Not Giving Heed to Jewish Fables (1)


[Note : This file was put together by the previous editor of Tidings recovering the articles as they were originally formatted 2001, some typos will have been reintroduced into the text in this process. If anyone wants to proofread and correct, then please do so.]

We sometimes
think of the first century as being a doctrinal golden age when believers did not have to deal with all the false ideas circulating in our own day. Maybe we are even slightly jealous that the first believers were blessed not only to have the inspired apostles, but also to be spared the inventions of later centuries.


This view of the first century church is largely true when it comes to doctrines that are specifically New Testament in their origin, e.g. teaching about the nature of Christ, baptism into him, and his church. Yes, there were those in the early church who had wrong ideas about Christ, but the apostles did not have to deal with the Trinity [1], nor did the next several generations. For example, the very earliest post-apostolic documents such as Clement (c.90 AD) and the Apostle’s Creed (c. 150 AD) could just as well have been written by Christadelphians, yet by the time of the Nicean Creed (325 AD) a statement such as Paul’s “there is one mediator between man and God, the man Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 2:5) would be heresy. Likewise the early church did not have to deal with infant baptism (the Didache c. 120 AD, clearly specifies adult baptism), nor until Constantine’s conversion (337AD) were compromises of church and state a problem.


False doctrine pre-NT

But this view is not true of the state of other doctrines which did not originate in the New Testament. While it took little more than 100 years for the specifically New Testament doctrines to start being corrupted, the first principles of Bible teaching found in the Old Testament had already been suffering this process for centuries. False teachings about the immortality of the soul, the flight of the soul to paradise or hell on death, dualism (one God of good, one demi-god of evil), belief in demons, witchcraft, astrology, and so on, were all flourishing long before Christendom arrived on the scene.


Indeed, we can trace doctrinal decline right back to the words of the serpent “thou shaft not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). Throughout the Old Testament from Cain, via the golden calf, to the high places and the groves of Israel and Judah, we find a never-ending struggle against false teaching. If the Israelites were so doctrinally corrupt under the leadership of men like Moses, David, Hezekiah, Josiah and Ezra, it shouldn’t be a surprise to us that in the 300 year “gap” between Old and New Testaments, when the land was largely under the rule of, and settled by, pagans, things would go from bad to worse.


Consequently when Christ was bom, it was into a world with as much false doctrine as the world of today. The Gospel was not solely corrupted by Hellenism after the ascension of the Lord, because the process had already been at work in Judaism since long before Alexander the Great brought the culture of Hellenism to the middle east. In fact it is not really even correct to use the term “Hellenism” of the problem we are addressing here. Most of the false doctrines we will look at predate the Greeks.


Jewish myths

We tend to think of mythology in association with Greece or Rome, but the starting point of this series is Paul’s warning to Titus not to give heed to “Jewish fables” (Titus 1:4). This word “fables” in the AV (“myths” in most versions, mythos in Greek) is used five times in the New Testament. In one of these instances, Paul warns of myths which will come (II Tim. 4:4), which we might assume from our knowledge of subsequent church history would be pagan myths, but the other four uses (I Tim. 1:4, 4:7; Tit. 1:4; II Pet. 1:16) speak of myths already present and which the context strongly indicates are myths introduced from popular Judaism.While it is disturbing to realize these myths are so resilient, it may at least encourage us that the problems we face in a world full of myths, legends and false doctrine is a condition not unknown to the apostles, nor to our Lord himself.


What myths?

So what do we know about these Jewish myths? Did Paul mean myths as a body of literature like the myths of Greece or Rome, or just individuals telling foolish stories? Do they survive today? And even if they do, why are they of any interest to us?

Until quite recently very little was known at all but thanks to some major rediscoveries and the work of scholars like C. Tischendorf [2] and R.H. Charles [3], we now know quite a lot about the Jewish myths Paul was referring to. They were never an independent body of literature like the myths of Greece and Rome, because the Jewish authors had some basic limits set on their imagination by the Bible (e.g. there can be no polytheism in Jewish myth), but popular Judaism had its mythology back then no less than Christianity has its myths today. Not all of the Jewish myths survive today, any more than all of Greek and Roman myth survives, and we have lists of banned books (either banned by the rabbis or by Christian bishops) which show that a good number of them have perished without trace. Nevertheless enough have survived to have a reasonable picture of the Jewish myths Paul was referring to.


The basis on which this series will proceed is primarily “know thine enemy.” We are not interested in the myths themselves, but rather in how an understanding of what the Lord and the apostles were contending against can help us better understand the New Testament text.


God willing this series will continue as follows:

1.    Background

2.     Abraham and Hades

3.     Jannes and Jambres

4.     Enoch in Peter and Jude (part 1)

5.     Enoch in Peter and Jude (part II)

6.     Michael, the Devil, and the body of




It is worth introducing the main sources which will appear and reappear in the series.

Josephus [4] and Philo [5]. While we read Josephus for the history, Antiquities of the Jews also shows us some of the mythology believed by a well educated Pharisee (e.g. the magic legends concerning Solomon). Philo of Alexandria also refers to many popular myths.

The Old Testament Apocrypha — as found between Old and New Testaments of Catholic Bibles [6]. Much of the Apocrypha is not “myth”: for example the Wisdom of Sirach, and the “history” of Maccabees. A more typical example of Paul’s “Jewish myths” is to be found in the Book of Tobit which, with its stories about angels and demons, is very much representative of what people in Jesus’ day believed. Tobit is essential reading for any understanding of the popular demon belief described in the gospels.

The Dead Sea Scrolls (“DSS”) — discovered in 1948 at Qumran [7]. The Scrolls have the disadvantage of coming from one particular religious community, which was probably not typical of pre-70 AD Judaism, but many of the books in their library are simply copies of the religious bestsellers of their day — and these fill in gaps in our knowledge of Jewish myth.

The OT Pseudepigrapha (“OTP”) - meaning “falsely signed writings” [8]. This loose body of literature has some overlap with Dead Sea Scrolls and Apocrypha. In some ways it is the worst of all the sources available to us because by their very nature many of these pseudepigraphic books are deliberate fakes and forgeries, often pretending to be the work of a Bible figure such as Moses or Enoch. Pseudepigraphic books characteristically expand straightforward events in the Old Testament into the purest pulp fiction, with liberal doses of heaven and hell, angels and demons, soul journeys and so on. But it is exactly because these works are the worst that they are also our best source for the “Jewish myths” we are searching for.


Rabbinical writings —

Mishnah [9], Talmuds [10] and Midrash [11]. While the rabbis made a conscious effort to clean up Judaism doctrinally after the disasters of 70 AD and the Bar Khokba revolt, much of the mythological material survived the rabbis’ best efforts.


Health warning

A good overview of all the above sources is found in a book by Craig Evans [12] which gives a straight account of the sources available. However a warning needs to be issued on most other books about this material. Most writers on the Apocrypha, Dead Sea Scrolls and Pseudepigrapha don’t have any respect for the Bible as the inspired word of God. While that shouldn’t stop us making our own first hand studies of source material, commentaries written on these works can be every bit as corrosive to faith in the Scriptures as are modern commentaries on the Bible books themselves. It would be tragic if misdirected inquiry into these Jewish myths had the opposite effect that Paul and Peter intended in addressing them.


Inspiration vs. non-inspiration


As we proceed in this series, one of the consistent recurring themes will be to show how the New Testament writers demonstrate the authority and inspiration of Scriptures by contrast with the Jewish myths. It is therefore no coincidence that the famous proof verses for the inspiration of Scripture (II Tim. 3:14-17; II Pet. 1:16-21) occur in immediate proximity to specific Jewish legends (about which more later). This should not be a surprise: if God’s word were the only authority competing for the mind of man — which would not be the case even if the Bible were the only book in print — inspiration would be a non-issue. On the contrary, it is the competing presence of alternatives, be they myths, man-made religions, science or philosophy, which makes it necessary to distinguish between inspired and non-inspired, between truth and lies, the divine genuine item and human imitations. The doctrine of inspiration in II Timothy 3:14-17 and II Peter 1:16-21 is not a theoretical description of the mechanism by which the Bible was written; it is in-stead a practical challenge to all other | messages and media.


Therefore the contact points with “Jewish myth” in the New Testament are points of combat.


The main purpose of this series is firstly to strengthen our belief and confidence in the inspiration of Scripture, meaning all Scripture, even those 1 embarrassing mentions of “third heaven,” “deaf mute demons,” and 1 “angels that sinned” that can raise , doubts. This can only be done by ' uncovering the myth, and letting the arguments of the New Testament I writers disprove them.


Although it is not the function of this series to serve as a kind of “Wrested Scriptures” on Jewish fables, it will be a sad theme of the articles that most of these myths are only mentioned in the New Testament j with the aim of refuting them, yet in popular Christianity mere mention has been taken as proof of the myth, because of superficial reading and disregard of context. In some ways this I            is not surprising: if stories of soul journeys, magic, demons, and fallen angels are absent in the Old Testament but to be found in Jewish myth, those who are predisposed to believe in such things will naturally be drawn to the parts of the New Testament where these myths are dealt with.

Steven Cox, Hyderabad, India

[1]    Griffiths, Triads and Trinity, University of Swansea, A. Buzzard Trinity

[2]    W. Whiston, reprint Hendrickson 1993

[3]    C. Younge, reprint Hendrickson 1993

[4]    C. Tishchendorf, Apocalypses Apocryphae, Leipzig

[5]    RH Charles’ main work was his edition of the Pseudepigrapha Oxford 1910, but this has now been superseded by Charlesworth below

[6]    Jerusalem Bible.

