November 19, 2009 - 2:02pm | by Ian W. Scott
Most scholars conclude the Apocalypse of Baruch (2 Baruch) is a Jewish composition from the regions in or around Judea, written around the end of the first century CE (see discussion below).
Provenance and Social Setting:
2 Baruch is a pseudepigraphal work written from the perspective of Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah, and set around the time of the destruction of Solomon's Temple in 586 BCE. However, it is clear that 2 Baruch presupposes the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE (cf. 32.2-4), and that the author was primarily concerned with the theological and pastoral implications of the destruction of the Second Temple. Nickelsburg rightly indicates that the author of 2 Baruch is still "deeply grieved by the events of the year 70" (Jewish Literature, 283).
It is more difficult to determine when, after 70 CE, 2 Baruch was written. The vague reference in 28.2 to the ‘calculation of time in two parts’ pertaining to ‘weeks of seven weeks’ is too vague to be of much value (see L. Gry, “Date de la fin des temps, scion les révélations ou les calcula du Pseudo-Philo et de Baruch [Apocalypse syriaque],” RB 48 : 337-56). There is also an affinity between 2 Baruch 61.7 and Barnabas 11.9 (written between 117 and 132 CE?), though this may be due to both authors' use of a common source.
Another factor relevant to the dating of 2 Baruch is the document's evidently close relationship with 4 Ezra. Unfortunately, the date of 4 Ezra is itself uncertain (see G. H. Box, “IV Ezra,” APOT 2.553-54). Moreover, while interdependence between the two documents is almost certain, the nature, extent, and order of this interdependence is disputed (Nickelsburg). Although 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra share significant overlaps in content, there are broad thematic differences in their treatment of this common material. Whereas 4 Ezra educes a careful theodicy in response to the tragedy of the temple's destruction, the concerns evident in 2 Baruch are more “pastoral and practical,” addressing matters of consolation and exhortations toward reconstruction (Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature, 283). This ambiguous situation has produced four main suggestions over the past century as to the (inter)relationship of the two apocalypses:
- 4 Ezra was dependent on 2 Baruch (see list on Bogaert, L'Apocalypse, 1.26);
- 2 Baruch was dependent on 4 Ezra (see list on Bogaert, L'Apocalypse, 1.26; Box, APOT 2:553; Metzger, OTP 2:522);
- both were dependent on a common source (Klijn, Arabic Text, 620);
- we cannot determine the direction of the dependence (Charles, APOT 2:477; Michael E. Stone, Fourth Ezra [Minneapolis : Fortress Press, 1990], 39).
For a complete, updated discussion, see Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature, 283-85 and see the bibliography below for research between 1999 and 2006.
Some would see this cumulative, though tenuous, evidence to point to a date for 2 Baruch in the first or second decade of the second century CE (Klijn, Arabic Text, 617). Others argue that the document was written toward the end of the first century (Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature, 283), perhaps in 96 CE specifically (Bogaert, L'Apocalypse, 1.294-95; cf. also Nicolae Roddy, “‘Two Parts: Weeks of Seven Weeks’: The End of the Age as Teminus ad Quem for 2 Baruch,” JSP 14  3–14).
2 Baruch was probably written in Judea, Galilee, or a neighbouring region. The original language of the document was most likely Hebrew or Aramaic, and the work shows affinities with later rabbinic literature originating from the land of Israel (Klijn, Arabic Text, 617). The author of 2 Bar. also seems to identify himself with the inhabitants of Palestine who have survived the Roman onslaught, and it is from this standpoint that he exhorts the Jews of the Diaspora in the epistle (Klijn, Arabic Text, 617).
Cultural and Historical Context
According to J. E. Wright, “The overall goal of 2 Baruch is to promote obedience to God’s commandments as the way to survive in difficult times” (“Baruch, Books of,” DNTB, 148-151). The book, somewhat like 4 Ezra, is the author’s attempt both to make theological sense of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, and to exhort Israel to remain faithful to her God in hope of restoration. It is widely agreed that 2 Bar. was originally composed in non-Christian Jewish circles, and the contention that it is instead a Christian composition (Nir, Destruction of Jerusalem, passim) has not found much support. Nonetheless, 2 Bar. is a "Christian text" in the sense that it was adopted and preserved within Christian circles for much of its transmission history.
