- 4 Ezra 3-14 (PDF)
- Himmelfarb, pp. 55-73 in Apocalypse: A Brief History
Introduction: Settings and Context
- Narrative setting: 30 years after the destruction of the first temple (3:1)
- Composition setting: 30 years after the destruction of the second temple
- Earlier literature attributed to Ezra: Ezra-Nehemiah
- What are the implications of developing a comparison between the destruction of the first temple and the destruction of the second temple?
Eschatological events and sequence
- Creation and new creation
- Urzeit and Endzeit
- 6:38-59, rewritten Genesis
- Pervasive references to creation and Adam
- 9:5, For just as with everything that has occurred in the world, the beginning is evident, and the end manifest.
- 4:34-37, Do not be in a greater hurry than the Most High. You, indeed, are in a hurry for yourself, but the Highest is in a hurry on behalf of many.
- 4:45-50, Whether more time is to come than has passed, or whether for us the greater part has gone by?
- 5:1-13; 14:16, (It will get worse before it gets better) For evils worse than those that you have now seen happen shall take place hereafter.
For the weaker the world becomes through old age, the more shall evils be increased upon its inhabitants.
- Isaiah 11:1 But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
2 The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
3 and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide,
4 But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide fairly for the land's afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
5 Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
- 13:1, After seven days I dreamed a dream in the night.
2 And lo, a wind arose from the sea and stirred up all its waves.
3 As I kept looking the wind made something like the figure of a man come up out of the heart of the sea.
And I saw that this man flew with the clouds of heaven; and wherever he turned his face to look, everything under his gaze trembled,
4 and whenever his voice issued from his mouth, all who heard his voice melted as wax melts when it feels the fire.
5 After this I looked and saw that an innumerable multitude of people were gathered together from the four winds of heaven to make war against the man who came up out of the sea.
6 And I looked and saw that he carved out for himself a great mountain, and flew up on to it.
7 And I tried to see the region or place from which the mountain was carved, but I could not.
8 After this I looked and saw that all who had gathered together against him, to wage war with him, were filled with fear, and yet they dared to fight.
9 When he saw the onrush of the approaching multitude, he neither lifted his hand nor held a spear or any weapon of war;
10 but I saw only how he sent forth from his mouth something like a stream of fire, and from his lips a flaming breath, and from his tongue he shot forth a storm of sparks.
11 All these were mingled together, the stream of fire and the flaming breath and the great storm, and fell on the onrushing multitude that was prepared to fight, and burned up all of them,
so that suddenly nothing was seen of the innumerable multitude but only the dust of ashes and the smell of smoke. When I saw it, I was amazed.
12 After this I saw the same man come down from the mountain and call to himself another multitude that was peaceable.
13 Then many people came to him, some of whom were joyful and some sorrowful; some of them were bound, and some were bringing others as offerings.
- Compare the War Scroll
- Compare Daniel 7
- 12:33-34, First he will bring them alive before his judgment seat, and when he has reproved them, then he will destroy them.
But in mercy he will set free the remnant of my people... and he will make them joyful until the end comes, the day of judgment.
- Destruction and restoration
- 7:30, Then the world shall be turned back to primeval silence for seven days, as it was at the first beginnings, so that no one shall be left.
- 7:33-34, Compassion shall pass away... only judgment shall remain
- Ratio of saved to damned
- 7:47, The world to come will bring delight to few, but torments to many
- 8:1, The Most High made this world for the sake of many, but the world to come for the sake of only a few.
2 But I tell you a parable, Ezra.
Just as, when you ask the earth, it will tell you that it provides a large amount of clay from which earthenware is made, but only a little dust from which gold comes, so is the course of the present world.
3 Many have been created, but only a few shall be saved.
- 9:15, There are more who perish than those who will be saved,
16 as a wave is greater than a drop of water.
- 7:28, My son the Messiah shall be revealed
- 13:32, Then my son will be revealed
- 12:32, This is the Messiah whom the Most High has kept until the end of days, who will arise from the offspring of David
- 4:39, Is it perhaps on account of us that the time of threshing is delayed?
Literal violence, figurative violence, and pacifism
- See above, Messianic battle
- Consider in wake of the revolt of 66-73 CE
- 7:102-106, Whether on the day of judgment the righteous will be able to intercede for the ungodly
Criteria of judgment and implications for life before the end
- 7:21, For the Lord strictly commanded those who came into the world, when they came, what they should do to live, and what they should observe to avoid punishment.
22 Nevertheless they were not obedient, and spoke against him; they devised for themselves vain thoughts,
23 and proposed to themselves wicked frauds; they even declared that the Most High does not exist, and they ignored his ways.
24 They scorned his law, and denied his covenants; they have been unfaithful to his statutes, and have not performed his works.
- 7:88-99, the seven orders
- 13:49, Those who are left of your people, who are found within my holy borders, shall be saved.
Body-soul dualism (7:75, 88)
- 7:75-87, Whether after death, as soon as everyone of us yields up the soul, we shall be kept in rest until those times come when you will renew the creation, or whether we shall be tormented at once?
- 7:101, They shall have freedom for seven days, so that during these seven days they may see the things of which you have been told, and afterwards they shall be gathered in their habitations.
Resurrection of the body
- 7:32-33, The earth shall give up those who are asleep in it, and the dust those who rest there in silence; and the chambers shall give up the souls that have been committed to them.
- 7:36, The pit of torment shall appear, and opposite it shall be the place of rest; and the furnace of hell shall be disclosed, and opposite it the paradise of delight.
37 Then the Most High will say to the nations that have been raised from the dead, ‘Look now, and understand whom you have denied, whom you have not served, whose commandments you have despised.
38 Look on this side and on that; here are delight and rest, and there are fire and torments.’ Thus he will speak to them on the day of judgment.
- 7:97, They are to be made like the light of the stars, being incorruptible from then on.
Continuities and discontinuities with other sources we read
Themes less central to eschatology
- Canon formation and concepts of canon
- Mysticism, visions, and ecstatic experience
- Predestination and predeterminism
- Literary features: character development, overarching plot, gender
Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990.
“Ezra, Apocalypse of,”
in Encyclopedia Judaica.
Detroit: Macmillan, 2007.
Karina Martin Hogan,
Theologies in Conflict in 4 Ezra: Wisdom, Debate, and Apocalyptic Solution.
Leiden: Brill 2008.
Losing the Temple and Recovering the Future: An Analysis of 4 Ezra.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.