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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

a-pok-a-lip'-tik lit'-er-a-tur:



1. Judaism and Hellenism

2. Political Influences


1. Differences from Prophecy in Content

2. Differences from Prophecy in Literary Form


1. Pseudepigraphic Authors not Known Individually

2. General Resemblance and Mutual Dependence Show Them to be Products of One Sect

3. Three Jewish Sects Comprise Whole Literary Class

4. Not the Product of the Sadducees

5. Nor of the Pharisees

6. Probably Written by the Essenes



1. Enoch Books:

(1) History of the Books;

(2) Summary;

(3) Language;

(4) Date;

(5) Internal Chronology: The Book of Noah;

(6) External Chronology;

(7) Slavonic Enoch;

(8) Secrets of Enoch

2. Apocalypse of Baruch:

(1) Summary;

(2) Structure;

(3) Language;

(4) Date;

(5) Relation to Other Books;

(6) The Rest of the Words of Baruch

3. The Assumption of Moses:

(1) Summary;

(2) Structure;

(3) Language;

(4) Date;

(5) Relation to Other Books

4. The Ascension of Isaiah:

(1) Summary;

(2) Structure;

(3) Language;

(4) Date

5. The Fourth Book of Esdras:

(1) Summary; (2) Structure;

(3) Language;

(4) Date


The Book of Jubilees:

(1) Summary;

(2) Structure;

(3) Language;

(4) Date


1. The Psalter of Solomon:

(1) Summary;

(2) Language;

(3) Date;

(4) Christology

2. The Odes of Solomon:

(1) Relation to Pistis Sophia and Summary;

(2) Date


1. Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs:

(1) Summary:

(a) Reuben;

(b) Simeon;

(c) Levi;

(d) Judah;

(e) Issachar;

(f) Zebulun;

(g) Dan;

(h) Naphtali;

(i) Gad;

(j) Asher;

(k) Joseph;

(l) Benjamin;

(2) Structure;

(3) Language;

(4) Date and Authorship;

(5) Relation to Other Books

2. Testament of Adam

3. Testament of Abraham

4. Testament of Job:

(1) Summary;

(2) Structure;

(3) Language;

(4) Date and Authorship




A series of pseudepigraphic works, mainly of Jewish origin, appeared during the period between 210 B.C. and 200 A.D. They have many features in common. The most striking is the resemblance they all bear to the Book of Daniel. Following this model, most of them use "vision" as a literary device by which to introduce their conceptions of the remote future. A side product of this same movement was the composition, mainly in Alexandria, of the Sibylline books. The literary device of "vision" was one used in the Aeneid by Virgil, the classical contemporary of a large number of these works. One peculiarity in regard to the majority of these documents is the fact that while popular among the Christian writers of the first Christian centuries, they disappeared with the advent of the Middle Ages, and remained unknown until the first half of the 19th century was well on in its course.


I. Background of Apocalyptic.

1. Judaism and Hellenism:

When the Jews came back from Babylon to Palestine, though surrounded by heathen of various creeds, they were strongly monotheistic. The hold the Persians had of the empire of Southwest Asia, and their religion-Zoroastrianism-so closely akin to monotheism, prevented any violent attempts at perverting the Jews. With the advent of the Greek power a new state of things emerged. Certainly at first there does not seem to have been any direct attempt to force them to abandon their religion, but the calm contempt of the Hellene who looked down from the superior height of his artistic culture on all barbarians, and the influence that culture had in the ruling classes tended to seduce the Jews into idolatry. While the governing orders, the priests and the leaders of the Council, those who came in contact with the generals and governors of the Lagids of Egypt, or the Seleucids of Syria, were thus inclined to be seduced into idolatry, there was a large class utterly uninfluenced by Hellenic culture, and no small portion of this class hated fanatically all tampering with idolatry.

When the dominion over Palestine passed out of the hands of the Ptolemies into that of the house of Seleucus, this feeling was intensified, as the Syrian house regarded with less tolerance the religion of Israel. The opposition to Hellenism and the apprehension of it naturally tended to draw together those who shared the feeling. On the one side was the scribist legal party, who developed into the Pharisaic sect; on the other were the mystics, who felt the personal power of Deity. These afterward became first the Chasidim, then later the Essenes. These latter gradually retired from active participation in national life.

As is natural with mystics their feelings led them to see visions and to dream dreams. Others more intellectual, while they welcomed the enlightenment of the Greeks, retained their faith in the one God. To them it seemed obvious that as their God was the true God, all real enlightenment must have proceeded from Him alone. In such thinkers as Plato and Aristotle they saw many things in harmony with the Mosaic law. They were sure that there must have been links which united these thinkers to the current of Divine revelation, and were led to imagine of what sort these links necessarily were. The names of poets such as Orpheus and Linus, who survived only in their names, suggested the source of these links-these resemblances. Hence, the wholesale forgeries, mainly by Jews, of Greek poems. On the other hand, there was the desire to harmonize Moses and his law with the philosophical ideas of the time. Philo the Alexandrian, the most conspicuous example of this effort, could not have been an isolated phenomenon; he must have had many precursors. This latter movement, although most evident in Egypt, and probably in Asia Minor, had a considerable influence in Judea also.

2. Political Influences:

Political events aided in the advance of both these tendencies. The distinct favor that Antiochus the Great showed to the Greeks and to those barbarians who Hellenized, became with his son Antiochus Epiphanes a direct religious persecution. This emphasized the protest of the Chasidim on the one hand, and excited the imagination of the visionaries to greater vivacity on the other. While the Maccabees and their followers were stirred to deeds of valor, the meditative visionaries saw in God their refuge, and hoped for deliverance at the hand of the Messiah. They pictured to themselves the tyrant smitten down by the direct judgment of Yahweh. After the death of Epiphanes, the Maccabeans had become a power to be reckoned with, and the visionaries had less excitement from external events till the Herodian family found their way into supreme power.

