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Showing posts with label Jude. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jude. Show all posts

Wednesday 16 December 2015

The Angels that Sinned (and Tartarus) Revisited

Two years ago I wrote a review of Christadelphian interpretations of 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 - two texts which have traditionally been understood to refer to fallen angels. I considered three interpretations that I have come across in Christadelphian literature. The first asserts that the 'angels' who 'sinned' (2 Peter) or 'left their first estate' (Jude, KJV) were a pre-Adamic race. The second asserts that these 'angels' were Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Numbers 16). The third (popularised in a pamphlet by Steven Cox) asserts that these texts do allude to a Jewish apocryphal tradition about fallen angels (found in 1 Enoch) but denies that Peter and Jude endorsed it, claiming instead that they view it as merely hypothetical rather than historical.

In my review, I described these three views and the arguments used to defend them. I then explained why I do not think any of them fits the language and argument of 2 Peter and Jude. Instead, I favour the traditional and standard scholarly view, that 2 Peter and Jude were referring to a fall of angels as events from the past. In this, they drew on a traditional Jewish interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4 which regards the 'sons of God' as angels.

Jonathan Burke has written a response to my review. Since his response is very brief, I will quote it in full:
This takes a very long time to say very little; Farrar basically argues that Cox’s ‘if’ interpretation is contrived. But the matter of whether or not Peter and Jude regard their source as recounting a historical event requires more work than either Farrar or Cox have carried out. Farrar’s own proposal that tartarosas in 2 Peter refers to the underworld is made without any substantiating lexical evidence (not even a search in the LXX), and without even a single citation from the relevant literature.
Burke also states the following in a footnote:
While it is true this interpretation is popular, especially among theologians, it is hardly an established position in the broader literature and is challenged repeatedly on lexical and contextual grounds.
Before addressing what Burke has said here, let us point out what Burke has not said.

(1) He does not respond to my comments on pre-Cox Christadelphian interpretation of 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6. He thus avoids the question of whether Christadelphians have historically misunderstood these texts.

(2) Burke criticizes Cox's and my exegesis as insufficient, but offers no exegesis of his own. In this instance he criticizes the work of others without providing any constructive contribution of his own.

(3) Concerning whether the writers regarded the content of the allusion in 2 Peter 2:4/Jude 6 as historical, Burke says my arguments are inadequate ('the matter...requires more work') but does not say why. He offers no specific criticism of my exegesis aside from the comment on tartarōsas, which is peripheral to the historical question.

Now let us deal with what Burke has said.

(1) Lack of references to scholarly literature

Burke criticizes me for not referring to 'any substantial lexical evidence' or 'even a single citation from the relevant literature'. The problem with this criticism is not that it is unjustified,1 but that Burke himself immediately runs afoul of it. He states that the meaning of tartarōsas as the underworld is not established in the literature and is 'repeatedly challenged on lexical and contextual grounds,' although it is popular among 'theologians.' He does not provide 'even a single citation from the relevant literature' to support these claims. In fact, according to the comments policy of Burke's own website, these comments ought to be removed!2 In any case, this post will make up for the lack of engagement with academic literature in my older post.

(2) Whether the events described in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 are regarded by their authors as historical

I argued in my post that the context of 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 demonstrates that their authors regarded the content of these allusions as historical. Burke suggested that my arguments were inadequate ('the matter...requires more work'). Burke does not say why he finds my exegesis inadequate or offer any specific criticism thereof aside from the comment on tartarōsas, which is peripheral to the historical question. Thus Burke has not raised any arguments on this point that require a response.

However, I will reiterate my argument in greater detail, and will show that scholars have reached the same conclusions as myself.

2 Peter 2:4 is the beginning of a single sentence which (in Greek) runs until the end of v. 10. The whole sentence reads as follows:
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. (2 Peter 2:4-10 NASB)
In the Greek, the four conditional statements of vv. 4-7 are all governed by a single 'if' (ei) in v. 4, and are joined together with 'and' (kai). Hence, the apodosis ('then' statement) that begins in v. 9 is dependent on a single four-part protasis ('if' statement):3
if God did not spare angels when they sinned...
    and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah...
    and condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction...
    and rescued righteous Lot...
[then] the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment...
Logically, the apodosis in vv. 9-10 follows only if all four parts of the protasis are valid.4 Moreover, in context, 2 Peter is undoubtedly making an historical argument.5 He is arguing from historical precedent that for the false teachers of his own day, 'their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep' (v. 3).6 If the examples in vv. 4-7 are merely hypothetical, they do not serve the author's rhetorical goal of demonstrating the certainty of a coming judgment in history (see esp. 2 Peter 3:3-13).7

Furthermore, all three incidents recounted by 2 Peter in 2:4-7 come from Genesis (a traditional Jewish interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4, in the case of v. 4). Indeed, in editing Jude's material this writer has rearranged the Watchers story and Sodom and Gomorrah incidents into chronological order, which suggests an historical interest.8 Moreover, he offers no hint that he differentiates the historical truth value of the incident in v. 4 from those in vv. 5-7. The same is true of Jude 6, where Jude sandwiches the reference to rebellious angels in between straightforward references to two events from biblical history (Israel's unbelief in the wilderness, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah).9 These are the simple but compelling reasons for concluding that the content of 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 was held by these authors to be historical.

The only scholar known to me who challenges the consensus above is Charles. He allows that the tradition cited in Jude 6 depends on 1 Enoch, but suggests:
The presentation of the angels in v. 6 is abrupt. This can mean one of several things. It may reflect the assumption that the audience is familiar with the traditions, needing no introduction or explanation. It may also indicate that Jude is borrowing from Jewish apocalyptic imagery without necessarily endorsing its theological content, employing the imagery for his own purpose.10
Charles goes on to argue for the latter explanation, based on the obscure argument that the Watchers in the Book of Daniel are holy, not fallen, angels. This argument has no relevance to the interpretation of Jude 6 since Jude never uses the term 'watchers'. Charles also argues in a separate paper that whereas in 1 Enoch and Jubilees, the angels' fall is explicitly linked to fleshly lust, in Jude 'it is a fall from authority, domain, and position' and thus 'The picture is one of contrast' (between Jude and the Enochic tradition).11 This argument is unconvincing because these two sins are not mutually exclusive. 1 Enoch 12.4 describes the Watchers as having 'left the high heaven, the holy eternal place' (cf. 15.3). Meanwhile, the word homoion in Jude 7 may be intended to implicate the angels of v. 6 in sexual immorality.12 Jude may differ in emphasis in his depiction of the angels' sins, but this is a very weak basis on which to argue that he did not endorse the theological content of the allusion. Charles neglects to address the point which has persuaded most scholars that Jude 6 intends to refer to historical events: that it is sandwiched between two straightforward references to biblical history. One should also note that Charles does not extend his claim concerning Jude 6 to 2 Peter 2:4.

No firm basis for challenging the consensus that 2 Peter and Jude use the fallen angels story as sacred history can be found in the text itself. Instead, it must be read into the text for theological reasons.13

(3) The meaning of Tartarus in 2 Peter 2:4

Burke criticizes my claim that tartarōsas in 2 Peter refers to the underworld.14 He states that this claim is controversial without providing any evidence, and without suggesting what he thinks the term means. His comments thus merit no response, but we can add value by surveying scholarly views on the significance of this New Testament hapax legomenon in 2 Peter 2:4.15

There is indeed some scholarly disagreement concerning the precise meaning of tartarōsas in 2 Peter 2:4. There are basically three issues here: (i) the meaning of Tartarus in Greek mythology; (ii) the use of this term in Second Temple Jewish literature; (iii) whether 2 Peter takes the term directly from Greco-Roman sources, or from Jewish sources, or both.

Tartarus in Greek Mythology

First attested in Hesiod's Theogony (c. 700-665 BC), Tartarus is 'a fearful dungeon, far beneath the earth' which served as 'a prison for superhuman rebels'.16 Burnett observes that by the classical period,
the concept of Tartarus possessed a certain clear taxonomy, which included its: 1) location within Hades, 2) function as a prison and place of punishment, and 3) stygian environment.17
One can already see a close parallel with 2 Peter 2:4, since Tartarus here is explicitly identified as a place of punishment characterized by darkness. But let us continue with standard lexical authorities.

BDAG says the following concerning Tartarus (within the entry on tartaroō since this is the word actually used in the NT):
Tartarus, thought of by the Greeks as a subterranean place lower than Hades where divine punishment was meted out, and so regarded in Israelite apocalyptic as well18
LSJ gives two definitions for Tartarosnamely, 'the nether world generally' and the same 'personified as husband of Gaia and father of Typhoeus.'19 A separate entry for tartaroō defines this verb as 'cast into Tartarus or hell.' Slater's Lexicon to Pindar defines Tartaros simply as 'the underworld.'20

Tartarus in Second Temple Jewish Literature

The noun tartaros occurs three times in the LXX (Job 40:20; 41:24; Proverbs 30:16). Its meaning in these texts is a matter of scholarly debate. Lust, Eynikel and Hauspie's A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint defines the word in these three passages as 'deep place,' 'lowest place of the deep' and 'place of imprisonment' respectively.21 While one can see how all three of these definitions derive from the Greek mythological meaning, only the third seems close to the Greek sense.

