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"Yet in like manner these also in their dreamings defile the flesh, and set at nought dominion, and rail at dignities. But Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing judgment,121121   Dr. Field, in his most valuable Otium Novicense (iii., pp. 154, 155), argues strongly in favour of translating κρίσιν ἐπενεγκεῖν βλασφημίας, "bring against him an accusation of blasphemy;" and he quotes various passages to show that κρίσιν ἐπιφέρειν may mean "to bring an accusation against." But none of them have a genitive after the κρίσιν, and the question still remains whether the genitive is descriptive and may be treated as an adjective, or expresses the subject-matter of the κρίσις. That the former is right seems to be shown by the context (βλασφημῦσιν in vv. 8 and 10); the libertines do to higher beings what an archangel did not dare to do to Satan; and also by the parallel in 2 Peter ii. 11 (βλασφημον κρίσιν). And on what grounds would Michael not dare to charge Satan with blasphemy? That he did not dare to rail at him is intelligible. but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these rail at whatsoever things they know not: and what they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason, in these things are they destroyed. Woe unto them! for they went in the way of Cain, and ran riotously in the error of Balaam for hire, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah."— St. Jude 8-12.

ST. JUDE having given three terrible examples of the punishment of gross sin in Jews, Gentiles, and angels, proceeds to apply these instances to the libertines who in his own day, by their scandalous conduct 416 as Christians, were provoking God to punish them in like manner; and the threefold description of their conduct here given seems to refer to the three instances just given, which are now taken in reverse order. Like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, these ungodly libertines "defile the flesh;" like the "angels which kept not their own principality," they "set at nought dominion;" and like the unbelieving and rebellious Israelites in the wilderness, they "rail at dignities." In all three particulars they show themselves as "dreamers" (ἐνυπνιαζόμενοι). They are like men who say and do monstrous things in their sleep. They are deadened to all sense of decency and duty, "dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber" (Isa. lvi. 10, where the same word that we have here is used in the LXX.). They are sunk in the torpor of sin (Rom. xiii. 11). The Revisers have done rightly in omitting the epithet "filthy," in adding the word "also," and in substituting "in their dreamings" for "dreamers." The participle represented by "in their dreamings" does not belong to "defile the flesh" exclusively, but to the other two clauses as well; so that "filthy" is not even correct as an interpretation: it is quite unjustifiable as a rendering. There is no reason for suspecting that certain Levitical pollutions are indicated. Seeing that "in their dreamings" they "set at nought dominion, and rail at dignities," dreaming must not be understood of actual sleep. Moreover, St. Jude does not say "defile their flesh," but "defile the flesh" (σάρκα μιαίνουσι), which includes more than their own bodies. He perhaps means that they pollute human nature, or even the whole animal world.

Like the men of Sodom, these profligates "defile the flesh." Like the angels who sold their birthright for 417 base indulgences, they "set at nought dominion." But it is by no means easy to determine what this "dominion" or "lordship" (κυριότητα) signifies. Calvin and others interpret this and "dignities" or "glories" (δόξας) of the civil power: "There is a contrast to be noticed, when he says that they defiled or polluted the flesh, that is, that they degraded what was less excellent, and that yet they despised as disgraceful what is deemed especially excellent among mankind. It appears from the second clause that they were seditious men, who sought anarchy, that, being loosed from the fear of the laws, they might sin more freely. But these two things are nearly always connected, that they who abandon themselves to iniquity do also wish to abolish all order. Though, indeed, their chief object is to be free from every yoke, it yet appears from the words of Jude that they were wont to speak insolently and reproachfully of magistrates, like the fanatics of the present day, who not only grumble because they are restrained by the authority of magistrates, but furiously declaim against all government, and say that the power of the sword is profane and opposed to godliness; in short, they superciliously reject from the Church of God all kings and all magistrates. 'Dignities,' or 'glories,' are orders or ranks eminent in power or honour" (Calvin's Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, Eng. Tr., Edinburgh, 1855, p. 438). But if earthly rulers of any kind are meant by "dominion" and "dignities," it is more probable that St. Jude is thinking of ecclesiastical officers; in which case the meaning would be that these libertines set Church discipline at defiance, and reviled the presbyters or bishops who rebuked them for their evil conduct.

418 It is, however, more probable that at least "dominion," if not "dignities," refers to unseen and supernatural powers. We must look backwards to ver. 4, and forwards to ver. 10, for a key to the interpretation. These profligates "turn the grace of God into lasciviousness," and thus "defile the flesh;" and they "deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ," and thus "set at nought lordship." Again, "what they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason, in these things are they destroyed," i.e. they ruin themselves, body and soul, by their carnal indulgences; while "they rail at whatsoever things they know not," i.e. they speak with flippant irreverence respecting the invisible world, reviling angels, and perhaps mocking at Satan. We may, therefore, with some hesitation, but with a fair amount of reason, interpret "dominion," or "lordship," of Christ or of God, and "dignities," or "glories," of angels, remembering that either or both of these may include Christ's ministers and messengers on earth. One of the ways in which these ungodly men denied Christ in their lives was by their contemptuous disregard of the teaching of His Apostles.122122   The variety of interpretation as regards these two expressions is remarkable. Some, as Beza, Calvin, Erasmus, and Grotius, interpret both "dominion" and "dignities" of civil magistrates; others, as Hammond, include ecclesiastical rulers; others, as Lumby, interpret both of Apostles and elders, and through them Christ; others, as Ritsch, apply "dominion" to God or Christ, and "dignities" to good angels. Wiesinger and Huther apply "dominion" to God or Christ, and "dignities" to bad angels. Alford, Bengel, Brückner, and De Wette explain both of good angels; while Schott apparently explains both of bad angels. Œcumenius is not quite alone in suggesting that "dignities" may mean the Old and New Testament; Plumptre would make the word include both good and bad angels.

