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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Apocalyptic Literature

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i. Name and Nature.

ii. Origin and History.

iii. The Apocalypses.

1. The Ethiopic Enoch.

2. The Slavonic Enoch.

3. The Sibylline Oracles.

4. The Assumption of Moses.

5. Fourth Esdras.

6. The Syriac Baruch.

7. The Greek Baruch.

8. The Psalter of Solomon.

9. The Testaments of the XII Patriarchs.

10. The Book of Jubilees.

11. The Ascension of Isaiah.

12. The Histories of Adam and Eve.

13. The Apocalypse of Abraham.

14. The Apocalypse of Elias.

15. The Apocalypse of Zephaniah.

16. Anonymous Apocalypse.

17. The Prayer of Joseph.

18. The Book of Eldad and Modad.

iv. General Characteristics.

1. The Vision Form.

2. Dualism.

3. Symbolism.

4. Angelology.

5. The Unknown as subject-matter.

6. Pseudonymity.

7. Optimism.

v. Theological Ideas.

1. The Doctrine of the two aeons.

2. The Impending Crisis.

3. The Conception of God.

4. Complex Cosmology.

5. Arch-enemy of God.

6. Doctrine of Man.

7. Doctrine of Sin.

8. The coming Messiah.

9. The Resurrection.

10. The Judgment.

11. Punishment of the Wicked.

12. The Reward of the Righteous.

13. The Renovation of the World.

14. Predestination.

vi. Contact with the New Testament.

1. Apocalyptic Forms in the New Testament.

2. Current Phraseology: Son of Man, etc.

3. Quotations.

4. Influence of Ideas.

5. Treatment of Common Questions.


i. Name and Nature.—The term ‘apocalypse’ (ἀποκάλυψις from ἀποκαλύπτω, to uncover) signifies in the first place the act of uncovering, and thus bringing into sight that which was before unseen, hence ‘revelation.’ It is predominantly a NT word. It occurs rather rarely in extra-biblical Greek, is used only once in the canonical portion of the LXX Septuagint (1 Samuel 20:30), and thrice in Sirach (Sirach 11:27; Sirach 22:22; Sirach 42:1 [Sirach 41:23]). In the NT it is used to designate the disclosing or communicating of knowledge by direct Divine act. The gospel is an apocalypse to the nations (Luke 2:32, Romans 16:25-26). St. Paul received it as an apocalypse (Galatians 1:12). The manifestation of Jesus Christ in glory is an apocalypse (Galatians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 12:1-7, 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13).

An apocalypse is thus primarily the act of revelation; in the second place it is the subject-matter revealed; and in the third place a book or literary production which gives an account of revelation, whether real or alleged (e.g. ‘The Apocalypse of St. John the Divine’). As a matter of history, the form in which the revelation purports to come is of the utmost importance in determining the question whether a writing should be called an apocalypse or not. In general, the form is like the drawing of the veil from before a picture, the result of which action presents to the eye a definite image. All imparting of Divine truth is revelation; but it is not all given in the apocalyptic form, i.e. it does not all come in grand imagery, as if portrayed on canvas or enacted in scenic representation. Some revelations come in sub-conscious convictions. Those who receive them do not feel called upon to give an account of the way in which they have received them. In fact they seem ignorant of the method of communication; they only know that they have received knowledge not previously possessed. Apocalypse and revelation thus, though primarily the same thing, come to be distinguished from each other.

The term ‘apocalypse’ is also sometimes used, with an effort at greater precision, to designate the pietorial portraiture of the future as foreshadowed by the seer. When so employed it becomes appropriate only as the title of certain passages in books otherwise not to be called apocalypses (so Bousset in Herzog-Hauek, PRE [Note: RE Real-Encyklopädie fur protest. Theologic und Kirche.] , s.v., who enumerates the following passages: Daniel 2:7-12; Ethiopic En 85–91, 37–71; Ps-Sol 2, 17, 18; the Assumption of Moses; Slav. En.; 4 Ezra; Syriac Bar.; Sibyl. Orac. iii. 286 to the end, iii. 36–92, iv., the Jewish source of i. and ii.; also certain sections of the Apocalypse, Apocalyptic John and 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Matthew 24 with parallels).

To constitute a writing an apocalypse, it is not necessary that the author should have actually seen or experienced what he portrays. It is enough that he write as one who has had a vision and is describing it. Thus apocalypse becomes a form of literature precisely in the same manner as an epistle. Strictly an epistle is simply a letter from one person, or many persons, to another, or others. But, as a matter of usage, it has often been adopted as a form into which men have chosen to cast their thoughts for the public. The same is true of the dialogue, of fiction, and many other species of literature. Such forms become favourites in certain ages, usually after some outstanding character has made successful use of them. The dialogue became fashionable when Plato made it such a telling medium for the teaching of his philosophical system. The epistle was used by Horace, and later by Seneca. The apocalypse form appears as a favourite about the beginning of the 2nd cent. b.c. The most illustrious specimen, and perhaps the prototype of later apocalyptic literature, is the Book of Daniel.