Cox, translating Job in the New English Translation of the Septuagint, transliterates tartaros in Job 40:20; 41:24 LXX as Tartarus, and on both occasions clarifies in a footnote, 'i.e. the nether world.'22 Cook, translating Proverbs, also transliterates the term as Tartarus, without offering any explanatory note.23 It appears that these translators think the LXX has straightforwardly borrowed the term from Greek mythology. This is the position taken by Goff:
References to the Titans and Tartarus in the LXX indicate that Jewish translators of Hebrew texts incorporated knowledge of Greek mythology (e.g., 2 Kgdms 5:18; Prov 30:16).24
Reading these LXX texts quite differently is Seventh Day Adventist scholar Papaioannou. In his PhD dissertation on places of punishment in the Synoptic Gospels (which offers a thoroughly conditionalist interpretation), he includes a short appendix on Tartarus. This he begins with a description of the origin of this term in Greek mythology, which is limited to Hesiod's Theogony. He does not discuss any Greek or Greco-Roman literature from the classical period or later, but turns immediately to the LXX. In Job 40:20 LXX (in the passage in which the MT speaks of Behemoth), Papaioannou interprets, 'Tartarus here is to be understood as a reference to the watery places which hippopotamus frequents'.25 Similarly, in Job 41:24 LXX (in the passage in which the MT speaks of Leviathan), Papaioannou interprets, 'The "lowest parts of the deep," therefore, can only be a reference to the depths of the "sea" (or other body of water?) that mysterious Leviathan could wade.26 Lastly, concerning Prov. 30:16 LXX, Papaioannou acknowledges that Tartarus has no equivalent in the MT. While he describes the exact meaning of Tartarus here as 'elusive,' he concludes that 'Tartarus is again a reference to the sea.'27

Problematically, Papaioannou largely interprets these LXX texts through the lens of the Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT). He appears not to allow for the possibility that the LXX translators have redacted the meaning of the these texts by introducing mythological language which was faint or absent in the Hebrew. Moreover, he neglects to adduce any external evidence that 'watery places' (a river, in the case of the hippopotamus!) falls within the semantic field of tartaros.

A more convincing exegesis of these LXX texts is offered by Burnett. Having thoroughly surveyed references to tartaros in Greek and Greco-Roman literature down through the Hellenistic period, Burnett turns to Second Temple literature, beginning with the three LXX passages. After noting that tartaros in these texts has no parallel in the MT or Targumim and 'thus seem to reflect additions to the Hebrew texts,'28 he summarizes the meaning of the term in each case.

Job 40:20 LXX indicates that four-footed beasts (tetraposin) dwell within tartaros. Burnett describes this use of tartaros as 'vague' and 'ambiguous', although he notes the possibility that the translator had in mind Cerberus, a four-footed beast from Greco-Roman mythology. He thinks that in Job 41:24 LXX and Prov. 30:16 LXX 'the translators maintained the common Greco-Roman taxonomy of Tartarus as a deep place associated with Hades.'29 He notes that
it is striking that nowhere in the LXX did a translator feel compelled to explain the characteristics of Tartarus... it seems that the translators assumed their audiences' familiarity with this concept. This hypothesis is strengthened by the LXX translators' use of mythology related to Tartarus. Numerous times throughout the LXX, the translators chose to render the Hebrew terms gibbôrgībbōrîmnpîlîm, and rpā’îm with the terms gigas and titan.30
Burnett suggests an apologetic motive for the incorporation of such Greco-Roman mythological concepts by the translators:
the Jewish translators were attempting to legitimize and legitimate their religion over that of the Greeks by proving the antiquity of their religious ideology. Considering the ingrained nature of the myth of Tartarus, the Titans, and the Giants in Greco-Roman culture, what better apologetic could Jews have brought to bear than the proof that the myths related to Tartarus were actually Jewish in origin?31
Tartarus appears in other Second Temple Jewish literature as well. Josephus, for instance, 'connected the Jewish traditions of the fallen angels to the ancient Greek myth of Titans, who were giants that rebelled against Chronos and were bound in chains in Tartarus (Ant. 1.73).'32
Particularly important to interpreting 2 Peter 2:4 is 1 Enoch. Here, Burnett summarizes:
The author of 1 Enoch not only employed Tartarus, but also derived much of his work from Greco-Roman mythology, subsuming the taxonomy of Tartarus and equating the Watcher tradition with titanomachy and gigantomachy.33
1 Enoch was originally written in Hebrew. However, a Greek version of the work (preserved in Codex Panopolitanus) refers to 'Uriel, one of the holy angels, the one over the world and Tartarus' (1 Enoch 20.2).34 This occurs in the context of descriptions of the place of punishment of the fallen angels - which have much in common with the description of Tartarus in Hesiod's Theogony.35 De Vivo notes that Tartarus refers to a place of punishment for sinners also in Philo, Josephus, Apocalypse of Ezra, Testament of Solomon, and Sibylline Oracles.36 Significantly, Sib. Or. 2.303 (302, Greek) uses the Greek word zophos to describe the darkness of Tartarus - just as 2 Peter 2:4 does.37

The use of Tartarus in Jewish literature and its relevance for interpreting 2 Peter 2:4 can be summarized as follows:
Since Tartarus appears in the LXX, the Pseudepigrapha, and first-century Jewish authors, it is probable that the author of 2 Peter was using a common word and making reference to a concept that had become familiar in Judaism in this time of religious syncretism. Further, the primary text that narrates the punishment of the sinful angels (Book of Watchers 1 En. 1–36) uses the term Tartarus.38
the concepts of Tartarus and the Greek myths of Titans and Giants underlie much of the treatment in eschatology in the Jewish literature of the [Second Temple] period.39
Tartarus in 2 Peter 2:4

There seems to be virtually universal agreement among commentators today that 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 are drawing on the fallen angels interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4 as expanded upon in Jewish tradition.40 Scholarly consensus also now holds this to be the background to 1 Peter 3:19.412 Peter and Jude use similar terminology to 1 Enoch in describing the punishment of the rebellious angels, including Tartarus, darkness, and chains.42 There is scholarly debate as to whether 2 Peter, in referring to Tartarus, is borrowing the terminology directly from Greek mythology43 or through the mediation of Jewish apocalyptic.44 The latter seems more likely:
Peter qualifies that by this divine judicial act they were ‘sent…to the underworld’ (tartarōsas). This verb, found only here in the NT, refers to being sent to Tartarus, the ‘deepest region of the underworld, lower even than Hades’ (OCD 1476)…The name given to this place of punishment in classical mythology was taken up by Jewish apocalyptic literature and appears to have found its way into the Jewish consciousness in general (Job 41:24; 1 En. 20.2; Philo, Embassy 7 § 49; 14 § 103; Josephus, Ag. Ap. 2.33 § 240; Sib. Or. 2.303). Jewish thinking modified reflection on the theme, however, as God now becomes the one who consigns the evil to ‘Tartarus itself and profound darkness’ (Philo, Rewards 26 § 152). ‘Dark Tartarus’ is juxtaposed with Gehenna (Sib. Or. 4.186). A small step was made from seeing this as the place of punishment of the Titans to speaking of it as the place where sinful angels were consigned (Glasson 1961: 62-67). This is precisely the connection made not only in 2 Pet. 2:4 but also in the Sib. Or. 1.98-103: 'Watchers… were mighty, of great form, but nevertheless they went under the dread house of Tartarus guarded by unbreakable bonds, to make retribution, to Gehenna of terrible, raging, undying fire.'45
Whence 2 Peter took the term Tartarus is not crucial to our purpose since it is, in either case, clear what he means: 'The rebellious angels had been... "Entartared".'46 Scholars point out that this does not refer to a final punishment but a provisional one in preparation for the final judgment.47 The consensus view of the meaning of 2 Peter 2:4 is shared even by conditionalist scholars.48

In summary, there is every reason to conclude that 2 Peter 2:4, like other Jewish literature, borrows from Greek mythology to describe the place of punishment for fallen angels. One cannot be sure of its geographical location in the writer's cosmology, but he clearly assumes its existence to be real.


The finding of my post from two years ago was that (1) 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 refer to an angelic interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4 (mediated by Jewish tradition), and that (2) these two early Christian writers treated these events as part of sacred history. A closer look at these two texts and their treatment in scholarly literature, with special emphasis on the reference to Tartarus in 2 Peter 2:4, has provided further confirmation of this conclusion.

