Jewish Apocalypticism in Late First Century Israel
Reading Second Baruch in Context
Texts & Studies in Ancient Judaism No. 142
By Matthias Henze
Distributed By Coronet Books
448 pages, Illustrated
The Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch or Second Baruch is a Jewish work of the late first century C.E., written in Israel in the aftermath of the Jewish War against Rome. It is part of a larger body of post-70 C.E. Jewish literature. The authors of these works had a difficult charge. They needed to re/imagine Judaism and its central symbols, take count of a thriving Diaspora, and articulate how Jewish life was to be lived from then on, without the benefit of a temple. Written at a time of religious reconstruction and mental reorientation, Second Baruch occupies a unique place in the history of early Jewish thought. In this highly original work, the author of Second Baruch developed an apocalyptic program that was intended for post-70 C.E. Judaism at large and not for a small dissident community only. The program incorporates various theological strands, chief among them the Deuteronomic promise of a prosperous and long life for those keeping the Torah and the apocalyptic promise of a new heaven and a new earth.
In this book, Matthias Henze offers a close reading of some of the central passages in Second Baruch , exposes its main themes, explains the apocalyptic program it advocates, draws some parallels with other texts, Jewish and Christian, and locates Second Baruch ’s intellectual place in the rugged terrain of post-70 C.E. Jewish literature and thought. For modern readers interested in Judaism of the late Second Temple period, in the Jewish world from which early Christianity emerged, and in the origins of rabbinic Judaism, Second Baruch is an invaluable source.
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