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Study Resources :: Dictionaries :: Apocalyptic Literature, 1 (3-4)

Dictionaries :: Apocalyptic Literature, 1 (3-4)

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International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia

Apocalyptic Literature, 1 (3-4):

3. The Assumption of Moses:

In the Epistle of Jude is a reference to a conflict between the archangel Michael and Satan, when they "disputed about the body of Moses" Oregon (de Princip, iii.2) attributes this to a book he calls Ascensio Mosis. Clement Alexandrinus gives an account of the burial of Moses quoted from the same book. There are several references to the book up to the 6th century, but thereafter it disappeared till Ceriani found the fragment of it which is published in the Acta Sacra et Profana (Vol I). This fragment is in Latin. It is full of blunders, some due to transcription, proving that the last scribe had but an imperfect knowledge of the tongue in which he wrote. Some of the blunders go farther back and seem to have been due to the scribe who translated it from Greek. Even such a common word as thilpsis ("affliction") he did not know, but attempted, by no means with conspicuous success, to transliterate it as clipsis. So with allophuloi "foreigners," the common Septuagint equivalent of "Philistine," and yet commoner skene ("a tent") and several others. It probably was dictated, as some of the blunders of the copyist may be better explained as mistakes in hearing, as fynicis for Phoenices, and venient for veniet. Some, however, are due to blunders of sight on the part of the translator, as monses for moyses.

From this we may deduce that he read from a manuscript in cursive characters, in which "n" and "u" were alike. This Milan manuscript has been frequently edited. Dr Charles has suggested with great plausibility that there were two works, a Testament of Moses, and an Assumption, and that these have been combined; and, while Jude 1:9 is derived from the Assumption, as also the quotation in Clement of Alexandria, he thinks that Jude 1:16 is derived from separate clauses of the Testament. It may be observed that in the fragment which has been preserved to us, neither the passages in Clement nor that referred to in Jude 1:16 are to be found.

(1) Summary.

Moses, now in the plain of Moab, calls Joshua to him and gives him commands for the people. He had already blessed them tribe by tribe. Now he calls his successor to him and urges him to be of good courage. He tells him that the world has been created for Israel, and that he, Moses, had been ordained from before the foundation of the world to be the mediator of this covenant. These commands are to be written down and preserved in clay jars full of cedar oil. This sentence is added to explain the discovery and publication. A rapid summary of the history of Israel to the fall of the Northern Kingdom follows. The successive reigns are called years-eighteen years before the division of the kingdom, 15 Judges and Saul, David and Solomon, and nineteen after, the kings from Jeroboam to Hoshea. The Southern Kingdom has twenty years or reigns.

The Southern Kingdom was to fall before Nebuchadnezzar, the king from the East who would cover the land with his cavalry. When they are in captivity one prays for them. Here follows a prayer modeled on Da 9:4-19-almost a version of it. In this connection it may be noted that of the ten tribes it is asserted they will multiply among the Gentiles. There is a sudden leap forward to the time of the Greek domination. Singularly, the period of the Maccabees does not appear in this sketch of history. The times of Judas Maccabeus are not mentioned, but the kings of his house, the descendants of Simon, are referred to as "Kings ruling shall rise from them, who shall be called priests of the Most High God." To them follows Herod, rex petulans, "who will not be of the race of the priests." He will execute judgment on the people like those of Egypt. Herod is to leave children who will reign after him for a short period. The Roman emperor is to put an end to their rule and to burn up Jerusalem. Then comes a mutilated chapter, which, while following in the narrative, may yet be only another aspect of the oppression. The Roman officials figure duly as the source of this, and the Sadducean high-priestly party as their instruments. The resemblance to the terms in which our Lord denounces the Pharisees leads one to think that they, too, are meant by the Essene authors. We have noted above that the Maccabean period is completely omitted.

The persecution under Antiochus appears in Assumption of Moses 8 and 9. With Dr. Charles we are inclined to think they have been displaced. In chapter 9 occurs the reference to the mysterious Taxo with his seven sons. Dr. Charles is quite sure the reference is to the seven sons of the widow who suffered before Antiochus Epiphanes as related in 2 Macc 7 (4 Macc 8-17), but the "mother" is the prominent person in all the forms of the story, while in no form of it is their father mentioned. It is to be noted that if T of this mysterious name, represents taw (t) in the Hebrew (= 400), and xi represents the letter camek (c) (= 60) which occupies the same place in the Hebrew alphabet, and if the O represents waw (w) (= 6), adding those numbers together we have the number 466, which is the sum of the letters of Shimeon. But nothing in the history of the second son of Mattathias resembles the history of the mysterious Taxo. On this subject the reader is recommended to study Charles, Assumption of Moses, 32-34. Taxo recommends his sons, having fasted to retire into a cave, and rather to die than to transgress the commands of God. In this conduct there is a suggestion of the action of several of the pious in the beginning of the Antiochus persecutions. Taxo then breaks into a song of praise to God, in the course of which he describes the final discomfiture of the enemies of God and of His people.

