The Letter of Jude is a short, but fascinating writing of the New Testament. Much like the equally short Letter to Philemon by Paul, there can be a tendency to fly through these letters without stopping to appreciate the importance of the message. (Hopefully we will be able to do so with this ongoing study.) This letter provides us a small insight into Judah’s fierce reaction to false teachers and bad morality. In many ways, this letter shows that the early Church had real issues it needed to deal with, some of them not unlike ones we deal with today. A couple of further points to consider before we proceed:
In Greek, the writer calls himself Ioudas. For various reasons, most likely do to connection to Judas Iscariot, many translations have preferred to translate the name as Jude. Along with Jude or Judas, it is also possible to refer to this writer as Judah. N.T. Wright prefers to call him Judah, since that name is both “royal and ancient.” I will use them interchangeably during this study, although I tend to prefer Judah. It should be noted that there are a number of people with the same name mentioned in the New Testament, including Judas Iscariot, Judas Barsabbas (Acts 15:22), the Apostle Judas the Son of James (Lk 6:16) sometimes called Thaddeus (Mk 3:18), and another Judas, a kinsman of Jesus and brother to James (Mt 13:55/Mark 6:3). Since the latter Judas is the only one mentioned to have a brother named James, which our letter writer refers to in the opening verse, most scholars tend to believe that this is the Judas who wrote the epistle.
As with many books in the New Testament, it is difficult to give a precise date of composition. Some commentaries date it as early as the 50’s while others think it was composed at the beginning of the second century. The letter is not addressed to any particular person or community, and the opponents to which Jude describes cannot be pinpointed precisely. Many scholars are uncertain as to whether he is arguing against Jews, Jewish-Christians, or Gnostics. Also, there is the issue of the literary connection between Jude and 2 Peter. The possibility that one drew information from another is likely, but did Jude borrow from 2 Peter or vice-versa?
Resources that I will be utilizing:
Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament
The Navarre Bible New Testament Compact Edition
The Early Christian Letters for Everyone (NT Wright)
Interpretation: First and Second Peter, James, and Jude (Perkins)
New Oxford Annotated Bible 4th Edition