AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOKS OF THE APOCRYPHA. By W O E Oesterley D D Litt D. © W O E Oesterley 1935. First published S.P.C.K. 1935. - This edition prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram 2003.


HOME | II Esdras: Title | Contents | Component Parts and their Dates. | Redactional Elements. | Original Language | Versions | Literature


This book does not appear in any Septuagint MS hitherto come to light;
therefore it is not known what the Greek title was;
nor, in consequence (for the Greek was translated from a Hebrew original, see below), is it known what the Hebrew title was.

The title "II Esdras" of the Authorized and Revised Versions was taken from the Genevan Bible, and is found in some Latin MSS.

In the Vulgate the title is: Liber quartus Esdrae, although it opens with the words:
Liber Esdrae prophetae secundus
The Vulgate places this book,
together with the Prayer of Manasses and III Esdras (the "Greek Ezra"),
in an Appendix at the end of the whole Bible.

Owing to the different designations between the Latin and the English Versions the title now usually given to the book is "II (IV) Ezra";
but inasmuch as the original book consisted of only chaps. iii-xiv., which are purely apocalyptic, the more appropriate title given to it now-a-days is the "Ezra Apocalypse."

Chaps.i, ii, and xv, xvi, not being part of the Apocalypse, were originally independent of it;
this is recognized by some of the Latin MSS in which
chaps.i, ii are entitled "II Esdras,"
chaps.xv, xvi are given the title "V Esdras."


The book is divided into three unequal portions, viz. chaps.

i. ii; iii-xiv; and xv. xvi; but taking it as we now have it, the contents are as follows:

i.1-3 The genealogy of Ezra.
i.4-12 Israel's ingratitude to their God, shown forth by wickedness and idolatry, in spite of divine mercies in the past.
Ezra is bidden to indicate by symbolic action that the recreant nation is cast off.
i.13-27 God's mercies in the past are recorded; yet in spite of this the people proved themselves unfaithful;
consequently God will turn to other nations, and give them His name that they may render Him obedience.
In forsaking their God Israel's punishment is self-inflicted.
i.28-32 Israel is cast out from God's presence.
i.33-40 In place of Israel another nation, " from the east," will be chosen;
this nation shall have as its leaders the patriarchs and the prophets of old.
ii.1-9 Israel shall be scattered among the nations, and its name shall be blotted out.
"Assur" shall, however, be punished because it sheltered the unrighteous.
ii.10-14 The " kingdom of Jerusalem," which was to have been given to Israel shall be given to another nation.
ii.15-32 The Church, personified like Jerusalem, is bidden to be of good cheer.
God's promises to the Church.
It seems probable that the whole of this section is of Christian origin.
ii.33-41 Ezra's message to Israel is rejected;
he turns to the Gentiles, to whom everlasting life is promised if they will hearken and understand.
The Church, spoken of as Sion, is told that the number of her children is fulfilled.
Another Christian section.
ii.42-48 Ezra's vision of the Son of God;
also of Christian origin.

The " Apocalypse of Ezra," which begins with chap.iii, consists of five visions, to which are added two other independent ones.