It is quite possible that in this particular also St. Jude is under the influence of the Book of Enoch. In it we 419 read, "Ye fulfil not the commandments of the Lord; but ye transgress and calumniate greatness" (vi. 4); and again, "All who utter with their mouths unbecoming language against God, and speak harsh things of His glory, here they shall be collected" (xxvi. 2); and again, "My eyes beheld all the sinners, who denied the Lord of glory" (xli. 1). And with this last expression should be compared, "The splendour of the Godhead shall illuminate them" (i. 8). But of course it does not follow that because St. Jude partly reproduces the language of this writer, therefore he uses it with precisely the same meaning.

"But Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing judgment, but said, The Lord rebuke thee." The meaning of this illustration is obvious. The profane libertines allow themselves to speak of "dignities" in a way which even an archangel did not venture to adopt in rebuking Satan. It is a very strong argument à fortiori. Consequently, the fact that it was an evil angel against whom Michael did not dare to rail by no means proves that it was evil angels against which the libertines did dare to rail. Rather the contrary may be inferred. They use language of good angels which Michael would not use of a bad one. That "dignities," or "glories," may include the fallen angels or evil spirits is perhaps possible; that it refers to them exclusively is very improbable. The word itself is against this; for "glories" is certainly a strange name to give to devils.

But a more interesting question lies before us as to the source from which St. Jude derived the story about Michael the archangel contending with the devil about the body of Moses. It is as unreasonable to suppose 420 that he received a special revelation on the subject as to suppose that St. Paul received a special revelation respecting the names of the Egyptian magicians (see on 2 Tim. iii. 8 in this series, Pastoral Epistles, pp. 379-83). St. Jude refers to the incident as something quite familiar to his readers; and this could hardly have been the case if it had been specially revealed to himself. Lardner supposes that the reference is to Zech. ii. 1, 2. But, excepting that the words, "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan," occur there, the difference between the two incidents is immense. Neither Michael nor the body of Moses is mentioned in Zechariah. The cause of Satan's hostility is the consecration of Joshua the high priest. And it is the Lord, and not the angel, who rebukes the evil one. These differences are conclusive; they leave just the features which need explanation still unexplained. We may safely decide that St. Jude is not alluding to anything contained in the Bible. More probably he is referring to some well-known Jewish story respecting the death and burial of Moses—in other words, to apocryphal literature.

"So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day" (Deut. xxxiv. 5, 6). These words excited the curiosity of the Jews; and as history told them nothing beyond the statement in Deuteronomy, they fell back upon imagination as a substitute, and the mysterious words of Scripture became a centre round which a series of legends in process of time clustered. The Targum of Jonathan on the passage says that the grave of Moses was entrusted to the care of Michael the archangel. The Midrash on the same states that 421 Sammael, chief of the evil spirits, was impatient for the death of Moses. "And he said, When will the longed-for moment come when Michael shall weep and I shall laugh? And at last the time came when Michael came to Sammael and said: Ah! cursed one! shall I weep while thou laughest? and he made answer in the words of Micah (vii. 8), Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me." The Midrash also contains another legend, in which the sin of the impure angels is mentioned in connexion with the death of Moses. The soul of Moses prays that it may not be taken from the body: "Lord of the world, the angels Asa and Asael lusted after daughters of men; but Moses, from the day that Thou appearedst unto him in the bush, led a life of perpetual continence;" the plea being that from so pure a body the soul need not depart. Both Gabriel and Michael shrink from bringing the soul, and Sammael failed to obtain it. "And Moses prayed, Lord of the world, give not my soul over to the angel of death. And there came a voice from heaven, Fear not, Moses; I will provide for thy burial. And Moses stood up and sanctified himself as do the Seraphim, and the Most High came down from heaven, and the three chief angels with Him. Michael prepared the bier, and Gabriel spread out the winding-sheet.... And the Most High kissed him, and through that kiss took his soul to Himself" (Plumptre in loco).

