THE DESCRIPTION CORRESPONDING TO CAIN THE LIBERTINES AT THE LOVE-FEASTS-THE BOOK OF ENOCH.
ST. JUDE leaves off comparing the libertines with other sinners - Cain and the Sodomites, Balaam and the impure angels, Korah and the unbelieving Israelites - and begins an independent description of them. Nevertheless, there is reason for believing that he has Cain, Balaam, and Korah in his mind in framing this new account of them. The description falls into three parts, of which this is the first. Each of the three parts begins in the same way: "These are" ( ουτοι εισιν). And each is balanced by something said on the other side, which is introduced with a "But" ( δε). In the case before us the "But" introduces a warning given prophetically to these libertines by Enoch (Jude 1:14-15). In the second case St. Jude quotes a warning given prophetically to his readers by the Apostles (Jude 1:17-18). In the third he exhorts his readers himself (Jude 1:20-23). This threefold division has been rather generally ignored. It is quite obliterated in the Revised Version by the division of the paragraphs, and also by the substitution of an "And" for the first "But." And to these also Enoch prophesied. The Vulgate is right with autem in all three places, followed by Wiclif with "Forsothe" in all three places. Luther is not only right in his rendering of the conjunction with abet in all three places, but also in his division of the paragraphs. But since Wiclif all English versions have obscured this threefold description of the ungodly with the three corresponding warnings or exhortations.
"These are they who are hidden rocks in your love-feasts when they feast with you." The difference between this and the parallel passage in 2 Peter is of special interest here; for it looks as if whichever writer used the work of the other remembered the sound rather than the sense. We have here εν ταις αγαπαις . . . σπιλαδες; but in 2 Peter 2:13 σπιλοι . . . εν ταις απαταις (with αγαπαις as a various reading, probably taken from this passage). It is possible that there may be no difference of meaning between σπιλαδες and σπιλοι. The former, which is St. Jude’s word, almost invariably means "rocks," but in an Orphic poem of the fourth century means "spots." The latter, which is used in 2 Peter 2:13 and Ephesians 5:27, generally means "spots," but sometimes means "rocks." So that "spots" may be the right rendering in both Epistles, and "rocks" may be right in both. More probably, however, we should understand "spots" in 2 Peter, and "rocks" here. The Revised Version inserts "hidden" as an epithet-"hidden rocks in your love-feasts"-which is hardly justifiable, because the word seems to mean reefs over which the sea dashes, as distinct from rocks which are wholly covered (so in the "Anthologia Palatina," 2. 390; and in a fragment of Sophocles the word has the epithet "lofty," εφ υθηλαις σπιλαδεσσι, and "lofty hidden rocks" would be almost a contradiction in terms). Moreover, "hidden" does not seem to be right even as an interpretation; for these profligates were not at all hidden; they were utterly notorious and scandalous. They made no secret of their misconduct, but gloried in it and defended it. Yet this fact does not make the name "rocks," or "reefs," inappropriate. A reef may be a very dangerous thing, although it is always visible. It may be impossible to avoid going near it; and proximity to such things is always perilous. So also with these ungodly men: St. Jude’s readers could not wholly avoid them, either in society or in the public services of the Church, but their presence disturbed and polluted both. The whole purpose of the love-feasts was wrecked by these men. Like Cain, they turned the ordinances of religion into selfishness and sin.
We cannot doubt that when St. Jude wrote the eucharist was still part of the agape or love-feast, as when St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians (A.D. 57, 58). It was still "the Lord’s Supper," not merely in name, but in fact. [1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Acts 20:7-11] It is almost certain that when Ignatius wrote his Epistles (cir. A.D. 112) the eucharist was still united with the love-feast. He writes to the Church of Smyrna, "It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to hold a love-feast" (8). This must refer to the two sacraments, the administration of which are the chief functions of the priestly office. Ignatius cannot have meant that a love-feast apart from the eucharist might not be held without the bishop. When Justin Martyr wrote his First Apology (cir. A.D. 140) it is evident that the two had been separated; his description of the eucharist (65-67), implies that no love-feast accompanied it (see Lightfoot, "‘St. Ignatius and St. Polycarp," I pp. 52, 387; II p. 312; Macmillan, 1885). We may regard it, therefore, as certain that even if this Epistle be placed late in the first century, St. Jude is here referring to a state of things very similar to that which St. Paul rebukes in the Church of. Corinth; the love-feast accompanied by the eucharist was profaned by the shameless indulgence of these libertines.
