Original Research

When the dead are alive! The influence of the living dead in the letter of Jude

Stephan J. Joubert
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 58, No 2 | a564 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v58i2.564 | © 2002 Stephan J. Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 October 2002 | Published: 17 December 2002

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Stephan J. Joubert, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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This essay investigates the impact of the deceased on  the audience to which the letter of Jude was originally addressed. A construct of the influence of the “living
dead” in ancient Babylon, Israel, the Graeco-Roman world and in African tradition serves as a basic cognitive map to come to terms with Jude’s views on the dead. It is argued that, since the wicked dead, who are being physically punished in  the underworld,  are kept alive  in the collective memory of Jude’s community and since their deeds are re-enacted in the sinful behavior  of intruders in their midst, their lives are influenced by  the “presence” of these living dead. On the other hand and, although Jude does not deal with the physical whereabouts of the righteous death, he and his readers know that their postmortem honour is still intact. The righteous in this community is assured that God protects the integrity of the faithful dead.


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