The New Testament books of James and Jude: Who wrote these books?

A few questions have been raised regarding the general epistles of James and Jude, both in modern and ancient times. While it is quite easy to see that most New Testament books were written by an Apostle or directly under the authority of an Apostle, it is less apparent for these two short books. The question to be considered here is: Are these books apostolic? At the onset it must be noted that every existing manuscript of the whole New Testament, that has ever been found, contains both of these books. This alone gives great testimony that the books have been found to be, and acknowledged as being, Scriptures throughout church history, even by those who have found reason to question them. Even much later questioners, notably reformer Martin Luther who especially had concerns with the book of James (“an epistle of straw”), subsequently acknowledged its canonicity and included it in his German translation of Scriptures.


Confusion begins for the book of James primarily because the name of the author was very common in New Testament times. Among Jesus’ disciples and apostles, there were two who had this name: James, the brother of John and a son of Zebedee (Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19-20, 29; Luke 9:28; Mark 3:17, Matthew 10:2; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13), and James, the son of Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13).

(#1) James, brother of John and son of Zebedee, became one of the first martyrs of the early church (circa 44 A.D.) and did not author any Scripture.

Acts 12:1-2 It was about this time that King Herod [Agrippa I] arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. (NIV)

(#2) James, the son of Alphaeus, has also been commonly called “James the Less.” This designation as being “the less” may have come from Mark 15:40 where he is referenced as “James the younger.” Very little is said of this James in Scriptures. While he could be a candidate as the author of the book of James, this is not the attribution given it by the early church. It appears that he, like most of the original apostles, never were called upon to write Scripture, with the remainder of their ministries being focused on hands-on preaching and teaching.

(#3) A third James is referenced in the New Testament, namely James the brother Jesus (or quite properly, the half-brother of Jesus). This James is only mentioned twice, by name, in the Gospels…

Matthew 13:55-57 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” (NIV) [Also Mark 6:3-4]

Additional Scriptures clarify that Jesus’ brothers initially didn’t believe in him and actually thought Him to be out of His mind.

John 7:3-5 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him. (NIV)

Mark 3:21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” (NIV)

It is this James, the brother of Jesus, which is held to be the author of the New Testament book. While certainly an unlikely candidate, the same could be said for many who Jesus chose and used as His apostles. Jesus’ brother went from unbelief into being a follower of Jesus through gracious revelation! It is recorded specifically in Scriptures that Jesus made a post resurrection appearance to his brother James.

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (NIV)

Notice that James is recorded specifically apart from “the Twelve”, the original apostles. He is identified rather with the larger “all the apostles” of which he is listed as the first and Paul as the last. Regardless, take note that Jesus appeared specifically to all of His apostles, meaning “those sent”, as each were appointed expressly by our Lord. Any of these apostles met the measure (i.e. Canon standard) of being an apostle, whose work could be considered as Scripture if all the other standards applied.

James, the brother of Jesus, is later acknowledged and specifically recognized as being an apostle and leader of the early church. Paul notes his visit with James a few years after his special calling on the road to Damascus.

Galatians 1:18-19 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles – only James, the Lord’s brother. (NIV)

In regards to Peter, he too singles out this James as someone important immediately following his supernatural release from prison.

Acts 12:17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the brothers about this,” he said, and then he left for another place. (NIV)

Paul recalled James and two other apostles as being the leaders of the church in Jerusalem.

Galatians 2:9 James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. (NIV)

In fact, when men came to one of the Gentile churches from Jerusalem it is said…

Galatians 2:12 Before certain men came from James… (NIV)

Years later, James was still in this position of authority.

Acts 21:18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. (NIV)

Jesus’ brothers were numbered among the apostles. Paul, casually singles them out along with Peter, in discussing “other apostles” and their right to take a believing wife along with them.

1 Corinthians 9:5-6 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living? (NIV)

In case someone protests that Barnabas (i.e. Joseph the Levite from Cyprus, see Acts 4:36) was not an apostle, he is specifically designated such in Acts 14:14 (consider v4 as well). James, like Barnabas, was another apostle of Jesus, one designated after the original twelve.

