1902 Encyclopedia > Jude


JUDE. The writer of the epistle of St Jude (lou'Sas) calls himself (ver. 1) " the brother of James." In primitive Christian times, among the Judaso-Christians to whom this epistle, from the nature of its contents, must have been addressed, there was but one James who could be thus spoken of without any further description, viz., James "the Lord's brother" (see JAMES). The writer of this epistle, then, claims to be the Judas named among the brethren of the Lord in Matt. xiii. 55, Mark vi. 3. He seems himself to declare by implication that he was not an apostle (ver. 17), and with this agrees the statement (John vii. 5) that at a time not long before the crucifixion the brethren of Jesus did not believe on Him. And it is some confirmation of this position that the writer of the epistle of St James in like manner does not claim to be an apostle. The brethren of the Lord are spoken of in Acts i. 14 as distinct from the apostolic body, and are placed last in the enumeration, as though latest included among the believers; and that their feeling towards Jesus should have been changed since His death and resurrection has been thought to be sufficiently explained by the assertion of St Paul (1 Cor. xv, 7) that the Lord had been " seen of James " on one special occasion after he had risen from the dead. We conclude therefore that the writer of the epistle was a different person from Jude the apostle, who appears also to have had the names Lebbaeus and Thaddseus (comp. Matt. x. 3, Mark iii. 18, with Luke vi. 16, Acts i. 13).

When we consider the brevity of St Jude's epistle we can hardly wonder that it did not receive more recognition from the early Christian writers than it has met with. Clemens Alexandrinus (165-220) quotes from this epistle or alludes to its language more than once, as does Ter-tullian (200), making express mention that the book of Enoch is quoted in it. Origen (186-253) gives several notices of it, and in the Latin translation of some portions of his works, of which the original has been lost, Jude is called an apostle. Nevertheless Eusebius classes the epistle amongst the cWiAeyo/xcva, and its omission from the Syriac version shows us that in one branch of the Christian church it was either not known, or not received for canonical, when that version was made. Jerome in the 4th century gives a reason for its non-acceptance, which perhaps ope-rated with many of the early Christians. He says (Cata-log. Ser. Heel., 4), "Because in it Jude derives a testimony from the book of Enoch, which is apocryphal, it is rejected by most." Yet the canon of Muratori, the date of which is judged to be about 170 A.D., includes the epistle of St Jude among the canonical books, though Justin Martyr (140), Theophilus of Antioch (180), and Irenaeus (135-200) make no mention of it. It was early included among the acknowledged Christian writings, and was placed without question among the canonical books by the council of Laodicea.

The persons to whom the epistle was addressed must have been for the most part Judseo-Christians. This is the reason why the writer styles himself "brother of James," and the same is apparent from all the illustrations contained in the letter. The deliverance from Egypt, the fallen angels, the cities of the plain, the legend of Michael's con-tention with Satan, the references to Cain, Balaam, and Korah, as well as to the prophecy ascribed to Enoch, are all found in so brief a space, and are so touched upon in a manner that could be edifying to none save those who were familiar, not only with Old Testament Scripture, but also with Jewish traditions, that we cannot but conclude that we have here the work of a Jew writing for Jews, although the epistle is included among those called "catholic."

From the notices of the descendants of Jude, the brother of the Lord, preserved by Eusebius (H, E., iii. 19, 20) from Hegesippus, we should conclude that they were resident in Palestine. It seems natural therefore to suppose that the epistle was written in Palestine, and, it may be, for the Jewish converts in some district of that country. But of this we can have no certainty. If, as seems to be intimated by Hegesippus, Jude was dead in the time of Domitian, we perhaps shall not be far wrong in assigning the com-position of the epistle to about 80 A.D. All arguments for an earlier date, based on the assumption that in a letter of this character the writer would not have failed to men-tion the destruction of Jerusalem as an illustration, had that event already taken place, must be disregarded. For the brevity of the letter is such as to deprive this reasoning of all force, while the very recentness of the overthrow of Jerusalem would prevent its destruction from entering as yet into such history as might be used for pointing a moral.

The epistle of St Jude appears to have been written after the second epistle of St Peter. Of those corrupt teachers about whom St Peter spoke in the future tense, " there shall be false teachers among you," St Jude speaks in the past, " certain men are crept in unawares;" and the like difference is observable throughout the respective letters wherever verbs occur to which it is possible to attach a definite notion of time. But, beside this, St Peter's letter represents all the corruption which he sees likely to break forth among the Christian community as the outcome of false teaching. Destructive heresies are abroad, and through them many shall be induced to follow lascivious doings, and the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. With a promise of liberty which sounds like a perverse employment of some of St Paul's language they will lead their followers astray. But in St Jude's picture the colours seem much darker, and all allusions to teaching, and to the idea that, by lessons such as we know from other sources the Gnostics did give, these men were being beguiled into evil courses through what appeared to be the gate of greater knowledge, have disappeared. The sinners against whom this epistle is directed were avowed libertines and practical unbelievers ; they mocked at all sacred things ; they were sensual, and had not the Spirit. But stronger than any other reason for believing in the later date of the present epistle is the direct quotation which is made in it from the 2d epistle of St Peter. In verses 17-18 St Jude writes, " But ye, beloved, remember ye the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how that they said to you, In the last time there shall be mockers (ifiiraLKTcu) walking after their own ungodly lusts." The whole of what is here given as apostolic teaching corresponds very closely indeed with the words of 2 Peter iii. 2, while the word E^TTGUKTCU is one that is found nowhere else in the New Testament until it is here quoted by St Jude.

Attempts have been made to prove that St Jude's epistle originally appeared in Aramaic, from which the Greek.that we have is a translation. But there seems no sufficient evidence for such a conclusion. No doubt a Jew when writing Greek would not unfrequently give expression to his thoughts in a form more or less moulded after his mother tongue, but there are far more points in the epistle which are satisfactory Greek of the date of the New Testament than are the instances which, even after much ingenuity, can be shown to be renderings of Aramaic.

See Semler, Paraplirasis epp. Jacohi, Petri, et Juolse, 1781;
Augusti, Die Katholischen Briefe, 1801; Jessien, De authentic/, ep.
Judae, 1821; Stier, Der Brief Judai, 1850; Wiesinger(in Olshausen's
Bibelwerk), 1854; Hoffmann, Die Briefe Petri, Judd, und Jacobi,
1875 ; Eeuss, Les J&pitres Catholiques, 1878. (J. R. L.)


The book of Enoch (see vol. ii. p. 175) is cited in Jude 14, and allusions to it occur in 4, 6, 13. Another apocalyptic work, the Assumption of Moses, is the source of Jude 9.

Many modern critics, following Luther, have questioned the genuineness of the epistle. The libertines against whom it is directed display close affinity to the Carpocratians of the 2d century, of whose heresy Clemens Alexandrinus makes it a prophecy. Mayerhoff, Schen-kel, and Mangold suppose that it was written against that heresy not long before the middle of the 2d century. It is also argued that the Muratorian canon seems to regard the epistle as pseudonymous in the same sense as the Wisdom of Solomon.

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-19 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries