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Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania

The Summing up of History in 2 Baruch

Author(s): John F. Hobbins
Source: The Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. 89, No. 1/2 (Jul. - Oct., 1998), pp. 45-79
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
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THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW, LXXXIX, NoS. 1-2 (July-October, 1998) 45-79


JOHN F. HOBBINS, University of Wisconsin, Madison


It is often claimed that in Jewish and Christian apocalyptic, there is a

denial of the possibility that history will be the arena in which change for
the better will be realized. The present article argues that the shape of the
future according to a Jewish apocalypse, 2 Baruch, is more complex than
such claims might suggest. A review of the work's future expectations leads
to the conclusion that for 2 Baruch, God's saving acts will transform his-
tory from within, not destroy it from without.

A theme often recurs in biblical prophecy, Jewish apocalyptic,

and Christian apocalyptic: in the wake of destruction, palingenesis (a
new beginning) is expected. The end result will outstrip any hitherto
known reality. 1
2 Baruch, an ancient apocalypse, foresees palingenesis for the Jew-
ish people and the world. In the aftermath of the temple's destruction,
the work looks forward to a comprehensive transformation of reality.
I address two questions in this paper: Is the transformation of reality
foreseen by 2 Baruch to occur in history, or beyond it? Does 2 Baruch
anticipate the breaking off of history, or, in its own terms, the "heal-
ing" of history?
The stage may be set with a quote from Rudolf Bultmann. In his
Gifford lectures, Bultmann sought to describe a modern-day philos-
ophy of history in continuity with the stress on the intrinsic value of
history, and on human responsibility in history, that finds expression
in the literatures of ancient Israel and early Christianity. According

* A revised version of a paper prepared for a seminar on Jewish literature of the

Hellenistic and Roman periods at the University of Wisconsin. My thanks to Ronald
Troxel, who led the seminar and critiqued the original paper; to Rachel Brenner and
the anonymous JQR reviewers, for their suggestions. Remaining errors are my respon-
sibility alone. An earlier version of the paper was presented at the Midwest SBL
meeting held in Wheaton, Illinois, February 16-18, 1997.
1 The hope for surpassing palingenesis, rather than a mere restoration of past glory,
is characteristic of numerous strands of biblical, ancient Jewish, and early Christian
literature. See Appendix A.

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to him, a divergent understanding of history prevails in 2 Baruch and

other Jewish apocalypses:

The cosmological and historical points of view are combined in the

Jewish eschatology. The predominance of the cosmological is shown
by the fact that the end is really the end of the world and its history.
This end of history no longer belongs to history as such. Therefore it
cannot be called the goal of history towards which the course of his-
tory moves by steps. The end is not the completion of history but its
breaking off, it is, so to speak, the death of the world due to its age.
The old world will be replaced by a new creation, and there is no
continuity between the two Aeons. The very memory of the past will
disappear, and, with that, history vanishes.2

Bultmann emphasizes the incommensurability of the coming age

via-'a-vis this age in 2 Baruch and similar works. He omits reference
to the hopes of the same literature regarding the temple, the messiah,
the land, and the Jewish people, understood, according to a prevalent
hypothesis, to be residual rather than characteristic elements of the
future expectations contained in apocalyptic. Bultmann does not stand
alone in claiming an other-worldly focus in 2 Baruch and Jewish
apocalyptic more generally. The dissolution of a historical into a
metaphysical and spiritual eschatology has often been considered a
defining characteristic of apocalyptic.3
I argue in this paper that the breaking off of history supposed by
Bultmann to find expression in "the Jewish eschatology" is a mis-
leading description of what we in fact find in 2 Baruch. The cosmo-

2The Presence of Eternity: History and Eschatology (New York, 1957), p. 30.
Bultmann cites 2 Baruch once and 4 Ezra three times in the course of this paragraph.
To the neglect of the elements which characterize them more uniquely, he picks out
motifs in 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra's expectations that were part and parcel of the com-
mon cosmic eschatology of the first century CE, on which see E G. Downing, "Cos-
mic Eschatology in the First Century: 'Pagan', Jewish and Christian," LAntiquite
Classique 64 (1995) 99-109; idem, "Common Strands in Pagan, Jewish, and Christian
Eschatologies in the First Century," Theologische Zeitschrift 51 (1995) 196-211.
3 J. Wellhausen, "Zur apokalyptischen Literatur," in Skizzen und Vorarbeiten (Ber-
lin, 1899), 6:225-234; P. Volz, Die Eschatologie der judischen Gemeinde im neu-
testamentlichen Zeitalter nach den Quellen der rabbinischen, apokalyptischen und
apokryphen Literatur dargestellt (Tiubingen, 1934); P. Vielhauer, "Die Apokalyptik,"
in Neutestamentliche Apokryphen in deutscher Ubersetzung, eds. E. Hennecke and
W. Schneemelcher (Tiibingen, 1964), 2:408-421; W. R. Murdock, "History and Rev-
elation in Jewish Apocalyptic," Interpretation 21 (1967) 165-187; H. A. Lombard,
"The Character, Epoch (Period), Origins (Motives) and Methods of Jewish Apocalyp-
tic," Neotestamentica 12 (1981) 20-40; P. Bilde, "Gnosticism, Jewish Apocalypticism,

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logical and historical points of view are combined in 2 Baruch, but

not to the detriment of the historical. 2 Baruch anticipates palin-
genesis in history, not just beyond it, and the salvation of history, not
its breaking off.


2 Baruch presents itself as the memoirs of the biblical figure

Baruch.4 The memoirs contain an autobiographical narrative frame,
Baruch's account of revelations he received, questions addressed to
God which give rise to the revelations, lamentations and prayers by
Baruch, and Baruch's instruction to the people. A hortatory letter sent

and Early Christianity," in In the Last Days: On Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic
and its Period, eds. K. Jeppesen, K. Nielsen, and B. Rosenthal (Aarhus, 1994), pp. 9-32.
For claims of an otherworldly focus in 2 Baruch, see D. Rossler, Gesetz und Geschichte:
Untersuchungen zur Theologie derjiidischen Apokalyptik und derpharisaischen Ortho-
doxie (Neukirchen, 1960), pp. 60-61; P. Bogaert, Apocalypse de Baruch. Introduction,
traduction du syriaque et commentaire. Sources chretiennes 144-145 (Paris, 1969),
1:413-425; W. Harnisch, Verhdngnis und Verheissung der Geschichte: Untersuchungen
zum Zeit- und Geschichtsverstdndnis im 4. Buch Esra und in der syrische Baruch-
apokalypse (Gottingen, 1980), pp. 89-142; F J. Murphy, The Structure and Meaning
of Second Baruch (Atlanta, 1985), pp. 28, 66-67, 114-116.
4 The most thorough study of 2 Baruch is P. Bogaert, Apocalypse. 2 Baruch prob-
ably was written in Hebrew or Aramaic, of which all trace has been lost, and then
translated into Greek. Fragments of the book in Greek have survived. A Syriac trans-
lation of the Greek is extant in a single copy. An Arabic translation of the Syriac has
also come to light (once again, in a single manuscript). The Syriac is the basis on
which study of the apocalypse must proceed. Editio princeps: A. M. Ceriani, "Apoc-
alypsis Baruch Syriace," Monumenta sacra etprofana 5/2 (Milan, 1871), pp. 113-180;
idem, Translatio Syra Pescitto Veteris Testamenti ex codice Ambrosiano sec. fere VI
photolithographicae edita (Milan, 1876-1883), foll. 275r-267r. Critical edition of
chapters 1-77: S. Dedering, "Apocalypse of Baruch," The Old Testament in Syriac
according to the Peshitta Version 4/3 (Leiden, 1973), pp. i-iv, 1-50; of chapters 78-
87: M. Kmosk6, "Epistola Baruch Filii Neriae," Patrologia Syriaca 1/2 (Paris, 1907),
coll. 1207-1236. Concordance of entire composition: ibid., coll. 1238-1300. Intro-
ductions and translations: R. H. Charles, The Apocalypse of Baruch (London, 1896);
idem, "II Baruch," in Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament [APOT
hereafter], ed. R. H. Charles (Oxford, 1913), 2:470-526; B. Violet, Die Apocalypsen
des Esra und des Baruch in deutscher Gestalt. Die griechischen christlichen Schrift-
steller 32 (Leipzig, 1924); A. Kahana, N fl3 Ipmn, in o)rSnn oinvn (Tel Aviv, 1956),
1:362-408; A. F J. Klijn, "Die syrische Baruch-Apocalypse," Jiidische Schriften aus
hellenistisch-romischer Zeit 5/2 (Gutersloh, 1976), pp. 103-191; idem, "2 (Syriac
Apocalypse) Baruch (early second century A.D.)," in The Old Testament Pseude-
pigrapha, ed. J. H. Charlesworth (New York, 1983), 1:615-652; L. H. Brockington,

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to the "nine and a half tribes" beyond the Euphrates River concludes
the narrative.
2 Baruch was composed after the destruction of the second temple,
not the first as narrated in the text. A date in the vicinity of 100 CE
is widely accepted as the date of composition.5 Its formal character-
istics allow 2 Baruch to be classified as an apocalypse. The chief
conventions of the genre are utilized: pseudepigraphy; an overarch-
ing narrative framework with narrator and super-narrator; revelatory
dialogues and symbolic dream visions presented within that frame-
work. At the same time, 2 Baruch contains examples of parenesis
(counsel), last but not least in the concluding letter.6 Pseudepigraphy

"The Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch," in The Apocryphal Old Testament, ed. H. D. F

Sparks (Oxford, 1984), pp. 835-895; J. Hadot, "Apocalypse Syriaque de Baruch,"
in La Bible: Ecrits intertestamentaires, eds. A. Dupont-Sommer and M. Philonenko
(Paris, 1987), pp. 1471-1557; P. Bettiolo, "Apocalisse siriaca di Baruc," in Apocrifi
dellAntico Testamento: Volume primo, ed. P. Sacchi (Milan, 1990), pp. 257-343. Bib-
liographies: A.-M. Denis, Introduction auxpseudepigraphes grecs dAncien Testament
(Leiden, 1970), pp. 182-186; G. Delling, Bibliographie zur jiidisch-hellenistischen
und intertestamentarischen Literatur 1900-1970 (Berlin, 2nd ed., 1975), pp. 162-163;
J. H. Charlesworth, The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research with a Supplement
(Chico, 2nd ed., 1981), pp. 83-86, 275; A. F J. Klijn, "Recent Developments in the
Study of the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch," Journal for the Study of the Pseude-
pigrapha 4 (1989) 16-17. Summaries of the book and discussion: G. W. E. Nickels-
burg, Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah (Philadelphia, 1981), pp.
281-287; J. J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to the Jewish
Matrix of Christianity (New York, 1984), pp. 170-180; E. Schurer, The History of
the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (175 B.C.-A.D.135) 3/2, revised by
G. Vermes, E Millar, and M. Goodman (Edinburgh, 1987), pp. 750-756. Recent mono-
graphs: G. B. Saylor, Have the Promises Failed? A Literary Analysis of 2 Baruch
(Chico, 1984); F J. Murphy, Structure; T. W. Willett, Eschatology in the Theodicies
of 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra (Sheffield, 1989).
5 Klijn suggests a date of composition between 100 and 130 CE ("Baruch-Apoca-
lypse," p. 114); N. Roddy, a date between 70 and 99 CE (" 'Two Parts: Weeks of Seven
Weeks': The End of the Age as Terminus ad Quem for 2 Baruch," JSP 14 [1996] 3-14);
Nickelsburg, a date towards the end of the first century (Jewish Literature, p. 287).
Bogaert (Apocalypse, 1:270-295) and Collins (Apocalyptic Imagination, p. 170) date
the work more precisely, to about 95 CE.
6 On apocalypse as a genre, see Apocalypse: The Morphology of a Genre. Semeia
14, ed. J. J. Collins (Missoula, 1979); J. J. Collins, Daniel with an Introduction to
Apocalyptic Literature (Grand Rapids, 1984), pp. 1-24. Pseudepigraphy is a common
but not universal characteristic. An anonymous super-narrator usually provides a frame-
work for the pseudonymous narrator's account. Cf. 2 Baruch 1:1-2a; 78:1. A great
number of works in antiquity combined anonymity and pseudonymity. The apocalypses
were traditional, not innovative, in so doing.