The establishment of the Messianic kingdom is to be 250 times after the Assumption of Moses. The interpretation of this is one of the difficulties in regard to this Apocalypse. Langen takes the times as equivalent to decades, and Dr. Charles as year-weeks. The latter seems a more probable meaning of "time," as more in the line of Jewish thought. It should be noted that Dr. Charles thinks illius adventum refers not to the Messiah's coming, but to the last judgment. In answer to the declaration of Moses as to his approaching death, Joshua rends his garments and breaks forth into lamentations, wondering who will lead on the people when his master has departed. There is one phrase that seems to imply a tincture of classical culture. Joshua says of Moses, "All the world is thy Sepulchre," which seems to be a reminiscence of Pericles' funeral oration (Thucyd. ii.4), "The whole earth is the monument of men of renown." He then casts himself at the feet of Moses. His master encourages him and promises him success. At this point the fragment ends. It is to be expected that shortly after this would occur the passage quoted by Clement of Alexandria, and still later that quoted in Jude.

(2) Structure.

It seems to have been united with one, if not two other books, a "Testament of Moses" and our Book of Jubilees. It would seem that in the present work we have mostly the "Testament." The insertion of the word receptione after morte in Assumption of Moses 10:12 indicates that when this copy was made the two writings were united. As above remarked, there appears to have been a displacement of chapters 8 and 9; they ought to have been placed between chapters 4 and 5.

(3) Language.

As already mentioned, the manuscript found by Ceriani in the Ambrosian Library is in Latin. No one, however, has maintained that this was the language in which it was originally written. It is evidently a translation from the Greek. A number of Greek words are transliterated, some of them common enough. So clearly does the Greek shine through, that Hilgenfeld has reproduced what he imagines the Greek text to have been. That having been settled, a further question rises, Is the Greek the original tongue, or was it, too, a translation from a Sere original? The first alternative is that adopted by Hilgenfeld. His arguments from the alleged impossibility of certain grammatical constructions being found in Hebrew are due to mistake. The presence of such words as Allofile and Deuteronomion simply prove that in translating a book which claimed to be written about Moses, the writer followed the diction used by the Septuagint, just as Archbishop Laurence in translating Enoch used the diction of the King James Version of the Bible These questions have been ably investigated by Dr. Charles in his edition of the Assumption of Moses (42-45). He shows a number of Semitic idioms which have persisted through the Greek-some cases in which the meaning can only be got by reconstructing the Hebrew text.

Again, corruption can only be explained by means of a Semitic text. It might be suggested that a falsarius writing in Greek would naturally employ the diction of the Septuagint as has been done frequently in English; the diction of the King James Version is used to cover the imitation of a sacred book. The fact that style was so little regarded as a means of settling dates and authorship renders this unlikely. The more delicate question of which of the two Sere tongues-Aramaic or Hebrew-is employed, is more difficult to settle. There are, however, one or two cases in which we seem to see traces of the waw conversive-a construction peculiar to Hebrew-e.g. 8:2, "Those who conceal (their circumcision) he will torture and has delivered up to be led to prison." The ignorance of the scribe may, however, be revoked to explain this. On the other hand the change of tense is so violent that even an ignorant scribe would not be likely to make it by mistake. Over and above, a narrative attributed to Joshua and asserted to be written down by him at the dictation of Moses, would necessarily be in Hebrew. From this we would deduce that Hebrew rather than Aramaic has been the Semitic original.

(4) Date.

The identification of the rex petulans with Herod and the statement that he should be succeeded by his sons who should reign a short time, fix the date of the composition of the work before us within narrow limits. It must have been written after the death of Herod and also after the deposition of Archelaus, 6 AD, and before st was seen that Antipas and Philip were secure on their thrones. Thus we cannot date it later than 7 or 8 AD. The intense hatred of the Herodians was a characteristic of this time. Later they came to be admired by the patriotic party.