ii. Origin and History.—The question has been mooted as to the earlier antecedents of the apocalyptic form. Its ultimate source has been traced variously to Egypt, Greece, Babylonia, and Persia. In view of the fact, however, that the Hebrew prophets frequently incorporate visions into their writings (Isaiah 6, Jeremiah 24:1-3, Ezekiel 1:27, Isaiah 24-27), it is scarcely necessary to go outside of Israel to search for its origins. Nevertheless, the Persians, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, and the Greeks had their apocalyptics. And it would be a mistake to ignore the influence especially of Persian forms during the period of the formation of Jewish apocalyptics. This was the very period when Jewish forms came most directly into touch with Persian. In any case, much of the material of the Jewish apocalypse has been adopted and naturalized from Persia (cf. Bousset, Die Jud. Apokalyptik, 1903; Gunkel, Schopfung u. Chaos, 1895). Apocalyptic literature in general begins before Christ. Soon after the Christian era it develops into the two naturally distinct forms of Christian and neo-Hebraic. Hence we may distinguish three classes of apocalypses:—(1) The earlier Jewish ones, or those which were published from b.c. 200 to a.d. 100. Within this class, however, may be included also such writings as proceed from Jewish sources purely, though not written until half a century, more or less, later than the last limit of the period. (2) Christian apocalypses, including the canonical book known as the Apocalypse (Revelation of St. John), and a series of apocryphal imitations. These are mostly pseudonymous, but include an occasional work in which the author does not conceal his name behind that of an apostle or older prophet (The Shepherd of Hermas). Apocalypses of this class pass into Patristics and culminate in Dante’s immortal Commedia. (3) The neo-Hebraie apocalypses, beginning with the predominance of the Talmud (especially the Babylonian) and including a series of revelations to the great Rabbis (The Revelation of R. Joshua b. Levi, The Alphabets of R. Akiba, The Hebrew Elijah Apocalypse, The Apocalypse of Zerubbabel, The Wars of King Messiah, The Revelations of R. Simon b. Yohai, The Prayer of R. Simon b. Yohai, and the Persian Apocalypse of Daniel).

It would be somewhat beside the purpose of this article to do more than sketch the first of these three classes of apocalypses. On the other hand, as Christ emerged in history at a definite period and in a definite environment, and as in this environment nothing is more conspicuous and potent than the early Jewish apocalyptic literature, the importance of this literature cannot be overestimated. A flood of light is shed by the form and content of these writings upon His life, teaching, and work. Happily, considerable attention has been given in recent years to this as a field of investigation, and some definite results may be registered.

iii. The Apocalypses.—Of the earlier Jewish apocalypse, the canonical Daniel forms the prototype. The proper place, however, for a particular treatment of Daniel is conventionally the sphere of Old Testament Introduction (see art. ‘Daniel’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible vol. i.). Our list will begin with the Books of Enoch.

1. The Ethiopic Enoch.—The adjective ‘Ethiopic’ has been attached to the title of this work because of another Book of Enoch discovered in a Slavonic version. Outside the canonical Daniel, this is the best known of the apocalypses, because of the quotation from it in Judges 1:14 f. Tertullian knows it, believes in its genuineness, and attempts to account for its transmission through and survival under the vicissitudes of the Flood. It appears to have been neglected, however, through the Middle Ages, and lost until 1773, when two MS copies of an Ethiopic version of it were brought from Abyssinia by J. Bruce. A translation of one of these was made by Lawrence, and published in 1821. But its full importance and significance came to be realized only with Dillmann’s critical edition of the Ethiopic text in 1851, which was followed in 1853 by a thorough German translation and commentary. A portion of the Greek text was discovered in 1886–7, and edited by H. B. Swete.

Contents.—As it stands to-day, the Book of Enoch can be subdivided into five main parts with an introduction and a conclusion, as follows: Introductory Discourse, in which the author announces his parable, and formally asks attention to the important matters which he is about to divulge (1–5).

(a) The first section is concerned with Angelology (6–36), beginning with the report of the fall of two hundred angels who were enticed by the beauty of the daughters of men, and left heaven in order to take them for wives. Out of these unions sprang giants 3000 cubits in height. The fallen angels, moreover, taught men all manner of secrets whereby they were led into sin. When the giants had consumed all the possessions of men, they turned against the men themselves and smote them until their cry went up to heaven. Ringleaders of the angels are Azazel and Semjâzâ (6–9). Through the intercession of the four archangels, Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel, God is moved to arrest bloodshed upon earth. He sends Uriel to Noah to tell him that He has determined to destroy the world. He commands Raphael to bind Azazel and throw him into a pit in the wilderness, where he shall remain until the day of the great judgment, and then be cast into the fire. He commands Gabriel to rouse the giants against each other; and, finally, he commands Michael to announce to Semjâzâ the sentence of punishment, which is, that the fallen angels shall be kept enchained and imprisoned under the hills of the earth, waiting the last judgment, when they shall be cast into the fire (10). After the destruction of all impiety upon earth, the righteous shall flourish and live long, the earth shall yield abundantly, all people shall pray to God, and all evil shall be banished from the earth (11). The sentence upon the fallen angels is communicated to Enoch (12), and he reveals it to them; but, at their urgent request, he composes a petition on their behalf, that they might obtain forgiveness; while rehearsing this, preparatory to presenting it, he falls asleep and is informed in a dream that their request for forgiveness will not be granted, and once more makes known to the angels their impending doom (13–16). Enoch tells of a journey in which he learned of the places where thunders and lightnings originate, and saw the stream of Hades, the corner-stone and the pillars of the world, the seven mountains of precious stones, and the places of punishment of the disobedient angels, i.e. the stars (17–19). He gives the names and functions of the six (seven) archangels (20). He once more visits the place of punishment of the condemned angels, and the nether world (21), consisting of four parts (22). He travels to the West (23–25). From there he returns to the city of Jerusalem, which is the centre of the earth (26, 27); then he travels to the East (28–33), to the North (34, 35), and, lastly, to the South (36).

