The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
ONLY the briefest account of these can be given in this place;
barely more than an enumeration.
I. The Book of Enoch. - As the contents and the
literature of this remarkable book, which is quoted by St. Jude (vv. 14, 15),
have been fully described in Dr. Smith's and Wace's Dictionary of Christian
Biography (vol. ii. pp. 124-128), we may here refer to it the more shortly.
It comes to us from Palestine, but has only been preserved in
an Ethiopic translation (published by Archbishop Laurence [Oxford, 1838;
in English transl. 3rd ed. 1821-1838; German transl. by A. G. Hoffmann],
then from five different MSS. by Professor Dillmann [Leipzig, 1851; in
German transl. Leipzig, 1853]). But even the Ethiopic translation is not from
the original Hebrew or Aramaic, but from a Greek version, of which a small
fragment has been discovered (ch. lxxxix. 42-49; published by Cardinal Mai.
Comp. also Gildemeister, Zeitschr. d. D. Morg. Ges. for 1855, pp.
621-624, and Gebhardt, Merx' Arch. ii. 1872, p. 243).
As regards the contents of the work: An Introduction of five brief
chapters, and the book (which, however, contains not a few spurious passages)
consists of five parts, followed by a suitable Epilogue. The most interesting
portions are those which tell of the Fall of the Angels and its consequences,
of Enoch's rapt journeys through heaven and earth, and of what he saw and heard
(ch. vi.-xxxvi.); the Apocalyptic portions about the Kingdom of Heaven and the
Advent of the Messiah (lxxxiii-xci.); and, lastly, the hortatory discourses
(xci.-cv.). When we add, that it is pervaded by a tone of intense faith and
earnestness about the Messiah, 'the last things,' and other doctrines specially
brought out in the New Testament, its importance will be understood. Altogether
the Book of Enoch contains 108 chapters.
From a literary point of view, it has been arranged (by Schürer
and others) into three parts: - 1. The Original Work (Grundschrift),
ch. i.-xxxvi.; lxxii.-cv. This portion is supposed to date from about 175 b.c. 2. The Parables, ch.
xxxvii.- liv. 6; lv. 3-lix.; lxi.-lxiv.; lxix. 26-lxxi. This part also dates
previous to the Birth of Christ - perhaps from the time of Herod the Great. 3. The
so-called Noachian Sections, ch. liv. 7-lv. 2; lx.; lxv.-lxix. 25. To these
must be added ch. cvi., and the later conclusion in ch. cviii. On the dates of
all these portions it is impossible to speak definitely.
II. Even greater, though a different interest, attaches to the Sibylline
Oracles, written in Greek hexameters.1
In their present form they consist of twelve books, together with several
fragments. Passing over two large fragments, which seem to have originally
formed the chief part of the introduction to Book III., we have (1) the two
first Books. These contain part of an older and Hellenist Jewish Sibyl, as well
as of a poem by the Jewish Pseudo-Phocylides, in which heathen myths concerning
the first ages of man are curiously welded with Old Testament views. The rest
of these two books was composed, and the whole put together, not earlier than
the close of the second century, perhaps by a Jewish Christian. (2) The third
Book is by far the most interesting. Besides the fragments already referred to,
vv. 97-807 are the work of a Hellenist Jew, deeply imbued with the Messianic hope.
This part dates from about 160 before our era, while vv. 49-96 seem to belong
to the year 31 b.c. The rest (vv.
1-45, 818-828) dates from a later period. We must here confine our attention to
the most ancient portion of the work. For our present purpose, we may arrange
it into three parts. In the first, the ancient heathen theogony is recast in a
Jewish mould - Uranus becomes Noah; Shem, Ham, and Japheth are Saturn, Titan,
and Japetus, while the building of the Tower of Babylon is the rebellion of the
Titans. Then the history of the world is told, the Kingdom of Israel and of
David forming the centre of all. What we have called the second is the most
curious part of the work. It embodies ancient heathen oracles, so to speak, in
a Jewish recension, and interwoven with Jewish elements. The third part may be
generally described as anti-heathen, polemical, and Apocalyptic. The Sibyl is
thoroughly Hellenistic in spirit. She is loud and earnest in her appeals, bold
and defiant in the tone of her Jewish pride, self-conscious and triumphant in
her anticipations. But the most remarkable circumstance is, that this Judaising
and Jewish Sibyl seems to have passed - though possibly only in parts - as the
oracles of the ancient Erythræan Sibyl, which had predicted to the Greeks the
fall of Troy, and those of the Sibyl of Cumæ, which, in the infancy of Rome,
Tarquinius Superbus had deposited in the Capitol, and that as such it is quoted
from by Virgil (in his 4th Eclogue) in his description of the Golden Age.
have in the main accepted the learned criticism of Professor Friedlieb
(Oracula Sibyllina, 1852.)
