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APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE

the most important of Old Testament apocryphs, has only recently come into its own. Till a few years ago, owing to Christian interpolations, it was taken to be a Christian apocryph, written originally in Greek in the 2nd century A.D. Now it is acknowledged by Christian and Jewish scholars alike to have been written in Hebrew in the 2nd century B.C. From Hebrew it was translated into Greek and from Greek into Armenian and Slavonic. The versions have come down in their entirety, and small portions of the Hebrew text have been recovered from later Jewish writings. The Testaments were written about the same date as the Book of Jubilees. These two books form the only Apology in Jewish literature for the religious and civil hegemony of the Maccabees from the Pharisaic standpoint. To the Jewish interpolation of the 1st century B.C. (about 60–40), i.e. T. Lev. x., xiv.-xvi.; T. Jud. xxii.-xxiii., &c., a large interest attaches; for these, like I Enoch xci.-civ. and the Psalms of Solomon, constitute an unmeasured attack on every office—prophetic, priestly and kingly—administered by the Maccabees. The ethical character of the book is of the highest type, and its profound influence on the writers of the New Testament is yet to be appreciated. (See Testaments of the XII. Patriarchs.)

Psalms of Solomon.—These psalms, in all eighteen, enjoyed but small consideration in early times, for only six direct references to them are found in early literature. Their ascription to Solomon is due solely to the copyists or translators, for no such claim is made in any of the psalms. On the whole, Ryle and James are no doubt right in assigning 70–40 B.C. as the limits within which the psalms were written. The authors were Pharisees. They divide their countrymen into two classes— “the righteous,” ii. 38-39, iii. 3-5, 7, 8, &c., and “the sinners,” ii. 38, iii. 13, iv. 9, &c.; “the saints,” iii. 10, &c., and “the transgressors,” iv. II, &c. The former are the Pharisees; the latter the Sadducees. They protest against the Asmonaean house for usurping the throne of David, and laying violent hands on the high priesthood (xvii. 5, 6, 8), and proclaim the coming of the Messiah, the Son of David, who is to set all things right and establish the supremacy of Israel. Pss. xvii.-xviii. and i.-xvi. cannot be assigned to the same authorship. The hopes of the Messiah are confined to the former, and a somewhat different eschatology underlies the two works. Since the Psalms were written in Hebrew, and intended for public worship in the synagogues, it is most probable that they were composed in Palestine. (See Solomon, The Psalms of.)

The Assumption of Moses.—This book was lost for many centuries till a large fragment of it was discovered and published by Ceriani in 1861 (Monumenta Sacra, I. i. 55-64) from a palimpsest of the 6th century. Very little was known about the contents of this book prior to this discovery. The present book is possibly the long-lost Διαθήκη Μωυσέως mentioned in some ancient lists, for it never speaks of the assumption of Moses, but always of his natural death. About a half of the original Testament is preserved in the Latin version. The latter half probably dealt with questions about the creation. With this “Testament” the “Assumption,” to which almost all the patristic references and that of Jude are made, was subsequently edited. The book was written between 4 B.C. and A.D. 7. As for the author, he was no Essene, for he recognizes animal sacrifices and cherishes the Messianic hope; he was not a Sadducee, for he looks forward to the establishment of the Messianic kingdom (x.); nor a Zealot, for the quietistic ideal is upheld (ix.), and the kingdom is established by God Himself (x.). He is therefore a Chasid of the ancient type, and glorifies the ideals which were cherished by the old Pharisaic party, but which were now being fast disowned in favour of a more active rôle in the political life of the nation. He pours his most scathing invectives on the Sadducees, who are described in vii. in terms that recall the anti-Sadducean Psalms of Solomon. His object, therefore, is to protest against the growing secularization of the Pharisaic party through its adoption of popular Messianic beliefs and political ideals. (See also Moses, Assumption of.)