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allows the author of 2 Baruch to superimpose a timeframe from the

past onto the timeframe of his contemporaries. The "fit" is close,
usually unobtrusive.
The author of 2 Baruch grieves the destruction of the symbol of
the people's relationship with God, and calls the people to grieve. He
also reminds them, in accordance with traditional theology, that God
stands outside as well as inside the people's situation. Despite every-
thing that had happened, power belonged to their God and to those
who possess his law. The situation of post-destruction Judaism is
finely epitomized by 2 Baruch: "We have nothing now apart from the
Mighty One and his law" (85:3).
2 Baruch focuses on the particular situation of its collectivity of
reference, the people Israel. This does not mean that 2 Baruch re-
frains from metaphysical speculation. As we shall see, metaphysical
explanation serves to rationalize the historical process in which
Israel found itself.
The view that 2 Baruch is an incoherent work, a composite of
sources deriving from different hands, more than one period, and
opposing conceptions of key issues, once enjoyed the status of con-
sensus. Now it is commonplace to emphasize the unity and coher-
ence of 2 Baruch. Neither the old nor the new tendency, in my view,
is satisfactory.7
2 Baruch is a product of postbiblical tradition. Diverse eschatol-
ogies were derived from the Bible, combined with motifs from other
sources, and developed in postbiblical tradition. The resultant escha-
tological scenarios might be left in discrete blocks or combined. If
combined, the synthesis was often superficial. A single work often
contains a plurality of scenarios.8

7For a summary of the older source-critical theories, see Charles, APOT, 2:474-
476. For defenses of the unity and coherence of 2 Baruch, see Bogaert, Apocalypse,
1:57-88; Saylor, Promises, pp. 11-39; Murphy, Structure, pp. 11-29.
8Jubilees (1:15-18 and 23:26-3 1); Daniel (2:31-45; 7:2-27; 8:1-12, 18-25; 9:24-
27; 11:2-12:4; 12:5-13); 4 Ezra (4:26-32, 34-37,48-50; 5:1-12; 6:9, 18-28; 7:26-44,
76-99; 8:49-55; 9:1-12; 10:25-27; 11:36-12:3, 31-34; 13:1-13a, 21-50; Revela-
tion (6:1-8:5; 8:6-11:19; 12:1-14:20; 15:1-16:21; 17:1-19:10; 19:11-21:8; 21:9-
22:5). A. Yarbro Collins argues that a literary principle of recapitulation, long seen
to be operative in Revelation, is also in evidence in Daniel 7-10, Sibylline Oracles 3
and 5, and 4 Ezra 3-9 (The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation [Missoula, 1976],
pp. 32-44; 43-44). Parts of 2 Baruch might be added to the list. In all these works,
discrete revelations covering the same eschatological events, though with differing
emphases and imagery, are fitted into a sequential narrative framework.

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This being so, 2 Baruch is not necessarily a compilation of escha-

tological revelations authored by a plurality of individuals. Multiple
eschatological scenarios of the apocalypse are revealed to Baruch
(20:1-2; 23:6-24:2; 27:1-28:2; 29-30; 36-37; 39-40; 42; 50-51;
53; 56-74). They are not homogeneous. Each has its own integrity.
A synthesis is not presented. But we need not imagine more than a
single author behind the multiple vistas.
There are further inconsistencies in 2 Baruch. The book's pare-
netic sections (31-32; 44-45; 77; 78-86) are characterized by es-
chatological paraclesis i.e., exhortation (32:1, 4-6; 44:7-15; 77:6;
78:6-7; 82-83; 85:4-5; 85:10-15).9 Parenesis consistently follows
the reception of eschatological revelations, but the predictions in the
parenesis have a logic of their own. They relate in general ways only
to the contents of the revelations that prompt them within the logic
of the narrative.
Scholars of the old school responded to the lack of detailed relat-
edness by parceling out revelations and parenesis to different authors.
It is more usual now for the lack of detailed relatedness of revela-
tions and parenesis to be played down or passed over in silence. 10
The visions and speeches exhibit self-contained logic, I suggest, be-
cause they are stylized distillations of actual and discrete revelatory
experiences and speech deliveries. All may derive from a single re-
cipient of revelations and deliverer of speeches, the author himself.1 1
Discontinuities are the result of non-interventionist compositional
technique: 2 Baruch's author strung together fully-formed revela-

9 "Eschatological paraclesis" consists of exhortation grounded in predictions about

the future. See L. Gaston, No Stone on Another: Studies in the Significance of the Fall
of Jerusalem in the Synoptic Gospels (Leiden, 1970), p. 15; Murphy, Structure, p. 103.
10 "Old school": Charles, APOT, 2:474-475. "New school": Bogaert, Apocalypse,
1:57-58, 80-88; Saylor, Promises, pp. 11-31; Murphy, Structure, pp. 11-27. Klijn
exaggerates the differences between the revelations and the parenesis, and takes the
parenesis alone as expressing the views of 2 Baruch's author. For the author of 2 Baruch,
according to Klijn, "[t]he destruction of the temple is nothing but a sign from which
everyone can see that Israel has been punished by God"; "the ideas about the temple,
the Messiah and the land, which were present in the author's sources . . . he totally
neglected as soon as he expresses his own ideas ("The Sources and the Redaction of
the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch," Journalfor the Study of Judaism 1 [1970] 71, 76,
11 The extent to which authors of apocalypses report their own experiences under
a pseudonym remains controversial. See C. Rowland, The Open Heaven: A Study of
Apocalyptic in Judaism and Early Christianity (New York, 1982), pp. 240-247; M. E.

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tion reports and speech reports with little or no adaptation of con-

tents. Placed before the speech reports, the revelation reports provide
powerful and independent support for the parenesis contained in the
Asymmetries are evident between revealed visions and revealed in-
terpretations in 2 Baruch (36-37 vis-'a-vis 39-40; 53 vis-'a-vis 56-
74). Like the vision reports, the reports of revealed interpretation
appear to be stylized accounts of nonassimilable revelatory experi-
ences, rather than ad hoc, purely literary creations. 12
In short, a diverse anthology of revealed visions, revealed inter-
pretations, and parenetic discourses is included in 2 Baruch. We need
not imagine more than a single author behind their reduction in writ-
ing and literary organization. A common fund of eschatological and
parabiblical tradition seems to be the most plausible explanation for
the large number of elements that 2 Baruch shares with texts and tra-
ditions both near and far in terms of genre and period. 13
G. B. Saylor and F. J. Murphy have advanced our understanding
of 2 Baruch by their analyses of the work's literary structure. Saylor
showed that the work is held together by its sections of narrative
prose. The narrative of Baruch with his audience moving from grief
to consolation is the key to the book's structure. The non-narrative

Stone, "Apocalyptic Literature," in Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period:

Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran Sectarian Writings, Philo, Josephus, ed. M. E.
Stone (Assen, 1984), pp. 429-43 1; idem, Fourth Ezra: A Commentary on the Book of
Fourth Ezra, Hermeneia (Minneapolis, 1990), pp. 32-33. Whether or not apocalyptic
authors report their own speeches has not, so far as I know, been investigated.
12 On the probability of this sort of explanation for the phenomenon of discontinu-
ities between visions and interpretations in apocalypses, and an analysis of 2 Baruch
36-37 vis-4-vis 39-40, see Rowland, Open Heaven, pp. 239-240.
13 The affinities of 2 Baruch with 4 Ezra and Biblical Antiquities (Pseudo-Philo)
have received the most attention. Questions of literary dependence or lack thereof re-
main a matter of controversy. See M. E. Stone, Fourth Ezra, pp. 39-40, and references
cited there. Bogaert explored 2 Baruch's agreements with the slightly later Paraleipo-
mena of Jeremiah and the much later Pesikta Rabbati (Apocalypse, 1:177-221, 222-
241). G. Nickelsburg concludes, contra Bogaert, that Paraleipomena of Jeremiah and
2 Baruch draw on a common tradition rather than the former depending on the latter
("Narrative Traditions in the Paraleipomena of Jeremiah and 2 Baruch," CBQ 35
[1973] 60-68). R. G. Hall examines 1 Enoch 83-90, 2 Baruch 53-74, and Apoca-
lypse of Abraham 21-32, noting similarities in content, argument structure, and form
(Revealed Histories: Techniques for Ancient Jewish and Christian Historiography
[Sheffield, 1991], pp. 61-8 1).

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sections of the book are fitted into the narrative frame. Murphy ob-
served that there is a repeated movement within the book toward
Baruch's instruction of wider and wider audiences of people. On this
view, the parenetic letter becomes the capstone of the work's literary
structure. It follows that 2 Baruch is essentially a work of instruction,
its function to fortify and console. 14
The question of the identity of 2 Baruch's author and the readership
for whom he wrote is not easily resolved. The case is weak for the
view that 2 Baruch was written for a sectarian community. 2 Baruch
addresses Jews in general, not Jews of a particular persuasion (31 :1 -
3; 77:1-3, 11, 17; 78:1, 2). The book's distinction between the many
faithless and few righteous Jews is a nonsectarian one (18:1-19:3;
41:3; 42:4). According to 2 Baruch, all Jews live at present with a
tremendous loss, and are not to rest until they recoup their losses by
devotion to the basic tenets of the Jewish faith (44:5, 7; 84:8 and its
continuation in 85:3b-4). The book is not a manifesto of a particular
version of Judaism written to engage in intramural definition. 15
The case is also weak for the view that 2 Baruch is a product of
early rabbinism. If 2 Baruch's author was a rabbi in the sense of an
individual who handed down halakhic rulings, expounded scripture,
and told aggadot, he has not imposed his identity on Baruch in his
composition. Baruch of the composition is first and foremost a recip-

14Saylor, Promises, p. 38; Murphy, Structure, p. 13. My understanding of the

message of 2 Baruch has little in common with that of Murphy, but I share his basic
insights into the work's structure and correlative function. He claims an otherworldly
focus in 2 Baruch, to the denigration of any hope for transformation on earth (Struc-
ture, pp. 28, 67, 114-116). On the letter as original to 2 Baruch, see Bogaert, Apoc-
alypse, 1:67-78; Murphy, Structure, pp. 28-29.
15 Saylor proposes a sectarian origin for 2 Baruch, but without strong arguments
(Promises, pp. 115-118). According to J. E. Wright, the author of 2 Baruch wrote for
a group of people that devoted itself to the author as its exclusive source of salvific
knowledge ("The Social Setting of the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch," JSP 16 [1997]
81-96). Wright raises the possibility that the interactions between Baruch and his
audience in 2 Baruch reflect actual interactions between 2 Baruch's author and "his
followers" (p. 86). But Baruch has no "followers" in 2 Baruch. He relates to the people
as a whole and to their elders insofar as they represent the people as a whole (31:1 -
3; 33:1-2; 34:1; 44:1; 45:1; 46:1; 76:5; 77:1-3, 11, 17; 78:1-2). His prayers have
no sectarian overtones (21:11, 20-21; 48:18-20; 75:6-8). The social typology Wright
supposes to lie behind 2 Baruch-a seer, a circle of disciples, and the people at large
(p. 87, n. 25)-is not reflected in the book's narrative.