(b) The second section is Christological, and consists of chs. 37–71, subdivided into three Similitudes. A short introductory discourse (37) is followed by the first Similitude, including chs. 38–44. The appearance of the Messiah, the righteous One, brings an end of sinners upon earth (38). Enoch is carried by storm-clouds to the end of heaven, and there beholds the pre-existing Kingdom of God, the dwellings of the righteous and the elect, and of angels and archangels (39, 40). He then sees the weighing of men’s actions in the balance, the rejection of sinners, the places prepared for the righteous, and certain physical mysteries (lightnings, thunders, winds, hail, mist, clouds, sun and moon, 41), also the place of Wisdom in heaven (42), and, finally, some more physical mysteries (43, 44). The second Similitude includes chs. 45–57. It begins with the Messianic Judgment (45). Enoch sees the Son of Man beside the Head of Days (46). An angel explains the vision (47, the Son of Man will overthrow and judge the kings and mighty ones of the ungodly). The task of the pre-existing Son of Man is outlined (48, 49), and the happy consequences of the judgment for the pious, together with the punishments of the wicked, and the resurrection of those who have died in righteousness (50, 51). In a vision of six mountains of metal which pass away, the destruction of the heathen world by the Messiah is portrayed. The heathen world endeavours through offerings to propitiate God, but fails. The angels of punishment go forth to do their work. The synagogue service may now be carried on unhindered (52–54:6). An account of the coming flood and its occasion is inserted (54:7–55:2), and is followed by the final assault of the heathen world-power (55:3–56) and the return of the dispersed Jews (57). The third Similitude comprises chs. 58–69, to which chs. 70 and 71 are added by way of an appendix. It begins with the picture of the blessedness of the righteous in heaven (58); an account of the mystery of lightning and thunder follows (59). A vision of Noah, an account of Leviathan and Behemoth, and various nature-elements which take part in the Flood are then given (60). The judgment of the Son of Man over the angels in heaven, and the sentence of kings by Him, followed by vain pleas on their part for mercy, are given next (61–64). Then comes the revelation to Noah of the fall of the angels, the Flood, his own preservation, the punishment of the angels, and the judgment of men by the Son of Man (65–69). Enoch’s translation to Paradise, his ascension to heaven, and his acceptance by the Son of Man, are then given in the appendix (70, 71).

(c) The third section is Cosmological, and consists of chs. 72–82. It has been called the ‘Book of the Luminaries of Heaven.’ It contains a revelation given by the angel Uriel on all sorts of astronomical and geographical matters, among others on the convulsions that will occur during the period of the wicked upon earth. The course of the sun is first described (72), next the course of the moon (73, 74); untoward days (75); the winds (76); the four quarters of heaven (77); further details regarding the rising and setting of the sun (78, 79), changes in the order of things to come in the last Jays (80), and the return of Enoch to the earth; and the committal of these matters to Methusaleh (81, 82).

(d) The fourth section is a Historical forecast. Enoch narrates to his son Methusaleh two visions which he saw before he had taken a wife to himself. The first of these (83, 84) came to him as he was learning to write. It placed before his eyes the picture of the Deluge. The second vision (85–90) unfolded before him the whole history of Israel from the creation of man to the end of time. The children of Israel appeared in this vision in the forms of the clean animals (bulls, sheep, lambs, and goats). Their enemies were in the form of dogs, foxes, swine, and all manner of birds of prey. In the conflict between the clean and unclean, the struggle of Israel against her enemies was portrayed. The chosen people were delivered into the hands of lions, tigers, wolves, and jackals (the Assyrians and Babylonians); then they were put under the care of seventy shepherds (angels). (From this fact this section of the book takes the title of ‘Vision of the Seventy Shepherds’). The shepherds allowed more of the faithful to perish than was the will of God, but at the critical moment there appeared a white lamb in their midst and entered into a fierce combat with the birds of prey, while a heavenly being gave him assistance. Then the Lord Himself burst forth from heaven, the enemies of Israel were overthrown and exterminated, the judgment ensued, and the universal restoration; and the Messiah was born as a white bull.

(e) The fifth section (91–105) is a Book of Exhortations. Enoch commands his son Methusaleh to summon to his side all his other sons, and when they have come he delivers to them an address on righteousness, which is especially designed to instruct the righteous of all ages (91:1–11). In this first discourse is inserted the prediction of the Ten Weeks (91:12–17, 93). The remainder of the book (92, 94, 105) is taken up with final encouragements and messages of hope.

The conclusion of the whole Book of Enoch (106–108) contains an account of the marvels destined to accompany the birth of Noah (106, 107), and a new description of the fiery tribulations reserved for the wicked and of the blessings that await those who ‘loved eternal heaven better than their own lives’ (108).

Literary features.—Thus far the Book of Enoch has been treated as it is extant. A closer inspection reveals the fact that it is composite. Criticism is still in a considerable state of flux as to the correct analysis of it. Charles believes it to consist of five primary documents. Clemen finds in it seven separate Enoch traditions or legends worked together by a redactor. The weight of probability, however, is rather in favour of three primitive documents: (1) A Book of Enoch, consisting of chs. 1–36 and 72–105; (2) A Book of Similitudes, including chs. 36–71; and (3) a Noachic document, broken up and inserted in various parts within the preceding two. The work of redaction appears to have been done after the two primary documents had undergone some modification, possibly accidental. The redactor used the lost Apocalypse of Noah, alluded to in Jubilees (10:13, 21:10), supplementing what he deemed to he lacunae. The passages inserted from the Book of Noah are the following: 54:7–55:2, 60, 65:1–69:25, and 106, 107. To these some would add several other passages.

The date of the first of these documents is the first quarter of the 2nd cent. b.c. (200 to 175); that of the Book of Similitudes offers an as yet unsolved problem whose difficulty is somewhat enhanced by the importance of the issue involved, i.e. the relation the hook sustains to the NT. The fact that this relation is undoubted and intimate has quickened interest and led to the perception of slight considerations otherwise easily left out of view. The weight of these considerations is, moreover, so well balanced that criticism seems unable to reach a general consensus on the subject. The views that divide the field are (1) that the book was composed in the Maccabaean period (Ewald, b.c. 144); (2) that it was produced between b.c. 95 and 64 (Dillmann, Sieffert, Charles); (3) that it was written during the days of Herod (Lücke, Hausrath, Lipsius, Schodde, Schurer, Baldensperger, Beer); (4) that it is a product of the 2nd cent, and written by a Christian who has used an older Jewish apocalypse as a basis (Hoffmann, Weisse, Hilgenfeld, Volkmar, Tideman); (5) that though a Jewish apocalypse and possibly written before the beginning of the Christian era, it was interpolated by a Christian through the insertion of the ‘Son of Man’ passages (Drummond, Stalker). That the book should have been composed as a Jewish apocalypse and as such adopted the Messianic title ‘Son of Man’ from the Christian Gospels, is not to be thought of. That it should have been originally a Jewish apocalypse and modified by a Christian, either with a free hand or by the mechanical interpolation of the ‘Son of Man’ passages, is credible. But a more natural hypothesis is that it was a pre-Christian work, inclusive of the ‘Son of Man’ passages.

