Monday, April 25, 2011

The Apocalypse of Sedrach (150-500 C.E.)
by S. Agourides (transl. & introd.):
Identification of Christ with the archangel Michael /

Η Αποκάλυψη Σεδράχ (150-500 Κ.Χ.)
υπό Σ. Αγουρίδη (μετάφρ. & εισαγ.):
Ταύτιση του Χριστού με τον αρχάγγελο Μιχαήλ:

Τοῦ ἁγίου καὶ μακαρίου Σεδρὰχ λόγος περὶ ἀγάπης καὶ περὶ μετανοίας καὶ ὀρθοδόξων Χριστιανῶν καὶ περὶ δευτέρας παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Δέσποτα εὐλόγησον. [...]
Καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ· Ὕπαγε, λαβὲ τὴν ψυχὴν τοῦ ἠγαπημένου μου Σεδρὰχ, καὶ ἀποθοῦ αὐτὴν ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ. [...]
Λέγει αὐτὸν ὁ Χριστός· Παῦσον, Σεδράχ· ἕως πότε δακρύζεις καὶ στενάζεις; ὁ παράδεισός σοι ἠνοίγη καὶ ἀποθανὼν ζήσεις. [...]

Καὶ λέγει Σεδρὰχ πρὸς τὸν ἀρχάγγελον Μιχαήλ· Ἐπάκουσόν μου, πρόστατα δυνατὲ, καὶ βοήθει μοι καὶ πρεσβεύσαι ἵνα ἐλεήσῃ ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον.

Although there is general agreement that the Apocalypse of Sedrach dates, in its final redacted form, to the Byzantine period, the probability that the apocalypse is shaped out of much earlier material is accepted by most scholars. It is the opinion of M. R. James and A.-M. Denis that the Apocalypse of Sedrach received its final form around the tenth or eleventh century A.D., but that the author drew upon materials which extended back to an earlier age. M. E. Stone and J. H. Charlesworth have argued that the materials so used must have dated from the early centuries of the present era.

Much of the doctrinal content of Sedrach is atypical of medieval Christianity and many other elements of the Apocalypse are more Jewish than Christian. Where "Christ" is briefly mentioned, the term seems to be a substitute for the name of the Jewish archangel Michael. While no precise dates can be given, it appears that the Apocalypse was originally composed between A.D. 150 and 500, and that it was joined together with the sermon on love and received its final form shortly after A.D. 1000.

The Apocalypse of Sedrach appears to be from a Jewish original for the following reasons:

First, the role of Sedrach as explorer of the divine will and mediator for divine compassion does not fit the Christian tradition of either the earlier or later period. In popular Christian tradition this role is attributed to Mary, the mother of God. For example, in the Apocalypse of Mary, she travels through hell, sees the torments of the sinners, and tearfully pleads with her son for them. As a result he grants them a respite of fifty days in Paradise between Easter and Pentacost.

Second, the final period of twenty days' repentance agreed to by the Lord at Sedrach's pleading seems to be in conflict with much of later Church discipline. Most of the serious sins in the later Church require several years of repentance.

Third, Christian elements such as the incarnation or the cross are conspicuously absent. Christ plays practically no role at all. He is sent for Sedrach's soul; but this motif probably originates with the role of Michael, who appears elsewhere in the text. The Christian redactor here has substituted the figure of Christ for the figure of Michael.

* The Old Testament pseudepigrapha
(James Charlesworth ed.),
Vol./Τόμ. 1, pp./σσ. 658-660.

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