Ancient books referred to in scripture

(Angela Hochstetter) #1

Hi there! I am reading Jude and notice that events recorded in the Assumption of Moses (v 9) and in The Book of Enoch (v 14) are referenced as though they are common knowledge. I am wondering… are these books we as Christians should be familiar with? Since they are not in the Bible they are not scripture (right?) but how should we regard them? Are they even texts we can find anymore? I have seen some things online but am not sure if they are the actual texts or someone’s literary work. Any guidance is helpful. Thanks :slight_smile:

(Jimmy Sellers) #2

I think that is a very good question. As a point of interest Enoch is in the Ethiopian cannon.

You might add to that lost books of the Bible.

A list of these lost sources would be extensive; it would include at least the following: the Book of the Wars of Yahweh (Num 21:14), the Book of the Just (Josh 10:13, 2 Sam 1:18), the Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kgs 11:41), the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel (1 Kgs 14:19, 2 Chr 33:18; cf. 2 Chr 20:34), the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah (1 Kgs 14:29, 15:7), the Annals of Samuel the seer (1 Chr 29:29), the History of Nathan the prophet (2 Chr 9:29), the Annals of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer (2 Chr 12:15), the Annals of Jehu son of Hanani (2 Chr 20:34), an unknown and untitled writing of Isaiah (2 Chr 26:22), the Annals of Hozal (2 Chr 33:18), and an unknown lament for Josiah by Jeremiah (2 Chr 35:25). In the Apocrypha (defined below) lost books also are mentioned; in particular, 1 Maccabees 16:24 refers to the Annals of John Hyrcanus. Within the Pseudepigrapha themselves there are references to “documents” now lost (cf. e.g. TJob 40:14, 41:6, 49:3, 50:3).
Charlesworth, J. H. (1985). Introduction for the General Reader. In The Old Testament pseudepigrapha and the New Testament: Expansions of the “Old Testament” and Legends, Wisdom, and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms and Odes, Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works (Vol. 2, p. xxi). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.

And from the new testament we are sure that not everything that Jesus did was recorded as we see in John:

25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did, which—if they were written down one after the other—I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written. (Jn 21:25)

If you are interested in this subject here are a few good resources:

He also has a new Second edition.
This book is a very good book and explains how the 2nd temple Jewish POV was informed by these books and subsequently influenced the Christian faith that we have today’

And if you really want to dive in I recommend Michael Heiser.

He has a ton of information.

As an after thought I have decided that all the books of the Bible are inspired (God Breathed) but not all inspired writings are in the Bible.

Hope this helps.

(SeanO) #3

@Hochapper In the case of the book of Jude there are a few possibilities:

  1. Jude was citing something from Enoch that actually happened, but that does not mean Enoch itself is inspired because the Church never recognized Enoch as inspired
  2. Jude was using the book of Enoch as a sermon illustration for his intended audience, much like a modern day pastor might use a story from Narnia, the Lord of the Rings or another culturally relevant story that people can relate to…
  3. Jude was actually citing something other than Enoch

At times, Paul also quoted pagan poets in order to relate to his audience. Below are a few examples along with the original texts from which the quotes were taken.

Titus 1:12 - One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”

Epimenides (600 BC)
They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one — the Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies! ---- But thou art not dead; thou livest and abidest for ever, for in thee we live and move and have our being.

Acts 17:28 - For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Phaenomena, Aratus (315-240 BC) - Let us begin with Zeus. Never, o men, let us leave him unmentioned. All the ways are full of zeus, and all the market places of human beings. The sea is full of him; so are the harbors. In every way we have all to do with zeus, for we are truly his offspring.

The fact that Paul used the source material does not mean that the original work was inspired or accurate. Certainly we do not believe that all the ways are full of zeus…

However, being aware of these works does help us to better understand the cultural context of the Bible and so it can be helpful for us in that sense. The Biblical authors practiced being a ‘Greek to the Greeks’ and a ‘Jew to the Jews’ - part of that was using illustrations that would help them to relate to their audience.