Apocalypses: 3 Baruch

Apocalypses / 3 Baruch

Time Period

70–200 CE, with several Christian interpolations.

Pseudonym

The author claims to be Baruch, living in the wake of Jerusalem’s destruction by Babylon.

Woe, now I, Baruch, was weeping in my mind …

Angelic Guide

An angel, identified as Phanuel, is immediately sent to guide Baruch.

And the angel of hosts said to me, ‘Come and I shall disclose to you the mysteries of God.’

Cosmogony

The overall book is a tour of five heavens. The middle of the book focus especially on natural elements.

And taking me, he led me where the sun goes forth.

Primordial Events

The first parts of the heavenly tours gives a symbolic (and somewhat revisionist) retelling of the early chapters of Genesis.

‘… God caused the Flood over the earth and destroyed all flesh and 409,000 giants …’

Historical Review

(n/a)

After-the-fact Prophecy

(n/a)

Persecution

The author’s cosmological tour is prompted by the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome, using the common cipher of the Babylonian conquest.

I Baruch was weeping in my mind and considering the people and how King Nebuchadnezzar was permitted by God to plunder his city …

Social Upheaval

(n/a)

Resurrection

A future resurrection is not explicitly identified as such, but may be inferred from certain passages.

‘And you will see the resting place of the righteous, glory and joy and rejoicing and celebration.’

Judgment

There are brief descriptions of reward, punishment, and a future judgment.

And I Baruch said, ‘As the Lord lives, if you disclose a word to me and I hear it from you, I shall speak no further. May God add to me punishment on the Day of Judgment if I speak in the future.’

New Creation

(n/a)

Sources

The author is familiar with several common traditions of apocalypses and retellings of Genesis, but no specific literary source is identifiable. There are two main versions of the book, Greek and Slavonic, each with differing amounts of Christian interpolations. Chapters 11–16 of the Greek version show the most additions, with chapter 11 showing some parallels to the Revelation of John.

Units

Superscription

1: An angel is sent to Baruch while he laments Jerusalem’s destruction by Babylon, and takes him on his heavenly tour.

2: The first heaven. A vision of those who built the tower of Babel (Gen 11.1–9).

3: The second heaven. A vision of those who planned the tower’s construction, conflated with the Egyptian slavers. There is also a brief allusion to Moses’ birth (Exo 1.13–14; 2.1–3).

4–9: The third heaven. A vision of the primordial serpent, the temptation of Adam and Eve, the flood killing the giants, Noah planting after the flood. This is followed by a survey of the sun and moon, and the phoenix which protects the earth from the sun’s strength.

10: The fourth heaven (erroneously identified as the third in the Greek version). Baruch is shown a huge mountain with a lake, which is the source of all rainwater.

11–16: The fifth heaven. Baruch sees the archangel Michael descending from even higher levels of heaven, carrying human prayers or good works. Various angels bring their offerings alongside Michael. Baruch (in the Slavonic version) offers to intercede for sinners.

17: Baruch is returned to the earth, to share what I saw.

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