2 Baruch


by Matthew Ellis

“Both the power of Israel’s God and the calamity of Israel’s election were called into question. The divine covenant appeared to be sundered. Atonement cannot be won upon the broken altars. Israel’s millenial faithwas shaken to its roots.”–Robert Kirschner

The paper discusses the Pseudepigraphon 2 Baruch, one of many responses to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This was a catastrophe for the people of Israel. They had been dishonoured, but most of all the desecration of the Temple, the abode of God, had called into question the very foundations of their faith. How could an omnipotent God, to whom his elected people were covenanted stand by and allow this to happen? In the work the question of Theodicy was resolved in two ways. First, the question of dishonour was solved by what Esler calls a counter ideological ploy. God had actually engineered it all to chasten the people for disobedience in respect of the Torah. This was temporary, so that they will mend their ways and thereby inherit a brighter future which awaited them. Next, there was no sense in grieving. God has ordained the fate of the world from creation. A Messiah (Anointed One) was promised. His coming will mark the end of a period of corruption. There will be judgement for all. Those who had been faithful to the Torah would reap their reward in the ‘Heavenly Jerusalem’, an incorruptible place. The nations that had vilified God’s elect will be duly punished. The story is about how a people of faith moved from intense grief to consolation, in the knowledge that an omnipotent God will always vindicate the righteous – an eschatological hope.

© 2002
Reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the author.

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