At first the Herodians favored the Pharisaic party as that which supported John Hyrcanus II, the friend of Antipater, the father of Herod the Great, and the Essenes seem to have taken Herod at first into their special favor. However, there was soon a change. In consequence of the compliance with heathen practices, into which their connection with the Romans forced the Herodians, the more religious among the Jews felt themselves compelled to withdraw all favor from the Idumean usurper, and to give up all hope in him. This naturally excited the visionaries to new expectation of Divine intervention. Behind the Herodians was the terrible iron power of Rome. The Romans had intervened in the quarrel between John Hyrcanus and his brother Aristobulus. Pompey had desecrated the temple by intruding into the Holy of Holies. The disastrous overthrow that he suffered at the hands of Caesar and his miserable end on the shores of Egypt seemed to be a judgment on him for his impiety. Later, Nero was the especial mark for the Apocalyptists, who by this time had become mainly Christian. Later Roman emperors impressed the imagination of the Apocalyptists, as the Flavians.

II. General Characteristics of Apocalyptic.

1. Differences from Prophecy in Content:

Both in matter and form apocalyptic literal and the writings associated with it differ from the prophetic writings of the preceding periods. As already mentioned, while the predictive element as present in Apocalypses, as in Prophecy, it is more prominent and relates to longer periods and involves a wider grasp of the state of the world at large. Apocalypse could only have been possible under the domination of the great empires. Alike in Prophecy and in Apocalypse there is reference to the coming of the Messiah, but in the latter not only is the Messianic hope more defined, it has a wider reference. In the Prophets and Psalmists the Messiah had mainly to do with Israel. "He will save his people"; "He will die for them"; "His people shall be all righteous." All this applies to Israel; there is no imperial outlook. In the Apocalypses the imperial outlook is prominent, beginning with Daniel in which we find the Messianic kingdom represented by a "son of man" over against the bestial empires that had preceded (Daniel 7:13) and reaching the acme of Apocalypse, if not its conclusion, in the Revelation of John: "The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ" (Revelation 11:15). While the prophet was primarily a preacher of righteousness, and used prediction either as a guarantee, by its fulfillment, of his Divine mission, or as an exhibition of the natural result of rebellion against God's righteous laws, to the Apocalyptist prediction was the thing of most importance, and in the more typical Apocalypse there is no moral exhortation whatever.

2. Differences from Prophecy in Literary Form:

In the literary form employed there are marked differences between Apocalyptic and Prophecy. Both make use of vision, but in Prophecy, in the more restricted sense of the word, these visions are as a rule implied, rather than being described. Although Isaiah calls the greater part of his Prophecy "vision," yet in only one instance does he describe what he sees; as a rule he assumes throughout that has audience knows what is visible to him. The only instance (Isaiah 6) in which he does describe his vision is not at all predictive; the object is exhortation. In the case of the Apocalypses the vision is the vehicle by which the prediction is conveyed. In Ezekiel there are visions, but only one of these-"the valley of dry bones"-is predictive. In it the symbols used are natural, not, as always in Apocalypses, arbitrary. Compare in Daniel's vision of the Ram and the He-goat (Daniel 8).

In Ezekiel the dry bones naturally suggest death, and the process by which they are revivified the reader feels is the natural course such an event would take did it come within the sphere of ordinary experience; while in what is told of the horns on the head of the Greek goat there is no natural reason for the changes that take place, only a symbolical one. This is still more marked in the vision of the Eagle in 4 Esdras 11. What may be regarded as yet more related to the form is the fact that while the Prophets wrote in a style of so elevated prose that it always hovered on the border of poetry-indeed, frequently passed into it and employed the form of verse, as Isaiah 26:1 NAME? Acts 23:8). Josephus compares them with the followers of Epicurus among the Greeks. Nothing could be farther removed from the spirit and doctrines of the Apocalypses than all this. The Messianic hopes bulk largely; angels are prominent, then, hierarchies are described and their names given. The doctrine of immortality is implied, and the places of reward and punishment are described. The Apocalypses cannot therefore be attributed to the Sadducees.

5. Nor of the Pharisees: There is greater plausibility in attributing them to the Pharisees. So far as doctrines are concerned, there is no doubt that the agreement is relatively close. There are, however, difficulties in accepting this view of their origin. With the fall of the Jewish state, the Sadducees disappeared when there was no field for political activity, and when with the destruction of the temple there were no more sacrifices to require the services of Aaronic priests. Nearly contemporaneously the Essenes disappeared in Christianity. The Pharisees alone remained to carry on the traditions of Judaism.

We have in the Talmud the result of Pharisaic literary activity. The Mishna is the only part of this miscellaneous conglomeration which is at all nearly contemporary with the works before us. It has none of the characteristics of the apocalyptic writings. The later Hagadi Midrash have more resemblance to some of these, noticeably to the Book of Jubilees. Still, the almost total want of any references to any of the Apocalypses in the recognized Pharisaic writings, and the fact that no Jewish version of any of these books has been preserved, seems conclusive against the idea that the Apocalypses owed their origin to the Pharisaic schools. The books that form the ordinary Apocrypha are in a different position. The majority, if not the whole of them, were received into the Jewish canon of Alexandria. Some of them are found in Hebrew or Aramaic, as Ecclesiasticus, Tobit and Judith. None of the Apocalypses have been so found. This leads necessarily to the conclusion that the Pharisees did not write these books.

6. Probably Written by the Essenes:

By the method of exclusions we are led thus to adopt the conclusion of Hilgenfeld, that they are the work of the Essenes. We have, however, positive evidence. We know from Josephus that the Essenes had many secret sacred books. Those books before us would suit this description. Further, in one of these books (4 Esdras) we find a story which affords an explanation of the existence of these books. 2 (4) Esdras 14:40-48 tells how to Ezra there was given a cup of water as it were fire to drink, and then he dictated to five men. These men wrote in characters which they did not understand "for forty days" until they had written "four score and fourteen books" (Revised Version (British and American)). He is commanded, "The first that thou hast written publish openly, and let the worthy and unworthy read it: but keep the seventy last that thou mayest deliver them to such as be wise among thy people."