Text Status and Contents:
The three texts here represent all of the extant evidence for the apocalypse proper (chapters 1-77) preserved in Syriac, Greek (two small sections), and Latin (one excerpt). The Syriac text of the "epistle" (chapters 78-87), is more textually complex and still waits to be encoded. Further evidence exists in the form of a free Arabic translation and several Jacobite lectionaries, none of which have yet been included in this OCP edition.
Although the document was most likely composed in Hebrew or Aramaic, this original-language text does not survive. The only complete text of 2 Baruch is preserved in one Syriac manuscript (7a1). Chapters 1-77 of this manuscript are transcribed here in their entirety as they appear in the edition of Dedering. Dedering's text includes many conjectural emendations made by a great number of scholars, and these emendations (or the original text of 7a1 where appropriate) are supplied in a critical apparatus. That apparatus also includes (following Dedering) variants found in three Jacobite lectionaries. The "epistle" section, chapters 78-87, has not yet been included here. The superscription of this Syriac manuscript reveals that it was translated from Greek, a claim which most scholars accept.
In two places the apparatus of Dedering's print edition is unclear and so readings have not been included in this apparatus, pending further examination of ms 7a1:
- 21.6 -- ܕܥܒ̇ܪ ܐܢܬ.; The variant reading for Kmo in Dedering’s apparatus is unclear;
- 22.4 -- ܠܗ; The variant reading for 7aI* in Dedering’s text has a dot superscripted over the syame. This may be a typographical error.
Only two small sections of this Greek precursor have survived in the Oxyrhynchus cache on the two sides of one piece of papyrus, manuscript P.Oxy. 403. The text preserved corresponds to 2 Bar. 12.1-13.2 (verso, i.e. against the fibres) and 2 Bar. 13.11-14.2 (recto, i.e. along the fibres). In the transcription presented here, the reconstructions which fill in gaps in the manuscript are by Grenfell and Hunt (see below). The accentuation and punctuation have been added to the text for the sake of readability. Only the Greek semicolon (ano teleia) and dieresis are used in the orthography of the manuscript itself. This Greek text seems to be translated from Hebrew or Aramaic (see Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature, 408 n. 116; Charles, APOT, 2.472-474), though Bogaert contends Greek is the original language (L'Apocalypse de Baruch [2 vols.; SC 144, 145; Paris, 1969], 1.378-80). Some hold that retroverting this Greek text to Hebrew restores lost word-play and reveals parallels with other Jewish texts composed in either Aramaic or Hebrew. See F. Zimmermann, “Textual Observations on the Apocalypse of Baruch,” JTS 40 (1939): 151-56, and idem, “Translation and Mistranslation in the Apocalypse of Baruch,” in Studies and Essays in Honour of Abraham A. Neuman (ed. M. Ben-Horn, et al.; Leiden: Brill, 1962), 580-87.
This Greek translation of 2 Baruch seems to have been translated into Latin as well. The one surviving Latin fragment of 2 Bar. is a single citation found in Cyprian, Test. 3.29, which corresponds to 2 Bar. 48.36, 33-34. This fragment is presented here without critical apparatus, based on R. Weber’s edition of Cyprian as it is reprinted in A.-M. Denis, Concordance latine, 631. Readers will notice that Weber (and Denis) preserve the Latin use of the letter "u" for both the "u" and the "v" of later scripts.
