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  Date: 60-65 AD

The language of Jude is said to be of comparatively good Greek, which doesn't agree with a Galilean fisherman as the author. But just like in the case of the rest of the universal epistles, is it really impossible for Jude to have learned Greek, especially being one of the Twelve, his brother being such a high figure who certainly must have known relatively good Greek. In any case, it is not to the degree of for example Luke or the epistle to the Hebrews. After all, some of Bar Cochbah's letters to fellow Hebrew fighters were in Greek as well, which is how we know his name in Greek. That Jude quotes the Apocalypse of Enoch in its Greek is therefore also not very relevant to authorship, since someone with okay knowledge in Greek, as Jude could have obtained, would have used the LXX and the Greek translations of Jewish works as they were more widespread, and him writing a Greek document anyway. Thus the argument from language can only support pseudonymity if the rest of the factors that go with a forgery do.

Aside from the arguments from language, there is little else that really ties Jude as a forgery. One has to wonder who would create a forgery that is both very short and would attribute it to Jude of all choices. Kümmel tries to wave the latter problem for inauthenticity by the fact that Hegesippus (writing c.160) narrates a few legends about Jude:
According to Hegesippus, at the end of Domitian's reign (c. 95), two grandsons ofJude, the brother of the Lord, were accused of belonging to the family of David, whom Domitian had ordered slain. The emperor, having personally examined the two grandsons, dismissed them as harmless. They were then rulers of the churches (eigeisasthai ton ekkleision) and lived until the time of Trajan (98-117). But from that account we learn only that the name of this brother of Jesus was still known toward the end of the first century.
But it does not mean that Jude was a popular figure by around 100 (the approximate time given for the letter's composition by most). It only means Hegesippus narrated some stories about Jude's grandsons which took place around that period, and certainly doesn't mean Jude was in any way popular around then, and so the objection against inauthenticity stands. Robinson rightly noted this when he wrote,
Certainly the epistle could be an attempt to silence latter-day scoffers and heretics in the name and authority of the chief of the apostles - although why anyone should resort for this purpose to the mantle of Jude is far from clear.
For this reason many have maintained that this was a genuine letter by an actual Christian leader named Jude. But then if this is not the "brother of James" who was the brother of the Lord, we are including too many coincidences. As Kümmel says,
Obviously, the Epistle of Jude pretends to be written by this brother of Jesus. For the supposition that the author was an otherwise unknown Jude who had a brother James (Appel, Henshaw) is extremely improbable in view of the linguistic accord between Jude 1 and Jas. 1:1. And the equating of the author of Jude with Bishop Jude named in the old Jerusalem list of bishops (H. Grotius, Streeter; similarly A. Adam, ZKG, 4, Folge 6, 1957, 46, and G. Klein, Die Zwölf Apostel, FRLANT, N.F. 59, 1961, 100) runs aground on the fact that we know nothing as to whether this bishop had a brother named James.
Nor is it understandable how, and more importantly, why anyone would insert the pseudepigraphal note "brother of James" if originally the letter did not have it, having been written by a different Jude than the Apostle. As far as the other objections go, they are, for one, concerning the fact that Jude 1:17 seems to look back on the Apostles as an author having written from the second or third Christian generations. Kümmel adds that, the letter fights heretics in the traditional anti-heretical polemic of quoting late Jewish and early Christian prophecies typical of "the late period of primitive Christianity" as well as the exhortation to keep the faith of the saints (1:3), which is so definitive of early Catholicism (80-140). But is it really impossible that Jude is referring his audience to the group of apostles without excluding himself similarly to how Paul does (1 Cor. 12:28, 15:7, Rom. 16:7)? It certainly may seem odd, but it is not impossible, especially in connection with the address (1:1) which calls Jude, who is clearly thought of by the hypothetical forgerer as an apostle, simply a "servant of Christ". As for the way in which Jude fights the heretics, it is certainly not only through quotations of past prophecies and a referral to the "faith of the saints", which is in any case elaborated indirectly. The audience is clearly deeply-rooted Christians who didn't need to be explained to what sins are and why they are forbidden despite the freedom in Christ (1:4), and so there is really nothing that requires a date of 70-100 simply because of verse 1:3, which is the same concept found in Paul (1 Cor. 4:17, Rom. 1:12), simply somewhat more elaborated but nothing that requires a time long after 60 AD. And if Jude cites a Christian prophecy, must he be speaking exclusively in the period of 80-120? We see in Paul that prophecies existed (1 Cor. 14:29, etc.) and so why must one assign a late date to this, especially since the later writings such as 1 Clement use Scripture and scriptural arguments in support of their occasioned mention of earlier prophecies to combat heretics, not the bare layout of Jude of denouncing heretics simply by enumerating their sins, appealing to the "faith delivered to the saints" and the reminder of an ancient prophecy. This points to a genuine situation where the audience knew things not necessary to be listed, such as the fact that, although the "faith delivered to the saints" is explained as the opposite of the actions of the heretics, it is nevertheless not explained nor defended through Scripture except by pointing to examples of similar errors in the Old Testament, a sign of primitiveness: Nothing like in 1 Clement which directly points to something having been said by an Apostle, such as "the law is good only if used as a mirror for sins, etc.." The readers are left to deduce from Old Testament halakah just like in Paul's letters (cf. the argument in Galatians 3). I don't see any "traditional style of polemic against heretics" in 1:4,8,10-13,16 as Marxsen does, since the reasoning behind the attacks is clearly explained. Perrin's assessment that, "'the faith once for all delivered to the saints'; faith is the acceptance of authoritative tradition, and the writer denounces the heretics and admonishes the faithful on the authority of that tradition" does not necessitate anything decades after 60, especially seeing Paul's statements in places like 1 Cor. 4:17 (or 2 Thess. 2:2), which seems to imply one of the Apostles could certainly make a statement such as 1:3, given the occasion of heresy spreading and challenging long-established (as seems to be the case from 1:4) values and codes of living.