Christadelphian writers long held conclusion (2) but not (1), ignoring the findings of biblical scholarship and arguing for an oblique allusion to some other biblical event. When a Christadelphian finally adopted (1), he simultaneously abandoned (2) in order to avoid the logical consequence of (1) and (2): that a New Testament writer believed in the existence of fallen angels. This simply cannot be accepted by a Christadelphian writer because his theological presuppositions do not allow it to be true. Hopefully, Christadelphians who are more interested in evidence than dogma will reconsider their exegesis of 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 - and its theological consequences.


  • 1 In my defense I would note that I was not writing an academic article but a popular-level response to a popular-level pamphlet by Cox (who himself seems to formally cite only one published source).
  • 2 The comments policy notes: 'When discussing post content, please demonstrate familiarity with the topic by referring to material from the relevant peer reviewed scholarly literature...comments failing to do so may be removed, at our discretion.'
  • 3 'vv. 4-9 involve a lengthy conditional sentence whose protasis (vv. 4-8: consisting of 4 clauses introduced by ei and continued by 3 successive uses of kai) is balanced by a concluding apodosis (vv. 9-10a)' (Richard, E. (2000). Reading 1 Peter, Jude, and 2 Peter: A Literary and Theological Commentary. Macon: Smyth & Helwys, p. 349); 'The protasis ("if") in 2:4-8 consists of three negative examples (about the rebellious angels, the generation destroyed by the flood, and the men of Sodom and Gomorrah) and two positive examples (Noah and Lot). The point of these examples is made clear in the beginning of the apodosis ("then") in 2:9: "then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial and to keep the unrighteous punished until the day of judgment."...The general conclusion (2:9) is that just as in the distant biblical past God has rescued righteous persons like Noah and Lot and punished evildoers (the rebellious angels, the flood generation, and the men of Sodom and Gomorrah), so at the future judgment (which the false teachers are denying) God will rescue the righteous and punish the wicked.' (Harrington, D.J. (2008). 1 Peter, Jude and 2 Peter. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, pp. 269-270).
  • 4 'This saying is the conclusion of the examples and is constructed using "if/then" logic. Namely, if God is capable of administering justice and deliverance in the examples above, then God still knows how to deliver the godly – the verb is in the present tense – and has not forgotten how to keep those who are not godly for the punishment that awaits them.' (Reese, R.A. (2007). 2 Peter and Jude. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p. 153).
  • 5 '2 Peter uses the watcher story as an example of God’s ability to punish the unrighteous, but he is not so interested in the details of the story as the outcome for the watchers, who are treated as real examples. Jude also uses 1 Enoch authoritatively.' (Vanbeek, L. (2000). 1 Enoch among Jews and Christians: A Fringe Connection? In S.E. Porter & B.W. Pearson (Eds.), Christian-Jewish Relations through the Centuries (pp. 93-115). London: T&T Clark, p. 103).
  • 6 'The judgment of God involves both the punishment of the ungodly and the salvation of the faithful. But is there any evidence that God does, in fact, so act? The writer provides an answer in the form of a long sentence (vv. 4-10), beginning with the conditional “if” and concluding with “then.” If this and this and this and this happened, then you have your answer; God certainly does know how to punish and to rescue. Three cases of punishment are offered: First, the sinning angels (sons of God) of Gen. 6:1-4. The author here reveals familiarity with a Jewish writing, 1 Enoch (probably dated between the third century B.C. and the first century A.D.) which offers an elaborate interpretation of biblical history. According to 1 Enoch 10, the angels of Genesis 6 became involved with earthly women and their offspring loosed war, violence, and idolatry in the world. As punishment, these angels were cast down into hell (tartarus) to be confined in dark pits until the final day of judgment. It is interesting that the writer assumes the readers not only knew 1 Enoch but also regarded it as an authoritative account of God’s activity' (Craddock, F.B. (1995). First and Second Peter and Jude. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, p. 112).
  • 7 'For the author of 2 Peter the story of the angels who sinned and their eventual judgement and punishment is a powerful example of the certainty of divine judgement on those who deny the parousia and who seek to compromise or adapt the faith of the apostles so as to make it palatable to the syncretic theosophy of the age. The message to the opponents and scoffers is clear – if God did not spare even angels who sinned, how much more certain is his judgement upon humans who do likewise?' (Billings, B. (2008). ‘The Angels who Sinned … He Cast into Tartarus’ (2 Peter 2:4): Its Ancient Meaning and Present Relevance. The Expository Times, 119(11), 532-537. Here p. 534).
  • 8 'In rewriting Jude 5-8 the author of 2 Peter has omitted the example of the exodus generation (Jude 5) and added the case of the flood generation (2 Pet 2:5). Also he has put the examples in their biblical chronological order: rebellious angels, flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah' (Harrington, op. cit., p. 269).
  • 9 'The example in Jude 6 is sandwiched between two clearly historical examples in Jude 5 and Jude 7. This suggests that Jude saw the story of the fallen angels as historical (he handles Genesis 6:1-4 with restraint unlike its use in 1 Enoch)' (Witherington, B., III. (2007). Letters and Homilies for Jewish Christians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Hebrews, James and Jude. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, p. 612); 'Here, then, [Jude] has aligned references to episodes in Exodus/Numbers, 1 Enoch, and Genesis. Nothing is said about the status of any of these works, nor is it said that one was ranked higher or lower in authority than another. Each is considered an appropriate source of information about the Lord’s punishing acts in the past. That is, like Genesis and Exodus/Numbers, 1 Enoch is a source of facts about what God has done' (VanderKam, J.C. (1996). 1 Enoch, Enochic Motifs, and Enoch in Early Christian Literature. In J.C. VanderKam & W. Adler (Eds.), The Jewish Apocalyptic Heritage in Early Christianity (pp. 33-101). Assen: Royal van Gorcum, p. 35.); 'It is possible, of course, that Jude alluded to a traditional story without believing it was historical, but this is problematic since the judgment of Israel in the wilderness and Sodom and Gomorrah are considered to be historical events. We must beware of a rationalistic worldview that dismisses such strange events as impossible. The objection most raise is that angels are asexual (Matt 22:30). Actually, Matthew did not say angels do not have sexuality, but they neither marry nor are given in marriage. There is no evidence that angels reproduce or engage in sexual intercourse. But when angels come to earth, they often come as human beings; and presumably the human form is genuine, not a charade, so that the sexuality of angels when they appear on earth is genuine… It is instructive, however, that many cultures have the story of the sexual union of angels and human beings. I would suggest that such accounts are distortions of an event that once occurred, an event that is accurately recorded in Gen 6:1-4. Nevertheless, the presence of such a story in so many cultures functions as evidence of a historical event that occurred. Do sexual unions between angels and human beings still happen today? I think the point of the imprisonment of angels and the flood narrative is that God now hinders any such unions from taking place' (Schreiner, T.R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture. Nashville: B&H Publishing, p. 451); '"Text" I refers to three groups of people: Israel in the wilderness (Num 14), the Watchers or fallen angels (I Enoch 6-19), and the cities of the Plain (Gen 19)… Both the groups and the individuals were well-known scriptural examples of judgment, who function here as types. So in these "texts" we have not verbal prophecies but historical types, to which Jude refers in summary form rather than by quoting Scripture. In verses 5-6, however, there are some more or less precise verbal allusions to the actual texts of Scripture [he cites Deut. 1:32; 9:23; Ps. 106:24; 1 Enoch 12:4; 15:3, 7; 10:12)]' (Bauckham, R. (1990/2004). Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church. London: T&T Clark, pp. 182-183); In his use of the Enochic Watchers story in Jude 6, Jude 'indirectly relays his affection and trust in the pseudepigrapha as true and authoritative material' (Opoku-Gyamfi, F. (2015). The Use of Scripture in the Letter of Jude. Ilorin Journal of Religious Studies, 5(1), 73-102. Here p. 88).
  • 10 Charles, J.D. (2005). The Angels under Reserve in 2 Peter and Jude. Bulletin for Biblical Research, 15(1), 40-48. Here p. 48.
  • 11 Charles, J.D. (1994). The Use of Tradition-Material in the Epistle of Jude. Bulletin for Biblical Research, 4(1), 1-14. Here p. 7.
  • 12 so Kelly, J.N.D. (1969). A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and Jude. London: A&C Black, p. 258.
  • 13 These theological reasons could be: (1) the canonical problem of New Testament writers apparently regarding Enochic tradition as authentic history; (2) the theological problems posed by an angelic rebellion.
  • 14 Burke rebukes me for not substantiating my claim that Tartarus refers to the underworld here, but there are two reasons why I did not. Firstly, I was responding to Cox's pamphlet, and he had not proposed a different meaning for Tartarus in 2 Peter 2:4. Cox and I apparently agree on the referential meaning of the allusions in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6; we only disagree on the rhetorical purpose and historical significance of these allusions. Secondly, the meaning of Tartarus in this text is not central to my exegetical argument. However, inasmuch as it highlights the mythological content of these passages, it is worth analyzing further here.
  • 15 Hapax legomenon is a technical term for a word that occurs only once in a body of writings.
  • 16 Bernstein, A.E. 1993. The Formation of Hell: Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian Worlds. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, p. 22. Similarly, Sacks states that in Greek mythology, Tartarus was 'a lowermost abyss in Hades' realm...the scene of punishment for the evil Titans and for the worst human sinners' (Sacks, D. (1995). 'Afterlife'. In A Dictionary of the Ancient Greek World. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 8-9).
  • 17 Burnett, C. (2013). Going through Hell: TARTAROS in in Greco-Roman Culture, Second Temple Judaism, and Philo of Alexandria. Journal of Ancient Judaism, 4(3), 352-378. Here p. 355. 'Stygian' means very dark.
  • 18 Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 991.
  • 19 LSJ.
  • 20 Pindar lexicon
  • 21 Lust, J., Eynikel, E., & Hauspie, K. (1996). A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, Part II. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, p. 469.
  • 22 Cox, C.E. (2007). Job. In A. Pietersma & B. Wright (eds.), New English Translation of the Septuagint (pp. 667-696). Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 695-696.
  • 23 Cook, J. (2007). Proverbs. In A. Pietersma & B. Wright (eds.), New English Translation of the Septuagint (pp. 621-647). Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 642.
  • 24 Goff, M.J. (2010). Ben Sira and the Giants of the Land: A Note on Ben Sira 16:7. Journal of Biblical Literature, 129(4), 645-655, here p. 653 n. 34.
  • 25 Papaioannou, K.G. (2004). Places of punishment in the Synoptic Gospels. PhD Dissertation, University of Durham, p. 173.
  • 26 op. cit., p. 174.
  • 27 op. cit., 174.
  • 28 Burnett, op. cit., p. 367.
  • 29 ibid.
  • 30 ibid.
  • 31 ibid.
  • 32 Donelson, L.R. (2010). I & II Peter and Jude: A Commentary. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, p. 116.
  • 33 Burnett, op. cit., p. 373.
  • 34 trans. De Vivo, J. (2014). 2 Peter 2:4-16: The Redaction of the Biblical and Intertestamental References Dependent on Jude 5-11 and their Overall Significance for the Document. PhD Dissertation, Loyola University, p. 49. According to Pierce, the reference to Tartarus is also present in three Ethiopic manuscripts (Pierce, C.T. (2009). Spirits and the Proclamation of Christ: 1 Peter 3:18-22 in Its Tradition-Historical and Literary Context. PhD Dissertation, Durham University, p. 51).
  • 35 Bautch, K.C. (2003). A Study of the Geography of 1 Enoch 17-19: No One Has Seen What I Have Seen. Leiden: Brill, pp. 130f. For his part, Papaioannou says little of the reference to Tartarus in 1 Enoch 20.2, merely expressing surprise at the 'lack of more references to Tartarus in...1 Enoch since it deals at most length with the fallen Watchers which in turn somewhat resembles the Greek myth of the Titans whence the concept of Tartarus emerged' (op. cit., p. 176).
  • 36 De Vivo, op. cit., pp. 50-51.
  • 37 op. cit., p. 52.
  • 38 op. cit., p. 51.
  • 39 Burnett, op. cit., p. 352.
  • 40 'First Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude appear to assume that their readers have some knowledge of a tradition concerning the imprisonment of the fallen angels in Gen 6' (Donelson, op. cit., p. 116); 'Here, 2 Peter alludes to [the Watchers] story; but, instead of using traditional Hebraic language, 2 Peter uses the language that was familiar to Hellenistic Greeks and Jews - ταρταρώας (‘sending someone to Tartarus’) is the language used to describe the lowest place of imprisonment in the Greek underworld, the place where defeated gods, ancient giants, and others were consigned to torment… In 2 Peter the angels who sinned are not spared this judgment but are rather cast into darkness to wait for the final judgment that will come (Reese, op. cit., pp. 150-151)'; cf. Harrington, op. cit., pp. 269-270; Bauckham, op. cit., pp. 186-188; Fuchs, E. & Reymond, P. (1988). La Deuxième Épitre de Saint Pierre, L’Épitre de Saint Jude (2nd ed.). Genève: Labor et Fides, p. 84; Paulsen, H. (1992). Der Zweite Petrusbrief und der Judasbrief. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, pp. 132-133; and other commentators cited below.
  • 41 'While exegetes have considered a wide range of interpretative possibilities for this enigmatic Petrine text, the consensus today is that the passage also refers to the tradition of angels imprisoned in a liminal space, a tradition that underscores justice and divine judgment' (Bautch, K.C. (2014). ‘Awaiting New Heavens and a New Earth’: The Apocalyptic Imagination of 1-2 Peter and Jude. In E.F. Mason & T.W. Martin (Eds.), Reading 1-2 Peter and Jude: A Resource for Students (pp. 63-82). Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, pp. 72-73).
  • 42 'In 1 Enoch 54, Enoch sees a valley burning with fire, where ‘iron fetters of immense weight’ are being forged for ‘the armies of Azael’ (on these chains or bonds, see also 1 En. 13.1-2; 14.5; 56.1-2; 88.1). This binding in chains is echoed in Jude 6 and 2 Pet 2:4.' (Donelson, op. cit., p. 116).
  • 43 Witherington, Ben, III. (2007). Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1-2 Peter. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p. 352; Billings, op. cit., p. 535.
  • 44 De Vivo, op. cit., pp. 47-52; Kelly, op. cit., p. 331; Schreiner, op. cit., pp. 336-337.
  • 45 Green, G.L. (2008). Jude & 2 Peter. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, pp. 250-251.
  • 46 Bernstein, op. cit., p. 251.
  • 47 '[This text] alludes not to an indefinite punishment in the future but to one that lasts only until the Last Judgment' (ibid.); 'The angels who had sinned were “thrown down”, according to 2 Pet 2:4 by God himself into “the Tartarus”, to be kept there for the coming judgment' (Mussies, G. 'Giants'. In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking & P.W. van der Horst (eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (2nd ed.) (pp. 343-345). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p. 344).
  • 48 Papaioannou (op. cit., pp. 179-180) thinks that 2 Peter refers to fallen angels but depicts Tartarus as a place of temporal banishment on the earth; his arguments are rather thin. Fudge takes 2 Peter 2:4 to refer to punishment of fallen angels, but does not see this as problematic for conditionalism 'since (1) it concerns angels, not men, and (2) it speaks of detention before judgment rather than punishment following it' (Fudge, E.W. (2011). The Fire that Consumes (3rd ed.). Eugene: Wipf & Stock, p. 226).

