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In the times immediately preceding and succeeding the commencement of the Christian era there arose among the Jews a style of writing to which the name Pseudepigraphic has been given, because most of the works so composed appeared under the assumed name of some famous person. They must not be considered in the light of literary forgeries; they are not like Macpherson with his Ossian, or Chatterton with his Rowley, fraudulent attempts at imposture; but the authors, having something to say which they deemed worthy of the attention of contemporaries, put it forth under the ægis of a great name, not to deceive, but to conciliate favour. A writer who ventured to appropriate a celebrated title would take care to satisfy the expectations raised by his pseudonym, and readers would believe that no one would dare to challenge comparison with a great original who was not qualified to sustain the character assumed. The most familiar instance is, perhaps, the book known as the Wisdom of Solomon, wherein the writer assumes the person of the great Israelite king, certainly with no idea of deceiving his readers (for the language of the treatise, the date and place of its composition, alike forbid any notion of fraud), but with the view of supporting his opinions by the highest authority, and as embodying sentiments which are such as the son of David might have enunciated. A similar impersonation is familiar to us in the Book of Ecclesiastes, where Koheleth utters his varied experiences through the mouth of Solomon, “son of David, king in Jerusalem.” Such a use of fiction has been common in all ages; it is found in classical authors. Plato and Cicero introduced real characters as vehicles for supporting or opposing their views. The Apologies of Socrates, the speeches in Thucydides and Livy, are never deemed to be intentional deceptions; the animus decipiendi is lacking; and though they utter the words of the writers, and not those of the persons represented, no one sees in them fraud and chicanery, but every one regards them as legitimate examples of dramatic personation. The Old Testament authors do not prefix their names to their works, as they write, not for self-glorification, but to serve far higher purposes. The only exception to this rule is found in the case of the prophets, whose names and credentials were necessarily required, in order to give weight and credibility to their announcements. In accordance with this practice the uninspired apocalyptic writers publish their visions, and lucubrations under the appellation of some earlier worthy, whom with transparent impersonation they introduce into their compositions. They might also claim the authority of the titles of many books in the Old Testament which are presented under the names of authors who certainly did not write them. No one supposes that Ruth or Esther composed the books which bear their names, and very little of the two books of Samuel are the work of that great prophet. The Psalmists adopted the designations of David, or Asaph, or the sons of Korah, because they echoed the spirit or employed the forms found in their prototypes. Those who followed the footsteps of these great predecessors, without their claim to inspiration, thought themselves justified in winning attention to their utterances by adventitious means, and boldly personated the eminent characters in whose spirit they wrote.11 See Dr. Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus, i. 37 f.
At the cessation of prophecy among the Jews, when no longer the utterances of inspired seers denounced abuses, pointed the right way, proclaimed the will of God, great attention was paid by devout men to the study and interpretation of canonical Scripture. In contrast with the heathenism of surrounding nations, the Hebrew pored over his Heaven-sent law, and, by attention thereto, confirmed his abhorrence of idolatry and his adherence to his monotheistic faith. The degradation of Israel under its pagan oppressors, and the temporary triumph of the chosen people in the Maccabean period, gave rise to the apocalyptic literature of which we are speaking. An unswerving zeal for the Law, and a glowing hope of a happy future, formed the character istics of this period. From the storm and tumult and confusion of their own times good men looked forward to a reign of peace and happiness, and strove to impart their own hopes to their desponding countrymen. Taking their tone from, and founding their views upon, the ancient prophets, and more especially employing the imagery and developing the annunciations of Daniel, these writers, under various forms, and with very different success, gradually put forth their notions of the future, and anticipate the kingdom of Messiah. Often in their treatises they enter on the history of the past, putting their words into the mouth of an ancient prophet; but all such details are preparatory to the predictive portion, and lead up to this important element. The grand destiny which awaits Israel fills their minds; they dream of an universal judgment, followed by the supremacy of the chosen people; they are fired with an enthusiasm which is not fettered by probabilities, and they boldly announce events as certain which they have no real claim to foretell, and which nothing but an imaginative and ardent zeal could have induced them to publish.
