Reassessing Jude’s Use Of Enochic Traditions (With Notes On Their Later Reception History) -- By: Peter J. Gentry
TynBull 68:2 (2017) p. 261
Reassessing Jude’s Use Of Enochic Traditions
(With Notes On Their Later Reception History)
Andrew M. Fountain
A particular reference in the book of Jude to Enoch is commonly claimed to indicate canonical status for 1 Enoch. The origins and textual transmission of the Enochic traditions are described and reassessed for non-specialists and correlated with claims for inspiration made before, during, and after the period of Second Temple Judaism. The function of Jude’s use of Enoch is interpreted within the literary structure of his work and the context of the NT, with implications for the later history of Christianity and Islam.
A consensus exists today – nearly equivalent to established fact – that when Jude in the New Testament refers to Enoch in vv. 14–15, he is quoting a book1 now referred to as 1 Enoch, and that this citation raises the question as to whether or not this book was considered canonical or Scripture by at least some early Christians.2 The statement of James VanderKam is a clear example:
TynBull 68:2 (2017) p. 262
The two works just surveyed [Barnabas and Jude] exhaust the first-century Christian references to the writings of Enoch. Jude cannot be located with certainty but may come from Syria/Palestine; Barnabas is somewhat more securely situated in Egypt. The writers of both works accord high status to Enoch’s words – they are prophecy and scripture.3
Note that for Vanderkam ‘Scripture’ can exist without canon; other scholars would view canon as corollary of Scripture.
The genuineness of Enoch is discussed as early as Tertullian, On the Clothing of Women 1.3.4 This is significant, since these traditions influenced Christianity mainly in Egypt/North Africa, Asia Minor, Palestine, and Syria. That is to say, Christianity in the West was largely unaffected by the Enoch traditions.
Before reassessing Jude’s use of the Enoch traditions, some description of the contents, origin, and textual transmission of these traditions is necessary. While the details of textual transmission are fairly well known to specialists, non-specialists may not know just how fluid or scant the evidence is for the early forms of the text. It is for this reas...
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