Esdras, Second Book of
Esdras, Second Book Of, i.e., the second in the order of the apocryphal books as given in the English translations of the Bible, which follow the Zurich Bible.
I. Title and Position. — The original designation of this book, by which it is appropriately called in the Greek Church, is Α᾿ποκάλυψις Ε᾿σδρᾶ or προφητεία Ε᾿σδρᾶ, the Revelation or prophecy of Ezra (comp. Nicephorus, apud Fabric. Cod. Pseud. V.T. 2:176; Cod. Apocr. N.T. 1:951 sq.; Montfaucon, Biblioth. Coislin. page 194). The designation "1 Ezra," which it has in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, arises from the fact that it was placed before the canonical Ezra because it begins a little earlier (i.e., B.C. 558) than the Hebrew Ezra. It is called "2 Ezra" in the Latin version because it follows the canonical books Ezra and Nehemiah, which were together styled the first Ezra, and it is still more generally denominated "4 Ezra," a name given to it by St. Jerome (comp. Praef. in Esdr. et Nechen.), because it is in most of the Latin MSS. the fourth of the books which go by the name of Ezra, and which are placed in the following order: 1 Ezra, i.e. the canonical Ezra; 2 Ezra, i.e., Nehemiah; 3 Ezra, i.e., 1 apocryphal Ezra; and 4 Ezra, i.e., this book. The name "4 Ezra" is retained by Luther, the Zurich Bible, Coverdale, Matthew's Bible, Cranmer's Bible, the Bishops' Bible, and in the 6th article of the Church of England (1571). The name "2 Esdras," given to it in the A.V., is taken from the Geneva Bible, and is the title given to it by the author himself (2 Esdr. 1:1). This book, like the former one, is placed at the end of the Vulgate in the Sixtine and Clementine editions, because it has been excluded from the Canon by the Council of Trent.
II. Design and Plan. — The object of this book was to comfort the chosen people of God who were suffering under the grinding oppression of the heathen, by assuring them that the Lord has appointed a time of deliverance when the oppressors shall be judged, and the ten tribes of Israel, in union with their brethren, shall return to the Holy Land to enjoy a glorious kingdom which shall be established in the days of the Messiah.
This is gradually developed in an introduction, and Seven angelic revelations, or visions, in which Ezra is instructed in the mysteries of the moral world, as follows:
1. Introduction (3:1-36, A.V.; or 1:1-36, Ethiopic Vers.). — When on his couch in Babylon, in the 30th year after the destruction of Jerusalem (B.C. 558), mourning over the deplorable fate of his brethren (verses 1-3), and recounting the dealings of God with mankind generally (verses 4-12), and with his chosen people in particular, in consequence of their sinful nature inherited from Adam (verses 13-22), for which the Temple was destroyed and the city delivered into the hands of Gentiles (verses 23-27), Ezra asked God why the heathen sinners of Babylon are spared, whilst the people of his covenant are so unsparingly punished (verses 28-36)?
2. First Revelation (4:50-5:15, A.V.; 2:1-3:23, Eth.). — In answer to this, the angel Uriel is sent, who, after censuring the presumptuousness of a short-sighted man in trying to fathom the unsearchable dealings of the Most High, when he cannot understand the things below (verses 1-21), and after Ezra's earnest reiteration of the question (verses 22-25), says that sin has not yet reached its climax (verses 26-31), enumerates the signs whereby the fullness of that time will be distinguished, and promises to reveal to him still greater things if he will continue to pray and fast seven days (verses 32-5:15).
3. Second Revelation (5:16-6:34, A.V.; 3:24-4:37, Eth.). — Having fasted seven days according to the command of the angel, and against the advice of the prince of the Jews (verses 16-21), Ezra again appeals to God, asking why he does not punish his sinful people himself rather than give them over to the heathen (verses 22-30)? Uriel, who appears a second time, after referring again to the inscrutable judgments of God (verses 31-56), reveals to Ezra, according to promise, more distinctly what shall be the signs of the latter days, saying that with Esau [the Idumaeans] the present world will terminate, and the world to come will begin with Jacob (6:1-10), whereupon the day of judgment will follow, and be announced by the blast of a trumpet (verses 11-25); Enoch and Elias, the forerunners of the Messiah, shall appear (verse 26), and sin and corruption will be destroyed (verses 27, 28); tells him to be comforted, patient, and resigned, and that he shall hear something more if he will fast again seven days (verses 29- 34).
