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When do you think the Apocalypse of Ezra was written?

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by rakovsky, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. rakovsky

    rakovsky Newbie

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    The Greek Apocalypse of Ezra is a Christian text that describes the Old Testament sage Ezra's meeting with the Archangel Michael, who gives Ezra (or in Greek, "Esdras") a series of revelations. The text is different than the books of 1, 2, and 3 Esdras, and as well as the book found in Biblical Apocryphas called 4 Esdras (Vulgate) / 2 Esdras (Protestant) / 3 Esdras (Slavic). However, the Apocalypse of Ezra appears based in part on 4 Esdras (dated to c. 90-218 AD.).

    The Apocalypse of Ezra reminds me of the Testaments of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which are dated to c. 1st century AD - 380 AD. In the Testaments, the Old Testament Patriarchs meet the Archangel Michael who gave them revelations. It also bears similar to the Apocalypse of Shedrach (c.100-500 AD), in which the exiled Jewish youth Shedrach meets Jesus, who gives him revelations.

    M.E. Stone writes in his introduction to the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra (in Charlesworth's Old Testament Pseudepigrapha book) that it bears similarity to the Greek Apocalypse of Ioannis, which he quotes in his passage below:
    Unfortunately, I didn't find when the Greek Apocalypse of Ioannis was written.

    The Apocalypse of Ezra was written in Greek with elements of "Late Greek", a dialect used from about the late 2nd century AD until about the late 7th century AD according to Wikipedia. Patriarch Nicephorus in c.850 labeled what he called the "Apocalypse of Ezra" as apocryphal.

    With the above information in mind, I can date the Apocalypse of Esdras to somewhere from c.150 AD to c.800 AD based on the use of "Late Greek". But this is so general and broad. Do you think that you can make a more specific estimate for its period of writing?

    You can read M.E. Stone's translation and introduction to it, starting on p. 561 in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth, online here: The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha

    You can read Schaff's translation online here:
    ANF08. The Twelve Patriarchs, Excerpts and Epistles, The Clementia, Apocrypha, Decretals, Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac Documents, Remains of the First - Christian Classics Ethereal Library
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
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  2. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    why do you ask?
     
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  3. rakovsky

    rakovsky Newbie

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    Fr. Matt,
    I am interested because I am reading the available 1st-2nd century Christian writings that I can find and also want to understand them better. So I want to see if this is one of the early Christian writings.
     
  4. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    why not keep to the Apostolic Fathers?
     
  5. rakovsky

    rakovsky Newbie

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    Fr. Matt,
    The Apostolic Fathers are an important suggestion, and I am including them in my reading. I've read Barnabas, Clement of Rome, the Didache, the Shepherd of Hermas, and others. At the same time, one of the main types of writing and reading in the Apostolic Age among Christians was Apocalyptic literature, the Shepherd of Hermas being one example, along with St. John's Revelation and 4 Esdras, which is in Slavonic Bibles and in the KJV Apocrypha. The Greek Apocalypse of Ezra is found in numerous manuscript translations, like Armenian, so it was widespread among Christians at one time. So this is why I am thinking about whether it was an early mainstream Christian apocalyptic writing like the Shepherd or the Testaments of the Patriarchs, or if it's something much later.
     
  6. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    yes, but why not first go through the early apocalyptic stuff the Church affirms?
     
  7. rakovsky

    rakovsky Newbie

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    Fr. Matt,
    I agree with going through first the early apocalyptic stuff from the Church. So I read 4 Esdras, the Shepherd of Hermas, and St John's Revelation, and also saw all the serious movies and documentaries about Revelation that I found, as well as Fr. Hopko's and Alexander Lopuhin's commentaries on the first chapters of Revelation. I also read commentaries on the Shepherd. Next I read the 1st-2nd century Christians' Old Testament apocrypha like Testaments of the Patriarchs, Lives of the Prophets, and Greek Apocalypse of Ezra, but one of my main questions about the latter is whether it's an early Christian writing or not.
     
  8. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    it may have been, but it's never been affirmed by the Church, at least not to my knowledge.
     
  9. rakovsky

    rakovsky Newbie

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    I appreciate your replies on the forum.
     
  10. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    thanks, right back at you
     
  11. rakovsky

    rakovsky Newbie

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    R. Bauckham in his article on the Latin Vision of Ezra suggests that the Latin Vision is a translation of a coherent Greek original, and that the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra that we have is a disjointed later edition of that Greek original. For example, the Latin original follows a coherent order and coherent use of the first and third person narrations, whereas the Greek Apocalypse doesn't follow a coherent order and frequently switches between first and third persons. Moreover, the Greek Apocalypse has many parallels to the Latin Vision and these parallels almost always share the same use of the first or third person. This implies that the Latin Vision is earlier than the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra, although not necessarily so if they both used an earlier Greek source independently.
    R. Bauckham, "The Latin Vision of Ezra", cited in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, Volume 1, pp.499-513.

    Since the use of Latin in the Church began in the 4th century with St. Jerome, this implies that the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra as we have it now is from the 4th century or later?

    On the other hand, Bauckham writes: "Nuvolone... has also argued that Greek Apocaypse of Ezra 1:1-5 is an introduction to the original Greek work that has been omitted in our texts of the Latin Vision." (Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol. 1, p.505). This in turn suggests that such a Greek original does exist, with the Greek Apocalypse preserving many fragments of it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
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