James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ… (NIV)

It was not necessary for James to expand on his qualifications, or specifically state his apostleship at the beginning of his letter – he was so well known by all those who would read it in his day. This, of course, led to early acceptance of the work in applying the measure (canon) of Scripture. Most disputes coming many years later, by those not yet persuaded of its apostolic authorship.

Church tradition 1 and extra-biblical history 2 each record the life of James, the brother of Jesus, noting directly or indirectly that he was well known. Virtually all ancient disputes on the book of James were in the western church, where the book circulated last. This makes sense as the book would have first circulated outward from Jerusalem, in the eastern church, most of all to people who were well aware of James and his apostolic authority. A number of writing early church fathers where aware of the book and quote from it in their works. Two of the earliest, in the generation following the apostles, were Clement of Rome (in his first letter to the Corinthians which references James 2:21, 23) and the author of The Shepherd of Hermas (which references James 4:7). Origen, approximately a century later (lived circa 185-254 A.D.), expressly mentions the book in his commentary on John [1.19], and Irenaeus makes reference to a verse from it as well (James 2:23 in Haer. 4.16.2). Another testimony comes from the Old Syriac translation of Scriptures, one of the earliest translations including the New Testament. This ancient translation includes James but again it was notably done in the eastern church where the book first circulated. This visible absence in the early western church becomes quite apparent when one notes that no Latin father of the first three centuries quotes from it. After it became commonly circulated and subsequently recognized in the western church its status as canonical was consistently reconfirmed in subsequent councils of the East and West such as that of Hippo (393 A.D.) and Carthage (397 A.D.).


The book of Jude is closely associated to the book of James, not only because they are both catholic (universal) letters but also because the book’s opening has Jude being “the brother of James.” The name, Jude, is once again a very common one from that period and could apply to more than one Biblical figure. Jude is a variant of the name Judas, of course the most notorious being Judas Iscariot; whose early and ignoble death ruled out his writing any post resurrection work (including the apocryphal gospel found under his name).

As with the book of James, the author did not feel it necessary to further identify himself, or to explicitly state his apostolic qualifications. This also assumed that the people would be aware either of him, or the one he directly associated himself with, namely James. This fact alone rules out an obscure Jude or, in the least, an obscure James. Because the test for a New Testament work included that it was written by an apostle or under the authority of an apostle, the search immediately is narrowed firstly to those designated or know to be apostles from Scriptures.

(#1) Judas son of James 3, listed among the twelve disciples and also designated an apostle (Luke 6:16), is one possibility. The foremost problem here is that Jude clearly referred to himself as “brother of James” and not son of James. Again, understanding that James was a common name (and incidentally still is), it would not have been uncommon for this to be the name of one Judas’ father and another’s brother. In this case, our book writing Jude was clearly not the Judas son of James.

Acts 1:13-14 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (NIV)

(#2) Judas brother of James, who could also have been called “Judas son of Joseph.” This James, who was also the brother of Jesus, and the one determined to be the author of the book of James, had a brother called Judas.

Matthew 13:55-57 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” (NIV) [Also Mark 6:3-4]

This Judas, the brother of James, referenced his better known brother – who, as we established above, was well known within the early church, rather than his father who was long since dead. Both he and James did not identify themselves with their best known brother in terms of earthly relations, but both chose to merely identify themselves as His servants. This too was quite appropriate as their apostolic position in the church did not rest in their earthly relationship to Jesus, rather in His gracious conversion and appointment of them.

As we saw in the section on James, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 places Jesus’ brother as apostles after the original dozen. This Judas (Jude), then, is also an apostle as was his brother James. Once again this makes the book apostolic in origin, a necessary criteria in recognizing the canon of New Testament Scripture.

Early church father Tertullian states the book of Jude was written by the apostle Jude. Unfortunately this becomes a vague statement because there were two apostles named Jude (Judas), the one that was in the original dozen and the one who came later. It is this later one that he has to be in reference to, as he alone meets the scriptural criteria. It’s good that another, even earlier, father was very specific…

Jude, who wrote the Catholic Epistle, the brother of the sons of Joseph, and very religious, whilst knowing the near relationship of the Lord, yet did not say that he himself was His brother. But what said he? “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ,” -of Him as Lord; but “the brother of James.” For this is true; he was His brother, (the son) of Joseph. Comments on the Epistle of Jude, Fragments of Clemens Alexandrinus (who lived circa 160-215/220 A.D.)