It has been demonstrated by Baldensperger and Dalman that the title ‘Son of Wan’ occurs in Jewish rabbinical writings as the name of the Messiah (Das Selbstbewusstsein Jesu2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] , p. 90; Words of Jesus, p. 234 f.); and there is therefore nothing in the occurrence of this phrase to lead to its being considered due to a Christian author. Upon the whole it is probable that the hook was produced in the 1st cent. s.c. The redaction is difficult to locate with precision and may be post-Christian.

The originals of the book were undoubtedly Semitic (Hebrew or Aramaic). The fragment of the Greek version recently discovered shows clear evidences of being the translation of a Semitic original (the case is argued conclusively by Charles, Book of Enoch, pp. 21, 22, 325, and Halévy, Journal Asiat. 1887, pp. 352–395).

Editions.—(1) Ethiopic Text: Lawrence (1838), Dillmann (1851), Flemming (Texte u. Untersuch., Neue Folge, vii. 1, 1902). (2) Greek Fragments: Bouriant (1892), Lods (1892). Charles (1893), Swete (1897).

(3) Translations.—English: Lawrence (partial, 1821), Schodde (1882), Charles (1893).—German: Hoffmann (1833–1838), Dillmann (1853), Flemming and Radermacher (1901).—French: Lods (the Greek Fragments only, 1892).

Literature.—(See Charles, Book of Enoch, pp. 9–21); Lücke, Einl. in d. Offenb. Johan. (1852); Ewald, Abhandl. ub. d. Ethiopic B. Henoch (1855); Hoffmann, ‘Ub. d. Entstehungszeit d. B. Henoch’ in ZDMG [Note: DMG Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft.] , 1852, pp. 87–91; Kostlin, ‘Ub. d. Entstehung d. B. Henoch’ in Theol. Jahrb. 1856, pp. 240–279, 370–386; Gebhardt, ‘Die 70 Hirten d. B. Henoch’ in Merx’ Archiv, vol. ii. 1872, pp. 163–246; Wieseler, ‘Zur Abfassungszeit d. B. Henoch’ in ZDMG [Note: DMG Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft.] , 1882, pp. 185–195; Lawlor in Journ. of Philol. 1897, pp. 164–225; Clemen, ‘Die Zusammensetzung d. B. Henoch, etc.’ in SK [Note: K Studien und Kritiken.] , 1898, pp. 210–227; Stalker, The Christology of Jesus, 1899, App. B, pp. 269–294.

2. The Slavonic Enoch.—This is one of the most recent additions to our group of apocalypses. Its existence was not indeed suspected before its discovery. But this was due to the fact that a number of books were attributed to Enoch. In this very work Enoch is said to have written 366; cf. 23:6, 68:1. And because some of those were extant in the Ethiopic book no one thought of seeking for more. Nevertheless, it was no source of surprise when it was announced that a new Enoch had been found. This came first as an intimation that a copy of a Slavonic version of the Ethiopic Enoch was in existence (Kozak in Jahrb. f. Prot. Theol. 1892). Prof. Charles started to investigate the matter, and with the assistance of Mr. Morfill procured and examined printed copies of the Slavonic text in question. The result was the publication of the altogether independent and hitherto unknown pseudepigraph (1896). Prof. Charles’ title for the book is The Book of the Secrets of Enoch, but it is likely to be known in the future by the more convenient title, The Slavonic Enoch,* [Note: Bousset quotes these two works as I and II Enoch respectively (Die Religion des Judenthums, 1903).] which distinguishes it from the better known and older Ethiopic work.

Contents.—The book may be divided into three parts, viz. (1) The Ascension of Enoch and his travels in the Seven Heavens (1–38). (2) The Return and Instructions to his children (39–56). (3) Second Series of Instructions, including in his audience an assemblage of 2000 people, and final assumption (57–68).

(a) Chs. 1–38. The book opens with a short prologue, introducing the personality of Enoch, and giving the time and place of a dream he saw (1). Enoch then warns his children of his impending absence from them for a time (2); he is taken by two angels up to the first heaven (3), where he sees 200 angels who guard the treasuries of the snow, the dew, and the oil (4–6). He is next taken up into the second heaven, and beholds and converses with the fallen angels (7). In the third heaven, the paradise prepared for the righteous (8, 9), he is led to the northern region, where he sees the places of torture (10). From thence he is taken up into the fourth heaven, the habitation of the sun and moon, and there sees the phœnixes and chalkadris (chalkydries), mysterious composite beings with heads of crocodiles and bodies of serpents (11, 12). In the eastern portion of the fourth heaven he comes to the gates of the sun (13); thence he is led to the western regions, and hears a song by the phœnixes and chalkydries (14, 15). He is then taken to the eastern course, and hears indescribable music by angels (16, 17). Here his visit to the fourth heaven ends; he is carried to the fifth heaven, where he sees the Grigori or Watchers (18). In the sixth heaven he delays only a short time, and thence passes to the seventh 19, 20), where the Lord is seated on a high throne. Here the ministering angels who have brought him take their departure; Enoch falls down and worships the Lord; he is stripped of his earthly clothing, anointed, and robed in suitable apparel; he is given over to Vretil, the archangel (patron of literature), to be instructed (21, 22). Under the guidance of this archangel he writes 366 books (23) He returns into the presence of the Lord, and holds direct converse with Him, learning the secrets of creation (24–29:2), and of the formation of 10,000 angels and the fall of Satanail (29:3–5); also of the creation of man, i.e. Adam and Eve (30), his being placed in paradise, his fall and judgment (31, 32). God then declares His purposes for the future (33, 34), and sends him back to the earth to stay thirty days longer and teach his children the true knowledge of God (35–38).