While the twenty-four books of the ordinary canon would be open to all, these other seventy books would only be known by the wise-presumably, the Essenes. This story proceeds on the assumption that all the biblical books had been lost during the Babylonian captivity, but that after he had his memory quickened, Ezra was able to dictate the whole of them; but of these only twenty-four were to be published to all; there were seventy which were to be kept by a society of wise men. This would explain how the Books of Enoch and Noah, and the account of the Assumption of Moses could appear upon the scene at proper times and yet not be known before. In the last-named book there is another device. Moses tells Joshua to embalm (hedriare) the writing which gives an account of what is coming upon Israel.

Books so embalmed would be liable to be found when Divine providence saw the occasion ripe. These works are products of a school of associates which could guard sacred books and had prepared hypotheses to explain at once how they had remained unknown, and how at certain crises they became known. All this suits the Essenes, and especially that branch of them that dwelt as Coenobites beside the Dead Sea. We are thus driven to adopt Hilgenfeld's hypothesis that the Essenes were the authors of these books. Those of them that formed the Community of Engedi by their very dreamy seclusion would be especially ready to see visions and dream dreams. To them it seem no impossible thing for one of the brotherhood to be so possessed by the spirit of Enoch or of Noah that what he wrote were really the words of the patriarch. It would not be inconceivable, or even improbable, that Moses or Joshua might in a dream open to them books written long before and quicken their memories so that what they had read in the night they could recite in the day-time. As all the Essenes were not dwellers by the shores of the Dead Sea, or "associates with the palms of Engedi," some of the writings of this class as we might expect, betray a greater knowledge of the world, and show more the influence of events than those which proceeded from the Coenobites. As to some extent corroborative of this view, there is the slight importance given to sacrifice in most of these works.


Classes of Books:

In the classification of plants and animals in natural science the various orders and genera present the observer with some classes that have all the features that characterize the general Mass prominent and easily observable, while in others these features are so far from prominent that to the casual observer they are invisible. This may be seen in the apocalyptic writings: there are some that present all the marks of Apocalypses, such as the Book of Enoch, the Assumption of Moses and the Apocalypse of Baruch. They all claim to be revelations of the future-a future which begins, however, from the days of some ancient saint-and then, passing over the time of is actual composition, ends with the coming of the Messiah, the setting up of the Messianic kingdom and the end of the world. There are others, like the Book of Jubilees, in which the revelation avowedly looks back, and which thus contain an amount of legendary matter.

One of the books which are usually reckoned in this class, has, unlike most of the Apocalypses, which are in prose, taken the Book of Psalms as its model-the Psalter of Solomon. A very considerable number of the works before us take the form of farewell counsels on the part of this or that patriarch. The most famous of these is the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs. Although the great masonry have been written in Hebrew or Aramaic by Jews resident in Palestine, the Sibylline books, composed to a great extent by Jews of Alexandria, present an exception to this.

We shall in the remainder of the art consider these sub-classes in the order now mentioned:

(1) Typical Apocalypses;

(2) Legendary Testaments;

(3) Psalmic;

(4) Testaments;

(5) Sibylline Oracles.

I. Apocalypses Proper.

As above indicated, all these take the Book of Daniel as their model, and imitate it more or less closely. One peculiarity in this connection must be referred to. While we have already said these later Apocalypses were practically unknown by the Jews of a couple of centuries after the Christian era, the Book of Daniel was universally regarded as authoritative alike by Jews and Christians. In considering these works, we shall restrict ourselves to those Apocalypses that, whether Jewish or Christian by religion, are the production of those who were Jews by nation.

1. Enoch Books:

The most important of these is the Book, or rather, Books of Enoch. After having been quoted in Jude and noticed by several of the Fathers, this work disappeared from the knowledge of the Christian church.

(1) History of the Books.

Fairly copious extracts from this collection of books had been made by George Syncellus, the 8th century chronographer. With the exception of those fragments, all the writings attributed to Enoch had disappeared from the ken of European scholars. In the last quarter of the 18th century. Bruce, the Abyssinian traveler, brought to Europe three copies of the Book of Enoch in Ethiopic, which had been regarded as canonical by the Abyssinian church, and had consequently been preserved by them. Of these three copies, one he retained in Kinnaird House, another he presented to the Bodleian Library In Oxford, the third he gave to the Royal Library in Paris. For more than a quarter of a century these manuscripts remained as unknown as if they had still been in Abyssinia. In the year 1800 Sylvestre de Sacy published an article on Enoch in which he gave a translation of the first sixteen chapters. This was drawn from the Parisian copy.

Twenty-one years after Archbishop Laurence published a translation of the whole work from the manuscript in the Bodleian. Seventeen years after he published the text from the same MS. The expedition to Magdala under Lord Napier brought a number of fresh manuscripts to Europe; the German missionaries, for whose release the advance had been undertaken, brought a number to Germany, while a number came to the British Museum. Some other travelers had brought from the East manuscripts of this precious book. Flemming, the latest editor of the text, claims to have used 26 manuscripts. It needs but a cursory study of the Ethiopic text to see that it is a translation from a Greek original. The quotations in George Syncellus confirmed this, with the exception of a small fragment published by Mai.

Until the last decade of last century. Syncellus' fragments formed the only remains of the Greek text known. In 1892 M. Bouriant published from manuscripts found in Gizeh, Cairo, the Greek of the first 32 chapters. More of the Greek may be discovered in Egypt. Meantime, we have the Greek of chapters 1-32, and from the Vatican fragment a portion of chapter 89. A study of the Greek shows it also to have been a translation from a Hebrew original. Of this Hebrew original, however, no part has come down to us. As we have it, it is very much a conglomeration of fragments of various authorship. It is impossible to say whether the Greek translator was the collector of these fragments or whether, when the mass of material came into his hands, the interpolations had already taken place. However, the probability, judging from the usual practice of translators, is that as he got the book, so he translated it.

