Knowledge of the Divine Mysteries through Revelation

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In every age man is faced by historical circumstances which present him with unfathomable problems.1 Innocent suffering and the triumph of the wicked are two which are the perennial concerns of mankind. Such problems were particularly pressing for a nation like Israel which had a firm belief in God's lordship over creation and history. Consequently any contrast between theological affirmations and historical realities meant that some kind of solution to the apparent contradiction between the two was most pressing. This was especially true in those circumstances where the Jewish people was subject to foreign powers. Throughout the centuries around the beginning of the Christian era the Jewish nation in Palestine had to acclimatize itself to interference and control by the powerful nations which surrounded it, the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, the Seleucids in Syria, and, of course, Rome in the west. The attempt to understand the divine will in the midst of the power-politics of the ancient world had a long pedigree in Judaism. The eighth century prophets had devoted oracles to the nations surrounding Israel. Thus it is hardly surprising that at a later stage of her history the distinctive beliefs about God and history should have demanded an understanding of the Jewish nation's role in history, the relationship of the divine promises to the circumstances of the present, and the conviction that there was a divine dimension to human existence, however obscure it may seem in the present.1 Jewish apocalyptic sought to provide such an understanding of history and this theological conviction.

According to Günther Bornkamm 'the disclosure of divine secrets is the true theme of later Jewish apocalyptic'.2 It is concerned with knowledge of God and the secrets of the world above, revealed in a direct way by dreams, visions or angelic pronouncements. As such it differs markedly from other ways of ascertaining the divine will which tend to rely on more indirect modes of discernment, like the interpretation of scripture. The character of the divine secrets which were revealed is not easily defined and includes almost anything which the human mind cannot comprehend. The subjects are varied and include descriptions of the heavenly world as well as the plans for the future of the universe.

Usually the apocalyptic movement refers to a religious current found in Jewish and Christian texts written round about the beginning of the Christian era, but this type of religion is not confined to the Judaeo-Christian tradition3 nor to one particular period of Judaism or Christianity.4 Nevertheless our main concern in this study will be with that religious outlook which manifests itself in certain Jewish and Christian texts written during the period extending from c.300 BC to AD 300. In them we have evidence of a religious perspective sufficiently coherent to be studied as an isolated phenomenon within late antiquity.

The means whereby the divine will was ascertained had a long history in Israel from the lottery of Urim and Thummim to the sophisticated exegetical techniques which were developed by the sages to gain as much advice as possible from the sacred texts.5 While it is true that there was a variety of means of understanding the divine will, some of the questions for which answers were sought presented more problems than others. Practical matters of everyday life could usually be resolved by recourse to the scriptures. The employment of the various exegetical devices would ensure that an answer could be found for the most intractable ethical problem. There were, however, some issues which were less susceptible to answers by these means. Scripture may offer glimpses of the nature of God and his plans for the universe, but the reality of God's existence, the explanation of life's perplexities and the precise delineation of the future hope were not easily resolved on the basis of Scripture alone. What is more, the pronouncements of the sages on religious matters, however authoritative they may claim to be, were still the opinions of men which could be contradicted at a later time as circumstances changed. Therefore, it is not surprising that the answer to these problems should call forth a more radical solution. "Indirect means of revelation could not provide the assurance and conviction which were necessary for those who were particularly perplexed by the circumstances which confronted them. What was required was a direct and authoritative answer to man's most pressing questions, not a variety of conflicting human opinions about the meaning of a particular passage in scripture. Many would have echoed the cry of the unknown prophet who, in Isaiah 64.1, pleads with God to rend the heavens to solve the many riddles of existence which presented themselves. The answer to this desperate plea is found in apocalyptic. The unveiling8 of the counsels of God directly to the apocalyptic seer and thence to his readers meant that the latter were being offered an answer directly from the mouth of God himself, apparently without any risk of contradiction. Here was the authoritative pronouncement which claimed to solve the inconclusive debates of man about his world and his destiny. Thus the key to the whole movement is that God reveals his mysteries directly to man and thereby gives them knowledge of the true nature of reality so that they may organize their lives accordingly.