[7]    G Vermes,Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English Penguin

[8]       J. Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha 2 vols. Doubleday 1983

[9]    Danby, Oxford 1933

f 10] Soncino edition, see also Ginzberg below

[11]    These sources are difficult to access (due to lack of translations and modern editions) but many Midrash are indexed in the notes in volumes to Louis Ginzberg’s mammoth Legends of the Jews 7 vols. 1938 reprinted John Hopkins 1999

Craig Evans, Non-canonical Writings and NT Interpretation Hendrickson 1992


One of the main concerns of the survey waBIbBIBLE STUDY

Not Giving Heed to Jewish Fables (2)

Abraham in the Underworld


ome take exception to Jesus using a false idea of the Pharisees as the basis for his teaching. But it should be noted that the truth or falsity of the story in a parable is immaterial. The lesson conveyed through the story is the intended point” (R. Abel, Wrested Scriptures, pg. 107).

Bro. Ron Abel’s treatment of Luke 16:19-31 is in many ways the starting point for this series of articles. In evidence of the above, Wrested Scriptures pp. 107-108 footnotes a passage from Whiston’s edition of Josephus, A Discourse to Greeks Concerning Hades, which bears an uncanny resemblance to Luke 16. Unfortunately, the resemblance is so uncanny because the passage is based on Luke 16. The author is not Josephus but the 4th Century Bishop Hippolytus. At some point, a copying error confused the names and the mistake was not discovered until recently.

In any case, although attribution of the Discourse turns out to be wrong, Bro. Ron Abel’s instinct about the Jewish myth origins of Luke 16 turns out to be right.

Source evidence

Evidence from surviving Jewish texts of the period show that what is described in Luke 16:19-30 is drawn from popular first century teachings concerning a division in the underworld between the fires of Hades and the paradise where Abraham and other patriarchs dwelt:

1.    While the NIV has “to Abraham’s side,” the literal AV rendering “to the bosom of Abraham” is better. The “Bosom of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (papyrus Preisigke Sb2034:11), was a specific concept in contemporary popular belief.[1]

2.     Jewish martyrs believed that: “After our death in this fashion Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will receive us and all our forefathers will praise us” (4 Maccabees 13:17 in J.H. Charlesworth, The OT Pseudepigrapha, Doubleday 1983).

3.     Other early Jewish works describe paradise as being separated from the fires by a river (not substantially different from the chasm of Luke 16). In one apocryphal work this river could be crossed only in an angelic boat: “You have escaped from the abyss and Hades, you will now cross over the crossing place... then he ran to all the righteous ones, namely Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch, Elijah and David” (Apocalypse ofZephaniah 9:2. Charlesworth op.cit.).The same first century Jewish work also shows the popular belief concerning the role of Abraham as intercessor for those in torment in the fiery part of Hades: “As they looked at all the torments they called out, praying before the Lord Almighty saying, ‘We pray you on behalf of those who are in all these torments so you might have mercy on all of them.’ And when I saw them, I said to the angel who spoke with me, ‘Who are they?’ He said ‘Those who beseech the Lord are Abraham and Isaac and Jacob’” (Apoc. Zeph. I I:l~2).

4.     In another work, Abraham causes some of the dead to return from Hades to life “Then Abraham arose and fell upon the earth, and [the Angel of] Death with him, and God sent a spirit of life into the dead and they were made alive again” (Testament of Abraham ‘A’ 18:11).

From the above it should be clear that the picture of the Underworld given by Christ is not Christ’s own picture, nor drawn from the Old Testament, but from popular Jewish beliefs.

As Ron Abel comments above, when dealing with Luke 16 as “wrested scripture” the truth or falsity of the story in a parable is immaterial. Furthermore, there are other arguments presented in Wrested Scriptures which should show an unbiased inquirer that the story was never meant to be taken as a factual description of the underworld.

But is Luke 16 a parody of the myth? Does it just refer to the myth or does it show the myth to be wrong?

Myth shown to be wrong

For our purpose in this series, which is concerned with the attitude of the New Testament to Jewish myths, the falsity of the story is highly material. The above texts prove that Christ used popular ideas, but we have not yet proved that the Lord’s parable is in any way critical of these beliefs. Many people, even when provided with the historical context, would simply assume that Christ shared the beliefs found in the Apocalypse of Zephaniah, and so on, and was supporting the teaching. It is not enough to show a connection with Jewish myth, we must also be able to demonstrate that the attitude to these myths was negative.

2.    This we can do. There are several signs in the text that a vein of irony runs through the parable: 1The “everlasting habitations” where the steward’s new friends wait for him in 16:9 provide a link to the everlasting habitation which receives the rich man in 16:23. Again the point for us is that there is a heavy negative spin on the afterlife expectations of both the steward and the Pharisees. The stage is being set for the next parable.

3.     When Christ puts the word “father” for Abraham in the mouth of the rich man (v. 27), it is despite his own command to call no man “father” and the warning of John the Baptist about Jewish reliance on their ancestry in Luke 3:8. If we consider Jesus’ dialogue with the scribes and Pharisees in John 8:31-59, we can see that Christ is being critical of the rich man’s beliefs to rely on his ancestry for favored treatment. Popular Jewish beliefs contain this same element — “Our father Abraham” is a common phrase in the Mishnah (e.g. Aboth 3:12, 5:2,3,6,19, 6:10 Taanith 2:4,5 etc.).

5.    The purple and fine linen worn by the rich man is a clear reference to priestly garments (Ex. 39:2,24,29) which would suggest a personification of the priesthood. In addition, the mention of “my father’s house” by the rich man (16:27) and “five brethren” (16:28) would make it clear to any first century listener that the target of this parable is none other than the high priest himself. The rich man is Caiaphas, and the rich man’s five brethren are his five brothers-in-law: Eleazar, Jonathan, Theophilus, Matthias, and the younger Annas. Josephus records, “Now the report goes, that this elder Annas (Caiaphas’ father- in-law) proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons, who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and he had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests...” (Antiquities, book XX, ch.9, section i, p. 423). While singling out powerful individuals like this is not uncommon in the Old Testament prophets, Christ’s placing of Caiaphas into this parable is unique in the New Testament. While modern sensibilities are squeamish about the idea that Christ could use parody, irony, even sarcasm, the fact is that the Old Testament prophets did so freely. Therefore, this is an acceptable form of rebuke in the Bible. Familiarity with the style of the Old Testament prophets should lead us to accept the use of irony in rebuke (cp. Isa. 14:13 and Ezk. 28:2 with Matt. 11:23). [2]Most importantly; the fate of the rich man after death, despite his priestly robes and high religious position, does more than invalidate the rich man’s (and the Pharisees’) contempt for the common people (John 7:49). Having the unclean beggar take the priest’s place in Abraham’s bosom invalidates the whole structure of the religious establishment’s belief.5

6.     Caiaphas was a Sadducee and we do not know enough about the beliefs of the Sadducees to be sure to what extent they shared the popular view of Abraham in the underworld. One could argue that this is not relevant as the audience was composed of Pharisees, but the NT shows such keen awareness of the differences between the two groups (Matt. 22:23; Acts 23:8) that we should be aware of this aspect. If a distinction is drawn between Pharisee and Sadducee belief in the parable it may be in the mention of angels, 16:22, and the predisposition of Annas and his family to deny the resurrection in 16:31 (not just of the Lazarus in the parable and the historical Lazarus, and ultimately of Christ too). As such the Lord is using Pharisee belief to reprove Sadducee belief. Yet we hardly see any sign of this having been done to please the Pharisees. In fact, the shocking start of the parable with a beggar whose sores are licked by the dogs being taken to the lap of Father Abraham — thereby making Abraham himself unclean — would be most offensive to the sensibilities of the Pharisees (cf. G. Stemberger, Jewish Contemporaries of Jesus 1995 pp 75-82). And there is no evidence that when it came to the reality of resurrection (either of Lazarus or Christ) the Pharisees were any more disposed to accept the consequences of their doctrine than the Sadducees. The bottom line then is that the parable contains criticism of the characteristic beliefs of both groups which included the description of the journey of two souls to a divided underworld.

7.     Note also how Lukel6:26, “neither can they pass,” contradicts Apocalypse of Zephaniah 9:2 quoted above. This direct contradiction with the NT text is one evidence that Apoc. Zeph., unlike Hippolytus’ “Discourse concerning Hades,” is independent of Luke 16. It is also further evidence that Luke 16 does not condone popular beliefs regarding the bosom of Abraham.

Lessons for us

So what can we say in conclusion?

First, that the story of Abraham in the underworld is drawn on Jewish mythology. Second, that the parable shows signs of parody by which the popular belief is brought into disrepute. A third conclusion might be that the reason Christ couched the parable in this way was because it was so effective in exposing the falseness of “the doctrine of Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Now take a step back.

It is hoped that the above historical background was interesting. It may even be helpful. But before losing sight of the forest for the trees, we need to remember that the parable is not just a political cartoon attacking a Jewish high priest. The story of the rich man and Lazarus is first and foremost a lesson that can be understood by anyone from Sunday School onwards. The real fable being debunked is the ancient myth that religious respectability is any kind of guarantee of favor with God. The truly disturbing thing about Luke 16:19-31 is not the traces of Jewish myth, nor the difficulty that the parable presents for us in study and preaching, but that these parables were preserved for our spiritual benefit, to warn us as individuals. There is a danger that if we solely concern ourselves with the application of Christ’s parables to others (either others in the first century or others today) the day might come when the Lord turns to us and repeats his rebuke:

And he said unto them “YE ARE THEY which justify yourselves before men...” (16:15).