(5) Relation to Other Books.

The most striking phrase is the name given to Moses-arbiter testamenti, "the mediator of the covenant," which we find repeatedly used in the Epistle to the Hebrews: mesites is the Greek translation of mokhiach in Job 9:33, but in translating the Epistle to the Hebrews into Hebrew Delitzsch uses carcor, a purely rabbinic word. Another rendering is menatseach. There are several echoes in this book of passages in the Old Testament, as the address to Jos (1:1 ff) is parallel with De 31:7 f. The prayer in Assumption of Moses 4, as before observed, is modeled on Da 9:4-19. There are traces of acquaintance with the Psalter of Solomon in Assumption of Moses 5 as compared with Ps 4. In these there appear to be echoes of the present work in our Lord's description of the Pharisees, when we compare Mt 23 with Assumption of Moses 5.

There is a fragment published by Ceriani entitled "History and Life (diegesis kai politeia) of Adam, Which, Was Revealed by God to Moses, His Servant." It is an account of the life of our first parents after the death of Abel to their own death. It has been composed to all appearance in Greek, and really belongs not to Mosaic literature, but to that connected with Adam. It is to be noted that to Cain and Abel other names are given besides those so well known. They are called Adiaphotos and Amilabes, names of no assignable origin. There are no evidences of Christian influence; from this one would be led to regard it as a Jewish writing; as the middle of it has been lost, any decision is to be made with caution.

4. The Ascension of Isaiah:

The Ascension of Isaiah was often referred to by name in the works of early Christian Fathers, especially by Origen. It is called by him "The Apocryphon of Isaiah." Epiphanes gives it the title by which it is more commonly known. Now that we have the book, we find numerous echoes of it. Indeed, Origen claims that Heb 11:37 contains a reference to it in speaking of saints who were sawn asunder. Justin Martyr speaks of the death of Isaiah in terms that imply an acquaintance with this book. It had disappeared till Archbishop Laurence found a copy of it in Ethiopic on a London book-stall. The capture of Magdala brought home more manuscripts. A portion of it had been printed in Venice from a Latin version.

(1) Summary.

In the 26th year of his reign Hezekiah calls Isaiah before him to deliver certain writings into his hand. Isaiah informs him that the devil Sammael Malkira would take possession of his son Manasseh, and that he, Isaiah, will be sawn asunder by his hand. On hearing this, Hezekiah would order his son to be killed, but Isaiah tells him that the Chosen One will render his counsel vain. On the death of his father, Manasseh turned his hand to serve Berial Matanbukes. Isaiah retired to Bethlehem, and thence, with certain prophets-Micah, Joe and Habakkuk-and also Hananiah and his own son Joab, he removed to a desert mountain. Balkira, a Samaritan, discovered their hiding- place. They are brought before Manasseh, and Isaiah is accused of impiety because he has said that he has seen God, yet God had declared to Moses, "There shall no flesh see my face." He had also called Jerusalem, Sodom, and its rulers, those of Gomorrah. For Berial (Belial) had great wrath against Isaiah because he had revealed the coming of Christ and the mission of the apostles.

At this point there appears to be a confusion between the first coming of Christ and His second. Lawless elders and shepherds are referred to as appearing, and it is assumed the elders of the church and the pastors are intended, though this is not necessarily so. There certainly was much contention in the churches, as we know, concerning the question of circumcision. The reference, however, may be to the rulers and elders of Israel who crucified our Lord. Then follows the account of the incarnation of Beliar in Nero, "the matricide monarch," and the persecution of the twelve apostles, of whom one will be delivered into his hand-the reference here being probably to the martyrdom of Peter. If it is Paul, then It is a denial of Peter's martyrdom at Rome altogether; if it is Peter, it means the denial of Paul's apostleship. The reign of the Antichrist is to be "three years, seven months and twenty-seven days," that is, on the Roman reckoning, 1,335 days. This would seem to be calculated from Nero's persecution of the Christians. He makes a singular statement: "The greater number of those who have been associated together in order to receive the Beloved he will turn aside after him"-a statement that implies a vastly greater apostasy under the stress of persecution than we have any record of from other sources.