The value of these writings is considerable, and this for many reasons; but that which chiefly concerns us is the light which they throw upon Jewish belief at the most important era. Those which are plainly antecedent to Christian times have their own special utility; while the later productions, which belong to the first Christian centuries, show the influence of new ideas even on those who retained their affection for the old religion. And both series are necessary for every study of the religious history of the Jews. It is perhaps true that this apocalyptic literature was regarded with little favour by the Rabbinic schools, and no dogmatic authority was attributed to it; but it can be used as indicating current thought, just as we refer to any contemporary document to denote popular opinion, though it be not stamped with the authority of a teaching body. The number of these writings which are still extant, and the many more of which the titles only have remained to our times, prove the wide prevalence of the feelings which are embodied in them, and the profound impression which such thoughts had made on the hearts of the people. Omitting the works which either in whole or in part have been submitted to modern criticism, we have notices of the existence of many other apocalyptic and pseudepigraphic compositions, whose titles pretty fairly explain their contents. Of course, very many of the works enumerated in the catalogues of extra-canonical writings are of Christian origin; but even these are framed on the same lines as the earlier, and very often repeat the ideas and give expression to the hopes found in the others. In the Fourth Book of Esdras, which is called the Second in our English Bibles, the sacred books are counted as ninety-four, twenty-two of which would be the received items of the Jewish Canon, and seventy-two apocryphal. These last, which in round numbers are called seventy, were directed to be reserved for the wise among the people; “for in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the stream of knowledge.”22 2 Esdr. xiv. 44–47. Some Latin MSS., instead of “ninety-four,” give “nine hundred and four;” the Vulgate has “two hundred and four;” other versions, “ninety-four,” which from what follows seems to be correct. Hilgenfeld33 In Herzog’s Encyklop. xii. 341 ff. (ed. 1883). reckons the number of those whose titles have survived at thirty-six. Many of these, however, would scarcely come under our view as Jewish productions, being of gnostic or heretical origin, and are rather to be reckoned among New Testament pseudepigrapha. The term applied to the books with which we are concerned is used by Jerome in allusion to the Wisdom of Solomon, and has thence come to be employed for the whole class, though not strictly true of them all. In his preface to the Books of Solomon, Jerome says, “Fertur et Panæretos Jesu filii Sirach liber, et alius pseudepigraphus, qui sapientia Salomonis inscribitur.” Not that Jerome invented the word which so happily describes the leading characteristic of such productions. It is found in Greek authors long before his time. Thus Polybius (Hist. xxiv. 5. 5) calls the tricksy and unreliable Messenian, Deinocrates, ψευδεπύγραφος καὶ ῥωπικός. Spuriousness of authorship belongs to most of the series, and is a mark of the writings which were produced in such luxuriance towards the time of the commencement of the Christian era; and a term denoting this peculiarity may well be adopted as their designation.
The documents fall naturally into three classes. The first, of which few representatives have reached us, may be called Lyrical. There is a spurious production of this nature assigned to David in the Apostolical Constitutions,44 Apost. Constit. vi. 16. but it is no longer extant. The only important contribution to this class is the Psalter of Solomon, a collection of eighteen psalms, written probably originally in Hebrew, about half a century before the Christian era, but known to us only in a Greek version. They are conceived in the spirit of Old Testament prophecy, and are designed to console the Jews under national calamity by confirming their faith in future retribution and Messianic hopes.
