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March 20, 2011 / vivator

On Jude citation from 1 Enoch

It was of these also that Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness which they have committed in such ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Jude 14-15 (RSV)

We cannot find the source of this citation from either Catholic or Protestant’s Old Testament because it came from 1 Enoch 1:9, a book which Catholics consider as Apocrypha (as Pseudepigrapha to Protestants).  This is not the only place where Jude cited from outside the Old Testament – Jude 9 cited from Ascension of Moses, according to Origen [1].  Many would argue that 1 Enoch 1:9 is not cited as Scripture because in New Testament we have also citation from Greek poets (Acts 17:28) and Greek prophet (Titus 1:12).  However citations from Greek works are obviously non-scriptural but 1 Enoch was a Jewish work and Jude 14-15 cites it in the same way Matthew 15:7-9 cite Isaiah 29:13 (of Septuagint/LXX).   Why would Jude cite from 1 Enoch?  The first Christians and the Jews of the first century AD did not have closed canon yet, not even in the next few centuries [2].  1 Enoch was one book that had scriptural status in that time.  Thus among manuscript of the Dead Sea Scrolls we have 20 copies of 1 Enoch – it outnumbered most books of the Old Testament but Psalms (40 copies), Isaiah (21 copies) and Genesis (20 copies) [3].  Other than 1 Enoch we also have the book of Jubilees (15 copies), Tobit (5 copies), Sirach (3 copies) and one copy of Letter of Jeremiah (Baruch Chapter 6 in Catholic Bible) and one copy each of Psalms 151, 154 and 155. Like Jude the early Christians also cited Enoch as Scripture (English translation from Anti Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, available on-line at www.ccel.org ):

For the Scripture saith, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the Lord will deliver up the sheep of His pasture, and their sheep-fold and tower, to destruction.” [1 Enoch 89:56,66]

Barnabas 16

Enoch, too, pleasing God, without circumcision, discharged the office of God’s legate to the angels although he was a man, and was translated, and is preserved until now as a witness of the just judgment of God, because the angels when they had transgressed fell to the earth for judgment, but the man who pleased [God] was translated for salvation. [1 Enoch 12:4-5, 13:4-7 and 15:2]

Irenæus, Against Heresies 4.16.2

1 Enoch continued enjoying scriptural status until third century AD.  While he was aware that some doubted its authority Tertullian (c .160 to 230), bishop of Carthage defended it because it preaches Christ and was cited in Jude (On the Apparel of Women 1.3, ).  On the other hand Origen both cited (de Principiis 1.3.3 and 4.35) and rejected it (Against Celsus 5:54).  In fourth century Jerome called it apocryphal in Homily 45 on Psalms 132(133).  Augustine in City of God 15:23 and 18:38 wrote that Enoch left some divine writings quoted in Jude but stated 1 Enoch had no canonical authority.  We could only speculate why 1 Enoch was gradually rejected – one theory says it was rejected because it has apocalyptic nature [4] – but so is the book of Daniel. Today only the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has 1 Enoch (and the book of Jubilee) in their Bible.

  1. The work is now lost – it is not to be confused with Testament of Moses, of which few fragments survive. Below is what Origen wrote (English translation is from Anti Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3.):We have now to notice, agreeably to the statements of Scripture, how the opposing powers, or the devil himself, contends with the human race, inciting and instigating men to sin. And in the first place, in the book of Genesis, the serpent is described as having seduced Eve; regarding whom, in the work entitled The Ascension of Moses (a little treatise, of which the Apostle Jude makes mention in his Epistle), the archangel Michael, when disputing with the devil regarding the body of Moses, says that the serpent, being inspired by the devil, was the cause of Adam and Eve’s transgression.

    Origen, de Principiis 3:2

    Origen (c. 185 to 251 AD) was teachers and prolific authors who wrote commentaries of almost every book of the Bible, homilies as well as other books.

  2. https://vivacatholic.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/exploring-the-origins-of-the-bible/https://vivacatholic.wordpress.com/2007/07/27/the-old-testament-of-the-first-two-centuries-christians/
  3. Craig A. Evans: Holman QuickSource Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls
  4. My sense is that Professor Hultin is right in noting that the apocalyptic nature of 1 Enoch was instrumental in its rejection. Apocalyptic literature is helpful and reassuring to people in distress, especially in their being oppressed by the authorities. But as Christianity became more and more part of the main stream and as it experienced less oppression, the role of apocalyptic literature lessened and its helpfulness declined.

    Leslie W. Walck: Response to Jeremy Hultin’s “Jude’s Citation of 1 Enoch”

    Jewish and Christian Scriptures: The Function of “Canonical” and “Non-Canonical” Religious Texts, pages 129-130


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