While a large portion of this letter (verses 3-16) shares much in subject with 2 Peter (2:1-19), a supposed citation of an extra-canonical work (verses 9,14-15), namely the Book of Enoch, which was never recognized as Scripture, caused some to doubt the book of Jude. Jerome was one who noted this in his day. While it is true that the substance of those three verses has much in common with a small portion of Enoch (though less a direct quotation), merely sharing content with an extra-biblical work does not stamp approval on that work.5 Even a book filled with lies or error can occasionally state the truth. The apostle Paul, likewise, cites a number of non-canonical works, yet never hints at recommending them as being Scriptural.4 All that can be said of any citation from any extra biblical work, within Scriptures, is that God has sanctioned that particular statement as being true.

One popularly circulated argument, which holds that the author of the book of Jude was not an apostle, is based in verse 17. This claim usually sounds like this: “Identifying the apostle Jude with the writer of this epistle is problematical, most of all because in verse 17 there is a reference to ‘the apostles’, implying that the writer does not include himself.” Consider this actual passage in its context…

Jude 17-18 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” (NIV)

In this brief passage we can ascertain a number of facts…

#1. Jude was writing to contemporaries of the apostles. “They said to you” states that they had already heard the apostles. A majority of what was taught during the apostolic age was in person, spoken, rather than written. It is not unlikely that this is the first written New Testament scripture that they had received. Certainly this wording refutes the claim that Jude was written when “the time of the apostles was past”, as some modern commentators now profess.

#2. Jude was asking them to remember earlier things spoken to them by “the apostles”, showing that Jude knew they had heard from other apostles than him. Peter also uses similar language in 2 Peter…

2 Peter 3:2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. (NIV)

His wording choice may only be to emphasize that it was a past event by others of the apostles, though it does not necessarily exclude himself, in third person, from being referenced in the same statement.

#3. Referring to “the apostles” does not automatically exclude himself from being an apostle; it only definitely denotes that there were other apostles. In fact, Jude’s choice of wording in the very next sentence shows that he counted himself among the apostles: “They said to you”. If this Jude was not an apostle, the proper wording would have been “They said to us”. He was only becoming another of the apostles that spoke to them, reminding of what they already had heard, with the same authority.

Jude was known and widely used very early in the church. Early church works appear to echo its content (compare Didache 2:7 and Jude 22, and greetings within Polcarp’s Epistle to the Philippians [108 A.D.] and the Martyrdom of Polycarp are similar to that of Jude). Someone, very early, must have carried the book of Jude to the west. The Muratorian Canon (circa 175 A.D.), seeking to clarify accepted from spurious works, clearly lists the book of Jude as Scriptures:

Canon Muratorianus

There are also in circulation one to the Laodiceans, and another to the Alexandrians, forged under the name of Paul, and addressed against the heresy of Marcion; and there are also several others which cannot be received into the Catholic Church, for it is not suitable for gall to be mingled with honey.

4. The Epistle of Jude, indeed, and two belonging to the above-named John-or bearing the name of John-are reckoned among the Catholic epistles. (from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Clement of Alexandria (lived circa 150-211/216 A.D.) refers to Jude in his Paedagogus (“Instructor”, 3:8), Stromata (“Miscellanies”), and Hypotyposes (a multi-volume commentary on books of Scripture).6 Likewise, Tertullian (lived circa 155-222 A.D.), in northern Africa, showed Carthage’s familiarity with Jude. The Old Latin translation included the book, but the oldest Syriac did not.8 Perhaps the circulation of this general book had not reached those responsible for this latter translation at that time. Certainly its omission from this important translation contributed to the insecurity of the status of the book in the century which followed. Reflecting this, Eusebius of Caesarea (lived circa 263-339 A.D.) noted that the book was considered spurious or disputed by some [See end of 1 and 6]. By the mid fourth century, Jude appears to have overcome all opposition, by test. Cyril of Jerusalem (who lived circa 313-386 A.D.) provides example:

Then of the New Testament there are the four Gospels only, for the rest have false titles and are mischievous. The Manichaeans also wrote a Gospel according to Thomas, which being tinctured with the fragrance of the evangelic title corrupts the souls of the simple sort. Receive also the Acts of the Twelve Apostles; and in addition to these the seven Catholic Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude; and as a seal upon them all, and the last work of the disciples, the fourteen Epistles of Paul. But let all the rest be put aside in a secondary rank. And whatever books are not read in Churches, these read not even by thyself, as thou hast heard me say. Thus much of these subjects. (Cyril of Jerusalem: The Catechetical Lectures, On the ten points of doctrine, Scriptures. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 2, Volume 7, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Jerome (alt. Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, lived circa 347-420 A.D.) clearly held the book of Jude to being Scriptures. What some have cited as negative remarks by him, as it being a disputed book, are no more that his accurately noting that it had been in the recent past, yet had been measured (recognized) to be Scriptures over time.

Jude the brother of James, left a short epistle which is reckoned among the seven catholic epistles, and because in it he quotes from the apocryphal book of Enoch it is rejected by many.7 Nevertheless by age and use it has gained authority and is reckoned among the Holy Scriptures. (Jerome: Lives of Illustrious Men, Chapter 4)

The apostles James, Peter, John, and Jude, have published seven epistles at once spiritual and to the point, short and long, short that is in words but lengthy in substance so that there are few indeed who do not find themselves in the dark when they read them. (Jerome: Letters, To Paulinus)

Writing early in the life of Jerome, Athanasius of Alexandria (lived circa 296-373 A.D.) had already – without any reservation or qualification – listed Jude in his canon of authentic Scriptures. This festal letter was composed in 367 A.D. and is an exact match of the 27 New Testament books still recognized today.

In summary, both James and Jude were recognized as being apostolic Scriptures from the beginning. While some disputed the books in later years for various reasons, they were subsequently confirmed as being Scriptures, as each supposed argument against was found to be without merit.

End Notes

1. Eusebius, a church historian (circa 325 A.D.), recorded what was known before him of James the brother of Jesus. He notably mentions that the book of James (and even Jude) was disputed in his day, but acknowledges their widespread usage. His reference that it was “the first” of the catholic (universal) epistles follows with what has been found in ancient manuscripts; most of which have them before Paul’s epistles (the Sinaiticus being the major exception). Note also the account of Hegesippus that Eusebius references, though likely containing a core of truth, it has certainly been embellished with many later traditions designed to heighten the “holiness” of James – things that would have been out of character from the era and biblical representation of the apostles, plus they ignore what Scriptures says regarding the non-belief of Jesus’ brothers prior to His resurrection.

The Martyrdom of James, Who Was Called the Brother of the Lord.

1 But after Paul, in consequence of his appeal to Caesar, had been sent to Rome by Festus, the Jews, being frustrated in their hope of entrapping him by the snares which they had laid for him, turned against James, the brother of the Lord, to whom the episcopal seat at Jerusalem had been entrusted by the apostles. The following daring measures were undertaken by them against him. 2 Leading him into their midst they demanded of him that he should renounce faith in Christ in the presence of all the people. But, contrary to the opinion of all, with a clear voice, and with greater boldness than they had anticipated, he spoke out before the whole multitude and confessed that our Saviour and Lord Jesus is the Son of God. But they were unable to bear longer the testimony of the man who, on account of the excellence of ascetic virtue and of piety which he exhibited in his life, was esteemed by all as the most just of men, and consequently they slew him. Opportunity for this deed of violence was furnished by the prevailing anarchy, which was caused by the fact that Festus had died just at this time in Judea, and that the province was thus without a governor and head.