The love-feast symbolized the brotherhood of Christians. It was a simple meal, in which all met as equals, and the rich supplied the necessities of the poor. Anything like excess was peculiarly out of place, and it was the duty of the rich to see that the poorer members of the congregation were satisfied. But it would seem as if these profligates
(1) brought with them luxurious food, thus destroying the Christian simplicity of the meal; and
(2) brought this, not for the benefit of all, but for their own private enjoyment, thus destroying the idea of Christian brotherhood and equality.
There is nothing in the word used for "feasting with you" ( συνευωχουμενοι) which necessarily implies revelry or excess, but in this connection it implies censure. To turn the love-feast into a banquet was wrong, however innocent a banquet might be in itself. We might translate the word "when they feast together," instead of "when they feast with you"; and this would imply that at the love-feast they kept to themselves, and did not mix with their poorer brethren. This makes good sense; but if this translation is adopted, we must beware of interpreting it to mean that these libertines had become schismatics, and had set up a love-feast of their own. They could not be "rocks in your love-feasts" if they did not attend the love-feasts.
There are two other uncertainties in these opening clauses one of construction, and one of translation.
(1) Ought we to take "without fear" with what precedes, or with what follows-"when they feast with you without fear," or "that feed themselves without fear"? As in Jude 1:7, with regard to "of eternal fire," we are unable to decide with certainty. Both constructions make excellent sense, and nothing can be urged as being strongly in favor of either. English versions are divided. The Rhemish has "feasting together without fear." Purvey, the Authorized, and the Revised take "without fear" with "feeding themselves." Tyndale, Cranmer, and the Genevan aim at being as ambiguous as the Greek; they place "with out feare" between the two clauses with a comma on each side of it.
(2) Does "feeding themselves" mean that they fed themselves instead of feeding the flock? [Ezekiel 34:2; Ezekiel 34:8; Isaiah 56:11] If so, the Revisers give the right interpretation with "shepherds that without fear feed themselves"; but this is interpretation rather than translation. Or does it mean that they fed themselves, instead of waiting to be fed by the shepherds? If so, it is quite misleading to call them shepherds. As we have seen already, there is no reason for thinking that these profligates set up as teachers or pastors. We shall be safer if we render the Greek participle ( έαυτούς ποιμαίνοντες ) by a participle: "pasturing themselves," or "shepherding themselves." Luther, as Dr. Salmon points out, renders it semetipsos regentes, which shows that he understood it in the latter sense. Yet this second view does not imply anything schismatical in their conduct, but merely that they were selfish and disorderly. They kept their own good food, and consumed it among themselves at the love-feast, instead of throwing it into the common store, and allowing it to be distributed to all by the elders. With full recognition of the fact that there is much to be said for other views, the following rendering may be accepted as on the whole preferable: "These are they who are rocks in your love-feasts, feasting together without fear, pasturing their own selves."
In what follows St. Jude piles metaphor on metaphor and epithet on epithet, in the effort to express his indignation and abhorrence. But we cannot say that "no doubt also in the comparisons which he employs he has an eye to the original intention of the Love-feast." It is somewhat forced to say that the love-feast "was to have the blessing of the rain from heaven; it was meant to be a cause of much fruit in the whole Christian community." But assuming that "waterless clouds" and "fruitless trees" may be made to refer to the love-feasts, what are we to make of "wild waves" and "wandering stars" in that connection? It is better to regard the subject of the love-feasts as ended, and to take the similes which follow as quite independent. These men are ostentatious, but they do no good. It was perhaps expected that their admission to the Church would be a great gain to Christendom; but they are as disappointing as clouds that are carried past ( παραφερομεναι) by winds without giving any rain; and in the East that is one of the most grievous among common disappointments.
How the framers of the Authorized Version came to perpetrate such a contradiction in terms as "trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit," it is not easy to see. No earlier English version is guilty of it; nor the Vulgate (arbores autumnales, infructuosae); nor Beza, with whom Calvin agrees (arbores emarcidae infrugiferae); nor Luther (kahle unfruchtbare Baume). The Greek ( δενδρα φθινοπωρινα) means literally "autumn-withering trees"; i.e., just at the time when fruit is expected they wither and are without fruit. The parable of the barren fig-tree [Luke 13:6-9] is perhaps in St. Jude’s mind. The epithets form a natural climax-withering in autumn, fruitless, twice dead, rooted up. These profligates were twice dead, because they had returned after baptism to the death of sin: the end of such men is that they shall be rooted out at the last. [Psalms 30:1-12; Proverbs 2:1-22] When he calls them "wild waves of the sea, foaming out their own shames," St. Jude is perhaps thinking of the words of Isaiah: "The wicked are like the troubled sea; for it cannot rest, and its waters cast up mire and dirt". [Isaiah 57:20] But the wording of the Septuagint is utterly different from that which we have here; it is the thought that is similar.
