An apocryphal work, in which Baruch, the disciple of Jeremiah, gives an account of the revelation which he received in heaven. The existence of this work (which is wholly different from the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch published by Ceriani in 1866, 1871, 1883, and translated by Charles in 1896; see Baruch, Apocalypse of [Syriac]) was unknown until 1886, when a Slavonic Baruch Apocalypse was published by Stojan Novakovic in the magazine "Starine" (vol. xviii.). But the attention of scholars was first drawn to this work through the German translation of the Slavonic text by N. Bonwetsch ("Nachrichten von der Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Philologisch-Historische Klasse," 1896, pp. 94-101); and a year later the world of learning was astonished by M. R. James's publication of the Greek text, until then entirely unknown, in "Texts and Studies: Contributions to Biblical and Patristic Literature," edited by J. Armitage Robinson, v., No. i., pp. 84-94, Cambridge, 1897. The Slavonic text is an abbreviated form of the Greek, sometimes merely an abstract of it. Consequently, the Greek text must be considered as the basis of the other, though the Slavonic text seems in some places to have preserved the correct reading.

Baruch Ascends to First Heaven.

The contents of the Apocalypse are as follows:Baruch, bewailing and lamenting the fall of Jerusalem, is addressed by an angel of God sent to reveal great mysteries to him (ch. i). He goes with the angel, and after crossing a stream at the place where heaven is fastened (not the ocean, but the "mayim ha'elyonim" [upper waters]; Gen. R. iv. 3; Ḥag. 15a; compare Abraham, Testament of), they reach the first heaven. The angel tells Baruch that the heaven's thickness equals the distance from heaven to earth, or the distance from east to west (thus the Slavonic text: the Greek reads "from north to south"; Tamid 32a; Ḥag. 13a). Baruch sees men in animal form, who, as the angel explains, "are they who built the tower, and God has transformed them" (ii.). This means that the builders of the tower ("dor haflagah") were transformed into demons (Sanh. 109a, ). For this reason they are not in the place of torment, which is in the third heaven, but at the entrance to heaven (Ḥag. 16a; compare Demonology).

The Third Heaven.

The third chapter gives the reason for the punishment inflicted on the tower-builders. They were so inhuman that they would not let a woman who helped with the building leave her work during travail. A similar rabbinical legend about a Jewish woman in Egypt (Pirḳe R. El. xlviii.; compare "Sefer ha-Yashar, Shemot," ed. Leghorn, p. 113b) is probably the original of this. The fourth chapter, describing the third heaven, seems to have been badly mutilated in the Greek text; the Slavonic version must therefore be followed. Baruch sees a dragon as long as the distance from east to west. It drinks an ell from the sea daily; because three hundred and sixty rivers constantly empty into the sea, and would cause it to overflow, so that there would be nothing left dry on earth. The inside of the dragon is as large as the belly of Hades. The Greek text adds that it is this dragon which eats the bodies of those that have spent their lives in evil. The dragon seems to be identified with Hades in other respects also; and the representations of the dragon (the Leviathan) and Hades are confused.

There is no connection between this part of the chapter and the section immediately following, in which Baruch asks which tree seduced Adam, and the angel answers that it was the vine planted by Samael (this view is widely spread in the apocalyptic and rabbinical literature; compare Ginzberg, "Die Haggada bei den Kirchenvätern," pp. 38-41). In this connection, too, it is stated that the Deluge washed the vine bodily out of the Garden of Eden; whereupon Noah took possession of it and planted it (Ginzberg, l.c. p. 40). In its present form the section on the vine is a Christian interpolation intended to reconcile the harmfulness of wine with its use in the communion service. In this way the original legend on the planting of the vine by Noah and the arch-fiend becomes radically changed. See Asmodeus.

Celestial Phenomena.