Wednesday 9 July 2014

The Devil in the General Epistles: A Series

Over the past few days I have uploaded a series of four papers to my website which collectively address the subject of the devil in the 'general epistles'. There are five such epistles which mention the devil: Hebrews (traditionally grouped with the Pauline epistles but no longer), James, 1 Peter, 1 John, and Jude. James and 1 Peter are discussed in a single paper because of the common tradition or literary dependence between their references to the devil.

The purpose of this series is to give a detailed, scholarly study of the texts in these epistles which shed light on the early church's understanding of ho diabolos, the devil. At the same time, the intention was to survey and critique Christadelphian exegesis of these passages. Christadelphian literature on the devil which was consulted for this purpose included Robert Roberts' Christendom Astray, Peter Watkins' The Devil - the Great Deceiver, Jonathan Burke's Satan and Demons: A Reply to Anthony Buzzard, Duncan Heaster's The Real Devil, Harry Tennant's What the Bible Teaches, Fred Pearce's Do you believe in a Devil?, and Alan Hayward's The Real Devil.

Below is a brief synopsis of each of the papers, with a PDF download link. Alternatively you can go to http://www.dianoigo.com/publications.html

Whether you are a Christadelphian or anyone else interested in what the earliest Christian communities believed about the devil, I hope you will find these papers enlightening and that they will spur you to further reflection on this important biblical topic.