iii.1-v.19 The First Vision.
The main purport of this vision is the problem of the desolation of Sion and the prosperity of Babylon.
How God permit this?
The Seer's argument with the archangel Uriel;.
In reply to the questions put by the former, the archangel gives explanation consisting of three theses:
man cannot apprehend the ways of God;
the age to come will see all the incongruities of the present world-order set right;
a condition of the dawning of the age to come is that the predestined number of the righteous shall be fulfilled.
The vision ends with a description of the signs which will herald the end of the present world-order, and the approach of the new age.
v.20-vi.34 The Second Vision.
The problem of oppression of God's chosen people, together with the archangel's reply that man cannot understand the ways of God, is repeated in this vision.
A further question is raised regarding the lot of those who die before the present world-order has passed away.
In reply, the archangel says that their lot will be similar to that of those who are still living, -
a reply which is no answer to the question.
This vision closes, like the previous one, with a description of the signs of the end.
vi.35-ix.25: The Third Vision.
The two main theses of this long drawn-out section are, the question of the small number of those who will be finally saved, and a description of the judgement, and the fate of the righteous and the wicked, respectively.
ix.26-x.59 Thereupon the vision is explained:
the woman is the heavenly Sion (x.25):
her son is the earthly Jerusalem,
and his death is the destruction of the city.
xi.1-.39 The Fifth Vision.
The Seer sees an eagle rising from the sea.
It has three heads, twelve wings, and eight other smaller wings.
A roaring lion comes from a wood, and denounces the eagle.
By degrees all the wings and heads disappear;
the body of the eagle is then the burned.
In the explanation, which follows, it is said that the eagle is the fourth kingdom, which Daniel saw, and that the lion is the Messiah.
.40-51 Following the vision, it is said that the people, who had been awaiting Ezra's return, come to him and beg him not to leave them.
He promises that he will in due time return to them.

Here the "Ezra Apocalypse" proper ends.

The last two visions are separate pieces (see further the next section).

i.1-58 In the explanation of the vision it is said that the man from the sea is the pre-existent Messiah;
those who came to fight against him are the Gentiles, the peaceful multitude are the ten tribes.
xiv.1-48 The Seventh Vision.
Ezra hears a voice from a bush that tells him that he is to write down all the dreams and their interpretations.
He obeys, and receives inspiration to write by drinking a cup of water that has the colour of fire.
He writes ninety-four books.
He is then commanded to publish twenty-four of the books which he has written
(i.e. the books of the Old Testament);
but the seventy others are to be kept secret, being reserved for the wise among his people;
these probably refer to apocalyptic writings.
xv.1-4 Ezra is commanded to write down what the Lord will tell him.
xv.5-27 Punishment on all men because of their wickedness.
xv.28-33 A vision describing wars in Syria.
xv.34-63 Various historical accounts of wars among the peoples.
xvi.1-17 Denunciations against Babylon, Asia, Egypt, and Syria.
xvi.18-78 A continuation of historical references with denunciations against evildoers;
but the elect shall be saved.



It has already been mentioned, in passing that chaps.i, ii and chaps.xv, xvi are not parts of the central portion, chaps.iii-xiv, but form two independent pieces.

Each of these three component parts must, therefore, be dealt with separately.

(1) Chapters i, ii.

The striking feature about this literary piece is that it contains both Jewish and Christian elements.
Belonging obviously to the former is the genealogy of Ezra, put in the forefront in order to show Ezra's priestly descent.
The denunciation of the people, quite in the prophetic style, together with the historical retrospect (i.13 ff.), is also characteristically Jewish.

On the other hand, a Jew can hardly have written the passage that follows (i.24-40).

There are here various verses reminiscent of the New Testament; e.g.

i.30 is a quotation from Matth.xi.37;
i.32 is based on Matth.xi.34, 35,cp. Luke xi.49, 51;
i.35 compare with Rom.x.14 ff.,
i.39 compare with Matth.viii.11.

ii.7-9 exhibits a somewhat bitter anti-Jewish feeling,
witnessing to a definite rift between Jews and Christians.

The following passages should also be compared:

ii.10, 11 With Matth.xxi.5, Luke xvi.9;
ii.13 With Matth.vii.7, 8, Luke xi.9, 10;
ii.16 With Matth.xxvii.53;
ii.26 with John xvii.11;
ii.41 with Rom.viii.29, 30;
ii.42-48 are strongly reminiscent of various passages in the New Testament Apocalypse.

These do not exhaust the Christian elements; in fact, it almost looks as though the Jewish element formed only a small portion of the whole. 