These legends bring us a little nearer to the illustration used by St. Jude, for they bring Michael and the evil spirit into connexion with what is related respecting the death and burial of Moses. But the contest between Michael and Satan respecting the body is not there. Origen tells us that this comes from an apocryphal book 422 called The Assumption or The Ascension (ἀνάληψις or ἀνάβασις) of Moses: "In Genesis the serpent is described as having seduced Eve, regarding whom, in The Assumption of Moses (a little treatise of which the Apostle Jude makes mention in his Epistle), the archangel Michael, when disputing with the devil regarding the body of Moses, says that the serpent, being inspired by the devil, was the cause of the transgression of Adam and Eve" (De Princip. III. ii. sub init.). The book was fairly well known in the early Church. Clement of Alexandria quotes it (Strom. VI. xv. sub fin.); and in the Latin translation of the Hypotyposeis his note on Jude 9 is "Hic confirmat Assumptionem Moysis." Didymus of Alexandria says the same as Origen about St. Jude's use of it, and censures those who made this an objection to the Epistle of Jude (In Epist. Judæ enarratio in Gallandi Biblioth. Patr. VI. 307). Evodius, Bishop of Uzala, one of Augustine's early friends (Confess. IX. viii. 17; xii. 31), in writing to him, speaks of it as the Mysteries (Secreta) of Moses, and calls it a writing devoid of authority (Aug. Ep. clviii. 6). It was known in the second half of the fifth century to Gelasius of Cyzicus, and in the second half of the eighth to Nicephorus of Constantinople, who, in his Stichometria Sacrorum Librorum, tells us that it was about as long as the Apocalypse of St. John. But from that time we hear no more of it until 1861, when Ceriani published about a third of it from a palimpsest in the Ambrosian Library at Milan (Monumenta Sacra et Prof. I. i., p. 55). This fragment contains the passage quoted by Gelasius, but most tantalizingly comes to an end before the death of Moses, so that we are still without the passage about the contest between Michael and the devil respecting his body. Nevertheless, we have no reason for doubting 423 the statements of Origen and of Didymus that the book contained this incident, and that this is the source of the illustration used by St. Jude. Such evidence as we have confirms the statements, and there is no evidence on the other side. We know that there were legends connecting Michael and the evil one with the death of Moses. We know that The Assumption of Moses contained similar material. Above all, we know that the incident mentioned by St. Jude is not in the canonical Scriptures, and therefore must have come from some apocryphal source, and that elsewhere in his Epistle St. Jude makes use of apocryphal literature. We are not, therefore, creating a difficulty by adopting the all but certain conclusion that this apocryphal work is the source from which St. Jude draws. Even if we reject this highly probable conclusion, the difficulty, such as it is, will still remain.

That The Assumption of Moses was written before our Epistle is almost universally admitted. Philippi is almost alone in thinking that its author was a Christian, and that he borrowed from St. Jude. Ewald, Dillmann, Drummond, Schürer, and Wiesler place it between B.C. 4 (the year of the war of Quintilius Varus, to which it almost certainly refers) and A.D. 6. Hilgenfeld, Merx, Fritzsche, and Lucius place it at different points between A.D. 44 and 70. But the earlier date is the more probable. The large fragment in Latin which we now possess was evidently made from a Greek document, and Hilgenfeld has attempted to restore the Greek from the Latin. But this Greek document may itself have been a translation from the Aramaic. In either case St. Jude would be able to read it.123123   The Latin fragment has been several times published since Ceriani made it known in 1861; by Hilgenfeld in 1866 and 1876; by Volkmar in 1867; Schmidt and Merx in 1868; and by Fritzsche in 1871. A very full summary of literature on the subject is given in Schürer, The Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ (T. and T. Clark, 1886), Div. II., vol. iii., pp. 80-83. See also Herzog, Plitt, and Hauck (Real-Encykl., vol. xii. pp. 352, 353).

424 That any true tradition on the subject should have been handed down orally through fifteen centuries, "without leaving the slightest trace in a single passage in the Old Testament," is utterly improbable. This hypothesis, and the still more violent supposition of a special revelation made to St. Jude, are devices prompted by a reverent spirit, but thoroughly uncritical and untenable, to avoid the unwelcome conclusion that an inspired writer has quoted legendary material. Have we any right to assume that inspiration raises a writer to the intellectual position of a critical historian, with power to discriminate between legend and fact? St. Jude probably believed the story about the dispute between Michael and Satan to be true; but even if he knew it to be a myth, he might nevertheless readily use it as an illustrative argument, seeing that it was so familiar to his readers. If an inspired writer were living now, would it be quite incredible that he should make use of Dante's Purgatory, or Shakespeare's King Lear? Inspiration certainly does not preserve those who possess it from imperfect grammar, and we cannot be certain that it preserves them from other imperfections which have nothing to do with the truth that saves souls. Besides which, it may be merely our prejudices which lead us to regard the use of legendary material as an imperfection. Let us reverently examine the features which inspired writings actually present to us, not hastily determine beforehand what properties they ought to possess. We not unnaturally fancy that 425 when the Holy Spirit inspires a person to write for the spiritual instruction of men throughout all ages, He also preserves him from making mistakes as to the authenticity of writings of which he makes use, or at least would preserve him from misleading others on such points; but it does not follow that this natural expectation of ours corresponds with the actual manner of the Spirit's working. "We follow a very unsafe method if we begin by deciding in what way it seems to us most fitting that God should guide His Church, and then try to wrest facts into conformity with our preconceptions."124124   Salmon, Introduction to the N.T., 4th ed., Murray (1889), p. 528.

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