4. Third Revelation (6:35-9:25, A.V.; 4:38-9:27, Eth.). — The fasting being over, Ezra again appeals to God, to know how it is that his chosen people for whom this wonderful world was created, are deprived of their inheritance (verses 35-59)? Whereupon Uriel appears a third time, tells him that it is because of their sin (7:1-25), describes the death of the Messiah, the resurrection, the judgment, and the things which will-come to pass, concluding with an admonition to Ezra to fast and pray again (verses 26- 9:25).
5. First Vision (9:26-10:59, A.V.; 9:28-10:74, Eth.). — After appealing again to God in behalf of his brethren (verses 26-37), Ezra suddenly saw a woman in the deepest mourning for her only son, who had been born to her after being married thirty years, and who died on the day of his nuptials (verses 38-10:l), and she would not be comforted (verses 2-4). He rebuked her for being so disconsolate about the loss of one son, when Sion was bereaved of all her children (verses 2-14), and recommended her to submit to the dealings of God (verses 15-24); her face speedily shone very brightly, and she disappeared (verses 25-27); whereupon Uriel appeared to Ezra, and told him that the woman is Sion, the thirty years of her barrenness are "the thirty years wherein no sacrifice was offered in her," her first-born is the Temple built by Solomon, his death on the day of his marriage is the destruction of Jerusalem, and the extraordinary brightness of the mother's face is the future glory of Sion (verses 28-59).
6. Second Vision (11:50-12:51, A.V.; 11:50-12:58, Eth.). — Ezra in a dream had a revelation of the latter days under the figure of an eagle coming up from the sea with three heads and twelve wings, which afterwards produced eight smaller wings spread over all things, and reigning over all the world (verses 1-7). These wings, beginning from the right side, according to a voice which proceeded from the body of the eagle, reigned successively over all the earth, and perished, so that there remained six small wings (verses 8-23), which, however, in attempting to rule, also perished, and the three heads only were left on the eagle's body (verses 24-31). These now reigned, one after the other, and perished, so that a single head remained (verses 32-35). A lion (the Messiah) declared to the eagle that all his wings and heads were destroyed because he ruled the earth wickedly (verses 36-46); then the body and whatever was left of the eagle were bumnt in fire (12:1, 2). Ezra awoke, and having prayed for the interpretation of this vision (verses 3-9), was told by the angel that the eagle was the fourth monarchy which Daniel saw, and was admonished again to fast and pray (verses 10-51).
7. Third Vision (13:1-58, A.V.; 13:1-64, Eth.). — Ezra then had another dream, in which he saw a mighty spirit (πνεῦμα) arise from the sea resembling a man, who destroyed all his enemies with the blast of his mouth, and gathered around him large multitudes (verses 1-13). On awaking, Ezra was told by the angel that it was the Messiah, who shall gather together the ten tribes, lead them to their holy land, and give them Sion "prepared and builded for them" (verses 14-58).
8. Conclusion (14:1-48, A.V.; 14:1-52, Eth.).Three days later, the voice which spoke to Moses in the bush tells Ezra that the latter days are at hand (verses 1-12), bids him set his house in order, reprove those that are living (verses 13-18), and write down, for the benefit of those who are not yet born, ninety-four books, i.e., the twenty-four inspired books of the O.T. which have been burnt, and seventy books of divine mysteries, which he duly did with the help of scribes (verses 19-44), the recovered Scriptures to be communicated to all, and the Cabbalistic books only to the sages (verses 45 -48).