The second class may be called Prophetical, and may be divided into two sections, composed respectively of Apocalypses and Testaments. Apocalyptic writings are very numerous, the most celebrated being the Fourth Book of Esdras and the Book of Enoch. The former of these, as it forms a portion of the Apocrypha in the Authorised Version of our English Bible, has been copiously annotated of late years; the latter from its length and importance demands special study. There are many others which are most interesting, and claim notice at our hands. The Assumption of Moses is the document from which, according to Origen, St. Jude borrowed his allusion to Michael’s dispute with Satan about the body of Moses. It consists of an address of the great lawgiver to his successor Joshua, enunciating the future fate of Israel, partly historical down to the author’s time, and partly predictive. The Apocalypse of Baruch is a different work from the Book of Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremy in our English Apocrypha. Written originally in Greek, it has been preserved only in Syriac and Latin versions. It contains a series of post facto predictions supposed to be uttered by Baruch about the time of the first destruction of Jerusalem, and a revelation of the reign and judgment of Messiah. The Ascension and Vision of Isaiah describe the martyrdom of the prophet by his being sawn asunder, an allusion to which is supposed to be made in Heb. xi. 37, and contain an account of what he saw when rapt to heaven. The above are the works which have come to us in a more or less perfect shape. There are many others of which we know little more than the titles which indeed are often very similar to those of extant productions, but appertain to distinct works. There is a Prophecy and Revelation of the holy and beloved prophet Esdras, another of Baruch; then Elijah, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Zechariah, have each their special Apocalypses; a spurious Daniel also is mentioned; and Adam, Lamech, Moses, and Abraham are not unrepresented, but contribute their revelations. Hermas Pastor55 Vis. ii. 3. 4. refers to a Prophecy of Eldad and Modat which was well known in the early Church; but this with many others has perished long ago; and the vague allusions to such works in the pages of the Fathers and in some ancient catalogues of Scripture do not allow us to judge of their contents and character. Among the productions which assume the testamentary form we have the titles only of some, e.g. the Diatheke of the Protoplast, of Jacob, Moses, Hezekiah, Adam, Noah, Solomon, Abraham; the Last Prayer and Blessing of Joseph, a work continually quoted by Origen as “a writing not to be despised,” and said by him to be in circulation among the Hebrews. But the work of this character that is still extant is called the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. This is an account of the lives of the sons of Jacob, containing many legendary particulars not found in Scripture, revelations of the future, and Messianic predictions.
The third class takes a historical or Haggadistic character. Its chief representative is the Book of Jubilees, or Micro-Genesis, an enlarged account of Biblical history down to the institution of the Passover, with the chronology reduced to Jubilee periods. Other works of which little is known are these: the History of Jannes and Jambres, the magicians who opposed Moses at the court of Pharaoh; the Conversion of Manasses, a different work from the Prayer of Manasses in our Apocrypha; the Life of Adam; the Revelation of Adam; the Repentance of Adam; the Daughters of Adam; the Gospel of Eve; the Story of Asenath, Joseph’s wife, and that of Noria, the wife of Noah.
We have omitted mention of the Sibylline Oracles, not because they are of less importance than other works, but because they partake of the nature of all three classes, and cannot be assigned specially to any one of them. They are lyrical, being written in measured verse, and very often in a highly poetical strain; they are historical, detailing the events in the history of various peoples down to Christian times, with an admixture of truth and fiction which is hard to unravel; and they are apocalyptic, in that they foreshadow the future of Messiah’s kingdom and the destiny of the elect. While a large proportion of these poems is of post-Christian origin, there are considerable fragments of earlier date which are of important utility in determining prevalent Jewish views. Schürer happily calls them “Jewish Propaganda under a heathen mask,” and classes them with the so-called productions of Hystaspes, Hecatæus, Aristæus, and Phocylides.
Without anticipating details which belong to the special account of each of these works, we may here gather up some general results of the doctrine enunciated in them.66 I have in this sketch gladly availed myself of Prof. Drummond’s The Jewish Messiah, and Mr. Stanton’s The Jewish and Christian Messiah, though most of the articles on special pseudepigraphal works were originally written before I had seen those books. Since then I have had the pleasure of perusing Schürer’s valuable treatise on The Jewish People in the time of Jesus Christ.
