circle of Christians, and if so, where, we find ourselves left to mere speculation for an answer. There does certainly appear to be a speciality about the circumstances of those addressed, but it is difficult exactly to define it. They seem to have been Jews, from the fact of the altogether Judaic spirit of the Epistle: from its appeal to Jewish traditions, and perhaps to Jewish books. They evidently dwelt among an abundant and a wicked population, probably of a commercial character. Hence some have thought of Corinth as their abode: some of Egypt, to which land it is said the physical phænomena are suitable (Jude 1:12 ff.): some of a commercial city in Syria, seeing that Palestine, where St. Jude dwelt, must at the time of writing the Epistle have been in a state of commotion, to which there is no allusion in it.

SECTION IV

TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING

1. On the former of these it is impossible to speak with any degree of certainty. Our principal indications are, the state of the church which may be inferred from the Epistle, the apparent use made in it of the apocryphal book of Enoch, and the reference made to the previous teaching of the Apostles.

2. The state of the church indicated is one not far advanced in historical development. Those errors which afterwards expanded into heresies were as yet in their first stage. The evil men were as yet mixed with the church, rocks of danger in their feasts of love. They had not yet been marked off and stigmatized: for this very purpose the Epistle is written, that they might no longer be latent in the bosom of the church. All this points to an early date.

3. The datum furnished by the apparent allusion to the apocryphal book of Enoch, guides us to no certain result. It is even yet matter of uncertainty, when that book was written(210). So that this consideration brings us no nearer to our desired result.

4. The fact that St. Jude (Jude 1:17) refers his readers to previous teaching by the Apostles, is hardly of more value for our purpose. On the one hand the imperfect tense ἔλεγον (Jude 1:18) seems to speak of the Apostles as if their work was done and they were passed away,—“they used to tell you:” on the other hand, it might fairly be used of men who were dispersed and carrying on their work in other parts. Then again, the language seems necessarily to imply that the readers had for themselves heard the Apostles. No safe inference can be drawn from the words that they were written after the apostolic age: nay, the natural inference is rather the other way. They appear to point to a time when the agency of the Apostles themselves had passed away from the readers, but the impress of their warning words had not faded from their memories.

5. Another note of time has been imagined to lie in the circumstance, that the destruction of Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Epistle. It has been replied, that there was no reason why any allusion should have been made to that event, as the immediate subject before the Writer did not lead him to it. Still I cannot help feeling that the reply is not wholly satisfactory. Considering that St. Jude was writing to Jews, and citing signal instances of divine vengeance, though he may not have been led to mention the judgment of the Flood,—I can hardly conceive that he would have omitted that which uprooted the Jewish people and polity.

6. So that on the whole, as De Wette, himself often sceptical on the question of the genuineness and antiquity of the N. T. writings, confesses, there is no reason why we should place our Epistle later than the limit of the apostolic age. That it was anterior to the second Epistle of Peter, I have already endeavoured to prove (see above, ch. iv. § iii. 3 ff.).

7. Of the place where this Epistle was written, absolutely nothing is known. From its tone and references, we should conjecture that the Writer lived in Palestine: but even thus much must be uncertain.

SECTION V

ON THE APOCRYPHAL WRITINGS APPARENTLY REFERRED TO IN THIS EPISTLE

1. In Jude 1:14 we have a reference to a prophecy of Enoch, the seventh from Adam. This has by many been supposed to indicate an acquaintance on the part of the Writer with the existing apocryphal “book of Enoch.” It becomes desirable therefore that we should briefly put the student in possession of the history and nature of that document. In so doing I shall take my matter partly from Mr. Westcott’s article in Dr. Smith’s Biblical Dictionary, partly from a notice by Prof. Volkmar (see below): to which sources the reader is referred for further details.

2. The book appears to have been known to the early fathers, Justin, Irenæus, Clem. Alex., and Origen, and we have numerous references to it in the “Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.” Tertullian (de Cult. Fæm. i. 3, vol. i. p. 1308; a passage well worth the reader’s perusal) quotes it as a book not admitted into the Jewish canon, but profitable, and indeed to be received by Christians on the ground that “nihil omnino rejiciendum est quod pertineat ad nos” and that “legimus, omnem scripturam ædificationi habilem divinitus inspirari.” Augustine was acquainted with it, as also was an anonymous writer whose work is printed among those of Jerome: but during the middle ages it was known to the Western Church only through the (presumed) quotations in our Epistle. The Eastern Church possessed considerable fragments of it, incorporated into the Chronographia of Georgius Syncellus (cir. 792).

3. About the close of the last century, the traveller Bruce brought from Abyssinia the Æthiopic translation of the entire book. An English version of this translation was published by Archbishop Lawrence in 1821; and the Æthiopic itself in 1838. Since then a more complete edition has been published in Germany (Das Buch Henoch, von Dr. A. Dilmann, Leipzig, 1853), which is now the standard one, and has given rise to the Essays, among others, of Ewald and Hilgenfeld(211).

4. The Æthiopic version appears to have been made from the Greek; as, though wanting a considerable passage quoted by Syncellus, it yet agrees in the main with the citations found in the early Fathers. But it is probable that the Greek itself is but a version of a Hebrew original. The names of the angels and of the winds betray an Aramaic origin: and a Hebrew book of Enoch was known and used by the Jews as late as the thirteenth century.

5. The book consists of revelations purporting to have been given to Enoch and to Noah: and its object is, to vindicate the ways of Divine Providence: to set forth the terrible retribution reserved for sinners, whether angelic or human: and to “repeat in every form the great principle that the world, natural, moral and spiritual, is under the immediate government of God.”