(b) Chs. 39–56. Enoch now begins his admonitions and instructions to his children (39); he tells of the manner in which he was given his visions, and of how he wrote them down (40); of how he wept for the sins of Adam (41); of his visit to the gates of hell, and the impression produced upon him (42); of the judgment of the Lord (43); of the duty of charity (44); of the superiority of a contrite and broken heart to sacrifice as a means of pleasing God (45); of God’s love of purity in heart and His rejection of the sacrifices of the impure (46); and commends his writing to them as a permanent means of knowing God’s will (47, 48). He further instructs them not to swear by heaven or the earth, and deprecates vengeance (49, 50); he urges them to be generous to the poor, not to hoard up treasures on earth (51), to praise God, and to be at peace with men (52). He enjoins them not to trust in his own intercession with God, but to give heed to his writings and be wise (53); and closes his address with an exhortation to circulate his writings, announcing at the same time that the hour for his ascension to heaven has come (54, 55).

(c) Chs. 56–67. The second series of Exhortations opens with a request by Methosalem for a blessing over the houses and children of Enoch (56); Enoch asks Methosalem to call his brothers together (57), and gives them his instructions (58), especially that they should not eat the flesh of cattle (59), nor kill any man through ‘net,’ ‘weapon,’ or ‘tongue’ (60); but practise righteousness, and trust in repentance for the future (61, 62), and not despise the humble and thus incur God’s curse (63). At this point God calls Enoch with a loud voice, and 2000 persons come together to give him their greetings (64); he delivers his final exhortations to them, which are to the effect that they should fear and serve the Lord (65, 66). A thick darkness covers the earth, and while it lasts Enoch is taken up, but no one knows how (67). The book concludes with a summary of Enoch’s life and work, and an account of Methosalem’s building an altar upon the spot where his father was last seen before his ascension.

Literary questions.—The author of the work was an Alexandrian Jew. This is made clear by the affinities of his style and thought with those of Philo, his use of the LXX Septuagint, his portraiture of phœnixes and chalkadris (chalkydries), and his syncretistic cosmogony. The date of composition cannot be later than a.d. 70. The temple was evidently still standing, and sacrifice was offered (59:2). But the Ethiopic Enoch was also in existence (40:5–9, cf. also 43:2, 3, 52:8, 61:2, 4).

The original language was undoubtedly Greek. This is proved by the explanation of the name Adam, which is made upon the basis of the Greek form ΑΔΑΜ, each letter representing one of the cardinal points of the compass (ΑΝΑΤΟΛΗ, ΔΥΣΙΣ, ΑΡΚΤΟΣ, ΜΕΣΗΜΒΡΙΑ). The book was known and used by Barnabas, by the author of the Ascension of Isaiah, by the author of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, by some of the many Sibyls, and by Irenaeus.

Editions.—The Slavonic text has been published from different manuscripts, varying more or less from one another, and not as yet fully collated (Popoff, 1880).

Translations.—English: Charles and Morfill, The Book of the Secrets of Enoch, 1896.—German: Bonwetsch, ‘Das Slavische Henochhuch’ in Abhandl. d. Gott. Ges. d. Wiss. (Phil. [Note: Philistine.] -hist. Klasse, Neue Folg. 1–3, 1896).

Literature.—Harnack, Gesch. d. Altchrist. Lift. ii. 1, 1897, p. 564; Charles in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, 1898; Volz, Jud. Eschatologie, 1903, pp. 29, 30.

3. The Sibylline Oracles.—The name ‘sibyl’ is of uncertain derivation. Even the spelling of the word varies in the earliest period. It is, however, a very ancient one, and occurs as early as in the works of Heraclitus. By the Romans a number (ten) of sibyls were distinguished. The one of Erythrae in Ionia is reckoned the oldest. The sibyl of Cumae (Kyme) became the most famous. Large collections of verses were circulated under her name during the latter years of the commonwealth and the early empire. Sibylline verses became common in Egypt, and there arose a so-called Jewish sibyl simultaneously with the appearance of the spirit of proselytism among the Jews. Finally, a Christian sibyl came into existence in succession to and imitation of the Jewish one. The productions of the Jewish and Christian sibyls are for the most part blended into one body. They constitute a compilation of hexameters in twelve Books, besides some fragments. Each of these is evidently independent of the others, and may have circulated separately.