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ient of revelations. His public instruction is characterized by escha-

tological paraclesis. If the author of 2 Baruch is recognizable to this
extent in his portrait of Baruch, it is more prudent to place the Ju-
daism of 2 Baruch's author alongside rather than inside the Judaism
of the rabbis. There were many Judaisms, after all, in the first century
of the current era. Rabbinism was not the most prevalent. 2 Baruch
exhibits a hierarchization of interests that is not identical to that of
tannaitic Judaism. 16
It is usual to divide 2 Baruch into seven sections, but none of the
divisions proposed have gained widespread acceptance. 17 It may be
more natural to divide the work into four parts. Chapters 1-20 con-
stitute a first cycle, 21-43 a second, 44-76 a third, and 77-87 a
fourth, capping off the whole. The first cycle contains dialogue be-
tween God and Baruch only; the second and third, between Baruch
and the people as well; the fourth, between Baruch and the people
only. The two middle parts contain a crescendo of revelations: 24-
25 and 27-30; then 36-40 and 42; finally, 50-51 and 53-74. The
first three parts conclude with narrative-specific instructions from

16F. Rosenthal imagined 2 Baruch's author as a member of the school of Rabbi

Akiva (Vier apocryphische Biicher aus der Zeit und Schule R. Akiba's. Assumptio
Mosis, das vierte Buch Esra, die Apokalypse Baruch, das Buch Tobi, Leipzig, 1885).
L. Ginzberg identified the book's author as a "Pharisee" ("Baruch, Apocalypse of,"
The Jewish Encyclopedia [New York, 1901-1906], 2:551-556). G. F Moore suggested
the authors of 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch were trained in the rabbinic schools (Judaism in
the First Centuries of the Christian Era [Cambridge, 1927-30], 2:285). Bogaert speaks
of 2 Baruch as a product of "Pharisaic theology": he proposes Rabbi Joshua ben

Hananiah as its author (Apocalypse, 1:381-444; 412-413; 443-444). L. L. Grab

inclines to identifying 2 Baruch's author as "a Yavnean rabbi" ("Chronography in
4 Ezra and 2 Baruch," in SBL 1981 Seminar Papers, ed. K. H. Richards [Chico,
1982], pp. 49-63; 58-62). B. W. Longenecker takes up this identification for 4 Ezra's
author ("Locating 4 Ezra: A Consideration of its Social Setting and Functions," JSJ
28 [1997] 271-293). The assumption behind these proposals is that Judaism was
either sectarian or rabbinic in the early centuries of this era. The variety of Judaisms
evident in available sources cannot be forced into this scheme. This holds for 4 Ezra,
2 Baruch, and Biblical Antiquities (Pseudo-Philo), as much as it holds for Philo, 4 Mac-
cabees, and the Hellenistic synagogal prayers insolated by K. Kohler (on which see
D. A. Fiensy, "Prayers, Hellenistic Synagogal," Anchor Bible Dictionary [New York,
1992], 5:450-451).
17For synopses, see Bogaert, Apocalypse, 1:62; Murphy, Structure, p. 12.
offers his own sevenfold scheme ("Baruch-Apocalypse," pp. 118-119); Collins, an-
other (Apocalyptic Imagination, p. 170).

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God or an angel to Baruch: 20, 43, and 76. The instructions move the
narrative forward according to a comprehensive plan. 18


2 Baruch begins with a statement of God's resolve to destroy his

own city and scatter the people among the Gentiles (1:2-5). God says
that the people brought the destruction upon themselves. 19 Baruch
responds with a set of seven questions:

One thing I will say in your presence, 0 Lord:

[1] After these things, then what will happen?
[2] For if you destroy your city and deliver up your country to those
who hate us, how will the name of Israel be remembered again?
[3] Or how shall we speak again of your glorious deeds?
[4] Or to whom again will that which is in your law be explained?
[5] Or will the universe return to its primeval state and the world re-
vert to its original silence?
[6] Will the multitude of souls be taken away and the nature of hu-
mankind not be mentioned again?
[7] Where is all which you said to Moses concerning us? (3:4_9)20

Unless the effects of God's decision are reversed, Baruch argues,

none of the things to which God's glory is attached will remain: the
name of Israel, the memory of God's deeds accomplished on Israel's

18 The correspondence of 43 to 20 was also noticed by Saylor, Promises, p. 25.

My division of 1-76 into three parts accords with Saylor's division of the same into
six parts: her blocks 1-2, 3-4, and 5-6 exactly equal my parts, 1, 2, and 3, respec-
tively. Her discussion of the book's literary structure remains the most thorough (pp.
11-39, 161-162).
19They "compelled their kings to sin" (1:3), probably a veiled reference to the
events of the Great War against Rome (66-70 CE): the people, not its leaders, initi-
ated the revolt (D. Mendels, The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism [New York,
1992], pp. 355-371). 2 Baruch looks forward to a time when the people will choose
peace rather than rebellion: "My people shall be chastened; but the time will come
when they will seek the prosperity of their times once more" (1:5; translation follows
the Syriac: cf. Klijn, "2 Baruch," p. 621, note le). The thought and phraseology echo
Jer 29:7.
20 Here as elsewhere in this paper, the translation follows Klijn and/or Brockington,
except when consultation of the Syriac suggested a more appropriate rendering.

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behalf, the law given to be impressed on the people; all these things
will perish.
Perhaps, Baruch inquires, the destruction to be wrought on Jeru-
salem is a foretaste of God's resolve to destroy the cosmos and the
human race altogether. Questions [5] and [6] in fact contain their own
reply: Baruch is assuming that the universe was not created in order
to be destroyed.21 If the world did not come into being to be reduced,
finally, to nothingness, neither did Israel come into being with that end
in view. According to question [7], God would renege on his prom-
ises to Israel if he brought Israel to extinction. Only if Israel survives
and lives out its calling as God intended from the start, maintains
Baruch, will God's promises be upheld. Israel's historical existence is
at stake.
God's reply to Baruch likewise gives the lie to the view that the
apocalypse's interest is other-worldly as opposed to this-worldly:

This city shall be delivered up for a time, and the people will be chas-
tened for a time, and the world will not be given over to oblivion.
(4: 1)22

These words adumbrate a positive framework for all of history, no

matter how bleak and catastrophic it may be for a time. The catas-
trophe is not final, nor is it a prelude to universal destruction.
God then refers to the protological/eschatological Jerusalem, of
which the Jerusalem to be destroyed is only a copy. God assures
Baruch that the Jerusalem of divine promise, along with Paradise,
remain intact in God's presence:

Or do you think that this is the city of which I said, "On the palms of
my hands I have carved you"? It is not this building that is in your
midst now; it is that which will be revealed, with me, that was already
prepared from the moment I decided to create Paradise.... Behold,
now it is preserved with me, as also Paradise. (4:2-6)

The destruction of the historically actual Jerusalem does not repre-

sent an absolute loss. Though it be destroyed, the heavenly prototype

21 God assures Baruch that this is so: "the world will not be given over to obliv-
ion" (4:1).
22 "Given over to oblivion" (Brockington), not "forgotten" (Klijn); the former
translation correctly resolves the ambiguity of the Syriac metht'a. Cf. Bogaert, Apoc-
alypse, 2:14.

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remains.23 The ensuing narrative emphasizes that the goal towards

which events are moving is one of restoration. The existent disasso-
ciation of temporal and eternal realities, the intersection of which takes
place in the temple under normal circumstances, is not definitive.24
Baruch sees an angel descend into the Holy of Holies before the
temple is destroyed by the armies of the enemy. The angel removes
the precious cultic paraphernalia and addresses the earth as follows:

Earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the mighty God, and receive the
things which I commit to you, and guard them until the last times, so
that you may restore them when you are ordered.... For the time has
come when for a time even Jerusalem will be delivered up, until it is
commanded that it be once again and forever restored. (6:8_9)25

Temporarily, Jerusalem is delivered up. The holy objects it will

contain again are preserved. The apocalypse looks forward to the
repristination of the point of intersection of the temporal and eternal
spheres. The suppression of the temporal sphere or the exclusive
dignity of the eternal sphere are not in view.26

23 The cosmological dualism of 4:2-6 recalls Plato's metaphor of the dividing-

line, and the distinction between that which is noumenal (above) and that which is
phenomenal (below), in book 6 of the Republic. Already for the Bible, however, the
universe has two tiers, and God two temples, one in heaven and one on earth. See the
discussions of Clifford and Levenson cited in the next note. Against Charles (APOT,
2:482), the assertion that the earthly temple's model or prototype is with God in
heaven does not imply derision for the earthly temple. It only implies that not all is
lost if the building constructed on the prototype's basis is destroyed.
24 Sin (1:3) caused the disassociation, necessitating the destruction of the city and
the temple contained in it, but city and temple will one day be restored (6:8-9). The
assumption is that divine judgment on the temple is provisional: the divine promises
regarding it have not been revoked. The same assumption controls the perspective of
Ezek 8:1-11:23; 37:26-28; 43:1-11. On the temple as the cosmological point of in-
tersection between the earthly and heavenly realms, see R. J. Clifford, The Cosmic
Mountain in Canaan and the Old Testament (Cambridge, Mass. 1972); idem, "The
Temple and the Holy Mountain," in The Temple in Antiquity, ed. T. G. Madsen (Provo,
1984), pp. 107-124; J. D. Levenson, Sinai and Zion: An Entry into the Jewish Bible
(San Francisco, 1985), pp. 89-184.
25 Cf. 80:2. The tradition of the concealment of cultic paraphernalia from the first
temple until the day of its restitution to a restored temple is older than 2 Baruch. See
G. W. E. Nickelsburg, "Narrative Traditions in the Paralipomena of Jerusalem and
2 Baruch," CBQ 35 (1973) 60-68; I. Kalimi and J. D. Purvis, "The Hiding of the
Temple Vessels in Jewish and Samaritan Literature," CBQ 56 (1994) 679-685.
26 According to Murphy (Structure, p. 95), 6:9 envisages the building of the sec-
ond temple, not its restoration in the aftermath of its destruction. His interpretation

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History does not vanish. Nor is it forgotten. The vessels are b

for safekeeping in the earth, subterranean in their effect, we m
say, until their rightful place be restored.
Following a period of mourning and fasting at a distance from Jeru-
salem, Baruch returns and sits in front of the ruined doors of the de-
stroyed temple. He weeps over the desolation around him:

Blessed is he who was not born, or he who was born and died. But
we, the living, woe to us, because we have seen these afflictions of
Zion. (10:6-7)

The promise of a restored city and temple does not supplant the
reality of the destroyed city and temple in Baruch's consciousness.
Baruch of the apocalypse is repeatedly overcome by Zion's desola-
tion (3:1-3;27 5:1, 6-7; 6:2; 9:2; 10:5-12:5; 35:1-4; 81:2). In his
parenesis, whenever he reiterates the promise of Zion's renewal, he
also instructs the people to never forget the distress of Jerusalem
(31:4 and 32:4; 44:5 and 7; 84:8 and 85:3b-4). He does not com-
mand an abandonment of grief.28

depends on a tendentious understanding of le'alam, normally meaning "forever." Pre-

cisely this choice of words, as Bogaert points out (Apocalypse, 2:25), indicates that the
temple yearned for in the wake of the second temple's destruction is being alluded to.
A restoration of Jerusalem on earth is in view in 6:9, the natural reading of the text
according to Charles (APOT, 2:484), Volz (Eschatologie, p. 373), and Harnisch (Ver-
hdngnis, p. 112, n. 1). Other passages support this interpretation. "For a time" only
will Jerusalem lie desolate (1:4; 4:1; 32:3). Zion has been taken away for now, but
conditional upon faithfulness to the law, everything lost will be received back in
superabundance (31:4-32:4; 44:5-7; 85:3b-4).
273:1 and 3:3 are mistranslated by Klijn; 3:1, by Brockington: not "evil things"
and "evil" of Jerusalem, but "misfortunes" (if indeed we are to read the plural, which
is uncertain) and "ruin," respectively. The semantic ambiguity of the Syriac noun
bishta is equivalent to the Hebrew raCa (see Kahana's translation, X Inn Vain, pp.
28 According to Murphy, the author of 2 Baruch wished to direct the people's
tention away from the destruction of the temple toward the "real" place of God's
presence, heaven (Structure, p. 114). "Remember the distress of Jerusalem" (31:4)
he implausibly interprets in terms of Zion being an object-lesson in the transitoriness
of the present world (p. 104). "The consolation of Zion" (44:7), despite the sense this
terminology has in biblical tradition, he takes to refer to eternal life in the new world
(pp. 106-107). Against Murphy, 2 Baruch does not resolve the problem of the tem-
ple's destruction by directing attention away from it. The problem is kept alive by
commanding the memory of the temple's destruction alongside the anticipation of its

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Baruch fasts again. An angel speaks, telling Baruch that he will be

preserved until history's conclusion so as to witness the nations' hour
of punishment. Baruch will then announce to the formerly prosper-
ous cities, those who enjoyed pride of place while Jerusalem was in
ruins, that retribution now extends to them:

You who have drunk the clarified wine, drink also from its dregs, the
judgment, indeed, of the Most High, who is no respecter of persons.

Within history, 2 Baruch looks forward to ethical closure for the

metropolis of the Jewish nation. She will be vindicated by a humil-
iation of the nations who triumphed at her expense.
Baruch is not satisfied. A reckoning among the nations in the fu-
ture will not exact retribution on those generations responsible for
the wrongdoing. Nor is there any advantage to survival in this age if
one is righteous. The righteous who perish do so "without fear, and
trust that they will attain the world which you have promised them.
But woe to us: we suffer injury and insult now, and we can only look
forward to further evils" (14:13-14).3?
God concurs with Baruch: for the righteous, "this world" means
"struggle, exertion, and much trouble. But that which is to come, a
crown of great glory" (15:8). The struggle of the righteous in this
world will be accorded its due in the world to come. The world to
come is the necessary complement to the world that is. As is char-
acteristic of Jewish apocalypses, 2 Baruch extends into the postmor-
tem world the logic of biblical prophecy according to which salvation
awaits those who suffer unjustly now, and destruction those who now
wreak destruction.3'
The dialogue cycle between Baruch and God concludes with a
return to the collective-historical plane. "I now took away Zion,"

29 "Drink also" (Brockington), not "you now drink" (Klijn).

30 US: we suffer injury and insult now, and we can only look forward to further
evils" (Brockington), not "to those of us who have also now been treated shamefully
and who await evils at that time" (Klijn). The latter translation is more literal but
fails to bring out the sense.
31 The notions of postmortem retribution of earthly kings and nations, and judg-
ment of the nations' heavenly counterparts, are in fact already found in biblical liter-
ature (Isa 14:9-20; 24:21-23; Ezek 26:17-21; 31:15-18; 32:17-32; Ps 82:1-8;
97:1-9). The belief in postmortem vindication of the righteous comes to expression
in the climactic vision of Daniel (12:1-3).

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promises God, "that I may more speedily punish the world at its
appointed time" (20:2). Judgment began with the house of God: the
time hastens for it to strike others.
God instructs Baruch to fast again. The fast gives rise to Baruch's
prayer for judgment to be accomplished hic et nunc, that "those who
have seen what befell us and our city" may see God's power, "for
you have called us a beloved people for your name's sake" (21:21).
The heavens are opened, and Baruch "sees," not only hears, as God
speaks to him (22: 1).32
The course of history, God assures Baruch, will come to a proper
conclusion: "Who starts on a journey and does not complete it?"
(22:3). "Or he who builds a house, can it be called a house, unless
it is provided with a roof and finished?" (22:8).33 "My redemption is
not as far away as before" (23:7).
Redemption will consist in judgment, the distribution of deserved
outcomes, "when the books will be opened in which are written the
sins of all those who have sinned, and the treasuries in which are
stored the righteous deeds of all those who were righteous" (24:1).
A period of tribulation will inaugurate the time of judgment (25;
27:2-28:2). Baruch is shocked by the unrelenting distress in store.
Does God care about incorruptible things alone (28:5)? Will the
whole earth become wrack and ruin (28:7)?
God replies, "I shall only protect those found in the Land at that
time" (29:2). 3 Nevertheless, times of tribulation do not represent
God's definitive will for the earth. A messianic era will ensue. The
earth's inhabitants will feed on the carcasses of Leviathan and Behe-
moth, on abundant fruits from the earth itself, and on manna from
heaven. Finally, the righteous of previous generations will be raised
from the dead. The souls of the wicked, on the other hand, upon

32 In 6:4-8:2, Baruch sees and hears angels at work; in 13:2-12, he hears the voice
of God, but it is not said that the heavens were opened, or that he "saw," as here in
22:1. Ever so subtly, the differences in phraseology mark revelatory progression.
33 The first and seventh of a set of seven questions posed to Baruch by God. Placed
at the beginning of the book's second dialogue cycle (21-43), God's seven questions
answer and correspond to Baruch's seven questions, placed at the beginning of the
book's first dialogue cycle (1-20).
34Cf. 71:1. According to 40:2, it will be the messiah who protects those in the
holy land, even as he defeats "the last ruler" in battle.

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seeing it, will waste away the more: they will know their perdition
has arrived (29:3-30:5).35
God emphatically cares about what happens to those who are cor-
ruptible. An unspecified number of generations will attain salvation
in the messianic era. The righteous of earlier generations, through
resurrection, will likewise attain salvation. The wicked alone are
The land given to Israel is central to the fulfillment of God's prom-
ises. The closure of history will be marked by a reestablishment of
the land as a source of blessing. Salvation will not obtain outside of
it (29:2). A theme of Baruch's farewell address and parenetic letter
accords with this: the expectation of an ingathering in the last days
of those not in the land (77:6; 78:7).36
Equipped with insight into the future, Baruch instructs the people
(31:1-32:7). They are to grieve the loss of Jerusalem (31:4), but
also, to look forward to the day when "the building of Zion" will
be "renewed in glory" and "made perfect for evermore" (32:2, 4).37
Great will be "the trial when the Mighty One renews his creation"
(32:6). The concomitant promise of a restoration of Jerusalem and a
renewal of creation depends on a scenario already found in Scripture:

35The first of three sections to describe the messianic era. The other two are
39:1-40:3 and 72:1-74:4.
36 The return to the land in Jewish eschatological traditions of the Hellenistic and
Roman periods deserves a comprehensive investigation. On the land in the eschatol-
ogy of Jubilees, Testament of Moses, Biblical Antiquities of Pseudo-Philo, and Jew-
ish Antiquities of Josephus, see B. Halpern-Amaru, Rewriting the Bible: Land and
Covenant in Post-Biblical Jewish Literature (Valley Forge, 1994), pp. 48-54, 64-68,
92-94, 112-115, respectively.
37 "Made perfect for evermore" (Brockington), not "perfected into eternity" (Klijn):
the latter translation attempts to avoid the natural sense of the Syriac. That 32:4 looks
forward to a restoration of the earthly temple was recognized by Charles (APOT,
2:476) and Harnisch (Verhdngnis, p. 112, n. 1). Both were convinced that the verse
is incompatible with the other-worldly focus of other passages in 2 Baruch. Bogaert
suggests that 32:2-4 envisage a restoration of the temple on earth in the messianic
age (in v. 2) and its later replacement by a heavenly temple in the world to come (in
v. 4) (Apocalypse, 1:422-424). This interpretation is forced. Verses 2-3 are best
understood to reflect actual history (destruction of the first and second temples), and
v. 4, the traditional expectation of a final rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem-as
Bogaert's recognition of identical phraseology in 32:4 and Rabbi Hiyya's temple say-
ing might have suggested (Apocalypse, 2:67-68). Murphy argues for a deemphasis
of the temple in 2 Baruch. He fails to give the passages most adverse to his thesis
(1:4; 6:9; 32:2-4; 44:5-7; 84:8 together with 85:3b-4) the attention they require
("The Temple in the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch," JBL 106 [1987] 671-683).