Certainly the first-century application to Jewish teachers and their myths is important, but what is the twenty-first century application? Hopefully not to ourselves.

Steven Cox, Hyderabad, India

1    Kiddushin72b and Ekah 1:85 are cited in L. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, republished John Hopkins 1998, Vol. 5, p. 269.

2    This argument would strengthen further if comparison of the Galilee and Bethany anointings could show that Simon the Leper of Matt. 26:61-13 had, prior to the onset of his uncleanness, once been Simon the Pharisee of Luke 7:36-50. The Pharisees would then be listening to a parable about a reversal of fortunes for Caiaphas their “boss” and Simon the leper, a disgraced ex-colleague.

! If this is not the case (returning to item 3) then Christ has just confirmed the rich man’s faith in Abraham as father of the righteous in the underworld, and contradicted his own words in Matt. 23:9.




Not Giving Heed to Jewish Fables (3)

Jannes and Jambres

What does  “Three kings carrying gifts” suggest to us7 Obviously the birth of our Lord, even though every Chnstadelphian child knows full well that the Magi were not kings, and the Bible does not say there were three of them

How many recognize the names Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar7 Maybe some parts of the English speaking world are now more familiar with Rudolf, Donner and Blitzen, but the names of the three kings have a long tradition in Europe



Jannes, Jambres

Try a similar question what did “Jannes and Jambres” (II Tim 3 8) suggest to Timothy7

The way the question is put may sound strange Normally the question is phrased like this “Jannes and Jambres are not mentioned in the Old Testament, so how did Paul know their names7” To which the answer will immediately come back “He was inspired ” End of discussion Fine, let us say that Paul was verbally inspired to add this detail to Exodus 7 22, but that doesn’t help answer our question above How did Timothy know what Paul was talking about9

Inspiration, literally the breath of God m the mouths of the prophets, may produce material that is difficult for us to understand, and often we have to simply accept this in faith To accept our own limitations, however, is one thing, while to say that Paul wrote things in a personal epistle that were meaningless to his own son m the faith is quite another The unsatisfactory nature of such a solution is underlined by the fact that this chapter of II Timothy contains the New Testament’s clearest argument on inspiration (3 16) We are told there of the power of inspired scripture to make wise, teach, reprove, correct and instruct (II Tim 3 15-17) None of this occurs if scripture does not mean something to the hearer

Timothy’s prior knowledge

As it happens we can be fairly certain that Timothy already had heard of Jannes and Jambres before Paul named them in his epistle His hearing had been much in the same way that many of us have heard of Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar (or at least Rudolf, Donner and Blitzen)

The key to the Jannes and Jambres puzzle is not to be found in history but in geography — not in Exodus but in Ephesus Consider why Timothy was m Ephesus

“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer, nor to devote themselves to myths ” (I Tim 1 3, NIV)

That word “myths,” or “fables” in the KJV, is the same word used for the Jewish fables discussed m the previous articles So what were these myths and false doctrines that Timothy was under instruction from Paul to suppress9

Myths in Ephesus

Obviously there would have been more than one myth and more than one false doctrine The letter to the Ephesians, along with I and II Timothy and Rev 2 1-7, show that Ephesus had more than one problem For Jannes and Jambres, the key is m Acts 19, the chapter which describes how the church at Ephesus was founded

Acts 19 17-19 describes how a large number of magicians burnt their magic books and joined the ecclesia The value of the scrolls burnt m Acts 19 19 indicates that these ex-sorcerers were either very numerous or very rich (cf II Tim 6 17) Either way they would have had considerable influence in the Ephesian church Note that apparently both Greek and Jewish magicians were converted The prohibitions of Leviticus 19 31, 20 6 should have meant there was no such thing as a “Jewish sorcerer” but, in fact, all the sorcerers of Acts are Jews Simon the Samaritan in Acts 8 9, Elymas Bar-Jesus in Acts 13 8, and the seven sons of Sceva in Ephesus

By the first century, there was a thriving tradition of sorcery among the Jews This can be seen not just from physical evidence, such as magical inscriptions on pottery, etc , but also from extensive literary evidence Among those magical traditions were the Jews’ own magical myths And among those were myths concerning the magicians of Exodus 7


1     Dead Sea Scrolls “Moses and Aaron arose with the help of the Prince of Lights, while Belial raised up Yohannah (Jannes) and his brother” (6Q15 3 and CD5 17b-19)

2     Pliny (1C) cites as famous Jewish magicians Moses, Jannes and “Lotapes” (a copying error for Jambres[3] [4] [5] [6] [7] HN 30 2 11) Lucius Apuleius (2C) also mentions Moses and Jannes as Jewish magicians (Apologia 2 90) Numemus (2C) mistakenly recounts that Jannes and Jambres were able to reverse all the plagues that God sent upon Egypt (Eusebius PE 9 8)

3     In Testament of Solomon, a 1st- 2nd century compendium of Jewish magic and demon lore, Abezethibou, the demon of the Red Sea, confesses to Solomon that “I am the one whom Jannes and Jambres called to their aid I am the adversary of Moses” (T Sol 25 4 )

4     The Confession of Jannes and Jambres (Charlesworth Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Vol II, 427-42), tells of the death of Jannes and his mother after opposing Moses, and the repentance of Jambres after Jannes returns from Hades to warn him against the evils of magic worship of the golden calf (Yal Reu , cf Midr Tanh)

From these sources, it is clear that the tradition is independent of II Timothy 3 8, and the names of both Jannes and Jambres were known not only to Timothy, but also to others in Ephesus before Paul put pen to parchment

Jannes, Jambres not biblical names

Yet Paul appears to confirm a non- scriptural tradition So had this historical snippet been transmitted since the time of Moses correctly9 Were the names Jannes and Jambres m fact the real historical names of Pharoah’s wizards9

The answer has to be a firm “No ” For a start, Exodus 7 does not say that there were two, and only two, wizards any more than Matthew 2 says that there were three, and only three, kings Secondly, one cannot make reference to the names “Jannes and Jambres” without also making reference to the legends associated with them — any more than one can innocently use “Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar” without associatmg the wise men with medieval legends about the three kings Thirdly, and most importantly, these names are not without significance It is immediately obvious that Jannes (Yohannah would be the Hebrew equivalent to the Greek Jannes) is a Jewish, not Egyptian, name, and it likewise is possible that Jambres derives from the Hebrew root for “rebellion” (cf Strongs # 4784) In using these names Paul is not just supplying names to Exodus 7, but supplying the inference, totally lacking in Exodus, that Moses’ opponents were fellow Jews

Text Box: l
Of course, the magicians of Exodus 7 may well have been renegade Jews, and it would fit well with what we know of the opposition to Moses if they were; but as this information is not found in Exodus, it still does not explain why Paul thought that this was a good illustration to give to Timothy and the uninspired ex-sorcerers at Ephesus.

Continuing struggle in Ephesus

We can see from II Timothy 1:17 Paul had visitors from Ephesus who certainly would have carried news from Timothy, including news of Timothy’s success or otherwise in fulfilling the charge to keep control of false teaching and “fables.” If Timothy had any success at all, it was only moderate, for Ephesus still had plenty of problems with “profane and vain babblings” (I Tim. 6:20 repeated II Tim. 2:16) and “foolish and unlearned questions” (II Tim. 2:23). Further, when Paul gives Timothy leave from Ephesus, it is not with any comfort that the job is finished, but that things would go from bad to worse (cf. II Tim. 3:6-9, 4:3,15).

One thing that particularly catches our attention, only nine verses after the mention of “Jannes and Jambres,” is Paul’s comment that the Ephesians “shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:4 KJV, the Greek mythos again). How can it be that Paul, within the space of a few verses, can first refer to a non-biblical tradition, then speak of inspiration, and finally warn that the church will “turn aside to myths” (4:4, NIV)? Isn’t this inconsistent?

A suggested explanation

We now need to try and weave these loose ends together. What follows is an explanation that is similar in approach to the Rich Man and Lazarus problem considered in the last article.

We know that the church in Ephesus contained a number of exsorcerers, probably including among them some like Simon in Acts 8 who found it difficult to make a clean break with their past. If the version of the myth found in Confession of Jannes and Jambres (source 4 above) was current in Ephesus, it would say that Jambres repented and survived which might have been of considerable comfort to some of the ex-sorcerers. Paul then could have used the reference to warn and encourage.

The trouble with this explanation is that II Tim. 3:7 makes it clear that both Jannes and Jambres were never able to acknowledge the truth, and 3:8 says they were rejected. It is difficult to see how this could be encouraging. It also doesn’t fit the Lukel6 pattern that, when the New Testament makes use of Jewish myth, the use is negative.

An alternative explanation

Taking the lead from 3:7, it appears that the version of the myth Paul was referring to was the one found in the Rabbinical literature (source 5 above) where Jannes and Jambres convert, but are not able to acknowledge the truth and are eventually destroyed. This would fit with II Tim. 3:9, “but they shall proceed no further, for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.”

