Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Dyer continues to litter the landscape with his ignorant claims:

“St. Jude quotes from two non-canonical books in his small epistle: the Assumption of Moses, concerning the debate between St. Michael and the devil over the body of Moses, and the mysterious first Book of Enoch in verses 14 and 15. Now, both of these are apocryphal (except for perhaps the book of Enoch), and neither of these are in anyone's canon, aside from Enoch being included in the Ethiopic canon. We do not presently know the contents of the Assumption of Moses. Neither of these incidents, however, are quoted in the OT, so it is a good example of the concept of Sacred Tradition. For those who believe in the authority and infallibility of Divine Revelation, is shows that there are ‘infallibly true’ religious propositions/truths that exist outside the so-called canon.”

i) Jude doesn’t “quote” the Assumption of Moses. Rather, v9 is a literary *allusion*.

ii) The allusion is not to the Assumption of Moses, but the Testament of Moses. Cf. R. Bauckham, Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church, chap. 5.

ii) How would this demonstrate the existence of infallibly true propositions outside the “so-called” canon?

Does the mere fact that a Bible writer may quote or allude to something prove that he regarded his source as infallibly true?

For example, both Oleson and Charles think that Jude 13 is a literary allusion to a passage in Hesiod. Cf. J. Charles, Literary Strategy in the Epistle of Jude (Scranton 1993), 162-63. Does this mean that Jude regarded Hesiod as infallibly true?

“A powerful example of Sacred Tradition as against Protestant ‘sola scriptura’ advocates.”

A straw man argument since the Protestant rule of faith never precluded a Bible writer from citing an extracanonical source.

“These ‘giants’ were the men of old, of renown, Genesis [6:1-4] says, and some have speculated whether the ancient myths that surround certain ‘supermen,’ for example, Hercules, the Titans, or the Gilgamesh epic may not, in fact, have some basis in this evil union. I think this is reasonable. It would explain quite a bit.”

i) It would explain quite a bit about Dyer’s low view of Scripture. Perhaps Dyer would also like to demythologize the creation, Fall, flood, call of Abraham, Exodus, Incarnation, Virgin Birth, Resurrection, Ascension, and parousia while he’s at it.

ii) Both John Walton and John Currid are experts in comparative ANE mythology. Yet both of them, in their respective commentaries, interpret the passage naturalistically. As Currid explains:

“The first thing that may be said with certainty is that, on the basis of the opening clause [Gen 6:4], the ‘Nephilim’ existed on the earth prior to the mixed marriages of vv1-2. The Nephilim were not the progeny of those unions,” 1:176.

He also makes noet of the fact that:

“All Scriptural references used to identify the sons of God with heavenly beings come from outside the Pentateuch. Thus the immediate literary context provides no support for that interpretation,” 174.

Walton underscores that point by observing:

“The fact that there are only three other occurrences of the phrase ‘the sons of God’ and that they all occur in the linguistically isolated book of Job give significant pause for concluding that this Old Testament lexical base is sufficient to dictate exclusive meanings,” 292.

Continuing with Dyer:

“However, Jude seems to say that the sin of these angels was precisely the fact that they went after women.”

Dyer is apparently alluding to Jude 6-7. If so, then Dyer is once again assuming the angelic interpretation of Gen 6:1-4, via Jude. But that’s another disputatious interpretation. As Charles points out:

“Although both 2 Pet 2:4 and Jude 6 allude to the punishment of rebellious angels, neither states explicitly that these angels were disobedient in the period of Noah. More importantly, the reference to these angels in 2 Pet 2:4 and Judge 6 is found in a sequence of paradigms…This link, in both cases, is not Genesis 6, nor is the link sexual sin,” ibid. 148-49.

Continuing with Dyer:

“The Book of Enoch also prophesies the Messiah, which is interesting, since the work is usually dated somewhere in the First Century, B.C.”