The Devil in the General Epistles, Part 1: Hebrews

July 2014
A study of the single reference to the devil in the Epistle to the Hebrews, as well as the testimony of this epistle concerning Jesus' experience of temptation. Particular attention is paid to Christadelphian interpretations of these texts, since they are used as proof texts for the Christadelphians' figurative understanding of the biblical devil.
Key biblical texts: Hebrews 2:14Hebrews 2:18Hebrews 4:15

The Devil in the General Epistles, Part 2: James and 1 Peter

July 2014
A study of the two closely related references to the devil in the Epistle of James and the First Epistle of Peter respectively. Particular attention is paid to Christadelphian interpretations of these texts and showing why they are best understood to refer to a personal supernatural being. This paper also discusses James 1:13-15 since Christadelphians infer from this passage that James could not have believed in a personal devil.
Key biblical texts: James 1:13-15James 4:71 Peter 5:8

The Devil in the General Epistles, Part 3: 1 John

July 2014
A study of the texts in the First Epistle of John which refer to the devil, reading them in the context of early Christian satanology as well as the apocalyptic Jewish worldview characterized by modified dualism and cosmic conflict. The conclusion reached is that the writer understood the devil to be a personal supernatural being.
Key biblical texts: 1 John 2:13-141 John 3:8-121 John 4:41 John 5:18-19

The Devil in the General Epistles, Part 4: Jude

July 2014
A study of the puzzling reference to the devil in Jude 9. Zechariah 3:1-2 is also studied as part of the literary background to this text. An investigation of the source of Jude's allusion is undertaken, which provides the key to identifying the meaning of 'the devil' in this text. Christadelphian interpretations of this passage are described and critiqued.
Key biblical texts: Zechariah 3:1-2Jude 9

Saturday 2 November 2013

Were 2 Peter and Jude written to oppose the teachings of 1 Enoch?

This is the last installment of a three part series assessing the relationship between the New Testament books of 2 Peter and Jude and the Jewish pseudepigraphic work known as 1 Enoch or the Book of Enoch.

In his pamphlet The Angels that Sinned: Slandering Celestial Beings, Christadelphian writer Steven Cox claims that the main reason why 2 Peter and Jude were written was to denounce teachings from 1 Enoch. Noting the admonition, "Pay no attention to Jewish myths" (Titus 1:14) in another letter by a different author, Cox argues that "Peter and Jude wrote their letters to combat false teachers teaching (as one of these myths) the Book of Enoch" (part 2, final paragraph). The teaching from 1 Enoch that 2 Peter and Jude allegedly sought to refute was that fallen angels existed, or more specifically, "that angels rebelled, descended to earth and fathered demons" (part 3, subsection 7).

If you have read the two previous posts in this series, you will immediately detect two serious problems with Cox's view. In the first post we saw that 2 Peter and Jude both allude to an angelic rebellion as a real historical event, and do so in language borrowed from 1 Enoch. This does not imply that they endorsed every element of the Enochic account but it is certainly inconsistent with the notion that they sought to completely denounce it.

Additionally, in the second post we observed that Jude quoted from 1 Enoch, described the quotation as prophecy and attributed it to the historical person Enoch from Genesis 5. This too is wholly inconsistent with the idea that Jude was deprecating the contents of 1 Enoch as false myths. Cox himself acknowledges that "there are as many as 30 references to the Book of Enoch in 2 Peter and Jude" (part 2, subsection 3).

Introductory Description of the False Teachers

We now turn our attention to other evidence that Cox points to in support of his view of 2 Peter and Jude. Before doing so we ought to point out that, while it is obvious that 2 Peter and Jude were writing polemic against false teachers, no commentator (ancient or modern) that I know of, prior to Cox, has ever understood the contents of 1 Enoch to be the object of their invective.

Let us first examine the way in which 2 Peter and Jude introduce their main theme, namely the presence of false teachers in the church:
"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions. They will even deny the Master who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Even so, many will follow their licentious ways, and because of these teachers the way of truth will be maligned. And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words." (2 Peter 2:1-3 NRSV) 
"Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share, I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 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 1:3-4 NRSV)
Based on the above, we could summarize the main allegations against the false teachers as follows:
  • They brought in destructive opinions (haeresis) and deceptive words (plastois logois, literally moulded words or words of clay)
  • These words perverted the grace of God, leading to licentious behaviour
  • Through their words or conduct they denied their Master, Jesus Christ
  • There is also a hint that the false teachers were somehow profiting financially from their misconduct ("in their greed they will exploit you", cp. Jude 1:11)
Steven Cox does not mention which Bible version he quotes from, but he renders plastois logois in 2 Pet. 2:3 as "stories they have made up". The NIV also renders along these lines ("fabricated stories"), but most translations render this expression more literally as "words". The Greek certainly does not imply that these were Jewish myths; the word mythos is not used as in Titus 1:14. Thus far, we have no positive evidence to link the false teachers to 1 Enoch or anything similar.

Slandering the Glorious Ones

We next proceed to the main evidence offered in favour of Cox's view, in 2 Pet. 2:10-11/Jude 8-9:
"...the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment —especially those who indulge their flesh in depraved lust, and who despise authority. Bold and willful, they are not afraid to slander the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not bring against them a slanderous judgment from the Lord...They slander what they do not understand" (2 Peter 2:9-11, 12c NRSV)
"Yet in the same way these dreamers also defile the flesh, reject authority, and slander the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” But these people slander whatever they do not understand" (Jude 1:8-10a NRSV)
The key phrase in these two parallel passages is "slander the glorious ones." According to Cox, this indicates that the false teachers defamed the angels of God by declaring (following 1 Enoch) that there were angels who had sinned.

Now, there is considerable debate among scholars as to the exact meaning of "slander the glorious ones" here. Donelson notes in his commentary on 2 Peter and Jude (p. 250ff) the three views which have gained the most support through history. The traditional view, which now has very little support, was that the "glorious ones" were human beings in authority, either within the church or outside. However, it is difficult to conceive of "glorious ones" referring to human beings in the present age, and this term is used of angels in 2 Enoch 22:7 (a work usually dated to the first century AD, but not to be confused with 1 Enoch).

Most recent commentators are agreed that "the glorious ones" are angelic beings. Some, such as Bauckham and Witherington, view "the glorious ones" as evil cosmic powers. Witherington describes his interpretation of "slander the glorious ones" thus:
"In view of the background in Jude, this likely means that they were deriding or dismissing the dangers of the devil or demons; ‘the glorious ones’ thus is a reference to fallen angels. This is a quite vague allusion to Jude’s citation of 1 Enoch, but presumably the audience understands our author’s drift. Second Peter 2:11 then follows Jude 9, suggesting in a more general way that even the good angels had a healthy respect for the powers of darkness, even though they had more power and might than these dark powers…These good angels do pronounce judgment on the bad, but do not use invective or insults in the process." (Ben Witherington III, Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians, Volume 2, p. 356)
Other commentators (Green; Knight) understand "the glorious ones" to refer to holy angels. Knight's interpretation is typical of this view:
"A variety of interpretations has been proposed to explain this phrase but the one which seems most likely is a view of the angels as guardians of the law and of the created order. This view of the angels was common in early Christianity, as we know from Gal. 3:19 and Heb. 2:2, and behaviour which went against the Torah might easily have been construed as slander of its guardians...On this interpretation the teachers' slander of the angels must have lain in their refusal to accept moral standards, undoubtedly those enshrined in the Jewish Law, which they contravened (and encouraged others to contravene) through their belief that licence was permissible" (Jonathan Knight, 2 Peter and Jude, p. 45)
It is not easy to decide between these two viewpoints. Knight's seems more likely based on the fact that there is nothing in the phrase that explicitly describes "the glorious ones" as evil or fallen. It also agrees well with the context in which licentiousness or antinomianism was one of the false teachers' main vices. However, Witherington's viewpoint is difficult to rule out in light of Jude's supporting argument involving Michael and the devil.

The Dispute between Michael and the Devil over Moses' Body

The allusion in Jude 1:9 is puzzling as it refers to an episode nowhere described in the Old Testament. However, Clement and two other early Christian writers from Alexandria (Origen and Didymus) asserted that Jude was alluding to an apocryphal work called the Assumption of Moses. Most modern scholars believe Jude was alluding either to this or another apocryphal work called the Testament of Moses, the ending of which is lost. Richard Bauckham attempted to reconstruct the story in his book Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church. The hypothesized account is described thus by Knight:
"After Moses’ death, God sent Michael to remove his body for burial. The devil opposed this and denied that Moses could receive a decent burial because he had killed the Egyptian in the way recorded by Exod. 2:12. The devil then brought a charge of murder against Moses but this was simply slander and Michael rebuffed him by saying, ‘the Lord rebuke you!’ The devil then departed and Michael buried the body in the secret place described by Deut. 34:6" (Knight, Ibid., pp. 45-46)
There is likely some literary dependence between this account and Zechariah 3:1-2, which also features a dispute involving "the satan" (ho diabolos in the Septuagint) and an angel, in which the satan is told, "The Lord rebuke you!" Most scholars are agreed that "the satan" is an angel in this text. Jude's argument thus runs like this: if even Michael the archangel was not prepared to curse the devil, the very prince of evil, but deferred to the Lord's judgment, how much more should mere human beings refrain from cursing fallen angels?

