Friday's Orality/Rhetoric Lesson
Eybers, I.H. "Aspects of the Background of the Letter of Jude." Neotestamentica 9:1 (1975), 113-123.
Eybers questions the background of Jude, as he notes the immediate move into polemics. It is worthy asking who the recipients of the letter were and what could have provoked this counsel (Eybers 1975, 113).
The heresy being resisted "is decidedly practical, without much metaphysical speculation" (Eybers 1975, 114). Eybers reaches this conclusion based on the descriptions of the heretics in verses 4, 16, 18, and 19.
Eybers notes that Jude's reference to a book of Enoch is significant. Enoch 1:9 is quoted and the text is considered authoritative, though non-canonical. It was apparently well knwon to the audience, which indicates an association with Jewish apocalyptic groups (Eybers 1975, 115).
Eybers also notes the important role of angels in Jude (Eybers 1975, 116). Their place is prominent in Jewish apocalptic literature. Here the angels are involved in disputes betwen worldly and spiritual issues. The dualism of the heretics can be applied to the angelic conflicts as well (Eybers 1975, 117).
Though some are quick to conclude that Jude is speaking against Gnosticism, Eybers notes that it was only one of many human systems which would separate religion and morality (Eybers 1975, 118). People frequently take the forms of a religion to substitute for moral and ethical requirements and vice versa. Gnosticism as found in the second century is not clearly identified in Jude (Eybers 1975, 119).
Eybers concludes that there is nothing inherent in Jude that requires us to look outside of a first century A.D. Jewish or Christian culture. There is no need to assign it a later date based on its background (Eybers 1975, 119).