This little phrase “as theirs also was” is important. It is the second allusion to Jannes and Jambres as individuals and requires that Timothy, and the Ephesian ex-sorcerers, knewnot just their names, but exactly how their folly was manifest Exodus 9 11 supplies the one certain answer — that the boils were upon the magicians and they could not stand before Moses But if the Jewish magicians at Ephesus knew the full version of the myth, the lesson would only be stronger — for the folly of Jannes and Jambres in the Rabbinic version of the myth was manifest by their destruction


Bringing the above explanation to the text we can paraphrase a reading as follows

“Timothy, you have done your best to correct the fable tellers in Ephesus, but as according to the very fables that these men like to use, the magicians Jannes and Jambres were always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth, and your problem people are just the same ”

In other words, they were condemned out of their own mouths, or rather, out of their own myths - “deceiving and being deceived” (3 13)

We have seen this before in Luke 16 19-31 The Pharisees and Caiaphas were caught by Christ in the net of what they believed and taught We can’t prove that anyone at Ephesus was using the myth of Jannes and Jambres to teach in the way that the Pharisees used the myth of Abraham in the underworld But we do know that there were magicians at Ephesus, we know there was a problem with myths there, and we know that there were men who wouldn’t make a clean break with their past And we know that before exhorting Timothy to the virtues of scripture (II Tim 3 10-17), Paul precedes with a condemnation of false teachers, 3 1-9

Thus Jannes and Jambres are mentioned where they belong, in the context of false teaching, not in the context of inspired scripture What better way for Paul to illustrate what is inspired than by showing the consequences of playing with that which is not9

Steven Cox, Hyderabad, India




Not Giving Heed to Jewish Myths (4)

Enoch in Peter and Jude (1)

In July , 1932, Bro. W. H. Boulton published an article in The Testimony Magazine (pp. 214-218), entitled the “The Book of Enoch,” in which he argued that the words of “Enoch” recorded in Jude 14 were not the words of the Enoch of Genesis but were from The Book of Enoch (I En. 1:9), one of the oldest Jewish pseudepigrapha. At the time this was difficult to accept, as the oldest Greek manuscript of The Book of Enoch dated only to the 8th century, and Bro. Boulton’s argument was weakened by the fact that I En.l:9 could, it was argued, have been copied from Jude 14 rather than vice versa.

In 1948, however, seven Aramaic copies of I Enoch surfaced among the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q201-2,204-12) including the words of “Enoch” found in Jude 14. These Aramaic copies are considerably older than Jude (some possibly 200 years earlier), so it appears Bro. Boulton was right after all.

Enoch and the angels that sinned


The Book of Enoch is an imaginative expansion on the sons of God and daughters of men in Genesis 6:1. The story goes as follows:


In the days of Enoch’s father, Jared, a group of 200 angels led by the archangels Shemihazah and Azazel descend onto the earth where they take  human wives and father a race of giants, or Titans. These angels are sometimes also called the “Watchers” — the reference being to the watchman of a city who abandons his post. For this sin, Shemihazah and his followers are bound in Tartarus to await judgment for 70 generations. Azazel is separately punished for having taught mankind various secret arts. The 200 angels ask Enoch to make intercession on their behalf, but Enoch’s requests are refused. The angels’ children, the giants, cause havoc on the earth, but then they are drowned in the flood. In the Dead Sea Scrolls Book of the Giants, these children of the angels, led by their leaders Ohiyah and Mahawi, also ask Enoch to make intercession on their behalf. God decrees that the spirits of the giants shall survive to torment mankind and they become a new class of beings, the demons, one of the most powerful of whom is Asmodeus. The giants’ human mothers also survive and become Sirens.

The key event, the fall of the rebel angels, is described as follows in 1 Enoch  6:1:


“And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were bom unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ( ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.’ And Shemihazah, who was their leader, said unto them: ‘I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty

of a great sin.’ And they all answered him and said: ‘Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to , do this thing.’ Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred” (I Enoch 6:1-6, translated by R.H. Charles, 1912).


In the time of Christ, the Book of Enoch was a bestseller. The book was so popular that it spawned a small library of derivative literature: Jubilees, Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs, II Enoch, III Enoch, and so on. Although | there are variations in later Enochic literature, the above quote is from the oldest and basic form of the Watchers legend, and is the version with which - the Jewish Christians addressed by Peter and Jude would probably have been I   familiar — even if not all Jews accepted it as fact [1]. For example, it was rejected by the pre-AD 70 Pharisee author known as Pseudo-Philo (Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum 3:1), by Rabbi Simeon Ben Yohai {Bereshith Rabbah ,            26:5), and by Trypho, the Jew who argued with Justin Martyr (Dialogue 1:79:1). Not to mention that it was rejected by the Lord Jesus himself (Mark 12:25).


“The seventh from Adam”

. There will no doubt be some who feel uneasy about Jude’s having quoted I from a pseudepigraphical book. The immediate response is to point out that . Jude identifies Enoch as “Enoch the seventh from Adam.” The phrase, “The seventh from Adam,” does not come from Genesis but from I Enoch 60:8. In other words, we are now not dealing with one quote of I Enoch but two (I En. 1:9 and I En. 60:8). In fact, there are as many as 30 quotes from and allusions to I Enoch found in I & II Peter and Jude.

It may be argued that the words are the genuine words of Enoch which survived as an oral tradition, were preserved in I Enoch, and then used selectively by Jude. This is impossible for four reasons:

1.       How did an oral tradition from before the flood survive without ever having been written down?

2.       I Enochl:9 is an integral part of I Enoch 1:3-9, which is a midrash (expansion) on the blessing of Moses in Deuteronomy 33:2. We cannot reasonably isolate one phrase of I Enoch 1:3-9 and claim it came from an oral tradition that pre-dates Moses. Comparison with Deut. 33:2 will show the origins of both I En. 1:9 and Jude 14.

3.       As mentioned above, there are 30 more references to Enoch in I & II Peter and Jude. If we have Jude isolating one phrase of oral tradition then how do we explain the origin of the 29 other references?

4.       It is in the interest of every Christadelphian that the quote should be from the Book of Enoch, and not the Genesis Enoch, because it is an integral part of Jude’s rebuttal of the Jewish myth of the “angels that sinned” which is at the core of the Book of Enoch and a major concern of II Peter and Jude. If we deny Jude’s use of Book of Enoch here, we have to find an alternative explanation for the “angels that sinned” verses in II Peter 2:4 and Jude 6.

Reason 4 will not carry as much weight with many readers as reasons 1-3. That is because there is already a popular alternative solution to the “angels that sinned,” namely identifying them with Korah, Dathan and Abiram of Numbers 16:31-33. But how satisfied are we really with this? Does it meet the usual standards we require for an explanation of a difficult passage? Even if we can convince ourselves, this will rarely convince a determined fallen angel believer - not least because Korah is mentioned in Jude 11 separately from the “angels that sinned.” Perhaps we should explore another solution, particularly if that other solution is the one used by Jude. It also allows the language to keep the obvious sense; the references to “angels that sinned” or “angels which kept not their first estate” and were “delivered into chains of darkness” can be taken as referring to literal angels consigned to literal chains in literal darkness — or rather mythical literal angels consigned to mythical chains in mythical darkness.

In the second part of this article (January, God willing) it is proposed that the way Jude answers myths of “angels that sinned” is to use the Book of Enoch s own inconsistencies to show the falsity of the story. Jude’s use of I En. 1:9 is important because while most of the Book of Enoch concerns angels sinning, I En. 1:9 is the only verse he could have chosen that speaks of angels coming to judge man - and in Jude’s context he means certain men teaching myths about fallen angels in particular.

Jude quotes Peter

But first we need to put Jude to one side and look at Peter. Jude 18 quotes II Peter 3:3, and is the only quote of one epistle by another. The proof that Jude quotes Peter and not vice versa is demonstrated by comparing the following:

Peter writes, “there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them” (II Peter 2:1).

Jude writes, “it was needful for me to write to you ... for there are certain men crept in unawares .. .denying the only Lord God and our lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 3-4).

Peter and Jude are obviously addressing the same problem — the same group of false teachers — but with one difference — Peter uses the future tense, Jude the past tense. This means, as Jude makes clear in Jude 17, that the apostles “used to say” (suggesting that Peter was already dead when Jude wrote, cf. II Pet. 1:13) that the false teachers would come, but now the false teachers had arrived. Jude is basically a reminder and update of the lessons of II Peter. In fact, if we think of Jude as III Peter we will not go far wrong.

Peter vs. the false teachers

After the normal greetings, II Peter quickly comes to the subject of false teaching. When Peter says: “we did not preach cunningly devised fables” (II Pet. 1:16), the word, again, is “myths” — the same problem Timothy had atEphesus, and Titus on Crete The fact Peter needed to say this implies there were others who did “follow cleverly invented stories” (II Pet 1 16 NIV) This sets the scene well for the references to such “cleverly invented stories” which follow in chapter 2

The same is true of Peter’s claim “We have also a more sure word of prophecy” (II Pet 1 19) The immediate question that is raised is, “more sure than what?” While the statement is an important proof verse for the inspiration of the New Testament, it is also an admission that other people with a less sure word of prophecy were circulating Again the presence of references to I Enoch in the next chapter indicates that the “less sure word of prophecy” was Enoch’s

Between these two statements on the reliability of the apostolic message (II Pet 1 16-19), Peter gives a lengthy description of the transfiguration This is probably a deliberate contrast of Peter’s real experience as a witness of Christ’s glory and hearer of God’s words “on the mountain,” and the reported experience of Enoch as a witness of angelic glory and hearer of God’s words on “the mountain the point of whose summit reached to heaven” (Enoch 17 1) Peter raises this as the first stage in his argument to point out his first- person witness with Christ on the mountain when the Lord was shown the Kingdom In contrast, the false teachers were not on any mountain with Enoch when he was, allegedly, shown the heavens