First, as to the divisions of time, we find throughout the books that two great periods are specified—the present, and the future or coming age. This is in conformity with the view taken in the Book of Daniel. The former period is one of depression and misery, when Israel is for a time prostrate under the heel of Gentile enemies; the latter is an eternity of victory and bliss, when “the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”77 Dan. vii. 18. The temporary and the eternal periods are strongly contrasted, though there is no general consent as to the moment when the happy age shall dawn. But it shall be preceded by a judgment which is to take place in the last days, the end of the transition state, wherein the heathen shall receive their doom. This great day is known only to God; but it shall be revealed in due time, and meanwhile men need not disquiet themselves concerning its advent; as it is said in the Book of Enoch, “Let not your spirit be grieved on account of the times, for the Holy One hath prescribed days to all. And the righteous shall arise from sleep, and walk in the way of righteousness, and God will be gracious unto them, and give them everlasting dominion.”88 Enoch xcii. 2 ff. In the Psalms of Solomon we read,99 Ps. xvii. 23. “Behold, O Lord, and raise up for them their king, the son of David, at the time which Thou, God, knowest.” In the Fourth Book of Esdras it is said, “The Most High hath made, not one age, but two;” and again, “He hath made this age for the sake of many, but the future for the sake of few.”1010 The former passage occurs in the fragment omitted in the old Latin editions and versions founded thereon, and will be found in Fritzsche’s book as vi. 25, and in Churton’s as vii. 50. In both passages the word rendered “age” is “sæculum,” which some, however, translate “world.” And, “This present age is not the end . . . but the day of judgment will be the end of this time, and the beginning of the immortal age that is to come, wherein corruption hath passed away.”1111 vii. 42 f. Attempts are made to define the length of the first period more accurately, but the proposed solutions do not help much to satisfy inquiry. The Book of Enoch in one place allots seventy generations to the world’s history, in another divides it into ten weeks; in the Assumption of Moses the beginning of the second age is placed “two hundred and fifty times,” i.e. probably 250 weeks of years (= 4250), after the death of Moses, A.M. 2500. This is almost the same result as is obtained in the Book of Jubilees. In the Fourth Book of the Sibylline Oracles the time is divided into eleven generations,1212 So all the MSS. Alexandre reads ἐς δεκάτην, asserting that throughout the books the last generation is always the tenth, and he refers in confirmation to vers. 47 and 86. But see Drummond, p. 206. in the last of which the judgment shall take place. In the Fourth Book of Esdras and in the Apocalypse of Baruch the age consists of twelve sections, at the end of which the new era shall commence.
Failing to define accurately the duration of the first age of the world, speculation concerned itself with the signs which should herald the approach of the last times. Theorists endeavoured to answer that question which, quite in accordance with Jewish opinion, the apostles put to Christ, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the consummation of the age?”1313 Matt. xxiv. 3. Thus the Sibyl affirms that there shall be seen swords in the heaven, and storms of dust, and an eclipse of the sun, and armed warriors contending in the sky.1414 Lib. iii. 795 ff. The Book of Enoch foretells great changes in the course of nature — the alteration of seasons, the shortening of men’s lives, irregularity in the course of moon and stars, and a repetition of the wicked practices which occasioned the Flood of old.1515 Chaps. xci., xcix. To the same effect the Book of Jubilees looks forward to a season of abnormal iniquity as the precursor of the judgment day; there shall be unnatural crimes among men, and strange aberrations in the order of nature, children rising up against parents, general barrenness in earth, great destruction of the lower creatures in land and sea, perversion of all right, and universal strife.1616 Book of Jub. chap. xxiii. The Fourth of Esdras takes up the same strain. As the world grows older it becomes weaker and more evil, men degenerate, truth flies away, leasing is hard at hand. Then shall occur earthquakes, unrest and uproar among nations, and various prodigies in heaven and earth; the sun shall shine at night, the moon in day; blood shall ooze from wood; sweet water shall be changed to salt; women shall bring forth monsters; infants of tender age shall speak.1717 Prof. Drummond refers to 2 Esdr. v. 1–13, 54 f., vi. 7–28, viii 63–ix. 6, xiv. 15-17. Many of these portents are such as one reads of in classical authors; some recall our Lord’s predictions, or St. Paul’s warning that “in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Tim. iii. 1). In the Apocalypse of Baruch the details of the wickedness and calamities that shall intervene are more distinctly specified, being divided into twelve parts, increasing to a climax of horror; and despair and destruction shall overtake all the world with the exception of the inhabitants of the holy land.1818 Apoc. Bar. chaps, xxv.–xxvii., xlviii., lxx., lxxi. But throughout these books the advent of the second age is to be ushered in by extraordinary calamities consequent on excessive moral evil, and characterised by an universal degeneracy alike in animal and vegetable life.
