The Apocryphal Old Testament

By H. F. D. Sparks | Go to book overview
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The Vision of Esdras, like The Assumption of Moses, is extant only in Latin; and when G. Mercati published his edition in 1901 he had to rely on a single MS (Vat. lat. 3838; 12th cent.). Seventy years later, by the time O. Wahl came to prepare his edition of all three of the Esdras apocrypha translated in the present collection, a second MS of the Vision had also become available ( Linz, Bibliothek des Priesterseminars A I/6; 10th or 11th cent.). This second MS raised unexpected complications. When a second MS of the Apocalypse of Esdras was discovered, as we have seen,1 the effect was minimal, since the newly discovered MS was no more than a copy of the one already known. Not so with the new MS of the Vision. In the Vision there are several noteworthy divergencies in basic subjectmatter between the two MSS towards the end of the text (additional classes of sinners appear in the LinzMS which are absent from the Vatican): there are continual differences in wording throughout (especially in the order of words, even when the same words are used); and further, whereas in the VaticanMS the narrative refers consistently to Esdras in the third person, in the LinzMS Esdras almost invariably speaks of himself in the first. A specimen will serve to illustrate these last two points:

Vatican MSLinz MS
4Veniebantviri fortissimi 4Veniebantque per se viri magni
et transiebant flammam,et transiebant flammam eius,
5et non tangebat eos. Et dixit 5et non eos tangebat. Et interro
Esdras:gavi angelos, qui me ducebant:
Qui sunt isti, qui tam securiQui sunt isti, qui cum tanto
procedunt?gaudio procedunt?

How are these differences to be accounted for? If the Vision was originally written in Latin, did some later worthy tamper with, or 'improve', the author's text? Or, if Latin was not the original

Above, pp. 928-9.


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