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The only Jude mentioned in the entire Bible is the one who wrote this epistle. Might not sound like a big deal, but when you think about all the Peters, Johns, Marys, and OtherCommonNames, it seems more special. Heck, there was even more than one Jesus.
But let's not get too excited.
Jude is a variation on the Hebrew name Yehudah or Judah. The Greek version of this name was Judas…as in Judas Iscariot (Matthew 10:4). There's also a second Judas who's named among the disciples of Jesus: Judas son of James (Luke 6:16). And a "Judas called Barsabbas," who comes out of the woodwork (Acts 15:22). Jesus even has a brother named Judas (Matthew 13:55).
Was our author one of these guys? Jude does say that he's "the brother of James" (Jude 1:1), and if James if Jesus' brother, then that means Jude could be, too. Is it true? Is he the brother who Matthew's talking about?
If he were related to Jesus, he's just like James and Peter in that he doesn't include any personal stories about J.C. No recollections of a childhood spent playing with G.I. Joes by the Sea of Galilee or stories about how it's tough trying to live up to your brother. Especially when that brother is the only begotten son of God.
Talk about sibling rivalry.
Next question: did Jude, a brother of James and Jesus, really write this epistle? Another blood relative penning biblical books? Based on the fact that none of our authors have been have been 100% authentic so far, you might be thinking…no. And you might be right. Or not.
Jude kind of falls into a gray area. Quite a few scholars think the letter could have been written by a guy named Jude who lived in Palestine in the years just after Jesus' death. He's using a Hebrew translation of the Hebrew Bible (which would have been way more popular in Judea than the Greek version). He's also way into the Book of Enoch—a bit of Jewish literature about the end of the world that was popular back in the day. It was light reading on a warm Jerusalem night. (Source, 1284).
But on the no side, scholars point to the passage about "the salvation we share" (Jude 1:3). That's an idea that probably would have come around after all the original apostles had died. It takes a while to open things up to everyone, after all. . (Source, 1271).
Most scholars lean towards the Jude-wrote-it camp. Think about it. If you're gonna fake a letter, it makes more sense to say the author is the Apostle Paul or St. Peter or James, the brother of Jesus. But Jude? He's not that big of a player in the 1st-century church to attract notice—even he has to cling to James's coattails by telling us they're related. We're not saying he's a nobody, but his name isn't packing the people in their seats either.
If the real Jude is the author, that means that this is a pretty old letter. It also means that 2 Peter is actually copying Jude. He takes out some of the references to non-biblical books and bumps up the profile of the author a bit and—boom—he's got himself another book of the Bible.
Don't try that at home, kids. It's also known as plagiarism.
That's about all we know about Jude, the brother of Jesus. If you're thinking he's the same guy as St. Jude (the one who gets all the hospitals named after him), you're mistaken. That's Jude the Apostle—totally different person. Like we said, it was a really popular name.
Our Jude may not have gotten a whole lot of history or paintings or stories told about him, but he did get one thing: a book in the Bible.
Not too shabby.