Jude and His Sources: Non-Canonical Books

Jude makes use of at least two books that were not considered to be inspired by the Church or the Jews. In v. 9 he alludes to the Testament of Moses and in vv. 14-15 he quotes 1 Enoch.

Bauckham points out that besides the direct citation of 1 Enoch 1, the writer knows 1 Enoch 1-36 and perhaps sections later in the book. 1 Enoch was popular at Qumran and there may be allusions to the book in Revelation as well. This section of 1 Enoch is an expansion of the story of the Nephlehim and the Giants a found in Genesis 6. Jude does not allude to that plot line at all, but rather to the rather generic statement that God is coming to execute justice on ones who have rebelled against him. In the context of 1 Enoch, this is the angels who have intermixed with humans and created “the Giants” and taught humans all manner of sin.

Michael and SatanThe reference to the archangel and Satan discussing the bones of Moses does not appear in the Testament of Moses, although it is likely that the words Jude uses are quoted from the lost ending to that book. Richard Bauckham has a considerable excursus on the sources for Jude 9 which includes a catalog of all of the variations of this story in Jewish and Christian sources as well as a list of references to the Assumption of Moses, a lost book usually confused with the Testament of Moses (Jude, 2 Peter, 48, 67). Bauckham concludes that the Assumption is a re-worked version of the Testament (76). There are a number of Christian sources that seem to have known the story in detail, and a few pre-Christian Jewish sources contain disputes between the devil and an angel over various events (Isaac’s sacrifice, for example).

That Jude would allude to these Jewish texts is a good argument for the circulation of the book within Jewish communities in Judea, perhaps in the “near diaspora” communities. We know that 1 Enoch appears at Qumran. Although the Testament of Moses has not been found among the DSS, it is not unlikely that this is evidence for an early date and Jewish Christian context for the book.

The common way to explain Jude’s used of these texts is to say they are simply “illustrations of truth: similar to a pastor using a commonly known story, film, or T.V. show as a sermon illustration. Jude is not trying to tell his readers that these books are inspired and worthy of inclusion in the Bible, but rather using texts that they are already familiar with in order to make a point. The reference to Enoch is a bit touchy, since it says Enoch in fact prophesied the Lord’s return – although one could argue Jude is saying the popular book of Enoch says this, rather than “historical Enoch.”

It is possible that Jude uses these texts because they are popular with the false teachers. In my post on Jude’s use of the Hebrew Bible I commented that Jude alludes to the wilderness tradition frequently, perhaps his opponents used the wilderness tradition and a book like 1 Enoch in their own teaching. The allusion to the Testament of Moses may be appropriate since the event took place in the wilderness and the end of that period of Israel’s history. The Qumran Community immediately comes to mind, since they are in the wilderness, not far from Nebo and made use of 1 Enoch. But Jude seems to imply the opponents are a perversion of Christian teaching, so perhaps they are a Essene like group which has accepted Jesus as Messiah.

In any case, Jude is turning their own favorite books around on them to show that they are heretics. Jude’s purpose is to combat a false teaching which has “smuggled” itself into the church.

What are the implications of Jude’s use of these sources?

A Righteous Remnant in 1 Enoch 83-84

1 Enoch 83-90 follows a long section of the astronomical speculations, although it is related to chapter 82 as a continuation of Enoch’s dialogue with Methuselah (83:1). These two chapters serve as an introduction to the Animal Apocalypse, a slightly veiled allegory of history up to the Maccabean period.

Enoch-manusrcriptEnoch received these visions before he was married and still living with his grandfather, Mahalalel (Gen 5:12-17). After Enoch receives a vision the coming flood (83:2b-2), he relates his dream to his grandfather Mahalalel. This is Enoch’s first vision, and like Samuel and Eli (1 Sam 3), Enoch requires guidance from his grandfather to understand the vision.

Within the world of the story, the vision refers to the coming flood. But the description goes beyond Genesis 7 to convey “a picture of cosmic collapse and annihilation” (Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch, 349). As is typical in the Enoch literature, the imagery of the flood is conflated with the ultimate judgment of God.