Chapters vi. to ix., treating of the sun, moon, and stars, are the most interesting part of the work. The sun is represented as a man with a crown of fire, sitting on a chariot. This is probably derived from the Greek conception, but found also elsewhere in rabbinical literature, as in Slavonic B. of Enoch; Pirḳe R. El. vi.; Num. R. xii. 4. The phenix attends the sun in its course as guard; catching on its wings the rays, in order to keep them from scorching everything, At daybreak the rustling of the phenix awakens the cocks on earth, who then give the signal of dawn in their peculiar utterance (compare Targ. on Job xxxviii. 36). The Zohar (iii. 22b, 23a, 49b) also tells of a heavenly wind, or some other celestial manifestation, which causes the crowing of the cocks; even the Talmud knows the blessing ("blessed be He who has given the cock intelligence [to distinguish between day and night]," Ber. 60b). As in the rabbinical sources (Pirḳe R. El. vi.; Yalḳ., Eccl. 967), the angels draw the sun's chariot (ch. vii., viii.), and at night four angels remove the sun's crown (according to Pirḳe R. El. l.c., the sun is attended by different angels by night and by day; and since, according to Yalḳ. l.c., there are eight in all, the number in the Baruch Apocalypse tallies with that in rabbinical literature). They remove the crown in order to cleanse it of the impurities with which it becomes spotted through the sins of man on earth (Test. Patr., Levi, 3; Eliyahu R. ii.); and for this reason it is renewed every day (compare the words in the morning service , "who reneweth every day the work of creation"). The conception of the moon is also Greek. It is represented as a woman sitting on a chariot drawn by oxen and lambs. It was once as large as the sun and even more beautiful; but at Adam's fall it did not display the proper compassion, and it was therefore made to wax and wane. This agrees only in part with the Haggadah variously given in the Talmud and Midrash, that the moon suffered this decrease in its size through its pride and guilt (Shebuot 9a; Ḥul. 60b; Gen. R. vi. 3).

The Fourth and Fifth Heavens.

In the fourth heaven Baruch first sees in a wide plain a pond about which are large numbers of birds. The angel explains that this is the place to which the souls of the righteous go in order that they may live together in choirs. The idea that the souls of the righteous are transformed into birds frequently occurs in the Cabala (compare "Tiḳḳune Zohar," ed. Lemberg, vi. 22b; see also Sanh. 92b); this idea is probably of Egyptian origin. The fourth heaven also contains the water which descends to earth in the form of rain. For although the original source of rain is the sea, it must first ascend to heaven to mingle with the water there in order that it may bring forth fruit, since sea-water is salt. In this way, according to Gen. R. xiii. 10 and Eccl. R. i. 7, the passage at the end of ch. x. is to be explained. In the fifth heaven Baruch meets Michael, prince of the angels and keeper of the celestial keys, who is descending to receive the prayers of men and to carry a report of their virtues to God. The expression "gates of prayer" ("sha'are tefillah") already occurs frequently in the Talmud (Ber. 32b) and in the liturgy. Concerning the office here ascribed to Michael, compare Ginzberg, in l.c. p. 13.

The conclusion of the Apocalypse (ch. xii-xvii.) describes the acts of the angels who accompany men on earth (Ḥag. 16a) and report in heaven concerningthem. The angels that accompany the righteous hand baskets of flowers to Michael, who gives them to God; but other angels stand downcast and with empty baskets, not daring to draw nigh. These latter are the angels that accompany the evil-doers. They beg Michael to free them from their duties; for they do not wish to gaze any longer upon the sins of man. After Michael has brought the virtues of men to God, he returns and tells the angels what God has communicated to him. He gives the angels of the righteous a reward for the righteous, and bids the other angels inflict punishment of all kinds on the evil-doers. Then the angel that has guided Baruch takes him back to the place whence he started.

Relation to Other Works.