|Syriac||7aI, Milan, Bibliotheca Ambrosiana MS B.21 Inf. (fols. 257a-265b)||6th-7th century CE||complete (where the ms exhibits corrections, 7aI* and 7aI1 designate the hands of the first and second correctors respectively)|
|Jacobite lectionary: 1312, London, British Museum, Addit. MS 14.686||1255 CE||44.9-15|
|Jacobite lectionary: 1313, London, British Museum, Addit. MS 14.687||1256 CE||72.1-73.2 (twice)|
|Jacobite lectionary: 1515, Papakuda (in Kerala, India), A. Konath Libr., MS 77||1423 CE||44.9-15; 72.1-73.2|
|The epistle (chapter 78-88) is attested in a further 36 Syriac mss (see Whitters, Epistle, 4-12, 15-18).||chapters 78-87|
|Greek||P. Oxy. 403||4th-5th century CE||12.1-13.2 (verso, i.e. against the fibres); 13.11-14.3 (recto, i.e. along the fibres)|
|Arabic||One ms. See P. S. van Koningsveld, “An Arabic Manuscript of the Apocalypse of Baruch,” JSS 6 (1975) 205-7.||complete|
In addition to these manuscripts, 2 Baruch is attested in Latin in a single quotation in Cyprian, Test. 3.29 (quoting 2 Bar. 48:36, 33-34).In the Syriac text, the following sigla indicate the scholarly sources for conjectural emendations:
|Bog||P. Bogaert, Apocalypse de Baruch, introduction, tradition du Syriaque et commentaire (SC 144 and 145; Paris: Cerf, 1969).|
|CerI||A. M. Ceriani, "Apocalypsis Baruch (notae criticae)" in Monumenta sacra et profana (Tomus I, fasc. 2; Mediolani, 1866), I-III.|
|CerII||A. M. Ceriani, "Apocalypsis Baruch Syriace" in Monumenta sacra et profana (Tomus V, fasc. 2; Mediolani, 1871), 113-167.|
|CerIt||A. M. Ceriani, "Apocalypsis Baruch, olim de graeco in syriacum, et nunc de syriaco in latinum translata" inMonumenta sacra et profana (Tomus I, fasc. 2; Mediolani, 1866), 73-95.|
|ChaI||R. H. Charles, The Apocalypse of Baruch Translated from the Syriac (London: 1896).|
|ChaII||R. H. Charles, "II Baruch. I. The Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch," in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. 2 (Oxford: 1913), 470-521.|
|Dedering||Dedering, S. Apocalypse of Baruch (Peshitta Institute, The Old Testament in Syriac, Part IV, Fasc. 3; Leiden: Brill, 2003).|
|Gress||H. Gressmann, pp. 344-350 in B. Violet, Die Apokalypsen des Esra und des Baruch in deutscher Gestalt(GCS 32; Leipzig: Hirichs, 1924).|
|Kabisch||Kabisch, Jahrbücher für protestantische Theologie 18 (1892).|
|Kmo||M. Kmoskó, "Liber Apocalypseos Baruch filii Neriae translatus de graeco in syriacum" in Patrologia Syriaca(Pars prima, Vol. 2; Paris, 1907), cols 1056-1207.|
|Ryss||V. Ryssel, "Die syrische Baruchapokalypse" in Die Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen des Alten Testaments (vol. 2; ed. E. Kautzsch; Tübingen, 1900), 404-442.|
|Schu||F. Schulthess, “In recensione libri R. H. Charles supra laudati,” Theologische Literaturzeitung 22 (1897): 238-41.|
|Viol||B. Violet, Die Apokalypsen des Esra und des Baruch in deutscher Gestalt (GCS 32; Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1924).|
|Zimm||F. Zimmermann, “Translation and Mistranslation in the Apocalypse of Baruch” in Studies and Essays in Honour of Abraham A. Neuman (ed. M. Ben-Horin, et al.; Leiden: Brill, 1962), 580-87.|
|S. Dedering, Apocalypse of Baruch (Peshitta Institute, The Old Testament in Syriac, Part IV, Fasc. 3; Leiden: Brill, 1973).|
|** This is the standard print edition of the Syriac, which is also the basis for the Syriac text of this OCP edition. Dedering transcribes manuscript 7aI, providing some conjectural emendations and alternate readings in an apparatus.|
|A. M. Ceriani, "Apocalypsis Baruch (notae criticae)" in Monumenta sacra et profana (Tomus I, fasc. 2; Mediolani, 1866), p. I-III.|
|A. M. Ceriani, "Apocalypsis Baruch, olim de graeco in syriacum, et nunc de syriaco in latinum translata" in Monumenta sacra et profana (Tomus I, fasc. 2; Mediolani, 1866), p. 73-95.|