Contents.—Book I. opens with an account of the Creation, based upon Genesis. This is followed by the story of the Fall, the multiplication of mankind, the appearance of four successive races down to the days of the giants, the story of Noah and the Flood, a sixth race and the Titans, from whom the transition is made to Christ, and the dispersion of the Jews.—Book II. predicts a time of plagues and wickedness, which is succeeded by the tenth race (the Romans), and a period of peace. After an interpolation of a group of proverbs, the woes of the last generations are portrayed, and the events of the last day of judgment and resurrection are foretold. Then follows a picture of the punishment of the wicked and the blessedness of the righteous.—Book III. extols the unity and power of God, denounces idolatry, proclaims the coming of the Great King, and of his opponent Beliar, foreshadows the reign of a woman (Cleopatra), and the subjection of the world to Christ. At this point the sibyl returns to the origin of man, and beginning with the Tower of Babel recounts the story as given in the OT down to Roman days. She foretells the doom of Rome, and of many Asiatic cities, as well as of the islands of the aegean. A general judgment and millennium (Messianic Day) closes the book.—Book IV. declares the blessedness of the righteous, sketches successively the Assyrian and Medo-Persian dominations, announcing the Greek conquest, which will bring woes on Phrygia, Asia, and Egypt; one great king, especially will cause calamities to fall on Sicily and Greece. After the Macedonian will come a Roman conquest. The impious will suffer many evils, and a general resurrection, judgment and retribution will follow.—Book V. opens with a prophecy of the reign of the Roman emperors; it then passes in review the calamities impending on Egypt and Asia Minor; it breaks out into a felicitation of the Jews and Judaea, and of the heavenly Joshua, and once more returns to further details of judgment, such as the destruction of Serapis, Isis, and the Ethiopians.—Book VI. describes the pre-existence, incarnation, and baptism of the Son of God, His teaching and miracles, the miseries in store for the guilty land, and the glories of the Cross.—Book VII. is an account of the woes impending upon various lands and cities of Greece, Asia Minor, and Egypt, in which just one prediction of the signs of the Messiah is incorporated.—Book VIII. is a history of the world under five monarchies. The fifth of these furnishes the subject for a prophecy of misery, judgment, and destruction. From this the sibyl passes to the denunciation of woes upon Egypt, the islands of the Mediterranean, and Persia, and closes with a picture of the Messiah.—Books IX. and X. are in fragments.—Book XI. is an orderly story of the world-powers from the time of the Tower of Babel to the subjection of Egypt under Cleopatra.—Book XII. pictures the fortunes of the Caesars, beginning with Augustus and closing with Alexander Severus.—Book XIII. concerns the times of the emperors of the 1st cent., beginning with Maximin. It touches more especially upon their relations with the Persians and Syrians, closing with an allegory of a bull, a stag, a lion, and a goat.—Book XIV. is the most obscure of the Sibylline productions. The writer evidently intends to unfold the fortunes of a long succession of emperors and conquerors. He gives the initial letter of the name of each, and suggests other ways of identification. But his descriptions are so wide of the historical figures that they cannot be safely identified. The period portrayed is generally the late Roman and possibly the early Byzantine.

Literary questions.—The a hove division into books was made in the 6th cent. of the Christian era (during the reign of Justinian). Whoever made it is also responsible for the collection of the oracles from various sources, and the insertion of certain verses of his own among them. It has been conjectured that he was a literary monastic and expert transcriber of manuscripts. Before his time the verses were circulated in a rude, undigested mass. The task of unravelling the confusion, which does not seem to have disturbed him, and of rearranging the material according to authorship and date of origin, is a very complex one, and not as yet fully accomplished. This much is evident, however, that there are four classes of utterances in the oracles: (1) those which issue from a Jewish source; (2) those which come from a Christian; (3) those which are of heathen origin; and (4) neutral elements. The last of these adds very much to the difficulty of the critical problem. The heathen elements are not very extensive, and attach themselves in general to the Jewish. For the rest, the analysis which results from the labours of Ewald and Alexandre may be safely adopted as workable, and is as follows:—

The Sibylline Oracles may be grouped into eight parts, each by a different author and from a different age, as follows—(1) The Prologue of Book I. and Book III., 97–828, belong to the age of Ptolemy Physcon (b.c. 140). They were therefore written by an Alexandrian Jew. They constitute the pith and kernel of the whole collection in point of value for the study of inter-Testamental conditions and modes of thought, and for the times of Jesus. (2) Book IV. was written about a.d. 80. Its author may have been either a Christian or a Jew, with the probability largely in favour of the former alternative. (3) Book V., with the possible exception of the first part, issued from the 1st cent. a.d., and is a mixture of Jewish and Christian fragments impossible to disentangle from each other. (4) Books VI. and VII. (to which Ewald adds the first part of Book V.) date from the early part of the 3rd century. The author was a heretical Christian. (5) Book VIII., 1–360, is also by a Christian, but not a heretic, probably of the middle of the 3rd century. (6) Book VIII. 361–501, is also by an orthodox Christian of the 3rd century. (7) Book I. (without the Prologue), Book II., and Book III. 1–35, come from the middle of the 3rd cent., and are of Christian origin. (8) Books XI., XII., XIII., and XIV. were written by a Jew resident in Egypt, who, however, “lived in Christian times, and is acquainted with some Christian practices. According to this analysis, these oracles cover a period of more than 400 years in their production, and represent a wide variety of types of thought.

Editions.—The first eight books in the original Greek text were published in 1545 at Basel, and subsequently by others up to Angelo Mai (1819 and 1828, Milan). The first complete edition is that of Alexandre (1841, and again 1869). Recent critical editions by Rzach (1891), Geffcken (1902), and Heitz (1903).

Translations.—Latin: Sebastian Castalio (1546), Angelo Mai (1817).—English: Floyer (prose, 1731), M. S. Terry (metrical, 1899).—French: Bouché Leclercq in Revue, de l’Histoire des Religions, vols. vii. 1883, pp. 236–248; viii. 1883, pp. 619–635; ix. 1884, pp. 220–233 (left incomplete).—German: Friedlieb (1852), Blass (of III. IV. and V. in Kautzsch’s Pseudepigr. 1900)

Literature.—(See Englemann, Bibliotheca Seriptorum Classicorum, 1880, i. p. 528); Bleek, ‘Ub. d. Entstehung u. Zusammensetz. d. Sibyl. Or.’ in Theol. Zeitschr., herausg. v. Schleiermacher, de Wette, u. Lücke, i. 1819, pp. 120–246; ii. 1820, pp. 172–239; Hilgenfeld, ‘Die Judische Sibyllen-Weissagung’ in ZWTh, 1860, pp. 313–319; also 1871, pp. 30–50; Ewald, Abhandlung üb. Entstehung, Inhalt u. Wert. d. Sibyll. Bucher, 1858; Laroque, ‘Sur la date du troisieme Livre Sib.’ in Revue Archéolog., 1869, pp. 269–270; Bernhardy, Grundriss der Griech. Litt., iii. (ii. 1, pp. 441–453, 1867); Buresch, ‘Die Pseudosih. Or.’ in Jahrbb. f. Class. Phil. [Note: Philistine.] 1891, pp. 529–555; 1892, pp. 273–308; Friedlander, ‘La Sibylle Juive’ in REJ [Note: EJ Revue des Etudes Juives.] , 1894, pp. 183–196; Harnack, Gesch. d. Altchrist. Litt. i. 762, 861–863; ii. 581–589; Schürer, HJP [Note: JP History of the Jewish People.] ii. iii. 271–292.