1 Enoch 83:3-4 I saw in a vision the sky being hurled down and snatched and falling upon the earth. When it fell upon the earth, I saw the earth being swallowed up into the great abyss, the mountains being suspended upon mountains, the hills sinking down upon the hills, and tall trees being uprooted and thrown and sinking into the deep abyss. (OTP 1:61)

Mahalalel explains that sin is so great the earth must “sink into the abyss” (primordial chaos), but there is a possibility God would allow a remnant to remain on the earth. He therefore counsels Enoch to pray for the earth (83:6-9), which he does (83:10-11, 84:1-6).  Enoch first praises God and acknowledges his greatness (83:2-4). These two verses resonate with many texts in the Hebrew Bible, although it is remarkably similar to Daniel 2:37-38 (describing Nebuchadnezzar) and Daniel 7:14 (describing the rule of the Son of Man), but also Isaiah 66:1-2 (heavens as God’s throne, the earth as his footstool).

1 Enoch 84:2 Blessed are you, O Great King, you are mighty in your greatness, O Lord of all the creation of heaven, King of kings and God of the whole world. Your authority and kingdom abide forever and ever; and your dominion throughout all the generations of generations; All the heavens are your throne forever, and the whole earth is your footstool forever and ever and ever.

These intertextual allusions to canonical books (as well as using the form of a biblical Psalm) create the image of a biblical prophet interceding on behalf of a people about to face the justice and wrath of God. Like Moses, David or Daniel, Enoch confesses the people of his generation ought to be destroyed for their wickedness (although he blames the angels, 84:5).

Enoch’s request on behalf of the present generation. Even if the angels must come under judgment, Enoch prays that God would allow a remnant of humans survive the devastation. He asks God to raise up the righteous and true flesh “as a seed-bearing plant” (84:6). Within the world of the story of 1 Enoch, this refers to the world after the flood and the family of Noah as a righteous family to repopulate the world. Noah is called a “preserved seed” (1 Enoch 10:3; 65:12; 67:3).

But the image of a plant which survives the coming judgment also resonates with the righteous remnant in Isaiah 6:13. For the writer of this apocalypse, the final judgment is still in the future. The prayer is that God will once again preserve the righteous remnant in that coming apocalyptic judgment.

It is very difficult to date with certainty any section of 1 Enoch, but if these two chapters were originally an introduction to the Animal Apocalypse (which follows in 1 Enoch 85-90), then the historical context of the righteous remnant in the present generation the Maccabean revolt and the righteous ones who remained faithful to the Law when tested by Hellenists.

But is this prophetic speech created to support the Hasmoneans (as the righteous ones struggling against the Greeks), or the Hasadim as they struggled against the later Hasmonean kings? Defining the “righteous remnant” seems to be a regular feature of apocalyptic literature (in the ancient world or today).

Book Review: Richard A. Taylor, Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature

Taylor, Richard A. Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature: An Exegetical Handbook. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Ministry, 2016. 205 pp. Pb; $21.99.   Link to Kregel

This new contribution to Kregel’s Handbooks of Old Testament Exegesis has a more narrow focus since apocalyptic literature only appears in parts Daniel and a few other prophetic books. Taylor therefore expands his comments beyond the canon of the Hebrew Bible to include literature from the Second Temple Period usually classified as apocalyptic.

taylor-apocalyptic-literatureThe first chapter defines apocalyptic literature. Taylor surveys the contemporary resurgence of interest in apocalyptic as well as the difficulty scholars have defining the genre. He distinguishes between an apocalypse as a form of literature and apocalypticism as a worldview. This is an important distinction since some literature labeled as apocalyptic does not represent the kind of apocalypticism commonly used in contemporary discussions. What is more, there is a difference between apocalyptic as a genre and an apocalyptic eschatology. The sudden and decisive intervention of God to judge the world may appear in wide a variety of literature, whether that literature is apocalyptic or not. Taylor also distinguishes between proto-apocalyptic (presumably Isaiah 24-27) and the later fully developed apocalyptic (presumably Daniel and 1 Enoch 1-36). The later forms of apocalyptic tend toward otherworldly journeys or esoteric allegories (The Animal Apocalypse).