This disregards the fact that, like other Intertestamental literature, Enoch alludes to the OT, including prophetic portions of the OT. To take just two examples:

“1 Enoch is a collection of five writings ascribed to the biblical patriarch Enoch. Literary analysis shows that these five are independent compositions…The first piece, the so-called Book of the Watchers…in itself is a compilation of disparate literary pieces: 1-5 is an introductory discourse…6-11 relates the story of the Fallen Angels,” D. Dimant, “Use and Interpretation of Mikra in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha,” M. Mulder & H. Sysling, eds. Mikra: Text, Translation, Reading & Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Ancient Judaism & Early Christianity (Hendrickson 2004), 404.

“The section [1 En 6-11] stands out as a fragment of an ancient biblical Expansion of the type of ‘rewritten Bible.’…The story told in 6-11 is based on Gen 6:1-4 by quotations not given en block, but distributed among large aggadic and interpretive expansions…In 6-11 there are two typical examples of exegetical substitutions: the Angels and the Giants. Neither is mentioned in the original biblical story, ibid. 404-405.

“The author of 1 Enoch 1-5 has drawn heavily from the conceptions of Isaiah 65-66 with respect to his prophecies of an elect remnant arising from an apostate Israel. 1 En. 5:6 paraphrases Isa 65:15. The Enochic use of terms identifying ‘the righteous,’ the elect,’ and ‘sinners,’ and the transition of ‘plantation’ imagery from the nation as a whole to the elect remnants of each age, must be understood as the domestication to the Enochic author’s circle of the categories of Isaiah,” D. Jackson, Enochic Judaism (T&T Clark 2004), 3; cf. R. Bauckham, “Apocalypses,” D. A. Carson et al eds. Justification and Variegated Nomism: I. The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism (Tübingen 2001), 161.

Continuing with Dyer:

“Now, my point is not that its canonical, but that St. Jude certainly thought it was true, so we at least have to admit it has religious truth/tradition in it.”

i) What evidence do we have that Jude “certainly thought it was true”? What if his citation of Enoch was an exercise in audience adaptation? What if he was citing sectarian Jewish literature either because his audience or the false teachers were fond of sectarian Jewish literature?

ii) The question also turns on the correct rendering of the conjunction. As Charles explains:

“Grammatically, the kai of v14a could be interpreted in several ways…If Jude’s literary strategy called for exploiting a work highly esteemed not by himself, rather by his readers, then the following translation of v14a would make perfectly good sense: ‘For even (your own) Enoch, the seventh from Adam (i.e. of 1 Enoch), prophesied of these, saying…’,” ibid. 160-61.


  1. “These ‘giants’ were the men of old, of renown, Genesis [6:1-4] says, and some have speculated whether the ancient myths that surround certain ‘supermen,’ for example, Hercules, the Titans, or the Gilgamesh epic may not, in fact, have some basis in this evil union. I think this is reasonable. It would explain quite a bit.”

    This isn't simply a demonstration of Dyer's low view of Scripture, it demonstrates his ignorance of Scripture and the Fathers.

    The Fathers will construe this (as have some Protestant commenters) as a reference to demons breeding with humans, resulting in "giants." I've read some in the modern era who would even use this as a prooftext for Neanderthals.

    1. The Fathers make this connection because they are connected to Greek mythology. They were often ignorant of the OT itself. So, they are reading their Greek background into the text.

    2. The key to understanding this narrative is, in fact, the text of Numbers 25

    Note the flow of that text. The sons of God (Israel's men) intermarry with the sons of men (the Moabites). The result is apostasy. God destroys that generation in Israel.

    In the text of Genesis, the sons of God (Seth) intermarry with the sons of men (Cain). The result is apostasy. God destroys all but Noah and his family.

    The Nephilim are in Genesis 6. Guess what?! They also appear in Numbers, chapter 13. Anak's line must be a genealogical line traceable through Noah to the days of the intermarriage between the Sethites and Cainites.

    This really isn't too hard to decipher if you bother to read the text.

    And if there is, indeed, a connection with respect to the word "angel," then what would that be?

    "Angel" also means "messenger"in Greek. Here's the text:

    5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

    Let's work through this:

    God delivered his people out of Egypt.
    He later destroyed those who did not believe.