(2) Summary.

The first chapter gives an account of the purpose of the book, Enoch 2-5 an account of his survey of the heavens. With Enoch 6 begins the book proper. Chapters 6-19 give an account of the fallen angels and Enoch's relation to them. Chapters 20-36 narrate Enoch's wanderings through the universe, and give an account of the place of punishment, and the secrets of the West and of the center of the earth. This may be regarded as the First Book of Enoch, the Book of the Angels. With chapter 37 begins the Book of Similitudes.

The first Similitude (chapters 37-44) represents the future kingdom of God, the dwelling of the righteous and of the angels; and finally all the secrets of the heavens. This last portion is interesting as revealing the succession of the parts of this conglomeration-the more elaborate the astronomy, the later; the simpler, the earlier. The second Similitude (chapters 46-57) brings in the Son of Man as a superhuman if not also superangelic being, who is to come to earth as the Messiah. The third Similitude occupies chapters 58-71, and gives an account of the glory of the Messiah and of the subjugation of the kings of the earth under Him. There is interpolated a long account of Leviathan and Behemoth. There are also Noachian fragments inserted.

The Book of the Courses of the Luminaries occupies the next eleven chapters, and subjoined to these are two visions (chapters 83-90), in the latter of which is an account of the history of the world to the Maccabean Struggle. Fourteen chapters which follow may be called "The Exhortations of Enoch." The exhortations are emphasized by an exposition of the history of the world in 10 successive weeks. It may be noted here that there is a dislocation. The passage Enoch 91:12 contains the 8, 9, and 10 weeks, while chapter 93 gives an account of the previous 7. After chapter 104 there are series of sections of varying origin which may be regarded as appendices. There are throughout these books many interpolations. The most observable of these are what are known as "Noachian Fragments," portions in which Noah and not Enoch is the hero and spokesman. There are, besides, a number of universally acknowledged interpolations, and some that are held by some to be interpolated, are regarded by others as intimately related to the immediate context. The literary merit of the different portions is various: of none of them can it be called high. The Book of Similitudes, with its revelations of heaven and hell, is probably the finest.

(3) Language.

We have the complete books only in Ethiopic. The Ethiopic, however, is not, as already observed, the original language of the writings. The numerous portions of it which still survive in Greek, prove that at all events our Ethiopic is a translation from the Greek. The question of how far it is the original is easily settled. The angels assemble on Mt. Hermon, we are told (En 6), and bind themselves by an oath or curse: "and they called it Mount Hermon because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecation upon it." This has a meaning only in Hebrew or Aramaic, not in Greek. A very interesting piece of evidence of the original language is obtained from a blunder. In Enoch 90:38 we are told that "they all became white bullocks, and the first was the Word" (nagara). As for the appearance of this term, from its connection it is obvious that some sort of bullocks is intended. In Hebrew the wild ox is called re'em (Aramaic rima). The Greek translators, having no Greek equivalent available, transliterated as rem or rema. This the translators confused with Tema, "a word." It is impossible to decide with anything like certainty which of the two languages, Hebrew or Aramaic, was the original, though from the sacred character ascribed to Enoch the probability is in favor of its being Hebrew.

(4) Date.

The question of date is twofold. Since Enoch is really made up of a collection of books and fragments of books, the question of the temporal relation of these to each other is the primary one. The common view is that chapters 1-36 and 72-91 are by the same author, and form the nucleus of the whole. Although the weighty authority of Dr. Charles is against assigning these portions to one author, the resemblances are numerous and seem to us by no means so superficial as he would regard them. He, with most critics, would regard the Book of Similitudes as later.

Nevertheless, we venture to differ from this view, for reasons which we shall assign.

(5) Internal Chronology: The Book of Noah.

The fragments of the Book of Noah above alluded to present an intrusive element in the Book of Enoch. These, though fairly numerous, are not so numerous as Dr. Charles would claim. Those that show clear traces not only of being interpolations, but also of being interpolations from this Book of Noah, are found only in those portions of the Book that appear to be written by the author of Enoch 37-71. In them and in the Noachian fragments there are astronomical portions, as there are also in the portion that seems to proceed from another hand, chapters 1-36; 72-91. When these are compared, the simplest account of the phenomena of the heavens is found in the non-Noachian portions, the first noted chapters 37-71; 92-107; the next in complexity is that found in the Noachian interpolations; the most complex is that contained in chapters 72-91.

This would seem to indicate that the earliest written portion was chapters 37-71; 92-107. Our view of the date of this middle portion of En, the Book of Similitudes, is opposed by Dr. Stanton (Jewish and Christian Messiah, 60-63; 241-44), who maintains that it is post-Christian. For this decision he rests mainly on the use of the title "Son of Man." This title, he says, as applied to the Messiah, is unknown in rabbinic literature. Rabbinic literature is all so late as to be of no value. The Mishna has few traces of Messianic belief, and was not committed to writing till the end of the 2nd century, when the difference between church and synagogue was accentuated. He further s


in-ter-tes-ta-men'-tal. See BETWEEN THE TESTAMENTS.


lit'-er-a-tur, sub-ap-os-tol'-ik (Christian):