We have now to see what our books say about the Messiah. Many of them, indeed, seem to have no reference whatever to Him. The writer of the Assumption of Moses expects the appearance of some great saviour to prepare the way for the visible reign of Jehovah; but this deliverer is not the Messiah, and is, in fact, not regarded as superior to Moses in action or person. In the Book of Jubilees the idea of a personal Messiah is pointedly excluded; God, says the writer, has appointed no one to reign over Israel, being Himself their only Lord and Ruler, and purposing in due time to descend from heaven and dwell with His people. The writer seems purposely to have omitted the blessings which Jacob pronounced upon his sons, and especially all mention of the house of David, which would naturally have found place in the benediction on Judah. The Fourth Book of the Sibylline Oracles, which is marked by some eschatological passages, omits all reference to Messiah, while announcing the resurrection and the judgment. And we may remark in passing that the apocryphal works in our English Bible are singularly devoid of all Messianic references. Ecclesiasticus has no trace of the great hope; Wisdom is equally barren; the famous passage in ii. 10–20 of that Book, about the treatment of the righteous man by the wicked, having regard to a class, and certainly not alluding to any particular individual. The Books of Maccabees look forward to the re-gathering of Israel and the appearance of a true prophet, but nothing more. In Tobit we find only hope of the conversion of the Gentiles and the restoration of Jerusalem; in Baruch and Judith, though the future judgment is intimated, absolute silence is maintained concerning the Messiah’s part in that transaction. It is plain that the later conception of the Messiah, with all the hopes that gathered round His person and achievements, was not generally admitted when most of our books were composed, and it was only very gradually that the ideas obtained which we have been accustomed to associate therewith. Though it is difficult to fix the date of most of these works, probably the earliest which contains definite Messianic statements is a section of the Third Book of the Sibylline Verses, written about a century and a half before the Christian era. The passage which is, probably correctly, assumed to bear this interpretation is the following:1919 Orac. Sibyll. iii. 652 ff. “Then from the sun God shall send a King, who shall cause all the earth to cease from wicked war, killing indeed some; and making faithful treaties with others. Not by His own counsels shall He do all these things, but in obedience to the good decrees of the great God.” Then follows a description of the happy condition that is to ensue; but there is no further mention of this King, and the governing authority of the new kingdom established by God is not one great personage, but prophets, who are “judges of mortals and righteous kings.” The subordinate position assigned to Messiah is very remarkable; He, indeed, prepares the way for the great consummation, but He is not said to bear any part in the administration of the future age. In another passage,2020 Orac. Sibyll. iii, 36–92. which critics generally assign to some half-century B.C., the advent of the Messiah is immediately expected. Thus the Sibyl writes: “But when Rome shall rule over Egypt also, uniting it into one, then indeed the mighty kingdom of the immortal King shall appear among men; and there shall come a pure King to hold the sceptres of all the earth for all ages as time hastens onward.” Evidently, it is an earthly kingdom which this Monarch establishes, and this, it is further intimated, is to come to an end when the new era dawns.
