Did Jude Treat Noncanonical Writings as if They Were Inspired?

Did Jude Treat Noncanonical Writings as if They Were Inspired?

Conclusion:

Let us assume, for the sake of our study, that The Book of Enoch existed at the time that Jude wrote, and that Jude really was referencing it. Simply because Jude knew of Enoch’s prophecy and approved it, does not necessarily imply that Jude certified the entire collection of Enoch’s writings as inspired of God. The Greek word translated “prophesied” in Jude 14 is propheteuo, a word that is used on only one occasion in the New Testament (Matthew 15:7) for a citation of an Old Testament passage (Isaiah 29). The cognate Greek noun prophetes, which relates to the verb propheteuo, was used by Paul to refer to a heathen poet (Titus 1:12). There is no evidence, then, that Jude referred to Enoch’s prophecy as an inspired work. Why, then, did Jude mention The Book of Enoch? He recognized that the prophecy of Enoch had turned out to be a true prophecy. Jude never gave indication of what he thought of the remainder of The Book of Enoch.

Many times in Scripture, inspired writers use other sources of information; sometimes these sources are inspired, and sometimes they are not. For an example, one occasion when an inspired writer used an uninspired source is in 1 Corinthians 10:4, where Paul apparently made a reference to Jewish legend to support his own inspired interpretation of Israel’s wilderness wanderings (Lenski, 1937, pp. 392-393). On other occasions (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12-13), Paul quoted from pagan poets to support his own assertions, and even told his audiences that the specific portions of the pagan writings he referenced were accurate. Did Paul claim that these extrabiblical materials were inspired? Certainly not. Paul used supporting materials that would have been meaningful to his audiences. The noncanonical works that were cited by New Testament authors were highly respected. The fact that Paul used noncanonical sources to add an extra dimension to his message should not motivate us to regard any of Paul’s writings as inferior, or to totally disregard them. The same is true in the case of Jude’s epistle.

Further, Jude did not necessarily imply that Enoch saw into the future to predict attitudes or actions of the sinners under consideration in the epistle. All that is necessarily implied in Jude 14-15 is that Enoch’s prediction happened to be descriptive of the men about whom Jude wrote (Barnes, 1949, p. 399).

We probably will never be sure when (or if) Jude received information from earthly sources about Enoch’s writing or The Assumption of Moses. Perhaps Jude heard about it from traditional sources or from the books themselves, but this does not alter the fact that Jude was inspired of God. It is possible that the Holy Spirit, as He inspired Jude, certified that one particular portion of The Book of Enoch is correct, though not inspired. It is altogether certain, however, that despite critics’ allegations, the Bible continues to stand firm as the sole message from the Creator—always accurate and dependable.

Copyright © 2004 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved

JP: Worthwhile read.

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