3 The manner of James’ death has been already indicated by the above-quoted words of Clement, who records that he was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple, and was beaten to death with a club. But Hegesippus, who lived immediately after the apostles, gives the most accurate account in the fifth book of his Memoirs. He writes as follows: 4 “James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Saviour to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James. 5 He was holy from his mother’s womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath. 6 He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place; for he wore not woolen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people. 7 Because of his exceeding great justice he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek, ‘Bulwark of the people’ and ‘Justice,’ in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him. 8 Now some of the seven sects, which existed among the people and which have been mentioned by me in the Memoirs, asked him, ‘What is the gate of Jesus?’ and he replied that he was the Saviour. 9 On account of these words some believed that Jesus is the Christ. But the sects mentioned above did not believe either in a resurrection or in one’s coming to give to every man according to his works. But as many as believed did so on account of James. 10 Therefore when many even of the rulers believed, there was a commotion among the Jews and Scribes and Pharisees, who said that there was danger that the whole people would be looking for Jesus as the Christ. Coming therefore in a body to James they said, ‘We entreat thee, restrain the people; for they are gone astray in regard to Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat thee to persuade all that have come to the feast of the Passover concerning Jesus; for we all have confidence in thee. For we bear thee witness, as do all the people, that thou art just, and dost not respect persons. 11 Do thou therefore persuade the multitude not to be led astray concerning Jesus. For the whole people, and all of us also, have confidence in thee. Stand therefore upon the pinnacle of the temple, that from that high position thou mayest be clearly seen, and that thy words may be readily heard by all the people. For all the tribes, with the Gentiles also, are come together on account of the Passover.’ 12 The aforesaid Scribes and Pharisees therefore placed James upon the pinnacle of the temple, and cried out to him and said: ‘Thou just one, in whom we ought all to have: confidence, forasmuch as the people are led astray after Jesus, the crucified one, declare to us, what is the gate of Jesus.’ 13 And he answered with a loud voice, ‘Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sitteth in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven.’ 14 And when many were fully convinced and gloried in the testimony of James, and said, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ these same Scribes and Pharisees said again to one another, ‘We have done badly in supplying such testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, in order that they may be afraid to believe him.’ 15 And they cried out, saying, ‘Oh! oh! the just man is also in error.’ And they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah, ‘Let us take away the just man, because he is troublesome to us: therefore they shall eat the fruit of their doings.’ 16 So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to each other, ‘Let us stone James the Just.’ And they began to stone him, for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned and knelt down and said, ‘I entreat thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ 17 And while they were thus stoning him one of the priests of the sons of Rechab, the son of the Rechabites, who are mentioned by Jeremiah the prophet, cried out, saying, ‘Cease, what do ye? The just one prayeth for you.’ 18 And one of them, who was a fuller, took the club with which he beat out clothes and struck the just man on the head. And thus he suffered martyrdom. And they buried him on the spot, by the temple, and his monument still remains by the temple. He became a true witness, both to Jews and Greeks, that Jesus is the Christ. And immediately Vespasian besieged them.” 19 These things are related at length by Hegesippus, who is in agreement with Clement. James was so admirable a man and so celebrated among all for his justice, that the more sensible even of the Jews were of the opinion that this was the cause of the siege of Jerusalem, which happened to them immediately after his martyrdom for no other reason than their daring act against him.

20 Josephus, at least, has not hesitated to testify this in his writings, where he says, “These things happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus, that is called the Christ. For the Jews slew him, although he was a most just man.” 21 And the same writer records his death also in the twentieth book of his Antiquities in the following words: “But the emperor, when he learned of the death of Festus, sent Albinus to be procurator of Judea. But the younger Ananus, who, as we have already said, had obtained the high priesthood, was of an exceedingly bold and reckless disposition. He belonged, moreover, to the sect of the Sadducees, who are the most cruel of all the Jews in the execution of judgment, as we have already shown. 22 Ananus, therefore, being of this character, and supposing that he had a favorable opportunity on account of the fact that Festus was dead, and Albinus was still on the way, called together the Sanhedrim, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, James by name, together with some others, and accused them of violating the law, and condemned them to be stoned. 23 But those in the city who seemed most moderate and skilled in the law were very angry at this, and sent secretly to the king, requesting him to order Ananus to cease such proceedings. For he had not done right even this first time. And certain of them also went to meet Albinus, who was journeying from Alexandria, and reminded him that it was not lawful for Ananus to summon the Sanhedrim without his knowledge. 24 And Albinus, being persuaded by their representations, wrote in anger to Ananus, threatening him with punishment. And the king, Agrippa, in consequence, deprived him, of the high priesthood, which he had held three months, and appointed Jesus, the son of Damnaeus.”

