Messianic Expectation in light of the Pseudepigrapha

I wrote this paper in the fall of 1997 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where I got my M.A. – the paper has some typos and the Hebrew didn’t come through but I figured I would just post it anyway. I hope you enjoy.

Douglas M Hamp

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Fall 1997

For Professor Gafni



ANET  Ancient Near Eastern Texts

ASV American Standard Version, 1901

BDB    Brown, Drivers, Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Massachussetts, (1997 third printing).

CAD Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, Chicago, (1958).

JTS  Jewish Theological Seminary

LND La Nuova Diodati, 1991 (Italian)

LXX  Septuagint

NEG Nouvelle Edition Geneve, 1979 (French)

NKJV New King James Version, 1982

NRS New Revised Standard, 1989

RVA Reina Valera Actualizada, 1989 (Spanish)


In my study of 2nd Temple Messianic thought, I set out to learn what were the existent conceptions in light of pseudepigraphic texts.  The most apparent characteristic of the intertestamental writings (primarily pseudepigrapha) and thought is that of tension.  Tension of expecting a heavenly Son of Man figure and a completely of-this-world Messiah.  Tension between the ‘created’ [1] Son of Man (bn adm) who is given praise and worshiped just like the Most High.  This tension between the two roles prepared the way for a new perspective.  Due to the tension and apparent ambiguity of the literature at hand, it suddenly becomes clear why many Jews in Palestine circa 30 AD believed they had found the long awaited Messiah.

Studying the books of the New Testament, we see parallels which, not surprisingly, strongly resemble earlier Jewish writings.  The four Gospels are full of examples of conceptions found in the group of writings known as the Pseudepigrapha [2] (works written by different authors than the title would suggest).

Jesus of Nazareth, as seen through the eyes of the New Testament writers, was the fulfillment [3] of much of the messianic speculation [4] which was alive during his day. [5] To see exactly what were some of those thoughts, we will need to look at the Jewish books which were being written prior to, during, and shortly after his day.  We shall see that according to the Jewish corpus, the first century ma’aminim (disciples of Christ) reached some conclusions about the ‘One that Cometh’ [6] which, during the course of this study, will be shown to be a logical development. [7]

Where did the tradition of the Messiah/Son of Man come from?  A view of modern scholarship claims that every extant Messiah ‘myth’ must have come from a land other than Israel.  Any time the Bible portrays something unique it is assumed that the roots must needs be found in a source other than a Jewish source.  While the scholars are justified in looking, the presupposition as such has a few problems.

First of all, it assumes that the ancient Israelites had absolutely no creativity of their own.  If, after all, the presupposition states that everything is a myth, then why should the Canaanites, Babylonians or Persians [8] have better imaginations than their Jewish neighbors do?  Obviously, the Jews writing the prophecies didn’t live in a vacuum and therefore were affected by those around them. [9] However, there is no reason to assume that the ancient Israelites couldn’t invent their own end-of- the world literature in a style that was truly Jewish. After all, they lived more than two thousand years outside of their homeland and still retained their religious identity so why should 70 years in Babylonia completely disrupt their faith?

Secondly, if every vision-dream or any other concept which is presented in the Bible must come from another source, then the logical digression is that all myths everywhere, not just the Israelites, must have roots in an older tradition; therefore at the beginning of time there must have been a handful of original ideas which got passed from people to people!  Thus, perhaps we ought to ascribe a little credit to the Israelites for writing such interesting works.  And of course, we must ask; what if they are right?!

Nevertheless, we should still examine the traditions surrounding Israel to see similarities which may help us to understand some of the concepts presented in the biblical and extra-biblical texts.  Mowinckle [10] presents some very poignant information on the origins of the Son of Man.  According to his research, the conception of the ideal king had its roots in the Babylonian myth between the god and the king.  “Sonship signifies an intimate relationship of trust and obedience.  As a ‘son’, the king is the object of care, love and protection from the god or goddess (or from all the gods); and he owes them filial obedience in their service.  He is chosen to be a son; but, in accordance with Babylonian ideas, this means that his relationship to them is regarded as that of adoption.  Indeed, the formula of adoption is, ‘You are my son, whom I have begotten.’ ”

This knowledge of the Babylonian tradition definitely enhances our understanding of the terminology and in fact, clears up a lot misunderstanding about the passage.  However, due to the fluidity of semantics, we need to be careful not to assume that that is the only meaning the author of psalm two may have intended [11] to illustrate this principle, we need to turn to the rabbis to discover how they viewed their own scriptures.  The Zohar (3:212b) offers us a vivid usage of dichotomy.  “I see him but not now (Numbers 24:17) Of these words, some were fulfilled in that very hour f when Balaam uttered them, some later, and some f will be fulfilled at the time of King Messiah.” [12]

Morton Smith, [13] likewise comments in a similar vein.  In his critique on Goodenough, he shows that symbols do change and can have different meaning dependent on many variables.  Smith uses the illustration of a red light.  A red light, he says, on a street or car means slow down and stay away.  However, in some parts of the city, namely the ‘red light district’, a red light means come.  Thus, we should look at the use of symbols and metaphors of the ancient near east.  Ideas were traded it is true, but did the semantics remain the same all the way through?  I would argue both yes and no.  Yes: ideas were borrowed and assimilated into the culture of Israel; No: in that they were not necessarily used with the same connotation as before.

