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"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Rom 1:22).

Pseudepigrapha

By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs


religion, articles, christianity

Carroll D. Osburn is of the opinion that the epistle of Jude is borrowed in part from the book of First Enoch, a pseudepigraphic work. Following the lead of Wellhausen's Documentary Hypothesis and the Jesus Seminar, Osburn thinks Jude copied his letter from questionable first-century sources.

Osburn's treatment of the book of Jude ranks on a level with Andre Resner's charge that Mary of Nazareth was "a sexually questionable woman," and a sister-under-the-skin" with prostitutes. Resner claims that the birth of Jesus was a scandal. Osburn claims that Jude copied from fraudulent sources and borrowed his metaphors from spurious writings.

If Osburn is right, the integrity of some New Testament writers is destroyed. This strikes at the very heart of Christianity. If the revelation that supports Christian faith is flawed, then faith is flawed and the Christian system is without merit.

Pseudepigrapha is a collection of "spurious writings, especially writings falsely attributed to biblical characters or times; body of texts written between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200 and spuriously ascribed to various prophets and kings of Hebrew Scriptures" (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company).

James H. Charlesworth in his two-volume work, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, published by Doubleday, 1983, says in his introduction, "Strictly speaking, the term 'pseudepigrapha' ... denotes writings falsely attributed to ideal figures featured in the Old Testament" (p. xxv).

Charlesworth says that the pseudepigraphic book, 2 Baruch, was apparently written late in the first century A.D. He then says that portions of the book of 1 Enoch, another pseudepigraphic work, may have been written contemporaneously with 2 Baruch (p. xxxii). It follows that portions of 1 Enoch may have been written late in the first century A.D.

E. Isaac, who translated and wrote the introduction to "1 (Ethiopic Apocalypse of) Enoch" agrees the book was written between second century B.C. and first century A.D. He also notes that "1 Enoch is clearly composite, representing numerous periods and writers." He then asserts that "Jude quoted from 1 Enoch explicitly (1:14f)." Isaac claims, but does not prove, that the book of 1 Enoch "influenced Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, Hebrews, 1 John, Jude, and Revelation" (Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, p. 10).

That is a pretty long explanation, but necessary for me to make the following observations:

  1. The book of 1 Enoch was written by various authors probably over a period of 400 years.
  2. The authors are unknown, but it is certain the book was not written by Enoch.
  3. The book of 1 Enoch is bogus ... admittedly phony.
  4. No one knows when its various parts were written, and it could have been as late as the closing days of the first century A.D., or even into the second century A.D.

Still, we have scholars telling us that Jude quoted from whoever wrote the book of 1 Enoch. The only passage that is regarded, even by the most radical liberals, as a direct quote from 1 Enoch is 1 Enoch 1:9, which says:

Behold, he will arrive with ten million of the holy ones in order to execute judgment upon all. He will destroy the wicked ones and censure all flesh on account of everything that they have done, that which the sinners and the wicked ones committed against him (1 Enoch 1:9).

Jude wrote:

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, 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 (Jude 14-15).

Who quoted from whom? Did Jude quote from the unidentified author of 1 Enoch, or did the unknown author of 1 Enoch quote from Jude. If you discount the inspiration of Jude, either is possible. If 1 Enoch did not have its final form until very late in the first century and if the book of Jude was written before that time, then it may be that the writer of 1 Enoch copied from Jude instead of the other way around.

It depends on your presupposition. If you accept the Bible in its entirety as a revelation from the living God, then you will assume that the unknown author of 1 Enoch quoted from the book of Jude. If you think Bible writers copied from spurious sources, some extent and some extant, then you might presume that Jude quoted from 1 Enoch.

The scholars who claim the Bible must be the product of human cunning and imagination readily accept the idea that its writers culled their information from purely human sources. Believers, because of overpowering proof, accept the Bible as the very word of God. They know that Bible writers were given their information by revelation. Scripture is God-breathed. "For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:21).

It is amazing that Doctor Carroll D. Osburn goes along with the unbelieving scholars and assumes that Bible writers copied from uninspired, deceptive sources. He has a very poor opinion of the Bible. He thinks that at least some Bible writers were guilty of plagiarizing ("to appropriate for use as one's own passages or ideas from another"). Doctor Osburn accuses Jude of literary theft.

