Thesis: Epistle of Jude

Pages: 10 (3417 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

Epistle of Jude is one of the less-frequently studied books of the Bible, probably because it concentrates so heavily on the end of days, a topic that many Christians choose to ignore or minimize. However, it plays a critical role in defining and shaping the rest of the New Testament and in the formation of many modern Christian churches, especially churches that are highly associated with evangelicalism. In Jude, the author warns the readers about the dangers arising in the church. Apparently, some teachers are claiming to be prophets, and that their spiritually exalted status has freed them from moral obligations and moral authority, and given them license to engage in a variety of immoral behaviors. Jude heavily criticizes this approach, claiming that the Christian faith demands that one submit to the moral authority of Jesus Christ. He believes that those who encourage moral disobedience put the salvation of the faithful at risk, because moral disobedience is the equivalent of outright rejecting God's authority. Therefore, Jude's epistle is meant to warn the faithful of these dangers. Furthermore, it is meant to encourage an evangelical lifestyle, by encouraging Christians to live the gospel.

Author

Like many books in the Bible, there are questions about the authorship of Jude. Jude is believed to have been written by Jude or Judas, one of Jesus' brothers. A man identified as Jude and known as a brother of Jesus was known as a prominent early Christian leader in Palestine. Whether or not the book was actually written by Jude is questionable, and is actually quite controversial. For example, Catholics, and members of any Christian denomination that believes in the perpetual virginity of Mary may discount the idea that a brother of Jesus existed, much less wrote this book, though there have been some explanations that Jude was related to Jesus through Joseph, and played a step-brother role. However, there is no historical evidence or even Biblical evidence to support the assertion of such a relationship. There is also no Biblical evidence to bolster the idea of perpetual virginity, so that Jude could easily be Jesus' brother. Furthermore, though there is debate about the actual genetic relationship between Jesus and his siblings, there is at least recognition that Jesus had siblings. It was well-known that James was Jesus' brother, even if their genetic relationship was never specifically identified. According to the book itself, Jude was "a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James." (Jude 1).

However, some have argued that Jude was not actually written by Jude, but by someone taking that name as a pseudonym. According to Werner Georg Kummel, the author of Jude was a Jewish Christian. Kummel bases that assumption on the fact that the author was aware of the Jewish legends and Jewish-apocalyptic writings like the Ascension of Moses and the Enoch Apocalypse. (Kummel, p.428). However, Kummel believes that the author did not speak of the apostles with first-hand knowledge, but like someone who heard about them after their time. Moreover, the way that he wrote about both Jewish and early Christian predictions seems, to Kummel, to point to a late phase of primitive Christianity. (Kummel, p.428). The fact that the letter was written a Greek language, with citations to a Greek translation of the Enoch Apocalypse, seems to indicate it was unlikely to have been written by a contemporary of Christ. (Kummel, p.428).

Kummel is not the only Biblical scholar to assert that the author took the name Jude as a pseudonym. In fact, Perrin et al., seem to believe that all of the emergent Catholicism in the New Testament was written by those assuming pseudonyms (Perrin et al., p. 260). For example, Jude speaks of faith, but, according to Perrin et al., faith derives from an authoritative tradition and is not an element of the earliest Christianity. Because Jude admonishes the faithful based by relying on tradition, this position seems to be supported by the text. Moreover, the epistle demonstrates evidence of a developing Christian liturgy, consisting of Son, Father, and Holy Spirit. However, the development of the Holy Trinity is generally considered to have occurred subsequent to Jesus' own generation. (Perrin et al., p.260).

Other Biblical scholars simply dismiss those who do not believe that the book was written by Jude. According to Modlish, while the authorship of Jude "is under constant dispute by many theologians. The trouble with them is they can't read English. Jude 1 identifies who the writer is: [1] Servant of Jesus Christ. [2] Brother of James." (Modlish). Of course, Modlish's assertion ignores the fact that, of course, Jude was not written in English. It also ignores the idea that there could be more than one James. If Jude was Christ's brother, it certainly would have been easier for him to identify himself as Christ's brother, rather than as James' brother. However, following the death of Jesus, James was an extremely well-known leader in the Jerusalem church, which would explain why Jude would identify himself as James' brother, rather than Jesus' brother. Therefore, it seems probable that Jude was Jesus' brother.

Date Written

It is difficult to date the book of Jude because of the questions about its authorship. Those who believe that Jude was written by a literal brother of Jesus believe it must have been written in the mid-to-late first century. According to Modlish, it was written after the Epistle of Second Peter, which was written around 66A.D., placing Jude somewhere around 67-70A.D. (Modlish). Other scholars believe that Jude was written after James, but before II Peter. Moreover, there is substantial controversy surrounding when James and II Peter were written, making it difficult, if not impossible to date Jude based on those other two books. Therefore, the safest assumption is to conclude that one cannot date Jude with any real certainty, which means that the debate about Jude's date is more between centuries, than years. Most Christian churches consider Jude to be canonical, and they believe that it was already established in the canon by the second century, which would place its authorship firmly in the first century. Others, most particularly those suggesting that Jude was a pseudonymous work believe that its content was too developed to reflect early Christianity, so that it had to have been written in the second century. However, the way that Jude is written makes it clear that it was written during the era of Palestinian Christianity, which means it could be one of the earliest books in the New Testament.

Background

In order to really understand the book of Jude, one must understand the background context. While it is impossible to date Jude with any certainty, the book itself makes its background clear. It was almost certainly written in Christian Palestine. One must recall that the early church was newly developed and was very linked to the practice of Judaism. Christ had relieved Christians of their obligations to older Jewish laws, such as dietary prohibitions and the obligations to perform sacrifices. This release was viewed by some as being freed from the moral obligations imposed by the religion. Therefore, to some people, there was an association between the early Jewish Christianity and a relaxing of moral standards. It was against such a background that Jude wrote his book. In fact, the book was written to admonish Christians that they had not been freed from their moral and religious obligations. Jude warns, "For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (Jude 4). On the contrary, Jude believed that salvation was directly linked to obedience to God, which could not be divorced from the idea of moral obedience. There was no way to divorce faith from moral obedience, because one who had faith would demonstrate such obedience.

This lesson was particularly important when one considers that false prophets were a major threat to the emerging Christian church. The idea of a Messiah was well-developed in Jewish prophecy. In fact, modern-day Jews continue to await the arrival of a Messiah, because they do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Moreover, the Old Testament is replete with tales of prophets, many of whom were morally inferior, but allowed to engage in such behavior because they had favored status with God. Of course, modern Christians accept as a fact that Christ was the last of the prophets, but this was not an idea that was necessarily embraced by early Christians, who had grown up as Jews or as the children of Jews, and were familiar with the idea of multiple prophets. Therefore, for religious teachers to claim the role of prophet would not have been anathema as it is now, but an accepted role. These teachers were claiming to be exempt from their moral obligations, because they had a favored status with God. From a modern perspective, one can imagine these… [END OF PREVIEW]

Gospels Compared to the Epistles Term Paper


John 5:13-21 Passage -- John 5:13-21 "Closing Research Paper


Hebrews There Is Much Controversy Research Paper


New Testament Theology Term Paper


Angel of the Lord June Grant Writing


View 9 other related papers  >>

Cite This Thesis:

APA Format

Epistle of Jude.  (2009, March 28).  Retrieved October 16, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/epistle-jude-one/1350

MLA Format

"Epistle of Jude."  28 March 2009.  Web.  16 October 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/epistle-jude-one/1350>.

Chicago Format

"Epistle of Jude."  Essaytown.com.  March 28, 2009.  Accessed October 16, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/epistle-jude-one/1350.