What are we to understand by "wandering stars"? Not planets, nor comets, neither of which either seem to wander while one looks at them, or do wander, in St. Jude’s sense, as a matter of fact. Both have their orbits, to which they keep with such regularity that their movements can be accurately predicted; so that they are symbols rather of Christian lives than of the course of the ungodly. Much more probably St. Jude means "falling stars," or "shooting stars," which seem to leave their place in the heavens, where they are beautiful and useful, and to wander away into the darkness, to the confusion and dismay of those who observe them. Thus understood, the simile forms a natural transition to the prophecy of Enoch which follows. St. Jude’s thoughts have once more gone back to the fallen angels in the "Book of Enoch." Angels, like stars, have a path to keep, and those who keep it not are punished. "I saw the winds which cause the orb of the sun and of all the stars to set…I saw the path of the angels…I perceived a place which had neither the firmament of heaven above it, nor the solid ground underneath it; neither was there water above it, nor anything on wing; but the spot was desolate. And there I saw seven stars, like great blazing mountains, and like spirits entreating me. Then the angel [Enoch’s guide] said, This place, until the consummation of heaven and earth, will be the prison of the stars and the host of heaven. The stars which roll over fire are those which transgressed the commandment of God" (18:6, 7, 13-16). In another terrible place he sees stars bound together, and is told that these are "the stars which have transgressed," and that "this is the prison of the angels," in which "they are kept forever" (21:2, 3, 5, 6). These extracts make it highly probable that when St. Jude compares the ungodly to "wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved forever," he is thinking once more of the "angels which left their proper habitation," who are "kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day" (Jude 1:6). After this return to the ideas contained in the "Book of Enoch," the quotation of the prophecy comes quite naturally; and all the more so because, as Irenaeus indicates, Enoch forms a splendid contrast to the fallen angels: they lost their heavenly habitation by displeasing God, whereas he was taken up to heaven for pleasing Him. His words show that he was acquainted with the "Book of Enoch," and accepted it as trustworthy: "But Enoch also without circumcision, by pleasing God, although he was a man, discharged the office of ambassador to angels, and was translated, and is preserved even until now as a witness of the just judgment of God: while angels by transgression fell to earth for judgment; but a man by pleasing Him was translated for salvation" ("Haer.," IV 16:2). Having compared the profligates to the stars, or angels, who fell from heaven to earth, St. Jude passes on readily to quote the warning of one who was taken up from earth to heaven.
And the way in which the prophecy is introduced makes us still more clear as to the source from which St. Jude derived it: "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied." Nowhere in the Old Testament, and nowhere else in the New, is Enoch said to be "the seventh from Adam." "But he is called the seventh" in the "Book of Enoch," where he is made to say, "I have been born the seventh in the first week" (92:4), although in order to make seven both Adam and Enoch have to be counted (37:1). The number seven is possibly symbolical, indicating perfecting. Thus Dr. Westcott takes Enoch to be "a type of perfected humanity" ("Dict. of the Bible"). Yet it is also possible that he is called "the seventh" in the "Book of Enoch," and consequently by St. Jude, in order to mark the extreme antiquity of the prophecy, or to distinguish him from other persons of the same name. [Genesis 25:4; Genesis 46:9]
But a careful comparison of the passage m question, as quoted by St. Jude, and as it stands in the translation of the "Book of Enoch," is the chief means of determining the source of the quotation. This, however, cannot be made satisfactorily until we can place the Greek, of which the Ethiopic version of the "Book of Enoch" is a translation, side by side with St. Jude’s Greek.
Behold, He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon them, and to destroy the ungodly and reprove all the carnal [or, and will destroy and convict the ungodly with all flesh], for everything which the sinners and the ungodly have done and committed against Him (chap.ii.).
Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have ungodly wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him (Jude 1:14-15).