25 These things are recorded in regard to James, who is said to be the author of the first of the so-called catholic epistles. But it is to be observed that it is disputed; at least, not many of the ancients have mentioned it, as is the case likewise with the epistle that bears the name of Jude, which is also one of the seven so-called catholic epistles. Nevertheless we know that these also, with the rest, have been read publicly in very many churches. [Eusebius, Church History 2.23.1-25]

2. First century historian Josephus speaks especially regarding the death of James, the brother of Jesus, and how it led to the overthrow of the high priest. See endnote 1, which shows that that church historian was well aware of these words from Josephus.

But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest. [Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1]

3. Luke alone refers to this original apostle by his true given name and father: Judas son of James (see Luke 6:16 below and also Acts 1:13). Mark refers to him quite differently, by another name, Thaddaeus, as does Matthew in Matthew 10:3.

Luke 6:13-16 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (NIV)

Mark 3:16-19 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (NIV)

This is not a contradiction, rather Thaddaeus was a nickname (meaning, according to Hitchcock Names, “that praises or confesses”). As with any close knit group having more than one individual with the same name, a nickname is the logical and common solution. Additionally, considering that the gospels were being recorded after the ignoble events of Judas Iscariot’s life, how much more would the authors want “the other Judas” to be distanced from him too. Using his commonly used nickname would be an easy out. Perhaps this is the reason why “Jude” is commonly the interpretation of the name for the book (and as it appears in the first verse) rather than using the equally proper Judas – the church too has always wanted to keep them separate. Rather than the easier nickname for Judas son of James, as with Mark and Matthew, the apostle John – who still wanted to make sure they weren’t mixed up – took the other way of doing it (see verse below). And yes, the statement within the brackets was in the original text.

John 14:22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” (NIV)

4. Paul cited pagan philosophers but no one seems to think that it would mean that he was sanctioning the entirety of their works, much less that they should be considered as Scriptures. It only appears that books like Enoch, if they are being cited, have a greater implication assumed because they were associated, at least nominally, with the church. No matter how ancient, non-Scripture books are just that and nothing more – useful only wherein they express the truth. Scriptures alone becomes that ultimate test of truth for the church.

5. Origen of Alexandria (lived circa 185-254 A.D.) assumes that Jude is drawing upon an extra-biblical work. Though he doesn’t explicitly say so, he leaves open an implied endorsement of that non-canonical work (either by himself or by the “Apostle Jude”).

We have now to notice, agreeably to the statements of Scripture, how the opposing powers, or the devil himself, contends with the human race, inciting and instigating men to sin. And in the first place, in the book of Genesis, the serpent is described as having seduced Eve; regarding whom, in the work entitled The Ascension 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 Adam and Eve’s transgression. (Origen 3.2.1)

Unquestionably, this quote shows that Origen viewed the book of Jude as being Scripture, recognized as having an apostolic origin.

Tertullian, from Carthage (lived circa 155-222 A.D.), endorses the non-canonical book of Enoch, solely because he holds that Jude’s perceived usage of it is an endorsement. With-out-a-doubt he holds the book of Jude to be Scriptures with apostolic origin.

Chapter 3 – Concerning the Genuineness of “The Prophecy of Enoch”

But since Enoch in the same Scripture has preached likewise concerning the Lord, nothing at all must be rejected by us which pertains to us; and we read that “every Scripture suitable for edification is divinely inspired. By the Jews it may now seem to have been rejected for that (very) reason, just like all the other (portions) nearly which tell of Christ. Nor, of course, is this fact wonderful, that they did not receive some Scriptures which spake of Him whom even in person, speaking in their presence, they were not to receive. To these considerations is added the fact that Enoch possesses a testimony in the Apostle Jude. (Tertullian: On the apparel of women, Book 1, Chapter 3)

Years later, Augustine of Hippo (lived 354-430 A.D.), held that there had to be “divine writings” from Enoch because of the perceived quotation in Jude which was unquestionably an apostolic work of Scriptures.

We cannot deny that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, left some divine writings, for this is asserted by the Apostle Jude in his canonical epistle. (Augustine: The City of God, Chapter 23)

Augustine does not appear to be specifically endorsing the extra-biblical book of Enoch that was (and still) is in circulation – this has been full rejected by his time -, rather he may be speculating as to the prior existence of perhaps another more accurate work.