Daniel and Revelation

The two biblical apocalypses, Daniel and Revelation, support such a view of apocalyptic. Both are above all disclosures of the divine mysteries, Revelation explicitly so (1.1 apokalypsis Iesou Christou). It is this element which is the unifying factor between the two works, despite the fact that the differences between the two are quite extensive. Indeed, consideration of these differences is in itself a means of drawing attention to precisely what it is that separates these two documents from contemporary literature and sets them in a class of their own. A summary of the contents of the two books is thus called for.

Daniel can be divided into two major parts on the basis of its contents.7 In the first part (Dan. 1—6) we have stories about a righteous Jew in Babylon called Daniel, together with the interpretation of two dreams. In the second half of the book (Dan. 7—12) we have various revelations by dream-vision or angelic pronouncement. The second half of the book contains the apocalypse proper. Revelation, on the other hand, divides quite clearly into three sections. The first three chapters are a record of John's call-vision and disclosures which are to be communicated to seven churches in Asia Minor. A new stage in the apocalypse is reached in Chapter 4 when John reports his ecstatic ascent into heaven. A series of visions then follows, most of which (though by no means all) have to do with the unfolding of the divine plan for the future of mankind. These visions extend to Chapter 22.5, after which the book concludes with a brief collection of admonitions.

A brief glimpse at the contents of the two works suggests that there are significant differences between them. The eschatology of Daniel is much less developed than that in the New Testament apocalypse. Although both refer to a belief in the resurrection (Dan. 12.2, cf. Rev. 20.12), Daniel has nothing to say about the last assize8 and the coming of the messiah.9 Virtually nothing is said in the latter about the character of the new age, except for the prediction of resurrection (cf. Rev. 21.Iff.). The messianic woes which were to become such an important feature of Jewish eschatology are only hinted at in Daniel 12.If., though they form the heart of the eschatological scheme in Revelation. The vaticinia ex eventu,10 on the other hand, which we find in Daniel, are completely absent in Revelation. This omission loses some of its significance, however, when the pseudonymous character of Daniel is taken into account. The detailed accounts of Israel's history, which are a feature of the apocalypses,11 obviously depend for their impact on the pretence of being previews of future events foretold long before by holy men of the past. Nevertheless the historical determinism which is presupposed in these spurious predictions is manifest also in the carefully structured account of the prelude to the new age which is found in the sequence of seals, trumpets, and bowls (Rev. 6; 8—9; 16).

Although there is use of symbolism in Daniel (e.g. the statue in 2.31ff., the beasts in 7.Iff. and the ram and goat in 8.3ff.), this does not compare with the variety of images which are used in Revelation. In this respect Daniel, like other Jewish apocalypses, exhibits a more restrained use of the stock of images available to the apocalypticist. In addition, in every case where the imagery forms part of the dream-visions in Daniel, an interpretation is offered of the significance of that imagery. With the exception of Daniel 7, it is nowhere suggested that the imagery which forms part of the dream-visions is to be taken as anything but a pictorial presentation of events which are to take place on earth. The meaning of the dreams has to be interpreted for the seer and reader alike, e.g. Daniel 8.15ff. The distinction between vision and interpretation which is found consistently in Daniel, is not evident in Revelation. Only in one place do we find the significance of a particular vision being interpreted for John by an angel (Rev. 17). That is not to suggest that John intends us to regard his visions as consisting solely of literal predictions of the future any more than the writer of Daniel. It is probable that by John's day the stock of images used by the apocalypticists was well enough known, and the political and religious allusions so obvious, that the readers could discern the message of the visions which the various symbols were supposed to convey. Thus, in Revelation 13, when the seer sees a beast arising from the sea, the political significance of this image, already established in Daniel 7.17, would not have escaped the notice of readers who were familiar with the Jewish scriptures.12

The most obvious difference between the two is that Daniel, like virtually every Jewish and Christian work of a similar type, is pseudonymous. It purports to have been written by a Jew in Babylon during the Exile, whereas most commentators today would agree that it was written between 168 BC and 165 BC at the height of the crisis in Jerusalem initiated by Antiochus IV. On the other hand, it is widely accepted that the author of the whole, or at least the major part, of the New Testament apocalypse was a prophet named John who had been imprisoned on the island of Patmos (Rev. 1.9). Consequently it is hardly surprising that the legends about Jews in Babylon which form half of the book of Daniel have no parallel in Revelation. Although stories similar to these were to become an important component of the apocalyptic form, they usually had little or no revelatory content.13

This brief comparison of the two biblical apocalypses seems to indicate that we are not dealing here with texts whose contents fall neatly into clearly defined categories.14 It is true that some common ideas seem to be present, e.g. resurrection, the tendency towards a panoramic view of history, urgent eschatologi-cal expectation and the vindication of the righteous. Nevertheless the unifying factor which joins both these apocalypses and separates them from other contemporary literature is the conviction that runs through both, that man is able to know about the divine mysteries by means of revelation, so that God's eternal purposes may be disclosed, and man, as a result, may see history in a totally new light. This point is also made in the opening chapters of Daniel, as 2.28 makes clear: 'There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries'.

Such an approach to apocalyptic also does justice to the small amount of material in both apocalypses which is not in the strict sense eschatological. The 'son of man' vision in Daniel 7, for example, is, in the author's eyes, not a revelation only about the future vindication of the saints of the Most High but also a demonstration of the temporary nature of dominance of the world power now oppressing Israel. As such the revelation has the effect of unveiling the transient nature of the world-order and the rectitude of the stand of the saints. Similarly in Revelation 13 John's vision of the beast rising from the sea is not so much about a future manifestation of evil but the unmasking of the true character of the Roman state and its activities. Thus it is the significance of earthly persons and events as viewed from the divine perspective which comes across in the apocalypses. It is made clear that consideration of the world as it is would give a totally inadequate impression of reality. The dominance of pagan nations and the persecution of the righteous must be viewed in the light of the overall purposes of God. Likewise the apparent absence of the creator God from his creation has to be seen in the light of his dominion in the heavenly court and the promise of his future dominion in the world of men.

All this seems to indicate that we ought not to think of apocalyptic as being primarily a matter of either a particular literary type or distinctive subject-matter, though common literary elements and ideas may be ascertained. Rather, the common factor is the belief that God's will can be discerned by means of a mode of revelation which unfolds directly the hidden things of God. To speak of apocalyptic, therefore, is to concentrate on the theme of the direct communication of the heavenly mysteries in all their diversity. With such an understanding one can attempt to do justice to all the elements of the apocalyptic literature.

Apocalyptic Material in Judaism and Christianity

With such a definition in mind we find several documents from Judaism and early Christianity which betray an essentially similar outlook. All of them have the common emphasis that God has disclosed the mysteries of heaven and earth, past and future to the privileged seer, though the circumstances in which the revelations are said to have taken place are varied, as also is the content of the material which is revealed. Besides Daniel and Revelation an initial list of apocalyptic writings would include the following:

1 or Ethiopic Enoch15

2 or Slavonic Enoch16 Jubilees17

2 or Syriac Baruch18

3 or Greek Baruch19

4 Ezra or 2 Esdras20 Apocalypse of Abraham21 Testament of Abraham22 Testaments of Levi and Naphtali

(from the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs)23 Ascension of Isaiah24 Shepherd of Hermas25 3 or Hebrew Enoch26

The last mentioned work has been included, despite the fact that it was written well over four hundred years after the New Testament period, because it is a good example of the persistence of the apocalyptic spirit within Judaism and is typical of other works written at this period.27 This work has been chosen because of the existence of a large-scale edition of the text together with an English translation. With the exception of the late Hebrew Enoch, none of these texts is in its original version. Nevertheless the editors of the versions we possess of these texts conjectured long ago that many of them went back to Semitic originals. The discovery of fragments of the Testament of Levi and 1 Enoch at Qumran have dramatically confirmed this suggestion, and it is probably not too conjectural to suppose that a work like the Apocalypse of Abraham goes back to a Semitic original.28 Not all the apocalypses, however, can be shown to derive from Semitic originals, for works like Slavonic Enoch and the Testament of Abraham are probably a testimony to the existence of apocalyptic ideas in the Diaspora.29

One or two of the Qumran texts should be included in our consideration as examples of the same kind of religious outlook. One example is the Testament of Amram, the father of Moses, which he is said to have given to his sons before his death.30 In form this work resembles the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs, but, like the Testament of Naphtali, incorporates an apocalypse consisting of a dream-vision. Unfortunately the text is very fragmentary, but enough is extant for us to see that it has the same perspective as other writings contained in our list.