This serious charge is made against Jude without proof and on the basis of the unbridled fancy of the accusers. They do not know who wrote the book of 1 Enoch, or when it was written for sure, but are quick to accuse Jude of stealing from it.

Doctor Osburn says:

The principal exegetical question is not really how to explain certain ambiguous elements in Jude, but how are we to understand the significant utilization of intertestamental Jewish apocalyptic in this epistle? (Osburn, The Peaceable Kingdom, p. 94).

He also says:

Following these descriptive assertions, Jude pens four metaphors which drive in the wedge concerning the fate ascribed to these intruders in v. 11. Apparently, Jude was reliant upon 1 Enoch 80:2-8 for these metaphors (p. 115).

Again:

In vv. 14-15, not only is Jude quoting 1 Enoch 1:9, but he adapts it to his purpose by adding 'Lord' as subject and altering slightly the text to highlight those elements having to do with his emphasis upon judgment against the ungodly (p. 116).

Still again:

In v. 4, Jude had specified in a conscious adaptation of 1 Enoch 67:10 that these intruders are 'ungodly,' denying the lordship of Christ and having a fondness of licentiousness, and that judgment had been written of them earlier. The juxtaposition of 'ungodly' and 'judgment' in Jude 4, then, is not accidental, but indicative of Jude's reflection upon the Enochic text (p. 117).

Osburn also wrote a paper, published in The Catholic Quarterly, 1985, in which he argues that Jude got some of his ideas from the book of 1 Enoch. He wrote:

It seems to me that 1 Enoch 80:2-8 actually provides the essential framework for Jude's metaphorical construction. Two principal reasons may be adduced in this regard. First, 1 Enoch 80:2-8 occurs in a section that treats the impending punishment of the ungodly. Secondly, Jude's first (waterless clouds), second (unfruitful trees), and fourth (wandering stars) metaphors occur in precisely that order in this Enochic text (Osburn,I ENOCH 80:2-8 (67:5-7) AND JUDE 12-13, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 47, 1985).

Osburn, in his vivid imagination, sees the inspired Jude sitting at his writing desk with the scroll of 1 Enoch. Osburn wrote:

With [1 Enoch] 67:10 before him, calling attention to the aforementioned eschatological judgment upon the impious men, it was only natural for Jude, then, to return the scroll to 1:9 and set out in vv. 14-15 that the very Jesus whom these reject is precisely the one who (like the waters of the convulsion) will ultimately destroy them. 1 Enoch 80:2-8 itself, with its historical meaning reinterpreted in apocalyptical significance, enjoyed a certain popularity surfacing not only in Jude 12-13 but also in Mark 13:20 and Matt. 24:22 (Osburn, The Catholic Bible Quarterly).

Osburn claims that Jude quoted from a pseudepigraphic work; took at least four metaphors from that work, and adapted the writing of 1 Enoch to create his epistle, which he (Jude) claimed came from God.

As for me and my house, we will continue to believe that

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Paul tells us how he got his information: "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:11-12). Jude had the same source.

Pity the poor students who sit at the feet of Carroll D. Osburn and listen to his foolishness.

Appendix

Here is the text of a letter sent to Dr. Carroll D. Osburn early in March. As of this date there has been no reply.

Dear brother Osburn,

It is my understanding that you have complained that the editors of the Firm Foundation have misrepresented you. Such is not our intention. If you will specify where you have been misrepresented by the Firm Foundation, we will recant and correct. We try very hard to simply report what you have said and written. If we disagree, we take note of that, too!

Enclosed is a photocopy of a first draft of an editorial proposed for May of this year. If you think anything in this piece misrepresents you, please say so.

We notice that you have made your complaints to others, but not to us. We take no umbrage at this, but just notate it because some think that to correct a public declaration requires a personal visit with the one being corrected. We may point to your example as scholarly proof that it is not necessary to go to the one who offends you and "show him his fault" between the two of you alone.

Thank you for taking time to read this letter and the enclosed editorial. We eagerly await your response.

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