Minutes for the Seminar on Early Christian Apocalyptic

Religious Studies 535, University of Pennsylvania, Fall 2005,  Robert A. Kraft

Week #01 -- 13 September 2005 -- by Caroline Kelly
Week #02 -- 20 September 2005 -- by Sevile George Mannickarottu
Week #03 -- 27 September 2005 -- by D. Kristine (Kat) Korzow
Week #04 --  04 October 2005 -- by Liz Rosado
Week #05 --  11 October 2005 -- by Adam P. Moore
18 October -- Fall break
Week #06 --  25 October 2005 -- by Alysha C. Hoven
Week #07 --  01 November 2005 -- by  Adrian (Charles) Austin
Week #08 --  08 November 2005 -- by Galina Movshovich
Week #09 --  15 November 2005 -- by Christine M. Myers
Week #10 --  22 November 2005 --
by Caroline Kelly
Week #11 --  29 November 2005 -- class postponed
Week #11 --  06 December 2005 -- submitted by ...

Week #12 --  13 December 2005 -- submitted by ...

Week #01 -- 13 September 2005 -- submitted by Caroline Kelly

The first half of class was devoted to a review of the requirements. These include:

1) preparation of the weekly focus questions
2) taking class minutes -- schedule TBA;    
3) a book review (or approved alternative) -- an oral report on a work of current scholarship on the subject of apocalypticism (book to be cleared with the professor prior to the report), accompanied by a 3-5 page written summation
4) research paper of approximately 5,000 words (15 printed pages)
5) an exit interview -- i.e., an oral exam, covering both the term paper and general knowledge of the course.

Next we turned to a discussion of current bibliographies. For primary sources, Professor Kraft recommends Mitchell G. Reddish, ed., Apocalyptic Literature: A Reader,
James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol 1: Apocalyptic Literature & Testaments, and
the Hennecke-Schneemelcher  Apocryphal New Testament.

A good secondary source for general background information is Bart Ehrman's The New Testament: a Historical Introduction (now in a third edition, 2004).
A more advanced overview can be found in Helmut Koester's Introduction to the New Testament.
For a more narrow focus, Professor Kraft recommends volume 14 of the journal Semeia (Apocalyptic: The Morphology of a Genre) and John Collins' The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature. Despite the title, Collins' book will be relevant since many Jewish apocalypses come to us through Christian transmission.

This course will cover the early period of Christian history, up until about 325 CE, when the official recognition of Christianity granted by the Roman emperor Constantine in 313 led to the Council of Nicea. As we proceed, we will pay close attention to questions of method -- that is, how we know what we think we know. "Apocalyptic" warnings and expectations reoccur throughout history, with each succeeding generation reinterpreting apocalyptic traditions in the light of present circumstances. We will explore this process in the early period, including the appropriation and adaptation of Jewish apocalyptic by Christians.

Next, we looked at Felix Just's website on apocalypse to identify problematic terms and definitions, including  the distinction between "eschatology" (a concern with the end times) and "apocalyptic" (a special focus within eschatology). Not all apocalypses (the term apocalypse is Greek for "revelation") are eschatological but in this class we will tend to focus on those that are. A chronological distinction can also be seen within the genre. Earlier apocalypses tend to be "cosmic," that is, they deal with the end of the world as a whole including such things as signs in nature and battlefield confrontations. Later apocalypses tend to focus more on the fate of  individuals in the afterlife.  Another tricky term is "prophecy." This Greek term (from pro-before and fasis-to speak) is multivalent, meaning either to predict or to proclaim. In Christian circles it was used in both senses. "Parousia," literally meaning presence, usually refers to the expected return of Jesus in the future. "Armegeddon" is a Hebrew term referring to the Mount of Meggido, the site of a large plain in Israel/Palestine conducive to military battles. It was thought that the final battle between good and evil would occur there. "Millennium" literally means 1,000 years. It is used in the context of a 1,000 year period of peace which, as reflected in the book of Revelation, is expected to occur either before the final time of tribulation or after its completion.

Turning to the focus question of the week, Professor Kraft discussed the difference between apocalyptic content and the apocalyptic genre. Apocalyptic images or connections present in the genre may also appear in texts which are not themselves apocalypses.

We ended class with a brief overview of early Christian history. The "apostolic age" refers to the age of the "apostles," a term with various possible meanings, but in this instance referring to Jesus' immediate circle of followers, "the 12." The apostolic age ends around 70CE, with the fall of Jerusalem. This occurred during the first Jewish Revolt against Rome, a confrontation involving the future emperors Vespasian and his son Titus, and also the Jewish general and historian Josephus.  Already in the year 39 CE the emperor Caligula declared himself to be a deity and ordered his statue to be set up in every temple in the Empire. When the Jewish leadership balked, he threatened to impose his will by force. Caligula died before his commands could be carried out but further incidents between Romans and Jews followed which eventually culminated in open rebellion. Jewish hopes for a rebuilt temple survived until the second Jewish Revolt, led by Simeon Bar Koseba, from about 132 to 135CE. Simeon took the name "Bar Kochba" for himself which means Son of the Star. The messianic character of this leader is characteristic of the age. In both revolts, messianic hopes and apocalyptic expectations abounded. Jewish scripture and tradition fanned hopes for deliverance. In the first Revolt, Josephus mentions the "sicarii" (dagger wielders) and the "zealots" (fanatics), violent Jewish rebels who hoped to assist God's expected victory through human means.

 The first revolt resulted in a special Jewish tax levied by the Romans. Professor Kraft speculates that this unpleasant reality may have influenced those Christian Jews sitting "on the fence" to definitively dissociate from Judaism.

After 135CE, the Roman emperor Hadrian forbade Jews to live in Jerusalem and he dedicated the temple site  to Jupiter, renaming the city Aelia Capitolina. Christian leadership in Jerusalem prior to this date had been Jewish according to the early Christian historian Eusebius (early 4th century). But with the expulsion of the Jews, this would change to "uncircumcised" (gentile) leaders.

In the "subapostlic age," or the age of the "apostolic fathers," apocalyptic ideas continued to be produced in Christian circles. The Didache, a manual for church conduct, ends with an apocalyptic section. Montanist, Gnostic, and Jewish-Christian groups in this period all produce/use apocalyptic texts or use apocalyptic language.

For next week, we will consider apocalyptic ideas such "the last judgment." Who is the judge? Who is being judged? How does the process of judgment of work?

Week #02 -- 20 September 2005 -- submitted by Sevile George Mannickarottu

This session we discussed the focus questions 1a, 1b (newly added) and 2.

- We looked again at Felix Just's apocalyptic page, the location of which had changed over the course of the week, as a starting point for discussing definitions and distinctions such as apocalypticism as a way of expressing eschatological expectations and apocalyptic writings as a genre or literary form.

Apocalypse as a genre (writings called "apocalypses," recounting revelational experiences) may not necessarily contain material relating to the end times. That is, you may not find "apocalyptic" (eschatological focus) content within all representatives of the genre, and you also can find apocalyptic content outside the genre.

Eschatology is a central element for understanding early Christianity.  Most scholars say that Jesus proclaimed the immanent end of the world.  Paul continued this idea.  What would this eschatological message have meant to a Greek who had not been exposed to such Jewish ideas?

"Realized eschatology" is the belief that the end time has already begun.  For many early Christians, the end times began with the resurrection of Jesus, proving him to be the expected Messiah (Greek "Christ").  For Paul, God had set up the world, and the world was well on its way to ending as was planned.

What is the difference between eschatological and apocalyptical writings?  Generally speaking, eschatological is a superset of apocalyptic.  An example of simple eschatology would be to say, "the Messiah is coming."  Apocalyptic (eschatology) would be more graphic, such as "the Messiah is coming with angels with great power in order to smite evil doers and judge humankind."

The Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke, in the Christian "New Testament" anthology) depict Joshua/Jesus as speaking of the end times, in what is known as the "Little Apocalypse."  We looked at the Bible Parallels website to see Mark 13, and from there to easily access the parallel passages in Matthew 24 and Luke 25.  We did not look at the differences in the passages, but they are worth comparing.

"Q-material" is the  material common to Matthew and Luke but not in Mark.  It is almost entirely made up of sayings attributed to Joshua/Jesus.  Some modern scholars of Q material say that in its earliest form, it had no apocalyptic material.  Most scholars also think that Mark is the earliest of the canonical gospels.

The earliest preserved Christian writings are those of Paul (ie. the authentic letters of Paul, from around 50-55 CE), as per most scholars.  Traditions concerning Jesus/Joshua (as his mother probably called him) as we have them in the various "gospels" were probably written later (from around 70 CE onward), although they refer to an earlier period. The "Jesus traditions" also reflect the linguistic move from Aramaic (and/or Hebrew) to Greek as the "Jesus movement(s)" moved out of semitic settings.
- Some things about Jewish and Christian writings during our period of study -

The term "Jewish scriptures" is preferred to "Old Testament" or even "Hebrew Bible," since "Old Testament" is a Christian term and "Hebrew Bible" is somewhat inaccurate, since the canonical Jewish scriptures include sections in Aramaic as well. Also Jewish authorities authorized the scriptural writings that became their "Bible," although the process continued well after the start of "Christianity," creating some complications regarding content. Thus there are Jewish writings that are included in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox "Old Testament" collections that are not included in Jewish scriptures or in the Protestant Old Testament. These are sometimes referred to as  "the Apocrypha" (which means "hidden things"), especially by Protestants, or as "Deuterocanonical," which means "secondary canonical works," especially by Roman Catholic (and Eastern Orthodox?) Christians.

For other similar writings not included in traditional Bibles (with some exceptions, of course), the term "parabiblical" is the "new kid on the block."  It is the preferred term by some (such as RAK) for works that resemble (in various ways) "biblical," but are not in traditional Jewish or Christian canons.  The term, being new, does not carry the historical baggage that other terms bear.

An alternate term, "pseudepigripha" (pseud = false / epigripha = writings) refers to writings that circulated under a pseudonym, ie. falsely ascribed writings. Many of  the "parabiblical" texts fit this definition, and "pseudepigrapha" came to be a catch-all term for what we wll call "parabiblical."

New Testament writings include gospels (about Jesus), acts (about the companions of Jesus), letters (by early Christian representatives) and the apocalypse.  Parabiblical Christian materials mostly fall into these categories.

Much of the biblical and parabiblical material is preserved only in late medieval Christian manuscripts in variouis languages.  It is difficult to determine when it originated.  For example, Paul wrote around 50 CE, but the earliest extant  manuscript is from the late 2nd century, while most of them are much later.  From the material, it is difficult to determine exactly what Paul actually wrote, and what his followers and transmitters may have contributed in his name.  Another example is 2nd Enoch, which is preserved only in Old Church Slavic ("Slavonic"), and not even in the  presumed Greek translation made from its original Hebrew or Aramaic.  Translation is therefore another issue.  For example, Joshua/Jesus probably spoke Aramaic or Hebrew, yet the surviving Gospels are in Greek.

