Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 538 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF JUDE, a book of the New Testament. As with the epistle of James, the problems of the writing centre upon the superscription, which addresses in Pauline phraseology (1 Thess. i. 4; 2 Thess. ii. 13; Rom. i. 7; 1 Cor. 1. 2) the Christian world in general in the name of "Jude, the brother of James " (Matt. xiii. 55; Mark vi. 3 ). The historical situation depicted must then fall within the lifetime of this Judas, whose two grandchildren Zoker and James (Hegesippus ap. Phil. Sidetes) by their testimony before the authorities brought to an end the (Palestinian) persecution of Domitian (Hegesippus ap. Eus. H. E. iii. 20, 7). These two grandsons of Judas thereafter " lived until the time of Trajan," ruling the churches " because they had (thus) been witnesses (martyrs) and were also relatives of the Lord." But in that case we must either reject the testimony of the same Hegesippus that up to their death, and that of Symeon son of Clopas, successor in the Jerusalem see of James the Lord's brother, " who suffered martyrdom at the age of one hundred and twenty years while Trajan was emperor and Atticus governor," " the church (universal) had remained a pure and uncorrupted virgin " free from " the folly of heretical teachers "; or else we must reject the superscription, which presents the grandfather in vehement conflict with the very heresies in question. For the testimony of Hegesippus is explicit that at the time of the arrest of Zoker and James they were all who survived of the kindred of the Lord. True, there is confusion in the narrative of Hegesippus, and even a probability that the martyrdom of Symeon dated under Trajan really took place in the persecution of Domitian,before the arrest of the grandsons of Jude, for apart from the alleged age of Symeon (the traditional Jewish limit of human life, Gen. vi. 3, Deut. xxxiv. 7), the cause of his apprehension " on the ground that he was a descendant of David and a Christian " (Hegesippus ap. Eus. H. E. 111.32, 3) is inconsistent with both the previous statements regarding the " martyrdom " of Zoker and James, that they were cited as the only surviving Christian Davididae, and that the, persecution on this ground collapsed through the manifest absurdity of the accusation. But even if we date the rise of heresies in the reign of Domitian instead of Trajan,2 the attributing of this epistle against 2 On this point (date of the outbreak of heresy) there is some inconsistency in the reported fragments of Hegesippus. In that quoted below from Eus. H.E. iii. 32. 7 seq., it is expressly dated after the martyrdom of Symeon and death of the grandsons of Jude under Trajan. In iii. 19 the " ancient tradition " attributing the denunciation of these to " some of the heretics " is perhaps not from Hegesippus; but in iv. 22 the beginning of heresy is traced to a certain Thebuthis, a candidate for the bishopric after the death ei James, as rival to Symeon. The same figure of the church as a pure virgin is also used as in iii. 32. But as it is only the envious feeling of Thebuthis which is traced to this early date, Hegesippus doubtless means to place the outbreak later. corrupting heresy to " Jude the brother of James " will still be incompatible with the statements of Hegesippus, our only informant regarding nis ._er history. The Greek of Jude is also such as to exclude the idea of authorship in Palestine by an unschooled Galilean, at an early date in church history. As F. H. Chase has pointed out: (I) the terms KAfroi, vcor'qpia, 7rLOTLS, have attained their later technical sense; (2) " the writer is steeped in the language of the LXX.," employing its phraseology independently of other N.T. writers, and not that of the canonical books alone, but of the broader non-Palestinian canon; (3) " he has at his command a large stock of stately, sonorous, sometimes poetical words," proving him a " man of some culture, and, as it would seem, not without acquaintance with Greek writers." If the superscription be not from the hand of the actual brother of Jesus, the question may well be asked why some apostolic name was not chosen which might convey greater authority ? The answer is to be found in the direction toward which the principal defenders of orthodoxy in 1oo—15o turned for " the deposit of