Jude 14—Doesn’t Jude cite the uninspired Book of Enoch as divinely authoritative?
Problem: Jude quotes The Book of Enoch, saying, “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, `Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints’ ” (v. 14). However, Enoch is not an inspired book but is considered pseudepigraphal (a false writing) by the Christian church.
Solution: First, it is not certain that Jude is actually citing the Book of Enoch. He may simply be mentioning an event which is also found in this uninspired book. It is noteworthy that Jude does not affirm that Enoch wrote this statement. He simply records that “Enoch said” (v. 14). Jude may have been using a valid oral tradition and not the Book of Enoch.
Furthermore, even if Jude took this statement from the Book of Enoch, it is still true. Many true statements can be found outside of Scripture. Just because Jude quoted from a non-canonical (extra-biblical) source does not mean that what he says is necessarily wrong. Not everything in the Book of Enoch is correct, but this does not warrant the conclusion that everything in it is wrong.
Further, the Apostle Paul cites truths from pagan poets (Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 15:33; Titus 1:12) without implying that these books are inspired. Indeed, even Balaam’s donkey uttered a truth (Num. 22:28). The inspiration of the Book of Jude does not guarantee whatever else is said in an uninspired source it cites—it only guarantees the truth it cites.
Finally, the external evidence for Jude is extensive from the time of Irenaeus (ca. a.d. 170) onward. It is in the Bodmer papyri (P72) of a.d. 250, and traces of it are found even earlier in the Dicache (2:7) which probably dates from the second century. So there is evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Jude which is not diminished by this allusion to what Enoch said. The existence of Enoch and his communication with God is a fact established elsewhere, both in the OT (Gen. 5:24) and NT (Heb. 11:5).
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.