The Apocryphal Old Testament

By H. F. D. Sparks | Go to book overview

THE APOCALYPSE OF SEDRACH

INTRODUCTION

This work is extant only in Greek and was edited by M. R. James from a single MS in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (Bodl. Cod. Misc. gr. 56; 15th cent.), in which it occurs as the final item. The text, even more than the text of the Apocalypse of Esdras, is in many places very corrupt, with the result that the sense is often far from clear: particularly is this so in chap. xi, where Sedrach utters a lamentation over the various members of his body. Moreover, the original opening of the work seems at some stage to have been lost. The text as it now stands in the MS begins with a three-and-ahalf page homily on love, which is obviously a separate piece and in all probability to be attributed to Ephraem Syrus. James printed only the opening and closing sections of this homily, and an abbreviated version of these sections has been included in our translation (chap. i).

The title "The Apocalypse of Sedrach" is due to James. The title in the MS is "The Word of . . . Sedrach", though whether or not this was the author's own title it is impossible to say -- it may well be due to a later editor or scribe. But in any case the work is not an apocalypse as the term 'apocalypse' is usually understood; for, although Sedrach, like St. Paul, is caught up into 'the third heaven' (ii. 4: cp. 2 Cor. xii. 2), no revelation in the strict sense is made to him.1 Instead, there follows a dialogue between Sedrach and God in which Sedrach questions God about His purposes in Creation and God defends himself against any charges of injustice and cruelty in His treatment of man.

The name 'Sedrach' also present a problem. 'Sedrach' appears in the Greek versions of the Book of Daniel as the equivalent of the Hebrew and Aramaic 'Shadrach' -- i.e. it is the recognised Greek form of the name given to Daniel's friend Hananiah by the chief of

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It is also worth noting that, although the title explicitly states that the work is about 'the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ' as well as 'love and repentance and orthodox Christians', there is no mention of the Second Coming in it anywhere.

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