the faith " (Jude 3) in its purity. The Pastoral Epistles point to " the pattern of sound words, even the sayings of our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Tim. vi. 3, &c.), as the arsenal of orthodoxy against the same foe (with I Tim. vi. 3—10; cf. Jude 4, II, 16, 18 seq.). Ignatius's motto is to " be inseparable from Jesus Christ and from your bishop " (ad Trail. vii.), Polycarp's, to " turn unto the word delivered unto us from the beginning " (cf. Jude 3; I John ii. 7, iii. 23, iv. 21), " the oracles of the Lord," which the false teachers " pervert to their own lusts." Papias, his eraipos (Irenaeus), turns in fact from " the vain talk of the many, and from the " alien commandments " to such as were " delivered by the Lord to the faith," offering to the Christian world his Interpretation of the Lord's Oracles based upon personal inquiry from those who " came his way," who could testify as to apostolic tradition. Hegesippus, after a journey to all the principal seats of Christian tradition, testifies that all are holding to the true doctrine as transmitted at the original seat, where it was witnessed first by the apostles and afterwards by the kindred of the Lord and " witnesses " of the first generation. All these writers in one form or other revert to the historic tradition against the licence of innovators. Hegesippus indicates plainly the seat of its authority. For the period before the adoption of a written standard the resort was not so much to " apostles " as to " disciples " and " witnesses." The appeal was to " those who from the beginning had been eye-witnesses and ministers of the word " (Luke i. 2); and these were to be found primarily (until the complete destruction of that church during the revolt of Barcochebas and its suppression by Hadrian) in the mother community in Jerusalem (cf. Acts xv.2). Its life is the measure of the period of oral tradition, whose requiem is sung by Papias. Hegesippus (ap. Eus. H.E. iii. 32, 7 seq.) looks back to it as the safe guardian of the deposit " of the faith " against all the depredations of heresy which " when the sacred college of apostles had suffered death in various forms, and the generation of those that had been deemed worthy to hear the inspired wisdom with their own ears had passed away .. . attempted thenceforth with a bold face, to proclaim, in opposition to the preaching of the truth, ` the knowledge which is falsely so-called (¢evS ivvp.os -yvBevis).' " For an appeal like that of our epistle to the authority of the past against the moral laxity and antinomian teaching of degenerate Pauline churches in the Greek world, the natural resort after Paul himself (Pastoral Epp.) would be the " kindred of the Lord " who were the " leaders and witnesses in every church " in Palestine. Doubtless the framer of Jude r would have preferred the aegis of " James the Lord's brother," if this, like that of Paul, had not been already appropriated. Failing this, the next most imposing was " Judas, the brother of James." The superscription in the case of Jude, unlike that of James, takes hold of the substance of the book. Verse 3 and the farewell (v. 24 seq.) show that Jude was composed from the start as an " epistle." If this appearance be not fallacious, the obvious relation between the two superscriptions will be best explainedby the supposition that the author of Jude gave currency to the existing homily (James) before composing under the pseudonym of Jude. On the interconnexion of the two see Sieffert, s.v. " Judasbrief " in Hauck, Realencykl. vol. ix. Judas is conceived as cherishing the intention of discussing for the benefit of the Christian world (for no mere local church is addressed) the subject of " our common salvation " (the much desiderated authoritative definition of the orthodox faith), but diverted from this purpose by the growth of heresy. Few writings of this compass afford more copious evidence of date in their literary affinities. The references to Enoch (principally ver. 14 seq. = Eth. En. i. 9, but cf. F. H. Chase, s.v. " Jude " in Hastings's Dict. Bible) and the Assumption of Moses (v. 9) have more a geographical than a chronological bearing, the stricter canon of Palestine excluding these apocryphal books of 90 B.C. to A.D. 40; but the Pauline writings are freely employed, especially 1 Cor. x. 1—13, Rom. xvi. 25 seq., and probably Eph. and Col. Moreover, the author explicitly refers to the apostolic age as already past, and to the fulfilment of the Pauline prediction (I Tim. iv. I sqq.) of the advent of heresy (v. 17 seq.). The Pauline doctrine of " grace " has been perverted to lasciviousness, as by the heretics whom Polycarp opposes (Ep. Polyc. vii.), and this doctrine is taught for " hire " (vv.'', 12, 16; cf. 1 Tim. vi. 5). The unworthy " shepherds " (v. 12; cf. Ezek. xxxiv. 