The chief characteristics of the "three-headed eagle," which refer apparently to historic details, are 'twelve feathered wings" (duodecim aloe pennarum), "eight counter-feathers"(contrarie pennae),and "three heads;" but, though the writer expressly interprets these of kings (12:14, 20) and "kingdoms" (12:23), he is, perhaps intentionally, so obscure in his allusions that the interpretation only increases the difficulties of the vision itself. One point only may be considered certain — the eagle can typify no other empire than Rome. Notwithstanding the identification of the eagle with the fourth empire of Daniel (comp. Barnabas, Epist. page 4), it is impossible to suppose that it represents the Greek kingdom (Hilgenfeld; compare Volkmar, Dias vierte Buch Esra, page 36 sq.). The power of the Ptolemies could scarcely have been described in language which may be rightly applied to Rome (11:2, 6, 40); and the succession of kings quoted by Hilgenfeld to represent "the twelve wings," preserves only a faint resemblance to the imagery of the vision. But when it is established that the interpretation of the vision is to be sought in the history of Rome, the chief difficulties of the problem begin. The second wing (i.e., king) rules twice as long as the other (11:17). This fact seems to point to Octavianus and the line of the Caesars; but thus the line of " twelve" leads to no plausible conclusion. If it is supposed to close with Trajan (Licke, 1st ed.), the "three heads" receive no satisfactory explanation. If, again, the "three heads" represent the three Flavii, then "the twelve" must be composed of the nine Caesars (Jul. Caesar-Vitellius) and the three pretenders, Piso, Vindex, and Nymphidius (Gfrorer), who could scarcely have been brought within the range of a Jewish Apocalypse. Volkmar proposes a new interpretation, by which two wings are to represent one king, and argues that this symbol was chosen in order to conceal better from strange eyes the revelation of the seer. The twelve wings thus represent the six Caesars (Caesar — Nero); the eight "counter-feathers," the usurping emperors Galba, Otho,Vitellus, and Nerva; and the three heads the three Flavii. This hypothesis offers many striking coincidences with the text, but at the same time it is directly opposed to the form of interpretation given by Ezra (12:14, regnabunt ... duodecim reges; 5:18, octo reges), and Volkmar's hypothesis that the twelve and eight were marked in the original MS. in some way so as to suggest the notion of division, is extremely improbable. Van der Vlis and Liicke, in his later edition, regard the twelve kings as only generally symbolic of the Roman power; and while they identify the three heads! with the triumvirs, they seek no explanation of the other details. All is evidently as yet vague and uncertain, and will probably remain so till some clearer light can be thrown upon Jewish thought and history during the critical period B.C. 100-A.D. 100.
In tone and character, the Apocalypse of Ezra offers a striking contrast to that of Enoch (q.v.). Triumphant anticipations are overshadowed by gloomy forebodings of the destiny of the world. 'The idea of victory is lost in that of revenge. Future blessedness is reserved only for "a very few" (7:70; 8:1, 3, 5255; 7:1-13). The great question is, "not how the ungodly shall be punished, but how the righteous shall be saved, for whom the world is created" (9:13). The "woes of Messiah" are described with a terrible minuteness which approaches the despairing traditions of the Talmud (5; 14:10 sq.; 9:3 sq.); and after a reign of 400 years (7:28-35; the clause is wanting in Eth., 5:29), "Christ," it is said, "my Son, shall die (Arab. omits), and all men that have breath; and the world shall be turned into the old silence seven days, like as in the first beginning, and no man shall remain" (7:29). Then shall follow the resurrection and the judgment, "the end of this time and the beginning of immortality" (7:43). In other points the doctrine of the book offers curious approximations to that of Paul, as the imagery does to that of the Apocalypse (e.g. 2 Esdr. 13:43 sq.;
5:4). The relation of "the first Adam" to his sinful posterity, and the operation of the law (3:20 sq.; 7:48; 9:36); the transitoriness of the world (4:26); the eternal counsels of God (vi, sq.); his providence (7:11) and longsuffering (7:64); his sanctification of his people "from the beginning" (9:8), and their peculiar and lasting privileges (6:59), are plainly stated; and, on the other hand, the efficacy of good works (8:33), in conjunction with faith (9:7), is no less clearly affirmed.
