OLD Testament Eschatology forms the foundation upon which the Apocalyptic writers based their speculations, in the first instance; and, as will be seen, these writers repeat and develop the conceptions and prophecies which have been epitomised under the various headings in the preceding chapters. But before we come to examine in some little detail the eschatological contents of their writings, it may be well, firstly, to offer some general remarks upon the Apocalyptic literature as a whole, and, secondly, to enumerate the books from which the material to be utilised is taken.
It is important to remember that the Apocalyptic literature as a whole is a popular literature; that is to say, it reflects the
thoughts of religious circles which were outside the recognised Rabbinical schools; and it embodies religious ideas which in many points sharply conflicted with the strict scholastic orthodoxy of the Pharisees. The main energies of the latter were devoted to the development of the "Oral tradition," in order to build a hedge around the Law, 1 and fix a sharp line of demarcation between Israel and the outside world. The Apocalyptists, on the other hand, though loyal to the Law, did not make it their exclusive preoccupation. They were much more deeply interested in "transcendental Messianism," and in speculative schemes regarding the "end" of the age, and all that such involved. On the other hand, orthodox Rabbinic Judaism--which represents the triumph of the Pharisaic party within the ranks of Judaism--practically banned the entire Apocalyptic literature. Nevertheless, Apocalyptic teaching profoundly influenced orthodox Judaism in some respects. These writings emphasise the individual side of religion equally with that of the righteous community; not the nation as such, but the
community of the righteous within it--the "plant of righteousness," as it is called in the Book of Enoch--will inherit the divine reward; the influence of prophetic teaching is very plainly visible here. The exalted religious scheme which dominates these books tended to overcome national and Particularistic limitations; and here certain of the prophetical writers have their successors in the Apocalyptists. It is, however, on the side of the Messianic hope that this literature is most significant; and here the points of contact, as will be seen later on, are most striking and important. Another noteworthy characteristic is its supernatural colouring; in the place of the old antithesis, present and future, it substitutes that of above and below. It thus acquires an "other-worldliness" which was in marked contrast to the strictly practical and narrow purview of scholastic Pharisaism, and formed a distinct advance towards the lofty spirituality of the New Testament. 1 Herein, once more, prophetical influence is seen to be asserting itself. But there is another feature in this literature which is of the highest importance; in the words of Professor Charles:
"The object of Apocalyptic literature in general was to solve the difficulties connected with a belief in God's righteousness and the suffering condition of his servants on earth. The righteousness of God postulated the temporal prosperity of the righteous, and this postulate was accepted and enforced by the Law. But while the continuous exposition of the Law in the post-exilic period confirmed the people in their monotheistic faith and intensified their hostility to heathenism, their expectations of material well-being, which likewise the Law had fostered, were repeatedly falsified, and a grave contradiction thus emerged between the old prophetic ideals, and the actual experience of the nation, between the promises of God and the bondage and persecution which the people had daily to endure at the hands of their pagan oppressors. The difficulties arising from this conflict between promise and experience might be shortly resolved into two, which deal respectively with the position (1) of the righteous as a community, and (2) of the righteous man as an individual. The Old Testament prophets had concerned themselves chiefly with the former, and pointed in the main to the restoration (or 'resurrection') of Israel as a nation, and to Israel's ultimate possession of the earth as a reward of righteousness. Later, with the growing claims of the individual, and the acknowledgment of these in the religious and
intellectual life, the second problem pressed itself irresistibly on the notice of the religious thinkers, and made it impossible for any conception of the divine rule and righteousness which did not render adequate satisfaction to the claims of the righteous individual to gain acceptance. Thus, in order to justify the righteousness of God, there was postulated not only the resurrection of the righteous nation but also the resurrection of the righteous individual. Apocalyptic literature, therefore, strove to show that, in respect alike of the nation and of the individual, the righteousness of God would be fully vindicated; and, in order to justify its contention, it sketched in outline the history of the world and of mankind, the origin of evil and its course, and the final consummation of all things; and thus, in fact, it presented a Semitic philosophy of religion." 1