|A. M. Ceriani, "Apocalypsis Baruch Syriace" in Monumenta sacra et profana (Tomus V, fasc. 2; Mediolani, 1871), p. 113-167.|
Greek Text (P.Oxy. 403)
|Denis, Concordance, 905.|
|Denis, Fragmenta, 118-20.|
|B. Violet, Die Apokalypsen des Esra und des Baruch in deutscher Gestalt (3 parts; GCS 32; Leipzig, J. C. Hinrichs, 1923-1924), 219-20, 222-23.|
|B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt, ed., The Oxyrhynchus Papyri (vol. 3; London: Egypt Exploration Fund, 1903) 4-7.|
|** This is the editio princeps of P.Oxy. 403 from which the other publications above are derived.|
|A.-M Denis, Concordance latine, 631.|
|** Reprints the quotation from R. Weber's edition of Cyprian.|
|W. Lechner-Schmidt, Wortindex der lateinisch erhaltenen Pseudepigraphen zum Alten Testament (Texte und Arbeiten zum Neutestamentlichen Zeitalter 3; Tübingen: Francke, 1990), 239.|
|A. F. J. Klijn, F. Leemhuis, G. J. H. Van Gelder, eds. The Arabic Text of the Apocalypse of Baruch: Edited and Translated With a Parallel Translation of the Syriac Text (Leiden: Brill, 1986).|
|R. Weber, Sancti Cypriani episcopi opera (Corpus christianorum. Series Latina 3; Turnhout: Brepols, 1972), 124.|
|James R. Davila, The Provenance of the Pseudepigrapha (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 105; Leiden: Brill, 2005), 126-31.|
|Craig A. Evans, Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2005), 36-7.|
|George W. E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah (2nd ed.; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), 277-85.|
|Rifka Nir, The Destruction of Jerusalem and the Idea of Redemption in the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch (SBL – Early Judaism and its Literature; Leiden: Brill, 2003).|
|Mark F. Whitters, “Testament and Canon in the Letter of Second Baruch (2 Baruch 78-87).” JSP 12 (2001): 149-63.|
|Mark F. Whitters, The Epistle of Second Baruch: A Study in Form and Message (Library of Second Temple Studies 42; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003).|
|J. E. Wright, “Baruch, Books of” in Dictionary of New Testament Background (ed. C. A. Evans and S. E. Porter; Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 148-151.|
|J. E. Wright, Baruch Ben Neriah: From Biblical Scribe to Apocalyptic Seer (Studies on Personalities of the Old Testament; Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003).|
|[ ]||In the Greek text, square brackets surround lacunae which result from physical damage to the manuscript. Text within these square brackets has been reconstructed by Grenfell and Hunt.|
|.||A dot appears under a letter which is only partly legible and for which the reading is uncertain.|
|. . .||An ellipsis (three dots) represents an unreconstructed gap in the text.|
|(?)||A question mark (in parentheses) following a manuscript siglum in the textual apparatus indicates that the reading is uncertain for the immediately preceding manuscript.|
|†||A pair of daggers surrounding a word indicates that, in Dedering's judgment, that word is corrupt.|
Dedering's Syriac text is in the public domain where it simply reproduces the readings of the single manuscript 7a1. The scattered conjectural emendations are almost all the product of older scholarship. Where these are Dedering's original contribution they are clearly credited and are considered by the OCP editors to constitute "fair use" of his published work. The text of P.Oxy. 403 is in the public domain. Although R. Weber's edition of Cyprian is still within the copyright period, we consider the brief quotations made here to fall within the terms of "fair dealing." Before using this or any other OCP text for another purpose, please click on the "copyright and permissions" link below to read the policy on re-use and re-publication.