Eternal Hope – Part 19

Eternal Hope – Part 19

Eternal Hope
Part 19


Charles notes that four of the books of the Apocrypha flow from Alexandrian Judaism. “The literary representatives of this phase of Judaism are the Book of Wisdom, the writings of Philo, the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, and 4 Maccabees. All these works are more or less leavened by Greek philosophy. But their writers, however saturated with Greek ideas, remain essentially Jews… The chief fundamental doctrines of Alexandrian Judaism as distinct from Palestinean, are three: (i) The eternity of matter, and its essentially evil nature. From this philosophical dogma it at once follows that there can be no resurrection of the flesh… (ii) In the next place, the doctrine of the soul’s pre-existence is taught, not, however, as it appears in the Platonic philosophy, but in such a way as to be consistent with monotheism… (iii) Souls enter immediately after death on their final award, whether of blessedness or torment.”[1] As we will note later in this series, the Secrets of Enoch is designated 2 Enoch in contradistinction to the older book of Enoch which is designated as 1 Enoch.

Reflection on “Additions to and Completions of the Canonical Books”

1 Baruch – Attributed to the secretary of Jeremiah, Whitehouse concludes that it was probably composed about 78 A.D.[2] “As will be shown in the sequel the tragic events of 597 B.C., which heralded the exile, constitute a thin historic drapery which invest the yet greater tragedy of the Jewish race in A.D. 70. It is now generally accepted by recent critics that Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar represent the persons of Vespasian and Titus… The influence of the book on ecclesiastical Christian literature has been far greater than upon the Jewish.”[3] The early Church Fathers assumed Baruch wrote the book during the time of Jeremiah the prophet. Messianic, apocalyptic, and eschatological ideas are conspicuously absent from the book.

This book of five chapters begins by calling on the exiles in Babylon to send money for an offering to the Temple in Jerusalem, praying for the King of Babylon – that peace may come to Israel. Then Baruch prays for the sins of the nation and finishes giving hope to Israel – much like Isaiah 40-66.

The last two chapters deal with the fulfillment of Israel’s hope. The author reminds the people, “It was not for destruction that you were sold to the nations, but you were handed over to your enemies because you angered God.”[4] God’s anger will not last indefinitely, “For he who brought these calamities upon you will deliver you from the hand of your enemies… My children, endure with patience the wrath that has come upon you from God. Your enemy has overtaken you, but you will soon see their destruction and will tread upon their necks… For he who brought these calamities upon you will bring you everlasting joy with your salvation… Wretched will be the cities which your children served as slaves; wretched will be the city which received your sons. For just as she rejoiced at your fall and was glad for your ruin, so she will be grieved at her own desolation. And I will take away her pride in her great population, and her insolence will be turned to grief. For fire will come upon her from the Everlasting for many days, and for a long time she will be inhabited by demons… Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height and look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east, at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them. For they went forth from you on foot, led away by their enemies; but God will bring them back to you, carried in glory, as on a royal throne. For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God. The woods and every fragrant tree have shaded Israel at God’s command. For God will lead Israel with joy, in the light of his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.”[5] I could find nothing in Baruch of an eternal hope.

Charles identifies two other books by Baruch, but places them in the Pseudepigrapha because they are apocalyptic in nature.

The Epistle of Jeremy – “It is nowhere stated in the body of the letter that Jeremiah wrote it.” One chapter of 73 verses, it is a polemic against idolatry of Babylon. “Not Babylon in its glory, but Babylon in its decay … as Alexander saw it, crumbling slowly away, yet still, in its ruined majesty, preserving enough of its ancient splendor to induce the conqueror of the world to choose it for his future capital and seat of empire.” Jeremy says, ‘So when ye be come unto Babylon, ye shall remain there many years, and for a long season, even for seven generations: and after that I will bring you out peaceably from thence’ (v. 3). Seven generations, allowing forty years to the generation according to OT reckoning, would cover 280 years. If we count from the exile of Jechonias (597 B.C.), this brings us to the year 317 B.C., or counting (as the author may have done) from 586 B.C., the year of the final Captivity, we arrive at 306 B.C., some thirty years after the arrival of Alexander in Babylon.”[6] If Ball is correct, the letter was written about 306 B.C.

I can find no reference to the eternal or an eternal hope in the letter. “Whether it be evil that one doeth unto them, or good, they are not able to recompense it.”[7] This verse refers to the idol’s inability to hold people accountable for their deeds.

