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4 Baruch

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Fourth Baruch is a pseudepigraphical text of the Old Testament. Paralipomena of Jeremiah appears as the title in several ancient Greek manuscripts of the work, meaning "things left out of (the Book of) Jeremiah."[1].

Description of 4 Baruch

Fourth Baruch is regarded as pseudepigraphical by all Christian churches, except in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (see Rest of the Words of Baruch).

The text is known in both a full-length and a reduced versions. The full-length versions arrived to us in Greek (older manuscripts dated X-XI centuries [1] and XV century [2]), in Ethiopic Ge'ez (titled Rest of the Words of Baruch, the older manuscript dated XV century), in Armenian[3] and in Slavic. The shorted versions are arrived to us in Greek (named Meneo), Romanian and Slavic [4].

4 Baruch is usually dated in the first half of 2 century CE. Abimelech's sleep of 66 years, instead of the usual 70 years of Babylonian captivity, makes think to the year 136 CE, that is 66 years after the fall of the Second Temple in 70 CE. This dating is coherent with the message of the text.[1].

4 Baruch uses a simple and fable-like style with speech-making animals, fruit that never rots, and a eagle sent by the Lord that revive dead people.

Some parts of 4 Baruch appear to have been added in the Christian era, such as the last chapter: due to these insertions same scholars consider 4 Baruch to have Christian origins [1]. Like the greater prophets, it advocates the divorce of foreign wives and exile of those who will do not. According to 4 Baruch, the Samaritans are the descendants of such mixed marriages.

Content

The Lord reveals to Jeremiah that Jerusalem will be destroyed because of the impiety of the Israelites. Jeremiah informs Baruch and in the night they see angels that open the door of the city. In such night Jeremiah is instructed by the Lord to hide miraculously in the earth the vestments of the high-priest of the Temple. The Chaldeans enter in the town and Jeremiah follows the Israelites in the exile, while Baruch remains in Jerusalem and Abimelech (= Ebedmelech the Ethiopian of Jeremiah 38:7) falls asleep for 66 years and awakens with the basket of figs preserved perfectly fresh. When he awakens, Abimelech understands that he slept miraculously for years because the figs are fresh out-of-season. After the re-union with Baruch, they wants to communicate with Jeremiah, who is still in Babylon. Baruch prays the Lord and the Lord sends him an eagle, that brings a letter and some of the figs to Jeremiah. The eagle finds Jeremiah officiating at a funeral, alights on the corpse, bringing it back to life, and announcing the end of the exile. The Israelites return to Jerusalem, but only who have no foreign wives is allowed to pass the Jordan. The last chapter, Jeremiah's prophecy of the coming of Jesus and Jeremiah miraculous death, is for sure a Christian addition.

History of the Babylonian Captivity

This Jewish pseudepigraphical text belongs to the cycle of Baruch and is related to 4 Baruch. It is longer and probably older than 4 Baruch [5][6]. It has a very few and circumscribed Christian insertions and it hasn't the fable-like style of 4 Baruch. Abimelech's sleep is here of 70 years, the usual duration of the Babylonian captivity.

The original Greek is lost, but we have Sahidic Coptic manuscripts [7] and, even if less ancient, Arabic Garshuni manuscripts [8]

See also

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 manuscripts n. 6 and n. 34 of the Jerusalem Taphos Library, published in Harris J.R. The Rest of the Words of Baruch: a Christian Apocalypse of the year 136 AD, The text revised with an Introduction, London-Cambridge 1889
  2. n. AF,IX,31 of Biblioteca Braidensis of Milan, published in 1868 by Ceriani
  3. n. 920 of Etchmiadzin Library dated 1465, published in 1895 by Ter Mkrtcian
  4. Turdeanu E. Apocryphes slaves et roumain de l'Ancient Testament, Leiden 1981
  5. Kuhn, K.H. A Coptic Jeremiah Apocryphon Le Muséon 83 (1970)
  6. Rosenstiehl Histoire de la Captivité de Babylone, Introduction, traduction et notes Strasbourg, 1980
  7. complete text in M. 578 (IX century) of Pierpont Morgan Library, edited by Kuhn 1970
  8. Bibliothèque Nationale: Syr. 65 (dated 1594 and edited by Leroy-Dib 1910 and by Mingana 1927) and Syr. 238 (dated 1474 and edited by Coquin 1995)

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