Of the other Sibylline Books little need be said. The 4th, 5th,
9th, and 12th Books were written by Egyptian Jews at dates varying from the
year 80 to the third century of our era. Book VI. is of Christian origin, the
work of a Judaising Christian, about the second half of the second century.
Book VIII., which embodies Jewish portions, is also of Christian authorship,
and so are Books X. and XI.
III. The collection of eighteen hymns, which in their Greek
version bear the name of the Psalter of Solomon, must originally have
been written in Hebrew, and dates from more than half a century before our era.
They are the outcome of a soul intensely earnest, although we not unfrequently
meet expressions of Pharisiac self-religiousness.
It is a time of national sorrow in which the poet sings, and it almost seems as
if these 'Psalms' had been intended to take up one or another of the leading
thoughts in the corresponding Davidic Psalms, and to make, as it were,
application of them to the existing circumstances.
Though somewhat Hellenistic in its cast, the collection breathes ardent
Messianic expectancy, and firm faith in the resurrection, and eternal reward
and punishment (iii. 16; xiii. 9, 10; xiv. 2, 6, 7; xv. 11 to the end).
for example, ix. 7, 9.
view which, so far as I know, has not been suggested by critics, will be
confirmed by an attentive perusal of almost every 'Psalm' in the collection
(comp. the first three with the three opening Psalms in the Davidic Psalter).
Is our 'Psalter of Solomon,' as it were, an historical commentary by the
typical 'sage?' And is our collection only a fragment?
IV. Another work of that class - 'Little Genesis,' or 'The
Book of Jubilees' - has been preserved to us in its Ethiopic translation
(though a Latin version of part of it has lately been discovered) and is a
Haggadic Commentary on Genesis. Professing to be a revelation to Moses during
the forty days on Mount Sinai, it seeks to fill lacunæ in the sacred
history, specially in reference to its chronology. Its character is hortatory
and warning, and it breathes a strong anti-Roman spirit. It was written by a
Palestinian in Hebrew, or rather Aramæan, probably about the time of Christ.
The name, 'Book of Jubilees,' is derived from the circumstance that the
Scripture-chronology is arranged according to Jubilee periods of forty-nine
years, fifty of these (or 2,450 years) being counted from the Creation to the
entrance into Canaan.
V. Among the Pseudepigraphic Writings we also include the 4th
Book of Esdras, which appears among our Apocrypha as 2 Esdras ch. iii.-xiv.
(the two first and the two last chapters being spurious additions). The work,
originally written in Greek, has only been preserved in translation into five
different languages (Latin, Arabic, Syriac, Ethiopic, and Armenian). It was
composed probably about the end of the first century after Christ. From this
circumstance, and the influence of Christianity on the mind of the writer, who,
however, is an earnest Jew, its interest and importance can be scarcely
exaggerated. The name of Ezra was probably assumed, because the writer wished
to treat mainly of the mystery of Israel's fall and restoration.
The other Pseudepigraphic Writings are: -
VI. The Ascension (ch. i.-v.) and Vision (ch.
vi.-xi.) of Isaiah, which describes the martyrdom of the prophet (with a
Christian interpolation [ch. iii. 14-iv. 22] ascribing his death to prophecy of
Christ, and containing Apocalyptic portions), and then what he saw in heaven.
The book is probably based on an older Jewish account, but is chiefly of
Christian heretical authorship. It exists only in translations, of which that
in Ethiopic (with Latin and English versions) has been edited by Archbishop Laurence.
VII. The Assumption of Moses
(probably quoted in St. Jude ver. 9) also exists only in translation, and is
really a fragment. It consists of twelve chapters. After an Introduction (ch.
