I wanted to ask you a question about several verses in the book of Jude. In Jude 1:14-15 Jude references an apocryphal book called 1 Enoch. I was wondering what you thought about this reference to the book of Enoch. And do you think that this might hint at an apocryphal book as being inspired?



It is the consensus of scholars that Jude is in fact quoting or at least mentioning 1 Enoch in his letter in Jude 14-15. A good question is what this implies about the possible inspiration of 1 Enoch.

I think it is fair to say that one can defend more than one view of this. One view is that Jude, like all Jews at his time, and like the early church in general, was aware of the book 1 Enoch. Especially for the Jews it was part of their common culture. This was a story that all Jews grew up with. This made it quite natural to use it in order to illustrate a point. To use a terrible analogy, everyone knows about the Lord of the Rings. Therefore, if someone makes a reference to Gandalf or Frodo, they can assume that their audience would get it. This is not a good analogy, because Jude appears to be using his cultural/religious reference in an authoritative way. However, it is possible to see this as him illustrating his point using a familiar story which is not necessarily considered to be an authoritatively inspired one.

Another view, of course, is that Jude believed that 1 Enoch was inspired and that his quotation of 1 Enoch, by implication, is evidence that 1 Enoch is an authoritatively inspired book. The Coptic Church (the ancient church of Ethiopia and Egypt) has always accepted 1 Enoch as part of their canon of the Old Testament. It was not just the church in Alexandria and in Ethiopia which used 1 Enoch at times in the first centuries. However the rest of the church rejected 1 Enoch eventually, as did the Jews. I assume that not every inspired writing ended up in the Bible. There is no obvious requirement that every single word spoken or written under inspiration must necessarily end up in the canon of scripture. What would be scandalous to Christianity would be if an uninspired (and therefore non-authoritative) book were to end up in the canon. Clearly, 1 Enoch did not end up in the Jewish canon. For this reason, what our view of the book is does not have a major impact on the question of the reliability of the Bible or on the teaching of Christianity.

Let me give my opinion. I do not believe 1 Enoch is inspired. It has the appearance of a myth. It seems pretty clear to me that it was not written by the actual person Enoch (something which the writer claims). Here is a link to read the book. You will have to decide for yourself, but I find the story of the angels having children with women to be mythical. This is a morality story with an obvious point. It is my opinion that when Jude wanted to make a point, he referenced this story, not to give it authority, but because it was sufficiently familiar to his audience that they would get what he was trying to teach them.

John Oakes

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