A good deal is to be said for the insertion of 1,000 in the number 332 in 4:14, so as to make it read 1,332. At the end of this period "the Lord will come with His angels and will drag Beliar into Gehenna with his armies." Then follows a reference to the descent of the Beloved into Sheol. The following chapter gives an account of the martyrdom of Isaiah, how he was "sawn in sunder with a wooden saw," and how Balkira mocked him, and strove to get Isaiah to recant. With Ascension of Isaiah 6 begins the Ascension proper. This chapter, however, is merely the introduction. It is in chapter 7 that the account is given of how the prophet is carried up through the firmament and then through heaven after heaven to the seventh. A great angel leads him upward. In the firmament he found the angels of the devil envying one another. Above this is the first heaven where he found a throne in the midst, and angels on the right and the left, the former of whom were the more excellent. So it was in the second, third, fourth and fifth heavens. Each heaven was more glorious than that beneath. In the sixth heaven there was no throne in the midst nor was there any distraction between angels on the right and left; all were equal. Be is then raised to the seventh heaven-the most glorious of all-where he sees not only God the Father, but also the Son and the Holy Spirit. As to the Son we are told that he should descend, and having assumed human form should be crucified through the influence of the Prince of this World. Baring descended into Sheol, he spoiled it, and ascended up on high. In chapter 10 there is a more detailed account of the descent of the Son through the successive heavens, how in each He assumed the aspect of the angels that dwelt therein, so that they did not know Him. In the Firmament, the quarreling and envying appeared at first to hinder Him. In chapter 11 we have a semi-docetic account of the miraculous birth With the declaration that it was on account of these revelations that he, Isaiah, was sawn in sunder, the Apocalypse ends.

(2) Structure.

Dr. Charles has maintained that three works are incorporated-the Testament of Hezekiah, the Martyrdom of Isaiah and the Vision of Isaiah. The names have been taken from those given to this work in patristic literature, and are not strictly descriptive of the contents, at least of the first. The confused chronology of the work as we have it may to some extent be due to transcription and translation. From the opening paragraph, there appears to have been an Apocryphon attributed to Hezekiah. Manasseh is called into his father's presence in order that here may be delivered into words, of righteousness "which the king himself had seen" "of eternal judgment, the torments of Gehenna and the Prince of this World and his angels and of his principalities and powers"-a phrase which implies a knowledge of the Epistle to the Ephesians on the part of the writer. The contents given thus summarily are not further detailed. The Vision of Isaiah does not give any account of the powers and principalities of Satan's kingdom. It would seem better to regard the present work as composed of two-the Martyrdom of Isaiah and the Vision or Ascension proper. The references backward and forward seem to imply a similarity of authorship in both parts. This would seem to suggest that the editor and author were one and the same person. There is a knowledge of Roman affairs at the time of Nero's fall so much beyond what anyone living in Palestine could attain that Rome would seem to be the place of composition.

(3) Language.

The immediate original from which the translation, Ethiopic, Latin and Sclavonic were made appears to have been Greek. It is clear in regard to the Ethiopic where the proper names which end in Hebrew in "h" and in the Greek transcription end in "s", as Bezekias, Isaias, the latter is followed, but Manasseh is Manassa. An interesting case is to be found in Ascension of Isaiah 2:12: Mikayas is called "son of Amida," where "Amida" stands for Imlah. In the Ethiopic transliteration ?aleph is generally used for the initial yodh as a vowel, as it is in "Israel" (Ethiopic Asreal), hence "Imida" might as correctly represent the name. Then as delta (d) and lambda (l) are like each other the change is explained. Although certainly as said above, Greek has been the immediate original, it is possible if not even probable that behind the Greek there was Hebrew. The structure of the sentences suggests the same thing (see 2:5 Gr). The mysterious name given to Berial, Mattanbukus-which, unfortunately, we have not in Greek-seems to be intelligible only in the idea that it has a Hebrew etymology, mattan buqah, "the gift of emptiness," the latter word being equivalent to "the void," "the abyss." The title given to Sammael, Malkira, seems naturally to mean king of "the watchers"-?irim, the angels who, as related in Enoch 10:5, did not continue in their first estate, but defiled themselves with women. So Belkira is "Lord of the fort"-ba?al qir. There thus seems to be a probability that like so many others of this class, the "Ascension" was originally written in Hebrew.

(4) Date.