i.), containing an address of Moses to Joshua, the former, professedly, opens
to Joshua the future of Israel to the time of Varus. This is followed by an
Apocalyptic portion, beginning at ch. vii. and ending with ch. x. The two
concluding chapters are dialogues between Joshua and Moses. The book dates
probably from about the year 2 b.c.,
or shortly afterwards. Besides the Apocalyptic portions the interest lies
chiefly in the fact that the writer seems to belong to the Nationalist party,
and that we gain some glimpses of the Apocalyptic views and hopes - the highest
spiritual tendency - of that deeply interesting movement. Most markedly, this
Book at least is strongly anti-Pharisaic, especially in its opposition to their
purifications (ch. vii.). We would here specially note a remarkable resemblance
between 2 Tim. iii. 1-5 and this in Assump. Mos. vii. 3-10: (3) 'Et regnabunt
de his homines pestilentiosi et impii, dicentes se esse iustos, (4) et hi
suscitabunt iram animorum suorum, qui erunt homines dolosi, sibi placentes,
ficti in omnibus suiset onmi hora diei amantes convivia, devoratores gulæ (5)
... (6) [paupe] rum bonorum comestores, dicentes se haec facere propter
misericordiam eorum, (7) sed et exterminatores, queruli et fallaces, celantes
se ne possint cognosci, impii in scelere, pleni et inquitate ab oriente usque
ad occidentem, (8) dicentes: habebimus discubitiones et luxurian edentes et
bibentes, et potabimus nos, tamquam principes erimus. (9) Et manus eorum et
dentes inmunda tractabunt, et os eorum loquetur ingentia, et superdicent: (10)
noli [tu me] tangere, ne inquines me ...' But it is very significant, that
instead of the denunciation of the Pharisees in vv. 9,10 of the Assumptio,
we have in 2 Tim. iii. 5. the words 'having the form of godliness, but denying
the power thereof.'
VIII. The Apocalypse of Baruch. - This also exists only
in Syriac translation, and is apparently fragmentary, since the vision promised
in ch lxxvi. 3 is not reported, while the Epistle of Baruch to the two and a
half tribes in Babylon, referred to in lxxvii. 19, is also missing. The book
had been divided into seven sections (i.-xii.; xiii.-xx.; xxi.-xxxxiv.;
xxxv.-xlvi.; xlvii.-lii.; liii.-lxxvi.; lxxvii.-lxxxvii.). The whole is in a
form of revelation to Baruch, and of his replies, and questions, or of notices
about his bearing, fast, prayers, &c. The most interesting parts are in
sections v. and vi. In the former we mark (ch. xlviii. 31-41) the reference to
the consequence of the sin of our first parents (ver. 42; comp. also xvii. 3;
xxiii. 4; liv. 15, 19), and in ch. xlix. the discussion and information; with
what body and in what form the dead shall rise, which is answered, not as by
St. Paul in 1 Cor. xv. - though the question raised (1 Cor. xv. 35) is
precisely the same - but in the strictly Rabbinic manner, described by us in
Vol. ii. pp. 398, 399. In section vi. we specially mark (ch. lxix.-lxxiv.) the
Apocalyptic descriptions of the Last Days, and of the Reign and Judgment of
Messiah. In general, the figurative language in that Book is instructive in regard
to the phraseology used in the Apocalyptic portions of the New Testament.
Lastly, we mark that the views on the consequences of the Fall are much more
limited than those expressed in 4 Esdras. Indeed, they do not go beyond
physical death as the consequence of the sin of our first parents (see
especially liv. 19: Non est ergo Adam causa, nisi animæ suæ tantum; nos vero
unusquisque fuit animæ suæ Adam). At the same time, it seems to use, as if
perhaps the reasoning rather than the language of the writer indicated
hesitation on his part (liv. 14-19; comp. also first clause of xlviii. 43). It
almost seems as if liv. 14-19 were intended as against the reasoning of St.
Paul, Rom. v. 12 to the end. In this respect the passage in Baruch is most
interesting, not only in itself (see for ex. ver. 16: Certo enim qui credit
recipiet mercedem), but in reference to the teaching of 4 Esdras which, as
regards original sin, takes another direction than Baruch. But I have little
doubt that both allude to the - to them - novel teaching of St. Paul on that
doctrine. Lastly, as regards the question when this remarkable work was
written, we would place its composition after the destruction of
Jerusalem. Most writers date it before the publication of 4 Esdras, Even the
appearance of a Pseudo-Baruch and Pseudo-Esdras are significant of the
political circumstances and the religious hopes of the nation.
For criticism and fragments of other Old Testament
Pseudepigrapha, comp. Fabricius, Codex Pseudepigraphus Vet. Test., 2
vols. (ed. 2, 1722). The Psalter of Sol., IV. Esdr. (or, as he puts it, IV. and
V. Esd.), the Apocal of Baruch, and the Assumption of Mos., have been edited by
Fritzsche (Lips. 1871); other Jewish (Hebrew) O. T. Pseudepigraphs -
though of a later date - in Jellinek's beth haMidrash (6 vols.), passim.
A critical review of the literature of the subject would here be out of place.