The verse following “the more sure word of prophecy” is also important “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (II Pet 1 20) Again the existence of rival teachings is implied The Book of Enoch, and associated Jewish apocalyptic literature, does contain writing about the future, but in New Testament times prophecy was understood concerning both the past and the present So Peter’s comments are not limited to future “prophecies” but include all areas of teaching This means that his following comment refers to all the Bible, not just the prophecy books “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Pet 121)

II Peter 1 16-21 is the most extended defense of inspiration in the New Testament In total it suggests that Peter was facing a major challenge to the inspiration of the scriptures and the authority of apostles All of this is confirmed as we enter the next chapter

“In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up” (II Pet 2 3)

We will consider how Peter answers those teachers and their stories in January

[1] It is possible that Josephus is also to be counted as one of those who did not believe the Enoch myth and that his mention of “angels of God” in Antiquities 1 3 1 (earliest manuscript 8th century) has suffered the same alteration from “sons of God” at Christian hands as the Septuagint in Genesis 6 1, or even to “fit” the Christian versions of the Septuagint (the erasure in LXX A is ignored by BDB Hebrew Lexicon, BAGD Greek Lexicon, and even the Cambndge LXX, but it is therenevertheless). If one compares the context of what Josephus wrote about the “perversion of the posterity of Seth” and his non-mythical comment that “these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants” (AJ 1:3:1) and his comment on the pre-flood generation “but let no one inquire into the deaths of these men” (AJ 1:3:4) and that Enoch died (AJ 9:2:2), it becomes likely that Josephus, who as a Pharisee could hardly fail to have heard the Enoch myths, did not accept them.

Steven Cox, Hyderabad, India


Not Giving Heed to Jewish Myths (5)

Enoch in Peter and Jude (2)


N November’s article (Tidings, p. 420), the source evidence was presented that, firstly, Peter and Jude faced the problem of false teachers spreading myths, and secondly that the “angels that sinned” described by Peter and Jude are specifically rooted in the Book of Enoch and its associated traditions.

In this article, it is intended to show, thirdly, that the way in which Peter and Jude address the false teachers is to convict them out of their own mouths. This is the same approach we applied in previous articles to the Abraham in the Underworld, and Jannes and Jambres stories (Tidings, 7/2000, p. 256; 9/ 2000, p. 336). Again the objective is not just to prove that these “wrested scripture” passages are drawn from uninspired material (rather than the Old Testament), but also to show that the treatment of these myths in scripture is negative.

Peter and Jude - an immediate reply to the Enochites

If we were going to look for a negative comment by Peter and Jude, where should we look for it? The obvious answer is immediately before and imme- i diately after their references to “angels that sinned.” Rule number one of Bible | study is: always read the context. Yet most Christian readers of the “angels that sinned” read only the angels-flood-Sodom sequence in II Peter 2:4-8 (or the Sinai-angels-Sodom in Jude vv. 5-7) without noticing what precedes and i follows.

We already saw how Peter precedes his mention of angels that sinned (II Pet. 2:4) with “exploit you with stories that they have made up” (2:3 NIV).

1 This is a perfect lead-in to an argument of logical fallacy: “If God did not spare angels when they sinned...if this is so then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment” (II ' Pet. 2:4,9 NIV).

Peter’s argument was picked up by Bro. Ron Abel: “Why bother to chain i these angels if, as one Jehovah’s Witnesses publication contends, they can still ‘exercise dangerous power over men and women’?” (Wrested Scriptures p. !          180, lc)

1 This was the best answer to the “angels that sinned” myth in Peter’s time,

I and it is still the best answer today. If the “angels marrying” part of the Book of Enoch is true, then why not the part about the angels having been chained , in Tartarus by the archangel Raphael? If they are chained in Tartarus, then, as Peter says in 2:9, they aren’t a threat to anyone are they?

Of course people are very imaginative and will find ways around Peter’s argument. Jehovah’s Witnesses will usually assert that there “must have been” other falls, and other angels (“the ones that got away”). The response to Peter’s point was more sophisticated in his day: it was then said that, “True, the Book of Enoch has the angels in chains, but the immortal spirits of their giant offspring survived the flood to become the demons of New Testament times.” But neither of these “explanations” is an answer to Peter’s fundamental point which is — even if Enoch is true, the book itself shows that God knows how to deliver the godly from temptation, thus He is not subjecting the godly to such a trial (2:9). This is one of the clearest verses against angelic, or diabolic, temptation in the New Testament.

It is interesting that Jude, despite following Peter almost word for word in this section, chooses to omit Peter’s comment on “stories they have made up.” Instead, Jude inserts a new example, the destruction of many of the children of Israel in Sinai (Jude 5). Perhaps Jude wanted to include a specifically historical example for the benefit of those under the influence of the false teachers, or perhaps he was echoing I Corinthians 10:5. Either way the lesson which Jude supplies, which the examples of Sodom and the flood do not, is how even the elect may also be punished if they go astray.

Blaspheming against celestial beings

The main argument against the false teachers and the Book of Enoch is found in the sections immediately following mention of the angels that sinned.

(A)      Jude 8, II Peter 2:10 — the false teachers blaspheme celestial beings.

(B)  Jude 9, II Peter 2:11 — but angels, although much greater (than the teachers), do not dare bring an accusation against such (celestial) beings.

(C)  Jude 10, II Peter 2:12 — so the false teachers, and the Book of Enoch, blaspheme things they do not understand (or beings they do not know).

Dominion and glories

In the parallel verses labeled (A) above, heavenly powers are mentioned twice in different words “government” and “dignities” (KJV), or “authority” and “celestial beings” (NIV). These words are literally “dominion” and “glories” in Greek, and both are associated with heavenly things.

Elsewhere in the New Testament, “dominion” is always associated with heavenly “principalities and powers” (Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16). “Dignities” literally means glories. Like “dominion,” it is a rare term and is used in this sense only by Peter and Jude in the New Testament. In I Peter 1:11, Peter uses the plural form in regard to the future glories of Christ. In the Greek Old Testament, the word describes the glory surrounding God: “Who is like unto thee among the gods O Lord? Who is like unto thee, glorified in holiness, marvellous in glories (plural), doing wonders?” (Exo. 15:11).

It is also used in this sense in other first-century Jewish literature: Philo, On the Special Laws 1.45 writes, “Moses said .. I am not able to bear the visible appearance of your form but I ask you that I may behold the glories (plural) that are around you.” In Test Judah 25:2 we read, “And the Lord blessed Levi; the Angel of the Presence blessed me; the powers of glories (plural) blessed Simeon, the heaven blessed Reuben; the earth blessed Issachar...”

That “dominion” and “glories” mean more than just human dignitaries is confirmed by Peter’s next verse: “Whereas angels, which are greater in might and power (i.e. greater than the false teachers) bring not railing (i.e. “slanderous”) accusations against them” (i.e. against the glories)” (II Pet. 2:11).

Slandering celestial beings

These verses, parallel in II Peter and Jude, are the key to understanding both letters. Both writers state twice that the false teachers were slandering celestial beings, namely angels. “Slander” implies two conclusions: (a) that they were accusing the glories of wrongdoing, (b) that their accusations were unfounded. Surprisingly the obvious impact of the verses, that the false teacher’s allegations were lies, is often glossed over.

The impact of what Peter and Jude are saying is clearer in the NIV: “This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord” (II Pet. 2:10-11 NIV). And Jude 8 reads: “In the very same way these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.”

If the allegations (specifically of angels having sex with women) were “slanderous accusations," then it can hardly be used as proof that the accusations were true. If the “slander” consisted of allegations that angels rebelled, descended to earth and fathered demons, then Peter and Jude’s evidence must be taken to mean that no such thing happened, and that it is not acceptable to believe or teach such things in the church.

It would be possible to go on in detail but the above arguments — the immediate context before and after the “angels that sinned” passages should be enough to prove our objective in this series — that the reference to the Jewish fable is negative.

Parallels of II Peter and Jude

Following is a summary of the parallel sections of II Peter and Jude:

1.     II Peter 2:1-3: Setting the scene of false teachers “among the people” who “exploit you with stories they have made up” (// Jude 4).

2.     Jude 5: Example of Jewish apostasy at Sinai.

3.     II Peter 2:4: An ironic example from I Enochl0:4 using “angels that sinned” as one of the examples of punishment due to false teachers // Jude 6.

4.    II Peter 2:5-8: More, and better, examples taken from the Old Testa- 1 ment. Obviously Peter does not consider that an example taken from the

Book of Enoch is sufficient to prove his point (// Jude7a).

5.     II Peter 2:9: Logical fallacy of first example (I Enoch 10:4). There is nothing to fear from “angels that sinned” if God has already reserved the angels “to the day of judgment” parallel “vengeance of eternal fire” (// Jude7b refers to I Enoch 21:7 where the fallen stars are chained in “a great fire that was burning and flaming”).

6.     II Peter 2:10: Contradiction of I Enoch 6:1-8:4. Bible teaching on angels: anyone teaching that angels sinned is “speaking evil of dignities” (KJ V), “blaspheming glories” (Greek), “slandering celestial beings” (NIV) (// Jude 8).

7.     II Peter 2:11: Contradiction of I Enoch 9:1-11. Despite claims of the Book of Enoch, angels, specifically Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael, never

t accused anyone, not least “dignities” or “glories” (// Jude 9).

8.     II Peter 2:12: Conclusion regarding I Enoch 6-10: the false teachers don’t know what they are talking about (// Jude 10).