Of course, this argument is also consistent with the "holy angels" interpretation of the glorious ones; Jude could be saying, if even Michael the archangel was not prepared to curse the devil, the very prince of evil, but deferred to the Lord's judgment, how much more should mere human beings refrain from cursing holy angels?

In summary, both of these interpretations are plausible but the "holy angels" one seems more likely to me. Either way, Jude's version of this argument depends on the premise that the devil exists as a personal angelic being. It could be in this case that Jude's allusion is merely hypothetical, but he could hardly make such an allusion if he believed the very idea of a fallen angel to be heretical!

Hence, we may infer from 2 Pet. 2:10-11 and Jude 1:8-9 that the false teachers were in some way slandering angels, and their opposition to moral commandments originating in the Law of Moses may help to explain how. There is no evidence that "slander the glorious ones" refers to a belief in the existence of fallen angels (a belief which 2 Peter and Jude had already endorsed!)

Do angels slander one another in 1 Enoch?

One of the claims made by Cox is that the book of 1 Enoch contains the kind of slander of glorious ones that Jude and 2 Peter identify in the false teachers. With reference to 1 Enoch 9:1-10 Cox writes, "Thus according to Enoch it was Michael and three other archangels, who accused Shemihazah and Azazel, but according to Peter angels (specifically Michael, Uriel, Raphael and Gabriel) 'do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord'."

This portion of 1 Enoch (as translated by R.H. Charles) reads as follows:
"1 And then Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel looked down from heaven and saw much blood being 2 shed upon the earth, and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth. And they said one to another: 'The earth made without inhabitant cries the voice of their cryingst up to the gates of heaven. 3 And now to you, the holy ones of heaven, the souls of men make their suit, saying, "Bring our cause 4 before the Most High."' And they said to the Lord of the ages: 'Lord of lords, God of gods, King of kings, and God of the ages, the throne of Thy glory (standeth) unto all the generations of the 5 ages, and Thy name holy and glorious and blessed unto all the ages! Thou hast made all things, and power over all things hast Thou: and all things are naked and open in Thy sight, and Thou seest all 6 things, and nothing can hide itself from Thee. Thou seest what Azazel hath done...11 And Thou knowest all things before they come to pass, and Thou seest these things and Thou dost suffer them, and Thou dost not say to us what we are to do to them in regard to these.'"
As can be seen, the good angels in 1 Enoch 9 bring the cause of mankind and the sins of the angels before the Most High. They acknowledge his majesty and eternal power and ask him for a ruling concerning the sinful angels. Their conduct is comparable to Michael's in the dispute with the devil, when he said "The Lord rebuke you!" In both cases angels are deferring judgment to God rather than pronouncing judgment themselves. Thus in 1 Enoch 9 the holy angels do not bring slanderous accusations against the rebellious angels, and we observe harmony rather than disharmony between 1 Enoch, Jude and 2 Peter on this point.

Denying the Lord

We noted earlier that denying the Master and Lord, Jesus Christ was one of the main vices of the false teachers according to 2 Peter and Jude. Although 1 Enoch is a Jewish work and thus does not explicitly refer to Christ, wicked men denying the Lord is also a prominent theme in this book: "mine eyes saw there all the sinners being driven from thence which deny the name of the Lord of Spirits" (1 Enoch 41:2; cp. 45:1, 46:7; 67:11). Once again, rather than containing the teachings opposed by Jude and 2 Peter, the three books are united in warning against those who deny the Lord.

Coming Judgment

A prominent theme in 2 Peter is the coming day of judgment, which false teachers scoff at (cf. 2 Peter 3:3-7). Jude also warns of the coming judgment in 1:14-15 (his quotation from 1 Enoch!) The impending final judgment, and the foolish attitude of the ungodly in relation to it, is also a major theme in 1 Enoch. For instance:
"And when the day, and the power, and the punishment, and the judgement come, which the Lord of Spirits hath prepared for those who worship not the righteous law, and for those who deny the righteous judgement, and for those who take His name in vain-that day is prepared, for the elect a covenant, but for sinners an inquisition." (1 Enoch 60:6)
In fact, the word 'judgement' or 'judgements' occurs 79 times in 1 Enoch, and the "day of judgement" is referred to six times (22:11; 22:13; 81:4; 84:4; 97:3; 100:4). Thus 2 Peter could hardly have had students of 1 Enoch in mind when he warned that the false teachers would ask, "Where is the promise of his coming?"


Finally, both 2 Peter and Jude describe the false teachers as licentious, and 2 Peter calls them "lawless" (2 Peter 3:17). Calls to holiness and warnings against the lawless are again a major theme in 1 Enoch; its author(s) could not possibly be accused of licentiousness. Consider the following:
"The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and righteous, who will be living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked and godless are to be removed." (1 Enoch 1:1-2)
"And their hands commit lawless deeds, And the sinners devour all whom they lawlessly oppress: Yet the sinners shall be destroyed before the face of the Lord of Spirits, And they shall be banished from off the face of His earth, And they shall perish for ever and ever." (1 Enoch 53:2) 
"Woe to you who work godlessness, And glory in lying and extol them: Ye shall perish, and no happy life shall be yours. Woe to them who pervert the words of uprightness, And transgress the eternal law, And transform themselves into what they were not [into sinners]: They shall be trodden under foot upon the earth." (1 Enoch 99:1-2) 
"Another book which Enoch wrote for his son Methuselah and for those who will come after him, and keep the law in the last days. Ye who have done good shall wait for those days till an end is made of those who work evil; and an end of the might of the transgressors." (1 Enoch 108:1-2)

In summary, we have found no positive evidence that 2 Peter and Jude were written to oppose the teachings of 1 Enoch. Much the opposite! 2 Peter and Jude contain many allusions to 1 Enoch and even one quotation in Jude's case. There is nothing incompatible between the message of 2 Peter/Jude and the view of angels found in 1 Enoch. Moreover, we find a great deal of thematic harmony between 1 Enoch and 2 Peter/Jude. 1 Enoch calls for the righteous to persevere in their walk with the Lord and not to give heed to ungodly men who walk in lawlessness and deny the Lord. The ungodly will be punished in the day of judgment, while the righteous will be rewarded. This is very similar to the message of 2 Peter and Jude, and this similarity is the most likely reason why 2 Peter and Jude contain so many allusions to 1 Enoch.

The overall purpose of this series has not been to put 1 Enoch on a pedestal. The consensus of the early church was that it is a non-canonical book, and this decision is binding upon all who, like myself, view the church fathers' deliberations on the canon as divinely mandated and authoritative.

The purpose has simply been to refute the novel but unsound interpretations of Steven Cox, according to whom 2 Peter and Jude have been totally misunderstood by nearly all their readers for the past 19 centuries. For all that has been written, our conclusion is very simple: 2 Peter and Jude teach exactly what they appear to teach. There is no hidden, ironic message behind their plain words.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Jude's Quotation from 1 Enoch: Straightforward Citation or Subtle Irony?

In Jude 1:14-15 we find the one and only formula quotation of apocryphal literature in the New Testament.

The text in the ESV reads as follows:
It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
The 'these' here are the ungodly people (v. 4) about whom Jude is warning his readers. Jude is almost certainly quoting from 1 Enoch, a Jewish apocalyptic work. 1 Enoch 1:9-10 reads thus in R.H. Charles' translation:
And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute judgement upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.
Scholars have generally dated this portion of 1 Enoch (called the Book of the Watchers, chapters 1-36) to the second or third century B.C., although Nickelsburg notes that the earliest traditions "may predate the Hellenistic period" (Nickelsburg, George, 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, chapters 1-36, 81-108, p. 7). Collins adds, "No section of 1 Enoch as we have it can be dated prior to the Hellenistic age, although it undoubtedly draws on older traditions" (Collins, John J., The Apocalyptic Imagination, p. 44).

What are we to make of Jude's use of this text? A surface reading gives the impression that Jude straightforwardly attributed these words to the Enoch of Genesis, and believed them to be prophecy. But is this the case?