The Book of Enoch adumbrates the Messiah in symbolical language. In the vision of the seventy shepherds, and the sheep and wild animals, the Messiah appears under the figure of a white Bull. The wording of the passage is ambiguous, and the correct reading is disputed; hence it remains doubtful to, which age the Messiah belongs; though the analogy of other passages would place Him at the entrance of the new era. Enoch says:2121 Enoch xc. 31 ff. “Then those three who were clothed in white raised me up and placed me in the midst of the sheep, before the judgment took place2222 Prof. Drummond doubts the genuineness of this clause, and Dillmann does not hold it as indisputable. It is certainly inconsistent with other statements in the same passage.. . . and I saw that a white Bullock was born, having great horns, and all the beasts of the field and all the birds of heaven feared him, and besought him continually. And I watched till all their tribes were changed and became white bullocks; and the first among them [was the Word, and the same Word]2323 The words in brackets are regarded as spurious. was a great beast, and had great black horns upon his head; and the Lord of the sheep rejoiced over them and over all the bullocks.” The personality of this “Bullock” is not very definite, and there is no allusion to descent from the house of David; but the representation evidently embraces hopes of Messiah, and looks forward, though vaguely, to the time of His appearing. This time is fixed more accurately in the Fourth of Esdras (vii. 28 ff.), where it is announced that Messiah and the saints with Him shall rejoice four hundred2424 The Syriac reads: “thirty.” Churton, in loc. years, and that then he and all men are to die, and silence reign for seven days, at the end of which time “the earth that yet awaketh not shall be raised up, and that which is corrupt shall die.” So in other passages, both in Esdras and Baruch, the dominion of Messiah is announced as lasting till the final judgment, confined, as it would seem, to the first, the present age. The Messiah, according to Enoch,2525 Enoch xc. 36 f. is to be born at Jerusalem; meantime He is hidden till the hour of His revelation arrives. In the Ascension of Isaiah He passes through the seven heavens unrecognised, until He executes vengeance on the evil principalities and powers, and returns in glory to the throne of God. Esdras sees Him coming up from the midst of the sea, which denotes the mysterious and secret character of the unknown region wherein He sojourned, and in due time taking His stand upon Mount Zion.2626 2 Esdr. xiii. 26, 35 “Here,” says Baruch,2727 Apoc. Bar. xl. “He shall judge the last leader of His enemies, and put him to death, and shall protect God’s people who are found in the place which He has chosen. And His dominion shall continue until the world of corruption is brought to an end, and the predicted times are fulfilled.” Of the Messiah’s descent from David and His high title, the Psalter of Solomon gives the clearest indications. “Behold, O Lord,” says the Psalmist, “and raise up for them their King, the Son of David, at the time which Thou knowest. . . . He is the righteous King over them, taught of God. There shall be no injustice in His days among them, for they all shall be holy, and their King shall be Christ the Lord.”2828 Ps. Solom. xvii. 23, 35, 36. The title is given in the MSS. without variation Χριστὸς Κύριος. Professor Drummond would read Κυρίου. But see xviii. 6, 8, and Lam. iv. 20. At the same time, as Ewald points out, the expression in the text may possibly be a mistranslation for “the Lord’s Christ,” as Luke ii. 26, and must not be taken as proving the seer’s belief in the Divinity of Messiah. This last expression seems certainly to have been well known before Christian times. In Esdras2929 2 Esdr. vii. 28, 29, xii. 32. the name Christ is found twice at least, though in one place it has been changed by some Christian hand into “Jesus;” and “unctus,” the Anointed, also occurs, corrupted in the Latin into “ventus,” the “wind;” but in the other versions appearing with an addition, “the Anointed whom the Highest hath reserved to the end of the days, who shall arise out of the seed of David.” The title Messiah is constantly used in Baruch; thus we read, “It shall come to pass, when that which is to be shall have been accomplished there, that Messiah shall begin to be revealed.”3030 Apoc. Bar. xxix. See also xxx., xxxix., xl., lxx., lxxii. The Book of Enoch has suffered so much from glosses and interpolations that we cannot build much upon isolated expressions; but, as the text stands, the expression “Son of God,” or its equivalent, is met with in the most ancient section once. The Lord is represented as saying (cv. 2), “I and my Son will unite ourselves with them [the sons of earth] for ever and ever.” Nor can much reliance be placed upon the present text of the Second of Esdras; otherwise the terms Messiah and Son of God may be observed in a few passages.3131 See Drummond, pp. 285 ff. But although we grant that the name and designation of the Messiah are found in these books, there is very far from being any general consent as to His nature and attributes. The Catholic doctrine concerning the Christ was as yet not received, and the speculations which were rife fell far short of the great truth. Whether many of these writers believed in the pre-existence of the