9.     II Peter 2:13: Warning of the results of this teaching. False teachers “shall perish in their own corruption” (// Jude 10 “in those things they corrupt themselves”).

10.     II Peter 2:14-16: Rebuke of false teachers taken from Old Testament using example of Balaam (//Jude 11 using Cain, Balaam, Korah).

11.     II Peter 2:17: Rebuke of false teachers taken from 1 Enoch. Peter’s three references to Enoch (“dry springs” I Enoch 48:1,96:6; “waterless clouds” I Enoch 18:5,41:4-5,100:11-12; “eternal darkness”) are expanded in much greater detail by Jude 12-15 taking language used in Enoch about false shepherds of Israel (“trees without fruit” I Enoch 80:3; “plucked up” I En. 83:4; “raging waves” I En.l01:3-5).

Jude uses language about “angels that sinned” and applies it to the false teachers. In I Enoch 21:3 the “stars” are fallen celestial beings, but (and here’s the rub) in Jude 13 the “wandering stars” are false teachers who teach myths from the Book of Enoch. The word “wanderer” however is drawn from Hosea 9:17 not Enoch and likewise the image of the dead tree connects with Hosea 9:16. This may be to emphasize that Judel2-15 really concerns Ephraim rather than fallen angels.

12.    II Peter 2:18-22: The dog returns to its vomit. In five verses, Peter five times repeats the theme that these false teachers were returning to their old beliefs. This five times emphasis is clearly important. Each time Peter is underlining that the teachers were reverting to their origins — an argument which only makes sense in this context if these were not Greek, but Jewish origins such as found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (// Jude 16 “murmurers” harks back to his theme of Sinai and the wishing to return to Egypt again. This is the only use of the word in the New Testament).

13.    II Peter 3:1-2: Reminder of the authority of scripture. Note that Peter cites the prophets demonstrating the authority of Old Testament over I Enoch (e.g. II Pet. 1:21) (// Jude cites the apostles, demonstrating the authority of New Testament over I Enoch).

Stephen Cox, Hyderabad, India

Footnote. Other New Testament passages relevant lo the “angels that sinned,” which need to be underlined in any discussion of the subject, include Mark 12:24-25, Luke 20:35-36 and Heb. 1:14. All these verses can only be written with an eye to the same popular Jewish myths, or there was no need to state the obvious. Perhaps the most relevant is the “angels, and authorities and powers being made subject to him” (I Peter 3:22). This may well be Peter’s first answer to the Enoch myth.



Not Giving Heed to Jewish Myths (6)
Michael, the Devil, and the Body of Moses



ude 9 is difficult to understand on more than one count: it lends itself to supporting the idea of the devil as a person and seems to arbitrarily alter the words of Zechariah 3:2. The verse reads:

Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee (Jude 9).

In the previous article (Tidings, 1/2001, p. 9) this verse was shown to be parallel to Peter: "Angels do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings (other angels) in the presence of the Lord" (II Pet.2:l 1). In that article it was reasoned that Peter alludes to a current Jewish myth taken from I Enoch 9:1, and exposes the myth to be erroneous by way of challenging those who were using the myth to upset some in the ecclesia. In his reference, Jude changes “angels” to “Michael” and “such beings” to “the devil” and adds reference to “the body of Moses.”

What is Jude referring to? In the following articles, Bro. Steven considers three possibilities, settling on Zechariah 3 as by far the most likely source. First he considers possible reference to the Enoch legend and rejects that possibility because there is no reference to “the devil” or “the body of Moses.” He then looks at The Assumption of Moses and shows good reasons for rejecting this as the solution. Next month, Lord willing, Bro. Steven will build his case for taking Zechariah 3 as the answer.

1.    Considering the Enoch myth

The introduction of Michael at this point is relevant because, according to the Enoch legend, it was none other than Michael who was the leader in bringing the accusation against the fallen angels to God:

And then Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel looked down from heaven and saw much blood being shed upon the earth, and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth. And they said one to another: “The earth made without inhabitant carries the voice of their cryings up to the gates of heaven. And now to you, the holy ones of heaven, the souls of men make their suit, saying, 'Bring our cause before the Most High.' ” And they said to the Lord of the ages: "Lord of lords, God of gods, King of kings, and God of the ages, the throne of Thy glory standeth unto all the generations of the ages, and Thy name holy and glorious and blessed unto all the ages! Thou hast made all things, and power over all things hast Thou: and all things are naked and open in Thy sight, and Thou seest all things, and nothing can hide itself from Thee. Thou seest what Azazel hath done, who hath taught all unrighteousness on earth and revealed the eternal secrets which were preserved in heaven, which men were striving to learn: And Shemihazah, to whom Thou hast given authority to bear rule over his associates. And they have gone to the daughters of men upon the earth, and have slept with the women, and have defiled themselves, and revealed to them all kinds of sins. And the women have borne giants, and the whole earth has thereby been filled with blood and unrighteousness" (I En. 9:1-10, translated by R.H. Charles, 1912).

So, according to I Enoch 9:1-10, it was Michael who accused Shemihazah and Azazel, but according to Jude, Michael “would not dare to bring a slanderous accusation,” even against the devil himself. In other words, the story of Michael making an accusation against the angels in Enoch is false, and if the story of the accusation is false then so is the story of the angels’ sin.

The above explains why Jude chose to substitute “Michael” for Peter’s more general “angels,” but it doesn’t explain the mention of the devil and the body of Moses. The devil, Satan, does not appear in Enoch, and cannot be identified with Shemihazah and Azazel, the leaders of the 200 rebel angels. Therefore there must be another reference to Michael and the devil elsewhere. The remaining two possible sources are:

2    - The Assumption of Moses

3    - Zechariah 3

2.     The Assumption of Moses

Many of today’s popular commentaries, such as M. Green (Tyndale 1968), N. Hillyer (Paternoster 1992), J.N.D. Kelly (Blacks 1969), and D. Lucas & C. Green (IVP 1995), all take it for granted that Jude is quoting from a Jewish source called The Assumption of Moses which describes how Michael had a dispute with the devil over the burial of Moses.

Michael the undertaker of the righteous

The one strong piece of evidence in favour of this outside The Assumption of Moses itself is the fact that Michael is credited in Jewish myth as being the angel who buries the body and escorts the soul to paradise. This Michael does with Adam, Abel and Eve in Life of Adam (Vita Adae) and again with Abraham in Testament of Abraham.

Both these traditions are old enough to have been well-known in Jude’s day, but in any case it is only a logical extension from the superstition that the angels transported the dead to be with Abraham (as Luke 16) to the belief that, when someone as important as Adam, Abraham or Moses died, an angel as important as Michael would be needed to perform the burial and collect the soul. (Philo adds to Deuteronomy 34:6 that Moses was buried by celestial beings [Vita Mosis 2:3]. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on the same passage records that the angels buried Moses four miles away from where he died. In a Falasha legend the three gravediggers are Michael, Gabriel and Zagzagel [Ginzberg, Vol. 6, p.952 cites Faitlovich, Mota Musa 9-20].)

What would the devil want with a body?

Undermining this possible source, however, is the fact that the genuine Jewish sources above are all missing the key element of Jude 9 — a dispute. In none of these Jewish sources does the devil ever make an attempt to steal the bodies of Adam, Abraham or Moses. In fact, only in Life of Adam is there even mention of the devil and once Adam is dead the devil’s interest in him is finished.

There are a few cases of angel disputes in Jewish myth. In the Dead Sea Scrolls two angels dispute over Moses’ father Amran (Q4 Amran). In a first- century legend it is Satan, not God as in Exodus 4:24, who tries to kill Moses but is prevented by an angel {Jubilees 48:5). In later Rabbinic legend, Michael brought a ram but Satan wanted Isaac to be sacrificed (Yal. Rub.43:3). But in each of these examples Amran, Moses and Isaac are alive, not dead, and Satan is trying to kill them, not gain their bodies. There are also half a dozen fragments of Moses legends in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but again none of them shows any link to Jude 9.

Early Christian evidence

Suspiciously, the dispute between Michael and the devil featured in The Assumption of Moses survives only in Christian quotations, and there is a small mountain of Christian evidence on the subject. Most of this consists of a long list of churchmen, including the anonymous “scholiast on Jude,” Clement of Alexandria, Didymus the Blind, Origen, Gelasius and Severus of Antioch, all of whom note The Assumption of Moses or “an apocryphal book” in connection with Jude 9, but are unable to quote from it except by hearsay.

There are also some Christian sources which have preserved legends fitting Jude 9, such as the Byzantine Palaea Historica, the Slavonic Life of Moses, Pseudo-Oecumenius and Catenae, but all of these contain the phrase “the Lord rebuke you,” which is obviously drawn from Jude. Therefore they are suspect as being after Jude, not before it, and are likely false attempts to explain Jude. They also all lack the references to Deuteronomy 34 that would be found in a genuine Jewish midrash on the burial of Moses. [Footnote 1]

The Testament of Moses

In order to give the Christian evidence some credibility, the commentaries assure us that Assumption of Moses is the “lost ending” of a surviving Jewish text - Testament of Moses. But anyone taking the trouble to read this text (Charlesworth Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Vol.l p. 919-934), will find the claim very unlikely indeed. Testament of Moses is a fairly sober fiction concerning Moses’ farewell to Joshua. It contains no reference to either the devil or angels, and tacking the Christian fragments on to the end of this book just makes their non-Jewish origins all the more obvious.