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tribulation for the generality of humankind, palingenesis of this world,

and surpassing restoration of Jerusalem will co-occur according to the
Book of Isaiah's climax (65:17-66:24). Predictions of tribulation and
palingenesis occupy the bulk of the revelations Baruch receives before
instructing the people (25; 27:1-28:2; 29-30). He does not limit
himself to them in his parenesis. He adds the theme of Jerusalem's
restoration according to its co-occurrence with the others in biblical
revelation. The restoration of the mother city in the context of God's
wrapping up of history was too important to leave unmentioned.
Baruch again mourns the loss of Jerusalem. As before, this paves
the way for a fresh revelation from God. He falls asleep in the ruins
of the temple and receives his first dream-vision (35:1-36:1).
The vision is of a forest with trees, and a vine with a fountain
under it. The fountain inundates the forest until only one cedar is left
standing. That cedar, too, is then uprooted. Finally, the cedar burns
up, and the vine, and all around the vine, become "a valley full of
unfading flowers" (36:2-37:1).
Baruch receives an explanation of the vision. The forest with trees
is the fourth power (Rome); the fountain and the vine symbolize the
kingdom of God's messiah. The vine will uproot the multitude of
trees surrounding it. The cedar left standing is the last hostile ruler
of the fourth power. He will be taken to Mount Zion, judged, and
executed by the messiah (39:2-40:2).38
The theme of God's turning the tables on those who exercise
dominion over Israel occurs throughout 2 Baruch.39 The messiah's
kingdom will supersede the kingdoms of this world. The imagined
scenario takes place in history, not beyond it. The messianic era will

38 The details provided in the explanation seem to constitute a deliberate reversal

of what happened after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE: the captured leaders of
the revolt, Simeon bar Giora and John of Gischala, were taken to Rome, and John, at
least, judged and executed.
39 E J. Murphy claims 2 Baruch recommends disinterest in Rome's fate ("2 Baruch
and the Romans," JBL 104 [1985] 663-669). But the future of "Babylon," the "tall
cedar," the last tree of "the forest of wickedness," and more generally, of "our ene-
mies," the earth's "rulers," "the nations," is in fact a pervasive concern in 2 Baruch
(11:1-3; 12:1-4; 13:2-12; 14:2; 24:4-27:15; 36:1-40:2; 70:1-10; 72:2, 6; 82:2-9;
83:5, 11-20). The passage Murphy depends on most, 52:6-7, recommends only that
looking for Rome's downfall not become a preoccupation. J. H. Charlesworth also
claims that "2 Baruch is phenomenologically and eschatologically divorced from the
Roman scourge" ("The Triumphant Majority as seen by a Dwindled Minority: The
Outsider according to the Insider of the Jewish Apocalypses," in "To See Ourselves
as Others See Us ": Christians, Jews, and " Others " in Late Antiquity, eds. J. Neusner

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endure "forever," until this world of corruption comes to an end, as

the text itself explains (40:3).
Questions and answers about personal destiny follow (41-42). God
assures Baruch that many consolations await him in the world to
come. He will even be granted the gift of forgetfulness, not of every-
thing in this world, but of that which corrupts and is corruptible
Baruch exhorts the people's leaders and elders to continue to in-
struct the people when he is no longer with them (44:2-45:2). They
are to admonish the people to persevere in the way of the Torah, for-
tifying them with the promise of Zion's restoration and the world's

If you endure and persevere in the fear of him, and do not forget his
Torah, the time again will take a turn for the better for you, and you
will see the consolation of Zion. (44:7)40

Everything wi]l pass away which is corruptible, and everything that

dies will go away, and all present time will be forgotten, and there
will be no remembrance of the present time which is polluted by
evils. (44:9)

The phrase "the consolation of Zion" evokes numerous passages

in the books of Isaiah and Zechariah which imagine a surpassing
restoration of Zion. Concomitant with Zion's consolation, Baruch
foresees a comprehensive transformation of reality. Expectations about
Zion and the cosmos co-inhere in 2 Baruch because they co-inhere
already in biblical revelation: the renewal of Zion will usher in the
renewal of the cosmos.41
44:7-9 is best understood in accordance with Isa 65:17-19. There,
too, the motif of non-remembering occurs, where the meaning is that
the new heaven and new earth will be so glorious that the former
things will not be remembered. There is no tension between 44:7 and

and E. S. Frerichs [Chico, 1985], p. 307). It is impossible to square these claims with,
e.g., 11: 1-3; 13:2-12; 72:6; and 82:2. Charlesworth also plays down 4 Ezra's animos-
ity toward Rome (299-300). Recent study of Revelation contains a more adequate
appreciation of the this-worldly focus of apocalyptic. See A. Yarbro Collins, "The
Political Perspective of the Revelation to John," JBL 96 (1977) 241-256; 0. O'Dono-
van, "The Political Thought of the Book of Revelation," Tyndale Bulletin 37 (1986)
61-94; E. Schlisser-Fiorenza, Revelation: Vision of a Just World (Minneapolis, 1991).
40"You will see" (Brockington), not "they will participate in" (Klijn).
41 See Isa 40:1-11; 49:14-52: 10; 54; 60; 62; 65:17-66:24; Zech 1: 14-17; 2:5-9,
14-16; 8:1-23; 12:1-13:1; 14:1-21. Cf. Ezek47:1-12.

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44:8-15 if the terms of the whole are read as metaleptic echoes of

Isa 65:17-66:24: they evoke together the fundamental themes of the
entire passage.42
Baruch's exhortation describes the consolation of Zion as a pro-
jected consequence of human action. Faithfulness on Israel's part is
a precondition that must be realized before Zion's palingenesis will
occur. "If you persevere, you shall see the consolation of Zion" (44:7).
A common thread ties together several passages in Baruch's paren-
esis: the realization of the promises is contingent upon the people's
observance of the law (44:7; 77:6; 78:7; 84:2; 85:4).43
The promised reversal of Israel's fortunes is not portrayed as com-
ing about ineluctably. The nexus connecting behavior in the present
with realizations in the future is made as tight as possible. It is some-
times claimed that apocalyptic, with its stress on God's providence,
leaves no room for human action. That claim is false, at least in the
case of 2 Baruch, and may say more about modern misunderstand-
ings of traditional theological conceptions than anything else.44

42For Charles, 44:7 and 44:8-15 have incompatible outlooks and are to be assigned
to different authors (APOT, 2:475-476). Harnisch and Murphy claim that 2 Baruch's
author reinterpreted the Zion hope in terms of the gift of the coming age or eternal
life therein (Verhdngnis, p. 210; Structure, p. 107, respectively). Charles, Harnisch,
and Murphy miss the complexity of 2 Baruch's eschatological hopes. They overlook
the possibility that 2 Baruch's author considered the surpassing restoration of Zion on
earth to be a necessary precondition for a transformation of the cosmos.
43 2 Baruch imagines the closure of history to be predetermined and dependent
on human initiative for its realization. Passages emphasizing the divine initiative in-
clude 21:8; 54:1; 82:2; 83:1. Controversy has always surrounded the question of
whether the "messianic vision" depends upon prior human acts for its fulfillment: the
majority view in Judaism has been that there is a fixed time for the messiah's coming,
regardless of man's deeds, but the people of Israel by obedience to Torah can hasten
the onset of redemption (E. Schweid, "Jewish Messianism: Metamorphoses of an Idea,"
in Essential Papers on Messianic Movements and Personalities in Jewish History,
ed. M. Saperstein [New York, 1992], pp. 63-64).
44Bultmann plays off "Israelite" and "rabbinic" conceptions, on the one hand,
against "the apocalyptic view" of divine intervention in history on the other. "Con-
ditional" upon human action is the way Bultmann describes the "Israelite" and "rab-
binic" conceptions of divine intervention in history; "deterministic" is the adjective
he uses for "the apocalyptic view" (History and Eschatology, pp. 30-31). In reality,
both "conditional" and "deterministic" conceptions of divine intervention, each within
certain limits, play a role in virtually all versions of Judaism. As if in jest of those
who wish to characterize apocalyptic as (particularly) deterministic, Deut 30:19-20,
the locus classicus of conditionalism, turns out to be the basis for 2 Baruch's final
exhortation (84:2).

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Baruch fasts and prays again. He asks that God have compassion
on Israel (48:18-24). Israel's collective destiny constitutes Baruch's
primary concern.
God assures Baruch that his prayer has been heard. Judgment, in-
deed, must claim its due. A time of terrible distress is yet to come
upon the earth. It will be better to be dead than alive (48:26-41).
Baruch marvels at the fate reserved for those who do not recognize
God as Creator and Lawgiver (48:42-47). God asks to leave aside
the fate of the wicked in order to inquire about the glory reserved for
the righteous (48:48-50). 4
When Baruch asks for details, God replies that there will be a gen-
eral resurrection of the dead. The earth will return the dead exactly
as it received them. Then God's judgment will be strong, and the
appearance of those found guilty will be transformed into startling
visions, whereas those found righteous will be changed into the
splendor of angels:

Those who have been saved by their works, whose hope has been in
the Torah. . . shall behold the world which is now invisible to them,
and time shall no longer age them. (51:7-9)

A radical continuity between the visible and invisible worlds is

underlined. One's fate depends on what one accomplishes, or fails to
accomplish, here and now, in terms of dedication to traditional, com-
munal rules of behavior (Torah). This is a supremely ethical escha-
tology. The valuation of the ethical dimension of historical existence
could not be higher. 46
According to 2 Baruch, eternity will not abolish history. If defined
as incorruptibility, eternity is something granted to the righteous.
The wicked, on the contrary, will continue to be corruptible. "They

4 The phrase "And he answered and said to me," I suggest, dropped out at the be-
ginning of 48:48. For Charles, these verses are out of place (APOT, 2:507). Bogaert
rightly points out that they pave the way for the dialogue which follows (Apoca-
lypse, 2:91).
46The expression "ethical eschatology" is borrowed from A. Schweitzer (Das
Messianitdts- und Leidensgeheimnis: Eine Skizze des Lebens Jesu [Tubingen, 1956],
p. 28). Schweitzer used the expression to refer specifically to the eschatology of
Jesus. It is also a precise characterization of the expectations of final ethical closure
found generally in postbiblical Jewish literature. For a discussion of the individual's
responsibility in the current age according to 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch, see Harnisch, Ver-
hdngnis, pp. 142-240.

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chose for themselves this time, whose issues are full of lamentations
and evils" (51:16). For them, history has no end.47
But history is more than corruptibility. It is the acquisition of iden-
tity through experience ("corporeal life"). History, if defined as iden-
tity, is something preserved and perfected in eternity-in the case of
the righteous. In the case of the wicked, history in the sense of iden-
tity deteriorates. This appears to be the most plausible way to unpack
the concept of resurrection together with the notion of "consistent-
with-history" transformations to follow.48
The dichotomization of humanity in 2 Baruch proceeds along an
ethical fault-line. This does not set 2 Baruch apart from the rest of
Jewish tradition. In both the Jewish and the Christian traditions,
ethical theory in general, and not just ethical eschatology, tends to
dichotomize. 49
Foreknowledge of the glory reserved for the righteous emboldens
Baruch to bid the righteous to rejoice in the suffering they endure at
the hands of their enemies. Expectations of their enemies' downfall
should not monopolize the people's attention. They are to prepare
themselves for the world to come (52:6-7). The suffering of the
present is bearable in light of the glory awaiting. The experience of
disproportionate deserts is rationalized by placing limits on its ex-
pected duration.

47 Absolute finality in the status of the wicked should not be taken for granted.
The clearest basis for supposing that the punishment of the wicked will not be eter-
nal is 13:10: "Therefore, they were once punished, that they might be forgiven."
"They" refers to the Israelites, but the principle that punishment paves the way for
forgiveness is probably to be understood as a universal one. Cf. Isa 19:23-24; Jer
48:47; Ezek 16:53-55.
48 Deserved consequences are the issue. On the logic of desert-claims, see G. Sher,
Desert. Studies in moral, political, and legal philosophy (Princeton, 1987). A list of
concepts essential to the ethical eschatology of 2 Baruch is derivable from Sher's dis-
cussion: the past extends its normative reach into the future (p. 176); conversely, a
future event may rectify an occurrence in the past (p. 178); a self is constituted in
particular by its history of moral agency (pp. 150-174); a wrongdoer's wrong confers
an unfair advantage on the wrongdoer: deserved punishment operates symmetrically
by inflicting a proportionate disadvantage on the wrongdoer (pp. 69-90); the pursuit
of virtue confers worth on an individual beyond what she or he would otherwise have
(pp. 132-149).
49 Dichotomization along ethical lines, and the problems it brings in its train, ch
acterize, for example, biblical wisdom literature (Proverbs, Job, Qohelet, a number
of "wisdom" psalms).