Apocalypse of Baruch—The Syriac.—This apocalypse has survived only in the Syriac version. The Syriac is a translation from the Greek, and the Greek in turn from the Hebrew. The book treats of the Messiah and the Messianic kingdom, the woes of Israel in the past and the destruction of Jerusalem in the present, as well as of theological questions relating to original sin, free will, works, &c. The views expressed on several of these subjects are often conflicting. We must, therefore, assume a number of independent sources put together by an editor or else that the book is on the whole the work of one author who made use of independent writings but failed to blend them into one harmonious whole. In its present form the book was written soon after A.D. 70. For fuller treatment see Baruch.

4 Ezra.—This apocryph is variously named. In the first Arabic and Ethiopic versions it is called I Ezra; in some Latin MSS. and in the English authorized version it is 2 Ezra, and in the Armenian 3 Ezra. With the majority of the Latin MSS. we designate the book 4 Ezra. In its fullest form this apocryph consists of sixteen chapters, but i.-ii. and xv.-xvi. are of different authorship from each other and from the main work iii.-xiv. The book was written originally in Hebrew. There are Latin, Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic (two), and Armenian versions. The Greek version is lost. This apocalypse is of very great importance, on account of its very full treatment of the theological questions rife in the latter half of the 1st century of the Christian era. The book, even if written by one author, was based on a variety of already existing works. It springs from the same school of thought as the Apocalypse of Baruch, and its affinities with the latter are so numerous and profound that scholars have not yet come to any consensus as to the relative priority of either. In its present form it was composed A.D. 80–100. For fuller treatment see Ezra.

Apocalypse of Baruch—The Greek.—This work is referred to by Origen (de Princip. II. iii. 6): “Denique etiam Baruch prophetae librum in assertionis hujus testimonium vocant, quod ibi de septem mundis vel caelis evidentius indicatur.” This book survives in two forms in Slavonic and Greek. The former was translated by Bonwetsch in 1896, in the Nachrichten von der königl. Ges. der Wiss. zu, Gött. pp. 91-101; the latter by James in 1897 in Anecdota, ii. 84-94, with an elaborate introduction (pp. li.-lxxi.). The Slavonic is only of secondary value, as it is merely an abbreviated form of the Greek. Even the Greek cannot claim to be the original work, but only to be a recension of it; for, whereas Origen states that this apocalypse contained an account of the seven heavens, the existing Greek work describes only five, and the Slavonic only two. As the original, work presupposes 2 Enoch and the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch and was known to Origen, it was written between A.D. 80 and 200, and nearer the earlier date than the later, as it would otherwise be hard to understand how it came to circulate among Christians. The superscription shows points of connexion with the Rest of the Words of Baruch, but little weight can be attached to the fact, since titles and superscriptions were so frequently transformed and expanded in ancient times. As James and Kohler have pointed out, part of section 4 on the Vine is a Christian addition. A German translation of the Greek appears in Kautzsch’s Apok. u. Pseud, ii. 448-457, and a strong article by Kohler on the Jewish authorship of the book in the Jewish Encyclopedia, ii. 549-551. (See Baruch.)

Apocalypse of Abraham.—This book is found only in the Slavonic (edited by Bonwetsch, Studien zur Geschichte d. Theologie und Kirche, 1897), a translation from the Greek. It is of Jewish origin, but in part worked over by a Christian reviser. The first part treats of Abraham’s conversion, and the second forms an apocalyptic expansion of Gen. xv. This book was possibly known to the author of the Clem. Recognitions, i. 32, a passage, however, which may refer to Jubilees. It is most probably distinct from the Ἀποκάλυψις Ἀβραάμ used by the gnostic Sethites (Epiphanius, Haer. xxxix. 5), which was very heretical. On the other hand, it is probably identical with the apocryphal book Ἀβραάμ mentioned in the Stichometry of Nicephorus, and the Synopsis Athanasii, together with the Apocalypses of Enoch, &c.