1. Authorship and Date

2. Occasion and Contents

3. Apologetic Testimony

4. Doctrinal Testimony

5. Office-Bearers and Organization

6. Ritual


1. Disappearance and Recovery

2. Date

3. Standpoint, Authorship and Object

4. Testimony to New Testament Writings

5. Contents and Notabilia


1. Author and Date

2. Genuineness

3. Leading Ideas

4. Other Notabilia


1. Date and Genuineness

2. Occasion and Contents

3. Notabilia


1. Author and Date

2. Testimony to Matthew and Mark

3. Other Notabilia


1. Authorship

2. Date

3. Object and Contents

4. Notabilia


1. Authorship and Date

2. Object and Contents

3. Notabilia


1. Nature and Document

2. Date and Authorship

3. Contents

4. Notabilia


1. Recovery and Date

2. Contents

3. Notabilia


1. Incidents of Life

2. First Apology

3. Second Apology

4. Dialogue with Trypho the Jew

5. Notabilia


1. Date and Authorship

2. Contents


The Sub-apostolic Age is usually held to extend from the death of John, the last surviving apostle, about 100 A.D., to the death of Polycarp, John's aged disciple (155-56 A.D.). The Christian literature of this period, although as a whole of only moderate intrinsic value, is of historical interest and importance. This is owing to the light which it throws back on apostolic times, and the testimony borne to Christian life, thought, worship, work and organization during an age when the church was under the guidance, mainly, of men who had been associated with the apostles and who might be supposed, therefore, to know their mind. Some writings are omitted from this review, having been dealt with in previous articles. For the Protevangelium of James and the Gospel and Apocalypse of Peter see APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS; APOCRYPHAL ACTS. For an account of extant fragments of Basilides and Valentinus, see GNOSTICISM. For pseudo-Clementine writings see PETER, EPISTLES OF; SIMON MAGUS.

I. Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians.

1. Authorship and Date:

Only the larger part had previously been extant, when the complete epistle was recovered in 1875 by Bryennios, bishop of Nicomedia. The high honor in which it was held by early Christendom is attested

(1) by its position in Codex Alexandrinus, at the end of the New Testament, and in an ancient Syriac MS, between the Catholic and Pauline Epistles;

(2) by its being publicly read in many churches down to the 4th century.

(Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 16). The work is anonymous, but sent in the name of the Roman church. Dionysius of Corinth (170 A.D.) refers to it as written by the agency of (dia) Clement (Historia Ecclesiastica, IV, 23); Clement of Alexandria states distinctly the Clementine authorship (Strom., iv.17). The writer is evidently leading office-bearer of his church, and is identified with the Clement whom Eusebius designates as third "bishop" (or chief presbyter) of Rome after Peter, and as holding office between 92 and 101 A.D. (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 34). Clement is further identified by Origen (Commentary on John) and in HE, III, 15 with the Clement of Philippians 4:3; but the name is too common and the interval too long to render this identity more than possible. Some conjecture the writer to be the consul, Flavius Clemens, whom Domitian (his cousin) put to death in 95 A.D. for alleged "atheism," i.e. probably, profession of Christianity (see Harnack, Gesch. Lit., I, 253, note 1). But Clement the "bishop" is never otherwise referred to as a martyr, and a member of the imperial family would hardly have been head of the Roman church without so signal a fact being noted by some contemporary or later writer. Lightfoot, with some probability, supposes (Apostolic Fathers, I, 61) that Clement was a "freedman or the son of freedman, belonging to the household of Flavius Clemens." From Paul's time (Philippians 4:22) the imperial household included Christians; and many slaves were men of culture. To such a Christian freedman's influence the consul's conversion may have been due. Internal evidence points to Clement having been a Hellenist Jew or proselyte of Judaism; for he writes with some classical culture and with knowledge of Old Testament history and of the Septuagint; his style, moreover, has a "strong Hebraistic tinge" (Lightfoot, p. 59). The date of the epistle is fixed approximately by a reference to a persecution at Rome in progress or very recent; this persecution (during Clement's "episcopate") was doubtless that by Domitian in 95 A.D. Clement's Epistle is thus not strictly within the Sub-apostolic Age, but it is uniformly included in sub-apostolic literature.

2. Occasion and Contents:

The occasion was a church feud at Corinth, and the expulsion of some faithful presbyters. The writer seeks to procure their restoration and to heal the dissension. He quotes Old Testament examples of the evil issue of envy and strife, and of the blessedness of humility, submission and concord. He adduces as a pattern the peace and harmony of Nature. In this connection occurs an anticipation of geographical discovery, when the author writes (chapter xx) of "the impassable ocean and the worlds beyond it" (compare Seneca, Medea ii0.375; Strabo i0.4; Plut. Mor. ix.41). Paul's warnings in 1 Corinthians about party spirit are recalled; a not unworthy echo of 1 Corinthians 13 is embodied; and the erring community is solemnly monished.

In the course of the letter, with obvious reference to 1 Corinthians 15, Clement introduces the resurrection, for which he argues from the Old Testament and from natural analogies. He refers to the phoenix which lives 500 years, and, when dissolution approaches, builds a nest of spices into which it enters to die. As the flesh decays, however, a "worm is generated, which is nurtured from the dead bird's moisture and putteth forth wings." The fable is mentioned by Herodotus and Pliny.

A lengthy prayer of intercession for "all sorts and conditions of men" is abruptly introduced near the end, in order, presumably, to imbue Corinthian Christians with that charity which they needed and which is the chief incentive to intercession. The epistle closes with a hopeful anticipation of restored concord and peace.

3. Apologetic Testimony:

Apologetic testimony is found to (1) books of the New Testament, namely, to the Pauline authorship of I Corinthians; to Mark's Gospel, through which (chapter xv) he quotes Isaiah 29:13, reproducing Mark's variations from the Septuagint; to Acts, through which he similarly quotes (chapter xviii) 1 Samuel 13:14; to Romans, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, Titus, James, 1 Peter (chapters xxxv, xlvi, xxi, ii, xlvi, xlix, respectively). The parallels between Clement and He are so numerous that the latter work has from early times been ascribed to him by some (Historia Ecclesiastica, VI, 25). But the general type both of thought and of diction is dissimilar; (2) against the Tubingen theory of essential divergence between the doctrine of Peter and of Paul. The chief presbyter of Rome could not have been ignorant of such divergence; yet he refers the partisanship of which the two apostles were victims entirely to the Corinthians, not at all to the apostles (chapter xlix).