Behold, He cometh with ten thousands of Behold, the Lord came with ten His holy ones, to execute judgment upon thousands of His holy ones, to execute them, and to destroy the ungodly and judgment upon all, and to convict all reprove all the carnal [or, and will the ungodly of all their works of destroy and convict the ungodly with all ungodliness which they have ungodly flesh], for everything which the sinners wrought, and of all the hard things and the ungodly have done and which ungodly sinners have spoken committed against Him (chap. 2) against Him. [Jude 1:14-15]
It will be observed that there is nothing in the "Book of Enoch" to correspond with the saying about "the hard things which sinners have spoken against God." This in itself is almost conclusive against the hypothesis, which on other grounds is not very probable, that some later writer copied the prophecy as given by St. Jude, and inserted it into the "Book of Enoch." If so, why did he not copy it exactly? Why did he not only slightly vary the wording, but omit a rather important clause? The passage is very short, and a writer who was anxious to make St. Jude agree with the reputed prophecy would be likely to make the agreement exact. On the other hand, if St. Jude is quoting loosely from memory, or from a Greek or Aramaic original, of which the text varied somewhat from the Ethiopic translation which has come down to us, everything is explained. He would be tenacious of the clause about "hard things spoken against God," as a warning to those who "set at naught dominion and rail at dignities." It is of course possible that both the author of this book and St. Jude independently make use of a traditional saying attributed to Enoch. But seeing that the work was in existence when St. Jude wrote, was probably well known to his readers, and contains most of the passage which he quotes; and seeing that elsewhere in his Epistle he seems to refer to other parts of the book, far the more reasonable view is that he quotes directly from it. The case therefore is parallel to that of the reference to "The Assumption of Moses" in Jude 1:9. St. Jude probably believed the prophecy to be a genuine prophecy of Enoch, and the writing in which it occurs to be a genuine revelation respecting the visible and invisible world; but even if he knew its apocryphal character, its appositeness to the subject of which he is so full might easily lead him to quote it to persons who would he familiar with it. We have no right to prejudge the question of fitness, and say that inspiration would certainly preserve its instruments from wittingly or unwittingly making use of a fictitious apocalypse. Our business, as reverent and therefore honest students, is to ascertain whether this writer does derive some of his material from the document which, after the lapse of so many centuries, was given back to us about a hundred and twenty years ago. If on critical grounds we find ourselves compelled to believe that this document is the source from which St. Jude draws, then let us beware of setting our own preconceptions above the wisdom of God, who in this case, as in many more, has been pleased to employ an unexpected instrument, and has made a human fiction the means of proclaiming a Divine truth.
It remains to give some further account of the intensely interesting writing which St. Jude appears to have used. The Books of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zechariah gave to the Jews a love of visions, revelations, and prophecies which at times was almost insatiable; and, when the gift of prophecy came to an end, the three centuries between Malachi and the Baptist, during which it seemed as if Jehovah had departed from His people, and "answered no more, neither by dreams nor by prophets," appeared dreary and intolerable. What had been written by Moses and the Prophets did not satisfy. Fresh revelations were desired; and the reality being absent, fiction attempted to stop the gap. Such writings as the "Book of Enoch," "Assumption of Moses," "Testament of Moses," "Eldad and Medad," "Apocalypse of Elijah," etc., etc., were the result. This desire for prophecies and revelations passed over from Judaism into the Christian Church, and was quickened rather than satisfied by the Revelation of St. John. During the first two centuries of the Christian era such literature continued to be produced by Jews and Christians alike; and specimens of it still survive in the "Apocalypse of Baruch" and the "Fourth Book of Ezra" on the Jewish side, and the "Shepherd of Hermas" on the Christian; the "Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs" being apparently a Jewish original with Christian interpolations. But in most cases only the titles survive, and where the revelation or prophecy is attributed to an Old Testament character we are unable to decide whether the fiction was of Jewish or of Christian origin.