Late in the first century, the codex format was introduced as a new technology for book production, as an alternative to the scroll.  Books as we know them are codices, permitting works to be larger than was practical with a scroll, among other advantages.  The practical size limit for biblical works was doubtless due to maximum scroll size.  By  the 4th century, the codex technology was sufficiently developed to accommodate entire Christian Bibles. Thus one could speak of the Bible as one book, physically as well as conceptually. This development probably affected people's ideas about biblical authority as well as firming up the content. Neverthless, even throughout the later centuries before the advent of the printing press, complete Bibles were the exception rather than the rule.

- What are four examples of collections of works that have apocalyptic writings?

1. Nag Hammadi Library = It is a collection of works found around 1946 near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, containing 4th century copies of Christian writings in the Coptic language.  Most of these writings can be called "Gnostic," which refers to "special knowledge" claimed by various groups of Christians that came to be condemned as "heretical."  There are approximately 46 separate documents, and about 52 documents in total (counting duplicates).  Some bear the word "apocalypse" within the title.  However, content-wise, there's not much apocalyptic material in them, which due to the gnostic distain for history and the material world.

2. Parabiblical Jewish writings, such as "1 Enoch."   Enoch gets taken up into heaven and sees the heavenly tablets on which is recorded all that has or will happen.

3. Dead Sea Scrolls = They are over 800 different manuscripts (mostly fragmentary) found in the late 40s near Qumran in Palestine.  An example of apocalyptic writing from this collection is the "War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness."

4. Writings of the Apostolic Fathers = These are the writings of the next generation of Christians after the New Testament period.  An example of an apocalypse would be the "Shepherd of Hermas."  This work, however, is a non-eschatological apocalyptic in content..

- Were there Christian critics of "apocalypticism" in the early period?  Definitely in the 2nd century, maybe in the first.
- An example of an early apocalyptic Christian group that came to be marginalized by the mainstream:

Montanists = They were a group of apocalyptic Christians that were around during the mid 2nd century.  At least two of the "apostles" with Montanus were women.  Montanus and the women would speak in the name of God or Jesus, "I am God's lyre, he plays me as he wishes."

Tertullian, a Christian proto-orthodox apologist who wrote in Latin became a Montanist around the year 200.  He was a lawyer who defended his claims with the words, "I believe because it is [rationally] ridiculous."  He argued that Enoch should be included in the Christian scriptures.

- Some different types of focus of apocalypticism include the last judgment, cosmic signs and the overthrowing of evil empires (the battle of Armageddon -- see week one, above).

We used the Bible Gateway to look at a key apocalyptic passage in the Book of Daniel, in the Jewish scriptures.  This site does not provide all of the English translations of the Bible, specifically, the preferred RSV or NRSV.  We used the American Standard Version, which is quite "literal" in its renderings. The American Standard Version of the Bible is based on the 1881 English (British) Standard Version, itself an update of the old Authorized ("King James") Version.  In 1901 it was edited for American use.

Daniel contains both Hebrew and Aramaic.  We looked at Chapter 7, which dealt with the Dreams of four Beasts.  It uses "horns," which is later developed in 4 Ezra (aka "2 Esdras" in RSV/NRSV, etc.).  Verses 9-10 have a judgment scene.  Verses 13-14 speak of "one like a son of man."  The "Ancient of Days" seems to represent God.  The four beasts are later explained as representing kingdoms.  The beasts made war with the saints, until judgment came.  The fourth beast had ten horns representing 10 kings.  The 10th king is believed by some to be Antiochus Epiphanes, who impressed Greek culture and religion on the Hebrews  (amongst other things, he brought Greek statues of gods into the Jewish Temple) in the early 2nd century, causing the Maccabean/Hasmonean revolt (168 BCE).  The book presents itself as having been written during Belshazzar of Babylon's rule (5th century BCE; Daniel 7:1), before Alexander the Great appears on the scene of history 200 years later, but its descriptions of events point toward final composition (or editing) on the eve of the Maccabean revolt.

Later apocalyptic writers will pick up themes from Daniel constantly.  The similar horns in the Revelation of John have been reinterpreted to represent Roman kings, it seems.

Much apocalyptic material has humans or angels as witnesses to the judgment (as in Daniel 7).  However, there is also earlier material in Jewish scriptures where the judge (God) calls the mountains, the earth or cosmic bodies to testify (the "RIV gattung").

Other apocalyptic imagery to watch for includes geography (Armageddon = what is the battle scene like? Montanists expected Jerusalem to descend on Asia Minor) and even direction (Messiah/Christ comes from the "east" in some descriptions, the "Kittim" from the sea to the west). These sorts of things can make interesting research paper topics.

Week #03 -- 27 September 2005 -- submitted by D. Kristine (Kat) Korzow

NOTE: five tangents to the main discussion are placed at the end of the first section and not where they actually occurred.

There were two main topics that were talked about in class:
1. The significant events for early Christianity's development of apocalyptic ideas
2. The Little Apocalypse of Mark 13 and parallels

Some significant events influencing Christianity's apocalyptic ideas:

1. The destruction of the Temple in 70 ce under the emperor Vespasian's  son (and eventual successor) Titus, during the first revolt of the Palestinian Jews against Rome.

      Some history surrounding this event.  Nero dies in 68.  (Some people thought that he didn't die but went into hiding and felt scared by the fact that he might someday return from a self imposed exile in the Parthian empire and rain his terror again on the Roman empire.) There were then three brief claimants to the emperorship.  The next stable emperor was  Vespasian who was the general besieging Jerusalem at the time his supporters in the military claimed the position for him in Rome.  He left the siege in the hands of his son Titus who had at the time a Jewish girlfriend (Berenike), but she is off the scene by the time Titus himself becomes emperor.  Vespasian begins the line of the Flavian emperors (replacing the previous line of Julians).

2. The second revolt of the Palestinian Jews which resulted in the Jews being expelled from Jerusalem.

      Some history surrounding this event.  Hadrian is emperor at the time. The Jewish leader (Ben Kosiba) styles himself "Bar Kokhba" - son of the star.  He builds himself up based on prophecy from Jewish scripture (see Numbers 24.17)and identifies himself as a prefigured person who would reestablish Jewish independence.  After his death/failure he is identified as a "Messianic pretender."

3. The crucifixion of Jesus

      Sources inherited by or developed by the authors of early Christian "gospels" present ways for working through and dealing with the death of Jesus.  A major problem in the study of Jesus is the question, "What/Who did his earliest followers think Jesus was?  How did he fit into their expectations?"  Preserved New Testament sources give an eschatological viewpoint, reflecting adjustments made in the light of his death and alleged resurrection.  These New Testament writings that we inherit about Jesus' life and teachings are thus filtered through eschatological expectations; Jesus is the expected "Messiah" and will return to finish up the eschatological plan.  We also have some evidence for other early sources that were more focused on Jesus as a prophet and/or a social reformer, or have other focuses.  An example of this sort of filter may be present in Matthew 5-7 (the "sermon on the mount") where Jesus teaches his disciples how to live in relation to the "Kingdom of God."  Thus the ethical teachings are viewed in the context of the eschatological expectation. The Gospel of Thomas presents similar teachings without such an emphasis on eschatology.

4. Nero's persecution of the Christians

      Nero didn't have the Colosseum (built by the Flavians), so he couldn't throw them to the lions, well at least not there, but he came up with (among others) the flaming torch method of persecution -- and of lighting his gardens, according to the Roman historian Tacitus (who was no fan of Nero).

5. Domitian's persecution of the Christians

      Domitian was Roman emperor from 81-96.  Some consider "1 Clement" to be written around the time of this persecution (perhaps also "1 Peter").

Five Tangents

1. Philo's "allegorical" interpretations of the laws and Jewish scriptures

      Philo is an Alexandrian Jew who was a contemporary of Jesus and Paul who often interprets scriptural passages or persons as symbols of something else (thus "allegory").  We lose sight of Philo in the middle of the first century, after his tractate on the Alexandrian Jewish embassy to the Roman emperor Gaius Caligula (died in 41 ce), of which he was part, but he probably lived longer.  He interpreted scriptures from a Platonic viewpoint and reflects the notion that ideas are the supreme reality and material reality is only important as it reflects the world of ideas. Within Judaism, Philo sees himself in the middle between literalists and people who feel that when the true (symbolic) meaning of a law is discovered, there is no longer any need to keep the literal law. For his use of allegory. he is often called a philosopher of Judaism, but since he usually looks for meanings that relate to human motivations, he could also be called a psychologist of Judaism.  Many Christians also took a symbolic view of many of the laws in the Jewish scriptures.  For example true circumcision was seen not as a physical rite, but as correct understanding (circumcised hearing) and/or actions (walking the middle way, cutting off excesses).  In addition, baptism took the place of an initiation rite for Christians.

      Philo's nephew, Tiberius Julius Alexander, rose to a high position in the Roman army and also was appointed governor of Alexandria and Egypt under Nero.  He supported Vespasian and became one of the leading generals under Titus at the siege of Jerusalem.

      Philo's brother Alexander was a keeper of the lands held by Claudius' mother (Antonia Drusus) and was thought to be involved in customs, taxes, trade and the like in Alexandria and Egypt.

2. Rabbinic Judaism

      What is called Rabbinic Judaism is a development that came to dominate in the semitic speaking Jewish world of the 4th -5th centuries and produced collections of its teachings in the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds.  This occured in the same period as Christian Orthodoxy emerges under Constantine and his successors.  Before this in both Judaism and Christianity there was much greater variety. Rabbinic Judaism is mostly semitic in its developments and writings.  At the same time there were communities of Greek speaking Jews (often labeled as "Hellenistic" Jews, but this is too vague a term) which also had a wide range of beliefs.  There were also Latin speaking Jews, but they have not left us much evidence..

3. Apocalyptic Judaism?

      Some claim that this was an identifiable group within early Judaism.  Dr. Kraft says that he feels no single group existed, although certain groups clearly embraced apocalyptic ideas.  In this category are probably the Dead Sea Scroll group, often identified with the Essenes described by Philo and Josephus.  The groups of Judaism mentioned in Josephus and the New Testament are the Pharisees, Saducees, Zealots, and Essenes (not in NT).  The Zealots are described as coming out of a group who followed Judas of Galilee around 6 ce.  However later they are identified as associated with the terroristic Sicarii (dagger carriers/users) in the first revolt.  All of these groups are described in a Palestinian framework.  Phio describes a group near Alexandria, called "Therapeutae," which sounds like the Essenes in a Greek context.

4. Christians

      Some questions:  When did the followers of Jesus come to be called "Christian"?  Was this positive or negative?  Although it is a Latin term this does not necessarily mean anything useful in tracing its origin.  Acts, which uses older materials and reports on the "first use" of "Christians" (Acts 11.26), contains many names probably used by or given to early Christians.

5. Eusebius of Caesarea

      He lives and works around the time of the council of Nicea in 325.  He in fact attended the council.  He is a fan of Constantine.  He puts together a history of the church.  He is one of the earliest authors to publish Christian works after Christianity has become legitimate under Constantine.  He writes three major works which record many quotes and sources from his time and earlier.
1. Church History (Historia Ecclesiastica)
2. Proof of the Gospels (Preparatio Evangelica)
3. Demonstration of the Gospels (Demonstratio Evangelica)
The latter two works use quotes from earlier authors to show how Jesus' mission fulfils earlier hopes and expectations.

