Baruch, Greek Apocalypse of

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BARUCH, GREEK APOCALYPSE OF (abbr. iii Bar.), an apocalypse describing the journey of *Baruch through the heavens. Baruch, Jeremiah's scribe, weeps over the destruction of Jerusalem and questions God's righteousness. He is granted this heavenly journey in order to subdue his anger and console him in his grief. In the introduction, the angel of the Lord offers to show the mourning Baruch the secrets of God. He takes him to the First Heaven where they see men in monstrous form who are identified as the people who built the Tower of Babel. The angel also explains certain measurements of the First Heaven. In the Second Heaven they meet doglike human monsters who initiated the building of the tower. In the Third Heaven, the angel shows Baruch the dragon in Hades; he also tells him how it came about that God permitted Noah to plant the cursed vine which had been the cause of Adam and Eve's sin (the vine being identified with the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden – cf. Ber. 40a; Gen. R. 19:5). God promises him to change the curse into a blessing; the angel, however, warns against overindulgence in wine, for the most awful sins result from it. In this heaven Baruch also observes the coming and going of the sun and the moon. The sun's chariot is driven by four angels; other angels are busy purifying the sun's crown, defiled by men's daily sins. The phoenix absorbs with his wings most of the fiery rays of the sun, so as to prevent life on earth from burning up. Baruch is frightened by this spectacle and by the accompanying thunder. Next, the angel and Baruch pass the dwelling place of the righteous souls. In the Fifth Heaven, Baruch sees the archangel Michael weighing the good deeds of people, brought by the angel appointed over each individual, and sending them their reward. The angels who could not bring any good deeds from their protégés are ordered to attend upon the sinners until they repent, and if they do not, to inflict upon them all the prophesied evils. Baruch then returns to the earth and is instructed to reveal to the sons of men those of God's secrets which he has seen and heard.

In the present form the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch is the work of a Christian writer: the Christological interpretation of the vine in chapter 4; the citation from the New Testament in chapter 15; and the technical terms deriving from a Christian background, namely έκκλήσίά ("church") and πνευματικοὶ πατέρες ("spiritual fathers") in chapter 13 are organic parts of the present story and cannot possibly be explained as mere interpolations. It is obvious however that this is not the original form of the book. The ultimate aim of the traveler through the heavens is to see the Glory of God, an aim usually attained in the Seventh Heaven (cf. Slavonic Enoch, ch. 9ff.; Test. Patr. Levi 3:8; Ḥag. 12b. etc.). Indeed, twice in the book (III Bar. 7:2; 11:2) the guiding angel assures Baruch, "Wait and you shall see the Glory of God," a promise which is never fulfilled, for Baruch reaches no further than the Fifth Heaven. This reinforces the probability that the present work is a later version of an apocalypse of Baruch which in an earlier version, mentioned by *Origen (De principiis 2:3, 6), included the Seven Heavens.

The main issues dealt with in the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch are the heavenly mechanisms of, and causes behind, cosmological matters, and man's just reward for his deeds. The latter brings it into the realm of the testament- and Adam-literature; it is in the light of this genre and not in that of direct New Testament influence (as M.R. James avers) that the lists of sins (iii Bar. 4:7; 8:5; 13:4) should be understood. The uranological traditions of the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch are closely related to the Enoch books (cf. Ethiopic Enoch chs. 72, 73; Slavonic Enoch chs. 3–9, esp. 6); some stories have parallels in aggadic literature (see Ginzberg, and Artom's notes in Kahana); the theme that the souls of the righteous dwell as birds around a lake (ch. 10) might well be of Egyptian origin (in the hieroglyphics the bird designates the heavenly soul).

The Apocalypse is written in a very simple Koine-Greek of late antiquity; there is no evidence that it was translated from a Semitic language. Two Slavonic versions (see Picard, pp. 70–71 and Turdeanu) mainly follow the Greek text.


S. Novaković, in: Starine, 18 (1886), 203–9; M.I. Sokolov, in: Drevnosti, no.4, 201–58; M.R. James, Apocrypha Anecdota, 2 (1897), li–lxxi, 83–102; V. Ryssel, in: E. Kautzsch (ed.), Die Apocryphen and Pseudepigraphen, 2 (1900),.446–57; L. Ginzberg, in: je, 2 (1902), 549–51; W. Luedtke, in: zaw, 31 (1911), 219–22; H.M. Hughes, in: Charles, Apocrypha, 2 (1913), 527–41; E.S. Artom, Ha-Sefarim ha-Ḥiẓonim, Ḥazon Barukh 2 (1967); idem, in: A. Kahana (ed.), Ha-Sefarim ha-Ḥiẓonim, 1 (1936), 408–25; E. Turdeanu, in: rhr, 138 (1950), 177–81; J.-C. Picard (ed.). Apocalypse Baruchi graece (1967), 61–96.

[Jacques Yakov Guggenheim]

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Baruch, Greek Apocalypse of

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