In conclusion, the Assumption of Moses can be consigned to the trash can. This is not being done because of squeamishness about myths, but because the evidence is contradictory, hearsay, and verbally dependent on Jude 9. It all “fits’’ too well to be convincing (a bit like the so-called Josephus Discourse on Hades mentioned in connection with Luke 16 in the second article of this series). None of the Christian evidence has support, or even parallels, in any Jewish material. Comparing the evidence for Assumption of Moses with the very strong evidence for Enoch, one can’t help thinking that apologists for the devil have been a little too eager to jump on a flimsy bandwagon.


Having examined the evidence for The Assumption of Moses and found it wanting, that leaves only the option of Zechariah as the probable background for Jude 9. We examine that consideration next month, Lord willing.

Steven Cox, Hyderabad, India

[Footnote 1] While one much-cited scholar, (Bauckham 1983), has argued that the Greek vocabulary in Palaea Historicae suggests that it is independent of Jude 9 and must be drawn from a Jewish source, the differences are no more than one would expect from a Byzantine fiction based on Jude 9. For example, “the Lord rebuke you” in Jude is epitimesaisoiKurios, while Palaea Historicae has epitima se Kurios, diabole. The difference is nothing more than a minor grammatical change driven by the sentence structure. And so on for other examples. This is hardly proof that a genuine Jewish source underlies the Christian evidence.


Not Giving Heed to Jewish Myths (7)
Michael, the Devil, and the Body of Moses (2)

In this series, Bro. Steven has demonstrated that Jewish fables current in the first century created problems in the early ecclesias. Peter and Jude in particular have these extra-biblical writings in mind when they allude to wrong ideas influencing the brethren into evil thinking and conduct. An understanding of these myths brings alive some of the phrases used by Peter and Jude so that we are better able to follow the discussion in these epistles.

In the previous article, Bro. Steven began a consideration of Jude 9:

“Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. "

He now completes that consideration, suggesting that an understanding of Jude’s quote of Zechariah 3:5 is easier in light of the Jewish myths which were troubling his readers.

JUDE'S USE of the phrase, “The Lord rebuke thee” is an obvious quote of Zechariah 3:5, which is the only place in the Old Testament the phrase occurs. We note further that in the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint, LXX) used by Jude’s readers, “devil” (diabolos) occurs rather than “Satan.” This reconfirms that it is Zechariah to whom Jude is referring.

Nevertheless, there is still the niggling feeling that more is going on in Jude 9 than a straight quote of Zechariah. It is possible that there is a third alternative which we have been overlooking.

A third option

Sometimes the solutions to the most difficult problems are the simplest. The answer that fits best is the one that has been under one’s nose. The suggestion we would advance is that Jude’s words are not based on Zechariah 3 itself, but on a wresting of Zechariah 3 current among his opponents — the Enochites.

Michael pulling Joshua from the furnace

Consider first a rabbinic legend which could be very relevant to Jude 9 — the story of Ahab and Zedekiah. In the legend, these two false prophets at the court of Nebuchadnezzar were put in the furnace together with Joshua. Michael retrieved Joshua the priest from the fire but his clothes were singed by standing too close to the false prophets. (L. Ginzberg, Vol.7 p. 426 cites Sanhedrin93a, PK25:165a. TanB:3:7).

This legend of Ahab and Zedekiah is likely nothing more than a fantastic attempt to explain Zechariah 3 and the “filthy garments” which prevented Joshua, the high priest, from serving in the tabernacle. The legend was no doubt created by someone with no understanding of the historical roots of Zechariah’s parable-prophecy - the opposition to Joshua’s work of rebuilding the temple as recorded in Ezra 4-6. But there are two interesting points to be drawn.

The first is that it is “Michael” who is credited with being the angel involved in saving Joshua — something not mentioned in Zechariah 3. This could explain that the puzzling addition of Michael’s name to Jude’s use of Zechariah 3 might not just be due to imagination on the part of Jude, but imagination on the part of Jewish teachers he was countering.

The second point is that it illustrates just how a later Jewish audience, distant from the historical background of Zechariah as amplified in Ezra, could misunderstand the parable-prophecy and take it literally. Having taken it literally they then invented a story to “fill in the gaps” much in the same way Christians later invented the “Assumption of Moses” story (April, 2001) to fill in the gaps in Jude 9.

Evidence for “wrested Zechariah”

The legend of Ahab and Zedekiah is the first piece of evidence in support of this third option for Jude 9. The fact that documentary evidence for the legend is found in at least three Jewish sources proves that misuse of Zechariah 3 by people with an active imagination is no recent phenomenon. Long before any Jehovah’s Witness or hell-fire evangelical wrested Zechariah 3, generations of Jewish fallen-angel believers had also been at work on the prophecy.

The second piece of evidence is the way Jude uses other Old Testament material. He treats Sinai (v.5), Sodom (v.7), Cain, Balaam and Korah (v. 11) without adding to the Old Testament record. Yet when he comes to Zechariah 3, he suddenly, and gratuitously, adds in the name “Michael.” Our usual interpretation of Jude 9 tends to turn a blind eye to this, but the trouble is that the more you ignore the name, the more it sticks out like a sore thumb. In fact it sticks out twice over, because it is not only an obvious addition to the Old Testament version, but also a glaring addition to Jude’s primary source, Peter (11 Pet. 2:11).

The third piece of evidence is that uncomfortable phrase “body of Moses.” The absence of any mention of “Joshua” in Jude’s version of the angelic dispute shows that “body of Moses” is in some way a substitute for Joshua. Anyone who denies this has to explain why Jude deleted Joshua and introduced Moses’ corpse into a dispute where the other two parties (the angel and the devil) remain the same as in Zechariah 3:1. But the question for us is why Jude created a problem where none existed, by not simply writing “Joshua.”

(Some readers may object that “body” here can be identified with the priesthood on the grounds that soma — the Greek word translated “body” — can also mean “slave” [R. Abel Wrested Scriptures p. 182; H.A. Whittaker Those Difficult Passages p.70]. So Joshua, the priest, was the “slave” of Moses in that he was enslaved by the law given through Moses. The first problem with this is the lack of any Old Testament evidence using such a vocabulary in reference to the priests, and the second that the linguistic case for this use of soma in the singular is extremely weak [Footnote 1].)

The fourth piece of evidence in favour of the “wrested Zechariah” theory is the strongest. If we make the logical assumptions that the wresting of Zechariah in Jude verse 9 is connected with the Enoch before (Jude v. 6) and after (vv. 12-15) the evidence suddenly falls into place. Commentators usually make no effort to relate the likely mythical references in verse 9, with the evident references in verses 6, 12-15 to Enoch. They seem to think Jude is just throwing out examples from Jewish mythology at random. But if we see Jude 9 as part of Jude’s struggle with the Enochites, it ceases to be a separate problem and becomes an integral part of his argument showing Enoch to be non-inspired.

The proposed solution to Jude 9 is this:

1.   We know that Jude is primarily concerned with problems predicted earlier by Peter. In particular Jude was concerned with the growth of a belief in fallen angels within the church. The first half of Jude’s letter is largely requoting, emphasising and expanding upon what Peter had written (II Pet. 2) but which was apparently being ignored by the believers.

2.   It is also clear that in the intervening period between Peter’s last letter and Jude’s the problem had increased, and the battle lines had been drawn. Peter wrote in warning to the whole ecclesia(II Pet. 2:1), but Jude writes only to one party in the ecclesia (Jude 3-4), urging them to “earnestly contend for the faith.”

Sadly this verse has become one of those cliche verses, like “strengthening the things that remain,” which are so frequently quoted out of context, that they begin to lose their meaning. Jude’s words are not a license to be contentious. In the original context, to “earnestly contend for the faith” meant to persist inside an ecclesia, where some members were not only actively teaching full-blown devil belief, but “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 4), with the objective of saving as many as possible (see Jude 22-23 in a modern translation). Contentiousness will only achieve the opposite result.

3.   Now let’s put the shoe on the other foot and consider the position of the false teachers. We can see they had some following because Jude says they had succeeded in dividing the ecclesia (Jude 19, apodiorizontes which means “who create divisions” rather than “who separate themselves” KJV). The divisions were not yet a clear break, however, as both sides were still breaking bread with each other (Jude 12). It may not have been clear exactly who supported whom, and there would, as always, have been a large number of undecided (which explains the caution advised in Jude 22-23). If the ecclesia was divided, it means that those loyal to the memory of Peter were still putting

up stiff resistance. They were probably able to counter the fallen-angel teachers with the very same verses and reasoning from the Old Testament which Christadelphians use today.

4.   Imagine for a moment that you were a false teacher preaching “angels that sinned.” Some of the ecclesia have already accepted the authority of the Book of Enoch, but those loyal to Peter say the book is a fake. The undecided (Jude 22) demand evidence from the Old Testament. You, false teacher, have a problem.

Not everyone, by any means, accepts your assertion that “Sons of God” in Genesis 6 are angels. It is likely that the Gospel of Luke was already widely distributed by the late ‘60s AD (II Cor. 8:18; I Tim.5:18 cf. Lukel0:7), and any claims about Genesis 6 will be immediately countered by Luke 20:36, where “sons of God" is defined by Christ as believers, rather than angels who marry (both KJV and NIV are inaccurate here; the Greek is huioi “sons,” not teknoi “children”).

You, false teacher, can refer to I Chron. 21:1, where the diabolos (Septuagint) stood up against David, but the Peter-loyalists will immediately turn to the parallel account in II Sam. 24:1. You can try Job, but even if the diabolos (Septuagint again) is understood to be an angel, he is obviously neither in rebellion against God, nor in conflict with the other angels. In fact, in the entire Old Testament, the only example of conflict angel versus angel you can find is the one used for the purpose of arguing the existence of the devil today — Zechariah 3:1.