The Little Apocalypse (Mark 13, Matthew 24-25, Luke 21)

Synoptic source criticism.  Although there is a relatively simple way (the "four source" theory which we will use) to explain how the texts of the synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke) relate to each other we don't believe in Occam's razor for this sort of situation and thus suspect a more more complicated reality for how the three gospels are linked.  What we will use is that Mark was written first and Matthew and Luke had Mark and another source called "Q" (Quelle, Sayings Source) as well as their own special sources ("M" for Matthew, "L" for Luke).

We looked at the Gospel Parallels site to compare the three books.  We looked at each section.

1. Prediction of the Destruction of the Temple
      The setting is the last days of Jesus.  The question is basically similar.
      Mark - more specific in giving names of who asked
      Matthew - disciples are generalized
      Luke - not even necessarily the disciples who asked the question

2. The Signs of Parousia
      Mark - says "I am he" - who is he?
            "birth pangs" - probably an allusion to the Jewish idea the end times are like a pregnant woman
      Matthew - says "I am the Christ"
            Also mentions "birth pangs"
      Luke - says "I am he"
            is a little more detailed
            does not mention birth pangs

2.1 Beginnings of Troubles
      Mark - suggests it was written after persecution of  Christians had taken place
            detailed about where - councils and synagogues
            gives specific details
            spirit will tell you
      Matthew - more global references, less Jewish are bad
            takes out synagogues
            very general compared to Mark
      Luke - synagogues and prisons
            Jesus speaking "I will tell you the details" not the spirit as in Mark
            very close to Mark with a little extra stuff

2.2 Desolating Sacrilege
      This section is working off of images found also in the book of Daniel
      Mark - DS set up where "it" ought not to be
            seems that his audience knows something that we don't because he doesn't give details
            if you are able, flee; but if you are on your house don't come down - seems contradictory
      Matthew - actually footnotes Daniel by name, refers to a "him" set up where it shouldn't be
            may it not be in winter or on the Sabbath - religious connotations of Judaism
            very similar to Mark
      Luke - Jerusalem surrounded by armies! - very specific reference
            tells everyone to flee - removes difficulty of coming down from house
            times of the Gentiles are to be fulfilled
            plays into escatological expectations

Matthew seems to be writing for a more Jewish audience.  In addition to the stuff seen above (e.g. "Sabbath" reference) he uses the "Kingdom of Heavens" which circumvents making direct reference to God.  None of the other early authors do this (they say "Kingdom of God").

Next week we will continue on the Little Apocalypse 

Week #04 --  04 October 2005 -- submitted by Liz Rosado

Class began with some general housekeeping.

1) Note taking: Assignments were made as listed in this file.

2) Paper topics:

Paper topics should be discussed with Kraft by the 6th week of the course (end of Fall Break is a good deadline). Paper topics should fit the scope of the course and also be "do-able."

Some paper ideas were shared by students. Adam is interested in the "preterite" approach to apocalyptic details which  posits that predictions, such as found in Revelation and Daniel, have already been fulfilled in history (i.e. they are not still future). This raises the question of the extent to which "predictions" actually have been made after the events ("vaticinium ex eventu").

Christine is interested in the affect the philosophies of Plato and the pre-Socratics had on the NT and early Christianity. For our purposes, perhaps the Stoic ideas about cosmic conflagration deserve exploration.

3) Philo -- Paul connection?

This brought us to the email question that Christine raised concerning Philo's association with early Christians. The short answer is "No" -- there was no dialogue between Philo and early Christians. The long answer includes recognizing that Eusebius\1/ reports a tradition that Philo and Peter met in Rome (see Eusebius, Church History 2.16-17).

\1/  Eusebius was an early forth century figure who is remembered for recording the history of the early Christian Church. He is to early Christianity what Josephus is to early Judaism.

The tradition that Philo had Christian associations stems from certain interpretations of Philo's work On the Contemplative Life. This work deals with a religious community known as the Therapeutae, which Eusebius claims were a Christian monastic group. Because of this claim some scholars have argued that On the Contemplative Life is not an authentic work of Philo. But the modern consensus is that the work is indeed that of Philo, and that the Therapeutae are not a Christian monastic group but rather a Jewish religious community. On the Contemplative Life is believed to be Philo's own work because there are no obvious differences in language between it and his other acknowledged works. The identity of the Therapeutae as a Jewish group and not a Christian group is reinforced by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, which helped increase awareness of the varieties of Jewish groups in Philo's day (especially the "Essenes," which are described by Philo in terms similar to his description of the "Therapeutae").

4) Hebrews, Paul, and Philo (on the similar issue of determining authorship)

Discussion on the authorship of Hebrews. In the New Testament collection, the author of Hebrews comes closest to reflecting Philo, but the author of Hebrews is NOT Paul (though it may have begun to be attributed to Paul around the middle of the 2nd century). Some have argued that the author of Hebrews may have been Apollos (see Acts 18.24) or  even Priscilla, the wife of Aquila (see Acts 18). The notion that Paul did not author Hebrews was recognized early on by Origen. Origen believed that the ideas in Hebrews were Pauline, but not the language -- he concluded "who wrote it, God only knows."

STUDENT QUESTION: When is Hebrews dated?
A: The latter part of the first century. About 70-100 CE; possibly a bit earlier (if the Jerusalem Temple is still standing), but not much later [see 1 Clement for similar language].

STUDENT QUESTION: When is Paul's death dated?
A: 64-67 CE. 62 at the earliest, 68 at the latest.

The window of time for Paul's death is determined by several methods: the traditions of Eusebius and other early Christian writers, writings such as The Acts of Paul\2/ and The Acts of Peter, and historical events. There is a tradition that Paul died in the aftermath of the fire of Rome (64 C.E.). Paul most likely died under the reign of Nero which puts the latest point ("terminus ad quem") at 68 CE. The earliest date ("terminus a quo") of 62 CE is based on the presentation at the end of the canonical book of Acts. The date of Paul's death is often placed as late in Nero's reign as possible (67-68), which makes it easier to attribute the Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) to him.

\2/  The Acts of Paul also includes a story of Paul's influence on a young virgin named Thecla, who eventually follows him around and finally takes up a monastic life.

5) What did Paul actually write? Various alternative approaches:
\5/ The Muratorian Fragment is the oldest known list of New Testament books. It was discovered by Ludovico Antonio Muratori in the mid 18th century but probably dates back to the late 2nd or early 3rd century. It is sometimes called the "Muratorian canon."

6) The Little Apocalypse -- Gospel Parallels

7) A Look at "1 Enoch"

"1 Enoch" is not a homogeneous book, but rather a compilation, a library containing several works by different authors. This compilation is made up of at least 5 parts: Book of the Watchers, Parables (or Similitudes), Astronomical Book, Dream Visions (or Animal Apocalypse), and the Epistle of Enoch. These works were written in Hebrew and/or Aramaic but the anthology has been preserved in a Ge'ez (or Ethiopic) translation and is included in Ethiopic Christian scriptures. Tertullian thought highly of 1 Enoch (or at least the Book of the Watchers) and believed that it should be included in the Christian canon. Fragments of this Enoch literature have now been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, and some sections are also preserved in Greek translation.

The Book of the Watchers contains a detailed story of the fall of the angels (1 Enoch 6-9). A shorter version of this tradition is also found in Genesis 6.1-4. 1 Enoch probably reflects the older and fuller form of the tradition which is summarized in Genesis. However, earlier scholarship usually claimed that Genesis is older and that the Book of the Watchers develops the content of Genesis 6.1-4.

This story also raises the question of whether sin was thought to have originated in Eden or with the fall of the angels.

8) Next Class

Continue our look at the Book of the Watchers as well as the Parables/Similitudes (1 Enoch 37-71). We will discuss the "Son of Man" language in the Similitudes, among other themes. The imagery of the Animal Apocalypse (Dream Visions) is also quite engaging as another way of presenting apocalyptic ideas.

Week #05 --  11 October 2005 -- submitted by Adam P. Moore

The class started out with the playful barbing of Liz for a few misspellings. Google is the new bible!

The plan for this class is to spend time discussing the Enoch materials. Christine has a question about the history of Enoch. It is determined that we will look at the backgrounds and foregrounds of these books.

We consulted the BibleGateway resources page for the Book of Jude (ESV). Jude quotes a passage from "Enoch," similar to some things in "1 Enoch."  Since the Enoch materials are noncanonical or parabiblical, there has been debate about what it means for it to have been cited by the canonical book of Jude. There seems to have been a variety of Enoch materials available in antiquity, which can be referred to collectively as an "Enochic corpus" that includes several books (plural) that have survived as well as some that are lost. This is important, and there are other ancient names that acted similarly, as magnets or catalysts for literary productions (e.g. Adam, Moses, Isaiah, Ezra).

The Epistle of Barnabas (4.3) also refers to a book of Enoch, as do the Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs, and some fragments among the Dead Sea Scrolls also contribute to the collection of Enochic traditions.

In Jude 14, Enoch is described as the seventh descendant from Adam, and Genesis 5.22 says that he "walked with God." Genesis says that Enoch lived 365 years and fathered Methuselah (known also from Porgy and Bess, "It Ain't Necessarily So"), then "he was not, for God took him." Tradition says that he was "translated," meaning that he did not die, but was taken up into heaven. Genesis records people living extremely long lives in the early period (before Abraham).

The book of Enoch survived among Ethiopic Christians. Tertullian (c 200 ce) quotes from 1 Enoch in his writing, and says that it should be included in the scriptures (On the Apparel of Women 1.3). When Christians created authoritative "canon lists" from the 4th and 5th centuries onward, Enoch was left out. However, it probably survived (or was rescued) in part because Christians built up a whole literature concerning martyrs and other important people, and memorial days were assigned to each "saint." On their specific day, sources were read about them.

Chronologies also became of interest to Christians and by the 9th century George Syncellus (a secretary to the head of the Church in Constantinople) incorporated sections from the Enoch materials into his work.

"1 Enoch" is a library containing five easily identifiable books, preserved as such in Ge'ez ("Ethiopic").

"2 Enoch" was preserved only in Old Church Slavic (aka "Slavonic").

"3 Enoch" was preserved in medieval Hebrew.

Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, fragments of most of the books of "1 Enoch" have been found. It is clear that in pre-Christian times, many copies of these Enoch texts were in existence and available to the people responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The "1 Enoch" anthology contains various eschatological references such as the "book of life," on which the names of the righteous are recorded. Its separable parts are:

First, "Book of the Watchers" (chs 1-36) -- an old source, which also combines various ancient traditions.

Second, "Parables/Similitudes," containing three such analogies (chs 37-71). This section is most widely commented on by scholars studying the Jesus traditions because of the "Son of Man" imagery. There have been debates on whether it was post or pre-Christian in date.

Third, "The Astronomical Book" (chs 72-82), with its concern about the calendar and the movement of heavenly bodies.

