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The book of Jude contains many quotes and references to the Old Testament. However, there are two quotes which seem to be from elsewhere.

The first is attributed to The Assumption of Moses.

Jude 9 But even when Michael the archangel was arguing with the devil and debating with him concerning Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a slanderous judgment, but said, “May the Lord rebuke you!” [NET Bible]

However, no surviving copy of Assumption contains this quote. Origen is the first on record to attribute it this way. Some say it is an allusion to Zechariah 3:1,2.

The second is a direct quote from 1 Enoch 1:9.

1:14-15 Now Enoch, the seventh in descent beginning with Adam, even prophesied of them, saying, “Look! The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all, and to convict every person of all their thoroughly ungodly deeds that they have committed, and of all the harsh words that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” [NET Bible]

First Enoch is only considered canonical by the Ethiopic Orthodox Church.

Did the author of Jude consider these works to be authentic Scripture in the same vein as the Tanakh? Do these quotations demonstrate the early Christians and their Jewish contemporaries had established a larger canon that was later reduced? In short, why did Jude quote from these materials?

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    In what sense is this question hermeneutical rather than doctrinal? Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 16:18
  • @Eli Rosencruft: I rephrased the question a touch so that it's (in my opinion) on topic. What do you think? Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 16:30
  • I was thinking over the weekend about this same question to "save" Jude. See also: Why is the Book of Enoch not regarded as canonical? on Christianity. Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 16:32
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    This is iffy - I was on the edge about whether or not to VTC.
    – Dan
    Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 21:11
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    Canon and scripture are two different things. The former implies a relatively fixed or stable list of sacred texts. The latter simply implies religious writings.
    – Lucian
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 22:06

3 Answers 3

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NT authors quoted works they considered authoritative, and works they did not. For example it would be a big leap from Titus 1:2 to claim that Paul regarded Epimenides as fully reliable:

One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”ESV

Therefore we cannot tell by whether something is regarded as authoritative just by whether it is quoted and other reasoning must be applied. As an example of other reasoning, consider the case when sources are explicitly endorsed or even called into question, for example 2 Peter:

15And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.ESV

and conversely, Galatians 2:

11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemnedESV

In this case it is up to our own judgement to reason that Paul does not intend us to reject Peter's writings and authority on the basis of his account of their clash, and to reason whether Peter's endorsement of Paul's letters applies to all those we attribute to him.

My reasoning about 1 Enoch would be that there is nothing in Jude's letter to indicate that Jude considers the writing to be scripture, because of the combined weight of the following (none of which is anywhere near conclusive on it's own):

  1. Authority is not implied simply by the presence of a quote
  2. The quote is not attributed
  3. The quote is not part of a pattern of quotes that might indicate general acceptance of the authority of a writing (like the many NT quotes of Isaiah and other OT books for example)
  4. There is no explicit endorsement
  5. The authority of the source is in no way central to the argument Jude is making (cf. Matthew 19:4-6)
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We must conclude that Jude had privy to non-canonical sources. Example: In Joshua 10:13 along with 2 Samuel 1:18 is referenced by Timothy to the book of Jasher. Numbers 21:14 references the Book of The Wars of The Lord. Also, in 1 Kings 14:19,29 references both The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel and The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. The fact must remain that though we have found no other sources for the battle for Moses body does not prove it doesn't exist. We just haven't found it yet.

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    Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 3:11
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The Church Fathers acknowledged that the Apostles quoted from apocryphal books on occasion. The quote from Enoch in Jude is one example. Another is in Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians, from the apocryphal book of Jeremiah:

But as is written, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them who love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Likewise from the same book:

Therefore, he says, "Arise, you that sleep, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light" (Ephesians 5:14)

The Chalcedonian Church Fathers held that these books by their time had beccome so adulterated as to be unreliable, and hence were included in those books considered to be "bering false inscriptions and purporting to be holy" under Canon LX of the Apostolic Canons, later ratified under the 6th and 7th Ecumenical Councils (680-681 and 787, respectively) as well as the local Council of Laodicea (363-364).


The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is not within the Chalcedonian Church - i.e. the Church that accepted the 4th Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon. The schism resulted over a debate over Christology and it spawned the Oriental Orthodox Church of today, which also includes the Copts and the Malankara Orthodox Church of India. Having departed the Church at that point (451), it felt uncompelled to accept later canons of the Chalcedonian Church.

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