6. “In doctrine,” says Mr. Westcott in the article above mentioned, “the book of Enoch exhibits a great advance of thought within the limits of revelation in each of the great divisions of knowledge. The teaching on nature is a curious attempt to reduce the scattered images of the O. T. to a physical system. The view of society and man, of the temporary triumph and final discomfiture of the oppressors of God’s people, carries out into elaborate detail the pregnant images of Daniel. The figure of the Messiah is invested with majestic dignity, as ‘the Son of God,’ ‘whose name was named before the sun was made,’ and who existed ‘aforetime in the presence of God.’ And at the same time his human attributes as the ‘son of man,’ ‘the son of woman,’ ‘the elect one,’ ‘the righteous one,’ ‘the anointed,’ are brought into conspicuous notice. The mysteries of the spiritual world, the connexion of angels and men, the classes and ministries of the hosts of heaven, the power of Satan, and the legions of darkness, the doctrines of resurrection, retribution, and eternal punishment, are dwelt upon with growing earnestness as the horizon of speculation was extended by intercourse with Greece. But the message of the book is emphatically one of faith and truth: and while the Writer combines and repeats the thoughts of Scripture, he adds no new element to the teaching of the prophets. His errors spring from an undisciplined attempt to explain their words, and from a proud exultation in present success. For the great characteristic by which the book is distinguished from the latter apocalypse of Esdras is the tone of triumphant expectation by which it is pervaded.”

7. The date of the book has been matter of great uncertainty. Abp. Lawrence, and Hofmann, suppose it to have been compiled in the reign of Herod the Great: and with this view Gfröær, Wieseler, and Gieseler agree. Lücke (Einl. in d. Offenb. Joh. pp. 89 ff.) goes very fully into the question, and determines that it consists of an earlier and a later portion: the former written early in the Maccabæan period, the latter in the time of Herod the Great. It is from the former of these that the quotation in our Epistle is taken.

8. But the whole question of the date has been recently discussed by Prof. Volkmar, of Zurich, in the “Zeitschrift der Deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft” for 1860. He undertakes to prove the book a production of the time of the sedition of Barchochebas (A.D. cir. 132), and to have been written by one of the followers of Rabbi Akiba, the great upholder of that impostor. And certainly, as far as I can see, his proof seems not easy to overthrow. In that case, as he remarks (p. 991), the book of Enoch was not only of Jewish, but of distinctly antichristian origin. But this one point in the progress of his argument seems to me debateable. He assumes that the words cited in our Epistle as a prophecy of Enoch are of necessity taken from the apocryphal book, and regards it as an inevitable sequence, that if the book of Enoch is proved to be of the first half of the second century, the Epistle of Jude must be even later. In order however for this to be accepted, we need one link supplied, which, it seems to me, Prof. Volkmar has not given us. We want it shewn, that the passage cited is so interwoven into the apocryphal book as necessarily to form a part of it, and that it may not itself have been taken from primitive tradition, or even from the report of that tradition contained in our Epistle.

9. The account of the matter hence deduced would be, that the book, in its original groundwork, is of purely Jewish origin, but that it has received Christian interpolations and additions. “It may be regarded,” remarks Mr. Westcott, “as describing an important phase of Jewish opinion shortly before the coming of Christ.” If we accept the later date, this must of course be modified accordingly.

There never has been in the church the slightest doubt of the apocryphal character of the book of Enoch. The sole maintainer of its authority seems to have been Tertullian(212): it is plainly described as apocryphal by Origen(213), Augustine(214), and Jerome(215), and is enumerated among the apocryphal books in the Apostolical Constitutions (vi. 16, Migne Patr. Gr. vol. i. p. 953)(216).

10. The other passage in our Epistle which has been supposed to come from an apocryphal source, viz. the reference to the dispute between the archangel Michael and the devil concerning the body of Moses (Jude 1:9), has been discussed in the notes ad loc., and held more likely to have been a fragment of primitive tradition.

11. But it yet remains, that something should be said concerning the fall of the angels spoken of Jude 1:6-7. In the notes on those verses, I have mentioned the probability, in my view, that the narrative in Genesis 6:2 is alluded to. This impression has been since then much strengthened by a very able polemical tract by Dr. Kurtz, the author of the “Geschichte des alten Bundes,” in which he has maintained against Hengstenberg the view taken by himself in that work. It seems to me that Dr. Kurtz has gone far to decide the interpretation as against any reference of Genesis 6:2 to the Sethites, or of our Genesis 6:6-7 to the fall of the devil and his angels. The exegesis of Hengstenberg and those who think with him depends on the spiritual acceptation, in this case, of the word ἐκπορνεύσασαι, which Kurtz completely disproves. The facts of the history of the catastrophe of the cities of the plain render it quite out of the question: and LXX usage, which Hengstenberg cites as decisive on his side, is really against him(217). And this point being disposed of, the whole fabric falls with it: Hengstenberg himself confessing that τούτοις, in Genesis 6:7, must refer to ἄγγελοι above.

12. That the particulars related in 2 Pet. and our Epistle of the fallen angels are found also in the book of Enoch(218), is again no proof that the Writers of these Epistles took them from that book. Three other solutions are possible: 1, that the apocryphal Writer took them from our Epistles: 2, that their source in each case was ancient tradition: 3, that the book of Enoch itself consists of separate portions written at different times.

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