Fourth, "The Dream Visions" (chs 83-90), which we will look at in more detail later.

Fifth, "The Epistle of Enoch" and other materials (chs 91-108), organized as poetic lines. Uses parallelism.

The "Book of the Giants" could have been the original second book, according to J. T. Milik. He argues that since no part of the Similitudes has been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, but we do have fragments of what seems to be the hitherto lost "Book of the Giants," there was an Enochic Pentateuch structure. Mani included the "Book of the Giants" in his competing scriptural collection, which is why it would have been pulled from "1 Enoch" by Christian users, who then (wrote and) substituted the Similitudes. But against this hypothesis on the later and Christian origin of the Similitudes, is the impression that they seem consistent with early (pre-Christian) Jewish material.

Christine asked if it was possible that *Enoch* was not written by Enoch. Dr. Kraft does not think that any scholar believes that Enoch really wrote any of these books. However, Enoch was credited with many firsts, including writing. "He was taken up to read the heavenly tablets." Some scholars date the earliest books of Enoch as early as 300 bce.

When did Enoch live? Bishop Ussher from the 17th century worked out a chronology, which dated the creation of the world to 4004 bce. Using the relative chronology provided in the book of Genesis, Enoch would have lived in the fourth millennium bce (about 3400).

Book of the Watchers:

The opening line sets us up into an eschatological sequence. The good guys are the elect or the chosen, or those still alive when the end comes. The bad people are the wicked and the godless. This book has a feature of predestination throughout. It is visionary, apocalyptic, and transportational. Enoch, that main character, was shown things by angels, not at the end times, but in a position to transmit information to readers for the future. This book sometimes uses poetic couplets. Heavenly beings are referred to as "angels" not "sons of God" as in the Hebrew of Genesis 6.1-4. However, the Greek that has been preserved uses both terms in that passage. Not only do we hear about general angels in the Enochic book, but also archangels. Azazel is the leader of the wicked "sons of heaven," and Enoch does interact with him. Lucifer "light bearer" (Greek Phosphoros, also applied to the "morning star" Venus) does not appear in this book, but the concept of fallen heavenly beings is present. Some have seen allusions to the fall of Satan in Isaiah 14.12ff and Ezekiel 281ff. Enoch is called the "scribe of righteousness." When the giants die, their spirits become the bodiless demons.

There is a possibility that there is a second source evidenced by chapter 14. We discussed the term "etiological" – which means, explaining the cause or reason (from the Greek).

Chapter 17: explains causes of natural occurrences like thunder.

Chapter 20: Tatarus = the underworld; Uriel is over the world and Tartarus; Raphael is over the spirits of men. Raquel takes vengeance on the world of the luminaries. Gabriel is over Paradise and the serpents and Cherubim.

Chapter 22: The world goes from order to chaos.

Chapter 35: Enoch sees the 3 portals (gates) of heaven, through which the heavenly bodies travel.

Book 2: Parables: the "second vision" of Enoch. "The Lord of the Spirits" is a favorite phrase. There are also various themes. Chapter 42 talks about "wisdom who finds no dwelling-place." Wisdom is personified as a woman, which is a parallel to Greek Sophia (see also the books of Proverbs and Sirach).

Chapter 46 speaks of the "Head of Days" and "Son of Man," similar to Daniel 7, but not necessarily derived from Daniel. Son of Man appears to be an important person. The phrase "break the teeth" is mentioned here, and is a favorite idiom of some ancient texts.

Chapter 48 "Son of Man" appears again, and will be a "light to the Gentiles." This passage sounds very Messianic. There is an image of the Son of Man, one who is chosen, hidden, and foretold to appear. We also find the term "son of man" which refers to Enoch as a human being. The editor has used upper and lower case letters (which are not distinguished in ancient writing) to avoid confusing this Enoch with the capitalized spelling which usually is taken to refers to a Messianic figure. Whether the ancient compiler of this material would agree is open to discussion.

The role of the Son of Man figure. The Son of Man seems to be an embodiment of the Lord of Spirits. He appears to have judgment functions (e.g. he casts down kings). This is one way that God is depicted as dealing with the power of evil and its agents.

Next time we will look more closely at the "Animal Apocalypse" in book four (Dream Visions). Try your hand, or head, at decoding it.

Paper topics need to be decided after the fall break, and book review presentations.

18 October -- Fall break

Week #06 --  25 October 2005 -- submitted by Alysha C. Hoven

Class began with general housekeeping:

- Everyone needs to talk with Kraft and decide on a book and time to present for the book reviews.

Research paper topics should also be cleared.

- There was also a note that some of the weekly focus questions have been changed/modified, so take a look at those.

The class discussion mainly revolved around focus questions 5 (Concepts of Jesus, his Origins, and his Relationship to Apocalyptic) and 6 (Jesus as Apocalyptic Revealer). We also discussed the "Jesus Seminar," and looked at some of Paul's writings in reference to Jesus as an apocalyptic figure. Towards the end of class, we looked at Enoch, chapters 85, 89, and 90.

The late Robert Funk founded the "Jesus Seminar" and can be described as perhaps the single most influential biblical scholar of the 2nd half of the 20th century for his earlier accomplishments in the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). During this period, with Robert Funk as secretary, the SBL changed from being made up predominantly of white males in senior academic positions, to a much larger representation of involved people. This was a very successful and influential movement in the SBL for which Funk was primarily responsible.

After his period with the SBL, he began the "Jesus Seminar," which was an attempt to gather scholars and others to discuss the biblical material regarding the teachings (and later the actions) attributed to Jesus. Robert Funk was self-conscious about this becoming a public event. It thus has been an unusual development in the history of scholarly discourse (scholars don't usually seek media attention).

Jesus Seminar: the first order of business for the Jesus Seminar was to look at the "Q" material -- the sayings found primairly in Mathew, Luke, and Thomas. There were early Christians interested in Jesus' sayings, and the Jesus Seminar thoroughly examined each to determine which probably came from Jesus and which were created by his followers for various reasons.

*For the purpose of our class: The general conclusion drawn from by the Jesus Seminar was that in the most probably authentic sayings, Jesus doesn't come across as apocalyptic in orientation (this has led to a lot of discussion among scholars). The book by Bart Ehrman, "Jesus Apocalyptic Prophet of New Millennium," was written largely in response to the Jesus Seminar conclusions.

Jesus seems to have proclaimed that the "kingdom of God" was at hand. But what did this mean to him, or  to his earliest hearers (presumably in Aramaic or Hebrew)? See focus Questions 5 and 6 for further discussion and some relevant texts. E.g. whether Jesus thought of himself as "Son of Man" and what that might have meant to him and to his followers. If such terms and perspectives come from Jesus, it is likely that he can be called a Jewish apocalyptic adherent. If they do not come from Jesus, at least those of his followers who described him with those terms were apocalyptically oriented.

Methodological issues:

-"Son of Man" was also used in non-apocalyptic contexts by "gnostic" Christians to explain interactions of the ultimate deity with the materials created world and humans.

-"Kingdom of God" came to be used non-apocalyptically to refer to the Christian church on earth and its moral and ethical standards.

-Language filter problem in addition to other problems and controversies associated with Jesus' words and his followers -- how much did the ideas change on the trip from semitic speech to Greek transmission?

*For our class purposes: Jesus' followers depicted him as an apocalyptic, regardless of what he may or may not have been.

Paul is our earliest preserved source of "Christian" teachings, and is saturated with apocalyptic ideas that come out in his relatively undisputed letters (Romans, Galatians, and 1 & 2 Corinthians). All of these letters (except perhaps Romans) appear to be addressing situations that Paul had been made aware of, and he was writing to the Christian followers.

Even most of the disputed letters attributed to Paul are also very apocalyptic. The Paul of the book of Acts also sometimes speaks in quasi-apocalyptic language.

Exceptions include "Laodiceans," and the "Prayer of Paul" (found in the Nag Hammadi Gnostic library) -- both are very short and not particularly apocalyptic. The supposed correspondence between Paul and Seneca, a Roman philosopher and a political advisor to Nero, which circulated in Latin during the 4th century, is not very apocalyptic either.

Some examples from the core writings of Paul:

2 Corinthians 4.7-12 "Treasures in Jars of Clay" (moderately-negative concerning the material body). Professor Kraft's Question: What is "apocalyptic" about this passage? Answer: This passage has a very glum feeling. He suffers so much. He talks about qualifications and alludes to end times. You can interpret suffering as good and right, leading to ultimate eternal reward (note verses 16-18). Kraft: elsewhere, Paul includes suffering in his concept of the end times ("Messianic woes").

2 Corinthians 11.1-15 "Paul and the False Apostles":

-When "Christ" appears in Paul's writings, is the referring mainly to Jesus the individual as "Messiah," or to what Paul expected "Messiah" to be even before he had his experience with Jesus? In 11.16, Paul brags about his sufferings as an apostle -how does this make Paul a better servant than the other apostles? Apparently it is linked to his idea that the followers of Jesus constitute some sort of Messianic body ("body of Christ/Messiah") that goes through the apocalyptic suffering stage ("woes of the Messiah").

1 Corinthians 15.12-34 "The Resurrection of the Dead":

-Paul makes the idea of resurrection a central element of his message. Presumably his readers agree that Messiah/Christ was raised, so there is in fact a resurrection. Paul argues from the resurrection of Jesus to the resurrection of those who believe in him (and have somehow shared in his death). Messiah/Christ is seen as the "first fruits of the resurrection," so there will surly be more to come. Here we see the roots of the idea of a "second coming" of Jesus, when his "presence" is realized again in history.

-15.24 "Then comes the end..." -- now apocalyptic ideas are brought in more explicitly. Greek "Thanatos" for death is personified. God is not subjected to Jesus while all else is, and ultimately God is "everything," but individuality also seems to be maintained in resurrection (15.35-57). "The Resurrection Body" is not physical and mortal, but God makes it glorious (like a plant from a seed that dies). Paul even seems to introduce angelic beings into passage. Mortal bodies are like clay vessels (see above on 2 Cor 4). If there is a natural body, there is a spiritual body as well; the first man/Adam is from earth, and the second man/Adam is from heaven. In the end (15.50ff ), the "dead will be raised imperishable" and "in victory" (which perhaps means "forever"). This is the only extended passage in Paul where he gives a timetable for what is expected in the end times.

2 Corinthians 5.16-21: "The Ministry of Reconciliation"

-"In Christ" mysticism of Paul (here and elsewhere); "realized eschatology" -- end times have already begun. Those in Christ are dead to the old life/world and already raised in principle to the new life, but not yet literally. See Romans 6.1-4 "Dead to Sin, Alive to God": participating in Jesus' death makes one victorious
over sin and its consequences, at least in principle, and sets things up for the future resurrection.

1 Corinthians 7.17ff  "Remain as you were called":

-Not rhetorical; seeking medical un-circumcision was an actual possibility.

"The Unmarried and the Widowed" do well not to seek change, "for the form of this world is passing away" (7.31). Throughout is the idea of the Church as the "body of the Messiah" -- the manifestation and participant in what "Messiah/Christ" means and does, producing new life and leading to ultimate resurrection.


