Purpose:

The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Mar 3, 2012

If Jude is citing 1 Enoch, is that a problem for inerrancy?

[The short answer is "no, it is not a problem," for the benefit of any of my friends and former profs who are worried my theology has taken a totally different direction! Also, rest assured that in no way am I going to suggest that 1 Enoch or any other pseudepigraphal book is on any similar level to our 66 canonical books, or that 1 Enoch was inspired by the Holy Spirit. My final conclusions are very much compatible to a strong view of the inerrancy of the 66 books, a position which I gladly affirm. However, the issue is complicated and this post is an attempt to explore the ramifications of Jude's theology in relation to a possible citation of 1 Enoch]

The wealth of scholarly literature on both Jude and 1 Enoch brings up interesting questions regarding the the pseudepigraphal book of 1 Enoch, questions which I hope to explore below. A significant question, in my opinion, is the following: "If our inspired epistle of Jude is indeed citing 1 Enoch, does this cause any problems for a strong view of inerrancy?" My blog post makes two assumptions: 1. that Jude does indeed cite 1 Enoch, or at least a source common to both (more on that below), and 2. a strong view of inerrancy.

Regarding the second assumption, I realize that if Jude does cite Enoch, some would simply say that he is "accommodating" his audience's views on that book; in other words Jude cites Enoch despite knowing it's not really factual, but nevertheless uses it to make a point regardless (or, because of) the fact some of his audience view the book as inspired/authoritative. Some evangelicals would hold to this view, but I'll respectfully disagree. Instead, I begin with the assumption that an inspired author would not say "Enoch said something" just because another source says so. In other words, if Jude says Enoch made a statement, then Enoch made the statement regardless of which book Jude is quoting from. [A related issue, which we don't have time to explore, is whether or not Jude would cite a pseudepigraphal book to begin with; I'll assume the possibility, with the caveat that whatever an inspired writer cites as truthful is indeed truthful, no matter the source. Cf. the Apostle Paul's citation of a pagan poet in Titus 1:12]

Regarding the first assumption, it may be impossible to prove 100% that Jude is, indeed, actually citing 1 Enoch. Yet I am, for the most part, convinced that he is. As I type these words, I have before me the actual text of 1 Enoch, courtesy of James H. Charlesworth's magnificant edition of The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (vol. 1) The introduction and translation are written by E. Isaac. Those interested are strongly encouraged to read Isaac's introduction in this volume. Suffice it to say that 1 Enoch is from the second century BC to the 1st century AD. The full text is found only in ancient Ethiopic, with fragments in Aramaic, Greek, and Latin. There is debate about the original language and the location of its original composition (Isaac, 5-8). In the following, all citations of Enoch are from E. Isaac's translation (I wasn't quite willing to learn a new language just for a blog post!); Scripture citations are from the KJV.

To begin with, we in have book 1, chapter 1, verses 8-9 (p. 13 in Charlesworth's edition), "And to all the righteous he will grant peace. He will preserve the elect, and kindness shall be upon them. They shall all belong to God and they shall prosper and be blessed; and the light of God shall shine unto them. Behold, he will arrive with ten million of the holy ones in order to execute judgment upon all. He will destroy the wicked ones and censure all flesh on account of everything that they have done, that which the sinners and the wicked ones committed against him." Compare this with Jude 14-15: "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." Factor in Isaac's observation in footnote u that "The Eth. te'lft designates ten thousand times a thousand," and it is a small step from the prophecy of the Lord's coming in 1 Enoch to the prophecy in Jude. Obviously it is not a word-for-word match, but then rarely does any ancient text cite another word-for-word (this goes for NT citations of the OT as well). In addition, we have the expression "to execute judgment upon all," in both 1 Enoch and Jude, as well as a strong declaration of the punishment of the deeds of the wicked (this last part reads less like a quote and more like a paraphrase or allusion, but the connection seems to be there).

There are a multitude of thematic parallels between Jude and Enoch, but most of them would exist between Jude and many an OT book anyways. More interesting, however, is Jude's reference to "the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation," since much of 1 Enoch is indeed the story of angels [a.k.a. "The Watchers"] who left their proper position before God and took wives from humans [more on this later]. Chapter 10, especially, discusses the judgment that has been reserved for those angels, a judgment which is surprisingly close to Jude's description. Compare Jude 6, "the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day" with 1 Enoch book 1, 10.12, "Bind them for seventy generations underneath the rocks of the ground until the day of their judgment and of their consummation, until the eternal judgment is concluded."Not exactly a slam-dunk, but enough to give one pause.

As I mentioned above, I don't think it can be proven conclusively that Jude cites 1 Enoch, but a compelling argument can be mode solely from the fact that Jude quotes the OT character Enoch and that a nearly identical quotation is attributed to Enoch in 1 Enoch. Of course, a very possible explanation (one which is compatible with what I am arguing in much of this post) is that both Enoch and Jude draw from an identical source, or perhaps oral tradition. At the very least, I am convinced that there is some connection between Jude and 1 Enoch.

So if Jude does indeed cite 1 Enoch, or if both 1 Enoch and Jude cite some other source, then what's the problem? On the one hand, Scripture does cite non-inspired and non-inerrant sources. Thus Paul, for example, cites a pagan poet/philosopher in Titus 1:12, and conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists do not have a problem with this.

The issue, however, is that in Jude 14, the inspired author attributes this quotation to Enoch himself  and treats it as legitimate prophecy. If we reject the view that Jude was merely "accommodating" his audience with this quote, then we are forced to assume that this is a genuine statement by the actual OT figure Enoch. It would be inconsistent on the one hand to argue that Moses wrote all the books of the Pentateuch because Christ attributes authorship of them to Moses (e.g., Mark 12:26; Luke 24:27; John 5:46, etc.), as we are wont to do, but then turn around ad argue that Enoch did not actually author the quote in Jude.

The problem is further complicated when we consider that Enoch most definitely did not author the book of 1 Enoch. Yet nevertheless Jude treats Enoch's quote in Jude 14 as legitimate prophecy.

The "problem," however, is not really a problem for the inerrantist. Could not both Jude and 1 Enoch have given us a genuine quote from Enoch thousands of years after the fact? if the Lord could preserve his own Word in both oral tradition and the multitude of manuscripts, could not Enoch's life and words, especially prophetic words, have been carried on by Noah and his offspring into the common traditions of Moses' Israel and so on? It would not necessarily have had to have been written down; oral tradition could account for the statement's propagation, to a certain degree, especially for a Jewish culture accustomed to reciting the Torah orally. How often, even in the modern era, do we remember phrases based simply on oral tradition? My knowledge of "I came, I saw, I conquered" does not come from reading the Loeb addition of Plutarch (or any other written account of Julius Caesar)! Rather, it comes from constantly hearing the phrase repeated verbally throughout my childhood and young adulthood [this is a bit of an oversimplification and ignores the question of how long a quote could last in antiquity, but I think my overall point is valid].

So, I conclude that thousands of years ago, Enoch, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (as all true prophets), truly uttered something similar to "The Lord comes with ten thousand of his saints." This statement survived via oral tradition or written text or a combination of both for thousands of years, and was either picked up by 1 Enoch, which in turn was cited by Jude, or was written down on a text that was utilized by both 1 Enoch and Jude. This is completely compatible with the strongest views on inerrancy and yet does justice to the relationship between Jude and a pseudepigraphal book. I would also tentatively suggest that Jude, recognizing the transmission of a factual tradition in 1 Enoch, draws elsewhere from the book. This also is compatible with an inerrantist position, because simply citing from a non-inspired source does not necessarily give credence to all that is in the source (once again, think of Titus 1:12).

If Jude is citing 1 Enoch, however, this raises the theological problem of having Jude give some credence to 1 Enoch's views on Genesis 6 (since this is the context from which he's drawing, not just some minor theme in 1 Enoch), namely that fallen angels came and procreated with human females and were consequently judged severely for their deeds (a view that has certainly not seen a consensus among either Jewish or Christian interpreters!). In defense of this view, however, I will quickly point out that expression "sons of God" (Genesis 6:2) is most definitely used elsewhere of angels in the OT (see, for example, Job 1:6 and 2:1). Furthermore, a reference to "angels" here seems more natural than "the line of Seth vs. the line of Cain" or "regular humans vs. royalty," etc. In response, one could argue that human-angel procreation does away with the uniqueness of the incarnation of Christ, yet this is apples and oranges, for in no way can the offspring of the co-habitation of humans with angels, who happen to be created beings, compare with the birth of Jesus Christ, who is eternal and uncreated! In the former we have two different species of created beings producing offspring. While bizarre (and most certainly sinful), this is more akin to a human-Vulcan pairing in Star Trek (with the offspring inheriting traits and abilities of both; forgive the sci-fi reference!) than it would be to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Another objection stems from Matthew 22:30, yet the point in this passage is that it is the natural state of angels (esp. unfallen ones) to remain single whereas the whole point of Jude (and 1 Enoch) is that these fallen angels left their natural state. Thus we see that Matthew 22:30 does not contradict this particular interpretation of Genesis 6.