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Upon recommending preparation for the world to come, Baruch

falls asleep in the ruins of the temple, and receives his second and
final dream vision. A cloud comes up out of the sea and rains down
alternately dark and bright waters, twelve times in all. The black wa-
ters, Baruch notes, are always more copious than the bright waters.
Even darker waters then descend. Finally, something extraordinary
is hurled from the cloud.

Lightning shone so brilliantly that it illumined the whole earth, and

healed those regions where the last waters had descended and brought
about devastation. (53:9)50

An angel explains the vision. The cloud's output corresponds to

events from Adam to the messiah (55-74). Alternating periods of
destruction and salvation describe the course of human history. It is
not described as a declining curve. History's conclusion will be dou-
bly dramatic. Matters will worsen terribly and then greatly improve
Universal history is a frequent concern of Jewish apocalyptic. A
theory of world ages is typical though not unique to the genre.51

50 As is generally recognized, the messiah in the vision's interpretation (70:9; 72-

74) corresponds to the lightning in the vision. See Bogaert, Apocalypse, 2:100. Volz
suggested that chs. 72-74 replace an earlier Messianic interpretation of the lightning
which 2 Baruch's author could not assimilate to his purposes (Eschatologie, p. 44).
For Violet, 71:2 reads like the vision interpretation's conclusion, in which case chs.
72-74 are a later addition (Apokalypsen, pp. 309-313). Then, however, 53:8-11 would
lack interpretation altogether. Harnisch excludes chs. 72-74 from consideration because
they are incompatible with the rigid two-age scheme he finds elsewhere in 2 Baruch
(Verhdngnis, p. 261, n. 1). Hall returns to the hypothesis of Volz: "Probably the au-
thor of 2 Baruch or a predecessor excised an objectional version of the appearance of
the messiah as lightning and replaced it with a messiah and image better fitting his
own purpose and standpoint" (Revealed Histories [see n. 13 above], p. 249).
51 A. Momigliano, "The Origins of Universal History," in The Poet and the Histo-
rian: Essays in Literary and Historical Biblical Criticism, ed. R. E. Friedman (Chico,
1983), pp. 133-149; F Deixinger, Henochs Zehnwochenapokalypse und offene Prob-
leme derApokalyptikforschung (Leiden, 1977), pp. 64-70; G. I. Davies, "Apocalyp-
tic and Historiography," JSOT 5 (1978) 15-28; R. G. Hall, Revealed Histories, pp.
61-121. Apocalyptic conceptualizations of history easily tie modern readers into knots.
U. Rappaport avers that 2 Baruch and similar works are imbued with "historical
consciousness . .. understanding the Eschaton as part of a historical continuum and
stressing this continuity . .. giving due attention to [the] historical past" ("Apocalyptic
Vision and Preservation of Historical Memory," JSJ 23 [1992] 218). He concludes by
claiming that "[apocalyptic] erases the connection between past and present...
there is no place for historical consciousness as we understand it" (p. 226). The
difficulties here are palpable.

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Beyond the author's own time, a historical period of salvation is

predicted. Only this last period need occupy us here:

After the signs have come which I have already spoken of to you, when
the nations are in tumult,52 and the time of my messiah is come, he
shall summon all the nations.... every nation which has not known53
Israel and which has not trodden down the seed of Israel will live....
some out of all the nations will become subject54 to your people. All
those who ruled over you, or exploited55 you, will be delivered up to
the sword. And when he has brought low everything that is in the
world, and has sat down in peace forever on the throne of his kingdom,
then joy will be revealed, and rest will appear.... Nobody will again
die untimely, nor will any adversity take place suddenly. Condemna-
tions and accusations and contentions, revenge and murder and pas-
sion and zeal and hatred ... will be uprooted.... Wild beasts will come
from the wood and serve men.... Women will no longer have pain
when they bear ... the reapers will not become tired.... For that time
is the end of that which is corruptible, and the beginning of that which
is incorruptible.... These are the last bright waters which come after
the last black waters. (72:2-74:4)

With the coming of the messiah, a reorganization of international

relations is to be realized. Israel will enjoy pride of place. All the
nations which let Israel be in former times will maintain their exist-
ence. Nations to whom Israel had been subject will be decimated, but
not brought to extinction: "some out of all the nations will become
subject to your people" (72:5). A fusion of particular and universal
concerns reaches expression in the vision.56

52 "Are in tumult" (cf. Brockington), not "are moved" (Klijn). The phrase con-
tains a metaleptic echo of Psalm 2.
53 "Known" (Syriac, Klijn), not "exploited" (Brockington). It is unnecessary to see
an instance here of mistranslation from the Greek to the Syriac, or from the Hebrew
to the Greek, as Brockington does (see Bogaert, Apocalypse, 2:127-128).
54"Will become subject" Brockington); not "have become subject" (Klijn).
55 "Exploited" (Brockington), not "known" (Syriac, Klijn). Here an instance of
mistranslation seems likely.
56 In 4 Ezra, a locus of the combination of particular and universal concerns is the
vision of a surpassingly restored Jerusalem, either in coordination with a vision of
the messianic age (7:26-28; 13:33-38), or with a description of the transcendent
glory reserved for the righteous (8:51-54), or on its own (10:25-28). In Revelation,
following the reign of the messiah and his saints over the nations (20:1-6), victory
over the same nations and Satan himself (20:7-10), and universal judgment (20:11-
15), there is a vision of a new earth and a new Jerusalem (21:1-2), where there will
be a tree of life whose leaves "are for the healing of the nations" (22:2). Positive

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A revised geopolitical order in place, paradise itself is regained

(73:1-74:1). History, determined as it is by corruptibility and mor-
tality, begins to take on the attributes of eternity (74:2). But the
messianic era remains the culmination of history. It will last "for-
ever" (73:1), in accordance with the promises made to David of old
(2 Sam 7:16).
Baruch breaks out in praise upon receiving the explanation. A
healing of his memory occurs: he looks forward to "com[ing] again,"
"remember[ing] the things which have passed away," and "rejoic[ing]"
in them (75:7). "Coming (again)" is phraseology for describing the
repristination of corporeal life after death or after assumption into
heaven (36:11; 50:3; 75:7). When Baruch is restored to corporeal life,
he will evaluate all of history, including its culmination in the mes-
sianic era, and find happiness therein. Proleptically, he already can.
The angel orders Baruch to instruct the people for a period of forty
days. Baruch will then depart from this world without experiencing
death (76:2).57 Before departing, he is told to ascend the mountain
top in order to view the likeness of the whole world. He will not see
it again until he sees it anew at the end of time (76:3).58
In his farewell address, Baruch makes no mention of other-worldly
expectations. Zion and the land are the focus. What befell Zion and
the land was the fault of no one but the people of the land. Contin-
gent upon the people's dedication to the Torah in the land, there will
be an ingathering of diaspora Jews to the land:

If, then, you direct your ways aright, you will not go as your brothers
went, but they shall come to you. (77:6)59

transformation remains a possibility after judgment. As W. Harrelson argues, vi-

sions of consummation in 4 Ezra and Revelation 21-22 contain within themselves an
ambiguity present in biblical prophecy: "Zion glorified at the expense of the foreign
nations versus Zion glorified in behalf of the whole of humankind" ("Ezra among the
Wicked in 2 Esdras 3-10," in The Divine Helmsman. Studies on God's Control of
Human Events, Presented to Lou H. Silberman, eds. J. L. Crenshaw and S. Sandmel
[New York, 1980], p. 37). Particularistic-universalistic ambiguity is treated as sys-
tematic to Jewish tradition by R. Goldenberg, The Nations That Know Thee Not: An-
cient Jewish Attitudes toward Other Religions (New York, 1998), pp. 1-8, 99-108.
Against Goldenberg (p. 108), a corresponding dialectic recurs in Christian tradition.
57 Cf. 13:3; 25:1; 46:7. The promise is hidden from the people in 44:2; 47:1; 84:1.
58 Cf. 13:3; 75:7.
59 Given the promises found in the books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah, an in-
gathering of the people to a land without a restored Jerusalem and restored temple

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The people's request that Baruch write "a teaching-letter and a roll
of hope" to the Jews in diaspora follows naturally (77:12). The letter
begins with a call for those of the diaspora to reflect on their exile as
being just punishment for their prior errors. If they do so, they will
avoid definitive condemnation and "receive a hope which is eternal"
(78:6). If they purge themselves of their errors, God "will assemble
all those now dispersed" (78:7). The paraclesis describes two escha-
tological vectors: other-worldly and this-worldly. The two receive
equal prominence.
The letter concludes with an extensive word of consolation (81-
85). Baruch relates that in response to his mourning for Zion, God
gave him knowledge of "the mysteries of the times." Baruch now
writes, that those who read might find courage in the midst of trib-
ulations (81:1-82: 1).
The consolation begins with the prediction that "our Creator will
surely avenge us on all our enemies" (82:2).60 The collective-historical
destinies of the nations and the destinies prepared in the world to
come for individuals are treated together in the parenesis following.
In the midst of tribulations which have engulfed all Jews without dis-
tinction, consolation derives from the fact that "everything will come
to judgment" (83:7). Baruch admonishes his readers to "prepare your-
selves for what you have believed" (83:8).
The law of entropy at work in the world brings all things to de-
struction. Pride and luxury and deceit turn into their opposites. If
these things are already happening, how much more will all things
receive definitive judgment (83:9-23). The time and place of judg-
ment, this-worldly or other-worldly, is not the point. The certainty of
its realization is the point.
Baruch bids his readers remember the two ways which Moses once
set before them (Deut 30:15-20). The land-centered eschatology of
Moses' original challenge is maintained in Baruch's paraphrase of it:

If you transgress the law, you will be dispersed. But if you keep it,
you will be planted. (84:2)

was unimaginable. The ingathering expectation constitutes independent evidence for

the view that 2 Baruch's author looked forward to the repristination on earth of Jeru-
salem and its temple. Charles noted the connection (APOT, 2:522).
60 "Our enemies" (Brockington), not "our brothers" (Klijn).

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They were dispersed because they cast the law away. But now, "if
we direct and dispose our hearts" to "remember[ing] Zion and the
law and the holy land," "we shall receive everything we lost many
times over" (85:4; 84:8; 85:4).61
What it will mean to receive "everything" lost many times over is
clarified by attention to context and comparison with other passages.
"Zion has been taken away from us" (85:3); they shall receive it back
again, "gloriously renewed" (32:4). "We have left our land" (85:3);
they will return (78:7) and be planted (84:2) when the land again has
"mercy on its own" and "protect[s] its inhabitants" with the coming
of the messiah (71:2); health will then descend as dew, illness will
vanish, and joy encompass the earth (73:2). In this sense, Baruch

That which we lost was subject to corruption, that which we will receive
is incorruptible.... Let us prepare ourselves that we may possess and
not be possessed, that we may hope and not be put to shame, that we
may have rest with our fathers and not be in torment with our enemies.
(85:5, 9)

The concatenation of hopes this-worldly and other-worldly charac-

terizes the eschatological paraclesis of this passage.
Baruch concludes his word of consolation by remarking on the
imminence of God's coming judgment, the opportunity for repentance
and reliance on God's mercy before, not after, it comes.

