Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Origen of Alexandria Believes That Jude Mentions "Assumption of Moses"

In De Principiis III.2.1, Origen writes:

"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 believed that Jude invoked The Ascension of Moses (also known as The Assumption of Moses) when he mentioned the Devil having a dispute with Michael over the body of Moses.

De Principiis is also called Peri Archon in Greek.


Kieran Duffy said...

Sorry Edgar,im a bit slow on this post, what should i learn from this, im in a bit of a Archangel fest this weather, is this useful?

Edgar Foster said...


There seems to be at least 3 points that we can immediately learn from Origen's De Prin. III.2.1:

1) Origen claims that the "Apostle Jude" mentions The Ascension to Moses. This observation goes to the heart of sources for Jude. Did he use/quote The Asecnsion as well as I Enoch?

2) Origen preserves the account of Michael disputing with the Devil over Moses' body.

3) He believes (on some level) that Satan tempted Eve by using a serpent. I say "on some level" because of Origen's methdology for interpreting biblical texts (i.e. the Alexandrian allegorical method).

Siervo de Yah said...

Hi, this is my personal point of view (I'm spanish speaking person from Bolivia (South America), so sorry for my poor english),
the Muratorian cannon (170c.e.) and Irenaeus (180c.e.) doesn't
quote the 'moses ascension'; in contrast the Muratorian quoted Jude, so that let me conclude that
the 'moses ascension' was writed in the second century (before Origen birth, and was
posteriorly distributed to reach the hands of Origen), so there is my question, instead Jude
was quoting the moses ascension, could be moses ascension quoting Jude because this could be older?

Thanks for your time.

"the evidence for belief in Moses' ascension at Sinai as early as the first century
ce is scant" (Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews,
David M. Moffitt, BRILL, pg. 157, 2011)

JimSpace said...

What makes this tricky is that Jude's source is no longer extant. Thus it is theorized that this account was originally in the lost ending to The Ascension to Moses.

I believe it is also possible that Jude mined useful or factual information out of non-canonical texts under inspiration.

Edgar Foster said...

Dear Anonymous Siervo:

There are two many unknowns about the Assumption to make definitive remarks, but recent scholarship dates the work to the 1st or 2nd century. With some of the material missing from the document, it's also hard to say if Jude is really quoting from the Assumption, although I would say there is not much evidence to argue the Assumption is quoting Jude. Origen and Gelasius attribute the statement in Jude to the Assumption. If that is the case, I don't view it as a problematic source for the biblical writer.