More difficult to categorize as apocalyptic are the angelic liturgies found in Cave 4 at Qumran. Once again the texts are incomplete, and we are no longer in a position to decide whether or not these fragments ever formed part of a longer apocalyptic text. The first offers a description of the angelic liturgy and the second describes the attendants and the movement of the divine throne-chariot (the merkabah) (Ezek. l).31 Even if we cannot be sure that either text formed part of an apocalypse, both purport to offer information about the secret proceedings in the heavenly world and betray a similar ethos to apocalyptic. Also the community's understanding of its own relationship to the world above has so many similarities with the outlook of apocalyptic that it too calls for our consideration in due course.

Finally, mention must be made of the various visionary reports which are dotted all over Jewish literature. These fragments, which are now imbedded in larger works, not themselves apocalyptic, may not always have the same literary form as the full-scale apocalypse, but their character is essentially the same. Within the New Testament, for example, we have visions of the heavenly world in the manner of Old Testament visionary reports, e.g. Acts 7.56. Also there are other visionary reports like that of Peter in Acts 10.11 and the account of the baptism of Jesus (Mark l.lOf. and par). From Judaism two good examples are the vision of Cenez, which is to be found in the Biblical Antiquities of Pseudo-Philo 28, and the vision of Adam included in the Life of Adam and Eve (25ff., cf. 33.1-5). The Biblical Antiquities is a free rendering of the biblical account from creation down to the time of Saul, wrongly attributed to Philo, and written towards the end of the first century AD.32 Cenez plays an important role in the retold story, despite the fact that he makes only a fleeting appearance in the biblical narrative (Judges 1.13; 3.9 and 11). At the end of his life he has a vision which is unique in its contents, though it has certain parallels in other apocalypses. In it he sees part of the process of creation. The passage has some links with Genesis 1, as one would expect, but there are many peculiarities which will demand our attention later in this study. The secrets which are revealed to the righteous man in this case are those concerned with cosmogony, a subject to which other apocalypticists were to turn as well (cf. Slav. Enoch 25ff.).

The Life of-Adam and Eve is a work of a similar type to the Biblical Antiquities in its free rewriting of the biblical narrative, though its didactic purpose is more apparent with the inclusion of paraenetic material (e.g. 49.Iff.). The apocalypse in 25ff. obviously serves the purpose of communicating to Adam the fact that not all his descendants will suffer because of his transgression. In order to receive this message Adam is taken up to heaven, to the presence of God, and this brief description of the heavenly ascent is precisely what we find elsewhere in the apocalyptic literature (1 Enoch 14.8ff; Test. Abr. lOff; Asc. Is. 7ff; Apoc. Abr. 15ff.).

These visionary fragments and the apocalypses listed above are distinguished from other examples of Jewish and Christian literature by the underlying conviction that they contain visions, or disclosure by heavenly envoys, which unfold various aspects of God's will and other mysteries of the world and man's life in it. Whatever the precise mode of revelation by which these mysteries are communicated, the underlying theme of all these texts is the same. Truths which are beyond man's capacity to deduce from his circumstances are revealed directly by means of the manifestation of the divine counsels.

If we stick to the approach to apocalyptic outlined above, some documents which are normally included in lists of apocalyptic literature have to be excluded. The most obvious examples are the Testament of the XII Patriarchs and the Assumption of Moses, which contains the final pronouncements of the law-giver to Joshua immediately before the former's death. There has been much discussion whether the Testaments as we have them are essentially Jewish documents which have been subject to occasional Christian additions, or, in their present form, a Jewish-Christian creation based on Jewish documents.33 This question need not detain us at the moment, but the similarity in form and content which exists between those testaments, which we have included in our list of apocalyptic texts, and those not included permits us to examine more closely the differences between apocalyptic and other related literature at this period.