As to date, while the definitely Jewish portions are earlier, in their present form these chapters may be, approximately, assigned to the second century AD.
Thus, the references to the Gospels would make the very end of the first century AD the earliest possible date.
But the writer shows some knowledge of the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch (e.g. i.40), which would bring the date down to the early part of the second century AD.
has, however, shown conclusively that the writer was acquainted with the Apocalypse of Zephaniah, which would bring the date down to a still later time, viz. after the middle of the second century AD.
So that in its present form this section of our book must be dated after 150AD, but there is no sufficient reason for dating it long after this date.
[See his Introduction (pp. lxxix. f.) to Bensly's The Fourth Book of Ezra (1895).
The Apocalypse of Zephania (fragments of a Coptic version
) was published by Steindorff in Gebhard and Harnack's Texte und Untersuchungen (1899).]

(2) Chapters iii-xiv.

There is much diversity of opinion on the question as to whether these chapters are all from the same writer.
Perhaps the most persuasive advocate of unity of authorship is Violet; he says:

The Ezra Apocalypse is a beautiful little work from one mould (aus einem Guss). ...
The whole book shows the use of the same artistic forms. Characteristic of the entire book is the thoroughly Rabbinic use of the number seven, also of the double seven, the Tessaradeka, and the careful avoidance of the divine name.
Throughout the book one discerns the same pious, struggling soul of one to whom the essence of the matter means everything, the form being of little account.
[Die Apokalypsen des Esra und des Baruch...) p. xliii (1924)]

On the other hand, Kabisch, for example, holds that there was originally a book written under the pseudonym Salathiel, consisting of the main part of our present book.
Into this a redactor worked three smaller apocalypses, together with an historical fragment, under the pseudonym of Ezra.
The whole thus became an Ezra-book.
But the four added pieces are each to be regarded as independent.
[Dos Fierie Buch Esra auf seine Quellen untersucht, p.3, 93 ff. (1889)]

With this Box agrees, in the main: 

The Salathiel-Apocalypse is contained within chaps. iii-x of our book;
while outside of, and independent of, this at least three other independent sources have been used,
viz. the Eagle-Vision (xi. ), the Son of Man Vision (i), and an Ezra-piece (xiv).
(The Ezra-Apocalypse, pp.xxiv.f, (1912))

All authorities are agreed that redactional elements of a minor character are abundant;
others, however, assign a great deal more to redactors (see below iv).
As the views just stated represent the different standpoints of one or other of the great majority of scholars who have written on the book - so far as this particular subject is concerned - it will not be necessary to cite other authors. 

The view here to be presented on this question agrees on the main point with Kabisch and Box;
it will, therefore, be well to state the reasons in favour of diversity of authorship. 

That the Eagle-Vision (xi. ), which is a self-contained piece, can have come from the same hand that wrote the Ezra-Apocalypse (iii-x) is, to begin with, improbable on account of the difference of religious outlook.
The problem of the triumph of wickedness, the soul-struggle, seeking to fathom the ways of God, the despair at the doom of mankind in general - in a word, the yearning to be faithful to God in spite of overwhelming difficulties, which pulsates through the Ezra-Apocalypse, finds no place in the Eagle-Vision.
Yet the whole purport of that vision, until the end is reached, would seem to call for some consideration of the problem of the protracted prosperity and cruelty of the wicked Roman Empire.
The mention of the Roman empire - for all authorities are agreed that the Eagle is a symbol of this - points to a second reason against unity of authorship.
The writer of the Ezra-Apocalypse is, beyond a doubt, permeated with a religious spirit;
how could such a one have penned a vision of such an entirely political character as the Eagle-Vision?
One whose whole outlook was dominated by God-ward thoughts would inevitably have given some signs of his irrepressible bent had he written this vision. 

Further, the writer of the Ezra-Apocalypse is almost wholly concerned with thoughts regarding the world to come;
the present world is transitory, the Seer's gaze is concentrated on the future;
this is his attitude throughout.
But in the Eagle-Vision the writer is wholly concerned with the present world.
The destruction of the eagle, symbolizing Rome, the enemy of God, is not represented as the prelude to the advent of the world to come (contrast, e.g., ix.1-16), but as the condition of a more prosperous time on the earth.