Messiah before His appearance on earth is doubtful. The author of the Ascension of Isaiah certainly did; but as the portion of the work containing the assertion is probably the composition of a Christian Jew, it cannot be quoted as affording an instance of purely Jewish opinion. The expression in the Third Book of the Sibyllines already cited, which represents the future King as proceeding “from the sun,” might seem to imply at least a supernatural origin, denoting that, as the Creed says, “He came down from heaven;” but the words (ἀπ ἠελίοιο) may mean merely “from the rising sun,” i.e. from the East, which to a dweller in Egypt would be the land of mystery and of God’s revelations. In that part of the Book of Enoch which is termed the Similitudes or Parables, He who is here called “Son of man” is seen by the seer in company with the “Ancient of Days,” and is expressly stated to have existed before all worlds, and to live before God for ever; in Him all wisdom and righteousness dwell; but He is not God, though of godlike character. In another and more ancient division of the work, as we have seen above, He is figured under the representation of “a white Bull,” born in due time, and in no way supernaturally distinguished from the other animals who assume the same appearance, though His supremacy is recognised by them in that they fear and pray to Him. In the Psalter of Solomon the Messiah is lauded in the highest terms, as mighty in word and deed, a just and powerful Ruler, who, living in the fear of God, shall feed the Lord’s people in faith and righteousness; but He is not superhuman, He is only the ideal earthly king of David’s line. The Apocalypse of Baruch speaks of the “revelation of Messiah and of His kingdom,”3232 Chap. xxix. 3, xxxix. 7; Drummond, p. 293. which seems to imply pre-existence; but, as Professor Drummond points out, this expression, and the analogous one “reserved” in Second Esdras (xii. 32, xiii. 36), may merely imply the belief that Messiah after His birth should be withdrawn into concealment, from whence He should emerge in due time; or such terms may be used to denote God’s predestination, and the mystery which attached to this heavenly messenger. In fact, none of these works contain any clear assertion of the Divinity of the Messiah; and the writers, while they look upon Him as abnormal and marvellous and supreme, do not attribute to Him a nature different from that of man in its highest ideal character. We may note that our Lord’s own disciples were very slow to realise His Divine nature, while they readily owned His Messiahship. Again and again Jesus had to reprove their dulness of apprehension and slowness of belief. Miracles often repeated failed to convey this truth fully to their minds; and it needed the Resurrection, with all its wondrous accompaniments, to enable them fully to realise that their Master was God Almighty. So difficult was it for them to rise superior to prejudice and popular opinion.
Our general view of the pseudepigraphical books would not be complete without a brief notice of their angelology and eschatology. The existence of good and evil angels is fully recognised. The former are divided into various orders and degrees; in Enoch the names of the archangels are given as Michael, Gabriel, Suriel, and Uriel; Suriel elsewhere appears as Raphael. These four have their special spheres and provinces; and beside them there are myriads of inferior angels who stand before the Lord of Spirits, ready to do His will. They are archangels who reveal God’s will to Enoch, and conduct him on his various journeys. It is the Angel of the Presence who is charged to transcribe the revelation in the Book of Jubilees. Angels, according to Baruch, execute God’s wrath in the destruction of Jerusalem, having first committed to the earth the veil, the mercy-seat, and other sacred things appertaining to the temple. It is, as we have seen, from the Assumption of Moses that the story of the dispute between Michael and Satan over the body of Moses is derived. Esdras receives his seven visions by the intervention of Uriel. The Book of Jubilees states that on the first day of creation God made the ministering spirits, the Angel of the Presence, the Angel of Praise, and the angels that preside over the elements, as we find in the Revelation of St. John mention made of angels which have power over fire and water.3333 Rev. xiv. 18, xvi. 5. The angels bring men’s sins before God, execute His vengeance on sinners, teach mortals useful arts and acceptable worship, and communicate God’s will by dreams or visions or open manifestations. In the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs the heavenly hierarchy is still more systematically arranged, and the duties and offices of its various members are distinguished.
The evil angels have their ranks and orders; they are a disciplined army under chieftains. At their head appears one who is variously named Satan, Sammael, Mastema, Azazel. Their fall, according to Enoch, was brought about by their connection with the daughters of men, from whence sprang a race of giants whose iniquity, fostered by their superhuman fathers, occasioned the Flood. These evil angels taught men war and bloodshed and every wicked work, and were punished by being confined in the depth of the earth till the great day of judgment, a certain portion of them only being allowed a limited liberty.
