Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett

in The Bible: Authorized King James Version

Published in print February 1998 | ISBN: 9780192835253
Published online April 2009 |

Series: Oxford World's Classics


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Jude, like 2 Peter, sees opponents everywhere: ‘For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ’ (v. 4). Paul had assumed there would be heresies, but Jude makes the point even more strongly that such ungodly men were ordained of old for this purpose. However the Jesus movements may have begun, by the end of the first century they were rent with false prophets, heretics, and false teachers. The gospel was a protean form which could take many different shapes. Jude advises his readers and exhorts them that ‘ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints’ (v. 3). But given the concern about false teachers, and the terrible confusions about sin and goodness in Hebrews and the Johannine letters, it becomes very difficult to imagine anything as solid as ‘the faith’ or as definite as it having been delivered ‘once for all’. Jude, we are told, is the brother, of James (v. 1), but of which James is not clear. Jude may have been written earlier than 2 Peter (towards the end of the first century), but it shares the same obsessions and rhetoric. Both writers regarded the Sodom and Gomorrah legend as an example of the perversions of the flesh (Jude 7; 2 Pet. 2: 6), neither appears to have known the reading of the sin of Sodom enunciated by Ezek. 16: 49. The denunciations of 2 Peter and Jude against the gnostics (if such were the enemies denounced in both letters) may have gained for them canonical acceptance when the books of the New Testament were finally collected together. Jude 14–15 quotes from the Book of Enoch (1: 9): ‘Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ While that may be one of the very few overt references to Enoch in the New Testament, the Book of Enoch is of fundamental importance for understanding the apocalyptic background.

Chapter.  391 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

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