The Apocryphon of Ezekiel / 4QPseudo-Ezekiel


by Samuel Giere and Bruce Hansen

This paper evaluates the witnesses to the existence of an Apocryphon of Ezekiel and concurs that such a work existed before 200 CE. This conclusion is based primarily on the evidence of Epiphanius’ Panarion (64.70.5) and Clement of Alexandria’s Paedagogus (1.9.84) considered in tandem with Chester Beatty Papyrus XII. This paper finds the oft-cited evidence of Josephus’ reference to two books by Ezekiel and of the mention of an Ezekiel pseudepigraphon in Stichometry of Nicephorus to be unreliable for establishing the existence of the Apocryphon. Furthermore, this paper critically assesses the rationale for including in the Apocryphon each of the five fragments most often proposed as deriving from that work. This assessment finds that the fragments labelled F1, F2 and F5 in OTP indeed ought to be considered fragments of the Apocryphon but that F3 and F4 at present have no reasonable claim to be citations of that work. The Apocryphon ought to be considered a Christian work that developed extant Jewish pseudepigraphical Ezekiel traditions. We can say little about the relationship between the Greek Apocryphon of Ezekiel and the Pseudo-Ezekiel fragments found at Qumran beyond the recognition that both reflect wide-spread use of Ezekiel traditions in 2nd Temple Judaism and in early Christianity.

Since the discovery of the fragments that have come to be called 4QPseudo-Ezekiel (4Q385, 386, 388, 391), the possibility of a relationship between this text from the Qumran library and the so-called Apocryphon of Ezekiel, a text only extant in a handful of Patristic quotations, has been pondered. These papers attempt both to offer observations about the individual texts and to suggest an answer to the above question. The conclusion that we have reached, in short, is that while a hypothetical textual history can be constructed that includes both texts, proof of an organic relationship remains hidden in a document yet to be discovered.

External evidence for 4QPseudo-Ezekiel finds it in a Second Temple Jewish context (Qumran), written in Hebrew, the paleography of the oldest copy (4Q391) placing it in the final quarter of the second century B.C.E. External evidence for the Apocryphon of Ezekiel offers a hard date no later than late second century C.E. Given Boccaccini’s suggestion that nothing entered or left the Qumran library after 100 B.C.E., there would be a 250-year gap between Pseudo-Ezekiel and our earliest sure date for the Apocryphon of Ezekiel. Internally, both texts share themes in common with biblical Ezekiel, but they appear to have differed in genre and have no overlapping text. There is not yet any evidence to warrant the identification of the two texts.

The apparent presence of citations from 4QPseudo-Ezekiel in first-century Christian literature demonstrates only widespread use of Ezekiel traditions in Second Temple Judaism and in early Christianity.

(c) 2002
Reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the author.

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