No one reading the "Ascension" can fail to feel that he has to do with a Christian document, and one belonging to the very beginning of Christian history. There may have been an earlier Jewish Apocalypse behind, though to our thinking that does not seem necessary. It is made up of two documents, but the Christian element appears to be woven into the structure of both portions. That it is to be dated early in the history of the church may be seen from the expectation of Christ's speedy reappearance in the world in His parousia. The conflict in the church between elders and shepherds gives a picture of the struggle between Judaizers and the Pauline Christians on the other side. The emphasis laid on the twelve, the omission of all reference to Paul, indicates that it was Judaizing. The docetic account of the birth of Jesus, its independence of the canonical Gospels, all speak of an early date The date, however, it seems to us, can be fixed with great certainty.

The reign of Berial, who has come down upon Nero and incarnated himself in him is to be three years, seven months and twenty-seven days, in all 1,335 days (Asc Isa 41:2), the number in the end of Daniel (Da 12:12). This number, it may be noted, is reached by reckoning the years and months according to the Julian Calendar, proving this Apocalypse to have been written in Rome. But the number is singularly near the actual duration of Nero's reign after the persecution had begun. From the burning of Rome (July 19, 64) to the death of Nero (June 9, 68) was 1,421 days-that is, 86 days more. It was at least a month after the conflagration that the persecution began, and longer till the mad orgy of cruelty when Christians wrapt in pitch and set on fire illuminated Nero's gardens. If a Christian in Rome saw the persecution, he might hope for the end of this reign of terror, and fix on the number he found in Daniel. It would seem that already the 1,290 days had been overpassed, so he hopes that the 1,335 days will see the end of the tyrant.

There is a difficulty in the 332 days of Ascension of Isa 41:4. The temptation is great to hold with Lucke, Dillmann and Charles that 1,000 has dropped out, and that the last figure ought to be 5; then we have the same number. In that case, this Apocalypse must have been written after the news of the rebellion of Vindex had reached Rome, but before the death of Nero. If we may adopt this-though the fact that the shorter number is found in all three Ethiopic manuscripts makes this method of adding a figure necessary to an explanation one to be avoided-this would point to the time immediately preceding Nero's death. The difficulty is, where dad the author get the number? If it is correct, it is probably the arithmogram of some name of Satan. Berial gives 322 by gematria. It would seem that another mark of time is given in the martyrdom of Peter, which may be dated 64 AD. Another negative note is the absence of any reference to the fall of Jerusalem. Had it happened, Jew though the writer was, his love for his crucified Master would have led him to see the vengeance of heaven on the city which had put Him to death, and exult in it. It must have been written in the course of the year 68.

5. The Fourth Book of Esdras:

Unlike the books we have been discussing hitherto, 4 Esdras has never disappeared from the knowledge of the church. It has, however, come down to us primarily in a Latin translation of a Greek original. Archbishop Laurence discovered an Ethiopic version of it. Later an Armenian version with Latin translation was published in Venice. An Arabic version is also in existence. It was received into the Apocrypha of the Anglican church, though excluded from that of Germany; by the Council of Trent, 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras of our Apocrypha were excluded from the Roman Catholic canon, and placed after Revelation, along with Pr Man.

(1) Summary.

The first two chapters contain a prophecy after the model of Isaiah. Not a few passages show the influence of the New Testament on it. Compare 2 (4) Esdras 1:30 with Mt 23:37, and 2 (4) Esdras 2:45 with Re 7:13. With 2 (4) Esdras 3 there is a new beginning. This opens with a prayer which occupies the whole chapter. In answer, Uriel is sent from God and reveals to Ezra by various symbols the plan of God in regard to Israel. This goes on to the middle of 2 (4) Esdras 5, and forms the first vision. After fasting seven days, a new communication is made by Uriel to Ezra. It begins as the former did with a prayer. Then follows a series of questions intended to bring out the limited understanding of man. When these are finished, Uriel gives an account of the history of the world from the creation. This vision ends with 2 (4) Esdras 6:35. The third vision is very interesting, as a large section of 70 verses had been lost, and were recovered only comparatively recently. This vision contains an account of Creation as it is in Genesis, only rhetorical expansions occur, and a full description is given of Leviathan and Behemoth. Ezra is shown the heavenly Zion in vision as difficult of access.

