Wednesday, December 02, 2009

New Testament Intersections: Late Apocalyptic

Some previous posts in this series:

Most Apocrypha and Alexandrian Literature
Early Enochic Literature
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament

Here is a litany of later Jewish apocalyptic literature, which may or may not be Essene. I throw in the Wisdom of Solomon and Joseph and Aseneth.
Psalms of Solomon (1st century BC)
  • Possibly Essene, although could be Pharisaic
  • Gentiles straightforwardly = sinners (cf. Gal. 2:15)
  • Classic text on the expectation of a military messiah (chap. 17 esp.)
Life of Adam and Eve (1st century BC)
  • First Jewish writing explicitly to equate the serpent in the Garden of Eden with Satan (Genesis does not)
  • Satan is commanded to worship Adam as the image of God (evidence that okay to give royal representatives of God derivative worship)
Wisdom of Solomon (1st century BC or AD)
  • Righteous person is a son of God (2:16-18; 5:5), and the righteous are “saints” (5:5).
  • Death entered the world by the Devil’s envy (2:23).
  • seems to affirm resurrection (cf. 3:7-8; 16:13)
  • Romans 1's sense that the truth of God's nature should be known but that humanity has instead turned to idols is very reminiscent of Wisdom 12:19; 13:1; 14:12.
  • Hebrews 1:3 seems to allude to Wisdom 7:26.
  • Hebrews 4:12-13 describes God's word much as Wis. 18:15-16 does.
  • Righteous will receive a crown (Wis. 5:16; compare 2 Tim. 4).
  • Spirit of God holds everything together (Wis. 1:7; compare Col. 1:17)
  • armor of God (5:17-21)
Joseph and Aseneth
  • Gives example of conversion to Judaism--Aseneth becoming a virgin again involves putting a hair veil back on, possible background to 1 Corinthians 11
Parables of Enoch (1st century AD)
  • Crucial text for background to some heavenly "Son of Man" passages in the gospels. Very similar to Matthew 25.
  • Dating of the Parables has impact on whether Jesus might have had these texts in mind in his use of the phrase (Schenck dates it to early first century AD where it stands more as potential background to Matthew than to Jesus' use of the phrase).
  • Crucial text in understanding the worship of Jesus as God's king on the throne of heaven (along with Ezekiel the Tragedian and Life of Adam and Eve).
  • Sees the Son of Man as existing in heaven long before coming on the clouds in judgment (pre-existent).

4 Ezra (ca. AD100)

  • Calls Rome Babylon, as in Revelation and 1 Peter.
  • Adamic “fall” (e.g. 3:21; 4:30; 7:11)
  • All have sinned (7:46,68)
  • Messiah coming (13:32-36) and pre-existent

2 Baruch (ca. AD100)

  • Sense of a fall of Adam
  • Heavenly temple shown to Adam and Moses on Sinai
  • looks to messiah and resurrection

Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

  • Testament Genre--Richard Bauckham (e.g.) sees 2 Peter in this category.
  • Testament of Levi has three heavens, with evil angels in the lowest, God in the highest, and angels in the highest offering bloodless sacrifices. Helpful picture of one Jewish cosmology at the time: 1) Satan as prince of the air, Jesus' exorcist ministry as a "Normandy invasion" of a world under evil powers, kicking out of the church as a delivering over to Satan as power of this world (1 Cor. 5), the world and flesh under the power of Sin; 2) Paul being taken up into the third heaven; 3) possible insights in relation to Hebrews with angelic "temple" service in the highest heaven (cf. Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice).

Testament of Job

  • Satan the prince of evil (i.e., not a servant of God as in Job itself)
  • Job's daughters speak in tongues--could be evidence for non-Christian Jewish speaking in tongues, although some think this is a Montanist redaction of an original Jewish document.
Testament of Moses
  • If it also was known as the Assumption of Moses, may have contained the curious story in Jude of Michael arguing with Satan over the body of Moses.
Sibylline Oracles
  • Third oracle involves an indictment of homosexual sex and seems to consider an Egyptian king as a messianic figure.
  • Fifth oracle has tradition that Nero would return from the East to retake over the Roman empire. Possible background to Revelation 17--the eighth is one of the five who was, is not, and yet will be, with a mortal wound.
Apocalypse of Abraham
  • Angel of God is Iaoel (name like to that of God himself)
  • “without mother, without father, ungenerated” (17:10); reminiscent of Hebrews 7:3
  • apparently disembodied afterlife rather than resurrection per se.

Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah

  • 7 layers of heaven
  • tradition that Isaiah was sawed in half (Hebrews 11)
  • possible worship of an exalted angel

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