III. Unity and Original Language. — For along time this book of Ezra was known only by an old Latin version, which is preserved in some MSS. of the Vulgate. This version was used by Ambrose, and, like the other parts of the Vetus Latina, is probably older than the time of Tertullian. It is published in Walton's Polyglot, volume 4. An Arabic text was discovered by Mr. Gregory, about the middle of the 17th century, in two Bodleian MSS., and an English version made from this by Simon Ockley was inserted by Whiston in the last volume of his Primitive Christianity (London, 1711). Fabricius added the various readings of the Arabic text to his edition of the Latin in 1723 (Cod. Pseudep. V.T. 2:174 sq.). An Ethiopic text was published by [archbishop] Laurence, with English and Latin translations (Primi Esrae libri, versio Ethiopica ... Latine Angliceque reddita, Oxon. 1820); likewise from a Bodleian MS. which had remained wholly disregarded, though quoted by Ludolf in his dictionary. The Latin translation has been reprinted by Gfrörer, with the various readings of the Latin and Arabic (Pref. Pseudep. Stuttg. 1840, page 66 sq.); but the original Arabic text has not yet been published.
The three versions were all made directly from a Greek text. This is evidently the case with regard to the Latin (Lücke, Versuch einer vollst. Einitung, 1:149) and the Ethiopic (Van der Vlis, Disputatio; critica de Ezrae lib. apocr. page 75 sq.), and apparently so with regard to the Arabic. A clear trace of a Greek text occurs in the Epistle of Barnabas (c. 12 =2 Ezr 5:5), but the other supposed references in the apostolic fathers are very uncertain (e.g. Clem. 1:20; Herm. Past. 1:1, 3, etc.). The next witness to the Greek text is Clement of Alexandria, who expressly quotes the book as the work of "the prophet Ezra" (Strom. 3, 16, § 100). A question, however, has been raised whether the Greek text was not itself a translation from the Hebrew (Bretschneider, in Henke's Mus. 3:478 sq., ap. Lucke 1.c.); but the arguments from language, by which the hypothesis of a Hebrew (Aramaic) original is supported, are wholly unsatisfactory; and, in default of direct evidence to the contrary, it must be supposed that the book was composed in Greek. This conclusion is farther strengthened by its internal character, which points to Egypt as the place of its composition. The idea of a Hebrew original has now been pretty generally given up by scholars, despite the positive assertion of Galatinus (De Arcanis Catholice Veritatis) that a copy of it was reported to exist among the Jews at Constantinople in his day, and it is commonly believed that it was written in Greek. Although the Greek is lost, yet there can be no doubt that the Old Latin version, through which alone this book has been known to us till lately, was a translation from that language. This is evident from the fact that it imitates the Greek idiom in making the adjective in the comparative degree govern a genitive case, and not, as in Latin, an ablative, and introduces other Gracisms, which are barbarous, in the version (comp. 2:24; 5:13, 26, 39; 6:25, 31, 46, 57; 7:5; 8:7, 8, 38, 44; 9:14; 11:42). This is, moreover, corroborated by the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, as well as the quotation from this book in the fathers (see below, sect. 5), which prove the very early existence of it in Greek. It is, however, equally certain that many of the things contained in this book are of Palestinian origin, and are still to be found in Hebrew or Aramaic dispersed through the Talmud and Midrashim.
The common Latin text, which is followed in the English version, contains two important interpolations (chapter 1, 2; 15, 16) which are not found in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, and are separated from the genuine Apocalypse in the best Latin MSS. Both of these passages are evidently of Christian origin: they contain traces of the use of the Christian Scriptures (e.g. 1:30, 33, 37; 2:13, 26, 45 sq.; 15:8, 35; 16:54), and: still more they are pervaded by an anti-Jewish spirit. Thus, in the opening chapter, Ezra is commanded to reprove the people of Israel for their continual rebellions (1:1-23), in consequence of which God threatens to cast them off (1:24- 32), and to "give their houses to a people that shall come." But, in spite of their desertion, God offers once more to receive them (2:1-32). The offer is rejected (2:33), and the heathen are called. Then Ezra sees "the Son of God" standing in the midst of a great multitude "wearing crowns and bearing palms in their hands" in token of their victorious confession of the truth. The last two chapters (15, 16) are different in character. They contain a stern prophecy of the woes which shall come upon Egypt, Babylon, Aria, and Syria, and upon the whole earth, with an exhortation to the chosen to guard their faith in the midst of all the trials with which they shall be visited (? the Decian persecution; comp. Lucke, page 186 sq.).