In the second chapter Taylor surveys major themes in apocalyptic literature. This is the longest chapter in the book and is divided into three parts. First Taylor briefly summarizes the major works of apocalyptic in the Old Testament (Daniel, parts of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Joel, and Malachi). Extra-biblical apocalypses include 1 Enoch (in five sections), 2 Enoch, Jubilees, Fourth Ezra, Second Baruch, Apocalypse of Abraham, Testament of Levi, Testament of Abraham, Apocalypse of Zephaniah and Testament of Moses. Most of these are summarized in a short paragraph. Taylor surveys apocalyptic in the literature of the Qumran community (the Dead Sea Scrolls) in four pages.

The section of this chapter offers an overview of literary features of apocalyptic. Of primary importance is the revelatory nature of the literature. The writers of extra-biblical apocalyptic express their revelations in the dreams and visions of a hero of the distant past who claims to be revealing or hiding deep secrets. In order to give authority to their revelation, the hero is often from the distant past (Enoch, Baruch, Ezra). Pseudonymity is a common feature of apocalyptic. Because the revelation is in dreams and visions, these books tend to use complicated imagery which overwhelms the reader.

The third section of this chapter develops several themes common in apocalyptic, including angelology, ethical dualism, and determinism. In most of this literature there a soon-to-come crisis, but the faithful remnant will perseverance through that crisis. The eschatological crisis concludes with divine judgment where the righteous remnant will be vindicated and the oppressors will be judged. Each of these features are richly illustrated from 1 Enoch, Second Baruch and Fourth Ezra.

Chapters three and four form a guide to interpreting apocalyptic. For the most part, this section offers genre-specific insights into dealing with apocalyptic beginning with figurative language. Taylor surveys several types of imagery and illustrates these with biblical prophetic texts. A second section is a brief discussion of reception history, although most of these might be better described as “do not let this happen to you.” Here Taylor dismisses attempts to decode apocalyptic in order to discover hidden meanings. The bulk of chapter three concerns textual history and original languages. Although the illustrations are drawn from apocalyptic, there is nothing genre-specific. Taylor presents a standard grammatical historical method which serves apocalyptic as well as prose or poetry in the Old or New Testaments.

His final warnings to would-be interpreters of apocalyptic are excellent, however. Both unnecessary ignorance and misplaces certainty in one’s interpretation of apocalyptic should be avoided. His third warning is to refuse to manipulate the details of apocalyptic in order to fit the eschatological scheme already adopted by the interpreter. The specific example he uses is a historicist reading of 1335 days in Daniel 12:12 and 2300 mornings and evenings in Daniel 8:14. But this warning equally applies to a futurist interpretation who wants to read the details of Daniel as referring to a future tribulation or an idealist interpreter who does not want to see any specific application to future events at all. Taylor’s fourth warning cautions against creating arbitrary timelines from apocalyptic literature. He appears to have the historicists in view again, although in a footnote he dismisses Hal Lindsey’s prediction of a 1981 or 1988 rapture.

Chapters five and six offers practical advice on preaching apocalyptic literature along with examples of expositions from Daniel 8 and Joel 2:28-32. As with his exegetical method, much of his advice in these two chapters is not genre-specific (clarifying structure, main points of pericopae, etc.) I would have appreciated some comments on what NOT to preach in this literature. Preaching through Daniel 1-6 is relatively easy, but is it possible to preach through Daniel 11 in a series of expositional sermons in a way that is faithful to the text and applicable to a modern congregation?

Taylor concludes the book with a brief yet extremely helpful survey of antecedents of apocalyptic. Canaanite mythology (Gunkel, Cross), Akkadian prophecy (Hallo), Mesopotamian traditions (Kvanig), Egyptian apocalypticism (McCown), Wisdom literature (von Rad), Temple theology (Hamerton-Kelly), Hellenistic Syncretism (Betz), Persian religion (Hanson, Hultgård), Anti-Imperialism (Horsley) and Old Testament prophetic literature (Sweeny). Each is briefly illustrated and the footnotes point to relevant literature.

Conclusion. Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature fills a need for a basic introduction to apocalyptic literature, although the book is limited to the few examples in the Old Testament. I would have liked to see Revelation included as well, so that a single Handbook would cover the genre of Apocalyptic, rather than one for the Old Testament and another for the New.  Nevertheless, this Handbook reaches its goal of providing students of Old Testament prophecy the tools for teaching and preaching these important and often neglected texts. This would make a good textbook for a college or seminary class on the Prophets, especially in more conservative circles.