The testament has many formal similarities with the apocalypses. It usually contains stories about the life of a great figure of the past, eschatological predictions and ethical admonitions. What is more, several testaments clearly are apocalypses as well, and it therefore becomes imperative to distinguish between these different works. Thus, for example, the Testament of Abraham includes a heavenly ascent immediately before the patriarch's death. Only two of the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs can be regarded as corresponding to the apocalyptic type, and these are the two for which evidence has been found of Semitic originals, namely the Testaments of Levi and Naph-tali.34 A comparison between the Testament of Levi and the other testaments is in fact illuminating. Like the Testament of Abraham, it includes an account of a heavenly ascent and a vision of the heavenly world as well as the predictions and admonitions common to all the other testament-literature. Although other testaments contain sagacious advice from the patriarch, which was intended to be listened to and respected, this is the extent of its importance; the patriarch had learnt from his mistakes and gives the benefit of his experience to his descendants (e.g. T. Reuben 3.11ff.). There is not the same revelatory character in the majority of the testaments as we find in works like the Testament of Levi, Naphtali and Abraham.35 The former are much closer to the biblical examples of the dying patriarch's advice and predictions about his descendants (Gen. 49 and Deut. 33). It is advice to be heeded, but it does not carry the weight of a direct revelation of God's will. The stories are closer to the edifying tales which are contained in works like Joseph and Asenath and the Genesis Apocryphon. In retelling the biblical story the writer could, and often did, take the opportunity of drawing attention to particular issues which were important to him, whether doctrinal, ethical or eschatological.

Clearly the dividing line here is a rather thin one, and it may be argued that the predictions of a dying patriarch quite quickly become an authoritative pronouncement of the divine purposes. Nevertheless it does appear that there is a distinction between works like the Assumption of Moses and the majority of the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs on the one hand and the Testaments of Levi, Naphtali and Abraham and Slavonic Enoch on the other. In the first group the character of the final pronouncements of the patriarch, as we know them from the Old

Testament, is adhered to completely. The situation in the last days of the patriarch's life is described, and his advice and predictions are recorded, but, unlike the other works mentioned, this is merely a series of verbal pronouncements. In the second group the setting in the last days of the life of the patriarch is extended by the insertion of an apocalypse as a basis for, and part of the content of, the advice which the dying man gives to his children.

The clearest demarcation, however, lies in the view which the different texts have of their own authority. Slavonic Enoch 40.If. makes it quite clear that the basis for Enoch's advice to his children is the privilege of the previous ascent to heaven and the secrets which the seer has seen:

And now, my children, I know all things, for this is seen from the Lord's lips and this my eyes have seen, from beginning to end. I know all things, and have written all things into books . . .

Similarly in Testament of Levi 9.3ff. the visions which Levi has received are understood to be the basis of the regulations for the offering of sacrifice. Although 10.1 suggests that the basis of Levi's authority is the information he has received from his predecessors, there does appear to be a belief in the Testament of Levi that the visions which the patriarch has received qualify him to speak with a considerable degree of authority.

However much material apocalyptic texts and related literature may have in common, the former have a much more exalted view of their authority. In its presentation of material the apocalypse offers neither pious surmise nor the result of rational speculation. The writers of the apocalypses clearly had a very high view of both the divine origin and authority of the material which they were imparting. At the end of 4 Ezra 14, for example, the apocalyptic works, which Ezra transcribes under divine inspiration are put on the same, if not higher, level as the canonical scriptures themselves and in essential continuity with them:

And it came to pass when forty days were fulfilled, that the Most High spake unto me saying: The twenty-four books that thou hast written publish, that the worthy and unworthy may read therein: but the seventy last thou shalt keep, to deliver them to the wise among the people. For in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the stream of knowledge.

An equally self-conscious estimation of the value of such direct revelations emerges at the end of the New Testament apocalypse. Among the various admonitions with which the work concludes is a dire threat to anyone who would tamper with the contents of the book:

I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Rev. 22.18f., cf. 1 Enoch 100.6 and 104.11)

There is an allusion here to Deuteronomy 4.2, 'You shall not add to the word which I shall command you, nor take from it'. In utilizing this prohibition from Deuteronomy John appears to regard his own revelations as being of equal importance with earlier communications from God given to Moses. There is no question here of this book being regarded by its author either as a series of inspired guesses or intelligent surmise. John believes that what he has seen and heard actually conveys the divine truth to his readers. Unlike Paul, who offers his opinion to the Corinthians 'as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy' (1 Cor. 7.25), John sees himself as the one who has been commissioned to write down the divine counsels for the benefit of the churches (Rev. 1.19). It is this characteristic which the apocalyptic testaments share with the other apocalypses and sets them apart from other late Jewish documents with which they otherwise have so much in common. Therefore, we should exclude from the category of apocalyptic those testaments which do not contain the essential character of apocalyptic, the disclosure of the divine secrets through direct revelation.36

