What do you know about the book of Jude? My guess would be very little. No matter how devout a Christian you may be, it is a book that is rarely quoted or discussed. It is the shortest book of the Bible, however, which could explain it. The book is actually only twenty-five verses and it’s more than a little mysterious. It’s not written to any specific person or church or region. It’s also an ongoing debate as to who actually wrote the book of Jude.
As I was reading I immediately questioned the authorship. I had no idea that it was a scholarly debate that has been in place for centuries. I only wondered because the preface claimed the author was “Jude, half-brother of Jesus” and the first verse of the book in the New Living Translation is, “This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.”
I was immediately perplexed. Are you the half-brother of Jesus or were you his slave (other translations refer to him as a servant which makes more sense to me)? And if you are the half-brother of Jesus, why aren’t you playing that card? I mean, if I were related to Jesus Christ and was trying to gain clout in a church setting, I would definitely let people know. He mentions James, after all.
After beginning my research I discovered that James is ambiguous as well. To which James is he referring? There are many James in the Bible. People are also constantly having their names changed in the Bible which makes this all doubly confusing. I mean, had I been editing his letter I would have recommend to Jude that he be clearer to save future scholars years of trouble, but alas.
The Bible is, however, very intentional. So perhaps this is the way the Lord intended the book to be written. (In which case my editing would have been meddlesome.) And perhaps Biblical scholars are wasting precious energy by troubling over such a small detail.
One truth we do know is that the letter was not written by Judas Iscariot who famously betrayed Jesus and then hung himself. It could have been written by Jude of the apostles (also referred to as Thaddeus), but at one point in the book he refers to “the apostles”. Does that mean he wasn’t an apostle or that he was humble enough not to refer to himself as one?
I’m sure it’s irrelevant, but people like to ponder things. If the world invested half as much energy trying to unravel the mysteries of the Bible as we did for Harry Potter, we’d have a much more fully informed faith.
I don’t have an answer to my query, by the way. And if scholars who have been studying this mystery for years haven’t solved it, I’m certainly unlikely to uncover a mystery with a cursory internet search. The message of the book isn’t in the author; it’s in the message.
This letter, written by the elusive Jude, is a warning to the church and the Christian faith. It is warning us not to follow false prophets. That while the grace of God is magnificent, it is not license to pursue desires of the flesh just because you know the Lord will forgive you. Christ died on the cross to save us so we could escape the fiery depths of Hell, but also because he loved us and isn’t it customary to show someone who loves us a reciprocal level of respect, at least? Not to exploit this ultimate sacrifice.
Jude reminds us that Hell is real. That Satan is real. That the possibility of spending eternity there is real. (Which is fitting since it is followed by Revelation.) Do not be deceived, but spend your time on earth wisely.
- St Jude (blackswantheology.wordpress.com)