In short, it doesn’t take much imagination to suppose that the Enochites would try to shore up their story with Zechariah 3:1. It’s simply the only verse in the whole Old Testament that could be used.

5.   Now we can explain Jude’s mention of the diabolos Although neither the Devil nor Satan feature in Enoch, neither do angels named Shemihazah or Azazel feature in the Old Testament [Footnote 2], But if the false teachers were to introduce a wrested interpretation of Zechariah 3, it now makes sense for Jude to respond using the language of the Greek Old Testament used in the ecclesia — diabolos not Shemihazah.

6.   Jude’s mention of Michael is now easily explained. We saw earlier (the furnace story) that Jewish teachers placed Michael in Zechariah 3. Even without that legend as evidence, it is no great leap for the false teachers, in a desperate search for scriptural support, to turn the struggle of Michael vs. Shemihazah in Enoch, into Michael vs. the devil in Zechariah. Admittedly this is a reconstruction based on educated guesswork, but if anyone objects, let him find another verse in the Old Testament which can be wrested so easily to support Enoch. And if we reject this reconstruction of events, then how do we explain Jude having added Michael into the Zechariah narrative? Yes, he was forced to make more direct use than Peter of I Enoch 9 by naming Michael as the accuser, but he was also attempting to reclaim Zechariah 3. If we can imagine that the verse was being wrested, we can certainly agree that Jude would “earnestly contend” against this. He was doing exactly what any Christadelphian would do today when faced with a wrested scripture (it’s no coincidence that the very phrase “wrested scripture” comes from II Pet. 3:16 — immediately after Peter’s rejection of fallen angels).

7.   By tackling Zechariah 3:1 head-on, Jude achieved two things. Firstly, if the teachers were going to claim that the verse supported I Enoch 9 regarding fallen angels, then it would backfire on them. They quoted Zechariah? Fine, but let them see that the “Michael” in Zechariah does no accusing; in fact, he does not even rebuke. Instead of what the false teachers had expected, quoting Zechariah 3 in fact achieves the opposite and shows that I Enoch 9 is false.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Jude turns Zechariah’s parable back to the prophet’s original intent. Everything we know about Zechariah shows us that he was not only concerned with fighting false teaching, but also concerned with practical — what we would call pastoral — issues. The first time we hear of Zechariah it is as a bricklayer (Ezra 5:11), and with him worked 150 men, all of them “earnestly contending” to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Ezra 8:11).

There is a lesson for us here. It’s all too easy to concentrate on the necessary but negative (such as exposing a wrested interpretation), and to neglect to follow this up with the positive (such as aftercare of those who get damaged by wrested teaching). Jude could have dealt with Zechariah 3:1 in Jude 9 and left it at that. But he didn’t. After dealing with misuse of Zechariah 3 he returns to the same chapter to remind the Peter loyalists not to get so carried away in the battle with false teaching that they forgot the needs of the weakest (Jude 22-23, compare Zech. 3:2-4). Jude was exhorting them to “build” themselves up (Jude 20, compare Zech. 1:16, 3:7,4:9).

8.     We have now explained all of Jude 9 except for one thing - “the body of


In an earlier article we saw that although the “wanderer stars” in Jude 13 primarily refers to the “fallen stars” chained up in the underworld prison- house of Enoch (I En.l8:14, 21:1-10), the word “wanderer” can only be found in an Old Testament description of Jewish errorists (Hosea 9:17), and Jude is casting the false teachers themselves in the role of the fallen angels. He is turning the myth on its head, and then throwing it back at those who teach it.

If Jude does that in verse 13 he could be doing it in verse 9 as well. In verse 9, he is likely recasting the false teachers as Zechariah’s Satan. This fits the context perfectly, as both the previous verse (v. 8), and the one following (v. 10), are not about the devil but about the false teachers. The “body of Moses” that Jude would be referring to would be Jewish Christians (I Pet. 1:1), who were in danger of “returning like a dog to its vomit” (II Pet. 2:22). This would explain why Jude does not simply write “Joshua,” and also why it is “the body of Moses” rather than “body of Christ.”

Jude and Ezra

The clincher in favour of this argument is that it gives Jude and his readers the credit for knowing their Bibles. While fallen-angel believers both in Jude’s day, and our own, are drawn to Zechariah 3 like bees to a honey-pot, the way that Jude departs from the text of Zechariah does not show ignorance (as the commentaries assume), but rather, that he is going deeper than just Zechariah, right down to the events in Ezra which underlie the prophecy. It is likely that the “accuser” (Hebrew, satari) in Zechariah 3:1 is to be identified with the “accusation” (Hebrew, sitnah) in Ezra 4:6. If this is so, then Jude expected his readers to understand that the diabolos accusing Joshua was human. If they knew their Bibles well enough to identify the diabolos of Zechariah 3 as Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, Rehum and Shimshai (Ezra 4:1-24), they also had enough intelligence to identify the diabolos of Jude 9 with the false teachers.

This argument is stronger still if we revise our assumption that “Joshua” in Zechariah 3 represents the priesthood. Following the thinking of Hebrews 5, the high priest might better represent the people. In this case, the absence of “Joshua” from Jude 9 is explained by seeing, as we already have done, that Zechariah was primarily concerned not with the priests, but with the wellbeing of their flock. Our parallel would then have: “Judah and Benjamin” (Ezra 4:1) — “Joshua the high priest” (Zech. 3:1) — Jewish Christians (Jude 9). By using the phrase “body of Moses,” Jude is acknowledging the existence of the myths, acknowledging the wresting of Zechariah, but directing his audience away from this back toward the accusers of Israel in Ezra.

Steven Cox, Hyderabad, India

[Footnote 1] The name Azazel in I Enoch is based on the word “scapegoat” in Lev 16 8,10,26, and, as a result, the Good News and Jerusalem Bibles have “Azazel” in the O T text I mention this only because modern Enochites, of whom there are plenty, delight in these verses But it’s clearly an anachronism to translate Leviticus according to much later Rabbinic legends which says more about the translators than the text From the geographical information in I Pet 1 1, and the correlation between Jude (vs 5,7,9,11,13,23) and the Greek Old Testament, it seems unlikely that the recipients of the letters would have been familiar with the Hebrew text of Leviticus In the Septuagint, the scapegoat is simply rendered apompaios, meaning “something carrying away evil ”

[Footnote 2] Romans 6 6 illustrates that “body of sin” and “slave of sin” are different Rev 18 3 (KJV) is not a good example because it is probably meant to be taken as a phrase “bodies and souls of men” (see NiV) Better evidence is from the Septuagint Abraham’s “bodies of the house” (Gen 36 6) and the “90 bodies” sold by Nicanor (II Mac 8 11) or better still from commercial papyri “wages for bodies” (P Cairo Zen 1 59027 2, BC258) The problem is that with a couple of ambiguous exceptions in the papyri (P Hib 1 54 20, BGU 1 187 12), most of these instances are evidence for “bodies” (somata), a use which appears to be common only in the plural If the distinction seems strange, consider the English word “spectacles” which exists only in the plural




The following articles were not published: the 1 Corinthians charismatic material was published in a Hyderabad booklet Tongues of Angels. The 2 Corinthians material can be found on BibleQ net.


Not Giving Heed to Jewish Myths (8)
Tongues of Angels and the Therapeutae – Charismatic Alexandrian Jewish context in Corinth

In this series, Bro. Steven has demonstrated that Jewish fables current in the first century created problems in the early ecclesias. Peter and Jude in particular have these extra-biblical writings in mind when they allude to wrong ideas influencing the brethren into evil thinking and conduct. An understanding of these myths brings alive some of the phrases used by Peter and Jude so that we are better able to follow the discussion in these epistles.



Not Giving Heed to Jewish Myths (9)
Third Heaven, Satan as an angel of light - Testament of Adam content in 2 Corinthians

In this series, Bro. Steven has demonstrated that Jewish fables current in the first century created problems in the early ecclesias. Peter and Jude in particular have these extra-biblical writings in mind when they allude to wrong ideas influencing the brethren into evil thinking and conduct. An understanding of these myths brings alive some of the phrases used by Peter and Jude so that we are better able to follow the discussion in these epistles.







[1]  The previous parable, the dishonest steward, is probably best read as an attack on the writing of divorce notes for financial or social gain (compare 16:6-7 with 17-18). The Pharisees missed the irony and smirked at how the master “commended” his dishonest steward, but Christ rounded on them and made it clear that the parable was about themselves (16:15). If the preceding parable in this sequence of seven parables (Luke ch. 14-16) is an ironic attack on Pharisee beliefs and practices, we should not be surprised if the following parable has the same tone or target.

[2]  The fact that Caiaphas and the five sons of Annas appear in the parable suggests strongly that the Lazarus named is also a historical figure, namely Lazarus of Bethany. This suggestion is confirmed when we recognize that Luke 16:31 contains a prophecy fulfilled by Annas and his five sons in John 12:10. If this parable is personal to the level of making a prophecy about eight specific individuals, all known to the hearers, it becomes more probable that the beliefs described in the parable have a personal relationship to the Pharisee audience too.2

[3]    In rabbinical literature the Targum

of Jonathan has Jannes and Jambres

opposing Moses The magicians are

guided by their father Balaam In extensions of the tradition, Jannes and Jambres temporarily repent but per

ish later — either struck down by an angel (Yal Sim , cf Yal Reu , Chron J 54) or by the Levites for inciting