Returning to the "Dream Visions" of Enoch:

Student Question: Where do the white bulls come from?

Answer: Refer to what is otherwise "common knowledge" about characters (e.g. in Genesis) to guess at the meaning.... Presumably Seth is a white bull, Cain is the black bull, and Abel is the red bull. When you see reference to a "white bull," look for the good guy in the story. This particular apocalyptic presentation (the "animal apocalypse") is virtually unparalleled in other apocalyptic texts. One of the problems with the Genesis account that is perhaps addressed here (see Gen 5.5) is where Cain, Abel, and Seth got their wives.

Chapter 89 and 90:

-Shepherds (89.59) are apparently authority figures (rulers) over sheep (populace). Such images do play roles in some other apocalyptic texts. Similarly, horns (90.9) are usually interpreted as kings. The number 35 (90.1, half of the 70) is broken down further into 23 (90.5) and 12 (90.19). The 70 shepherds (89.59) probably corresponds to Jewish folklore of there being 70 (or 72) nations in the world.

-As this text well illustrates, apocalyptic literature can use a variety of symbolic representations.

For next time, become acquainted with 4 Ezra ("2 Esdras"), 2 Baruch, 3 Baruch, and at least take a look at scholarly opinion regarding 2 Enoch (and/or the text itself).

Week #07 --  01 November 2005 -- submitted by C. Adrian Austin

Dr. Kraft started the class with a few pertinent announcements concerning links from the class website. They are as follows:

1. Texts on the main page have been reorgainzed under "cycles" (Enoch, Daniel, etc.) as of today.
2. The Apocalypse of Daniel site is (was) temporarily unavailable, but will return soon.
3. The Enoch cycle has been reorganized but 3 Enoch is (was) still under construction
4. The site for Paraleipomena Jeremiou (aka "4 Baruch") has been "cleaned up."

After the announcements, Dr. Kraft stated the aims of today's "lecture" portion of class:

Paraleipomena Jeremiou ( means leftovers of Jeremiah) is also called "4 Baruch" and the text that we have is preserved in Greek (and translations from the Greek). There are two versions of this text, a longer and shorter one. This is not uncommon in tradition b/c material dealing w/ revered names was used often used liturgically (e.g. on days commemmorating specific "saints" and revered figures such as Jeremiah). Many of the texts were too long to read in one sitting so they were condensed. This sometimes led to new versions of texts.  Comparing the versions to discover the oldest preserved form of a text is called "recension criticism." Even where the extant copies and versions are virtually identical, "textual criticism" attempts to establish the oldest recoverable text. An especially interesting example of this is the Ethiopic Enoch and the Aramaic fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date a millennium earlier! There are some differences but the texts are very close to each other.

Dr. Kraft noted that we can often draw a family tree to trace versions of texts but they won't always fall into a nice scheme. This can also occur b/c two or more originally separate texts were put together at some point.

Kraft used the example of little red riding hood's grand mom to illustrate the changing of the details of a story over time. Earlier versions of the story stated that grandma was eaten by the wolf and later rescued alive from its belly (undigested). Some later versions have the grandmother hiding in a closet or elsewhere. The story was changed to make it more palatable. Hymns can also change over time and in different settings (example= Holy, Holy, Holy ... God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity, or God over all, bless'd eternally).

After this discussion we moved into our survey of Ezra.

It was noted that the "4 Ezra" site gives us "2 Esdras." Why? The Latin "2 Esdras" (in most English Bibles with Apocrypha) is like "1 Enoch" in that it is a library and not a single book. "2 Esdras" has three units and "1 Enoch" has 5 or 6. How do we know 2 Esdras contains three units? External evidence is provided by the fact that versions of the material in other languages (e.g. Syriac, Armenian, Ethiopic) contain only "4 Ezra." Internal evidence includes the fact that the first chapter of "2 Esdras" refers to itself as a book and (in one version) lists a genealogy of Ezra. The third chapter says that Salathiel is Ezra and seems to ignore what is found in chapter one. Furthermore, there is a sudden switch in topics between the end of 2 Esdras 14 and the beginning of 2 Esdras 15. These things lead scholars to believe that the first two chapters of 2 Esdras are one unit (referred to as "5 Ezra"). Chapters 3-14 are another distinct unit (referred to as "4 Ezra") and chapters 15-16 are another unit (referred to as "6 Ezra").

Why the first two chapters are referred to as 5 Ezra and not 4 Ezra is even more complicated, but probably because "4 Ezra" is both the main  text in the grouping and has drawn the most attention of scholars from the outset. (Footnote 1: Ted Bergen has studied these Ezra compositions and focuses on 5 and 6 Ezra. He argues that the Spanish version of 5 Ezra is older than the French version.  The French version has the genealogy. He argues the opposite for 6 Ezra. The "Spanish" and "French" labels have to do with where the texts were copied or preserved not with their languages. Both texts are in Latin.)

"2 Esdras" is in Latin and is included in Roman Catholic bibles and in "the Apocrypha" but there are also versions of "4 Ezra" in Slavic and Ethiopic (none in Greek). Probably "4 Ezra" was originally written in a semitic dialect (Aramaic?) which was translated into Greek and thence to Latin, but it has not survived in those earlier versions.

The Greek Bible has a book called "1 Esdras." Esdras is Greek for the Hebrew name Ezra. 1 Esdras in the Greek Bible is similar but not identical to the book of Ezra found in the Jewish scriptures and is sufficiently dissimilar so that it is difficult to call it a translation of the Ezra material. It is a Greek retelling of the Ezra material.

The book of Ezra found in the Jewish scriptures is related to the book called Nehemiah and talks about the return from exile in Babylon and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its temple..

The Greek Orthodox Bible also contains a book called "2 Esdras" which is a combination of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah in Greek translation and in sequence.  This creates confusion because we also have the unrelated Latin "2 Esdras."

Question: Is there a 1 Ezra? Answer: Yes. It is the biblical book of Ezra.

Question: Why didn't the rest of the Ezras get included in the canon? Answer: We don't have them in Hebrew. This is not a good answer b/c scholars think 4 Esdras was originally in Aramaic. Maybe the compilers of the canon were not much interested in apocalyptic literature so they left them out.

This question led to a discussion of canonization. In Christianity, by the end of the second century (the time of Origen) there were definitive lists of books accepted as authoritative by (some) Christians. There is no corresponding definitive detailed list of Jewish texts, although  Josephus and other early sources speak of specific categories (especially law, prophets, psalms). In the Mishnah there are discussions of different books and whether they "soil the hands" due to their ritually super-sanctity (e.g. Esther, which doesn't explicitly mention God). One can't touch the authoritative books b/c they will cause ritual impurity. Kat suggested that perhaps Jews didn't have detailed lists until Christians came up with them.

Josephus (Against Apion 1.8) says the number of books of Jewish scripture is 22 (presumably the same as the number of letters in Hebrew alphabet) in three groupings, law, prophets/histories, hymns/precepts. This brings up the problem how to count multi-volumed books such as 1 and 2 Samuel or 1 and 2 Kings (= 1-4 Kingdoms in Latin and Greek Bibles). Books can be combined or split in order to make them correspond to a specific number. As we will see, 4 Ezra speaks of 24 "public" authoritative books, modern Protestant Christians count 39!

At this point, Dr. Kraft noted that 4 Ezra (2 Esdras Chps 3-14) is the primary apocalyptic Ezra for our purposes. There is also an Apocalypse of Ezra (should we call it "7 Ezra"?). It is preserved in Greek but the form of Greek used is a transitional form between ancient and modern Greek. This leads people to believe that it was written, or at least re-edited, in the ninth or tenth century. There is also a similar Apocalypse of Sedrach which may get its name "Sedrach" from a corruption of the name "Esdras."

Why is Ezra such an important figure? Ezra was thought by some to be God's agent for restoring the Torah and other books after the destruction of Jewish temple. The holy books were destroyed so God chose Ezra to listen to dictation and rewrite the lost books.  As we are about to see, this is described in 4 Ezra 14.

After this discussion we moved on to our analysis of the assigned texts

4 Ezra 13:

It starts with an apocalyptic image of the sea. This is similar to imagery in Daniel (and other apocalypses).

The mountain mentioned in verse 6 could be Armageddon. Har is Hebrew for mountain. Megiddo is a site in Israel. This site overlooks the Jezreel valley that is good for warfare so Har Megiddo (Armageddon) plays an important role in apocalypses.

The man from the sea breathes fire in verses 10-11. This is similar to images in the Christian (New Testaament) book of Revelation [NOT REVELATIONS] in which the Savior slays with words from his mouth. This image is very imaginable, and probably originated from stories of dragons or perhaps from people who "breathed fire" in the ancient parallel to our circuses.

Verse 16 is similar to the Little Apocalypse in that it depicts suddenness and hard times. And it doesn't matter whether people are dead or alive. All will be involved. The next few verses speak of the "messianic woes" or the tribulations before the end times.

Verses 25-32 speak of God's son who will deliver those who inhabit earth. This is the man from the sea. In an earlier reference to the "son" in 2 Ezra 7.28-29, some texts identify the son as Jesus. This fact shows the effects of interpretation. The copier added Jesus. The original Semitic probably referred more generally to "my son" or "messiah."

Verse 35 mentions Mount Zion. This is where Jerusalem is located. The image of carving w/o hands in verse 36 is mentioned in other Jewish texts (compare Daniel 2.34-35).

Verses 41-50 mention a new exodus to and from beyond the Euphrates area back to the Holy Land, presumably led by the Son. It also contains the idea of a righteous remnant that have remained in the land and will be rescued at the end of time.

4 Ezra 14:

In verse 1 a voice from a bush talks to Ezra. This image is similar to what happens to Moses in the Jewish scriptures (Exodus 3.4).

Ezra saying "Here I am, Lord" in verse 2 is similar to the story of Samuel's "call" (1 Samuel 3).

At this point, Dr. Kraft noted that the text claims that Moses received understanding of the end of times on Sinai (verse 5). In other traditions, Enoch received this understanding before Moses and Adam before him. There are cycles that hold these people as great figures of revelation.

Verse 6 says Moses produced secret texts separate from the public Pentateuch. This is similar to the Rabbinic Jewish idea of the Oral Law that Moses received on Sinai.

Verse 9 says Ezra that will be taken up (like Enoch and Moses) and will not die (according to Deuteronomy 34.5-6, Moses died but his grave was hidden away). There seems to be a tradition of revelatory figures not ending their lives normally..

The imagery of time in verses 10-11 is similar to imagery in Daniel which speaks of a "time and a time and a time and a half." (Daniel 7.25, 7.7 = 1,290 days in Daniel 12.11?)

Verses 44-45 state that 94 books were written by Ezra (and his staff) in 40 days of which 24 books were made open to the public (compare Josephus' 22) but 70 were to be kept secret for the wise b/c they contain the "fountain of wisdom and river of knowledge.".

A few other notes on 4 Ezra:

In the 3rd chapter Ezra prays b/c he is in captivity in Babylon. The biblical book of Ezra also says that Ezra returns from exile in Babylon to restore the temple.