Another smaller interpolation occurs in the Latin version in 7:28, where filius meus Jesus answers to "My Messiah" in the Ethiopic, and to "My Son Messiah" in the Arabic (comp. Lucke, page 170, n., sq.). On the other hand, a long passage occurs in the Ethiopic and Arabic versions after 7:35 which is not found in the Latin (Ethiop. c. 6), though it bears all the marks of genuineness, and was known to Ambrose (De bono mort. 10, 11). In this case the omission was probably due to dogmatic causes. The chapter contains a strange description of the intermediate state of souls, and ends with a peremptory denial of the efficacy of human intercession after death. Vigilantius appealed to the passage in support of his views, and called down upon himself by this the severe reproof of Jerome (Lib. c. Vigil. c. 7). This circumstance, combined with the Jewish complexion of the narrative, may have led to its rejection in later times (comp. Lücke, page 155 sq.).
Despite the arbitrary division into chapters in our English version which sometimes interrupts a vision in the middle of a sentence, few readers will fail to see the intimate connection and the beautiful adjustment of these angelic revelations, and how every one of them forms an essential part in leading us farther and farther till we reach the climax of the apocalypse. It is owing to this remarkable unity which the whole work displays that the numerous interpolations made for dogmatic purposes have so easily been detected.
IV. Author and Date. — The greatest divergency of opinion prevails on this subject. The author has successively been described as a true prophet who lived B.C. 336; an impostor who flourished A.D. 160; a Jew, a Christian, a converted Jew, and as a Montanist. The whole complexion of the book, however, incontestably shows that the author of it was a Jew. His personating Ezra, the contempt and vengeance which he breathes against the Gentiles (6:50, 57), the intense love he manifests for the Jews, who alone know the Lord and keep his precepts (3:30-36), declaring that for them alone was this world created (4:63, 66; 6:55, 59; 7:10, 11), and reserving all the blessings of salvation for them (7:1-13); his view of righteousness, which consists in doing the works of the law, and that the righteous are justified and rewarded for their good works (8:33, 36); the purport of his questions, referring exclusively to the interests of this people (4:35; 6:59); the Hagadic legends about the Behemoth and Leviathan which are reserved for the great Messianic feast (6:49-52); the ten tribes (13:39-47); the restoration of the Scriptures and the writing of cabbalistic books for the sages or rabbins of Israel (14:20-22, 31-47) — all this proves beyond doubt that the writer was a thorough Hebrew. Chapters 1, 2, 15, and 16, which contain allusions to the N.T. (compare 1:30 with Matthew 33:37-39; 2:11 with Lu 16:9; Lu 2:12 with Re 22:2; Re 15:8 with Re 6:10; Re 16:21 with Matthew 34:10; 16:4244 with 1Co 7:29), and especially the anti-Jewish spirit by which they are pervaded, as well as the name of Jesus in chapter 8:28, which have been the cause why some have maintained that this book is the production of a Christian, are now generally acknowledged to be later interpolations made by some Christian. (See above, sect. 3.)