There is one law by One, one world, and an end for all those found
therein. Then he will restore to life those whom he is able to forgive,
and destroy those sullied by their sins. (85:14-15)62

The promise of afuturum resurrectionis caps off Baruch's paren-

esis. Its contours were detailed in chapters 50-51. The concept of
resurrection there is unpacked in terms of "consistent-with-history"
transformations. The future of those whom God is able to forgive,
who feared God and put their trust in God during their lifetimes, will
involve the preservation and perfection of their individual identities.

61 On the basis of similar phrases in 32:1; 46:5; and 77:6, Harnisch correctly in-
terpreted the phrase "direct and dispose our hearts" as referring to obedience to the
law, though he missed the connection between 84:8 and 85:4 (Verhaingnis, p. 216).
62 "Restore to life" or "make alive again" (Klijn) fits the context better than "pre-
serve" (Brockington).

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The future of those whom God will be unable to forgive will involve
the destruction of their identities.


In its broadest outlines, 2 Baruch's understanding of history is

identical to that found widely in the Jewish and Christian traditions.
The classical Jewish and Christian understanding of history has three
fundamental aspects. Firstly, it is profoundly teleological. Events are
accounted for in terms of their contribution to the attainment of
not-yet-realized goals of the whole to which they are presumed to
belong. Secondly, history is understood as the arena of interaction of
moral agents. Thirdly, God is the name given to the moral agency at
work in the world bringing about ethical closure. All three aspects
find consummate expression in 2 Baruch.63
A world beyond death is clearly an essential element in 2 Baruch's
cosmology, but continuity, not just discontinuity, is posited between
life now and life in the hereafter. 2 Baruch exhibits a profound con-
cern for the process of history, for the rise and fall of nations and the
exercise of world dominion. The work foresees a geopolitical trans-
formation involving an ingathering of the diaspora Jews, a surpass-
ing restoration of Zion, and the reestablishment of the land as a safe
haven for the people. The messianic era on earth is a key component
of 2 Baruch's expectations of consummation. The book's future hope
lies within history, not just beyond it.
The range of realia concerning which 2 Baruch entertains teleo-
logical hopes is broad and traditional. Hopes of divine judgment on
the world's nations, a definitive battle in which Israel's enemies will
be ravaged though not destroyed, postmortem retribution of earthly
kings and nations, restoration of all things beyond anything known
in the past involving the figure and office of king and/or priest and/
or prophet, surpassing reestablishment of Zion and repopulation of
the land, the concept of a two-tiered universe with divine beings cor-
responding to different nations, already occur in biblical tradition,

63 On the conceptualization of history in Jewish tradition and in Christian tradition,

see A. Kehl and H. I. Marrou, "Geschichtsphilosophie," in Reallexikon fur Antike
und Christentum (Stuttgart, 1978), 10:703-799; G. Lanczkowski et al., "Geschichte /
Geschichtsschreibung / Geschichtsphilosophie," in Theologische Realenzyklopadie
(Berlin, 1984), 12:565-698.

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and will occur again in rabbinic tradition as codified in the Talmuds

and the midrashim. The twin expectations of a general resurrection
of the dead and a universal day of judgment to follow are not clearly
found in biblical literature, but had been current in Jewish tradition
for at least three centuries before 2 Baruch came to be written. 64
2 Baruch looks forward to a final ethical consummation of the
world. The linchpin of the work's ethical hope is a day of judgment
of both the living and the dead. Preceding that day of reckoning, a
reckoning among the nations is expected. The hope for ethical clo-
sure informs every aspect of 2 Baruch's conceptualization of world
consummation: expectations about Jerusalem and the temple; expec-
tations about the land and people; expectations about nations who let
Israel be, and nations who lord it over the Jews in their control; ex-
pectations about individuals who abide by the ancestral covenant, and
those who do not.65

64The teleologies of both prophecy and apocalyptic contain an overwhelming

amount of ideation, not just historical realism, to use the terms employed by S. Tal-
mon ("The Concept of Mdsiiah and Messianism in Early Judaism," in The Messiah:
Developments in Earliest Judaism and Christianity, ed. J. H. Charlesworth [Minne-
apolis, 1992], p. 93). Authors of apocalyptic are traditional, not innovative, in this
regard. They systematized, but did not invent, the topoi of eschatological expectation
they develop. Belief in resurrection and a day of universal judgment in early Judaism
is attested from the 2nd century BCE onwards in Jewish literature, and is not confined
to apocalyptic. See G. W. E. Nickelsburg, "Resurrection (Early Judaism and Chris-
tianity)," Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York, 1992), 5:684-691. The rabbis built
the expectations of consummation originating in biblical prophecy and developed in
apocalyptic into their own systems. Rabbinic Judaism as codified in the Mishnah
evinces an ahistorical teleology, but the same Judaism as codified in the Talmuds and
midrashic literature recoups the historical teleology and eschatological tension left to
one side by the Mishnah. See J. Neusner, Judaism: The Evidence of the Mishnah
(Chicago, 1981); idem, The Presence of the Past, the Pastness of the Present: History,
Time, and Paradigm in Rabbinic Judaism (Bethesda, 1995); B. Chilton and J. Neusner,
Trading Places: The Intersecting Histories of Judaism and Christianity (Cleveland,
1996), pp. 125-153; 171-178; 178-191. The providential ordering of the universe
is thematized in terms of two loci in classical Judaism: law and eschatology. It is
necessary to qualify claims of a "neutralization" of apocalyptic in classical Judaism's
definitive expressions. As J. Klatzkin and J. Kaufmann correctly asserted, "Das
pharisaiisch-talmudische Judentum ist eigentlich 'apokalyptisch', da es die Hauptan-
schauungen der apokalyptischen Literatur zur Grundlagen des Glaubens erhob"
("Apokalyptik" in Encyclopaedia Judaica [Berlin, 1928], 1:1142-1161; reprint in
Apokalyptik, ed. K. Koch [Darmstadt, 1982], p. 242).
65 According to many ancient Jewish and early Christian works touching on escha-
tological matters, the final ethical consummation of the world will involve precisely

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The composition develops to a logical conclusion a viewpoint

finding wide expression in the Jewish and Christian traditions, namely,
that life both collective and singular is subject to the reception of
deserved consequences. On this view, an ethical order is effective in
history, rewarding some and punishing others. A nation or an indi-
vidual is exalted because of obedience to God's call, faithfulness to
a covenant, or behavior in accordance with a norm. A nation or an
individual falls because of hubris, transgression of covenant, or be-
havior in violation of a norm. The distribution of deserved conse-
quences may be suspended for a time, but the expectation is that it
will begin again in accordance with God's will.66
2 Baruch claims to reveal history's inner structure and forward
movement. Rome was at the pinnacle of its strength when the work
was written. Jews, Christians, and others found Rome's triumph to be
at odds with the pride of place they expected their own collectivity
to occupy. 2 Baruch's readership, objectively speaking, could not in-
fluence the course of Rome. But that did not hinder the work's author
from predicting the end of Roman domination. Rome is regarded as
the final mundane power which God, not the work's readership, would
one day bring low. 67

the distribution of deserved consequences to both collectivities and individuals. The

locution was coined, so far as I know, by A. Schweitzer: "die sittliche Endvollendung
der Welt" or more simply, "eine ethische Weltvollendung" (Geschichte der Leben-
Jesu-Forschung [Tubingen, 1913] pp. 636 and 635, respectively).
66Cf. Mal 3:18. Biblical authors unanimously assert the efficacy of God's retrib-
utive activity, positive and negative, in the lives of individuals and nations. For an
excellent discussion, see M. V. Fox, "Justice and Theodicy," in his Qohelet and His
Contradictions (Sheffield, 1989), pp. 121-150.
67 Historians of the Roman Empire agree that with the rise of the Flavian Dynasty
beginning in 69 CE, a period of political and military grandeur ensued. Not by chance,
for example, is volume 11 of the (old) Cambridge Ancient History entitled The Im-
perial Peace: A.D. 70-192. See M. Le Glay, J.-L. Voisin, and Y. Le Bohec, A History
of Rome (Oxford, 1996), pp. 294-295. The period witnessed widespread contempt
for the empire in the provinces. The "wasteland" situation the Romans called "peace"
was not appreciated by many (R. M. Grant, "Roman Empire," Interpreter's Dictio-
nary of the Bible [Nashville, 1962], 4:108). The asymmetry between reality and
expectations is pointedly expressed in 2 Baruch: "O Babylon [= Rome], if you had
prospered and Zion had dwelt in her glory, great would have been our grief that you
should be equal to Zion. But now our grief is infinite and our lamentation measure-
less, for you are prosperous and Zion destroyed" (11:1-2). Composed in the same
period as 2 Baruch, 4 Ezra and Revelation also express a deep animosity for Roman

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This expectation of historical reversal is part of a larger hope in-

volving a step by step crescendo of events. A terrible judgment upon
the world is in the offing. Before the eyes of all, the messiah will then
come, and paradise on earth be established. Finally, God will judge
the living and the dead, the righteous will share in God's splendor,
and the wicked be consigned to perdition. The same set of expecta-
tions is found in 4 Ezra and Revelation, two other apocalypses from
the end of the first century CE.68
The future hope of 2 Baruch is not a-historical or anti-historical,
but the hope of a return of history. In accordance with an unbreak-
able belief in God's providence, the apocalypse expects that history
will again be the locus of divine activity.69

rule. All three apocalypses predict Rome's undoing by divine fiat. See P. Bogaert, "La
ruine de Jerusalem et les apocalypses juives apres 70," in Apocalypses et theologie de
l'esperance, ed. L. Monloubou (Paris, 1977), pp. 123-141; idem, "Les apocalypses
contemporains de Baruch, d'Esdras et de Jean," in LApocalypsejohannique et lApoc-
alyptique dans le Nouveau Testament, ed. J. Lambrecht (Leuven, 1980), pp. 47-68.
For a comprehensive discussion of intellectual and spiritual resistance to the Roman
Empire, see H. Fuchs, Der geistige Widerstand gegen Rom in der antiken Welt (Berlin,
1964). For Jewish attitudes to Roman rule, see G. Stemberger, Die romische Herr-
schaft im Urteil der Juden (Darmstadt, 1983). For Christian attitudes, see G. Krodel,
"Rome, Early Christian Attitudes Toward," IDB Supplementary Volume (Nashville,
1976), pp. 756-758; L. C. H. Alexander, "Rome, Early Christian Attitudes To," Anchor
Bible Dictionary (New York, 1992), 5:835-839.
684 Ezra and Revelation, like 2 Baruch, contain the following expectations: (1) A
time of birth-pangs at the dawn of the end of the age: 4 Ezra 5:1-12; 6:20-24; 9:3;
13:29-32; Rev 6:1-17; 8:6-9:19; 16:1-18:24; (2) Survivors of the eschatological
woes: 4 Ezra 6:25; 7:27; 9:7-8; 12:34; 13:16, 19, 26, 48-49; Rev 7:1-17; 14:1-5;
(3) A messianic era: 4 Ezra 7:28-29; 11:37-12:3, 31-34; 13:3-13, 25-52; 14:9; Rev
11: 15; 12: 10; 19:11-21; 20:1-15; (4) A day of universal judgment: 4 Ezra 4:35-37;
5:41-45; 7:33-44; Rev 20:11-15; (5) A dichotomization of the ultimate fate of the
righteous and the wicked: 4 Ezra 7:36, 123-124; 8:55-60; Rev 21:1-8, 24-27;
22:1-5. As in 2 Baruch, faithfulness to Torah, or God's commandment and the testi-
mony of Jesus (martyrdom), is commanded for the present age: 4 Ezra 3:36; 7:21-24,
45, 72, 89; 8:56; Rev 12:11; 14:12. A thorough synoptic study of 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch,
and Revelation remains to be undertaken.
69 On the hope of a return of history in apocalyptic, see L. H. Silberman, "Apoca-
lyptic Revisited: Reflections on the Thought of Albert Schweitzer," JAAR 44 (1976)
489-501. The return is often conceptualized in terms of a messianic era. See Ap-
pendix B, below. Belief in God's providence as foundational in apocalyptic has not
received due attention. As T. W. Manson suggested, "apocalyptic is an attempt to
rationalize and systematize the predictive side of Prophecy as one side of the provi-
dential ordering of the Universe. The other side of the systematising process of the

