In This Article 2 Baruch

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Bibliographies
  • Text Editions
  • Translations
  • Commentaries and Monographs
  • Date of Composition
  • Baruch, Scribe of Jeremiah, and Pseudonymous Attribution
  • The Fall of Jerusalem in 70 ce
  • The Epistle of Baruch in 2 Baruch
  • Wisdom and the Apocalypse
  • Two Baruch and Jewish Literature
  • The Relationship of 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra
  • Common Themes in 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra
  • The Messiah
  • Two Baruch: A Christian Text?
  • Resurrection
  • The Reception History of 2 Baruch and the Manuscript Traditions

Biblical Studies 2 Baruch
by
Matthias Henze
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 August 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0202

Introduction

The Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch is a Jewish work of the late lst century CE. It is also called 2 Baruch to distinguish it from the apocryphal Book of Baruch, or the First Book of Baruch. Even thought 2 Baruch is set during the aftermath of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in the 6th century BCE, it was actually written following the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 CE. The book’s protagonist is Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe and supporter. Scarcely developed as a figure in the Bible, Baruch is here transformed and has become a prophet in his own right, the successor to the biblical Jeremiah, who carries the message of Jeremiah further. Two Baruch presents itself as a sequel to the book of Jeremiah. Much of the language and theology that is distinctly Jeremianic reappears in 2 Baruch. The work is structured around a long dialogue between God and Baruch about the meaning of the destruction of Jerusalem. Embedded in the dialogue are a number of subgenres: laments, public declarations, symbolic dream visions, and an epistle to the exiles in the last ten chapters of the book. The actual author of 2 Baruch is unknown. Deeply affected by the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple, the author seeks in writing the book to develop an apocalyptic program for post-70 CE Judaism, broadly conceived. At the center of this program stands the promise of the imminent arrival of a new age. The damage inflicted by the Romans is so monumental that healing can come about only by means of divine intervention. God will soon break in and bring about a new reality. In the meantime, the author calls on the readers to be obedient to the Torah, much like Moses had called on Israel to follow the commandments long before Baruch, so that Israel gains entry into the promised world. Two Baruch combines the Deuteronomic call to choose life with the promise of life in the world to come.

Introductory Works

Since 2 Baruch is not part of the Western biblical canons, it is typically not covered by the standard introductions to, and textbooks on, the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Introductions to 2 Baruch are found in the handbooks on Jewish apocalyptic literature as well as in the introductions to early Jewish literature in general. Collins 1998 remains the standard introduction to apocalyptic literature, while Nickelsburg 2005 is somewhat broader in scope and covers early Jewish literature in general. Denis 2000 is more detailed but less helpful to gain an overview. Vriezen and van der Woude 2005; Gurtner, et al. 2007; and Henze 2010 offer very brief introductions.

  • Collins, John J. The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature. 2d ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.

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    A concise, authoritative introduction to Jewish apocalyptic literature. The discussion of 2 Baruch (pp. 212–225) follows the section on 4 Ezra. Collins discusses the structure of 2 Baruch, goes through its main sections, and ends with a discussion of what he calls “covenant theology.” Ideally suited for undergraduate and graduate students. An updated edition of this volume is forthcoming.

  • Denis, Albert-Marie O. P. Introduction à la littérature religieuse judéo-hellénistique. Vol. 1, Pseudépigraphes de l’Ancien Testament. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2000.

    E-mail Citation »

    A detailed introduction, with extensive bibliography in the notes (pp. 719–747). It covers the structure of 2 Baruch, its textual witnesses, date of composition, and relationship with 4 Ezra and other early Jewish writings. Unfortunately, the entries in this otherwise extremely useful volume suffer from a lack of structure and clear outline, which makes them difficult to use and less ideal for a first orientation. For advanced scholars only. In French.

  • Gurtner, Daniel M., David M. Miller, and Ian W. Scott, eds. “2 Baruch.” Edition 2.0. In The Online Critical Pseudepigrapha. Edited by Ian W. Scott, Ken M. Penner, and David M. Miller. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007.

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    A general introduction, with an emphasis on the date of composition and the textual transmission. Includes a brief bibliography at the end.

  • Henze, Matthias. “2 Baruch.” In The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism. Edited by John J. Collins and Daniel C. Harlow, 426–428. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010.

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    A concise introduction to 2 Baruch, its basic content and structure, date, place in early Judaism, and significance.

  • Nickelsburg, George W. E. Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah: Second Edition. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005.

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    This work remains the standard introduction to the so-called inter-testamental literature. The section on 2 Baruch (pp. 277–283) provides a most helpful summary and concise interpretation of the book. The book bristles with ingenious exegetical insights. Concludes with an original discussion of the relationship between 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch (pp. 283–285). Scholarly, yet immediately accessible. Ideally suited for students of all levels and also for scholars.

  • Vriezen, Theodoor Christiaan, and A. S. van der Woude. Ancient Israelite and Early Jewish Literature. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2005.

    E-mail Citation »

    A concise, yet helpful general introduction to 2 Baruch.

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