4 Ezra 12.11 makes a direct tie to Daniel (7.7) so the author is aware of standing in the tradition represented by Daniel's apocalyptic materials. Many apocalyptic images in the broader tradition can be traced back to Daniel or Ezekiel which both probably drew on a common imagery pool that included animals and natural phenomena. The "Animal Apocalypse" included in 1 Enoch is different b/c it talks of domestic animals. The others usually refer to wild animals (lion, bear, leopard, etc.).

We then moved onto a discussion of Baruch:

Baruch was Jeremiah's scribe/right hand man so when Jeremiah yells, Baruch writes. The Bible mentions Baruch and his writings in the book of Jeremiah (e.g. Jeremiah 32). Jeremiah is a book in Jewish scriptures named after the prophet Jeremiah, who was sometimes called the "weeping prophet" because he gave a pessimistic message about the fate of Jerusalem and Judea. The book of Jeremiah refers to events that took place during the period right before fall of Jerusalem and right after (late 600s through the first part of the 5th century bce).

In this book, Jeremiah rebukes kings who don't keep law and says "they have it comin'" from a power to the east (Babylon). He also predicts that Jerusalem will be conquered. The King's other advisors say Jeremiah is crazy (misled, wrong) and that the king should get rid of him b/c he is a demoralizer (traitor). The things that Jeremiah said actually happened so he is remembered in Jewish history.

There is a book purportedly by Baruch in the Apocrypha that can be called "1 Baruch." It is actually two books (or more) divided about down the middle (1.1-3.8, 3.9-end) that have been combined. The first part of 1 Baruch is very similar to Jeremiah in phraseology, and much of it can be retroverted from the surviving Greek translation back into Hebrew based on these parallels.

2 Baruch is also called the Apocalypse of Baruch and it survives in a Syriac translation. Syriac is an eastern Aramaic dialect, and Aramaic was the main semitic language in the ancient Persian world.

We also have fragments of 2 Baruch in Greek that were found at the site of Oxyrhynchus in Egypt around 1896. The fragments of Baruch are in the 3rd volume of the "P.Oxy" series (now up to 80 or so volumes and still continuing). Nevertheless, as with many of these Jewish writings preserved by Christians, 2 Baruch probably was composed originally in Aramaic (or Hebrew), then translated into Greek and ultimately into Syriac, where it has survived intact.

2 Baruch Text Discussion

Chapter 1 starts with an identification of Baruch which is similar to passages in the book of Jeremiah.

1.4 gives as a reason or result of the Jewish exile to benefit the Gentiles.

2.2 states that Baruch (with Jeremiah) is the reason that God hadn't yet destroyed Jerusalem.

3.1 My mother= Jerusalem

The crisis mentioned in chapter 3 is "What happens to the traditions of revelation and ethics if the Jerusalem temple is destroyed?" This crisis is similar to Ezra's worries. Chapter 3 also raises the question of theodicy (from two words in Greek: theos which means God and dikai which means justice).  How is God just if he promises things to the people of Jerusalem and then destroys the city. Chapter 4 begins to answer this question by saying that a new Jerusalem will arise.

Chapters 6-7 also deal with problems of theodicy. The Holy vessels of the temple are buried before the city is destroyed so the Law probably is not destroyed in this tradition (compared with 4 Ezra). Furthermore, 2 Baruch says that the angels destroyed the temple as punishment, so wicked Babylon could not take credit for destroying Jerusalem.

10.2 says that Jeremiah has to go to Babylon and Baruch stays near Jerusalem to receive revelation. According to the biblical book of Jeremiah, both he and Baruch go to Egypt after the destruction (Jeremiah 43.6) so there is a difference in these two traditions. This difference probably arose due to the location and interests of the people who created and transmitted the texts. Both traditions seem to be relatively old. The story of Jeremiah in Babylon and Baruch in Jerusalem is similar to the narrative in the Paraleipomena Jeremiou. The Paraleipomena Jeremiou also says that the people who intermarried in Babylon but refused to abandon their Babylonian mates broke off and founded Sameria when they were not permitted to enter Jerusalem. The explanation given is that the Jews who intermarried couldn't keep their Babylonian mates and live in Jerusalem, while the mates couldn't (or didn't wish to) return to Babylon.

77.19 Baruch sends a letter to Babylon via an eagle. This is similar to a story in the Paraleipomena Jeremiou. This image is very popular and there is a medieval manuscript that has a picture of Baruch receiving revelation in a cave and an eagle flying with a scroll tied to its leg.

At the conclusion of our discussion of 2 Baruch, Dr. Kraft noted that 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch have common material and interests. He said that this material probably came from an earlier apocalyptic tradition that was reinterpreted for the time period of the writers, after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 ce.

We closed the class with a discussion of 3 Baruch which is preserved in Greek.

3 Baruch 1.2 mentions an Abimelech who was also saved from the destruction. In Hebrew this name can mean "father of the king," but here it seems clearly to refer to the Ebedmelech ("servant of the king") in Jeremiah 38 who pulls Jeremiah out of a muddy pit where he had been imprisoned.

In the Paraleipomena Jeremiou story, Abimelech has a Rip van Winkle experience. He sleeps for 66 or 70 years and wakes up after the exile is over and the Jews are about to return to Jerusalem.

3 Baruch also speaks of an angel taking Baruch on a trip through the heavens.  He goes through at least five. This story is similar to stories of Enoch and other revealers in Judaism and Christianity.

Possible paper topics mentioned today:

1. Treatment of Zion/Jerusalem in apocalyptic texts.
2. Uses of numbers in apocalyptic texts.
3. Number of heavens in different apocalyptic texts -- usually 3, 7, or 10.

Nest week:

We'll look at 2 Enoch and the Apocalypses of Zephaniah and Abraham.

Week #08 --  08 November 2005 -- submitted by Galina Movshovich

The class began with mention of the recent discovery an early Christian church near Megeddo in Israel


We looked at pictures of the mosaic floor that was found and especially one of the Greek dedications, a memorial for a table dedicated to "G(o)d J(es)u(s) Ch(ris)t."  Other inscriptions were noticed.  With such items is is not clear whether the artisans who created them actually understood what they were spelling out, which sometimes may contribute to difficulty in reading them (although not in  this case).


No one is sure about the period in which the church was built.  It may date to the 3d century ( before Constantine’s reign), in which case it would have been a dangerous time to exercise Christianity openly.  During that time, there is evidence of Christians meeting in private homes and unofficial locations covertly, although this seems to have been a separate church building. There are also opinions that the church dates back to the 4th century ( after Constantine’s accession), during the time in which Constantine’s mother, Helena, was very involved in the proliferation of churches, especially in the Holy Land.  This may be from that period of Christian expansion.


Discussion then shifted to focus on 2 Enoch and other Enochic materials


There are at least 15 different Slavic manuscripts of 2 Enoch materials, and the manuscripts sometimes vary in length.  The particular difference is seen in the addition of the last chapters ( 68 and on) to some of the manuscripts.  These chapters discuss what happens when Enoch is “taken away” and mostly refers to his sons and other descendants.  All known manuscripts are written in Old Church Slavic.  Most manuscripts date no earlier than the 9th or 10th century, and since there is no reference to 2 Enoch beforehand, it makes it difficult to establish the history of the text.  Much work still remains to be done in studying and analyzing the origins and content of 2 Enoch.


Considering all this, how can we study when and where 2 Enoch was written, in what language and by whom?  Since we have virtually no external evidence, we have to operate inductively on internal evidence – who we think may have said it and who was most likely to have read it.  But, different interpretations will arise from scholars of different specialties and backgrounds.  Someone familiar with Slavic Christianity may have more insight into what is usual and/or unusual about the text.  Someone unfamiliar with it will probably have a different take.  It all depends on whom you believe to be methodologically careful in interpreting the manuscripts.


Similar problems arise in 4, 5, and 6 Ezra ( see last week’s notes)


A question: Was 2 Enoch  originally written in Slavic or some other language?  It was probably written in Greek beforehand, and we can infer this from oddities in the spelling of names, some of which don’t sound Slavic. Then the question that remains – if it was indeed translated into Slavic from Greek, was there another language before the Greek (i.e. Aramaic or Hebrew) ?  For that, one would have to look at both vocabulary and sentence development to determine if there are typically Semitic terms or phrases present.  This is not a very secure route either, as it could be that these Semitic terms were already present in Greek through the influence of Greek translations of Jewish scriptures.


However, it is likely that the original version of 2 Enoch, if it goes back to the turn of the era, was probably written in Aramaic for 2 reasons:



These are very important aspects of analyzing phraseology, vocabulary, and names as scholars do.


A brief discussion of all the Enoch materials:

Enoch is well-known in parabiblical Jewish and early Christian literature and quoted often.  For the example, the “Testament of the 12 Patriarchs,” full of ethical admonitions, quotes Enoch numerous times, but none of the quotes can be placed exactly in surviving Enoch literature.  According to 2 Enoch, that patriarch produced some 366 writings, although the relationship to calendric numbers is obvious..

All parts of 1 Enoch, except the similitudes, are represented in fragmented form in the Dead Sea Scrolls and are therefore considered pre-Christian.   The "book of the Giants" probably also has associations with Enoch.


2 Enoch may consist of a number of different pieces, but may be impossible to tell unless we can get a more comprehensive edition of it.  The last part, which does not express any distinct interest in Enoch, but rather focuses on his descendants, is probably an addition from another work  (a similar phenomenon occurs at the end of 1st Enoch).


3 Enoch is exceptional because it is one of the few writings of parabiblical material that was actually preserved in rabbinical Judaism.  There are no known quotations of 3 Enoch in Christian sources.


The Theme: Enoch becomes God’s designated agent, a "Metatron" figure whose task is to serve as mediator between heaven and this world.  Given this, it is not surprising that some scholars (e.g. Gabriele Boccaccini) argue that there was a type of early Judaism that put Enoch at the center, perhaps in competition with others who placed Moses at the center.  To make his case, Boccaccini points out (among many other things) that Moses goes to the mountain to receive the Torah and the Oral Law, but Enoch actually goes to heaven to obtain secret wisdom from  the heavenly tablets.


Looking at the Text of 2 Enoch – The Book of the Secrets of Enoch (Chapt 1 –68)

Mapping "2 Enoch" -- very confused manuscript tradition (at least 2 versions, long & short)

01-23 Enoch's assisted ascent to the 10th heaven

24-38 Heavenly revelations, from the mouth of God

39-48 Enoch reports to his hearers

49-55 Enoch admonishes his hearers

56-63 Enoch's special admonitions to his children (last testament)

64-68 Final admonitions and departure of Enoch

69-70 Methusaleh's admonishing, introduction of Nir, and death

70.17-73 Nir the promised priest (brother of Noah), his wife Sofanim, and Melchizedek!

