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What is this about Michael and Satan contending over the body of Moses?

Oh, come on, you include an obscure reference to a topic of enormous human curiosity and don’t even comment on it? What is this about Michael and Satan contending over the body of Moses? (7/17/2010])

The best thing about this question is that it shows that our fellow-reader actually read the day’s scripture carefully. The second-best thing is that I had to do some research! Here are the verses in question, which were in the reading for June 17:
Jude is referring to an extra-Biblical book, The Assumption of Moses, which was apparently popular at the time he wrote. We have only one copy of The Assumption, a Latin translation from the sixth century, and it is incomplete. However, here’s the gist of this part of the story (quoted from R. H. Charles, 1897, The Assumption of Moses). Charles based his summary both on the manuscript itself and on much earlier quotations from pieces of the manuscript that are missing:
You remember that Jude was mainly writing to correct libertinism – the idea that matter is bad in any case, so whatever a saved person does with his or her body is immaterial. In the previous few verses, Jude compares the libertines with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Now we see that not only do they commit sins of the flesh, they also blaspheme angels! Then Jude quotes from The Assumption – according to all three commentaries I looked at – to show that even the best of the angels, Michael, did not blaspheme even the worst of the angels, Satan. Hence there are certainly no grounds for a human being to blaspheme angels.

It seems to me that there is an additional critical point to be drawn from Jude’s use of this example, namely, that since God created the world and all mankind, matter is not evil, and therefore what you do with your body most certainly does matter. (Pun intended.) This point is at least as important as not blaspheming angels, and it fits equally well into the context of libertinism and Jude’s warning against it.

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Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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