And therefore appear no more, thou eagle,
nor thy horrible wings, nor thy evil little wings,
nor thy cruel heads, nor thy hurtful talons,
nor all thy vain body;
that all the earth may be refreshed, and be eased,
being delivered from thy violence...

(xi.45 f).

Moreover, in the Eagle-Vision it is the Roman power with its ruthless cruelty and oppression that is the cause of all the misery and unhappiness of men.
Quite different in this respect, too, is the outlook of the writer of the Ezra-Apocalypse;
according to him all the evils and the sorrows of this world are due to the wickedness of the human race in general (cp., e.g., vii.[46-48]);
only the abolition of sin can bring happiness.
This difference of outlook is very significant.
Another point of contrast between the two is that the writer of the Ezra-Apocalypse has constantly in mind the individual sinners or righteous, whereas in the Eagle-Vision the Seer thinks always in terms of his nation.
Finally, the role of the Messiah is entirely different as between the two visions.
In the Ezra-Apocalypse there is to be the rule of the Messiah of four hundred years' duration,
i.e. he is an earthly Messiah.
But in the Eagle-Vision the Messiah, symbolized by a lion, will destroy the Roman power, it is true;
he is, nevertheless, a transcendental Messiah,

"the anointed one,
whom the Most High bath kept unto the end"


When all these points are taken into consideration, it must be allowed that it is difficult to believe that these two visions can have come from the same writer.
[For various views regarding the interpretation of the Eagle-Vision,
see the present writer's II Esdras (The Ezra-Apocalypse), pp.144 ff. (1933).]

Coming next to the Vision of the Man from the Sea (i), it will be seen that here, too, there are reasons for regarding it as an independent piece.
In this vision there is a curious mixture of traits indicating adaptations from Babylonian myth and Iranian eschatology.
To deal with these in detail here would take us too far afield;
but it is evident from the explanation of the vision given in verses 21-52 that the writer did not understand various points in the vision, showing that he utilized traditional extraneous material, the origin and meaning of which were not within his ken.
This would not of itself necessarily mean that the writer of the Ezra-Apocalypse was not the author.
For in that vision, too, use is made of extraneous material (ix. 38-x. 4), where again the explanation of the vision (x.40-49) does not tally with all the details of the vision itself.
But the kind of extraneous material used in this Man from the Sea vision is so different from anything occurring in the Ezra-Apocalypse that it strikes one as very improbable for both visions to have come from the same writer.
A quite convincing argument, however, for difference of authorship is the presentation of the Messiah in the Man from the Sea vision.
He is a pre-existent, heavenly Messiah, not the Davidic Messiah, born into the world.
He appears suddenly, rising out of the sea, a supernatural being, not the Messiah of the Ezra-Apocalypse, who, in due course, dies (vii.27-29).
The way in which the Messiah destroys His enemies is quite different from anything in any other part of the book.

This is so striking that the passage may well be quoted:

"And, lo, as he saw the assault of the multitude that came,
he neither lifted up his head, nor held spear, nor any instrument of war;
But only I saw how that he sent out of his mouth as it had been a flood of fire,
and out of his lips a flaming breath,
and out of his tongue he cast forth sparks of the storm ...
And fell upon the assault of the multitude that was prepared to fight,
and burned them up everyone,
so that, upon a sudden, of an immeasurable multitude nothing was to be perceived,"


It is difficult to believe that the writer of the Ezra-Apocalypse, with his utterly different conception of the Messiah, could have been the author of this very un-Jewish messianic presentation. 

As to the section about Ezra and the holy writings (xiv), there are certain features that are reminiscent of the Ezra-Apocalypse;
such as the pessimistic attitude adopted (verses 10, 20, 21), and reverence for the Law (verses 22, 30, 31);
but other elements point to difference of authorship.
In the Ezra-Apocalypse the Seer reckons himself among the sinners (e.g. viii.31, 32, 49),
but in this section he is represented as different from ordinary men:

"... renounce the life that is corruptible,
and let go from these mortal thoughts,
cast away from thee the burdens of man,
put off now thy weak nature,
and lay aside the thoughts that are most grievous unto thee,"

(verses 13-15).