In trying to ascertain an understanding of the messianic thought, we must first consider the parameters of the sources available.  In my usage of the OT scriptures, I will use them as a corpus of ideas which is in line with later rabbinical thought. [14] The use of pseudepigrapha, I believe, can not be taken as a whole, [15] however, we can look at it as an indication of common Jewish thoughts [16] in Alexandria and in Palestine. [17] Furthermore, if the wide range of writings plus the material found at Qumran is not ‘normative’ then what is?  Thus with the hope of discovering the common thread among them, not disregarding the tensions and dichotomies, we will apply some synthesis to the following texts.

Probably most central to the study of messianism is Daniel 7 which was written circa 200 BC or earlier. [18] In this text, we see a dramatic vision of the Son of Man [19] in the Jewish canonized scriptures.  Although this passage has been interpreted by some scholars as corporate Israel, the verse was generally interpreted as that of the Son of Man=Messiah. [20] Accordingly, Mowinckle in He that Cometh comments, “The fact that Dan 7 with its reference to ‘one like a man…’, {was I interpreted messianically in rabbinic circles is further evidence that the Son of Man was regarded as the Messiah….’in certain circles, the national, this worldly Messiah was entirely  transformed into the figure of the Son of Man, but retained the Jewish Messiah’s name.” [21]

Having thus established that the ‘one like a son of man’ in Dan. 7:13 is synonymous with the messiah in early and later Jewish thought, we can now proceed with our study of what was the collective messianic thought (again within the eschatological circles.  We can’t know clearly what the ‘commoners’ were thinking since they weren’t writing documents).  And we can also now examine-some of the texts which lent themselves so well to the belief in Jesus of Nazareth.

Philo, the Jewish philosopher of the first century AD, dealt with a term which would eventually find its way into the theology of the Gospel of John. [22] The Logos, which is found in John 1: 1, has its roots in Jewish thought and philosophy as demonstrated by Philo.  Even though the book of John is said to have been written previous to 130 AD (Introduction to John, Dr. James W. Bryant), [23] we can still find evidence of Jewish thought.  Nonetheless, Philo’s use of Logos or Nous, demonstrates the conception of the ‘mind of God.‘ [24]

The Nous or Logos were equated by Philo to be the same as Wisdom as seen in the book of Proverbs chapter 8. Philo’s allegorization of Wisdom was, similar to the proverb itself, a personification of the term.  Wolfson, in his commentary on Philo says “Just as the Logos is described by Philo as an instrument ‘through which’ or ‘by which’ the world was made, so also is Wisdom described by him as that ‘through which (di es) the world came into existence’ or ‘was brought to completion.’ This is as should be expected, inasmuch as Wisdom is used by him as the equivalent of the Logos.”

I would also like to demonstrate the tension found in the conception of Logos which Philo portrays.  For even though the concepts of Wisdom and Logos were said to be equal, Philo then attributes the role of mother to Wisdom.  “…instead of applying to Wisdom the term instrument, he applies to it the term mother.” [25] This is particularly strange when cf.  Wolfson (pp. 258) Wisdom and Logos are identical. [26] Wisdom, then, is only another word for Logos, and it is used in all the senses of the term Logos.  Both these terms mean, in the first place, a property of God, identical with His essence, and, like His essence, eternal.”

Let us consider one further example of this concept’s ambiguity which would have led to the interpretation of the messianic figure as identical to the Logos or in Hebrew, the D’var…. the substitution of the words ‘obtained me'(Prov. 3:19) for the Septuagint ‘created me’ as a translation of the Hebrew kanani does not mean that he believed that Wisdom was not created by God but only obtained by Him after it had existed apart from God from eternity.” [27] What Wolfson is trying to say here I find to be extremely ambivalent.  In order to obtain something after it had ‘existed apart from God’ sounds like something other than a created entity.  For if God had created Wisdom then how should also obtain it at some point in pre-creation.  Furthermore, to exist apart the omnipotent creator from eternity (past?), is by definition existence without creation; is it not? [28] And, I think that the big problem is if the Nous is the mind of God, then why would he need to create it and more importantly; what was He using in the meantime?!

Whether Philo’s philosophies were known to the general public is difficult to ascertain.  However, we can infer, based on a statement by Mowinckle, that the general ideas of messianic thought, including Philo, were not foreign to the people within the apocalyptic circles (and that was most people).  He says, “But he (that is the Messiah) could also be referred to by the term ‘the Man’; and, in association with the apocalyptic world of ideas, the meaning of this term was immediately plain.”  Philo was not the only one to attribute such divine qualities to Wisdom/Logos.

In the Wisdom of Solomon, written most likely in the time of Pompey (63-48 B C), [29] we see that the author speaks of Wisdom as the inventor [30] of all, thus assigning the work of creation with her in contrast to God.  “For she that is the artificer of all things taught me, even wisdom.” Our author continues by listing the various attributes of wisdom which seem to point to a personification of her.

“For there is in her spirit quick of understanding, holy,

Alone in kind, [31] manifold….

