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Questions of Ezra

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James Charlesworth writes (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, pp. 117-118):

The one extant Armenian manuscript of the Questions of Ezra has not been edited, but parts of it were translated into English by J. Issaverdens (UWOT. Pp. 457-61).

The work is Christian, rather late, and apparently influenced by traditions recorded in 1 Enoch, 2 Enoch, the Apocalypse of Abraham, and the Apocalypse of Zosimus. Issaverdens translates six of the questions Ezra asks 'the Angel of God'; these can be paraphrased as follows:

1. What has God prepared for the righteous and sinners?

Ans. For the righteous are prepared rejoicing and light, for sinners darkness and fire.

2. If all men living are sinners and hence deserve condemnation, are not beasts more blessed?

Ans. Do not repeat these words to "Him who is above you."

3. Where does the soul go after death?

Ans. A good angel comes to a good soul, and a wicked one to a bad soul (cf. ApAb). The soul is taken eastward.

4. What is that way like?

Ans. There are seven steps to the Divinity; the righteous soul passes through four steps of terror, one of enlightenment, and two of blessing.

5. Why do you not take the soul to the Divinity?

Ans. Ezra is called a vain man (cf. ApZos) who thinks according to human nature. No man or angel can see the face of God, but only the place of God's throne, which is fiery (cf. 1En 14:18-23, 2En 20).

6. What shall become of "us sinners"?

Ans. When you die you will obtain mercy and rest if a Christian prays or performs some act of devotion for you.

M. E. Stone writes: "There is insufficient evidence to determine whether the writing was originally composed in Armenian or whether it wsa translated into Armenian from another language. Possible arguments based on literary considerations will be adduced in the next section. There seems no clear basis for establishing the date except to say that the writing is a Christian composition clearly based on Jewish models. There is no indication of provenace." (The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, p. 592)

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