As to the date of the book, the limits within which opinions vary are, narrower than in the case of the book of Enoch. Licke (Versuch einervollst. Einl. etc., ed. 2, 1:209) places it in the time of Caesar; Van der Vlis (Disput. crit. 1..) shortly after the death of Caesar. Laurence (1.c.) brings it down somewhat lower, to B.C. 28-25, and Hilgenfeld (Jud. Apokr. page 221) agrees with this conclusion, though he arrives at it by very different reasoning. On the other hand, Gfrorer (Jahrh. d. Heils, 1:69 sq.) assigns the book to the time of Domitian, and in this he is followed by Wieseler and by Bauer (Lucke, page 189 sq.), while Lücke, in his first edition, had regarded it as the work of a Hellenist of the time of Trajan. The interpretation of the details of the vision of the eagle, which furnishes the chief data for determining the time of its composition, is extremely uncertain, from the difficulty of regarding the history of the period from the point of view of the author; and this difficulty is increased by the allusion to the desolation of Jerusalem, which may be merely suggested by the circumstances of Ezra, the imaginary author; or, on the contrary, the last destruction of Jerusalem may have suggested Ezra as the medium of the new revelation. (Comp. Fabricius, Cod. Pseudep. 2, page 189 sq., and Lucke, page 187, n., sq., for a summary of the earlier opinions on the composition of the book.) But no two expositors agree in their explanation of the vision in chapter 11 and 12, and every one finds in the "three heads," the "twelve feathered wings," and the "eight counter-feathers" such emperors, kings, and demagogues as will square with his preconceived notions as to what they shall describe. So, for instance, the learned Whiston makes the three heads to mean the kingdom of France since Francis the Great, A.D. 1515; of Spain since Ferdinand, the author of the Inquisition, A.D. 1468; and the house of Austria since the emperor Albert, A.D. 1438 — all of whom persecuted the Protestants (Authen. Records,
1:81). The safest and most satisfactory data for determining its age are — 1. The quotations from it in the epistle of St. Barnabas (chapter 12 with 2 Ezr 5:3) and in Clemens Alexandrinus (Strom. 3:16), showing beyond doubt that the book was well known at the commencement of the Christian sera, and must therefore have been written some time before to have obtained such general currency and acceptance; and, 2. The minute description which the writer gives of the pre-existence and death of the Messiah (7:29; 14:7), such as no Jew would have given at the very outset of Christianity, to which we have traced the book, when these very points were the stumbling-block to the ancient people, and formed the points of contest between Judaism and Christianity, thus showing that it must have been written before Christ. We may therefore safely assign it to about B.C. 50.
But, while the date of the book must be left undetermined, there can be no doubt that it is a genuine product of Jewish thought. Weisse (Evangelienfrage, page 222) alone dissents on this point from the unanimous judgment of recent scholars (Hilgenfeld, page 190 sq.); and the contrast between the tone and style of the Christian interpolations and the remainder of the book is in itself sufficient to prove the fact. The Apocalypse was probably written in Egypt; the opening and closing chapters certainly were.
V. Canonicity and Importance. — By many of the fathers this book was undoubtedly regarded as canonical. The quotation from it in the epistle of Barnabas is described as the saying of a prophet (chapter 12); the quotation by Clemens Alexandrinus is introduced in the same manner (῎Εσδρας ὁ προφήτης λέγει, Strom. 3:16); and Ambrose speaks of it as containing divine revelations (De Bono Mortis, 10, 11). The famous story about Ezra being inspired to write again the law, which was burned (14:20- 48), has been quoted by Irenaeus (adv. Haer. 3:21, 2); Tertullian (De Cult. afem. 1:3); Clemens Alexandrinus (Stromat. 1:22); Chrysostom (Homil. 8 in Heb.), and many others. The Ethiopian Church regards it as canonical, which may be seen from the manner in which it is alluded to in the Book of Devotions called "The Organon of the blessed Virgin Mary" (written in A.D. 1240), "Open my mouth to praise the virginity of the mother of God, as thou didst. open the mouth of Ezra? who rested not for forty days until he had finished writing the words of the law and the prophets, which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had burnt" (Prayer for Monday; see also Prayer for Tuesday). St. Jerome was the first who denounced it. In reply to Vigilantius, who, regarding this book as inspired, appealed to 12:36-45, to prove that "none would venture to intercede for others in the day of judgment," this father, playing upon the name Vigilantius, remarked, "Tu vigilans dormis, et dormiens scribis, et propinas mihi libruim apocryphum, qui sub nomine Esdrae a te et similibus tui legitir, ubi scriptum est, quod post mortem nullus pro aliis gaudeat deprecari, quem ego librum nunquan legi, quid enim necesse est in manus sumere, quod Ecclesia non recepit. Nisi forte Balsamum et Barbelum, et thesaurum Manichaei, et ridiculum nomen Leusiborae proferas; et quia radices Pyrenaei habitus, vicinusque es Hiberiae, Basilidis, antiquissimi haeretici, et imperitae scientiae incredibilia portenta prosequeris, et proponis, quoad totius orbis auctoritate damnatur" (Ep. 53 ad Vigilant.). This is a most important passage, inasmuch as it shows that those of the primitive Church who, from their knowledge of Hebrew, had the best means of ascertaining what were the canonical Scriptures of the ancient synagogue, repudiated this book as uncanonical. In the Council of Trent, the second Ezra, like the first, was excluded from the canon, and Luther denounced it as worse than AEsop's Fables. SEE ESDRAS, FIRST BOOK OF. But this is going too far. Historico-critical expositors of the Bible, and those who are engaged in Christological works, while regarding 2 Esdras as not belonging to the Canon, yet see in it a most important record of Jewish opinion on some vital points. It shows that the Jews, before the rise of Christianity, most distinctly believed in the immortality of the soul, that the Messiah was denominated the Son of God, that he existed in heaven previous to his appearance upon earth (14:7), and that he was to die (7:29).