Further, in the EzraApocalypse Ezra's future is veiled in darkness
(iv.41-52, in this last verse it is said:

"as touching thy life I am not sent to show thee, for I do not know it)";

but in this section it is said of him:

"thou shalt be taken away from men,
and from henceforth thou shalt remain with my Son,
and with such as be like thee"
(verse 9).

Such divergent views are unlikely to have been set forth by the same writer.

It is also worth noting that in spite of the writer's reverence for the Law,
he regards it as worthy of less honour than the apocalypse (verse 46) ;
this is very unlike anything found in the Ezra-Apocalypse.

And, finally, the Messianic conception in the two writings is different;
we have seen how the Messiah is conceived of in the Ezra-Apocalypse,
but here he only appears at the end of the times (verse 9). 

As these four literary pieces are, according to the view here held, of different authorship,
their respective dates must be considered separately. 

The date of the Ezra-Apocalypse (iii-x) is given at the opening (iii.1):

"the thirtieth year after the ruin of the City" (cp. iii.29);

the mention of Salathiel (= Ezra) and Babylon shows that this purports to be the thirtieth year after the fall of Jerusalem in 586BC, i.e. 556BC.
Almost all modern commentators, however, are convinced that this apocalypse was written centuries later;
Box well expresses this consensus of opinion in saying that there is every reason to suppose that this apocalypse was intended by its author to bear a typical and allegorical significance.
Salathiel, living in captivity thirty years after the first destruction of Jerusalem (in 586BC) speaks to a later generation that finds itself in similar circumstances.
We are, therefore, justified in concluding that the date, like other features in S ( = Salathiel Apocalypse) was intended to bear a typical significance, and that it typifies the thirtieth year after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, i.e. the year 100AD.
Consequently S may be regarded as having been originally written and put forth in 100AD. 

With this we are in entire agreement.
But inasmuch as, in the most recent discussion of the date of this apocalypse, the writer argues in favour of a 556BC date, it will be well to consider first the arguments for such an early date. 

Kaminka contends for this early date for the following reasons:
He begins by stating that the grounds for the generally accepted late date are, first, the complicated interpretation of the Eagle-Vision.
And, secondly, the supposition that the deep grief over the destruction of the Temple is in reference to the second Temple, so that by "Babylon" (iii.1, 2) Rome is to be understood.
[Beitriike zur Erklarung der Esra-Apocalypse(1934)]

But Kaminka makes no mention of the two most convincing arguments for the late date,
namely the doctrinal standpoint and the eschatology of the book,
both of which would be quite unthinkable in the sixth century BC.
To go into details would be impossible here, for that would take us too far afield;
but the words of another Jewish scholar are worth quoting:

Not only did the writer belong to the scribal party in Jabne, but he also stood in close personal touch with it.
Indeed, we must look upon him as a pupil of one of the most outstanding teachers of that circle, namely Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrkanos, the influence of whose spirit and teaching is to be discerned in so many passages of our book.
[F. Rosenthal, Vier Apocryphische Bacher aus der Zeit und Schule Akibas, pp. 70 f (1885)]

As Violet rightly points out, the problem which occupies the Seer throughout, and which finds expression at the outset (iii.3 ff.), was just the problem with which the Rabbis of the first century AD were occupied. [See, e.g., Box, op. cit., pp. xxxiv ff.] 