    Comment: Numbers 25 is "the" definitive example of this for that generation. Chapter 26 picks up with the census of the 2nd generation.

    And the messengers who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home

    That first generation consisted of "messengers" who wandered in the wilderness, led by God and carrying His tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant, with Moses, their greatest prophet ever until Jesus and witnessing miracles continually. Yet, they were frightened by the presence of the Nephilm (Numbers 13) and consequently rejected entrance into their own home - the land of Canaan. They thereby did not keep their authority and abandoned their own home.

    What was their end? They were rejected as apostates and thereby bound in chains in darkness unitl the Last Judgment - which is the fate of every apostate. This is the same generation that the writer of Hebrews uses as an example of apostasy too. Clearly, there is a special place reserved in the minds of these writers for this generation.

    Sodom and Gommorah fell into sexual immorality - the same sin as the sin in Genesis 6;the same sin as Numbers 25. And Lot fell into that sin too, for where does Dyer think his daughters came from?

    Here's an interesting fact, Lot's two daughters committed incest with him,getting him drunk. Lo and behold who was one of his children?

    So both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab ; he is the father of the Moabites of today. (Genesis 19). And with whom did the sons of God cavort and thereby finally apostatize?

    While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, 2 who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. (Numbers 25)

    Indeed, the whole narrative from Numbers 21 is about the interaction of Israel and Moab, leading up the end first generation in Israel, the first generation that God rejected utterly with just a few allowed to continue.

  2. Oh, and one more thing, Jude even tells us this:

    They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion.

    Jude is clearly using the book of Numbers here. Balaam's error is in the text from Numbers I cited. Korah's rebellion (Numbers 14) follows the first exploration of Canaan in Numbers 13, where Israel is frightened by "the Nephilim."
    Cain's line is the sons of men in Genesis 6,for Genesis 6 tells us how that line ended. Noah is connected by the covenant of grace to the line of Seth, not the line of Cain. So the Flood tells us about the end of the line of Cain. That in turn tells us something
    about those to whom Noah preached in his day, the spirits "in prison" to whom Christ preached through Noah, whom Peter mentioned. Namely, that's who they are - the apostates of that day, all of whom the Bible considers to be of the way of Cain, not the way of Seth; whereas Noah is considered of the way of Seth, since God preserves him and his family. These spirits in prison, therefore, aren't demons; these are human beings.

    So,the key to understanding Genesis 6:1-4 and the text surrounding Jude 6 is what? The Book of Numbers, the story of the Wilderness Generation's gradual descent into apostasy, which ends with Chapter 25.

  3. Correction, the rebellion of Korah is in Numbers 16. It nevertheless follows the narrative of the results of the first exploration into Canaan and the nation's decision not to enter.

    It's also worth noting who and what Korah and his sons were:

    Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took action,

    2and they rose up before Moses, together with some of the sons of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen in the assembly, men of renown.

    We might note:

    They and their rabble are called men of renown - like the Nephilim were considered.

    They were priests, men of authority in the nation of Israel.

    They, in their rebellion, abdicate that authority.

    Once again, all Dyer has to do is buckle down and read the text to make these connections. One doesn't need a commentary to figure any of this out. But because the Bible is, in his view, so utterly inscrutable he needs Holy Tradition to do the work for him, he can't be bothered.

  4. It seemed to me as I went through Jude last year that any time he alludes to a non-canonical book he actually offsets it with a canonical reference. The paradigm at work seems to be to acknowledge the existence of non-canonical writings just long enough to use them to refute false teachers or verify aspects about them that can be reinforced by canonical elements. That Augustine notes that the angel/human hybrid theory used to be popular but fell out of favor would seem like an indication that even in the first three centuries elements of early tradition changed, and probably changed rapidly.

    Still, it doesn't seem probably that being in the line of Seth counted for much since God found all men to be utterly wicked. If Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord it doesn't really speak to any value in being of the line of Seth in itself, but then that's probably part of the point.