Turning to the eschatological teaching of these books, we find that in the last days, on the appearance of Messiah, there will be a great mustering of enemies to oppose the establishment of the new kingdom. Here we have the curious myth of the return to life of Nero, who, under the name of Behar, is to lead the armies of Antichrist.3434 Orac. Sibyll. iii. 63 ff., iv. 137 ff. At other times this leader is not definitely named. In Baruch (chap. xl.) he is called merely “dux ultimus,” who, as we have seen above, is to be brought to Mount Zion and there put to death by the victorious Messiah. But it is not always the Messiah who conducts the war; God Himself interposes in the Sibyl’s account,3535 Ibid. iii. 669 ff. and Enoch predicts the great destruction of Israel’s enemies before the advent of Messiah, and exults in their cruel annihilation.3636 Enoch xc., xcviii., xcix. Whether by the action of Messiah, or by the immediate intervention of the Lord, it is universally agreed that the assembled foes of Israel shall meet with signal overthrow, and that, at this “consummation,” the kingdom of Messiah shall be established. This kingdom is to have its centre at Jerusalem, under the personal rule of Messiah, who is the vicegerent of God,3737 Orac. Sibyll. iii. 652 ff.; Psalm. Sol. xvii.; Drummond, pp. 309 ff. and is to extend over all nations, and to be characterised by righteousness, peace, and plenty. The material blessings of this reign are picturesquely delineated in the Sibylline Verses and elsewhere;3838 Orac. Sibyll. iii. 743 ff., 776 ff.; Enoch x. 17 ff., xi. 1.; Apoc. Bar. xxix.; Jubil. xxiii. the earth shall be marvellously productive, men’s lives shall be prolonged to a thousand years without disease or infirmity. The duration of this kingdom is considered in most of our books to be unlimited; Esdras alone confines its length to four hundred years, and Baruch says vaguely that it shall be continued until the world of corruption be ended. Whether the Gentiles should be converted was a question not answered in a uniform manner; while the writers with Hellenistic leanings took a merciful view, the exaggerated prejudices of others led them to anticipate with satisfaction the total annihilation of the heathen. The Sibyl looks forward to a time when the sight of the happiness and prosperity of the God-fearing Israelites will move alien nations to repentance, 3939 Orac. Sibyll. iii. 702 ff.; comp. Enoch x. 21, xc. 30 ff. whilst the Psalmist brings the heathen under the yoke of the chosen race, and holds out to them no hope of salvation.4040 Psalm. Sol. xvii. 25 ff.; comp. Apoc. Bar. lxxii. Of the resurrection and the final judgment we have varying accounts, there being also a dissidence in the opinion as to the epochs in which these events should take place; some writers allotting the judgment to the time of Messiah’s appearing, others looking for it at the close of that period, and as ushering in eternity. The latter view is that which most generally prevailed. The Book of Enoch gives copious details concerning the future life and the judgment. The Lord sits on a throne erected in the midst of Palestine, and passes judgment respectively on the fallen angels, the apostate Israelites, and the heathen powers. The souls of the dead have a place where they wait for their sentence, and are here divided into classes according to their earthly actions, accounts of which have been daily written down in the heavenly books; and now they shall receive their reward—unalterable punishment in the case of obstinate sinners, and eternal felicity in the case of the righteous. The resurrection of the body is nowhere expressly affirmed, though it is implied by the material nature of the penalties and the bliss accorded to the raised persons. There seems to have been no definite belief in a bodily resurrection, though a resurrection of some kind was universally expected, and blind gropings after the great Christian doctrine are occasionally found; but the general impression conveyed by these apocryphal books is that the immortality enunciated therein is incorporeal; and, as regards the righteous, the idea is that they shall be changed into angelic beings with the power of assuming any form they please. 4141 Apoc. Bar. li.
The above are the chief points of interest in the Jewish Pseudepigraphic writings; more definite details and notices of incidental matters appertain more properly to the separate accounts of the various works which are classed under this designation.
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