All-powerful, all-surveying,

And penetrating through all spirits…

For she is a breath of the power of God,

And a clear effluence of the glory of the Almighty;…

And she, though but one, hath power to do all things; … [32]


Charles notes in the introduction to the book, according to the author, that just as “the serpent was not really a serpent but the devil, the cloud was not really a cloud but the form which Wisdom assumed.  Do we not have here a clear example of the Wisdom finally taking on a physical, visible form?  Even to dismiss this as allegory still leaves us with the impression that the disciples of Jesus might not have seen this as an allegory (that is if they did see this particular text).  This might have been further proof in their eyes of Jesus’ messiahship.  However, even if we cannot glean an appreciation for the status which Wisdom/Logos has been given here, it will become more apparent as we continue.

Let us proceed to chapter nine where we see Wisdom as seated on the throne of God which is always reserved for God, and, in the book of 1 Enoch, for the Son of Man.  The author, via prayer, gives a picture of the role which Wisdom has.

0 God of the father, and Lord who keepest the mercy,

Who madest all things by thy word;

And by thy wisdom formest man,…

Give me wisdom, her that sitteth by thee on thy throne…


The three words that come to our attention are word, sit, and throne.  These are very interesting in light of I Enoch.  The ‘word’, which can also be rendered Logos, has parallels in I Enoch.  In chpt. 61 the author speaks of the First Word.  From the context it is hard to distinguish whether he is referring to the Son of Man or the ‘Lord of the Spirits’.  In any case, the use of word would appear to be identical [33] to that in Ps. of Sol.  In I Enoch 62 there is yet another example of how the ma’aminim b’Yeshua, cf. the New Testament, might have come to the conclusion that Messiah had come.  The author says about the Elect One, “The word of his mouth will do the sinners in; and all the oppressors shall be eliminated” And not surprisingly, we see this concept illustrated in John 18:6; merely by the word of his mouth the soldiers fell to the ground. [34]

Did the ma’aminim [35]come to this conclusion due only to the pseudepigrapha and the philosophy of Philo or are there passages in the tanakh which would also support this view?  In Psalm 119:89, we see an example of God’s word as the Law.  ‘Your word, 0 LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens (NIV).  This was also the view of Philo.  “Logos and the term wisdom are taken to refer to the wisdom in the sense of the revealed Law of Moses…Philo could have said that the antemundane wisdom is the fountain of the revealed wisdom, for the belief in the preexistence of the law means that the revealed Law has its origin in the preexistent Law.” [36]

Thus we have demonstrated that the ma’aminim had valid reasons, based on the philosophy of Philo, I Enoch, and the Psalms, to conclude that he was the Preexistent One.  John 8:58 clearly demonstrates the notion that Jesus and the author firmly believed that he was the preexistent Son of Man (not to mention the many times that Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man; to investigate that in more detail is outside of the parameters of this paper).  However, in John 8:58, the conception goes beyond the implication of Son of Man.  When Jesus says that ‘before Abraham was, I AM,’ (NKJV) he is claiming much more than the created [37] status of the Son of Man.  He was boldly claiming to be YHWH which we can see in that the Jews wanted to stone him for blasphemy. [38] 38 In addition to this we have linguistic evidence which supports that he was equating himself to God.

The Greek for I am, is ego emi. The title YHWH (), although not 100% lucid, is commonly thought to represent the verb to be, [39] to which ego emi shows a clear parallel to the eheyeh in Exodus 3:14.

Let us now look at the above passages in the light of The Assumption of Moses chpt. 10 and 1Enoch chpt. 45.

Assumption of Moses…

For the Most High will arise, the Eternal God alone,

And He will appear to punish the Gentiles….

(Moses to Joshua) For from my death (assumption)

until His advent there shall be CCL times….

Then thou, 0 Israel, shalt be happy…

And He (God) will cause thee to approach

to the heaven of the stars…


And in I Enoch 45

On that day, my Elect One shall sit on the seat of glory

and make a selection of their deeds…

their souls shall be firm within them when they see my Elect One, On that day,

I shall cause my Elect One to dwell among them…


What is most apparent in the juxtaposition of these texts is that the Assumption, (above), has God alone as the one who shall come.  It would be convenient to say that ‘the Most High will arise’ is just a nice way of saying that God will exert His power in the future.  However, the author talks specifically of His advent and even gives a specific time [40] until He comes.  Nor can it be said that the belief of a supernatural Messiah was dwindling at the turn of the era.  Accordingly, A. H. Silver says, ” The pathetic eagerness to read the riddle of redemption and to discover the exact how of the Messiah’s advent was shared in common by Jews in Palestine and throughout the Diaspora…” [41] Thus we can not conclude that the author had in mind that the Messiah was no longer a possibility.  The author saw God Himself as the one who would come to give the Gentiles their due.

The tension between these two texts is plainly seen.  On the one hand, God alone will be the means of salvation, [42] (then thou … shalt be happy; … approach … heaven ….) and in 1 En., it is the Elect One who shall save them (their souls shall be firm … when they see my Elect One).  In Assumption it is.  God who is judge and in the other it is the Elect One.  And finally, the most confusing part is he that will come to dwell among them.  One account says God alone and the other is the Elect One.

Collins suggests that the conflict, in principle, can be understood as an assimilation of the Son of Man and the Deity.  “While the title messiah plays a minor role in the similitude’s, it is all the more significant that the identification of Messiah and the Son of Man can be assumed … In many respects he seems to be assimilated to the Deity (who also sits on the throne of his glory).  In I Enoch 48:5 people fall down and worship him.” [43]

The author of the Psalms of Solomon seems to suggest a similar interpretation when he refers to the king as God and to the Messiah as Lord [44] 17:1,3,4:

Lord, you are our king forever, for in you, 0 God…

But we hope in God our savior…

And the kingdom of our God is forever over the nations in judgment.


This parallels the passage in the Assumption of Moses text in its words and is nearly identical in thought.  In the same chapter the author then speaks of the future role of the Messiah. (Ps of Solomon17:21-32)

See, Lord, and raise up for them their king,

the son of David, to rule over your servant Israel…

to destroy the unlawful nations with the word of his mouth…

and he will condemn sinners by the thoughts of their hearts….

He will judge peoples and nations in the wisdom of his righteousness….

And their king shall be the Lord Messiah. [45]


Why does our author juxtapose these concepts?  More importantly what would the reader (or listener as it may have been in that day) have understood?  Based on the evidence which we have seen thus far, it should not be surprising that the ma’aminim concluded that the Messiah would be God himself. [46] In fact, this is even supported by later rabbinical thought in the Talmud.  Rabbi Kahana explicitly states that the name of Messiah will be Lord.  “What is the name of King Messiah?  R. Abba bar Kahana said: ‘LORD {Adonai is his name, for it is written, ‘I will raise unto David a righteous shoot … In his days Judah shall be saved …. And this is the name whereby he shall be called: The Lord is our righteousness (Jer.23: 5-6) [47]

Clearly we can now assume that the conclusion which the ma’aminim adopted was not a foreign idea.  In fact, based on the evidence, we must realize that the ma’aminim came to a valid, rational, and legitimate conclusion based on the eschatological climate of their day.

“Is there a God besides Me, indeed there is no other rock; I know not one …. I will not give My glory to another.” (Isaiah 44:8 and 48:1 1).  These verses served as a reminder to the people of Israel to not go ‘whoring after other gods (see Ex. 34:15).  The memory of the 70 years of exile made a strong impression in their minds.  ‘There is no other god besides the Lord.  Worship must be ascribed to none other than the Lord of Hosts Himself. [48] Again, this passage is exemplary of the building tension within the intertestamental texts and the OT.

The writers of the pseudepigrapha were all to well aware of their God as a jealous god.  The Apocalypse of Zephaniah, written sometime between 100 BC and 100 AD, [49] reminds its audience of the importance of worshipping God alone.  The seer in the vision sees a ‘great angel’ like the angel in Daniel 10:5.  In fact, he is so over-taken by the figure that he says “I rejoiced, for I thought that the Lord Almighty had come to visit me.”  This might be interpreted as the Messiah or Son of Man if it were not for the fact that the being states that he is only an angel.  However, before speaking with the angel, the seer believes that he has seen the Almighty, and rightly falls on his face to worship.  Upon doing so he is cautioned “He said to me, ‘Take heed.  Don’t worship me.  I am not the Lord Almighty…… (6:15).  Interestingly enough is that the great angel whose face shone ‘like the rays of the sun in its glory [50] since his face is like that which is perfected in its glory’, allowed him to fall to the ground three times in mortal fear before telling him that he was not the Lord Almighty.  Thus we have a salient example of what the popular thought which the author projected into his vision.

What a dilemma was created for the pious during the turn of the era!  On the one hand they are commanded to worship the one and only, the Lord Almighty; yet on the other hand they learned from the Similitude’s of Enoch (37-71) and most of the apocalyptic literature, that an eternal castigation awaits all those who deny the [51] Messiah.

I shall deliver them into the hands of my elect ones like grass in the fire and like lead in the water, so they shall bum before the face of the holy ones … For the have denied the Lord of the Spirits and his Messiah.’ However, because ‘He (that is the Messiah) will cause the others to see this so that they may repent and forsake the deeds of their hands … through his name they shall be saved, and the Lord of the Spirits shall have mercy upon them.…


Again, it would appear that the ma’aminim made a rational choice based on the texts we have studied.  Grant suggests that in the “Apocalyptic writings … no sharp distinction is drawn between the ‘earthly’ Messiah and the ‘heavenly’ Son of Man even though the two figures were distinct in origin … The Messiah is to be completely a manifestation of God that some of the religious titles and attribute of God are transferred to him…” [52]

We thus far studied the natures of the Son of Man as the Logos and as a human being in the most basic sense (bn adm).  We have also seen that he is to be king and judge in a dual role with the Almighty.  There is one more main role that he was thought to play . Messiah as priest.  This concept is most clearly elucidated in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs.