Kaminka's contention that the great grief expressed over the fall of the Temple cannot apply to the second Temple because there was no general or overwhelming grief over the fall of the second Temple, is far from convincing.
He quotes Jochanan ben Zakkai and one of his pupils to show that the destruction of the Temple and the cessation of the sacrifices were not regarded as a great calamity.
But against this we may quote a prayer of Akiba, in which the yearning for the rebuilding of the city and for the restoration of the sacrifices, certainly points to anything but indifference:

"Grant, O Yahweh, our God and Lord of our fathers,
that we may rejoice again at the festivals,
and delight in the building of Thy city,
and be full of joy at Thy sacrifices.
Then shall we eat of the Passover lambs and of the burnt offerings,
whose blood sprinkled the side of Thine Altar.
We will thank Thee for our redemption with a new song.
Praised art Thou, Yahweh, who redeemest Israel."

[In the Midrash Pesikta, x.6.
With this may be compared, too, the seventeenth Benediction of the ancient synagogal prayer, Shemoneh 'Esreh.

"Accept O Lord our God, Thy people Israel and their prayer;
restore the service to the oracle of Thy house;
receive in love and favour both the fire-offerings of Israel and their prayer;
and may the service of Thy people be ever acceptable unto Thee."

Kaminka argues, further, that the way in which Babylon's living in prosperity and Jerusalem's lying waste (iii.2) are expressed would be too weak and inadequate if the mighty Roman Empire were meant.
Also, that one writing during the Roman period could not have written about Babylon and Sion as he does in iii.30, 31, when it was well known that Babylon had been punished, and that there could be no mourning over the loss of the ark (x.22) in Roman times.
And, once more, the primitive conception of the writer concerning the earth's surface, to which he assigns one-seventh to water (vi. 42, 47) points to a time before Herodotus (BC 484-425). Finally, Kaminka urges that the usual expression for God in the book, Altissimus, the Most High (= ὕψιστος - hupsistos, עֶלְיוֹן), is used only in the ancient poetical writings, especially the Psalms.
And that the classical Hebrew style in which the book was originally written is comprehensible only of a writer who knew the historical and poetical books of pre-exilic times (on this see further below, v).

("For I have seen how Thou sufferest them sinning,
and hast spared the ungodly doers,
and hast destroyed thy people and hast preserved thine enemies ...
are the deeds of Babylon better than those of Sion?"

[One would have thought that the deduction drawn from this would be precisely the opposite to that drawn by Kaminka] 

 We have given Kaminka's arguments for an early date in some detail because it is the only attempt in modern times that has been made.
They strike us as entirely unconvincing;
but to refute them would take up too much space here.
We regret that Kaminka does not explain why an authentic book belonging to the sixth century BC,
and written in classical Hebrew, was not received into the Canon. 

The date of the Eagle-Vision (xi. ) is not difficult to indicate within certain limits;
but an exact date is more problematical as it depends upon the interpretation of some of the details in the vision.
The eagle obviously symbolizes the Roman Empire, and indications in the vision point to some time during the reign of Domitian, i.e. before 96AD;
some would date it 90AD,
and others slightly earlier, during the reign of Vespasian (69-79AD).' 

The Vision of the Man from the Sea (i) is, in all probability, slightly earlier.
As in verses 38-40 it is said that the nations shall be destroyed, but that the ten tribes shall be gathered together to their own land, the two tribes are in Palestine.
This, as Box, following Kabisch, points out, "implies a historical situation for the interpretation of the vision before 70AD, when the nation (= the two tribes) is in peaceful possession of Palestine.
After 70AD the situation of the two tribes is always represented as that of the exile (a Babylonian exile)."
How long before this year the Seer wrote his vision cannot be said with certainty.
Possibly towards the end of 66AD, when, after the outbreak of the War, the Jews had gained some initial successes, the writer may have written this vision in the belief of coming victory through divine help. 

The content of Chap.xiv suggests its date;
as it deals with the inspiration both of the Canonical Scriptures and of the Apocalypses, it is likely to have been written during the period when the question of the Canon was being discussed.
This would be some time between about 100AD and 120AD.

(3) Chapters xv, xvi.

These chapters may, with some confidence, be assigned to a time between 240AD and 270AD.
The subject-matter of these chapters is not of sufficient importance to require a detailed examination of the reasons for assuming this date."


