Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

on a note of utter pessimism, reflecting the evils of the writer's surroundings :

“For the youth of the world is past

And the strength of the creation already exhausted,
And the advent of the times is very short,
Yea, they have passed by;
And the pitcher is near to the cistern,
And the ship to the port,
And the course of the journey to the city,
And life to its consummation.' (LXXXV. 10.)

Note.-S.P.C.K. edition by Charles (1917).

THE GREEK APOCALYPSE OF BARUCH

(III. BARUCH)

THE Greek Apocalypse of Baruch has only recently been translated (1897) by Dr. M. R. James from a MS. discovered in the British Museum. It belongs to the early part of the second century, and shows signs, especially in its later part, of having been edited by a Christian writer. It does not bear any close relation to the other Baruch literature, but shows some connection with 1 Enoch. The writer was a Hellenistic Jew, and there is a strong Oriental colour about his speculation. In the latter part the Christian editor, in the vision of the men with baskets, seems to be pointing at the imperfection of the lives and thought of his Jewish opponents.

The Apocalypse relates the journey of Baruch through the five heavens. In the first heaven he sees men with the faces of oxen, and the horns of stags, and the feet of goats, and the haunches of lambs.' These were the builders of the Tower of Babel, and

men like dogs with the feet of stags, the instigators of the building,” who took a gimlet, and sought to pierce the heaven, saying, “Let us see whether it is made of clay, or brass, or iron.” In the second Baruch sees Hades and the dragon, who eats the bodies of evillivers, and the tree which led Adam astray. This was the vine planted by Sammael (Satan). In the third he sees the chariot of the sun drawn by forty angels. The Phoenix circles round it, protecting the earth from the sun's rays with the screen of its wings. This wonderful bird lives on manna and dew, and when the angels open the three hundred and sixty-five gates of heaven, it awakens all the cocks on earth with its cry. At evening it stands exhausted with drooping wings, when the angels take away the weary sun's crown to renew it for its next journey; it needs renewal because of the wickedness of men that it has to behold. He also sees the moon, which wanes because of God's anger with her, in that she increased in light when Satan put on the serpent's form; the moon and stars shine by night, when the sun is absent, just as courtiers speak freely only when the king retires. In the fourth the souls of the righteous gather like birds around a pool. In the fifth Michael comes down to the gate of heaven to receive the prayers of man. He holds a deep vessel, in which he carries the merits of the righteous up to God. Men bring their merits in the form of flowers, some of their baskets are full, some half-full, and some empty. Michael rewards the first two classes with oil, and warns the third of coming judgement.

The chief characteristics of the book seem to be its naïve childishness and accumulation of marvels. Its doctrine of the mediation of the angels, and of the transcendence of God has a gnostic tinge, and is very pronounced. The ethical force of the vision of the men with baskets is stripped of its power, if it is only a piece of religious polemic.

As a whole, 3 Baruch takes but a low place among the Apocalypses.

Note.-Most accessible in Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Vol. II. (Maldwyn Hughes).

THE FOURTH BOOK OF EZRA

THE Fourth Book of Ezra is 2 Esdras of our official Apocrypha. It is therefore better known in the Church than the other apocalyptic writings. It is also one of the most interesting, lofty, and deep apocalypses, and presents the spirit of Judaism in a most attractive light. Indeed, it is the writing of one anxiously revolving the enigmas that Christ came to solve, one like St. Paul in outlook, but who has not taken St. Paul's step out of darkness into light.

The book is preserved in Latin, and in Oriental versions. All these are derived from the Greek. And modern scholars may be said to be agreed that this came from a Hebrew original.

Chapters iii.-xiv. are the original and important part of the book, the Apocalypse proper. Most modern editors since Kabisch (1889) regard these chapters as a composite document, made up of at least five earlier portions : i.e. (i.) The First four Visions (Salathiel Apocalypse); (ii.) The Eagle Vision; (iii.) The Son of Man Vision ; (iv.) The Ezra Legend, and (v.) Extracts from an old Ezra Apocalypse.

In any case chapters i. and ii. are a Christian Introduction, and the last two chapters a later piece of Jewish invective. With regard to the date Canon Box places the final editing of chapters iii. xiv. between A.D. 100 and 135; the date of the Salathiel portion A.D. 100; of the Eagle Vision A.D. 81–96, or quite possibly A.D. 69-79; of the Son of Man Vísion before A.D. 70; the Ezra Legend after A.D. 70; and the old Ezra portion before that date. Its first publication was in the same period as 2 Baruch, to which God's ways.

it is very similar in some respects. The Introduction and Appendix are considerably later.

The book consists of Seven Visions, of which the following is a brief account:

First Vision, iii. I-V. 13. In the year 558 B.C. Ezra asks God of the justice of the Captivity and Fall of Zion. The angel Uriel sets forth the unsearchableness of God's ways; only a short time remains before the end; the signs are described.

Second Vision, v. 14-vi. 34. Similar teaching of man's weak powers, and the coming justification of

Third Vision, vi. 35-ix. 25. The chief subject is the fewness of the saved, which moves Ezra's compassion intensely. He intercedes for the human race.

This section contains a fragment of 69 verses, which appears in our Revised Version, but not in the Authorized Version. It is missing from most of the Latin codices, and was recovered by Bensly. It fills the gap between verses 35 and 36 of the text of the Vulgate, and deals with the Resurrection and Final Judgement, and the state of the soul in the Intermediate state.

Fourth Vision, ix. 26–x. 59. A woman who has lost her only son converses with Ezra. She vanishes, and in her place he sees a city. He learns that she represents Zion.

Fifth Vision, x. 60-xii. 39. The Vision of the Eagle with three heads, and twelve wings, that is destroyed by a Lion. He is told it is the fourth kingdom seen by Daniel (i.e. the Roman power) to be destroyed by the Messiah.

Sixth Vision, xii. 40-xiii. 58. The Vision of the Messiah, who destroys his foes with his word alone, and then welcomes a peaceful multitude, i.e. the ten tribes.

Seventh Vision, xiv. 1-48. Ezra, warned of his translation, prays for the people, left without teacher or Law. God bids him bring five scribes, and gives him a wonderful drink, which enables him to dictate

[ocr errors]
« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »