Eternal Hope – Part 25

Eternal Hope – Part 25

Eternal Hope
Part 25


Dating the Pseudepigrapha presents a bit of a conundrum: Most acknowledged scholars tend to be liberal in their critical work. For example, because Daniel prophesizes so accurately the future, these scholars tend to date Daniel around the second century, BC, after the events prophesized by Daniel. They also tend to conclude that biblical writers borrowed from other religions rather than vice versa. Because the Pseudepigrapha uses phrases and language similar to the New Testament, these scholars argue that the literature was mostly written during the years before the coming of Christ; the New Testament writers borrowed from the Pseudepigrapha rather than vice versa.

If the authors of the Pseudepigrapha borrowed from the New Testament, as conservative scholars are wont to conclude, we lose an explanation for where the New Testament received its fully developed eternal hope. The liberal scholars solve this mystery when dating the Pseudepigrapha prior to the time of Christ, which in turns makes much of the New Testament unoriginal. Many, if not most conservative scholars consider the Pseudepigrapha as the fictions of Christians of the second and third centuries. You will see this dilemma as we analyze the various works comprising the Pseudepigrapha.

Irrespective of where you place these writings in the history of Israel, you still face the question of where the Pseudepigrapha writers received the promise of an eternal hope, if they did not borrow from the New Testament writers; either way the problem of the origin of an eternal hope remains unanswered. All we know is, from the Babylonian Exile to the ministry of our Lord, there developed a fully mature theology of an eternal hope, with all of its various components.

Continued Reflections on The Ethiopian Enoch

Charles cuts from Enoch chapters 37 – 70, dates them between 94 – 64 BC, and calls them “Similitudes.” You find in this section a rather startling account of Messiah and His mission. To begin, He is called “Son of Man:” “And from henceforth there shall be nothing corruptible; for that Son of Man has appeared, and has seated himself on the throne of his glory, and all evil shall pass away before his face, and the word of that Son of Man shall go forth and be strong before the Lord of Spirits.”[1] In Him dwells all wisdom and He will bring to light all things: “For he is mighty in all the secrets of righteousness, and unrighteousness shall disappear as a shadow, and have no continuance; because the Elect One standeth before the Lord of Spirits, and his glory is for ever and ever, and his might unto all generations. And in him dwells the spirit of wisdom, and the spirit which gives insight, and the spirit of understanding and of might, and the spirit of those who have fallen asleep in righteousness. And he shall judge the secret things, and none shall be able to utter a lying word before him; for he is the Elect One before the Lord of Spirits according to His good pleasure.”[2]

To Him God delegates all judgment: “And he sat on the throne of his glory, and the sum of judgment was given unto the Son of Man, and he caused the sinners to pass away and be destroyed from off the face of the earth, and those who have led the world astray.”[3] At the judgment He calls all to account: And in those days shall the earth also give back that which has been entrusted to it, and Sheol also shall give back that which it has received, and hell shall give back that which it owes.”[4] “And these measures shall reveal all the secrets of the depths of the earth, and those who have been destroyed by the desert, and those who have been devoured by the beasts, and those who have been devoured by the fish of the sea, that they may return and stay themselves
On the day of the Elect One; for none shall be destroyed before the Lord of Spirits, and none can be destroyed.”[5]

Heaven and earth are transformed and God’s people enjoy the mansions prepared for them: “Then will I cause Mine Elect One to dwell among them. And I will transform the heaven and make it an eternal blessing and light and I will transform the earth and make it a blessing: And I will cause Mine elect ones to dwell upon it: But the sinners and evil-doers shall not set foot thereon.”[6] “And after that I saw all the secrets of the heavens, and how the kingdom is divided, and how the actions of men are weighed in the balance. And there I saw the mansions of the elect and the mansions of the holy, and mine eyes saw there all the sinners being driven from thence which deny the name of the Lord of Spirits, and being dragged off: and they could not abide because of the punishment which proceeds from the Lord of Spirits.”[7]

Thus, this writer portrays Christ very much like the New Testament in general and Revelation in particular: “For wisdom is poured out like water, and glory faileth not before him for evermore. For he is mighty in all the secrets of righteousness, and unrighteousness shall disappear as a shadow, and have no continuance; because the Elect One standeth before the Lord of Spirits, and his glory is for ever and ever, and his might unto all generations.”[8]

We know that the Epistle of Jude borrowed from Enoch rather than vice versa: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”[9] Jude says he quotes from Enoch: “And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”[10] This, of course, means that Enoch had to predate Jude.