Since people did not always understand that shared, or similar, content to a non-Scriptural work was not an automatic endorsement of that complete work, this became the basis of most opposition to the book of Jude. These disputes, which arose a few generations after the writing and early acceptance of the work, were overcome by test. It was found to be a genuine apostolic work having all the marks of Scripture. This left any perceived positive citation of a non-Scriptural work as being a God ordained affirmation of one cited fact and not the entire work.

6. Church historian Eusebius of Caesarea cites Clement of Alexandria in his Ecclesiastical History written circa 325 A.D.

And in the Hypotyposes, in a brief summary, he has made abbreviated narratives of all canonical Scripture; and has not passed over the disputed books, – I mean Jude and the rest of the Catholic Epistles and Barnabas, and the so-called Revelation (Apocalypse) of Peter. And he says that the Epistle to the Hebrews is Paul’s, and was written to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language; but that Luke, having carefully translated it, gave it to the Greeks, and hence the same coloring in the expression is discoverable in this Epistle and the Acts; and that the name “Paul an Apostle” was very properly not pre-fixed, for, he says, that writing to the Hebrews, who were prejudiced against him and suspected, he with great wisdom did not repel them in the beginning by putting down his name. (Eusebius: Ecclesiastical History, 6.14.1)

7. Did Jude quote from non canonical works? This question has been much debated, but it can be said with certainty that he makes statements similar to those found in extra-biblical works. In the least, verse 9 has been thought to be a quotation from the Assumption of Moses and verses 14 and 15 to be from the book of Enoch. The wording, while similar, is not a direct quotation from known copies of these works. The closest direct statement from Enoch is the introductory phrase, “Enoch, the seventh from Adam” which appears in 1 Enoch 60:8, “My grandfather was taken up, the seventh from Adam.” As for the Assumption of Moses, it is early church fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen, who make this claim, though known fragments of this extra-biblical work do not include the account found in verse 9. Others now grasp at similar wording in Jude 12-14 when compared to the Assumption of Moses chapter 7 and perhaps Jude 16 and the Assumption of Moses 5:5 which both employ the words “flatterers” and “boastful”.

Two possibilities include.

#1. Jude quoted these passages from these known non-canonical books, not as endorsement of the book, but as endorsement of that particular statement. Active inspiration of the Holy Spirit enabled him to know and judge these statements to be true.

#2. Jude made these statements solely by the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which coincidently echoed true statement embedded in these non-canonical works.

Both possibilities may rest in this understanding:

These statements may be in the non-canonical works because they were passed on by word of mouth having been spoken verbally by a past true prophet. Even as other legend grew up around the true statement (ultimately becoming one of these extra biblical works), the core truth was still to be found. Remember, not every word spoken by a prophet, no matter that it was true and revealed by God, was destined (or intended) to be recorded in written Scriptures. Whether it was revealed directly to Jude, apart from any knowledge of the non-canonical works, or verbal legends, is irrelevant. God ensured that only the truth was recorded in His Word by His apostle.

A relevant comment regarding this comes from Fausset’s Bible Dictionary:

If Jude indeed quotes the passage from the Book of Enoch he thereby stamps with inspired approval that passage, not the whole book, just as Paul sanctions particular sentiments from Aratus, Epimenides, and Menander (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12; 1 Corinthians 15:33). But as Jude differs a little from the Book of ENOCH (which see),written probably by a Jew thoroughly imbued with Daniel’s sacred writings, it is likely he rather sanctions the current tradition of the Jews as to Enoch’s prophecies, just as Paul names the Egyptian magicians “Jannes and Jambres,” though the Old Testament does not. Jude, under the Spirit, took the one gem out of the mass of earthy matter surrounding it, and set it in the gold of inspiration. So Jude also stamps as true the tradition as to the archangel Michael’s dispute with Satan concerning Moses’ body (Jude 9; compare Deut 34:6). (“Jude, Epistle of”, Fausset’s Bible Dictionary, Electronic Database Copyright © 1998, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

8. The oldest manuscripts available of the Peshito Syriac, circa early second century A.D., do not include Jude. Perhaps the most prominent of the early church fathers in the Syrian church, Ephraem Syrus (lived circa 306 – 373 A.D.), fully recognized the book and makes no mention of any early controversy or dispute regarding it. This implies that the book had never been disputed in Syrian circles, only gaining more widespread recognition as it circulated over time.

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