NB: Thanks to Kregel Books for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

 

Reviews of previous volumes in this series:

Gary Smith, Interpreting the Prophets

Herbert Bateman, Interpreting the General Letters

John D. Harvey, Interpreting the Pauline Letters

The Animal Apocalypse, Part 1 – 1 Enoch 85-90

The Animal Apocalypse is one of the most remarkable sections of 1 Enoch. As Daniel Olson says, the Animal Apocalypse is  “an original theological interpretation of human history.” Olson argues in his recent dissertation this allegory was written early in the Maccabean period as propaganda to support Judas’s actions. Olson dates the section precisely: it was “probably written about 165 BCE and then updated in mid- 161, following the battle of Adasa in March (1 Macc 7:39-50; 2 Macc 15:15-17).” Nickelsburg places 1 Enoch 90:9b-10, 12-16 in italics as a possible interpolation made around 163-161 B.C. The allegory therefore presents a history up to a point in Maccabean Revolt, but the intervention of the Lord of the sheep did not occur in history, nor does the judgment described in 90:20-27 reflect a historical event in the Maccabean period. Similar to Daniel 11, the history is only accurate up to the point when the author begins to speculate about a future intervention by God to restore Israel.

SheepThe story begins and ends with Eden. Enoch sees a white bull and a heifer (Adam and Eve) to whom two bulls were born, one black and the other red. The black bull gored the red one, killing it (Cain and Abel). The heifer came after the black bull but the first white bull quiets her and she gives him another white bull (Seth), along with many other bulls and black cows. The third bull (Seth) is white, a reference to the purity of the line of Seth.

Beginning with chapter 86, the Apocalypse offers a history of the pre-flood world. The stars mingle with the cows in the following chapter, giving birth to elephants, camels and donkeys.  The cattle become frightened and they begin to bite and gore one another, referring to the fallen angels (Genesis 6; 1 Enoch 6-11). In 1 Enoch 87 a snow-white person comes down from heaven and rescues Enoch out of the chaos and tells him to watch the elephants and other animals.  Four heavenly beings seize the fallen stars in chapter 88 and place them in the Abyss, bound hand and foot.

In the earliest part of the vision the identifications are obvious and straightforward, but as the allegory becomes more detailed there is more difficulty determining what the original writer had in mind.  The basis for much of the imagery of the animal apocalypse seems to be Ezekiel 34 (sheep and shepherds) as well as the frequent imagery in the Psalms of Israel as the sheep of God’s pasture (95:6-7, for example). 1 Enoch 89:2-9 refers to the Flood.  One of the four angels teaches the white bovine how to build an ark and this bovine becomes a man and builds it.  The rising waters destroy all the animals, the ark lands and a man and three cows exit the ark.

The rest of Genesis and slavery in Egypt is summarized by 89:10-27. Israel is represented by sheep who are surrounded by wolves and rescued by the Lord of the Sheep (Israel in Egypt and the Exodus).  This dazzling Lord leads the sheep out of a swamp and into the desert. In the desert the Lord begins to open the eyes of the sheep (89:28-38). One of the sheep leads the nation becomes a man and is taken up into heaven, a clear reference to Moses (v. 36).

The sheep are then led across a stream (the Jordan) into “a good place,” a “pleasant and glorious land” (89:39). In 89:39-50, the sheep settle in the land. When the sheep become dim-sighted another sheep is appointed to lead them, and their eyes open again (the “Judges cycle”). The sheep are oppressed by a variety of animals (Gentiles). The kings of Israel are rams, Solomon himself is a “little ram” who built a house for the Lord of the Sheep (89:50).