4. Doctrinal Testimony:

Doctrinal testimony is found:

(1) to the Trinity, "As God liveth and the Lord Jesus Christ liveth, and the Holy Spirit" (chapter lviii);

(2) to the personality of Christ, "The Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the majesty forever." In union and communion with Christ we have life, are sanctified, possess love, manifest godliness (chapter i, xxxvi);

(3) to the atonement: Clement ascribes to Christ's death not merely subjective moral influence, but objective vicarious efficacy in securing our salvation, without any attempt, however, to explain the mystery. Christ hath "given his flesh for our flesh, his life for our lives" (chapter xlix);

(4) to justification which is distinctly enunciated as before God through faith (chapter xxxii). But this faith (as in Paul's writings) is a "faith which worketh" (chapter xxxv), and such justification is consistent with our being justified by works before men;

(5) to the inspiration of Scripture, which is real ("the Holy Spirit saith"), but not verbal; for quotations are often inexact. Apocryphal books are quoted, but not with a formula indicating Divine authority.

5. Office-Bearers and Organization:

(1) The basis of authority is not sacerdotal, but a combination of official succession and popular call; office-bearers are appointed "by the apostles or afterward by men of repute with consent of the whole ecclesia."

(2) Clement indicates no distinction between presbyter and bishop. Office-bearers designated as presbyters (chapters xlvii, liv) are referred to (chapters xlii, xliv) as filling the office of bishop. Addressing a church on congregational strife and insubordination, he refers to no single bishop in authority over the church. Had the episcopate, in the post-New Testament sense of mono-episcopate, been apostolically enjoined, surely the injunction would have been obeyed or enforced in Corinth.

(3) None the less we discern in Clement's own position and action the anticipation of the later episcopate. Clement is an example of how, through the personal qualities and ecclesiastical services of the man, the status of presiding presbyter developed out of seniority into superiority, out of representativeness into official authority.

(4) The early germ of the papacy is disclosed in the passage: "If certain persons should be disobedient unto the words spoken by God through us, let them understand that they will entangle themselves in no slight transgression and peril" (chapter lix). Such assumption by a revered man like Clement might give no offense, and the Corinthians plainly needed correction. Still we have here the first stage in the process which ultimately issued in the Roman claim to universal spiritual supremacy. The assumption, however, is not grounded on Clement's own official position (he speaks always in the 1st person plural), but on the superior dignity of the Roman church. The later theory of supremacy builds Roman authority on the primacy of Peter and his successors; but here the authority of the leading presbyter, in dealing with a provincial church, rests on the suggested primacy of the ecclesia in which he presides.

6. Ritual:

(1) The long prayer (chapters lix-lxi) bears internal evidence of liturgical character, through its balanced and rhythmical style, its somewhat remote relevance to the special object of the ep., and greater suitability for congregational worship, than as part of a counsel to a sister church. This internal testimony is confirmed by the correspondence of the prayer in certain verbal details with the earliest extant liturgies, particularly those of Mark and James, pointing to the early use in the Roman church of forms of prayer afterward incorporated into these liturgies. While there is evidence that down at least to the time (148 A.D.) of Justin's 1st Apology (chapter lxvii) a minister offered up prayers of his own composition, this prayer of Clement's Epistle indicates that before the close of the Apostolic Age, forms of supplication had begun to be introduced, not to the exclusion of "free prayer," but simply as a mode of congregational devotion countenanced by a venerated leader of the church at Rome.

(2) In chapter lvi Clement writes about "compassionate remembrance of them (i.e. the erring brethren) before God and the saints." By the saints, however, are most probably meant, not the beatified dead, but the living Christian brotherhood, as in 1 Corinthians 1:2 2 Corinthians 8:4.

This epistle leaves on readers' minds two different yet mutually compatible impressions-impressions both apparently made on the early church, by which the letter was widely read at public worship and yet excluded from the Canon of Scriptures. We realize, on the one hand, the inferiority of this writing to epistles of apostles. Clement's mind is receptive, not creative; and the freshness of thought characteristic of New Testament writers is absent. What New Testament book, moreover, contains such a foolish legend as that of the phoenix? On the other hand, this epistle breathes much of the spirit, as it adopts in considerable measure the phraseology and style of apostolic writings. It is as if, although the sun of special inspiration had sunk below the horizon, there remained to the church for a while a spiritual afterglow.

II. The "Didache"

1. Disappearance and Recovery:

The "Didache" or Teaching (longer title, "The Teaching of the Lord, by (dia) the Twelve Apostles, to the Gentiles").-This work is quoted as "Scripture," without being named, by Clement of Alexandria (circa 170 A.D., in Strom., i.20). It is mentioned in HE, III, 25 as the "Teachings so-called of the Apostles," "recognized by most ecclesiastical writers," although "not a genuine" composition of apostles. Athanasius (Fest. Epistle, 39) denies its canonicity, but acknowledges its utility. The latest ancient reference to the work from personal knowledge is by Nicephoros (9th century) who includes it among apocryphal writings. Thenceforth it disappears until its recent recovery in 1875 by Bryennios.

2. Date:

There is no reliable external testimony to date. Resemblances too considerable to be accidental exist between the Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas; but opinion is divided as to priority of composition. Lightfoot and others favor a common lost source. As to internal evidence the simplicity of the Eucharist and of baptism as here described, with no formal admission to the catechumenate (chapter vii); the use of "bishop" to denote the same office-bearer as presbyter; and the expectation of an impending Second Advent-point to an early date. On the other hand it is unlikely that a writing which professes to give the Teaching of the Twelve would be issued until all or most apostles had passed away; and the writer seems to be acquainted with writings of John (Didache, ix0.2; x0.2; x0.5; see Schaff, Oldest Church Manual, 90). Probably the document went through a series of recensions (Harnack in Sch-Herz; Bertlet in DB, V), and the date or dates of composition may be put between 80 and 120 A.D.