The question of redactional elements in the book is of some importance, and there are considerable differences of opinion on the subject. It merits, therefore, some little discussion. 

At the beginning of the apocalypse we are confronted with a somewhat curious phrase which is the first point demanding attention.
In iii.1 the writer speaks of himself as:

"I Salathiel who am also Ezra" (Ego Salathiel qui et Ezras);

these words have naturally occasioned a good deal of discussion.
It is held by some that "who am also Ezra" is a redactor's addition.
The name of Ezra occurs in other parts of the book (i.1, ii.10, 42, xiv.1).
The compiler who gathered together the component parts may have added these words, or possibly a later redactor, reading the book in its present form (though probably without chaps. xv, xvi), put them in.
In either case the object would have been to indicate that the whole was the work of Ezra.
According to this view, the words should be deleted,
and instead of speaking of an "Ezra-Apocalypse,"
this should be called the "Salathiel-Apocalypse."
[It may be noted, however, that one of the Arabic Versions reads:
"I Ezra, called Shealtiel" (Violet, op. cit., p. 3).
See further, James, op. cit., p.xxv.]

James, however, accounts for what may appear to be an addition in a different way:
"I believe I have found evidence," he writes,
"to show that there was a Jewish tradition that identified Esdras with Salathiel independently of this book.
Epiphanius (On the Twelve Gems) speaks of an 'Esdras the priest - not that Esdras who was called Salathiel, whose father was Zorobabel, which Zorobabel was son to Jechonias.'
Epiphanius - who is wrong, by the way - in his genealogy, nowhere shows any knowledge of IV Esdras.
It is evident from what he says, and from other sources, that the name Esdras was supposed to have been that of several persons.
Authority definitely states that Esdras the prophet, the author of IV Esdras, and Esdras the scribe, the author of the canonical Ezra, lived about 100 years apart.
Also IV Esdras is dated, in its opening words, in the thirtieth year after the ruin of the city,
whereas Ezra the scribe belongs to the middle of the next century.
[His date is now held by many modern scholars to be about half a century later.]
The equation of Salathiel with Esdras is based, I believe, upon I Chron. iii.17, where we read, and the son of Jeconiah, Assir, Salathiel, his son.
And Assir, in despite of phonetic laws, was thought to be, or was forcibly assimilated to, Ezra;
Assir and Salathiel being taken as two names for one man."
Rosenthal refers to Sanhedrin 37 b (Bab. Talmud), where Assir (= " prisoner ") is identified with Shealtiel on account of his having been born in captivity.
[The text of this verse is uncertain; the Masoretic text has:
And the sons of Jeconiah, Assir, Shealtiel his son";
but another reading is: And the son of Jeconiah, Assir, Shealtiel ":
the Septuagint reads: "And the sons of Jeconiah, Assir, Salathiel his son."]

James' explanation would, at any rate, dispose of the theory of a " Salathiel-Apocalypse," for the existence of which there is otherwise no evidence.
Thus, the words, "who am also Ezra" are not necessarily due to a redactor. 

We come next to consider four eschatological passages (iv.52-v.13; vi.11-29; vii.26-44; viii.63-ix.12), which are held by some scholars to be a redactor's additions.
With the exception of the first, these passages read perfectly smoothly in their contexts,
and do not give the impression of being insertions;
iv.52-v.13a does, it is true, come in somewhat awkwardly,
but apocalyptic writers are frequently loose and unconventional in their style, according to modem ideas.
Kabisch, followed by Box, regards all these passages as not belonging to the original book, but as having been added later by a redactor;
the reasons given by Box for this contention are elaborately set forth, but they do not carry conviction.
The signs of the end described in these passages are just what one would expect from an apocalyptic writer;
if they contain inconsistencies, or if they are inconsistent with other parts of the same writing that is only what is found again and again in the apocalyptic literature.
To assign these passages to a redactor is, therefore, we hold, unjustified. 