The opponents are not the Gnostics of the 2nd century, and the Christian Gnostics certainly could have existed in 60, having formed an ill-conceived notion of the liberty in Christ, as apparently some along similar lines in Colossae had (not written later than 75). Beyond their individual indulgences in pagan sins, they don't have any organization or complex beliefs about the nature of Christ and God as do the Gnostics of the 2nd century. Perrin maintains that verse 19 shows that Jude deals with Gnostics because the word translated as "worldly/natural" is psychikoi, a technical term used by the Gnostics, but just because this term here, which describes the heretics' line of behavior matches a term that was used by Gnostics, does not mean Jude refers to Gnostics, or much less subtly talks about them, since he would have included more against them other than their sins (cf. 1 John).

I can't agree with Robinson that the quotation of 1 Enoch points toward a primitive date, since 1 Enoch was cited and considered authoritative as late as Tertullian (c.200). Since the earlier witnesses (the 2nd century) are unanimous in accepting Jude, Kümmel is most likely correct in asserting that the doubts over Jude's genuineness in the 3rd and 4th centuries were entirely due to its citation of non-canonical sources:
The early ecclesiastical attestation is at first good but then becomes uncertain. II Peter used Jude, and the Muratorian canon, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria regarded it as canonical. On the other hand, Origen quoted it, but did not regard it as a part of the canon (Eus., EH VI, 25). Eusebius (EH II, 23, 25; III, 25, 3), like Hieronymus, considered Jude as among the "disputed" writings. Nevertheless, this doubt of the canonicity of Jude obviously does not rest upon an independent tradition, but upon the offense caused by Jude's use of the Apocrypha.
In any case, it was apparently somewhat of a practice to quote non-canonical, but instructive, works to prove a point, as is shown by the quotation of Epimenides in Titus 1:12. I cannot agree with Perrin's assessment that verses 20-21 represent a "developing Christian liturgy" testifying to "the liturgical development of a trinitarian formula" since we see such praise in the Pauline letters. Overall, the case for Jude having written this can be established. A forgerer would have attacked the heretics through more than just appealing to tradition, since either he would have appealed to arguments against their positions, or would have explained what the tradition "entrusted to the saints" is so as the heretics differ from it; instead he does neither. Kümmel already points out that the author is likely a Jewish Christian, since he knows the Jewish apocalyptic works (1:9, 14), and other Jewish works (1:9, 11). The letter therefore very likely comes from the Apostle Jude, from either 60-90 AD, but a date probably closer to 60-75.


  1. Kümmel, W.G., Introduction to the New Testament, pp.300-301
  2. Robinson, J.A.T., Redating the New Testament
  3. Kümmel, Op.cit., p.301
  4. Perrin, Norman, New Testament Introduction, p.260
  5. Kümmel, Op.cit.