When Judaism lost the Temple: crisis and response in 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 03:33 authored by Lydia Gore-Jones
This thesis is a study of religious thought in two Jewish apocalypses, 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch, written around the end of the first century as a response to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. The true nature of the crisis is the perceived loss of covenantal relationship between God and Israel, and the Jewish identity that is under threat. Discussions of various aspects of thoughts, including those conventionally termed theodicy, particularism and universalism, anthropology and soteriology, are subordinated under and contextualized within the larger issue of how the ancient authors propose to mend the traditional Deuteronomic covenantal theology now under crisis. Both 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch advocate a two-pronged solution of Torah and eschatology at the centre of their scheme to restore that covenant relationship in the absence of the Temple. Both maintain the Mosaic tradition as the bulwark for Israel's future survival and revival; whereas 4 Ezra aims to implant its eschatology into the Sinaitic tradition and make it part of the Mosaic Law, 2 Baruch extends the Deuteronomic scheme of reward and retribution into an eschatological context, making the rewards of the end-time a solution to the cycle of sins and punishments of this age. Both texts are read as coherent works with a sophisticated literary structure, skillfully composed to convey authorial intentions. As such, the overall intended message can only be grasped after one has understood the development of the narrative structure. Considerable emphases are also placed on the significance of the portrayals of the pseudonymous protagonists, Ezra and Baruch, the use of symbolism in the two texts as scriptural exegesis, as well as their relationship with each other and links with the Hebrew Bible and other Jewish and Christian writings.