8; John x. 12 seq.) live at the expense of their flocks, polluting the " love-feasts, corrupting the true disciples. According-to Clement of Alexandria this was written prophetically to apply to the Carpocratians, an antinomian Gnostic sect of c. 150; but hyper-Paulinists had given occasion to similar complaints already in Rev. ii. 14, 20 (95). Thus Paulinism and its perversion alike are in the past. As regards the undeniable contact of Didache ii. 7 with Jude 22 seq. (cf. Didache, iv. 1, Jude 8) priority cannot be determined; and the use of 1 John iii. 12 in Jude II is doubtful. On the other hand, practically the whole of Jude is taken up into 2 Pet., the author merely avoiding, so far as he discovers them, the quotations from apocryphal writings, and prefixing and affixing sections of his own to refute the heretical eschatology. On the priority of Jude see especially against Spitta Zur Gesch.u. Litt. d. Urchristenthums, ii. 409—411, F. H. Chase, loc. cit. p. 803. (On 2 Pet. see PETER EPISTLES OF.) Unfortunately, the date of 2 Pet. cannot be determined as earlier than late in the second century, so that we are thrown back upon internal evidence for the inferior limit. The treatment of the heresy as the anti-Christ who precedes " the last hour " (v. 18), reminds us of I John ii. 18, but it is indicative of conditions somewhat less advanced that the heretics have not yet " gone out from " the church. The treatment of the apostolic age as past, and the deposit of the faith as a regula fidei (cf. Ign. ad Trail. ix.), the presence of antinomian Gnosticism, denying the doctrine of lordship and " glories " (v. 8), with " discriminations " between " psychic " and " pneumatic " (v. 19), strongly oppose a date earlier than loo. Sieffert, on account of the superscription, would date as early as 70-8o, but acknowledges the hyper-Pauline affinity of the heresy, its propagation as a doctrine, and close relation to the Nicolaitan of Rev. ii. 14. To these phenomena he gives accordingly a correspondingly early date. The nature of the heresy, opposed, however, and the resort to the authority of Jude " the brother of James " against it, favour rather the period of Polycarp and Papias (117—150). The history of the reception of the epistle into church canons is similar to that of James, beginning with a quotation of it as the work of Jude by Clement of Alexandria (Paed. iii. 8), a reference by Tertullian (De cult. fern. i. 3), and a more or less hesitant endorsement by Origen (" if one might adduce the epistle of Jude," In Matt. torn. xvii. 30) and by the Muratorianum (c. 200), which excepts Jude and 2 and 3 John from its condemnation of apocryphal literature, placing it on a par with the Wisdom of Solomon " which was written by friends of his in his honour." The use of apocryphal literature in Jude itself may account for much of the critical disposition toward it of many subsequent writers. Eusebius classed it among the " disputed" books, declaring that as with James " not many of the ancients have mentioned it " (H. E. ii. 23, 25). The Introd. to the New Test. by Holtzmann, Pincher, Weiss, Zahn, Davidson, Salmon, Bacon and the standard Commentaries of Meyer and Holtzmann, the International (Bigg) and other series, contain discussions of authorship and date. The articles s.v. in Hastings's Dict. Bible (Chase) and the Ency. Bib. (Cone) are full and scholarly. In addition the Histories of the Apostolic Age, by Hausrath, Weizsacker, McGiffert, Bartlet, Ropes and others, and the kindred works of Baur, Schwegler and Pfleiderer should be consulted. Moffat's Historical New Testament, 2nd ed., p. 589, contains a convenient summary of the evidence with copious bibliography. One of the most thorough of conservative treatments is the Commentary on Jude and Second Peter by J. B. Mayor (1907). (B. W. B.)
SYLVESTER JUDD (1813–1853)
JUDGE (Lat. judex, Fr. juge)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.