One tradition which the book contains obtained a wide reception in early times, and served as a pendant to the legend of the origin of the Septuagint. Ezra, it is said, in answer to his prayer that he might be inspired to write again all the law which was burnt, received a command to take with him tablets and five men, and retire for forty days. In this retirement a cup was given him to drink, and forthwith his understanding was quickened and his memory strengthened; and for forty days and forty nights he dictated to his scribes, who wrote ninety-four books (Latin, 204), of which twenty-four were delivered to the people in place of the books which were lost (14:20-48). This strange story was repeated in various forms by Irenaeus (adv. Haer. 3:21, 2), Tertullian (De cult. fam. 1:3, "Omne instrumentum Judaicae literaturae per Esdram constat restauratum"), Clement of Alexandria (Strom. 1:22, page 410, P.; compare page 392), Jerome (adv. Helv. 7; comp. Pseudo-Augustine, De Mirab. S. Scr. 2:32), and many others; and probably owed its origin to the tradition which regarded Ezra as the representative of the men of "the Great Synagogue" (q.v.), to whom the final revision of the canonical books was universally assigned in early times. SEE CANON.
Although Esdras is included in the 6th article of the Church of England, among the other books read for edification, etc. SEE DEUTERO- CANONICAL, it will be observed that no lessons are taken from it in the offices of the Church of England. References are, however, made from it in the Authorized Version to parallel passages in the Old and New Testament. Grabe and others have conceived that this was the book cited as the " Wisdom of God" (Lu 11:9; comp. with 4 Esdras 1:32).
VI. Literature. — Lee, Dissertation upon the second Book of Esdras (Lond. 1722); Whiston, Authentic Records (Lond. 1727), 1:44 sq.; Van der Vlis, Disputatio Critica de Ezrae Libro Apocrypho (Amst. 1839); Gfrorer, Das Jahrhundert des Heils (Stuttgart, 1838), 1:69 sq., and Prophets veteres Pseudepigraphi (Stuttgart, 1840), page 66 sq.; Lucke, Einleitung in d. Offenbarung Johannis, 2d ed., page 138 sq.; Davidson, The Old Testament Text Considered (Lond. 1856), page 990 sq.; Hilgenfeld, Die judische Apokalyptik (Jena, 1857), page 187 sq.; Volkmar, Das vierte Buch Ezra (Zurich, 1858); Keil, Einleitung in d. Alte Testament (1859,1863), page 734 sq.; Tresenreuter, De libro quarto Esdrae (Cobl. 1742); Vogel, De quarto libro Esdrae (in his Progr. de Conjecturae usu em crisi N.T. page 48 sq.); Ewald, Das vierte Ezrabuch (Gott. 1864); Calinet, Sur le quatrieme livre d'Esdras (in his Commentaire, 3:253 sq.); Greswell, Second Book of Esdras in his Parables, V, 2:280 sq. ). See especially Hilgenfeld in the Zeitschr. f. wiss. Theol. 1858-67; Benslev, The Missing Fragments qfthe Fourth Book of Ezra (Lond. 1878, 4to).