A number of other passages are undoubtedly to be assigned to the hand of a redactor;
but, as in the case of the canonical books, there is always some compelling reason for regarding them as redactional elements.


As early as the beginning of the last century, Bret-Schneider contended for a Hebrew original of our book.
Half a century later, Ewald likewise expressed his belief in this.
But the idea was considered to be out of the question by Volkmar - though he allowed that the writer thought in Hebrew - and by Hilgenfeld, both maintaining that Greek was the original language.
Later, however, both Wellhausen and Gunkel made it quite evident that Hebrew was the language in which it was originally written.
This was further developed by Violet, and Box has given a number of illustrations to prove this.
More recently still, Kaminka has given many examples to prove a Hebrew original, and has shown how difficult passages owe their obscurity to an initial misunderstanding of the Hebrew text.
He maintains, moreover, that the original was written in classical Hebrew in the style and language of the great prophets of the eighth century BC;
he is, however, careful to add that it is doubtful whether this applies to the whole of chaps. iii-xiv.
In attempting to translate the whole of these chapters back into Hebrew he finds that there are some parts which do not lend themselves to this;
especially in chaps. xi-i he notices many passages which strike him as un-Hebraic, and he gives examples to show this. 

Thus there can be no shadow of doubt as to the original language of the bulk of the book, though chaps. xi-i, and probably certain passages in other parts of the book, may have been originally written in Greek.


The widespread popularity, which our book must at one time have enjoyed, is shown by the large number of versions in which it has come down to us.
Of the original Hebrew text nothing has survived, unless some of the quotations in Rabbinical literature cited by Rosenthal contain traces of this.
Similarly with regard to the Greek version;
three direct quotations occur in early Church writings, and also some reminiscences, which are not actual quotations.
But otherwise no traces of this version have been preserved.
[A fragment of another part of our book (xv.57-59) in Greek was discovered by Hunt.] 

All the other versions are derived from the Greek.

This is "the parent of the vast majority of extant copies," which follow it in omitting the long passage vii.36-140 (placed in square brackets in the Revised Version).
[Published in Sabatier's Bibliorum sacrorum latina versiones antiquae, iii (1749)]

Bensly discovered this "Missing Fragment" in a MS in the communal library at Amiens.
[The Missing Fragment of the Fourth Book of Ezra (1875)]

The Other Versions are the Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic (of which there are two), Armenian, and fragments of a Sahidic;
and traces of an old-Georgian Version also exist.


Bretschneider, Das Messiasreich (1806).
Volkmar, " Das vierte Buch Esra," in Handbuch der Einleitung in die Apokryphen,
i.3 ff. (1863).
Ewald, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, vii (1868).
Hilgenfeld, Messias Judaeorum (1869).
Rosenthal, Vier Apocyphische Bacher aus der Zeit und Schule Akibas (1885).
Lupton, in Wace, op. cit., i.71 ff. (1888).
Kabisch, Das Vierte Buch Esra auf seine Quellen untersucht (1889).
Bensly, The Fourth Book of Ezra (1895).
Gunkel, in Kautzsch, op. cit., ii. 331-401 (1900).
Scharer, Geschichte des Volkes Israel ... iii.315-335 (1909).
Violet, Die Esra-Apokalypse : Erster Teil, Die Ueberlieferung (1910).
Violet, Die Apokaypsen des Esra und des Baruch (1924).
Box, The Ezra-Apocalypse (1912); and in Charles, op. cit., ii.542 ff. (1913).
Oesterley, Il Esdras: The Ezra Apocalypse (1933).
Kaminka, Beitrage zur Erkldrung der Esra-Apokalypse und zur Rekonstruktion ihres hebraischen Urtextes (1934)

For details regarding all these Versions see Violet, op. cit., I.i-xliv; II.i-xxxi;
in the first volume all the Versions are printed in parallel columns, the Latin text itself, and German translations of the rest, excepting the Armenian which is given in Latin. See also Box, op. cit., pp. iv-i.