Steven Cox's Interpretation

The Christadelphian writer Steven Cox says no. According to Cox, Jude's main purpose in writing was to oppose false teachers who were endorsing the myths found in 1 Enoch. He thus uses irony to condemn the false teachers from their own literature:
Here Jude makes it clear that this particular "Enoch" (i.e. the Book, not the Genesis patriarch) did not prophesy "concerning" these false teachers "to" Jude himself, nor "to" the faithful, but only prophesied "to" the false teachers. This is Jude's way of making it clear that the quote that follows is not from the real Enoch of Genesis, but from the Jewish author who styled himself "Enoch the Seventh from Adam" and who only prophesied to those that were taken in by his book. (Cox, Steven, The Angels that Sinned, part 2)
On the principle of Occam's Razor, Cox bears the burden of proving that this subtle irony is what Jude was "clearly" getting at. Shouldering this burden, he gives two main reasons for his position:
  1. The phrase "the seventh from Adam" is also a quotation from 1 Enoch (60:8; cf. 93:3). He therefore takes this to be a specific reference to the author of that book, and not to the real Enoch of Genesis.
  2. The rendered as "prophesied about" (or "prophesied concering") in most English translations is proepheteusen...toutois in the original Greek. The word toutois is a dative plural pronoun which would be best rendered 'to' rather than 'about' or 'concerning'. Thus Jude is stressing that the author of 1 Enoch "did not prophesy 'concerning' these false teachers 'to' Jude himself, nor 'to' the faithful, but only prophesied 'to' the false teachers" (Cox, The Angels that Sinned, part 2).
In what follows I will show why I find Cox's explanation is unsatisfactory. My argument will consist of the following five main points.
  1. It is more likely that "Enoch, the seventh from Adam" is a reference to the real Enoch of Genesis.
  2. The verb 'prophesy' should not be taken as lightly as Cox takes it here.
  3. The use of the dative plural pronoun toutois does not prove that Cox's interpretation is correct; and the translation "about these" found in most English versions is grammatically viable.
  4. The writers of the early church followed the straightforward interpretation noted above, even though Jude's quotation of 1 Enoch was very inconvenient for some of them.
  5. There is virtually no contemporary scholarly support for Cox's interpretation.
These points are in addition to other contextual clues that Jude had sympathies with 1 Enoch, such as his support for the fallen angels interpretation of Gen. 6:1-4 (see previous post on this). The above five premises will now be discussed in more detail.

Enoch, the Seventh from Adam

Cox claims that because "the seventh from Adam" is applied to Enoch in 1 Enoch, Jude must be referring to the author of 1 Enoch and not the real Enoch of Genesis 5:18-24. I cannot see how this inference is justified for the following reasons:
  1. It can be inferred from the genealogy of Genesis 5 that the Genesis Enoch was the seventh from Adam. Thus this was not a clear way for Jude to distinguish "apocalyptic writer Enoch" from "Genesis Enoch" since it also applies to Genesis Enoch in a straightforward and obvious way.
  2. This expression is not peculiar to 1 Enoch. It also occurs in the Rabbinic literature (Leviticus Rabbah 29:11), where it obviously refers to the Genesis Enoch and is given numerological significance.
  3. The passage of 1 Enoch from which the phrase "the seventh from Adam" is taken (60:8) is actually a fragment of another work called The Book of Noah, which was apparently merged with the Enochic writings at some point. The ostensible narrator at 60:8 is Noah, not Enoch, and he refers to his "grandfather" as the seventh from Adam; an obvious allusion to the Genesis Enoch.
In summary, there is little basis within 1 Enoch for taking "the seventh from Adam" as a reference to the book's pseudonymous author. It is more likely that Jude is attributing the quotation to the Genesis Enoch. We must not shy away from this simply because it leads to a historico-critical difficulty (in that either the quotation does come from the real Enoch, or Jude was mistaken about this). The early church was aware of this difficulty and faced it head-on (see below).

Cox further claims is that Jude does not use the word 'prophesy' here with reference to actual prophecy, but to the words of a charlatan which ironically will come to pass upon those who believe it. This would be a highly exceptional use of the verb propheteuo. The only thing comparable in the New Testament is Caiphas' inadvertent prophecy of Jesus' death in John 11:51; but in that case it is obvious from the text that Caiphas' words carried a double meaning not intended by him. In Jude 1:14-15 we are not told any such thing regarding the "prophecy" of Enoch.

Moreover, the content of the prophecy - that the Lord is coming to judge the ungodly - is not controversial but echoes many Old Testament passages (Deut. 33:2Jdg. 5:4; Ps. 18:9; 46:8-9; 68:17; 76:9; 96:13; Isa. 19:1; 31:4; 40:10; 66:15; Jer. 25:31; Dan. 7:10; Amos 1:2; Joel 3:2; Mic. 1:3; Hab. 3:3; Zeph.1:7-9, 12; Hag. 2:22; Zech. 3:8; 9:14; Mal. 3:3-5; cf. Charles, J.D., Jude, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 13, p. 561). It would be odd for Jude to stress that these words are only prophetic in a limited, ironic sense when there are so many genuine prophecies in Scripture that say basically the same thing!

Prophesied "to these" or "about these"?

The crux of Cox's argument is grammatical in nature, and so what follows here is necessarily quite technical. Cox boldly asserts that every English translation since William Tyndale's has made a "grammatical error" in the translation of Jude 1:14. It is remarkable that a person of unknown competence in biblical Greek should so confidently assail the work of hundreds of committees of experts through the centuries as mistaken. However, let us consider the case on its merits.

Jude 1:14 introduces the quotation from 1 Enoch with the words "proepheteusen…toutois". Nearly all translations render this "prophesied about these" or "prophesied concerning these", but Cox claims this is a grammatical error and the only permissible rendering is "prophesied to these". On the basis of his rendering, Cox argues that Jude was stressing that the author of 1 Enoch
"did not prophesy 'concerning' these false teachers 'to' Jude himself, nor 'to' the faithful, but only prophesied 'to' the false teachers. This is Jude's way of making it clear that the quote that follows is not from the real Enoch of Genesis, but from the Jewish author who styled himself "Enoch the Seventh from Adam" and who only prophesied to those that were taken in by his book." (The Angels that Sinned, part 2, not paginated)
We may observe that Cox has assumed without argument that if "to these" is the correct reading, then the limited, ironic application of the prophecy automatically follows. That this is not the case is evident from the fact that several commentators who note the possibility of the "to these" rendering provide simpler, more plausible interpretations thereof (Painter and de Silva, 2012, James and Jude; Green, 2008, 2 Peter and Jude, p. 103).

Cox states,
"If Jude had wanted to say "prophesied ABOUT these men" (NIV) he would have written proepheteusen peri touton (verb + preposition PERI + genitive case pronoun plural), but instead what Jude actually wrote was proepheteusen toutois (verb + dative case pronoun plural) "prophesied TO these men". The difference between these two constructions is always observed elsewhere in the New Testament."
Now, we can observe that while a number of commentators on Jude (Sidebottom, Bauckham, Kelly, Green) have noted the "oddness" of the dative construction in Jude 1:14, this is not the only such instance in the epistle. There is also an "anomalous" use of the dative in Jude 1:1 and a "curious" example in Jude 1:11 (Moule, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, p. 47). Knowing that Jude's use of the dative is unusual elsewhere should cause us to exercise caution before leaping to conclusions about how he may or may not have expressed himself.

However, Cox's argument does have things in its favour. "Prophesied to these" would be (from a grammatical standpoint) the most natural and literal rendering (Moule, Ibid.; Robertson, Word Pictures of the New Testament), and it is on the grounds of context that most scholars and translators have preferred the rendering "prophesied about these" or "concerning these" (Moule, Ibid.). 

Indeed, a study of uses of the verb propheteuo with an indirect object in the LXX and NT reveals that the distinction alleged by Cox does hold in most cases, especially in Jeremiah LXXIn the following passages of Jeremiah LXX, the propheteuo + dative construction is used of false prophecy: Jer. 14:14, 16; 20:6; 34:10, 14, 15, 16; 36:9, 31; 44:19 (bear in mind that the versification of Jeremiah in the LXX does not match that of the MT/English Bible). Outside of Jeremiah, the propheteuo + dative construction is used of prophecy which was deemed to be false in the Apocrypha at Judith 6:2. It is also used in the New Testament in Matt. 26:68 in a scornful context (the only occurrence in the NT other than Jude 1:14).

By contrast, the propheteuo + preposition construction is often used of authentic prophecy: Jer. 33:11, 12, 20; 35:8 (in 33:12 and 35:8 the preposition is epi; in 33:20 it is peri; in 33:11, kata). Outside Jeremiah, this construction occurs in the LXX of 2 Chr. 20:37, Ezra 5:1, Amos 7:15 and numerous times in Ezekiel (4:7; 12:27; 13:2; 34:2; 36:1, 6; 37:4, 9; etc.) In the Apocrypha such a usage can be found in 1 Esdras 6:1. In the New Testament, four such examples can be found: Matt. 15:7; Mark 7:6; 1Pet. 1:10; Rev. 10:11.

Based on the above evidence, one might be tempted to propose that a special idiom existed by which propheteuo + dative denoted false prophecy and propheteuo + preposition denoted true prophecy. However, a closer examination reveals things are not so black and white.