In the Testament of Levi he talks about a new priest who will come.  It is not surprising that it is Levi who receives this prophecy of the priest.  Here the prophecy is indicating that the posterity of Levi will be given a new name and a new dual role of king and priest.  And the office of king will not just any but that of David.  Even though the text does not say that it shall be David per se, the implication is obvious; for who is the one who shall come forth from Judah?  It is none other than King Messiah.  Is it possible that the author had the Hasmonean dynasty in mind when he incorporated the two offices?  It seems very doubtful that he wanted to communicate that he thought so highly of the would be priest-kings of the Hasmonean dynasty.  As proof of that, we only need to continue reading the text [53] to see just what the author wanted to say.

Levi, your posterity shall be divided into three offices as a sign of the glory of the Lord who is coming. [54] [emphasis mine] The first lot shall be great; no other shall be greater than it.  The second shall be in the priestly role.  But the this shall be granted a new name, because from Judah a king will arise and shall found a new priesthood in accord with the gentile model and for all nations.  His presence is beloved, as a prophet of the Most High, a descendant of Abraham our father.(8: 1-15)

The author, via the angel, interprets the prophecy by showing that this person shall have three distinct roles.  ‘The first shall be great…’ His first role shall be that of king and there shall be none greater than it.  The second role will be that of a priest.  But his third role will be that of receiving a new name which will be the culmination of the three previously distinct roles.

Then in chapter 18 our author clarifies the priest to come.  Here he is contrasting the multifarious king-priest-prophet to the priests who shall come before him.  He describes that during a period of three hundred fifty years (in each jubilee=50 years) there shall be seven priesthoods.  The first will ‘speak to God as a father’, the second ‘shall rise up for the salvation of the whole world.’ The third and fourth will be indicative of suffering.  Finally, the fifth through seventh of darkness, pollution and desolation. [55] And then the Lord will raise up a new priest to whom all the world of the Lord will be revealed …. And his star shall rise in heaven like a king… And he shall be extolled [56] by the whole-inhabited world.  This one will shine forth like the sun in the earth, [57] he shall take away all darkness from under heaven, and there shall be peace in all the earth.” The author plainly states that he believes the priest’ to be more than just a priest.

His use of ‘his star’ is taken Num. 24:17 which was commonly referred to as that of the Messiah (see interpretation in the Zohar 3:12b) Thus the scepter would also arise with the star which is simply another way of saying King Messiah.  In order to take away darkness from under heaven he must be imbued with some sort of supernatural power by which he will be able to deal with sinners [58] (darkness is a common motif for evil).

Finally this author sums up the role of this ‘heavenly’ priest by saying that his priesthood will last for all time to come.  Before continuing we need to understand what was the Jewish understanding of eternity.  Unlike the Graeco-Roman sense, [59] cf Mowinckle “eternity in Hebrew does not denote the infinite, empty, abstract, linear prolongation of time which we associate with the word, but is equated with time in all infinite comprehensiveness.” [60] He says, “And there shall be no successor for him from generation to generation forever.” The author then continues by saying what we should expect from the priest.  He says that via him sin shall be destroyed ‘in his priesthood sin shall cease’, lawless men shall repent ‘and lawless men shall rest form their evil deeds’ and ultimately via him the saints will obtain eternal life ‘and he will grant to the saints to eat of the tree of life’. (I 8:8-11).

This study has shown that based on the texts above, there was almost a constant allusion to the Son of Man-Messiah is in some way equated with the Divinity and with his power.  Why, then, was there so much literature on this particular subject if, as Mowinckle suggests, that it would only be God who in the end would be king and judge. [61] Grant concords this view in his summation of OT thought and theology.  He comments, “It was an age-old concept, basic to all Old Testament and Jewish thought, which was fundamentally theocratic and teleological.  God will be the ruler of all the world; his glory will become visible; the whole cosmos will unite in praising him; he only will be ruler upon earth…” [62]

Thus we have seen that based on the above texts, the ma’aminim were justified in making their conclusion about the coming Messiah.  He would be more than just a mere bn adm (human being) but would be one that (according the texts we have reviewed) would have a nature equal to God and would act as j judge(I Enoch 5 5:4), king and priest.  He would be one worthy of receiving praise, and, to any one that would not extol him(l Enoch 46:5), punishment would be their eternal destiny (I Enoch 54:6).

What about the ‘Son of God’?  Is there any suggestion that it was used before the ma’aminim? Yes there is.  Even though an extensive study of the subject is outside of the topic of this paper, we should be aware of the evidence.  The fragment 4Q246, (a.k.a.) the ‘Son of God’ text, demonstrates the possibility that the phrase ‘Son of God’ was an idea that was not foreign to the Jews at the turn of the era.  Before commenting on the text itself, I must mention that the text is very controversial among scholars and therefore ought to be used with care.

