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2 Baruch

Early Second Century A.D

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A. F. J. Klijn writes: "Until recently the Apocalypse of Baruch was only known from a Syriac manuscript dating from the sixth or seventh century AD. Since the beginning of this century two fragments have come to light in Greek (12:1-13:2 and 13:11-14:3) from the fourth or fifth century. Small fragments of the text, again in Syriac, have been discovered in lectionaries of the Jacobite Church. However, no fewer than thirty-six manuscripts of the letter at the end of this work (78:1 till the end) are known because it once belonged to the canon of Scriptures in the Syriac speaking Church. Not long ago the entire work was discovered in an Arabic manuscript on Mount Sinai. This text differs in many details from the Syriac which we already knew before. Nevertheless the Arabic translation appears to be a free rendering of an original Syriac version. This means that the contents are not very helpful in determining the original text of the somewhat corrupt Syriac translation." (Outside the Old Testament, p. 193)

James Charlesworth writes: "Most scholars have divided the book into seven sections, with some disagreement regarding borderline verses: an account of the destruction of Jerusalem (1-12); the impending judgment (13-20); the time of retribution and the subsequent messianic era (21-34); Baruch's lament and an allegory of the vine and the cedar (35-46); terrors of the last time, nature of the resurrected body, and teh features of Paradise and Sheol (47-52); Baruch's vision of a cloud (53-76); Baruch's letters to the nine and a half tribes and to the two and a half tribes (77-87). The pseudepigraphon is important for numerous theological concepts, e.g. the explanation that Jerusalem was destroyed not by enemies but by angels (7:1-8:5); the preoccupation with the origin of sin (15:5f., 23:4f., 48:42, 54:15, 19; cf. 4Ezra 7:116-31); pessimism for the present (85:10); the contention that the end will not come until the number of those to be born is fulfilled (23:4-7; cf. 4Ezra 4:35-37); the description of the resurrected body (49:1-51:6); and the varied messianic concepts." (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, p. 84)

Raymond F. Surburg writes: "The book divides itself into seven sections. It begins with the model of prophecy: 'The word of the Lord came to Baruch, the son of Neraiah, saying.' In the first section the fall of Jerusalem is announced, but Baruch is comforted by the promise that the overthrow of Isarel will only be 'for a season.' In the second section Baruch has a vision in which he is told to fast for seven days after which he is permitted to pour out his complaint before the Lord. Baruch is informed of the judgments which will come over the Gentiles and of the glory of the world to come, which is to exist especially for the righteous. The destruction of Jerusalem is described as the work of angels instead of the Chaldeans. In the third section Baruch raises the problem of the nature of evil, which is also the theme of 2 Esdras. In the fourth section the reader is assured that the future world is made for the righteous. In the fifth section Baruch complains about the delay of God's kingdom and is assured that first the number of the elect must be fulfilled. When this has happened, the Messiah will come. Section six gives the vision of the cedar and the vine, which symbolizes the Roman Empire and the triumph of the Messiah. Baruch asks who will share in the glory to come and is told, 'Those that believe.' The six 'black waters' described represent six evil periods in world history, and the 'six clear waters' denote the number of good periods. It is in this section that the doctrine of the resurrection of the body is set forth by the author." (Introduction to the Intertestamental Period, pp. 140-141)

Martin McNamara writes: "Baruch announces the destruction of Jerusalem and, in chap. 4 (which some regard as interpolated) is shown the heavenly Jerusalem. Like Ezra, Baruch is made to see that God's ways are incomprehensible. He is told that the holy city of Zion has been taken away so that God might hasten the day of judgment (20). God's final judgment will come in God's own time, that is when all the souls destined to be born have been born." (Intertestamental Literature, p. 79)

Emil Schürer writes: "My own opinion is that it is quite the converse of this, and that it would be nearer the truth to say that it is precisely in the case of Baruch that this problem is uppermost, viz. How is the calamity of Israel and the impunity of its oppressors possible and conceivable? while in the case of Ezra, though this problem concerns him too, still there is a question that almost lies yet nearer his heart, viz. Why is it that so many perish and so few are saved? The subordination of the former of these questions to the other, which is a purely theological one, appears to me rather to indicate that Ezra is of a later date than Baruch. Not only so, but it is decidedly of a more finished character, and is distinguished by greater maturity of thought and a greater degree of lucidity than the last-mentioned book. But this is a point in regard to which it is scarcely possible to arrive at a definite conclusion. And hence we are equally unable to say whether our book was written shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem (so Hilgenfeld, Fritzsche, Drummond), or during the reign of Domitian (so Ewald), or in the time of Trajan (so Langen, Wieseler, Renan, Dillmann). Undoubtedly the most probable supposition of all is that it was composed not long after the destruction of the holy city, when the question 'How could God permit such a disaster?' was still a burning one. It is older at all events than the time of Papias, whose chimerical fancies about the millennial kingdom (Irenaeus, v. 33. 3) are borrowed from our Apocalypse (xxix. 5)." (The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, pp. 90-91)

Leonhard Rost writes: "There is a reasonable consensus among scholars that the book was written around A.D. 90; the author looks back on the destruction of the Temple and the city in the year 70, but knows nothing of the revolt under Bar Kochba. This argument does not rule out R. H. Charles' theory: he views the three apocalypses 27-30:1; 36-40; 53-74 as earlier sections, written before A.D. 70. It still remains a matter of debate, however, in view of the many points of contact between the Apocalypse of Baruch and IV Ezra, whether the former or the latter is earlier. At present, the scales are tipped in favor of an earlier origin for IV Ezra. It is reasonably certain that the book was composed in Jerusalem. The author has points of contact with the Pharisees." (Judaism Outside the Hebrew Canon, pp. 128-129)

A. F. J. Klijn writes: "The work appears to have been written after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, like 4 Ezra, an apocalypse with which it has a number of points in common, and the Paraleipomena Jeremiou in which Baruch also is an important figure. The work tries to give an answer to the burning question why God allowed his temple to be destroyed. The answer is that God himself sent his angels to destroy his sanctuary and that the time of this tribulation will be short. In other words, the destruction of the temple is God's final act before the day of judgment on which the enemies of Israel will be punished and God's people will be vindicated. Although, as the Apocalypse indicates, nothing is left but God and the Law, Israel may expect to be rescued from its enemies." (Outside the Old Testament, p. 194)

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