In Jer. 33:11 LXX, the false prophets denounce Jeremiah and accuse him of prophesying against the city of Jerusalem. The propheteuo + preposition (epi) construction is used, but it is evident that they do not view Jeremiah's prophecy as authentic. It is more likely that the preposition serves to emphasize the negativity of Jeremiah's content ("against" Jerusalem), and this negative vs. positive content distinction may explain the two syntactical constructions in Jeremiah LXX better than the true vs. false distinction.

Furthermore, according to Brenton's LXX text (differing from the NETS as well as the MT and English Bible), Jer. 36:27 LXX has God asking a false prophet, "And now wherefore have ye reviled together Jeremias of Anathoth, who prophesied to you?" (propheteuo + dative) Thus according to at least one manuscript tradition, the dative construction is used of authentic prophecy in Jeremiah LXX.

Furthermore, if we compare 1 Kings 22:18 to the parallel in 2 Chr. 18:17, we find that 1 Kings LXX uses the dative construction and 2 Chronicles the prepositional construction to render the same Hebrew. Here, Ahab is asking Jehoshaphat, (with reference to the authentic prophet Micaiah), "Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?" Moreover, even within 1 Kings, the same question occurs (identical in the Hebrew) in 1 Kings 22:8, but is rendered with the prepositional construction in the LXX (although in this verse the verb laleo is used and not propheteuo). If the two constructions can be used so interchangeably, it is difficult to claim that the dative construction is a special idiom with a meaning distinct from the prepositional construction.

As a final counterexample, in Ezek. 13:16 LXX, the propheteuo + preposition construction is used with reference to false prophecy.

Thus, while it would be broadly correct to observe a tendency toward using the prepositional construction for authentic prophecy and the dative construction for false prophecy in the LXX and NT, it is not true that the distinction is always held consistently. Thus the use of the dative construction in Jude 1:14 does not imply that Jude saw the prophecy as false. (Remember too that, even under Cox's interpretation, Jude is not labeling his quotation as false prophecy but as true prophecy from a fraudulent source).

The Grammatical Basis for "About These"

The question to which we now turn is whether the rendering "about these" or "concerning these", followed almost unanimously by English Bible translators, is grammatically viable or a grammatical error as Cox claims. Wallace's Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament specifies 27 distinct functions of the dative in koine Greek, so we ought not to oversimplify the dative as if it were merely equivalent to the English word "to". One of the functions of the dative listed by Wallace is the "dative of reference". We are instructed that with a dative of reference, "Instead of the word to, supply the phrase 'with reference to' before the dative. (Other glosses are concerning, about, in regard to, etc.)" (Wallace p. 145). 

One of the examples given by Wallace is Luke 18:31: "And taking the twelve, he said to them, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished." The Greek reads, panta ta gegrammena dia ton propheton toi huio. Thus, although 'write' is the verb here and not 'prophesy', the noun 'prophets' comes immediately before the dative construction. According to Cox's rules, it would be a grammatical error to translate "about the Son of Man" and we must instead render it literally: "everything that is written to the Son of Man by the prophets". To be consistent, Cox must further insist that the "to" is emphatic: the prophets wrote to the Son of Man and not to anyone else! Thus, Cox's approach to Jude 1:14 results in absurdity if applied consistently.

Instead, it must at least be allowed as grammatically possible that the dative in Jude 1:14 is a dative of reference. This construction is rare but it shows that "about these" is a viable translation in Jude 1:14. The translators have not committed a simple grammatical error. In light of the context, they have identified Jude as using a rare but legitimate function of the dative, namely the dative of reference.

Bauckham provides a possible explanation for Jude's unusual grammar here, noting the similarities in grammatical structure of Jude 1:14 with the formula used to introduce Scripture quotations in certain Hebrew Qumran texts. The circumstance in these Qumran texts matches Jude’s: “where the contemporary reality to which the text is understood to refer has already been mentioned and the text is introduced as referring to it” (Bauckham, Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church, p. 206). Based on this parallel, he concludes that “Jude’s rather odd use of the dative toutois represents al (which is regularly used in Qumran exegetical formulae to indicate what the text refers to)” (Ibid.) In other words, Jude's introduction of the quotation may read awkwardly in Greek because it is a Hebraism.

This is a more convincing precedent for Jude's use of propheteuo + dative than, for instance, the uses in relation to false prophets in Jeremiah LXX, none of which introduce quotations.

Jude 1:14 in the Early Church

The earliest extant Christian commentary on the Book of Jude comes from Clement of Alexandria, writing c. 182-202. His comment on Jude 1:14 (in Fragments of Clemens Alexandrinus) is simply this: "'Enoch also, the seventh from Adam,' he says, 'prophesied of these.' In these words he verities the prophecy." Not having access to the Greek text, I do not know whether Clement also uses the dative or not; however, it is plain that Clement took Jude's words at face value and not as an ironic, disparaging reference to 1 Enoch. This is important because Cox claims that the conclusion that Jude was disparaging 1 Enoch is unavoidable from the Greek. If so, it is surprising that the early church fathers (who were far more familiar with ancient Greek than ourselves) should have completely misunderstood Jude here.

Indeed, the idea that Jude appealed to the prophetic authority of an apocryphal text led to much debate on the canonical status of Jude itself:
"[D]oubts arose [as to Jude’s canonical status]…since Jude cites works such as 1 Enoch that by then were considered noncanonical…These doubts appear to have been short lived everywhere but in Syria (where it was accepted only in the sixth century)…The main issue was apparently Jude’s citation of 1 Enoch by name…While Tertullian believed that this made 1 Enoch canonical, other church leaders thought this disqualified Jude.” (Peter H. Davids, 2 Peter and Jude, pp. 7-8)
Thus, Jude's quotation from 1 Enoch caused no small controversy in the early church. This controversy could have been quickly settled by pointing out that Jude was quoting 1 Enoch pejoratively. It stands to reason that this would have been pointed out had it occurred to the early church fathers as a viable interpretation. Indeed, one of the most important witnesses against Cox's interpretation is a writer he cites favourably in his pamphlet. Augustine of Hippo vehemently opposed the Enochic tradition and was probably responsible more than any other individual for its marginalization from mainstream Christian theology. He wrote that 1 Enoch contained many falsehoods and lacked canonical authority. He certainly had every reason to support the view that Jude was citing 1 Enoch negatively, had it occurred to him as a plausible interpretation of Jude. Instead, however, he said this: "We cannot deny that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, left some divine writings, for this is asserted by the Apostle Jude in his canonical epistle" (City of God 15.23).

It seems, therefore, that if Jude cited 1 Enoch's "prophecy" in an ironic way meant to disparage that book, he did so with such subtlety that his intended meaning was completely and (as far as we can tell) unanimously reversed by the early church writers - both those who viewed 1 Enoch favourably (like Tertullian) and those who viewed 1 Enoch negatively (like Augustine).

Few, however, would read Jude's epistle and use the word "subtle" to describe its message. Jude's rhetorical style would be better described as forthright and outspoken. He does not mince words when referring to his opponents as blasphemers, unreasoning animals, etc., so it would be uncharacteristic for him to denounce 1 Enoch in a subtle, roundabout way if that was his intention.

Jude 1:14 in Modern Scholarship

If ancient scholars missed the irony which Jude allegedly "made clear" in the quotation formula of Jude 1:14, it remains true of modern scholars. Commentaries on Jude have abounded in the last couple of decades. Plenty of these have pointed out the odd way in which Jude introduces the quotation from 1 Enoch, and a minority even prefer the rendering "prophesied to these". However, one is hard-pressed to find any support for Cox's interpretation. The closest thing I have come across is a reference to an unpublished suggestion:
"In a private communication David R. Jackson, author of the important book Enochic Judaism, suggests that Jude expects his words to be taken in some ironic sense. But I have not seen that view defended anywhere in print, convincingly or otherwise, so at this juncture the claim still strikes me as odd" (D.A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament, p. 1078).
It is not clear to what extent the 'ironic sense' suggested by Jackson parallels the ironic sense argued by Cox. One hopes that Jackson will put pen to paper so that his interpretation can be put forth for peer review. Until that time, it can only be said that Steven Cox has gone to great lengths to avoid what has been fairly obvious to nearly all readers of Jude, both lay and scholarly, ancient and modern:
  • When Jude wrote "Enoch, the seventh from Adam", he meant Enoch, the seventh from Adam
  • When Jude wrote that Enoch "prophesied", he meant that Enoch prophesied
  • Whether Jude indicated that Enoch prophesied "about these" or "to these", he meant that the prophecy applied to the false teachers whom he opposed in his epistle, who ought to have heeded the warning that the writer of 1 Enoch left, "not for this generation, but for a remote one which is for to come" (1 Enoch 1:2).
In the next blog post (the final installment in this brief series) we will further examine Steven Cox's claim that the book of 1 Enoch and its adherents were the primary targets of the polemic in 2 Peter and Jude.