Prayer of Manasses – A short penitential Psalm written in Greek, it divides into three parts: vv. 1-7 – An invocation of the Deity, vv. 8-10 – a confession of sin, vv. 11-15 – an entreaty for forgiveness. Evidently the writer draws from the story of the Old Testament King from Judah, Manasses: “Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And he prayed unto Him; and He was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD He was God… Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spoke to him in the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, behold, they are written among the acts of the kings of Israel. His prayer also, and how God was entreated of him, and all his sin and his transgression, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up the Asherim and the graven images, before he humbled himself; behold, they are written in the history of the seers.”[8]

“The record of his idolatry and of his persecution of the servants of Jehovah had stamped his name with infamy in the annals of Judah. But side by side with his wickedness were commemorated the unusual length of the king’s reign and the quiet peacefulness of his end… Henceforth his name was associated by Jewish tradition not only with the grossest acts of idolatry ever perpetrated by a king of Judah, but also with the most famous instance of Divine forgiveness towards a repentant sinner.”[9]

In Manasses’ prayer, he said, “Therefore thou, O Lord, God of the righteous, hast not appointed repentance for the righteous, for Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, who did not sin against thee, but thou hast appointed repentance for me, who am a sinner.” [10] Evidently, God appoints repentance for some and not for others. In this prayer I find no reference to an eternal hope.

Reflections on Additions to Daniel

The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Children – Sometimes known as the “First Addition” to the canonical Book of Daniel, it contains 68 verses divided into four parts: vv. 1-2 – introduction, vv. 3-22 – the prayer of Azariah, one of the ‘Three Children’ thrown into the fiery furnace, vv. 23-27 – the heating of the furnace and the salvation of the children by an angel of the Lord, vv. 28-68 – Song of Praise of the three children. Bennett places its composition in the first century, B.C.[11]

I found no reference to the eternal or an eternal hope.

Susanna – Consists of one chapter of 64 verses. “Two elders are made judges in a Jewish community. One evening they see a Jewess walking in her husband’s garden, and both become enamored of her. Next morning they detect each other near the garden, acknowledge to each other their passion, agree to accost the woman, and are repulsed with scorn. To protect themselves they must accuse the woman; they betake themselves to the synagogue of the city and issue a summons to Susanna. She appears with her household, and is ordered to be unveiled. The elders appear as witnesses before the assembled people. They aver that while they were walking in her husband’s garden, they detected the woman in company with a youth who escaped. Being arrested she refused to tell who her paramour was. The official standing of the elders leads the whole synagogue to believe the evidence and to condemn Susanna.
“On her way to execution, a youth (Daniel) questions the verdict, reopens the trial, and examines the two elders separately. The one says the crime took place under a mastick tree; the other says under a holm tree. The contradiction condemns both. The synagogue applauds the young man because he had proved them to be false witnesses. ‘And as the Law prescribes, they did unto them as they had wickedly devised against their sister.’ The elders are gagged, cast into a ravine, and destroyed by fire from heaven.
“The story of Susanna is a parable intended to illustrates the value and necessity of cross-examination of witnesses. It also seeks to vindicate the execution of false witnesses, although their victim may be delivered before his sentence was carried out. The story is a product of the Pharisaic controversy with the Sadducees in the later years of Alexander Jannaeus, c. 95-80 B.C.”[12] I found no reference to the eternal.

Bel and the Dragon – This book contains one chapter of 42 verses, giving us two stories of Daniel’s experience with the Dragon in Babylon: vv. 1-22 and vv. 23-42. In the first, Daniel contests the belief that the idol eats the food set before him. When challenged, Daniel has the king place the food before the idol and lock the temple. Surreptitiously, Daniel sprinkles ash on the floor. The next day they find the food gone, but the footprints lead to a secret door of the priests. Thus, the plot is exposed and the priests are killed. In the second story, because Daniel refuses to worship the idol, he is cast into a den of lions. Habakkuk, sent by God, feeds Daniel. When the king finds Daniel alive, he worships God and casts Daniel’s adversaries into the lion’s den.

“Bel and the Dragon forms the third of the Apocryphal Additions to Daniel… The other two Additions are the Song of the Three Children and Susanna. In the Greek and Latin texts the three Additions to Daniel constitute an integral part of the canonical Book of Daniel, and were recognized as such, and therefore are themselves canonical, by the Council of Trent… The meaning of the word ‘dragon’ denotes originally a large serpent.

“There is no allusion to any distinctively Jewish beliefs or practices. The law is not mentioned nor is the existence of a Divine revelation to man implied. The tract is silent as to sacrifice and temple, and even as regards priesthood.”[13] I could find no reference to the eternal or an eternal hope.


We need to explore one more book from the Apocrypha. Because we are out of space, we will look at it in the next issue.

In Christ,

Grateful for Redemption,


[1] Charles, R.H., A critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity, Adam and Charles Black, London, 1899, pp. 251-253
[2] Op cit, Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Whitehouse, vol. I, p. 576
[3] Ibid, pp. 569, 580
[4] Baruch 4:6
[5] Baruch 4:18, 25, 29, 32-35, 5:5-9
[6] Op cit., Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Ball, vol. I, p.596
[7] Epistle of Jeremy 34
[8] 2 Chronicles 33:11-13, 18-19, JPS
[9] Op cit., Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Ryle, vol. I, p. 612
[10] Prayer of Manasses 8
[11] Op cit., Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Bennett, vol. I, p. 629
[12] Op cit., Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Kay, vol. I, p. 638
[13] Op cit., Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Witton, Davies, vol. I, pp. 652-53, 657