The portion recently discovered contains an account of the place of punishment, and there is mention of Paradise. The end of this is a prayer of Ezra, which seems an independent composition (2 (4) Esdras 8:20). The fourth vision begins with 4 Esdras 9:26. In it Ezra is shown a woman weeping, who is interpreted to be Zion. She is transformed into a city (2 (4) Esdras 10:27). The fifth vision is the most important. It begins with an eagle appearing, which has three heads and twelve wings. This is interpreted as referring to the Roman empire. It would seem that this had been added to, as in addition to the twelve wings, eight other wings are spoken of. A lion appears who rebukes and destroys the eagle with the twelve wings. This lion is the Messiah and his kingdom. The sixth vision begins with chapter 13 and contains an account of the coming of Christ. In the seventh we have an account of the re-writing of the books at the dictation of Ezra, and the retention of the seventy secret sacred books. In what has preceded we have followed the scheme of Fritzsche. The last chapter proceeds from the same pen as do the opening chapters, and is combined with them by Fritzsche and called the Fifth Book of Esdras.

(2) Structure.

As has been indicated above, 4 Esdras is marked off into several distinct portions, preceded by Ezra fasting, and introduced by a prayer on the part of the prophet. Kabisch has a more elaborate scheme than Fritzsche. Like him, he recognizes seven visions, and like him he separates off the first chapter and the last 17, 15, 16, as by a different hand from the rest of the book. But in addition, he recognizes additions made by a R throughout the book. To us the scheme appears too elaborate.

(3) Language.

As above mentioned, the immediate source of the Latin text appears to have been Greek. There is very little to enable us to settle the question whether Greek was the language in which this book was composed, or whether even the Greek is a translation from Hebrew or Aramaic. There are many echoes of the other Scriptures, but no direct quotations, so there is nothing to show whether the author used the Hebrew text or the Septuagint. The proper names do not supply any clue. Although there are so many versions of the Greek, they are all so paraphrastic that the Greek in most cases is not by any means certain. The few verses quoted in Greek by Clemens Alexandrinus do not afford space enough to discover through them if there is any other language behind. It possibly was written in Hebrew, as it seems to have been written in Palestine.

(4) Date.

From the tone of the book there is no doubt that it was written after the capture of Jerusalem by Titus. Had it been due to the later cataclysm, when the rebellion of Barcochba was overthrown, a Christian Jew would not have manifested such sorrow. The break between the church and the synagogue was complete by that time. Further, had this book been written under Hadrian, the previous disaster would have been referred to. Over and above the distinctly and avowedly Christian passages, there are numerous echoes of the New Testament Scriptures. The fifth vision affords notes of time which would be more unambiguous if there had not been additions made. The eagle with the three heads and twelve wings is declared to be the fourth monarchy of Daniel, and by the context this is shown to be imperial Rome.

The question that has exercised critics is the portion of the Roman history referred to. Lucke regarded the reference to be to rulers prominent in the time of Sulla, and the three heads to be the first triumvirate. This view implies a knowledge of Roman politics not possessed by any Jew of the pre-Christian period. Further, the echoes of New Testament language which occur (compare 2 (4) Esdras 5:1 with Lu 18:8; 2 (4) Esdras 6:5 with Re 7:3, etc.) determine the decision against any idea that it was pre-Christian. The realization of the horrors of the overthrow of Jerusalem is too vivid to be the result merely of imagination. Another theory would see in the three heads the three Septimians, Severus and his sons Caracalla and Geta. This would find a place for the eight under- wings, as that is exactly the number of emperors between Domitian and Severus, if one neglects the short reign of Didius Julianus. The destruction of "the two under wings that thought to have reigned" (2 (4) Esdras 11:31) would be fulfilled in the defeat and death of pescennius Niger and Clodius Albinus.

The fact that it is the right-hand head that devours the head to the left fits the murder of Geta the younger son, by Caracalla, the elder. Against this view is the fact that the book is quoted by Clemens Alexandrinus. Further, the eight under-wings are said to be kings "whose times shall be small, and their years swift" (2 (4) Esdras 12:20). Though might be said of Nerva, it could not be affirmed of Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Plus or Marcus Aurelius. We are thus restricted to the view which maintains that the three heads are the three Flavians. The twelve wings are the first emperors, beginning with Julius Caesar. The reign of Augustus is longer than any of the monarchs that succeeded him, and it is noted that the second wing was to have that distinction (2 (4) Esdras 12:15). The date then may be placed between the death of Titus and that of Domitian-that is, from 81 to 96. The Lion who rebukes the Eagle for his unrighteousness is the Messiah-the Christ-in His second coming, when He shall come in the glory of His kingdom. The Christians had begun to doubt the speedy coming of the Master, hence He is spoken of as "kept unto the end of days" (2 Esdras 12:32). Such are the Apocalypses, strictly speaking.

Written by J. E. H. Thomson


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