The most striking statements in the text (to which I have access) are the first and last lines.  Line 9 of column I says that ” ‘by his name he will be named,” and then in column 2; “Son of God he shall be called, and they will name him ‘Son of the Most High….  His {or its I sovereignty is everlasting sovereignty and all the depths…” [63] The passage speaking on his name is very interesting when compared to the Similitude’s of I Enoch where “that Son of Man was given a name…” The authority of the ‘Son of God’ closely parallels the ‘Son of Man’ in I Enoch.  However, according to J. Collins, the two figures are not the same.  “The ‘Son of-God’ in the Qumran texts is not identical with either of these (Son of Man in I En. and Dan. 7: 1 figures, but has much in common with them.(Collins pp. 167)

Did the ma’aminim interpret the Messiah in light of this text?  The texts studied seem to indicate that it was understood in that light, especially in the case of the ma’aminim, and therefore lends credence to their conclusion.  Collins attests to this theory, “The ‘Son of God’ text from Qumran suggest that Dan, 7 was understood with reference to a Davidic messiah from an early point.  Such an interpretation is also reflected in R. Akiba’s famous exposition of the plural ‘thrones’ in Dan. 7:13 as one for Him (God: and one for David … ) the ‘one like a Son of Man’ who comes with the clouds of heaven in Dan. 7:13, however, also gave rise to a different kind of messianic expectation, which emphasized the heavenly, transcendent character of the savior figure.”


Having finished our study of some of the texts of the pseudepigrapha, we have seen similarities in the role of God and that of the Son of Man and even at time a complete assimilation of natures.  God as judge, savior, king and even creator (logos) became titles for the coming Messiah that the ancient Israelites so desperately desired.  The assimilation of the two roles created a certain tension that many were not willing to accept.  However, the remnants of the powerful belief can be seen in the Mishna [64] and later rabbinical thought concerning the Messiah. [65] Indeed, later Judaism attempted to deal with these paradoxical statements in order to harmonize the tensions which in many ways seemed to be irreconcilable.  Although some times even the greatest of rabbis were rebuked for harmonizing too much.  “Rabbi Akiba was rebuked by R. Jose the Galilean for profaning ‘the Divine presence,’ by teaching that the Messiah occupies a throne alongside of God” (Greenstone.  The Messianic Idea in Jewish History pp. 96).

And finally, the most salient group and focus of our study is the ma’aminim. Whether we agree with their theology or not, we must, in light of the evidence, confer that they acted in such a way that was not contrary to many schools of though during their day.  Perhaps they could not harmonize the various concepts in any other way.  After all, who were they supposed to look for?  Was it not one who would be a scion of David but would also be the one who had descended from heaven where he had been hidden since eternity?  Not only would he be the mighty Son of Man coming with judgment but would also be one who would be ‘faithfully and righteously’ [66], shepherding the Lord’s flock”…  He shall be compassionate to all the nations (who) reverently stand before him.  He will strike the earth with the word of his mouth forever.” [67] Thus, we can conclude that the ma’aminim made a legitimate choice based on the material covered in this study of pseudepigraphic literature.


Baeck, Leo. Judaism and Christianity , NY.  Harper Torch Books-Harper and Row, (1958).

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“The Assumption of Moses”

“The Wisdom of Solomon”

Charlesworth, J. Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, London.  Doubled, 1985

The Apocalypse of Zephaniah

First Enoch

Second Enoch

Third Enoch

The Fourth Book of Ezra


The Life of Adam and Eve

Psalms of Solomon

Sibylline Oracles

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs: Levi

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Silver, Abba Hillel.  A History of Messianic Speculation in Israel, Gloucester, Mass Pr. (1968).

Smith, Mark S. “The ‘Son of Man’ in Ugarit,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly/ 45, (1983).

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[1] A concept to which I shall return later.

[2] There is a large corpus of pseudepigraphic literature both from the Old Testament and the New.  For this study I will limit the scope to that of the Old Testament or as it is also called, Intertestamental Books.

[3] The death and attested resurrection of the Messiah, cf. the ma’aminiin, are not common motifs in the Pseudepigrapha and thus not pertinent to this paper

[4] Although Patai’s dates might be questioned in light of the translation of the LXX (circa 200 BC), the books of Sibylline Oracles (circa 200 BC), Maccabees, Daniel and I Enoch, his statement is accurate; “From the Ist Cent.  B.C.E. the Messiah was the central figure in Jewish myth of the future.”  The Messiah Texts, pp. xxvii

[5] In light of the plethora of messianic-eschatological works being written at the time (Psalms of Solomon 63-48 BC, Assumption of Moses-turn of the era; The Twelve Patriarchs although written later-132-135 AD, we still see the messianic hope characteristic of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha; and the Sibylline Oracles Jewish-Egyptian document, Mid 2nd.  BC: see Collins pp.36 not to mention the library of the Dead Sea sect) we can safely conclude that during the life of Jesus the messianic excitement was at a high.

[6] taken from the title of-, He that Cometh, Mowinckle.

[7] Again, I must stress that the material presented here is in light of Second Temple Pseudepigrapha and not necessarily of Jewish thought as a whole

[8] Following- Otto and Staerk, Mowinckle suggests that the ‘purely heavenly’ eschatologies in I Enoch and other pseudepigraphic writings are ‘undoubtedly the result of Persian influence.’ pp. 276.  We should be careful not to stop there, however, for although the idea of the ‘Son of Man’ may have been later, the conception of the day of Lord in earlier.  Cf., Grant, “Before the time of Amos in the eighth cent.  BC, it was assumed that ‘the Day of the Lord’ would usher in a marvelous era of peace and prosperity … From the time of Amos, apparently, it was assumed that ‘the Day of the Lord’ would be a ‘Day of Judgment’ or of Visitation’…Apparently, it was one of the basic concepts of early Judaism.”  Ancient Judaism and the New Testament, pp. 69

[9] P. Mosca.  Ugarit and Daniel 7: A Missing Link pp.499… there is no reason… ‘to doubt that ancient traditions closely related to the Ugaritic myths were available in the second century BC’, but what I doubt is that the impeccably orthodox Jewish author of Daniel 7 would turn to such a source for inspiration when presenting the heavenly scene which forms the very climax of his dream-vision.”