Reflections on The Testament of Abraham

Abraham is ostensibly 995 years old when Michael comes to him with news that he must die. In the beginning Abraham refuses to relinquish his spirit, and when he relents God rewards him with a vision of the world of spirits. In the vision Abraham sees another spirit “weighed in the balance and found wanting,” prays for him, resulting in that spirit entering Paradise.[11] From where did the author get the idea of a Paradise after death? Was he borrowing from the story told by Jesus of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31?

Reflections on The Testament of Job

Sitis, the wife of Job, grieves for her children. In a vision, Job sees their children crowned with heavenly beauty. On hearing this, Sitis dies and joins her children. We see an obvious belief in the eternal, but no date can be set on when the book was written, and no indication that a Christian wrote it.

Reflections on The Sibylline Oracles

Scholars do not know the origin of these oracles. From early times people looked to oracular utterances for divine guidance. The compilation of oracles contained in this work probably covers a period from 160 BC to the fifth century AD, although even this cannot be stated with certainty. During the days of the Maccabean revolt eschatology began to play a prominent role in Jewish thinking. “They testify to the deep-rooted dissatisfaction with the present conditions among the most loyal spirits of the Jews, and the confident hope that the apparent injustice of God’s dealings in the world as shown in the triumph of His enemies, would be righted within no very long time by the vindication of His Divine purpose for men.”[12]

The Sibylline Oracles can be classed as Pagan, Jewish, or Christian. In many cases, however, the Christians merely revised or interpolated the Jewish documents, and thus we have two classes of Christian Oracles, those adopted from Jewish sources and those entirely written by Christians.[13]

“Clement of Alexandria quotes freely from all the Jewish books and even represents St. Paul as appealing to the Sibyl (Strom. Vi), and Celsus (ap. Orig.v, 4) is moved to ridicule by their frequent use in Christian writers … Augustine is aware of the prejudice against them [Sibyl], but in discussing their claims he finds nothing in them pertaining to the worship of false gods and he gravely admits the Sibyl to the number of those who belong to the City of God (de Civ. Dei xviii.23).”[14]

In the last days a comet calls attention to the end: “In the west a star shall shine, which they shall call a comet, a messenger to men of the sword, famine, death, and the destruction of ruling men and great notables.”[15] A war, similar to that described in Revelation 15-16 and 19, destroys the evil, preserving the godly: “And then a wintry blast shall blow throughout the earth, and the plain shall be filled again with cruel war. For fire shall rain on mortal men from the fields of heaven, fire and blood, water, meteor, darkness, heaven’s night, and consumption in war and a mist over the slain shall destroy at once all kings and the best of men. Then at last war’s piteous ruin shall be stopped and no man shall fight any more with swords or steel, nor with javelins either, for these things shall no more be permitted. But the wise people that are left shall have peace, having had trial of evil that later they might rejoice.”[16]

This judgment ushers in a time of blessed peace for the godly: “And then indeed he will raise up his kingdom for all ages over men, he who once gave a holy law to godly men, to all of whom He promised to open out the earth and the world and the portals of the blessed and all joys, and everlasting sense and eternal gladness.”[17] Messiah claims His rightful place as ruler; He establishes what appears to be the New Jerusalem: “For there has come from the plains of heaven a blessed man with the scepter in his hand which God has committed to his clasp: and he has won fair dominion over all and has restored to all the good the wealth which the former men took. And he has destroyed every city from its foundations with sheets of fire, and burnt up the families of men who before wrought evil, and the city which God loved he made more radiant than the stars and the sun and the moon…”[18]


As this literature begins to overlap the Christian era, you can see an increasing emphasis placed on an eschatological hope that includes the individual. But nowhere in any of the Pseudepigrapha do you find a discussion on how God can satisfy His justice in allowing the sinner into heaven. The authors assume those worthy of eternal life live holy lives and thus merit an eternity with God. You don’t find a clear explanation of Jesus’ propitious death until the Pauline epistles.

Grateful for grace,


[1] Ethiopic Enoch 69:29.
[2] Ethiopic Enoch 49:2-4.
[3] Ethiopic Enoch 69:27.
[4] Ethiopic Enoch 51:1.
[5] Ethiopic Enoch 61:5.
[6] Ethiopic Enoch 45:4-5.
[7] Ethiopic Enoch 41:1-2.
[8] Ethiopic Enoch 49:1-2.
[9] Jude 14-15, KJV
[10] Enoch 1:9
[11] The word “paradise” does not appear in the OT, and only three times in the NT: Luke 23:42, 2 Cor. 12:4, and Rev. 2:7.
[12] Op cit, Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. II, page 375
[13] Stravinskas, Peter M. J., Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, “Sibylline Oracles.”
[14] Op cit, Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. II, page 371.
[15] The Sibylline Books, Book III, Lines 334-336
[16] Ibid, Book V, Lines 75-85
[17] Ibid, Book III, Lines 767-771
[18] Ibid, Book V, Lines 414-422