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Epistle of Jude
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Epistle of Jude

The brief Epistle of Jude is a book in the Christian New Testament canon.

Author and date

The epistle claims to have been written by "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James" (NIV), although that authorship is doubted by many scholars. As opinions and traditions within the Christian community still cloud the true identity of Jude or Judas, the brother of Jesus and James, the issues of the apostle's identity are discussed at Jude Thomas.

Norman Perrin writes (The New Testament: An Introduction, p. 260), "The letter is pseudonymous, as is all the literature of emergent catholicism in the New Testament." Though the text claims to come from Jude, who is called also "Lebbaeus" (Matthew 10:3) and "Thaddaeus" (Mark 3:18), its real authorship was called into question when Origen first spoke of the doubts held by some—albeit not him. Eusebius classified it with the "disputed writings, the antilegomena, and though it was eventually accepted within the canon (as early as the Muratorian canon), later writers largely objected to the citations of apocryphal literature, unusual in New Testament books.

Doubts regarding its authenticity were revived at the time of the Reformation. The debate has continued over the author's identity as the apostle, the brother of Jesus, both, or neither.

Since at least the beginning of the 20th century the Epistle of Jude has been considered an anonymous work composed as late as the first quarter of the 2nd century. Based on the nature of the allusions to the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, citations of rabbinical works like the Book of Enoch and the Apocalypse of Moses, the earliest apostolic followers seen by this author from some distance in time, and the appropriation of the authority of the historical Jude in itself, current belief places its composition in Palestine, in the first quarter of the 2nd century.


The Epistle of Jude is a brief book of only a single chapter with 25 verses. It was composed as an encyclical letter that is not directed to the members of one church, but is meant to circulate and be read in all churches. The form, as opposed to the earlier letters of Paul, suggests that the author knew Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians or even that the Pauline epistles had already been collected and were circulating when the text was written.

The fluent Greek style is idiomatic and cultured. The epistle is addressed to Christians in general (1:1), and it designs to put them on their guard against the misleading efforts of certain teachers of error, to which they were exposed. Examples of heterodox opinions that were circulating in the early 2nd century include Docetism, Marcionism, and Gnosticism.

The epistle's style is combative, impassioned, and rushed. Many examples of evildoers and warnings about their fates are given in rapid succession. The epithets used against unorthodox teachers are some of the strongest and most vitriolic of any in the New Testament.

The doxology with which the epistle concludes is regarded as one of the finest in the New Testament.

The striking resemblance this epistle bears to Second Epistle of Peter suggests that the author of one had seen the epistle of the other. Because this epistle is much shorter than the pseudepigraphy that ascribed to Peter, and for various stylistic details, the scholarly consensus is that this work was the source for the similar passages of the other.

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