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APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE

Enoch, grows in strength with each succeeding age, till at last Satan is conceived as “the ruler of this world” (John xii. 31) or “the god of this age” (2 Cor. iv. 4). Under the guidance of such a principle the writer naturally expected the world’s culmination in evil to be the immediate precursor of God’s intervention on behalf of the righteous, and every fresh growth in evil to be an additional sign that the time was at hand. The natural concomitant in conduct of such a belief is an uncompromising asceticism. He that would live to the next world must shun this. Visions are vouchsafed only to those who to prayer have added fasting.

(c) By pseudonymous Authorship.—We have already touched on this characteristic of apocalyptic. The prophet stood in direct relations with his people; his prophecy was first spoken and afterwards written. The apocalyptic writer could obtain no hearing from his contemporaries, who held that, though God spoke in the past, “there was no more any prophet.” This pessimism and want of faith limited and defined the form in which religious enthusiasm should manifest itself, and prescribed as a condition of successful effort the adoption of pseudonymous authorship. The apocalyptic writer, therefore, professedly addressed his book to future generations. Generally directions as to the hiding and sealing of the book (Dan. xii. 4, 9; 1 Enoch i. 4; Ass. Mos. i. 16-18) were given in the text in order to explain its publication so long after the date of its professed period. Moreover, there was a sense in which such books were not wholly pseudonymous. Their writers were students of ancient prophecy and apocalyptical tradition, and, though they might recast and reinterpret them, they could not regard them as their own inventions. Each fresh apocalypse would in the eyes of its writer be in some degree but a fresh edition of the traditions naturally attaching themselves to great names in Israel’s past, and thus the books named respectively Enoch, Noah, Ezra would to some slight extent be not pseudonymous.

(d) By its comprehensive and deterministic Conception of History.—Apocalyptic took an indefinitely wider view of the world’s history than prophecy. Thus, whereas prophecy had to deal with temporary reverses at the hands of some heathen power, apocalyptic arose at a time when Israel had been subject for generations to the sway of one or other of the great world-powers. Hence to harmonize such difficulties with belief in God’s righteousness, it had to take account of the rôle of such empires in the counsels of God, the rise, duration and downfall of each in turn, till finally the lordship of the world passed into the hands of Israel, or the final judgment arrived. These events belonged in the main to the past, but the writer represented them as still in the future, arranged under certain artificial categories of time definitely determined from the beginning in the counsels of God and revealed by Him to His servants the prophets. Determinism thus became a leading characteristic of Jewish apocalyptic, and its conception of history became severely mechanical.

II. Old Testament Apocalyptic

i. Canonical:—

Isaiah xxiv.-xxvii.; xxxiii.; xxxiv.-xxxv.
(Jeremiah xxxiii. 14-26?)
Ezekiel ii. 8; xxxviii.-xxxix.
Joel iii. 9-17.
Zech. xii—xiv.
Daniel.

We cannot enter here into a discussion of the above passages and books.[1] All are probably pseudepigraphic except the passages from Ezekiel and Joel. Of the remaining passages and books Daniel belongs unquestionably to the Maccabean period, and the rest possibly to the same period. Isaiah xxxiii. was probably written about 163 B.C. (Duhm and Marti); Zech. xii.-xiv. about 160 B.C., Isaiah xxiv.-xxvii. about 128 B.C., and xxxiv.-xxxv. sometime in the reign of John Hyrcanus. Jeremiah xxxiii. 14-26 is assigned by Marti to Maccabean times, but this is highly questionable.

ii. Extra-canonical:—

(a) Palestinian:—

(200-100 B.C.)

Book of Noah.
1 Enoch vi.-xxxvi.; lxxii.-xc.
Testaments of the XII. Patriarchs.

(100 B.C. to 1 B.C.)

1 Enoch i.-v.; xxxvii.-lxxi.; xci.-civ.
Testaments of the XII. Patriarchs, i.e. T. Lev. x., xiv.-xvi.,
     T. Jud. xxi. 6-xxiii, T. Zeb. ix., T. Dan. v. 6, 7.
Psalms of Solomon.

(A.D. 1-100 and later.)

Assumption of Moses.
Apocalypse of Baruch.
4 Ezra.
Greek Apocalypse of Baruch.
Apocalypse of Zephaniah.
Apocalypse of Abraham.
Prayer of Joseph.
Book of Eldad and Modad.
Apocalypse of Elijah.

(b) Hellenistic:—

2 Enoch.
Oracles of Hystaspes.
Testament of Job.
Testaments of the III. Patriarchs.
Sibylline Oracles (excluding Christian portions).

Book of Noah.—Though this book has not come down to us independently, it has in large measure been incorporated in the Ethiopic Book of Enoch, and can in part be reconstructed from it. The Book of Noah is mentioned in Jubilees x. 13, xxi. 10. Chapters lx., lxv.-lxix. 25 of the Ethiopic Enoch are without question derived from it. Thus lx. 1 runs: “In the year 500, in the seventh month ... in the life of Enoch.” Here the editor simply changed the name Noah in the context before him into Enoch, for the statement is based on Gen. v. 32, and Enoch lived only 365 years. Chapters vi.-xi. are clearly from the same source; for they make no reference to Enoch, but bring forward Noah (x. 1) and treat of the sin of the angels that led to the flood, and of their temporal and eternal punishment. This section is compounded of the Semjaza and Azazel myths, and in its present composite form is already presupposed by 1 Enoch lxxxviii.-xc. Hence these chapters are earlier than 166 B.C. Chapters cvi.-cvii. of the same book are probably from the same source; likewise liv. 7-lv. 2, and Jubilees vii. 20-39, x. 1-15. In the former passage of Jubilees the subject-matter leads to this identification, as well as the fact that Noah is represented as speaking in the first person, although throughout Jubilees it is the angel that speaks. Possibly Eth. En. xli. 3-8, xliii.-xliv., lix. are from the same work. The book may have opened with Eth. En. cvi.-cvii. On these chapters may have followed Eth. En. vi.-xi., lxv.-lxix. 25, lx., xli. 3-8, xliii.-xliv., liv. 7-lv. 2; Jubilees vii. 26-39, x. 1-15.

The Hebrew Book of Noah, a later work, is printed in Jellinek’s Bet ha-Midrasch, iii. 155-156, and translated into German in Rönsch, Das Buch der Jubiläen, 385-387. It is based on the part of the above Book of Noah which is preserved in the Book of Jubilees. The portion of this Hebrew work which is derived from the older work is reprinted in Charles’s Ethiopic Version of the Hebrew Book of Jubilees, p. 179.

1 Enoch, or the Ethiopic Book of Enoch.—This is the most important of all the apocryphal writings for the history of religious thought. Like the Pentateuch, the Psalms, the Megilloth and the Pirke Aboth, this work was divided into five parts, which, as we shall notice presently, spring from five different sources. Originally written partly in Aramaic (i.e. vi.-xxxvi.) and partly in Hebrew (i.-vi., xxxvii.-cviii.), it was translated into Greek, and from Greek into Ethiopic and possibly Latin. Only one-fifth of the Greek version in two forms survives. The various elements of the book were written by different authors at different dates, vi.-xxxvi. was written before 166 B.C., lxxii.-lxxxii. before the Book of Jubilees, i.e. before 120 B.C. or thereabouts, lxxxiii.-xc. about 166 B.C., i.-v., xci.-civ. before 95 B.C., and xxxvii.-lxxi. before 64 B.C. There are many interpolations drawn mainly from the Book of Noah.

Testaments of the XII. Patriarchs.—This book, in some respects

  1. See the separate headings for the various apocalyptic books mentioned in this article.