Enoch talks in the first person.  On the first day of the month, he is awakened by two giant "men" who appear to be angels – there are references to them like “shining like sun” and “ hands whiter than snow.”  They begin to call Enoch by name and he becomes afraid.  They tell him – “Have courage, do not fear.”  This seemingly double language could be read as a clue to a semitic origin and these terms appear elsewhere as practically synonymous – with a positive as well as a negative thrust.  The angels tell Enoch that he will ascend to heaven (“trip apocalypse”) and cross over the 10 heavens. 

Enoch hurries to take care of unfinished business and tell his family that he will be gone for some time, but warns them not to come looking for him.  He also instructs them not to turn from God and warns that those who do, will be punished.


Chap 3: The Angels take him up to the first heaven on their wings.  As he travels, he finds a group of fallen angels in the 2nd heaven (chap. 7) and in the 5th heaven (chap. 18), the leaders of the fallen angels, the "Grigori" (Greek "Gregoroi," translating Mearim, the Hebrew word for watchers), in the 5th heaven.  They are old giants of grim appearance, and Enoch wonders why they are grim and silent instead of praising God as they should.  He is answered that they rejected the Lord of light in favor of their prince of Satanil.  Three of them went down and united with the daughters of men, which caused a mixture between angels and humans – giants were born as a result and became the source of strife on earth.  Enoch prayed for the group in the second heaven, but to no avail.  God judged them with a great judgment – they weep and will be punished on the Lord’s Great Day of Judgment.   Enoch asks those in the fifth heaven why they are not doing liturgy, and their voice goes up in song to the Lord.


In the 7th heaven, something unusual happens when Gabriel puts Enoch in front of the throne of the Lord. 


Heavens 8-10 are briefly described as well as given Hebrew names and are thought to have been add-ons.

8th heaven (21.7) – "Muzaloth" – the heart of the sea

9th heaven (21.8) - "Kuchavim" -- heavenly bodies (stars).

10th heaven (20.3, 22) – "Aravoth" -- descriptions of iron made to glow in fire and the emission of sparks and burns – frequently, the throne of the Lord reflects things off itself.


In the 10th heaven (chap. 22), Enoch sees the "appearance of the Lord’s face," but describes it as ineffable.  He says that the Lord's throne “it is not made with hands” – similarly, in other early Jewish and Christian literature there are references to the ideal Jewish Temple “not made with hands.”


At this point, Enoch falls prone, but the Lord says with “his lips” (22.4; strange wording, but see also 39.2, 40.1, 47.1) – “do not fear…. arise and stand before me into eternity.”  The archangel Michael lifts him up and strips him of his earthly garments, and Enoch is cleansed and robed in glorious garments and covered in fragrances and ointments.


Then, Pravuil, the archangel, is commanded to write down secret information about astronomy, climate, and language and give it over to Enoch [contrast the Similitudes of Enoch 69.9 where the angel "Penemue"(!) is criticized for teaching humans to write].  Then Enoch writes the book of life, for 30 days and nights, and produces 366 books altogether.

Then, the Lord summons him to sit at his left with Gabriel and Enoch is called “beloved” (also appears with reference to Jesus and other great people in various stories).  No clear explanation is given as to why Enoch is placed on the Lord’s left.  This could be connected to the fact that the right is reserved for someone who is even greater.


The Apocalypse of Zephaniah

Little known and ill-preserved, the entire pseudepigraphon is lost, except for (1) a brief quotation the Clement of Alexandria (ca 200 ce) -- a Christian author and scholar, thought to come originally from Greece.  He traveled the world looking for Pantaenus, a famous teacher, and settled in Alexandria when he found him there.  He is a great transmitter and quoter of biblical and parabiblical scriptures.  There is also (2) a fragment of the Apocalypse of Zephaniah in Sahidic, which is a dialect of the Coptic language, a liturgical language of Egyptian Christianity, and (3) another in Achmimic Coptic.


Next time we will finish up with the Apocalypses attributed to pre-Christian figures -- Adam, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah (and perhaps the Sibyl) -- before moving on to those attributed to Christian heroes.

Week #09 --  15 November 2005 -- submitted by Christine M. Myers

Professor Kraft won’t be here 29th

 Also, when preparing book reviews, students should try to do some research on the authors themselves.

Kat Korzow – Montanism Gender Authority and the New Prophecy by Christine Trevett

Defining definitions

Montanism – also referred to as the prophecy

catholic church (with a small c) – predecessor to Byzantine churches, who see Montanism as a threat

Trevett challenges assumptions about Montanism

Basic facts:
·        Started in Phrygia in the late 150’s, early 160’s C.E.\
·        Spreads to South Asia, Rome and Africa
·        Tertullian was a Montanist and played a major role
·        The destruction of their last meeting place was in the 600’s
·        People of the Montanist tradition may have been around up through the 800’s
·        Montanists writings have survived though most are anti-Montanist writings

Oracles and prophecies
·        by spirit of God in person prophesying
·        paraclete
·        understandable speech and glossolalia (speaking in tongues)
·        not first ecstatic prophets
·        challenge catholic authority
·        function – reveal scripture for present (whereas the catholic church held that the time of prophecy had ended with the apostolic age)

Overcoming other assumptions
·        martyrdom – actually similar in both
·        Montanist view was a literalist view rather than militant or millennial
·        Montanists were just like other Christians of the time as far as perceiving the end as coming very soon.  In other words, they were no more apocalyptic than other Christians of the time (this is a specific perspective of the author, one which the author tried to push throughout the book)

·        Montanists believed that the church had the ability to forgive sins, though it should not exercise that ability
·        Montanists had mandatory fasts
·        Role of women – Quintilla – later than first three prophets

o       Women can become presbyters and bishops
o       Spiritual equality with men

Problem – Rome v. Asia
·        perceived heresies of Montanists were built mostly in Rome

Kat’s Critique of book
·        used languages other than English without translating them
·        repeated herself
·        there was not a coherent point, just prevailing assumptions – was not clear

About the Author
·        Christine Trevett
·        University professor at a University in Germany
·        In her studies, she focuses on women
·        Published this book in 1996
·        Did research for this book 1989-1994
·        Comes off as a feminist writer


o       Montanists were very big on the letters of Paul – letters were used by both sides of the debate

“catholic” – when is it ok to use that term?

o       Used in the 2nd century sources
o       Can use proto-catholic or “classical”
o       Depends on what you are writing about

·        Priscilla and Maximilla– did they have writings?
o       Somebody was writing down what they described, theoretically, but we do not have it


Other discussion

·        Eusebius – Quotes anti-Montanist sources

·        Roman Empire view

o       Sees Montanists as Christians – martyred along with everyone else

o       Some ability for distinction between groups, though not certain that they knew the specific distinction of the Montanists

·        Asia Minor in this time period

o       There is much argument about this

o       Diverse – topography lent itself to this

o       Not united


Sevile Mannickarottu – The Byzantine Apocalyptic Tradition by Paul J. Alexander 

About the work and author

·        published in 1985

·        not a complete work – it was published after the author’s death

o       This is clear particularly when he has noted in his own work at some places that it is largely guessing work

·        deals with 7th-11th centuries

·        primarily Greek sources

·        dealt largely with the issue of the Arab and Islamic Empire creeping in 

First part of book – Description of the texts

·        longest section of the book

·        each story goes through similar timeline/elements of the stories, including:

o       Arab invasion

o       Re-baptize apostates

o       Gives kingdom up to God

o       Anti-Christ comes

·        all thought to be Greek texts but the first one turns about to be Syriac from the 7th century

o       Talks of how the Byzantine Emperor is of Ethiopian descent

§         Tries to make sense of this

·        later work – Visions of Daniel

o       # of works that come out of this tradition 

Concepts in the stories

·        Greeks saw the western emperor as defender against the Arabs

·        Idea of last Byzantine Emperor

o       Came out of messianic king concept

·        Gog & Magog

o       Seville found reference to these when searching Bible Gateway on the web in Ezekiel and Revelation

o       After Arabs are vanquished, these guys will pop up as they were locked up by Alex the Great and will reappear in end times

·        Discussed the coming of the Anti-Christ


·        again – quotes foreign language without translation

o       but does provide some of his own translations

·        really stretches historical context



·        Do Gog and Magog have a connection with the second coming?

o       The book did not go into the second coming, but all is described as part of last times era

·        End times battles – human beings against God or against Byzantine Emperor as God’s agent?

o       The Byzantine Emperor is just leading the people

o       Gog & Magog as evil

·        Byzantine genre?

o       Created genre from Byzantine materials, dealing specifically with materials related to Arab invasion

o       Not everything was newly looked at materials.  Some was old, but had this new focus. 

Merged discussion of last book review into general discussion

·        there was an explosion of translation in the late 1800’s

·        Big discoverys recently

o       Dead Sea Scrolls

o       Nag Hammadi

·        there are fragments all over the place

o       a lot of work done with Armenian stuff

o       much of the Slavic materials probably are still not available

o       there are apparently an excessive amount of dissertations done on the same topics when there’s stuff that has yet to be touched 

We look at texts that survive

·        General transformation – Jewish to Christian

o       Transitions from physical world events to the fate of the soul (including questions of whose soul, to where, when, why)

o       Exceptions, but still much less after life talk in Jewish sources as opposed to the clearly Christian sources 

Apocalypse of Zephaniah

·        not clearly from Zephaniah (= Sophonias in Greek), one of the minor prophets

·        Only in Clement of Alexandria quotation and two extensive Coptic fragments

·        Identification of the Achmimic Coptic with “Apocalypse of Zephaniah” is not without problems 

Apocalypse of Abraham

·        general idea of the end of history

·        much interest in him in Christian circles 


·        virtually all of these manuscripts are from Byzantine times

o       why did they care about these? – looking for more information on those people mentioned in the Bible

·        When and why were explicitly Christian things added to Jewish sources? (happens quite explicitly in the Isaiah material examined below)

·        Christians mostly just copied and passed texts along – then why did they sometimes add to them?

o       Dealing with individuals – may have had different motivations

o       Perhaps they wanted “Jewish materials” to back their own ideas, but it is difficult really to test this theory

·        vague references to “bad guys” – have to look at context – often times it is hard to know who they are referring to 

Apocalypse of Elijah

·        Two such works, one of which -- like 3rd Enoch – survived in Rabbinic Judaism

·        In the first version, there is a description of the anti-Christ that resembles the description given of Paul in the Acts of Paul – not very flattering (any relationship?)

·        For the 2nd Elijah Apocalypse (Rabbinic), Buttenwieser claims time frame of 260 CE

·        Ben Sira (Sirach) also survived in Hebrew and was used in Rabbinic circles

o       Even some fragments of Hebrew manuscripts survive 

Why did Jewish communities stop using such texts?

·        hard to tell (development of biblical “canon” subject)

·        easy answer – because Christians were using them

·        How much contact was there between Christians and Jews:

·        An example: Philo – manuscripts  (many from 14th-15th centuries)

·        Biblical quotations in some of  these manuscripts are much closer to the standard Hebrew text than to the standard Greek translation(s)

·        Someone working with Origen’s Hexapla project may have gone back and made the quotations agree more with the available Hebrew – Origen used Philo’s writings extensively, and also worked with the Hebrew scriptural texts (with informants)

·        Jerome also worked with Hebrew materials and informants within his monastic setting 

Are there lists of extrabiblical quotes of presumably Jewish texts?

