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Apocryphon of Ezekiel

First Century B.C. - First Century A.D.

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James Charlesworth writes (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, pp. 109-110) :

Extant only in quotations by the Fathers and in three fourth-century fragments of Chester Beatty Papyrus 185 are remnants of one or more apocryphal compositions attributed to Ezekiel. Four of these quotations—two by Epiphanius (Haer. 64.70, 6-17; 30.30, 3), and one each by Clement of Rome (1 Clem. 8.3) and Clement of Alexandria (Quis dives salv. 40.2 and parallel citations)—and the text of Chester Beatty Papyrus 185 are republished by A.-M. Denis (no. 23, pp. 121-28). An English translation of these quotations was published by M. R. James (LAOT. Pp. 64-68).

At least one pseudepigraphon is as early as the first century A.D., because Josephus mentions two books of Ezekiel (Ant. 10.5, 1). The extant fragments are certainly Jewish; but some of them, especially number two, reveal that somewhere in the transmission there may have been editing by a Jewish Christian (see the similar idea expressed by C. Bonner, The Homily on the Passion by Melito Bishop of Sardis with Some Fragments of the Apocryphal Ezekiel [St. and Doc. 12] Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1940; p. 185; see pl. II for one side of the papyrus fragments). A date of composition somewhere between 50 B.C. and A.D. 50 was suggested by K. Holl ("Das Apokryphon Ezekiel," Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kirchengeschichte. Tübingen: Mohr, 1928. Vol. 2, p. 39), and this proposal has met with wide approval (e.g., J. B. Frey in DBSup 1, col. 460; E. Kutsch, no. 826; A.-M. Denis, no. 24, p. 190; E.B. Oikonomos, no. 827, col. 750).

The first fragment is a relatively long excerpt preserving a parable about a blind and a lame man who combined abilities to destroy the king's garden because they had not been invited to the son's marriage feast. The just judge perceives how the act had been accomplished and hears each culprit blame the other. The purpose of the parable is to illustrate that the body and soul are joined together, sharing a common fate. (A similar story is found in rabbinic sources; cf. Sanh. 91 a-b, Mekh. Shirata 2; Lev. R. 4. 5.) The second is very short and has been linkd with the virgin birth of Jesus: "and the heifer shall bear and they shall say, 'she has not born.'" The third fragment contains a plea for Israel to repent, and the fourth contains an idea concerning judgment.

J. R. Mueller and S. E. Robinson write: "The Apocryphon of Ezekiel cannot be dated later than the end of the first century A.D. 1 Clement (c. A.D. 95) uses the Apocryphon as one of its sources, and the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus noted (Ant. 10.5.1) that Ezekiel had left behind two books, of which we may assume one to have been the apocryphon. The earliest possible date cannot be determined as precisely, although the conjecture of K. Holl and J.-B. Frey, placing the composition of the document between 50 B.C. and A.D. 50, has been generally accepted." (The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1, p. 488)

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