3. Standpoint, Authorship and Object:

The work does not profess to be written by apostles; but the author seems to be a Jewish Christian, for he calls Friday "Preparation Day," and the style and diction are Hebraic. The work is neither Judaistic nor Ebionite: circumcision, the Sabbath, and special Mosaic observances, are ignored. From the book in whole or in part being addressed specially, although not exclusively, to Gentiles, we infer that the community among whom it was composed, while mainly Jewish Christian, made special provision for conversion and instruction of Gentiles. The doctrinal standpoint is neither Pauline nor anti-Pauline, but resembles that of Jas. Canon Spence (Teaching) conjectures plausibly that the author may be Simeon, cousin of James the Lord's brother, who became chief presbyter of the Jewish Christian community, first at Jerusalem, afterward at Pella, until his martyrdom in 107 A.D.

4. Testimony to New Testament Writings:

Matthew was certainly in the writer's hands; for the Didache contains 22 quotations from, or reminiscences of, that Gospel, extending over ten chapters of it. Particularly notable is Didache, viii.2, "Neither pray ye as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in His Gospel; after this manner pray ye, Our Father," etc. (see also vii0.1; ix0.5; xvi.6). There are also references to the Gospel of Luke (Didache, iii.5, 16); John's writings (see above); Acts (Didache, iv.8), Romans (Didache, iv.5), 2 Thessalonians (Didache, xiv.1), 1 Peter (Didache, i.4). No extra-canonical saying of our Lord is recorded.

5. Contents and Notabilia:

The contents and notabilia may be examined as follows:

(1) Didactic (Chapters i through vi):

Intended for catechumens in preparation for baptism. This catechetical manual (the earliest of its kind) opens with the words: "There are two ways: one of life and one of death" (suggested probably by Jeremiah 21:8). From this text the writer gives a summary of Christian duty especially toward our neighbor, based on the Decalogue, the Golden Rule, and the Sermon on the Mount, which is frequently quoted.

Among notable precepts is a command to fast as well as pray for enemies; a warning against infanticide which, in the case of sickly infants, heathenism approved, and against augury and astrology as generating idolatry; an admonition not to" stretch out one's hands for receiving and to draw them in for giving"; an injunction to "share all things with thy brethren, and not to say that they are thine own"; a command to "love some above thine own life"; and a quaint corrective against indiscriminate and ill-informed beneficence: "Let thine alms sweat into thy hands until thou know to whom thou shouldest give." A precept to "give with thy hands a ransom for sin" may not mean more than that sinful habits are subdued by good works, but it suggests and paves the way for the error of the atoning efficacy of almsgiving. The summary of duty relates chiefly to the second Table of the Law; duty toward God is afterward (so far) dealt with under "worship." This may account for obedience to parents being strangely omitted; for among the Jews the Fifth Commandment was included in the First Table.

(2) Devotional: Worship and Rites (Chapters vii through x, xiv).

The Lord's Prayer is to be used thrice a day. "Heaven" and "debt" are found instead of "heavens" and "debts." The Doxology is added (with "kingdom" omitted)-its earliest recorded use in this connection. Christians are to fast on Wednesday and Friday, the days of the betrayal and crucifixion. Fasting is enjoined for a day or two before baptism, both on baptizer and on baptized; it is recommended to "others who can." There is no mention of oil, salt, or exorcism. The baptismal formula, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost," is commanded, confirming the historical trustworthiness of Matthew 28:19. Triple immersion in "living water" is assumed to be normal; but where this is impracticable, other water and affusion are permitted (see TRINE IMMERSION). The Lord's Supper is dealt with only on its eucharistic side, the writer's object being not to expound the nature of the rite, but to give models of thanksgiving.

The phrase, "after being filled give thanks," suggests that the Agape was still associated with the sacrament: the dissociation had begun when Pliny wrote to Trajan in 112 A.D. A liturgical element in sacramental worship is indicated by the prescription of forms of thanksgiving for the cup, the broken bread, and spiritual mercies. "Give thanks thus." The thanksgiving for the cup is as follows: "We give thanks to thee our Father, for the holy vine of David, thy servant, which thou hast made known to us through Jesus Christ." But nothing suggests that the entire service is liturgical, and the forms supplied are not rigidly imposed; for prophets are to offer thanks in such terms as they choose. On the Lord's Day congregational worship and eucharistic bread-breaking, after confession to God and reconciliation with men, are distinctly enjoined.

(3) Ecclesiastical (Chapters xi through xiii, xv).

Of church office-bearers, two classes are mentioned, ordinary and extraordinary. Of the former (essential to congregational organization) only bishops and deacons are mentioned, i.e. those entrusted with rule and oversight, with their assistants. Presbyter and bishop appear to be still identical, as the former is not specified (compare Philippians 1:1). Popular election of these functionaries is indicated: "Elect for yourselves"; without denial, however, of those already in office having a share in the settlement. In the second class, apostles, prophets and teachers are included. "Apostle" is used, not in the narrower sense of men called to the office personally by Christ, but in the wider sense which embraces all whose call to be His ambassadors has been signalized by Divine gifts-specially accredited evangelists unconnected with any particular community. (Among Jewish Christians the designation survived to the 4th century, for the Theodosian Code of that period refers to Jewish presbyters and to those "quos ipsi apostolos vocant.") These apostles were to be received as the Lord," and hospitably entertained; but, unlike apostles in the special sense, they were not to remain anywhere longer than "one or two days." Their function was to scatter the seed widely, and any expression of desire to remain longer was to be discouraged, while a demand for salary from a particular community would be evidence of false apostleship. The special function of prophets and teachers, on the other hand, was the instruction and comfort of church members. They accordingly might be encouraged to settle in a community and receive "first-fruits" for their support. These prophets and teachers, however, were not to supersede the "bishops" or presbyters in ruling, but were to undertake only those functions for which they were specially qualified. On the other hand, bishops and deacons were not to be excluded from preaching and teaching by the settlement of prophets and official teachers in particular communities; and in the Didache may be traced the transition, then being gradually accomplished, of the preaching and teaching functions from extraordinary to ordinary office-bearers. "They also (the bishops and deacons) minister to you the ministry of prophets and teachers: therefore despise them not." Even before the close of Paul's ministry, the episkopos, whose essential function was rule and oversight, was expected, if not required, also to be didatikos, "qualified to teach," i.e. along with teachers specially set apart for the purpose (1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Timothy 5:17). By the middle of the 2nd century, the prophets had disappeared, and their preaching function had been vested in the office of bishop or presbyter, assisted by the diaconate.

