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Atlanta, 12 April 2017

This week, I'm a lonesome bachelor. My wife is in her native England. Not that she's left me to fend for myself completely. Vicki likes to prepare meals in advance -- what a gal! -- since she knows the last time I cooked any (edible) dinner was in 1998. I also cooked a few meals in the Boy Scouts (early '70s). (Did I say "cooked"? I meant burned.)

The only other thing I'll mention in the newsletter opening is my Sunday sermon, The Seven Last Sayings of Jesus on the Cross, which you find by clicking this sermon link. Hope you like it!

Surprise 6: 1 Enoch in the NT?

The book of Enoch (or 1 Enoch) is quoted verbatim in Jude, to the surprise of many Christians. Jude 14 reads, It was also about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “See, the Lord is coming with ten thousands of his holy ones..." Yet 1 Enoch is part of the Pseudepigrapha, not the OT. What are we to make of this? There are three possibilities:

1. Jude believed the portion of Enoch he was quoting was correct, or applicable in the situation Jude was addressing -- but not necessarily the rest of the work.
2. Jude believed the entire book of Enoch was inspired, but he was wrong.
3. Jude thought the entire book of Enoch was inspired, the inclusion of Jude in the New Testament suggests he was right, and our Bible is missing a book.

We must proceed carefully. The NT is full of quotations from a number of ancient works, some written by believers, some by nonbelievers. For example, Paul's speech on Mars Hill (the Areopagus) has at least five allusions to or citations of pagan writers. Would anyone consider Paul to believe these writers to be inspired? Unlikely.

Yet the case of Jude is a somewhat different, since Enoch is not an unbeliever, but the Old Testament man of faith described briefly in Gen 5 and Heb 11. Nevertheless, a citation from an ancient work no more proves the inspiration of the work cited than a preacher's quotation of a modern poem or song suggests he takes the whole work as infallible.

The book of Enoch has survived in the ancient Ethiopic language (40 manuscripts), and fragmentarily in Aramaic, Greek, and Latin, so we don't have to guess what the writer of 1 Enoch believed. His views shine through in the writing. Some fit well with the Bible, while others are bizarre and hard to believe. Yet there is much to commend the book of Enoch, as it reflects a thought-world not unfamiliar to the New Testament writers. Still, I am not persuaded of its inspiration.

For these reasons, I reject possibility (3). Enoch's being cited is no compelling reason for the entire work being included in the Bible. Possibility (1) seems likely, although the theological implications of the second view are hardly fatal for a Bible believer. Weigh the evidence and make your own decision.

Jude 9 also quotes from an apocryphal work called The Ascension of Moses. The same reasoning as to the inspiration (or otherwise) of 1 Enoch applies here, too.

2 Maccabees cited in Hebrews
Here's one last citation: Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection (Heb 11:35b). This is a clear reference to the OT Apocrypha, in particular to 2 Maccabees 7, where a woman and her seven sons prefer gruesome martyrdom in a frying pan -- with ultimate resurrection -- to abandoning the faith of their fathers. Listen to the podcast here

Further facts
For a list of all non-OT citations in the NT, click here. And for those who love Bible trivia, 1 Enoch is actually included in the OT in Ethiopia, as is another work, Jubilees. (The Ethiopians are proud of their traditions.)

Next week
Jesus grew up in a really big family!

Book Fund: Gifts and Needs

Every year the international Bible teaching ministry gives away or subsidizes over $10,000 in teaching materials. This is nearly always in the developing world, and includes videos, audio CDs, books, Bibles, as well as translated materials. Current needs include:
  • Accra & Kumasi, Ghana (April 2017):  $2338
  • Durban & Johannesburg, South Africa (Jun 2017):  $896
  • Kigali, Rwanda (Mar 2017):  $260
  • Kuwait City, Kuwait (Mar 2017):  $320
  • Lusaka, Zambia (Jun 2017):  $98
  • Nairobi, Kenya (Apr 2017):  $910
  • Nigeria (Ministry Academy):  $780
  • Salvador, Brazil (May 2017):  $65
If you'd like to help, you can donate through the website (scroll down to Materials), or just send an email if you have any questions. Thank you!

In Him,

All material (c) 2017 by Douglas Jacoby.       unsubscribe from this list           update subscription preferences