·        “Agrapha” – unwritten, i.e. not in the Bible and thus extracanonical

·        Alfred Resch’s study – can go here for quotations, some gaps (a century old!), but generally pretty good 

Ascension of Isaiah

·        birth of Jesus narrated in much detail – chapter 11

·        3 sections of material – the birth of Jesus being the last of these

o       Section 1 – the Martyrdom of Isaiah (sawn in half)

o       Section 2 – Vision of Isaiah (ch. 6 onward) 

Focusing here on the 3rd section – Chapter 11

·        directly preceded by discussion of

o       firmament – below first heaven – stars, where the ruler of heaven dwells

o       metamorphosis of redeemer – similar to Gnostic ideas

§         descended – like spirit in air

·        quoting gospel tradition – clearly “Christian” material

o       Gabriel appears to Joseph

o       Joseph did not live with Mary for 2 months (see later in  the story for significance – people wonder about such a quick birth!)

o       Mary – false pregnancy

o       Relatively Gnostic presentation – split of spiritual and physical world

o       Great example of explicitly Christian but not in proto-orthodox form

o       He (Jesus) snuck in – the contemporaries didn’t know who he was

o       Perhaps this sort of tradition was used to explain the relationship of the redeemer Jesus to his “twin” brother Judas Thomas

·        Scholars attempt to date and locate the original text based on what kind of Jesus is presented


For next time, Sibylline Oracles, then on into explicitly Christian texts


Week #10 --  22 November 2005 -- by Caroline Kelly

Class opened with a discussion of the recent Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting held in Philadelphia.

Next we turned to the first focus topic of the week, the Sibylline oracles. Professor Kraft provided an overview of role of the Sibyls in the Greek world.

The Sibyls were female prophetesses, typically supported by a group of male priests who would interpret the Sibyl's cryptic utterances. Ancient sources list 10 such ancient figures, from different parts of the world (Varro, see Lactantius, Divine Institutes 1.6). Her oracles were collected and circulated, the most famous collection in antiquity being the books of the Roman Sibyl. These were kept by a committee of senators who would consult them for direction in case of disaster or crises. A fire in 83 BCE destroyed the Temple of Jupiter in Rome where the books were housed. When it was rebuilt, efforts were made to collect the oracles (Dionysius of Halicarnassus 4.62.5-6). The total collection seems to have consisted of fifteen books, though not all have survived. Standard editions today consist of 12 books, numbered 1-8 and 11-14 (manuscripts for books nine and ten repeat material found in books 1-8 and so are generally left out). The extant texts were translated into English by Milton Terry in 1899. His translation tries to retain the poetic feel of the oracles (especially meter), sometimes at the expense of the literal sense. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha offers a new translation by John Collins. The time period for the composition of the oracles ranges from the second century BCE through the seventh century CE (so Collins, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha1.317).

Books 1-5 exhibit more connections with Jewish traditions than the other preserved books that tend to be more obviously Christian. The manuscripts are all late (14th century and later) and preserved in Christian contexts.

There is a monotheistic thrust throughout all the books. Constantine quotes one such passage from the Sibyls (perhaps the inspiration for his famed vision in the sky?). Fragmentation of the books was also common in antiquity. It was therefore easy for later Christian redactors to extract passages which were amenable to their views. For example, the Erythrean Sibyl (fragment 7) asks God why he forces "the compulsion of prophecy" on her rather than lifting her up until the day of "your most blessed coming." A Christian author may have worked the idea of the second coming of Jesus into an authentic passage. Greek is the language of the texts. The existence of several author/editors is evident from inconsistencies in terms, as in Hebrews/Jews. It may be possible to break each book down into various authors and analyze their methods/agendas, as Collins attempts to do..

Turning to Terry's translation, we examined several apocalyptic passages:

1.320-334 [Terry p.26-27.235-261]
320 There is in Phrygia on the dark mainland
A steep, tall mountain; Ararat its name,
Because upon it all were to be saved
From death, and there was great desire of heart;
Thence streams of the great river Marsyas spring.
325 There on a lofty peak the ark abode
When the waters ceased, and then again from heaven
The voice divine of the great God this word
Proclaimed: "O Noah, guarded, faithful, just,
Come boldly forth, with thy sons and thy wife
330 And the three brides, and fill ye all the earth,
Increasing, multiplying, rendering justice
To one another through all generations,
Until to judgment every race of men
Shall come; for judgment shall be unto all."

This section is arranged in terms of the generations of men, perhaps somewhat like the Animal Apocalypse in 1Enoch. Noah here represents the 5th generation. Several passages seem to refer to a race of giants, though the chronology seems different from the Enochic literature, apparently with several generations of giants, rather than one.

1.82-105 [Terry p. 18.37-61]
And then indeed the race was multiplied
As the Almighty himself gave command,
And there grew up one people on another
85 Innumerable. And houses they adorned
Of all kinds and made cities and their walls
Well and expertly; and to them was given
A day of long time for a life much-loved;
For they did not worn out with troubles die,
90 But as subdued by sleep; most happy men
Of great heart, whom the immortal Saviour loved,
The King, God. But they also did transgress,
Smitten with folly. For with impudence
They mocked their fathers and their mothers scorned;
95 Kinsmen they knew not, and they formed intrigues
Against their brothers. And they were impure,
Having defiled themselves with human gore,
And they made wars. And then upon them came
The last calamity sent forth from heaven,
100 Which snatched the dreadful men away from life;
And Hades then received them; it was called
Hades since Adam, having tasted death,
Went first and earth encompassed him around.

And therefore all men born upon the earth
105 Are in abodes of Hades called to go.

Lines 96-101 may be the giants who were said to eat humans in the Enochic

1.110-129 [Terry p. 19.62-84]
But even in Hades all these when they came
Had honor, since they were the earliest race.
But when Hades received these, secondly
[Of the surviving and most righteous men]
110 God formed another very subtile race
That cared for lovely works, and noble toils,
Distinguished reverence and solid wisdom;
And they were trained in arts of every kind,
Finding inventions by their lack of means.
115 And one devised to till the land with plows,
Another worked in wood, another cared
For sailing, and another watched the stars
And practiced augury with winged fowls;
And use of drugs had interest for one,
120 While for another magic had a charm;
And others were in every other art
Which men care for instructed, wide awake,
Industrious, worthy of that eponym
Because they had a sleepless mind within
125 And a huge body; stout with mighty form
They were; but, notwithstanding, down they went
Into Tartarean chamber terrible,

Kept in firm chains to pay full penalty
In Gehenna of strong, furious, quenchless fire.

A second race of giants with material parallel to the Enochic. Line 123, which Terry renders "wide awake," is actually "the Watchers." Here we are not told why they are punished but 1 Enoch attributes it to the fact that they gave humans forbidden knowledge.

We find a third generation of giants in 1.130-135, a fourth in 1.136-149; and a 5th in 1.150ff.

These ideas of the generations of men seem closer to known Greco-Roman traditions, rather than Jewish-Christian ones. For example, Hesiod, Works and Days, 108-190 mentions the gold, silver, bronze, and iron ages. The figures of the Titans and Cronos, familiar to us from Hesiod's Theogony, also appear in the Oracles (1.375-383 ; 1.356-357). In Jewish apocalyptic, passages such as Daniel 3 (kingdoms represented by gold, silver, bronze, iron, clay) also bear some similarities.

A clear Christian message is seen in 1.393-400 [Terry p. 30.304-326] which mention a future child of God:

Then also shall a child of the great God
Come, clothed in flesh, to men, and fashioned like
395 To mortals in the earth; and he doth hear
Four vowels, and two consonants in him
Are twice announced; the whole sum I will name:
For eight ones, and as many tens on these,

And yet eight hundred will reveal the name
400 To men insatiate; and do thou discern
In thine own understanding that the Christ
Is child of the immortal God most high.

The seven Greek letters (including only two consonants) which form the name Jesus (IHCOUC) have the numerical values which adds up to 888:

I 10
H 8
C 200
O 70
U 400
C 200
Total 888

Since the book ends (1.476-485 [Terry p. 33.366-390] with a fall of the Jerusalem Temple, the oracle was last revised sometime after 70CE, although how much after is difficult to determine..

And they will oppress mortals. But great fall
475 Shall be for those men, when they shall begin
Unrighteous arrogance. But when the temple
Of Solomon in the holy land shall fall,
Cast down by barbarous men in brazen mail,
And from the land the Hebrews shall be driven
480 Wandering and wasted, and among the wheat
They shall much darnel mingle, there shall be
Evil contention among, all mankind;
And the cities suffering outrage shall bewail
Each other, in their breasts receiving wrath
485 Of the great God, since they wrought evil work.

Other apocalyptic passages are found throughout, as in book 14:
14.330-340 [Terry p. 249.241-262] consists of a general statement of bad times to come.
14.407-468 [Terry p. 251.285-304]: The references contained in this section may match up with historical events but they seem quite obscure at times.
The book ends with an eschatological prophecy:14.452-468 [Terry p. 253.326-347].

The term "oracle" also comes to be applied to the sayings of Jesus by interpreters of a saying attributed to . Papias (around 130 CE): "Matthew collected the oracles of the Lord in Hebrew and everybody translated them as they would." But the term here is ambiguous as "oracles of the Lord" could also refer to "prophetic" passages from the Jewish scriptures which point to Jesus or consist of end-times prophecies.

Next we briefly examined the apocalypse in Didache 16. The only separate and complete manuscript of the work dates to the 10th century and was found in a codex in Jerusalem in the late 19th century, although it was then realized that this work had been incorporated into an edited and revised section of the Didascalia (4th CE) and had also left its traces elsewhere.

The Didache consists of 4 main sections:

Finally, we took up the Shepherd of Hermas. This work falls into the apocalyptic genre because of its visionary content, rather than any end-time prophecies. The text evolved over time into three main divisions: the visions, the commandments and the similitudes. Set in the suburbs of Rome, the narrator appears to be of the lower class as he mentions his patroness and his former service to her. In the 9th similitude, he envisions the church as a great tower, constructed out of black and white stones, which stand for the good and bad members of the church. These will be sorted out at the end, but there is a chance for repentance. It was this chance for repentance that led Tertuallian to castigate Hermas as "the Shepherd of Adulterers." There were two Latin translations in the West fairly early, but there were controversial elements, even beyond Tertullian's objection. For instance, there is not a clean distinction between the Spirit of God and Jesus.

One final note, Hermas is in close contact with virgins in his visions, and there are obvious parallels to Dante's Beatrice. Should we also see Paul and his "sister-wife" reference (1 Cor 9.5) as related? The Didache mentions prophets who enact in their lives a "wordly mystery" which is allowed to them but not to the average lay person. Does this refer to female ministerial companions in a celibate relationship?

For next week: read Apocalypses identified with Christian heroes: Apocalypse of Paul, Peter, etc.

Week #11 --  06 December 2005 -- submitted by

Week #12 --  13 December 2005 -- submitted by

[[last edited 05 December 2005 ]]