Now it is clear that when, in days gone by, men spoke and wrote about what was going to take place at the end of the world, their utterances must have been either of the nature of prophecy or speculation; in either case they believed that they were the recipients of Divine communications; it was God, they were convinced, who was according them
revelations of things that were to be. Their visions of the "last things" were thus "Apocalyptic" visions, i.e., the uncovering, or revealing, through divine agency, of what was going to happen at the end of the world. By the time of the New Testament period the great body of eschatological ideas was fully developed; these ideas, though in their germ reaching back to the earliest prophetical times, matured and became more or less crystallised during the two eventful centuries that immediately preceded the rise of Christianity. It was these centuries which saw the unfolding and rich growth of the Apocalyptic Movement with its vast eschatological developments, the antecedents of which we have sought to indicate in the preceding chapters; and, as we have seen, the literature which was the outcome of this Movement was popular in character. It is worth while to try and realise for a moment the importance and significance of these two facts. If this Apocalyptic literature had thus been in the making during the two centuries preceding the Advent of Christ, the Jewish nation, as a whole, must have been familiar with at least the central ideas with which it dealt. It is well known that the people looked for the "Restoration
of Israel" 1 when the Messiah should come, and believed that at His appearing their hopes regarding an ideal future would be realised; but this expectation and these hopes had been formulated and fostered by the Apocalyptists, basing much of their teaching, of course, upon the prophetical literature; the result was that owing to this Apocalyptic literature, the nation had been prepared for the coming of the Messiah. But another point of high importance is that our Lord Himself must have been familiar, at all events, with the essential points with which this literature dealt. It was said just now that the Apocalyptic literature was one which reflected the thoughts of religious circles which were outside the recognised Rabbinical schools, and that much which it taught conflicted with the strict scholastic orthodoxy of the Pharisees; the main reason of this was because in this Apocalyptic literature the outlook was wider, the atmosphere was freer, and there was none of that narrow, circumscribed, hair-splitting legalism, which other authorities besides the Gospels have taught us to connect with Pharisaism. The antagonism of the Pharisees towards our Lord must have been in part due to His eschatological
teaching, and this must also have been one of the reasons why the people clung to Him and followed Him; for it must be remembered that as soon as they looked upon Him as the Messiah, they would connect with Him all the current ideas regarding the end of the world.
The Apocalyptic writings with which we are specially concerned here are the following:--
The "Ethiopic" Book of Enoch. This book is composite in character; in it are incorporated several works by different authors and of different dates. The following table shows the various elements which the book contains with their approximate dates:--
"The Book of Celestial Physics," chaps. lxxii.--lxxxii. (166-161 B.C.).
"The Book of Similitudes," chaps. xxxvii.--lxx. (94-64 B.C.).
"The Apocalypse of Noah," extracts from this work are interspersed throughout the above. This Apocalypse is referred to in The Book of Jubilees, x. 13, 14, xxi. 10; its date is uncertain, but it was undoubtedly written before the commencement of the Christian Era.
[paragraph continues] There are also many interpolations, some from Christian sources, in the book.
The name "Ethiopic" Book of Enoch is given because the earliest version of the work which has been preserved is the Ethiopic. It only represents part of the "Enoch literature," which must at one time have been voluminous. The importance of this book will be seen when it is realised that, in the words of Professor Charles, "all the writers of the New Testament were familiar with it, and were more or less influenced by it in thought and diction. It is quoted as a genuine production of Enoch by St Jude, and as Scripture by St Barnabas. The authors of The Book of Jubilees, The Apocalypse of Baruch and The Fourth Book of Esdras laid it under contribution. With the earlier Fathers and Apologists it had all the weight of a canonical book, but towards the close of the third and the beginning of the fourth centuries it began to be discredited, and finally fell under the ban of the Church." 1
In the quotations from this work which will be given below the references are from Professor Charles's edition; it will not be necessary to indicate in each instance from which particular portion the quotation is taken, as a reference to the table given above will show this. The book will be quoted as "Ethiopic Enoch" to
distinguish it from the "Slavonic Enoch" (see below on this latter).
