Lost Apocalypses: Prayer of Joseph.—The Prayer of Joseph is quoted by Origen [In Joann. II. xxv, (Lommatzsch, i. 147, 148); in Gen. III. ix. (Lommatzsch, viii. 30-31)]. The fragments in Origen represent Jacob as speaking and claiming to be “the first servant in God’s presence,” “the first-begotten of every creature animated by God,” and declaring that the angel who wrestled with Jacob (and was identified by Christians with Christ) was only eighth in rank. The work was obviously anti-Christian. (See Schürer3, iii. 265-266.)
Book of Eldad and Modad.—This book was written in the name of the two prophets mentioned in Num. xi. 26-29. It consisted, according to the Targ. Jon. on Num. xi. 26-29, mainly of prophecies on Magog’s last attack on Israel. The Shepherd of Hermas quotes it Vis. ii. 3. (See Marshall in Hastings’ Bible Dictionary, i. 677.)
Apocalypse of Elijah.—This apocalypse is mentioned in two of the lists of books. Origen, Ambrosiaster, and Euthalius ascribe to it 1 Cor. ii. 9. If they are right, the apocalypse is pre-Pauline. The peculiar form in which 1 Cor. ii. 9 appears in Clemens Alex. Protrept. x. 94, and the Const. Apost. vii. 32, shows that both have the same source, probably this apocalypse. Epiphanius (Haer. xlii., ed. Oehler, vol. ii. 678) ascribes to this work Eph. v. 14. Isr. Lévi (Revue des études juives, 1880, i. 108 sqq.) argues for the existence of a Hebrew apocalypse of Elijah from two Talmudic passages. A late work of this name has been published by Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrasch, 1855, iii. 65-68, and Buttenwieser in 1897. Zahn, Gesch. des N.T. Kanons, ii. 801-810, assigns this apocalypse to the 2nd century A.D. (See Schürer3, iii. 267-271.)
Apocalypse of Zephaniah.—Apart from two of the lists this work is known to us in its original form only through a citation in Clem. Alex. Strom. v. II, 77. A Christian revision of it is probably preserved in the two dialects of Coptic. Of these the Akhmim text is the original of the Sahidic. These texts and their translations have been edited by Steindorff, Die Apokalypse des Elias, eine unbekannte Apokalypse und Bruchstücke der Sophonias-Apokalypse (1809). As Schürer (Theol. Literaturzeitung, 1899, No. I. 4-8) has shown, these fragments belong most probably to the Zephaniah apocalypse. They give descriptions of heaven and hell, and predictions of the Antichrist. In their present form these Christianized fragments are not earlier than the 3rd century. (See Schürer, Gesch. des jüd. Volkes3, iii. 271-273.)
2 Enoch, or the Slavonic Enoch, or the Book of the Secrets of Enoch.—This new fragment of the Enochic literature was recently brought to light through five MSS. discovered in Russia and Servia. The book in its present form was written before A.D. 70 in Greek by an orthodox Hellenistic Jew, who lived in Egypt. For a fuller account see Enoch.
Oracles of Hystaspes.—See under N. T. Apocalypses, below.
Testament of Job.—This book was first printed from one MS. by Mai, Script. Vet. Nov. Coll. (1833), VII. i. 180, and translated into French in Migne’s Dict. des Apocryphes, ii. 403. An excellent edition from two MSS. is given by M. R. James, Apocrypha Anecdota, ii. pp. lxxii.-cii., 104-137, who holds that the book in its present form was written by a Christian Jew in Egypt on the basis of a Hebrew Midrash on Job in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. Kohler (Kohut Memorial Volume, 1897, pp. 264-338) has given good grounds for regarding the whole work, with the exception of some interpolations, as “one of the most remarkable productions of the pre-Christian era, explicable only when viewed in the light of Hasidean practice.” See Jewish Encycl. vii. 200-202.