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The future foreseen by 2 Baruch cannot be encompassed by the

two worlds or two ages conceptual scheme, even though 2 Baruch
makes use of the two worlds terminology. It is better characterized
by a three part scheme. All three parts concur in summing up history:
(Part 1) a stretch of history culminating in tribulation for the gener-
ality of humankind; (Part 2) a bridge period, the messianic era, in
which a new geopolitical order is put in place and history begins to
take on the connotations of eternity; (Part 3) a final crisis, the judg-
ment by God of the living and the dead, following which history and
eternity nevertheless continue to coexist.
The time will come when the enemies of God's people will receive
their just reward. The messiah will reign and well-being on earth will
become a universal reality. Except for the day of judgment itself, the
summing up of history is expected to take place in history and on this
earth, not in God's unmediated presence.
The world to come is not given unilateral weight in 2 Baruch's
conceptualization of consummation. Production of ethical symmetries
will take place in both worlds. Earth and heaven, this age and the age
to come, are paired components in a supremely teleological universe.
On earth as in heaven, 2 Baruch looks forward to the will of God
being done.
2 Baruch grapples with history not in the abstract, but as its col-
lectivity of reference, the Jewish people, experienced it. The usual
avenues of knowledge were unable to make sense of what was hap-
pening. A vision of the future imagining a comprehensive transforma-
tion of reality becomes the means by which to understand and endure
the impenetrable darkness of history experienced at the time. Catas-
trophe will come and has already come. But palingenesis shall follow.
According to this vision, history, in the sense of corruptibility, will
remain the lot of the wicked. Eternity, in the sense of incorruptibility,
will become the heritage of the righteous. For the wicked, history, in

scribal treatment of the Law leads to the codification of the Mishnah" ("Some Reflec-
tions on Apocalyptic," in Aux sources de la tradition chr6tienne: Melanges offerts a
M. Maurice Goguel [Neuchatel, 1950], p. 142). Manson's remark finds confirmation
in 2 Baruch's description of the body of knowledge revealed to Moses: "the prin-
ciples of laws and the consummation of time" figure as a pair and in the most prom-
inent position (59:4-11). Law and the consummation of history are understood as
twin gifts of the selfsame providence of God. Both were revealed to the founder of
the faith.

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the sense of acquired identity, is destined to dete

teous, eternity will be the continuation of identity, the perfection of
Too often it has been claimed that apocalyptic denies the intrinsic
value of history. The anticipated shape of the future in 2 Baruch con-
tains an emphasis on a consummation of history in the messianic era
and the world to come that such claims do not allow for. The future
will involve the healing of history, not its suppression. The healing
will occur in history and beyond it. God's saving acts will transform
history from within, not destroy it from without.
A final question may be addressed. To what extent is a people's
survival dependent on an understanding of the shape of history in
line with that of 2 Baruch, and to what extent, on the contrary, does
survival depend on single-minded dedication to, and perpetual re-
elaboration of, the Torah bequeathed to it? 2 Baruch's author con-
sidered both the hope for consummation and the keeping of communal
rules of behavior to be essential to the survival of the people.
Both law and vision, and never one entirely without the other,
have ensured the survival of defined communities of people, and the
Jewish people in particular, through the darkest nights of history.
These are not matters of academic interest only.




Predictions of surpassing palingenesis are found in ancient liter-

atures generally, not only in Israelite and later Jewish and Christian
literatures. For Mesopotamia, see P. HWffken, "Heilszeitherrscherer-
wartung im babylonischen Raum (Uberlegungen im Anschluss an
W 22 307.7," Die Welt des Orients 9 (1977) 57-71; J. G. Heintz,
"Note sur les origines de l'apocalyptique judaique, 'a la lumiere des
'Propheties akkadiennes,"' in L'apocalyptique (Paris, 1977), pp. 71-
87; idem, "Royal Traits and Messianic Figures: A Thematic and Icon-
ographical Approach," in The Messiah: Developments in Earliest
Judaism and Christianity, ed. J. H. Charlesworth (Minneapolis, 1992),
pp. 52-66; the bibliography collected by A. K. Grayson in "Akka-
dian 'Apocalyptic' Literature," Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York,

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1992), 1:282. For Egypt, see J. Assmann, "Konigsdogma und Heilser-

wartung: Politische und kultische Chaosbeschreibung in agyptischen
Texten," in Apocalypticism in the Mediterranean World and the Near
East: Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Apocalypticism,
Uppsala, August 12-17, 1979, ed. D. Hellholm (Tuibingen, 1983), pp.
Predictions of surpassing palingenesis occur frequently in (1) bib-
lical prophecy, (2) Jewish apocalyptic, and (3) Christian apocalyptic.
Hopes for surpassing palingenesis are found in the books of Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Obadiah, Micah, and Zechariah. The contents
of the expectations vary enormously from one passage to the next, as
a survey of relevant texts from Isaiah will make clear: 2:2-4; 4:2-
6; 10:33-12:6; 19:19-25; 33:17-24; 65:17-25; 66:10-24. Even the
book of Amos, modest as it is in its positive expectations, expresses
more than a merely restorative hope: not only will state sovereignty
be recovered, but the threat of exile will never again hang over the
nation's head (9:11-15).
Jewish apocalypses often describe the course and consummation
of history and the distribution of deserved outcomes to the righteous
and the wicked after death. Examples in which a surpassing pal-
ingenesis is foreseen include 1 Enoch, Daniel, Jubilees, 2 Baruch,
4 Ezra, and Apocalypse of Abraham.
The themes of Christian apocalyptic are those already known from
Jewish apocalyptic, though of course they are developed in a Chris-
tian way. 4 Ezra, Apocalypse of Abraham, and Ascension of Isaiah,
works of Jewish origin, received substantial re-elaborations within
the Christian tradition. These texts in final form, along with Reve-
lation in the New Testament, look forward to surpassing palingenesis
according to Christian coordinates.
A vast array of other ancient texts composed by Jews or Christians,
while not reports of revelations (apocalyptic in the strict sense), pre-
sent themselves as prophecy and preannounce the course of history
and its consummation, and/or the resurrection of the dead and a day
of judgment. These texts too contain predictions of much more than
a return to a glorious past: a new and brighter future is imagined,
whether or not reference is made to postmortem existence and a new
heaven and new earth. Jewish examples include Sibylline Oracles,
Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and Testament of Moses. All
these works exhibit a complex history of development spanning the

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Hellenistic and Roman periods, and one or more Christian redactions.

Autonomous Christian examples of prophetic discourse include Matt
24-25; Mk 13; Lk 17:20-37; 21:1-36; 1 Thess 4:13-5:11; 2 Thess
1:5-10; 2:1-12; 2 Pet 3:1-18; Didache 16.
Rabbinic Judaism, if we leave to one side the Hekhalot composi-
tions, did not allow the production of texts presenting themselves as
revelations. In its definitive expressions, rabbinic Judaism neverthe-
less appropriated conceptions of historical and metahistorical teleol-
ogy which find a systematic expression in Jewish apocalyptic literature
of the same and preceding centuries.



The importance of the messianic era in 2 Baruch has often been

minimized. Klijn goes so far as to claim that the concept of a mes-
sianic kingdom contradicts the author of 2 Baruch's own eschatol-
ogy, and for that reason, is not explicitly referred to outside of the
visions ("Baruch-Apocalypse," p. 112). But the visions form the core
of the book, and cannot be so easily set aside. Harnisch hardly deals
with the messiah and the messianic era in his work dedicated to
4 Ezra and 2 Baruch's understanding of history (Verhangnis). For a
more adequate appreciation of the messianic expectations of 2 Baruch,
see J. Klausner, The Messianic Idea in Israel: from its Beginning to
the Completion of the Mishnah (London, 1956), pp. 330-348.
M. Stone dowplayed the importance of the messianic era in 4 Ezra
in earlier studies (Features of the Eschatology of IV Ezra [Atlanta,
1989], pp. 133, 226-227; "The Question of the Messiah in 4 Ezra,"
in Judaisms and Their Messiahs at the Turn of the Christian Era, ed.
J. Neusner, W. S. Green, and E. S. Frerichs [Cambridge, 1987], pp.
209-224). Stone failed to do justice to the fact that the role of the
messiah becomes more prominent as 4 Ezra progresses. The messi-
anic kingdom will remove the reproach of the Gentiles, and replace
Esau (Rome) with Jacob (Israel) (6:8-10; 12:10-36). Ethical closure
begins to be realized with the messiah's advent (12:31-34; 13:37-
38). A consummate vision of Israel's history and destiny is expressed
by means of 4 Ezra's messianic era. Stone expresses a similar view
in his latest contribution: "Clearly the author [of 4 Ezra] is most pre-
occupied with the Redeemer and with his role in ensuring the pass-

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ing of Rome and the rule of 'the saints of the Most High.' In these
broad terms the way the Redeemer is presented responds to the major
concern of the first part of the book. There will be a vindication of
Israel and a redress of the balance" (Fourth Ezra, p. 213).
It remains a common practice to allegorize away the expectation
of a messianic millennium in Revelation. See R. Brown, An Intro-
duction to the New Testament (New York, 1997), pp. 800-802. Ex-
pectations of consummation on earth of the collective history of the
Jewish people are widespread in the New Testament (Matt 19:27-
29; Acts 1:6-8; Rom 11:24-27), a fact Brown fails to mention. In
Rev 20:1-10, these expectations are applied to the Christian col-
lectivity. Brown claims we may see "the expectation of a first divine
intervention to establish a kingdom or ideal time in this world and
of a second divine intervention to replace the temporal world by the
eternal ... simply as symbolic ways of predicting divine victory over
evil forces that are an obstacle to God's kingdom or rule over the
whole world" (p. 801). Such a hermeneutical move may have valid-
ity in some theological traditions. It is hardly a plausible historical-
critical conclusion about the originally intended content of the texts
in question.
In 2 Baruch, 4 Ezra, and Revelation, with the reign of the messiah,
the history and destiny of the people of God come to fruition, by no
means a minor detail, or a mere prelude to something else. 2 Baruch,
4 Ezra, and Revelation locate redemption both "on the stage of
history ... within the community" and in "the spiritual and unseen
realm" (the phrases in quotation marks are derived from a seminal
essay of Gershom Scholem, The Messianic Idea in Judaism and
Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality [New York, 1971], p. 1). What
Scholem pulled apart and assigned to Judaism on the one hand, and
Christianity on the other, must instead be held together, so as to do
justice to the complexity of both religious traditions.

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