[10] Mowinckle, S. He that Cometh, Oxford.  Basil Blackwell. 1959

[11] The concept of multifarious meanings in Jewish scriptures is well attested.  Mosca in his monologue on Ugarit and Daniel makes reference to this concept via Deutero Isaiah.  ‘…the juxtaposition of past and future salvation is typically Deutero-Isaianic.’ One need only attend a beit midrash to hear the many levels of meaning that the rabbis ascribe to the scriptures.  In fact, they even claim that there are 70 levels of meaning!  So, why should we not assume that the same principle may have been implemented in the understanding of the intertestamental works?

[12] Patai, Raphael.  The Messiah Texts pp. 93

[13] Smith, Morton.  “Goodnight’s Jewish symbols in Retrospect,” Journal of Biblical Literature 86 (1976) p. 53-68.

[14] Mowinckle, pp. 283…   the rabbis assume that the entire divine revelation in scripture forms an

[15] Also cf.  F. Grant, there is nothing more characteristic than variety within Jewish eschatology. Ancient Judaism and the New Testament, Connecticut, Greenwood Pr. 1959

[16] Just as Morton Smith critiques Goodenough’s view of ‘normative’ Judaism by saying “It was (normative Judaism) like New England ‘society’ a puritanic sect walled up in its self-made ghetto, while outside was the wonderful world of hellenized Judaism, mystic, artistic, and free.” M. Smith, “Goodenough’s Jewish Symbols in Retrospect,” Journal of Biblical Literature, 86 (1976), pp. 62; so too, then, can we look at the wide scope ideas in the pseud. as indicative of eschatological thought.

[17] “So far as we can see, the Palestinian Jews were also(and the Alexandrian) familiar with them [that is the mythical ideas associated with Isa.7:14 and the rendering of al’mah as virgin in the LXX] even if rabbinical orthodoxy later pushed them into the background.” Mowinckle pp. 185

[18] According- to Mowinckle, pp. 352, the conception of the ‘Son of Man’ via Daniel existed 200 BC or earlier.  Also see John R. Dunkel’s Introduction to Daniel, Nashville, Thomas Nelson Pub.  1985 Josephus Antiq.  XI 8:5 supports the view that Daniel was written prior to 165-163 BC See also Contra Apion i, 8; I Mac.  ii. 59,60 (cf.  Davis, Dictionary of the Bible, pp. 170)

[19] The term ‘Son of Man’ or bn adm (Hebrew) and bar enash in Aramaic (discoveries of the phrase ‘son of man’ have also been found in the Ras Ibn Hani texts in Ugarit; see Mark Smith CBQ pp.55) should be defined as human being/person.  In accordance with tradition and the paradoxical role of the Son of Man in the Pseudepigrapha, The Catholic Bible Quarterly 45, 1983 pp.58-59 provides us with the following- understanding.  “the man-like one represents the saints in the kingdom, as the interpretation emphasizes, but inasmuch as the sovereignty over the world is that of God, exercised through the ‘man’, he is also the representative of God.  The dual role of the ‘man’ accords with the messianic traditions of the OT.”

[20] cf. Rabbi Akiba as cited in The Scepter and the Star, pp. 36.  “R.  Akiba is said to have explained the plural thrones in Daniel 7:9 as ‘one for Him, and one for David.” Collins goes on to say, “It is natural enough, then, to infer that the figure on the clouds is the kin- of a restored Jewish kingdom.”

[21] Mowinckle, pp. 361

[22] Although-h the book of John is a ‘Christian’ book, we can use it as a late Jewish source with caution.(See Mowinckle pp. 358 on the use of the Revelation of John as a late Jewish source.)

[23] Thomas Nelson Pub.  NKJV (1985).

[24] Wolfson, H. Philo, vol.  I Cambridge, Mass.  Harvard Univ.  Pr. 1968, pp. 253

[25] Wolfson, pp. 266

[26] The doctrine of the Ruach HaKodesh is obviously connected with this concept but, due to the lack of time, we must refrain from exploring- the possibilities for the present time.

[27] ibid.

[28] Charles in his commentary on the Wisdom of Solomon, offers us some elucidation on the status of Logos and its relationship to Wisdom.  “The Logos, he declares is neither uncreated like God nor created like us; but he is at equal distance between the two extremes…’The Logos is not unbegotten as God’ ” and he concludes by saying “We shall not be far wrong if we attribute the same idea to our author (Wisdom of Solomon) with regard to the personality of Wisdom.” Charles, R.H. Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Oxford.  Claredon Press, 1969

[29] Review and Expositor; A Baptist Theological Journal pp.237.

[30] “Inventor” is one of the definitions of the word ‘artificer’ which is craftsman, or worker.

