Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/673

This page needs to be proofread.
603

APOCRYPHA


603


APOCRYPHA


race. The remaining section, under the symlx)lism of cattle, beasts, and birds, sl^etches the entire his- tory of Israel down to the .Messianic reign. — Hook HI, xci-civ, cviii. It professes to give a proplietic vision of the events of the world-weeks, centring about Israel. This part is distinguished Ijy insistence upon a sharp coiillict between the rigliteous of the nation and their wicked opponents both witliin and witliout Israel. They triumph and slay their oppressors in a Messianic kingdom without a personal Mcssias. At its close occurs the final juilgincnt, which inau- gurates a blessed immortality in heaven for the righteous. For this purpose all the departed just will rise from a mysterious abode, thougli apparently not in the body (ciii, 3, 4). The wicked will go into the Sheol of darkness and tire and dwell there forever. This is one of the earliest mentions of .Sheol as a hell of torment, preceding portions of the book having described the place of retribution for the wicked as Tartarus and (ieonnom. — Hook IV, xxxvii-lxx, consists of three "Parables". The first describes the secrets of heaven, giving i>roniinence to the angelic hosts and their princes. The .se<'ond parable (xliv-lvii) deals with the .Mcssias, and is tho most striking of this roinarkalile Ixjok. The influ- ence of Daniel is easily traceable hero, but the figure of the Messias is sketched much more fully, and the idea developed to a degree unparalleled in pre-Chris- tian literature. The lUect One, or Son of Man, ex- isted before the sun and stars were created, and is to execute justice upon all sinners who oppress the good. For this end there will be a resurrection of all Israel and a judgment in which the .Son of .Man will render to everyone according to his deeds. Iniquity will be banished from the earth and the reign of the Messias will be everlasting. The third parable (Iviii-lxx) describes again the happiness re- served for the just, the great Judgment and the secrets of nature. Here and there throughout the Book of Parables the author gives piecemeal his theory of the origin of sin. floing a step further back than the fault of the Watchers of the first book, he attributes their fall to certain mysterious iiatans. Hook V, Ixxii-lxxviii, Ixxxix, l.\xix (trans- posed) may be called the Book of Celestial Physics, or .\stronomy. It presents a bewildering mass of revelations concerning the movements of the heav- enly bodies, given to Henoch by the angel Uriel. The final chanters of the entire work, cv-cvii, are ■drawn from the lost Hook of Noe.

(6) Assumption of Moses. — Origen, " De Principiis", III, ii, 1, names the .Assumption of Moses — '.VkIXtj^is Muucr^us — as the book cited by the Epistle of Jude, 9. where there is an allusion to a dispute between Michael and Satan over the body of .Moses. Aside from a few other brief references in patristic litera- ture, nothing more was known of this apocrj-phon until the Latin .MS. containing a long portion of it was discovered by Ceriani in the Ambrosian Library, at Milan, and published by him in l.StJl. Its iden- tity with the ancient work is established by a quo- tation from the latter in the .Acts of the Nicene Council. The Ixiok purports to be a series of pre- dictions delivered in written form to the safe-keeping of Jasue (Josliua) by .Moses when the latter, in view of his approaching death, appointed Josue as his successor. The ostensible purpose of these deliv- erances is to confirm the Mosaic laws and the ad- monitions in Deuteronomy. The entire historj' of Israel is outlined. In a vehement and glowing .stylo the book delineates under its prophet ii' giii.se the impiety of Israel's Hasmonoan rulers and Sadduccan priests. The historical allusions come down to the reign of an insolent monarch who is plainly Ilerod the Cireat, and a powerful ruler who shall come from the West and subjugate the people — a reference to the punitive expedition of Quintilius Varus, 4 ii. c.


But the Messias will intervene and execute Divine wrath upon the enemies of the nation, and a cata- clysm of nature, which is depicted with truly apoc- alyptic sublimity, will forerun the beginning of the new era. Strangely there is no mention of a resur- rection or a judgment of individuals. The book then returns to the doings of .Mo.ses and Josue. The M.S. breaks off abruptly at chapter xii, and the portion cited by Jude must have belonged to the lost con- clusion. This apocalypse has willi solid reasons \>een assigned to the early years after Herod's death, be- tween 4 B. c. and a. d. 10. It is evident that neither of Herod's sons, Philip and Antipas, had yet reigned thirty-four years, since the writer, hazarding a pre- diction that proved false, says that the sons should enjoy shorter reigns tlian their father. Thus the latest possible date of composition is fixed at A. D. 30. The author was a Jew, and in all likelihood a i'ales- tinian one. He belonged neither to the Pharisees of the tyjie of Christ's epoch, nor to the Sadducees, since he excoriates both alike. He must have been either a Zealot, that is an ultra-Nationalist and Mes- sianist, or a fervid Esseiie. He wrote in Hebrew or Aramaic. The Latin text is translated from a Cireek version.

(c) Hook oj the Secrets oj Henoch (Slavonic Henoch). — In 1<S92 attention was called to Slavonic MS.S. which on examination proved to contain an- other Henoch book differing entirely from the Ethio- pic compilation. "The Hook of the Secrets of He- noch" contains passages which satisfy allusions of Origen to which there is nothing corresponding in the Ethiopic Henoch. The same may be said about citations in the "Testament of the Twelve Patri- archs". Internal evidence shows that the new He- noch was composed by an Alexandrian Jew about the beginning of our Era, and in (!reek. The work is sharply marked off from the older book by the ab- sence of a Messias and the want of reference to a resurrection of the dead. It mingles many bizarre details concerning the celestial realm, the angels, and stars, with advanced ideas on man's destiny, moral excellence, and the punishment of sin. The patriarch is taken up through the se^cn heavens to the very throne of the Eternal. Some of the details throw in- teresting light on various ol),scure allusions in Holy Writ, such as the sujK'rimposed heavens, the pres- ence of evil powers "in heavenly places", Ezecniel's strange creatures full of eyes.

((/) Fourth Book oj Esdras. — The personage serving as the screen of the real author of this book is Es- dras (Ezra), the priest-scribe and leader among the Israelites who returned from Babylonia to JeriLsalem. The fact that two canonical books are associated with his name, together with a genuine literary power, a profoundly religious spirit pervading Fourth ICsdrius, and some Messianic points of contact with the Gospels combined to win for it an acceptance among Christians unequalled by any other apoc- ryphon. Both Greek and Latin Fathers cite it as prophetical, while some, as Ambrose, were ardent admirers of it. Jerome alone is positively unfavour- able. Notwithstanding this widespread reverence for it in early times, it is a remarkable fact that the liook never got a foothold in the canon or liturgy of the Church. Nevertheless, all through the .Middle Ages it maintained an intermediate po,sition between canonical and merely human compositions, and even after the Council of Trent, together with Third Es- dras, was placed in the appendix to the official edition of the Vulgate. Besides the original Greek text, which has not survived, the book has appeared in Latin, SjTiac, Armenian, Ethiopic, and .\rabic versions. The first and last two chapters of the Latin traaslation do not exist in the Oriental ones and have been added by a Christian hand. .And yet there need be no hesitation in relegating the