Testaments of the III. Patriarchs.—For an account of these three Testaments (referred to in the Apost. Const. vi. 16), the first of which only is preserved in the Greek and is assigned by James to the 2nd century A.D., see that scholar’s “Testament of Abraham,” Texts and Studies, ii. 2 (1892), which appears in two recensions from six and three MSS. respectively, and Vassiliev’s Anecdota Graeco-Byzantina, (1893), pp. 292-308, from one MS. already used by James. This work was written in Egypt, according to James, and survives also in Slavonic, Rumanian, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions. It deals with Abraham’s reluctance to die and the means by which his death was brought about. James holds that this book is referred to by Origen (Hom. in Luc. xxxv.), but this is denied by Schürer, who also questions its Jewish origin. With the exception of chaps. x.–xi., it is really a legend and not an apocalypse. An English translation of James’s texts will be found in the Ante-Nicene Christian Library (Clark, 1897), pp. 185-201. The Testaments of Isaac and Jacob are still preserved in Arabic and Ethiopic (see James, op. cit. 140-161). See Testaments of the III. Patriarchs.
Sibylline Oracles.—Of the books which have come down to us the main part is Jewish, and was written at various dates, iii. 97-829, iv.–v. are decidedly of Jewish authorship, and probably xi.–xii., xiv. and parts of i.–ii. The oldest portions are in iii., and belong to the 2nd century B.C.
III. New Testament Apocalyptic
When we pass from Jewish literature to that of the New Testament, we enter into a new and larger atmosphere at once recalling and transcending what had been best in the prophetic periods of the past. Again the heavens had opened and the divine teaching come to mankind, no longer merely in books bearing the names of ancient patriarchs, but on the lips of living men, who had taken courage to appear in person as God’s messengers before His people. But though Christianity was in spirit the descendant of ancient Jewish prophecy, it was no less truly the child of that Judaism which had expressed its highest aspirations and ideals in pseudepigraphic and apocalyptic literature. Hence we shall not be surprised to find that the two tendencies are fully represented in primitive Christianity, and, still more strange as it may appear, that New Testament apocalyptic found a more ready hearing amid the stress and storm of the 1st century than the prophetic side of Christianity, and that the type of the forerunner on the side of its declared asceticism appealed more readily to primitive Christianity than that of Him who came “eating and drinking,” declaring both worlds good and both God’s.
Early Christianity had thus naturally a special fondness for this class of literature. It was Christianity that preserved Jewish apocalyptic, when it was abandoned by Judaism as it sank into Rabbinism, and gave it a Christian character either by a forcible exegesis or by a systematic process of interpolation. Moreover, it cultivated this form of literature and made it the vehicle of its own ideas. Though apocalyptic served its purpose in the opening centuries of the Christian era, it must be confessed that in many of its aspects its office is transitory, as they belong not to the essence of Christian thought. When once it had taught men that the next world was God’s world, though it did so at the cost of relinquishing the present to Satan, it had achieved its real task, and the time had come for it to quit the stage of history, when Christianity appeared as the heir of this true spiritual achievement. But Christianity was no less assuredly the heir of ancient prophecy, and thus as spiritual representative of what was true in prophecy and apocalyptic; its essential teaching was as that of its Founder that both worlds were of God and that both should be made God’s.
- (i.) Canonical:—
- Apocalypse in Mark xiii. (Matthew xxiv., Luke xxi.).
- 2 Thessalonians ii.
- (ii.) Extra-Canonical:—
- Apocalypse of Peter.
- Testament of Hezekiah.
- Testament of Abraham.
- Oracles of Hystaspes.
- Vision of Isaiah.
- Shepherd of Hermas.
- 5 Ezra.
- 6 Ezra.
- Christian Sibyllines.
- Apocalypses of Paul, Thomas and Stephen.
- Apocalypses of Esdras, Paul, John, Peter, The Virgin, Sedrach, Daniel.
- Revelations of Bartholomew.
- Questions of Bartholomew.