[31] Charles added a footnote indicating- a further meaning- ‘the only ones of its kind’ which is to say monogenes in Greek.  Obviously the Ist Cen.  Church saw this as proof for the Holy Spirit.  However, due to the word monogenes, perhaps we ought to look for a parallel in the monogene as mentioned John 3:16

[32] Psalms of Solomon 7

[33] Charlesworth notes that First Word could possibly mean First Oracle, with the ‘first word/oracle’ or even the ‘fundamental principles of the oracle’.  Regardless of the differences of the linguistic possibilities, we still have the same concept of Wisdom/Logos as the primary mover, artificer, instrument (see Wolfson pp. 270).

[34] See parallels to 11 Thessalonians 2:8

[35] I am referring, to the disciples of Christ as ma’aminim because the term ‘Christian’ wasn’t coined until the missionary journeys of Paul and Barnabas, in the city of Antioch.

[36] Wolfson p. 259 expounding on Fug 18:97

[37] It is generally held that ‘Son of Man was given a name,’ in I Enoch, indicates that it was at that point that he was created.  That would seem to be a presupposition rather than a fact based on the text.  Even Philo is equally ambiguous on the preexistent nature on the Logos/Nous/Wisdom.

[38] “To claim to be Messiah was, for Jewish thought, no blasphemy…” Mowinckle pp. 369.  Thus in no way were going to stone him for anything less than claiming to be God himself.

[39] In Hebrew, it appears to be from the Qal imperfect of hayah, later hayah. See Davis, Dict. of the Bible

[40] Of course, what the author meant by ‘CCL times’ is very vague indeed.

[41] Silver, A.H.. A History of Messianic Speculation in Israel, Gioucest, Mass.  Macmillan. 1927 pp.’)

[42] In this case, ‘salvation’ should be used in the broadest sense of the word, not that of atonement.

[43] Collins, J. The Scepter and the Star, pp. 18 1.

[44] A very interesting, parallel should be noted Mowinckle (pp. 69), speaking of a righteous king upon ID the earth; he says that king was responsible for the peoples needs.  “Thus the king is the savior to whom the people look for salvation, both in the negative sense of deliverance form enemies, danger, and need, and the in the widest possible sense of good fortune and well being.

[45] Translation by charlesworth, p. 667.

[46] It is his duty to provide this yesha (salvation)” also means favorable conditions: politically, socially, morally and religiously.

[47] Patai, Raphael.  The Messiah Texts , pp. 21. (Lam.  Rab. 1:51, p. 36, ad Lam. 1:16)

[48] I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not -give to another, nor My praise to carved images.” Isaiah 42:8

[49] Charlesworth notes that this text has a surprising lack of ‘Christian elements’ See Introduction to the Book in OT Pseudepigrapha.

[50] As proof that the ma’aminim interpreted this passage in conjunction with Dan. 10:5, as messianic, one need only turn to Rev. 1: 13-15

[51] Excluding of course the Sadducees who didn’t believe in an after life.  See Josephus’ description of the various sects: Wars ii. 8.14

[52] Grant. pp. 71

[53] I am aware that the Pseudepigrapha was kept by the church and interpolations are therefore evident in some texts.  Therefore, I have tried to use texts which, based on the commentaries of Charlesworth, have no indication of a Christian reworking.

[54] We can not help but notice the similarities to the Assumption of Moses and I Enoch where we saw that in one the Lord himself would come to save his people and in the other it would be the Messiah/Son of Man.  Also see Jerimiah 23:6 and R. Abbabar Kahana as quoted above.

[55] A possible reference to Antiochus Epiphanies?

[56] Once again, we see a sign of the priest/king/prophet receiving praise.  This is also the same term that is used in I Enoch 46:5 in speaking of the Son of Man.  “This is the Son of Man….  For they do not extol and glorify him, and neither do they obey him, the source of their kingship.”

[57] Allusion to The Apocalypse of Zephaniah and Daniel 10:5

[58] In light of I Enoch this is not surprising since he is commonly referred to as the one who shall judge the world and throw the sinners into Gehenna

[59] rant typifies it as such; “namely, a hoop snake with its tail in its mouth, fitting figure of endless cyclic repetition.”

[60] He that Cometh, pp. 105

[61] … the Son Man conflicted in one essential point with a leading the thought of God himself as judge of the world, and, in general, the idea of the kingly rule of YHWH.” He that Cometh, pp.414

[62] Ancient Judaism and the New Testament pp. 77.

[63] All information on the ‘Son of God’ text was taken from J. Collins, The Scel2ter and the Star, pp. 154-155

[64] The Mishna refuses a portion in the world to come to those who deny that the promise of resurrection is contained in the Bible.  Mishna Sanhedrin X I” (Greenstone pp.  IO 1).

[65] R. Alexandri said: R Yohoshua ben Levi explained:…’if they will be righteous, {the Messiah will come) on the clouds of heaven (Dan. 7:13), if they will not be righteous, {he will come) as a poor man riding, upon an ass (Zech.9:9)” Patai, The Messiah Texts, pp. 83.

[66] Psalms of Solomon 17:34-35

[67] Compare with I Enoch 62:2