Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Letter from Jesus' Half Sibling (Jude): A New Translation

A half sibling is one who shares the same mother with another person, but a different father. When it comes to biblical Christianity, Jesus' real "father" is said to be none other than the God of Moses, Jah (Exodus 15:2; 17:16; Psalm 68:4; 102:18; 115:17; Isaiah 12:2; 26:4; 38:11; Revelation 19:1-6). The Christian belief expressed clearly and frequently in biblical writings is the God of Moses caused his "firstborn," heavenly spirit Son to be born through a woman, "Mary" (Matthew 1:16-20; Mark 6:3; Luke 1:27-56; John 19:25; Hebrews 1:6). The union of God's spirit with a human woman's seed brought about, in Christian belief, a perfect human in the likeness of the first man, Adam (Genesis 1:26). That is why Jesus is referred to as "the Last Adam" in the writings of first century Christians.—1 Corinthians 15:45; compare Romans 5:14.

Whether "Jude" is one who was raised with Jesus does not affect the clear teachings provided in this letter, teachings which powerfully address a great concern, even one which overrides Jude's preferred subject, namely, the salvation he shared in common with other Christians living during his time. More important even than this, Jude felt it necessary to warn Christians about some who had "infiltrated the congregations" (Jude 3, 4), persons who were subverting the faith of others which reached the point where it disrupted the early Christians' ability to meet together to share in the eating of unleavened bread and drinking wine moderately in remembrance of Jesus' life and death, with the hope of his eventual return.—Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20; Acts 1:11; 1 Corinthians 11:20-34; compare Revelation 3:20; 19:9.

In his warning to the early Christians, Jude drives his point home with a series of ancient events and texts, many of which not only show what will happen to those who intentionally cause others to stumble (Luke 17:2), but in providing his warning Jude also makes it clear that before Jesus came to earth to live as a man he lived in heaven as a spirit being, and there he served as Jah's great angel, even as the one who led the Israelites out of Egypt (Jude 5). According to P72, Jude also, like John (1:1), calls Jesus "a divine being" (theos) or "a god" in the biblical sense of being one of God's S/sons, one given life by the Father in his own divine image.—Compare John 1:18; 5:26; 6:57; Colossians 1:15.

If you have never before read Jude's letter, or if it has been some time since you last read it, consider my new translation of Jude according to the third century text of P72 in my new Elihu Online Papers 5, "The Letter of Jude: A New Translation According to the Text of P72" (January 18, 2012). Remember as you read through it that even though Jude opens his letter by seemingly distancing himself from Jesus as a relative by referring only to "James" as his brother, "James" is also one of Jesus' half siblings (Matthew 13:55). When you consider how Jude proceeds to describe Jesus and his prehuman existence as a divine being, as the angel who led Israel out of Egypt, then it is not too difficult to see why Jude chose not to emphasize his partial, human relationship to Jesus and instead decided to keep Jesus set apart from him in this respect.—Compare John 8:23.