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Greek Apocalypse of Ezra

Second to Ninth Century A.D.

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James Charlesworth writes (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, pp. 116-117):

This apocalypse is extant in only two manuscripts, Paris. gr. 929, ff. 510-32 and Paris. gr. 390, ff. 50-59 (according to R. P. J. Noret; see A-M. Denis, no. 24, pp. 4, 91); the former was edited by K. von Tischendorf (no. 888) and translated into English by A. Walker (ANF 8. Pp. 571-74).

The pseudepigraphon is a rather late imitation of 4 Ezra and is frequently similar to the Apocalypse of Sedrach. The work, however, is not so late as the ninth century, as M. R. James suggested (Apocrypha Anecdota [T&S 2.3] Cambridge: CUP, 1893; p. 113).

Most scholars have concluded that the work is Christian (e.g., E. Schürer, History, 2d. Div., vol. 3, p. 110; H. Gunkel in APAT 2, p. 352; H. Weinel in the Gunkel Festschrift, pp. 157f.), but P. Riessler argued that there is a Jewish Grundstock which has been reworked by a Christian (no. 62, p. 1273).

The work has not yet been assigned chapters, but it is divided internally into four parts. First, Ezra ascends to heaven and pleads with God for mercy upon sinners. Second, led by Michael and Gabriel he descends into Tartarus, where he views the punishment of Herod and other sinners, one of whom is described as the Antichrist. Third, he ascends into the heavens and witnesses more punishments, even in Paradise, where he sees Enoch, Elijah, Moses, Peter, Paul, Luke, and Matthew. Fourth, he descends again deeper into Tartarus where he witnesses more torments, and eventually wins blessings for those who revere his book (to biblion touto) and curses for those who do not believe it. He dies, giving up his soul; his body is buried.

M. E. Stone writes: "The dependence of the writing on (presumably the Greek version of) 4 Ezra and its Christian character indicate a date sometime in the first millennium. If James is correct and this is the writing referred to in the Canon of Nicephorus (c. A.D. 850), then a date sometime between A.D. 150 and 850 is probable. Its provenace cannot be discerned." (The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1, p. 563)

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