The Sibylline Oracles.--Most of this work is later than the beginning of the Christian Era; the portions with which we are concerned, however, belong probably to the second century B.C.; they are the "Proœmium" and Book iii.
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.--Written between 109-105 B.C. Regarding the use made of this work by New Testament writers, see Charles, in his edition, pp. lxxviii.--xcii.
The Psalms of Solomon.--This work is of composite authorship; the date is approximately 70-40 B.C.
The Book of Jubilees.--A Pharisaic work belonging to about 40-10 B.C.
The Book of the Secrets of Enoch.--This is often referred to as the "Slavonic Enoch" on account of its existing at present only in Slavonic. Though belonging to the once voluminous "Enoch literature," it is quite a distinct work from the "Ethiopic Enoch," spoken of above. It was written by an Alexandrian Jew at the beginning of the Christian Era; but pre-existing material has been largely utilised.
The Ascension of Isaiah.--A book of composite authorship, partly Jewish and partly Christian, the latter being, however, probably based on earlier Jewish work, the earliest portions belong to the very beginning of the Christian Era, the latest to the end of the first century A.D., or somewhat later.
The Assumption of Moses.--The work of a Pharisee, belonging to quite the beginning of the Christian Era; it was written in Palestine.
The Apocalypse of Baruch (Syriac).--A composite work written by Pharisees; though not written till the second half of the first Christian century, it reflects earlier beliefs and ideas, and is of considerable importance in the present connection. It is an entirely different work from the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch.
The Fourth Book of Esdras.--This extremely important Jewish Apocalyptic work belongs to the end of the first Christian century, but it embodies many conceptions of pre-Christian times. In the English Apocrypha it is called the Second Book of Esdras, but the more strictly accurate title is as given here.
It will not be inappropriate to append here a selected Bibliography of the above-mentioned works:
The Book of Enoch (English text 1890, Ethiopic text 1906) edited by R. H. Charles.--The Greek text is published by Dr Swete in The Old Testament in Greek, vol. iii. (1899).
The Sibylline Oracles.--Translated from the Greek into English blank verse, with notes (1889), edited by M. S. Terry.
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (English 1908, Greek text 1908).--Edited by R. H. Charles.
The Psalms of Solomon.--These have been published in Greek and English, under the title "The Psalms of
the Pharisees," edited by Ryle and James (1891); the Greek text has also been published by Dr Swete, op. cit. pp. 765-787 (1896),
The Book of Jubilees.--Translated from the Editor's Ethiopic text; edited by R. H. Charles (1902).
The Book of the Secrets of Enoch.--Edited by Morfill and Charles (1896).
The Ascension of Isaiah.--Text, translation, and commentary, by R. H. Charles (1900).
The Assumption of Moses.--Text, translation, and commentary, by R. H. Charles (1897).
The Apocalypse of Baruch.--Translated from the Syriac, and edited by R. H. Charles (1896).
The Fourth Book of Esdras (Ezra).--The Latin text has been published by Bensley and James in "Texts and Studies," iii. 2 (1895).
All the above, with the exception of the Secrets of Enoch, exist in a German translation, together with Notes, in Kautzsch's Die Apokryphen and Pseudepigraphen des Alten Testaments, vol. ii. (1900); the different books are edited by leading German scholars.
66:1 "Make a fence to the Torah" (Pirqe Aboth, i. 1), which Dr Taylor, in his edition of the work, paraphrases in the words: "Impose additional restrictions so as to keep at a safe distance from the forbidden ground."
67:1 Cf. Oesterley and Box, op. cit. pp. 34, 211.
69:1 Professor Charles in Encycl. Bibl. i. 213, 214.
71:1 Cf. Luke ii. 38.
73:1 The Book of Enoch, pp. 1, 2.