The latest date at which the Apocalypse of Baruch could have been written is determined by the fact that Origen (185-254) made a citation from it ("De Principiis," ii. 3, 6). The question as to the earliest date depends upon the relation of this Baruch Apocalypse to the other works ascribed to the same author, and to the apocryphal and pseudepigraphic literature in general. It is certain that the Apocalypse was influenced by the (Slavonic) Book of Enoch, a work of about the middle of the first Christian century. It is, however, a question whether the Greek version employed the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch, since ch. lxxvi. of the latter, in which Baruch receives a promise of cosmic revelations, affords arguments rather against than for such a supposition. The assumption is untenable that the Greek Apocalypse was written to show the actual fulfilment of the promise. The critical point in the Syriac Apocalypse lies in this chapter when Baruch, before leaving earth, obtains a full survey of it in order that he may see what he is leaving and whither he is going. This idea is based upon an opinion held by Akiba b. Joseph (Sifre, Num. 136) and others, that God allowed not only Moses, but other favored pious men to behold before their death the whole world and all the mysteries of nature. Now, if the Greek Apocalypse was complementary to the Syriac, the author of the former would not have failed to join his story of Baruch's passage through heaven to this account of his last act on earth.

The alleged connection of the Apocalypse with other pseudepigraphic works is only vaguely indicated, and proves nothing. The same is true of the linguistic relation which, it is asserted, exists between the Apocalypse and the New Testament. For instance, ἡμέρα τῆς κρίσεως is not taken from the New Testament, since "Yom ha-Din" (the Day of Judgment) is an expression used before Christian times, and occurs more frequently in rabbinical literature than in the New Testament. Only one passage can with certainty be considered a Christian interpolation; and that is the one concerning the vine already referred to as occurring in ch. iv. The interpolation here is very unskilfully made. It interrupts the sequence, and adds entirely foreign elements. There are also other evidences that the Apocalypse has not been preserved in its original form. For example, it is natural to expect descriptions of the sixth and seventh heavens; but these are lacking.

It Betrays Indian Influence.

The following two points show the position of the Apocalypse in relation to other literature of a similar nature: (1) It is perhaps the one Jewish work which undoubtedly betrays Indian influence. The phenix, referred to in this Apocalypse as the companion of the sun, and the wonderful description of it, are probably of Indian origin; for Indian mythology relates much that is similar concerning the bird Garuda, the companion of the sun-god Vishnu ("Mahabharata Adi Parva," xvi.-xxxiv.; compare James, "The Apocalypse of Baruch, "Introduction, pp. lxiii.-lxvi., in "Texts and Studies," l.c.).

(2) Michael's office, as described in ch. xi.-xvi., is significant. The resemblance between his functions and those ascribed to Jesus by the early church is striking; and the relation between the two is obvious. It is probably not correct, however, to consider Michael in the Apocalypse as the Logos or Jesus in a Jewish garb. The explanation of the similarity between the two must be sought in the fact that, at the time when Christianity arose, the carrying out of a too transcendental conception of monotheism required, in order that the relation of God to man might be explained, the supposition of some mediator; and no one was better suited for this part than Michael, the prince of the angels. With the advent of Christianity the duties of Michael were ascribed to Jesus or Logos (compare W. Lueken, "Michael," 1898). In view of these facts, it may be assumed as certain that the author of the Apocalypse was not a Pharisee, since the Pharisees opposed decidedly such doubtful angel-lore. He must have been one of the Gnostics, who revered equally the Haggadah, Greek mythology, and Oriental wisdom. To consider the Apocalypse a Jewish Gnostic work would also be in accordance with the date arrived at for its origin; namely, the beginning of the second century, when gnosis was at its height among both Jews and Christians.

  • Bonwetsch and James, as above;
  • R. H. Charles, The Apocalypse of Baruch, introduction, pp. 20-22;
  • Morfill, in Texts and Studies, v., No. 1, giving English translation of the Slavonic text;
  • Kautzsch, Die Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen des Alten Testaments, ii. 402-404, 446-457, containing German translation of the Greek version with critical notes and introduction.
T. L. G.
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