4. The Assumption of Moses.—There is some vagueness in the early Patristic references to the Assumption of Moses. Syncellus (ed. Dind. i. 48) mentions an Apocalypse of Moses. Clement of Alexandria (Adumb. in Epist. Jud. [ap. Zahn, Supplementum Clementinum, 84]) and Didymus (Epist. Judae Enarratio [in Gallandi, Bib. Patr. vi. 307]), allude to an Assumptio Moysi. Origen (de Princ, iii. ii. 1) refers to an Adscensio Mosis. In the Acts of the Nicene Synod (Mansi, Sacror. Concil., Nova Collectio, ii. 18, 20) there is mention again of an Assumption of Moses. In other lists of apocrypha, a Testament (Διαθήκη) of Moses is mentioned (Stichometry of Nicephorus and Synopsis of pseudo-Athanasius). It has been argued (by Schürer, followed by Charles) that these two titles represent two separate divisions of one and the same book, or two books fused together in one. The work was lost during the Middle Ages, and recovered by Ceriani in an old Latin version in the Ambrosian Library at Milan in 1861.

Contents.—Moses calls to himself Joshua, the son of Nun, and directs him to preserve his writings (1). He then forecasts the apostasy and distress of the twelve tribes of Israel and their divisions into the ten and two (2), their awakening to consciousness of their sin, their repentance (3), the restoration of the two tribes and the preservation of the ten among the Gentiles (4), their repeated backslidings (5), the tyranny of Herod (6), the prevalence of wicked leaders over them (7), the oppression by the Romans (8), the advent of the Levite Taxo,* [Note: After unsuccessful attempts by many others, a satisfactory explanation of this name has been given by Burkitt (see Hastings’ DB iii. 449b). Taxo is a copyist’s mistake for Taxok—Ταξώκ. And this is to be read by Gematria as Eleazar. אלעור חבסוק. Eleazar the father of seven sons is the great Levite (2 Maccabees 6:19).] who was destined to restore a better state of things among them (9). At this point the author inserts a Psalm of Hope and adds a few concluding words closing the discourse of Moses (10). Joshua then laments over the course of events revealed to him, and refuses to be comforted (11); but Moses urges him to take up his work, and conquer and destroy the Gentiles (12). At this point the book breaks off rather abruptly.

Literary questions.—The Patristic quotations from the Assumption of Moses identify the words of Judges 1:9 as from this book; but as the extant text does not contain the words, it can only he that it is either (1) wrongly entitled, or (2) that the quotation is made from the second part of it which is lost (Schürer), or (3) that two separate works entitled respectively The Testament of Moses and the Assumption (Ascension) of Moses were fused into one (Charles). The last position is most convincingly supported by its advocate, and seems the most probable. The present so-called Assumption of Moses is then the Testament of Moses, bearing within it traces of the addition to it of the original Assumption of Moses.

The text of the book exists in a single Latin manuscript of the 5th (6th) cent. a.d. This is undoubtedly a translation from a Greek text. It has been further conjectured that the Greek itself was a translation of a Hebrew or Aramaic original; but though the advocates of each of these languages, as also of the Greek, strenuously defend each his position, in the absence of definite data nothing can be dogmatically asserted on the point. Hilgenfeld and Drummond favour a Greek original; Ewald argues for a Semitic (either Hebrew or Aramaic); Wieseler and Laogen, for a Hebrew; Hausrath, Schmidt-Merx, Dillmann, Thompson, for an Aramaic.

The author of the work was probably a devout Jew, a Pharisee, and a mystic who does not share but rather aims to defeat the purposes of the Zealots (so Charles, but it has been strenuously maintained that he was a Zealot). The date of the composition is fixed by the allusion to Herod the Great. At the earliest, it must be 44, but various dates down to 138 have been advocated. The design of the author seems to be to teach the lesson that God has foreseen and foreshadowed all things; hence Israel should entertain no fear. A deliverer is to come.

Editions.—Ceriani (Monumenta Sacra et Profana, vol. i. Fasc. 1, pp. 55–64), Hilgenfeld (NT extra Canonem Receptum, 1876, pp. 107–135), Schmidt-Merx (Archiv, i. ii. 1868, p. 111 ff.), Fritzsche (Lib. Apocalypse, Apocalyptic Vet. Test. 1871, pp. 700 to 730), Charles (Assumption of Moses, 1897, pp. 54–101).

Translations.—Greek: Hilgenfeld (attempted restoration from the Latin, Messias Judaeorum, 1869, pp. 435–468).—English: Charles, Assumption of Moses (1897).—German: Volkmar, Mose Prophetie und Himmelfahrt (1867), Clemen in Kautzsch’s Pseudepigr. (1900).

Literature.—Colani, ‘L’Assomption de Moïse’ in Revue de Theol. 1868, pp. 65–94; Wieseler, ‘Die jungst aufgefundene Aufnahme Moses,’ etc., in Jahrbb. f. deutsche Theol. 1868, pp. 622–648; Heidenheim, ‘Beitrage z. besser. Verstaodniss d. Ascensio Mosis’ in Vierteljahrschrift f. deutsche u. englische Theologie, 1874, pp. 216–218; Hilgenfeld, ZWTh, 1886, pp. 132–139; Schürer, HJP [Note: JP History of the Jewish People.] ii. iii. 73–83.