It is strange that such a writing as the "Book of Enoch" should have been allowed to disappear entirely from the West after the fourth century, and from the East after the eighth. The quotations in the "Chronographia" of Georgius Syncellus, some portions of which are not found in the recovered Ethiopic Version, are the last traces that we have of it until early in the seventeenth century, when it was rumored that it was extant in Abyssinia, and late in the eighteenth, when it was found there. The revelations which it professes to make respecting judgment, heaven, and hell might have been expected to make it a special favorite with Christians from the fourth to the tenth century, during which period one of the commonest topics of speculation was the end of the world. Moreover, there was the passage in Jude, with the notices in Barnabas, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Jerome, and others, to keep the book from being forgotten. But it was generally believed that the end of the world would be heralded by two great signs-the downfall of Rome. and the coming of Antichrist. About these the "Book of Enoch" contains no hint, and the absence of such material may have caused it to pass out of knowledge. Englishmen have the honor of giving it back to Europe. James Bruce brought the Ethiopic translation from Abyssinia in 1773, and Archbishop Laurence published an English translation of it in 1821, and an Ethiopic text in 1838. Since then the scholars who have edited it or commented on it have been almost exclusively Germans.
It is generally acknowledged that the book is a composite one. Probably the original writer incorporated older materials, and his work has probably been interpolated by later hands. Whether any of these supposed interpolations are Christian is still debated; and the question scarcely admits of a decided answer. On the one hand, there are expressions which would come much more naturally from a Christian than from a Jew; on the other, it is difficult to see why a Christian should insert anything at all, if he did not insert what might teach others Christian truth. Messianic passages abound; and in them the Messiah is called, again and again, "the Son of man" and "the Elect One"; twice He is called "the Anointed" (47:11; 51:4), twice "the Righteous One" (38:2; 52:6; where Laurence translates otherwise); once He is "the Son of the offspring of the mother of the living," i.e., Son of the son of Eve (61:10); and once the Lord speaks of Him as "My Son" (104:2). This Messiah is the Judge of men and angels, by the appointment of Jehovah. "In those days will the earth give back that which has been entrusted to it, and Sheol will give back that which has been entrusted to it, which it has received, and destruction (Abaddon) will give back what it owes…And in those days will the Elect One sit upon His throne, and all secrets of wisdom will come forth from the thoughts of His mouth; for the Lord of spirits hath given it to Him, and hath glorified Him" (1:10, 3). "Then the Lord of spirits made to sit upon the throne of His glory the Elect One, who will judge all the works of the holy" (60:10, 11; 68:39). But this Messiah is not much more than a highly exalted angel. He is not the Word; he is not God. That this Son of man has already lived upon the earth is not indicated. Of the name Jesus, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, or the Ascension, there is not a trace. There is no hint of baptism, or of the eucharist, or of the doctrine of the Trinity. In a word, everything distinctly Christian is absent, even from that section (37-71.) which makes the nearest approaches to Christian language, and which is probably a later insertion. It is difficult to see what object a Christian could have in writing just this and no more. The fact that so many of the angels have Hebrew names favors the view that the original was in Hebrew or Aramaic, of which the Greek, from which the Ethiopic version is taken, was only a translation. If so, this also is in favor of Jewish, rather than of Christian origin.
Those who can should read the whole book in Laurence’s translation, or still better in Dillmann’s. But the more accurately translated portions given in Westcott and in Stanton will give some idea of the whole. The latter have been used in this chapter. The book is manifestly the work of a man of the most earnest convictions, one who believes in God, and fears Him, and is appalled at the practical infidelity anti utter godlessness which he finds around him. On two things he is ever insisting:
(1) that God’s rule extends everywhere, over angels and men, no less than over winds and stars;
(2) that this rule is a moral one, for He abundantly rewards righteousness, and fearfully punishes sin. Nothing, therefore, could well be more m harmony with the spirit and purpose of St. Jude, and it ought not to perplex us that he makes use of such a book.
But in any case it may reassure us to remember that, in spite of its being quoted in Scripture, the Church has never been allowed to admit it as Scripture. The mind of Christendom has never wavered as to the real character of the "Book of Enoch." It is one of the many eccentricities of Tertullian that he upholds its authority; but his special pleading has misled no one else ("De Cultu Fern.," I 3.). Justin Martyr apparently knew it ("Apol.," II 5.), but there is nothing to show that he accepted it as a genuine revelation. Origen ("Contra Cels.," 5. 54.: comp. "In Numer. Homil.," 28:2; "In Joannem," tom. 6., cap. 25.: De la Rue, 2. 384; 4:142) distinctly marks it as uncanonical and of doubtful value; Augustine ("De Civ. Dei," XV 23. 4) and Jerome ("De Vir. Illustr.," 4.) reject it as apocryphal; and soon after their time it seems to have disappeared from Western Christendom. As already stated, it is uncertain whether St. Jude was mistaken as to the true nature of the book: it is quite certain that the Church has been preserved from being so.