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Ezekiel, Apocryphal Books of


Josephus (Ant., 10:79) appears to refer to two books of Ezekiel, one of which was presumably an apocryphal work. Reference to such a work is also made in the stichometry of Nicephorus, patriarch of Constantinople (806–15), and the pseudo-Athana-sian canon list. Fragments of an Ezekiel book are preserved in various ancient sources. The longest is the story of the blind man and the lame found in Epiphanius (c. 315–402; Ad-versus Haereses, 64:70, 5, ed. Hall). It is a parable designed to prove the resurrection of both body and soul by demonstrating their interdependence. A lame and a blind man conspired together to rob a king's orchard, the blind man using his legs to transport the lame man who guided his steps. An almost identical story serves a similar function in rabbinic sources (Sanh. 91a–b; cf. Mekh. Shirata, 2; Lev. R. 4:5). A second fragment is to be found in Clement of Rome's (Pope Clement I 92?–100) Epistula ad Corinthios, 83 (pg, 1 (1886), 226), opening "Repent, House of Israel, of your lawlessnesses." This fragment is of a strongly prophetic character based on the language of biblical prophecy. It is also quoted in part by Church Father Clement of Alexandria (Paedagogus 1:91, 2; pg, vol. 7, 357). A third tiny fragment is preserved in Clement of Alexandria's Quis dives salvetur? (40:2; pg, 9 (1890), 645) and it may belong to the same "prophetic" Ezekiel apocryphon. It seems to be difficult, however, to conceive of the story of the lame and the blind as belonging to the same work, and either an addition or two Ezekiel apocrypha are involved. Another short sentence attributed to Ezekiel occurs in various forms. In Epiphanius, Adversus Haereses (30:30, 1; pg, 41 (1863), 458), the form is found "and the heifer shall bear and they shall say, 'She has not borne.'" This is employed in Christological contexts and it is difficult to discern its original import. Various scholars also assign the above quotation in Clement of Rome Epistula ad Corinthios (1:23; PG, vol. 1, p. 260) to an Ezekiel book. Some fragments of a Greek Ezekiel apocryphon were discovered on a papyrus and published by Campbell Bonner in 1940. These fragments include one passage which is quoted by Clement of Alexandria (Paedagogus, 1:84, 2–4; PG, 8 (1891), 512) as from Ezekiel, which confirms their identification. This document too bears the prophetic stamp observed in some of the above quotations and it may derive from the same work.


M.R. James, Lost Apocrypha of the Old Testament (1920), 64–70; Holl, in: Aus Schrift und Geschichte, Theologische Abhandlungen Adolf Schlatter (1922), 85–98; C. Bonner, Studies and Documents, 12 (1940), 183ff.

[Michael E. Stone]

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