Rather more difficult to be certain about is the work known as the Sibylline Oracles. The Sibyls were pagan oracles whose prophecies were connected with various places around the eastern Mediterranean. Reference is made to their oracles and the character of their prophecy by several Greek and Roman writers, e.g. Virgil Aeneid b.TJii.31 This well-known mode of obtaining information about the future was taken up by Jewish and Christian propagandists as a framework for predictions which have a distinctly Jewish or Christian flavour. Thus the pagan oracle is made to vindicate the beliefs of these two religions about the future and about the validity of the respective doctrines of the two religions. In form at least the Sibylline Oracles offer a similar outlook to the apocalypses. The secrets concerning the future of various towns and cities as well as the Jewish people (e.g. Sib. Or. 3.46ff. and 767-784) are disclosed through a pagan rather than a Jewish seer. It is evidence of the widespread credence which could be given to prophetic pronouncements of this kind in the ancient world.38 Clearly Hellenistic Judaism was not slow to appreciate the value of the authority of the Sibyl as a means of justifying a Jewish approach to life and history. But while in certain respects it is a parallel phenomenon to apocalyptic, the fact that the device is used as a means of propagating a particular religious point of view should make us a little wary of seeing it in quite the same light as the other apocalypses. It is not just that we are dealing here with the peculiar phenomenon of a pagan rather than a Jewish religious authority, but also there is the difference that these oracles do not claim to be disclosures vouchsafed by the God of Israel but predictions inspired by lesser divine powers which happened to coincide with the divine mysteries. Thus, while formally the Sibylline Oracles are related to Jewish apocalyptic literature, they are to be regarded as a type of religious propaganda - literature lacking some of the key elements of the apocalyptic texts.39

What we are faced with in apocalyptic, therefore, is a type of religion whose distinguishing feature is a belief in direct revelation of the things of God which was mediated through dream, vision or divine intermediary. It has many parallels in contemporary pagan religion and throughout the history of religion. In the Hellenistic world there existed, what Martin Hengel has called, a quest for 'higher wisdom through revelation',40 which has left the marks of its influence in various literary remains. The climax of this quest is to be found in the various gnostic systems of the second century where the salvation of the individual is brought about through the apprehension of hidden knowledge of the nature of reality. Knowing one's origins and destiny is just as much a concern of apocalyptic as gnosticism, though in the former this knowledge has not yet become in itself a means of salvation.41 The point should not be missed, however, that apocalyptic is one way in which Judaism participated in the Zeitgeist of late antiquity. Its underlying theme is to give meaning and significance to man and his world by means of revelation. Whether the secrets be eschatological or astronomical, they are all means of satisfying man's spiritual hunger. The real meaning of events and persons, within an overall view of history, and the disclosure concerning the imminent change in the structures of society are directed to providing men and women with a way of looking at the world and God's involvement in it. This then gives coherence and significance to existence in the present when historical circumstances offered only perplexity and despair.42

Nor should we assume that the apocalyptic outlook is one which is to be found in Judaism and Christianity only at the beginning of the Christian era. For example, the interests of the early Jewish apocalypses reappear in the later mystical literature of Judaism.43 The so-called Hekaloth literature, which tells of the journey to heaven and the various figures one encounters on the way to the heavenly palace of God, breathes the same religious spirit as the apocalypses. This outlook provided the pious Jew with an escape from a world hostile to God to the remote world of God and his angels accessible only to those selected few, whose righteousness granted them the privilege of access to the heavenly courts. These texts may be influenced by second century gnosticism, but they derive much of their distinctive imagery from the imagery of apocalyptic. The possibility of having a 'ladder in one's house' whereby one could ascend to the world above, as the Hekaloth writers put it (Hekaloth Rabbati 13.2), gave a man certainty in the present about the validity of traditional beliefs and practices. Such interests inevitably become more dominant at times of crisis, but it would be a mistake to suppose that it was only in such situations that apocalyptic flourished. The apocalyptic spirit is endemic in religion in any age, though the flight from reality became more necessary when historical circumstances lacked evidence of the fulfilment of the divine purposes, not to mention the validity of a religious view of the world. It is our intention in the following chapters to examine the nature of this religion and its influence on theology within one small period of the history of Judaism and Christianity, namely Jewish religion in the centuries immediately preceding and following the rise of Christianity and the first two hundred years of the Christian movement.

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