Let me take this a step further. I think it significant that 1 Peter 3:19-22 and 2 Peter 2:4-5 both discuss the condemnation of specific spiritual entities (fallen angels?) within the immediate context of a discussion of the flood. Combine this with Jude's discussion of fallen angels, and I believe 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude are quite possibly all referring to the same incident in Genesis 6.

Yet what is the spiritual significance of this? No matter what strength and audacity these fallen angels may have once possessed, their judgment is continuing to this day and their eternal fate is already foreordained. Indeed, whatever they thought to accomplish by their deeds has failed; in 1 Peter 3:18-20, Christ himself visits them and proclaims his triumph to them (the verb "preached" here in v. 19 is the Greek keirusso, not euangelizo). Indeed, this is a great "in your face" proclamation of triumph: they are nothing, they have failed, and Jesus Christ is the winner. Christ, then, declares his victory before these miserable spirits who remain in bonds until their final judgment. By doing so, Christ makes clear that he alone, not these spirits, determines the fate of humanity. Thus to Christ alone be glory forever and ever, Amen!


[I am grateful to the class "Second Temple Literature," a doctoral seminar at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, for facilitating discussion on this very topic. Dr. Köstenberger and the entire class gave me much to think about. Naturally any mistakes or faults in logic or theology in this post are my sole-responsibility. I am also grateful to every OT prof who has discussed this topic in classes I have attended.]

For further reading on this topic, from a variety of
perspectives, please see the following:

Bauckham, Richard J. Jude, 2 Peter. Word Biblical Commentary. Waco, Tex.: Word 
     Books, 1983.
Carson, D. A. “Jude.” Pages 1069-1079 in Commentary on the New Testament Use of
     the Old Testament. Edited by G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson. Grand Rapids, Mich.:
     Baker Academic, 2007.
Charles, J. Daryl. “The Angels under Reserve in 2 Peter and Jude.” Bulletin for
      Biblical Research 15 (2005): 39-48.

_______. “‘Those’ and ‘These’: The Use of the Old Testament in the Epistle of
     Jude.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 38 (February 1990): 109-124.

Davids, Peter H. The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude. The Pillar New Testament
     Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2006.

Evans, Craig. Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson,
     2005.

Feldman, Louis H. “Questions about the Great Flood, as Viewed by Philo, Pseudo-
     Philo, Josephus, and the Rabbis.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
     115 (2003): 401-422.

Feuillet, P. André. “Le Péché Évoqué aux chapitres 3 et 6, 1-4 De La Genése. Le
     Péches Des Anges De L’Épître de Pierre.” Divinitas 35 (1991): 207-229.

Green, Gene L. Jude & 2 Peter. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.
     Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academi, 2008.

Helyer, Larry R. Exploring Jewish Literature of the Second Temple Period: A Guide
     for New Testament Students. Downers Grove, Ill: Intervarsity, 2002.

Isaac, E. "1 Enoch."  Vol. 1 of The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Ed. James H.
     Charlesworth. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983.

Neyrey, Jerome H. 2 Peter, Jude. The Anchor Bible 37c. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

Nickelsburg, George W. E. Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah. 2nd
     ed. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress, 2005.

Stuckenbruck, Joren T. “The ‘Angels’ and ‘Giants’ of Genesis 6:1-4 in Second and
     Third Century BCE Jewish Interpretation: Reflections on the Posture of Early
     Apocalyptic Traditions.” Dead Sea Discoveries 7 (November 2000): 354-377.

Webb, Robert L. “The Use of ‘Story’ in the Letter of Jude: Rhetorical Strategies of
     Jude’s Narrative Episodes.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 31
     (September 2008): 53-87.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting read.

    -Kevin G.

    ReplyDelete