After passing over the Davidic kingdom briefly, 89:51-67 offers significant detail for the divided Kingdom after Solomon. In verse 59 seventy shepherds are summoned and commanded to watch over the sheep. These shepherds are held responsible for what the sheep do, implying these are the seventy elders or priesthood of Israel (Exod 24:1, Ezek 8:11, 1 Enoch 34:1-31). R. H. Charles called the identity of the seventy “the most vexed question in Enoch” (Charles, Commentary, 2:255). He suggested the seventy were angels since they received their orders from God; humans would have been represented as animals in this context. Charles overlooks the fact some of the characters in the story were humans (Noah, for example, was a bovine who became human when given the commission to build the ark) and he seems to ignore the fact these seventy are judged for their mismanagement of the sheep, as were the elders of Israel.

The exile is briefly narrated in 89:68-72. The sheep are delivered to oppressors and many are killed.  A writer records in a book how many have perished.  This book was read aloud to the Lord of the Sheep and then sealed.  Verse 72 is probably the return from exile and the rebuilding of the city and temple under Ezra and Nehemiah. In 89:73-77 the city and temple are rebuilt, but the sheep are weak and poor-sighted (the post-exilic community in Judah).

The first section of the Animal Apocalypse closely follows the story of the Hebrew Bible from Eden through the exile, although it is remarkable how little is said about David and Solomon. Taken as a propaganda piece for Judas and the future Hasmoneans, the first part of the Animal Apocalypse is more interested in presenting Judas as a legitimate successor to other leaders who were empowered by the Lord of Sheep to lead the people out of slavery and into the glorious land (Moses, Joshua).

The Dream Visions – 1 Enoch 82-83

1 Enoch 83-90 is a new section since there is a break from the astronomical speculations of the previous section, although it is related to chapter 82 as a continuation of Enoch’s dialogue with Methuselah (83:1). These two chapters serve as an introduction to the Animal Apocalypse, a slightly veiled allegory of history up to the Maccabean period.

bookofenochEnoch received these visions before he was married and still living with his grandfather, Mahalalel (Gen 5:12-17). After Enoch receives a vision of the coming flood (83:2b-2), he relates his dream to his grandfather Mahalalel. This is Enoch’s first vision, and like Samuel and Eli (1 Sam 3), Enoch requires guidance from his grandfather to understand the vision.

Within the world of the story, the vision refers to the coming flood. But the description goes beyond Genesis 7 to convey “a picture of cosmic collapse and annihilation” (Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch, 349). As is typical in the Enoch literature, the imagery of the flood is conflated with the ultimate judgment of God.

1 Enoch 83:3-4 I saw in a vision the sky being hurled down and snatched and falling upon the earth. When it fell upon the earth, I saw the earth being swallowed up into the great abyss, the mountains being suspended upon mountains, the hills sinking down upon the hills, and tall trees being uprooted and thrown and sinking into the deep abyss. (OTP 1:61)

Mahalalel explains that sin is so great the earth must “sink into the abyss” (primordial chaos), but there is a possibility God would allow a remnant to remain on the earth. He therefore counsels Enoch to pray for the earth (83:6-9), which he does (83:10-11, 84:1-6).  Enoch first praises God and acknowledges his greatness (83:2-4). These two verses resonate with many texts in the Hebrew Bible, although it is remarkably similar to Daniel 2:37-38 (describing Nebuchadnezzar) and 7:14 (describing the rule of the Son of Man), but also Isaiah 66:1-2 (heavens as God’s throne, the earth as his footstool).

1 Enoch 84:2 Blessed are you, O Great King, you are mighty in your greatness, O Lord of all the creation of heaven, King of kings and God of the whole world. Your authority and kingdom abide forever and ever; and your dominion throughout all the generations of generations; All the heavens are your throne forever, and the whole earth is your footstool forever and ever and ever.

Enoch makes request on behalf of the present generation. Even if the angels must come under judgment, Enoch prays that God would allow a remnant of humans survive the devastation. He asks God to raise up the righteous and true flesh “as a seed-bearing plant” (84:6). Within the world of the story, this obviously refers to the world after the flood and the family of Noah as a righteous family to repopulate the world: 1 Enoch 10:3; 65:12; 67:3 each describe Noah as a preserved seed.

But the image of a plant which survives the coming judgment resonates with description of the righteous remnant in Isaiah 6:13. At the time 1 Enoch 83-84 was written, the final judgment is still in the future. The prayer is that God will once again preserve the righteous remnant in that coming apocalyptic judgment.