5. Fourth Ezra (Second Esdras).—This pseudepigraph has been known from the earliest Christian days, and widely circulated under the name of Ezra as his second, third, fourth, or fifth book, according to the various ways of grouping and entitling the books that issue from the Restoration generation. (See explanation of these names by Thackeray in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, art. ‘Esdras, First Book of’). Fourth Ezra, however, has come to be generally accepted as the name for it.

Contents.—This is given in seven visions. The First Vision (2 Esdras 3:1 to 2 Esdras 5:19) is granted to Ezra in answer to disturbing doubts arising in his mind. These concern the origin of sin and suffering in the world (2 Esdras 3:1-36). An angel gives him the answer: God’s ways are inscrutable. The human spirit can comprehend but little (2 Esdras 4:1-21). But as he pleads that it is painful to be left in ignorance on such vital matters, he is assured of a change of aeon to take place soon. Definite signs will mark the change. He must fast for seven days, and receive another revelation at the end of that time (2 Esdras 4:22 to 2 Esdras 5:19).

The Second Vision (2 Esdras 5:20 to 2 Esdras 6:34) is granted in answer to the question, Why has God given over His only chosen people into the hands of the heathen? (2 Esdras 5:20-30). He receives the answer that God loves His people, and the problem must be regarded as not solvable for man: nevertheless deliverance is drawing near; the generations of men are passing; the world has become old; the signs of the end are visible (2 Esdras 5:31 to 2 Esdras 6:34).

The Third Vision (2 Esdras 6:35 to 2 Esdras 9:25), like the second, is given after a period of seven days’ fasting, and is in answer to the question, Why does not Israel possess the land which belongs to it? (2 Esdras 6:35-59). The answer is not direct. An evil age must necessarily precede the good that shall be in the future (2 Esdras 7:1-16). The doom of sinners is grievous but well-deserved. The Son of God, the Christ, shall appear in judgment (2 Esdras 7:17-44). Few are chosen, but all the greater is the honour conferred on them (2 Esdras 7:45-70). A sevenfold suffering and a sevenfold joy await men in the intermediate state (7:75–101). Intercession for the condemned will be of no avail at the last judgment (7:102–115), they have deserved their doom (7:118–131). God’s mercy is consistent with the sufferings of the condemned (7:132–8:19). At this point Ezra interposes a prayer and receives an answer (2 Esdras 8:20-45). The saved shall rejoice at their own lot, and forget the sufferings of sinners (2 Esdras 8:46-61). It is certain that the end of the world is nigh. The signs are not to be mistaken (2 Esdras 8:62 to 2 Esdras 9:13). There are more of the lost than of the saved (2 Esdras 9:14-25).

The Fourth Vision (2 Esdras 9:26 to 2 Esdras 10:58) is given upon the Plain of Ardath. It consists of a symbolic picture of Zion’s sorrow, followed by glory. The vision (2 Esdras 9:26 to 2 Esdras 10:28) presents a woman in tattered garments, weeping and wailing because of her lost son. The explanation by the angel (2 Esdras 10:29-58) identities the woman with Zion, and points out the lesson to the seer.

The Fifth Vision (2 Esdras 10:59 to 2 Esdras 12:51) presents the fourth world-empire under the figure of an eagle coming out of the sea, and like the fourth vision falls into two parts, i.e. the Vision (2 Esdras 10:59 to 2 Esdras 12:3) and the interpretation of it by the angel (2 Esdras 12:4-40). This is followed by a Conclusion in story form. The people come out to seek for Ezra, they find him in the plain, and he sends them back into the city (2 Esdras 12:40-51).

The Sixth Vision (2 Esdras 13:1-58) portrays a man emerging out of a stormy sea and floating on a cloudless heaven (2 Esdras 13:1-4). A countless multitude comes to wage war against him; but by a stream of fire proceeding from his mouth he overcomes his enemies (2 Esdras 13:5-11). Then another host of friendly men flock around him (2 Esdras 13:12-13). The question is raised, Is it better to survive to the end of the world or to die beforehand? It is answered in favour of the former alternative (2 Esdras 13:14-24). The explanation of the vision follows. The man in the cloud is the Son of God, the events are those of the Messianic age (2 Esdras 13:25-58).

The Seventh Vision (2 Esdras 14:1-48) is given three days after the sixth, under an oak. This is the familiar legend of Ezra’s restoring the lost Scriptures. But it begins with a command to keep his present vision secret (2 Esdras 14:1-17). A prayer of Ezra follows, in which he beseeches the Lord for the privilege of rewriting the lost Scriptures (2 Esdras 14:17-26). The prayer is answered, and Ezra reproduces the lost books together with seventy others (2 Esdras 14:27-48). The book concludes with an account of Ezra’s decease.

The above does not include chs. 1, 2 and 15, 16, found in the Latin Version, which is the basis of the chapter divisions of the book. The Latin Version has also served as the basis of some current translations into English (The Variorum Apocrypha, by C. J. Ball, and in Wace’s Holy Bible, ‘Apocrypha,’ by Lupton). These four chapters are universally regarded as later additions by a strongly anti-Jewish Christian author, appended respectively to the beginning and end of the Latin Version. The other versions do not contain them. They have been detached and published together as 5th Esdras by Fritzsche (Lib. Apocr. [Note: Apocrypha, Apocryphal.] Vet. Test. ‘Liber Esdrae Quintus,’ pp. 640–653).

Literary questions.—The book is a unity, and comparatively free from interpolations and editorial tampering. The author was a devout man for whom problems of theodicy especially had a considerable fascination, but he is also interested in the broader and more constant questions which recur in the religious sphere with every generation. He naturally looks into his own age, and finds no sign of a restoration to righteousness and recognition of God in the forces that work there. He accordingly plants his hopes in the world to come.<

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Apocalyptic Literature'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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