(4) Eschatological (Chapter xvi).

This concluding section consists chiefly of exhortations to watchfulness in view of the Second Advent. The premonitory signs of that Coming are given, with reminiscences from Christ's eschatological discourses, namely, rise of false prophets, decline of love, persecution, lawlessness, and the appearance of Antichrist, who is designated the World-deceiver. Without definitely stating chiliastic doctrine, the writer suggests it; for in referring to the immediate signals of Christ's advent (opening in heaven, voice of trumpet, resurrection of dead) he is careful to add "Not of all the dead; but the Lord shall come, and all the saints with Him"-implying that the general resurrection would take place at an after-stage, presumably, as Millennialists held, after the 1,000 years had expired. Without dogmatic authority, and with only moderate spiritual value, the Didache is important historically as a witness to the church's beliefs, usages and condition during the transition between the Apostolic and the Post-apostolic Age. During that transition period, we see much of the freedom of primitive Christianity mingled with rudiments of ecclesiastical regulations and formularies; and while we cannot assume that every belief and usage recorded in the Didache were sanctioned by apostles, we may reasonably ascribe them to apostolic times, and regard them as not opposed by those apostles within whose view they must have come.

III. Epistles of Ignatius.

1. Author and Date:

Ignatius was bishop of Antioch early in the 2nd century Origen (Hom. vi on Luke) refers to him as "second after Peter"; Euodius came between (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 22). As he calls himself ektroma, "untimely born" (compare 1 Corinthians 15:8), he was probably converted in mature life: the legend of his being the "child" of Matthew 18:3 rests on misinterpretation of his designation "Theophotos." Traditions current in the 4th century represent him as a disciple of John (Eusebius, Chron.) and ordained by Paul (Apostolical Constitutions, vii.46).

The Martyrium of Ignatius (6th century) dates his trial at Antioch in the 9th year of Trajan's reign (107-8 A.D.) and represents it as conducted before the emperor. Only one visit, however, of Trajan to Antioch is known, in 114-15; neither any Ignatian letter nor Eusebius, nor any other early writer refers to so memorable a circumstance as the presidency of an emperor over a Christian's trial, and Ignatius speaks of a proposed attempt by Roman friends to secure a reversal of the sentence, which would have been impossible had Trajan personally pronounced it. His alleged presence, therefore, must be rejected as a later embellishment.

The epistles, so far as genuine, were written after Ignatius' condemnation, on his way to martyrdom at Rome.

2. Genuineness:

The epistles are extant in 3 editions:

(1) the longer Greek, of 15 letters now admitted to be largely spurious;

(2) a Syriac recension of three letters, now generally held to be a mere epitome;

(3) the shorter Greek edition, containing 7 letters of intermediate length, to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Philadelphians, Smyrneans, Romans, and Polycarp. Lightfoot, Zahn, and most recent critics accept the substantial genuineness of these seven.

The chief external evidence is that of Polycarp (Phil., xiii), who, soon after Ignatius' death, writes of a letter addressed to himself, of another to the Smyrneans, and of "all the rest which we have by us." Now 2 Ignatian epistles are addressed to Polycarp and the Christians of Smyrna, while 4 profess to be written by Ignatius at Smyrna, harmonizing well with copies of these being in Polycarp's possession.

Further external evidence is supplied by Irenaeus (v.29) who quotes a saying from Ignat., Romans, iv, as that of a martyr, and who uses 8 notable phrases borrowed apparently from Ignatius. This external testimony (only got rid of by an arbitrary assumption of Polycarp's Epistle being wholly or partly spurious) is supported by strong internal and cumulative evidence:

(1) Frequent Grammatical Dislocation:

Natural in letters written on a journey but unaccountable on the supposition of a later forgery (Rom., i; Mag., ii; Eph., i).

(2) Geographical Particulars:

E.g. Ignatius goes by land from Antioch to Smyrna-an unusual route which a forger would hardly invent.

(3) Historical Illustrations:

E.g. conveyance of prisoners from distant provinces to Rome harmonizes with the account by Dion Cassius (lxviii.15) of the magnitude of amphitheatrical exhibitions under Trajan causing extensive orders for human victims from all parts.

(4) Theological Evidence:

E.g. these epistles refer to Judaistic error combined with a type of doctrine denying any real incarnation-a combination which ceased after Ignatius' time.

(5) Ecclesiastical Usage:

Thus, the Agape still includes the Eucharist (Smyr., viii), whereas soon after Ignatius' death these were separated (Pliny, Epistle 96; Just., 1 Ap., 65, 67).

(6) Personal References.

The writer shows an excess and affectation of self-depreciation-"last of Antiochene Christians" (Trall., xiii) "not worthy to be counted one of the brotherhood" (Rom., ix)-such as a later forger would hardly have introduced.

3. Leading Ideas:

(1) Joy and Glory of Martyrdom.

Heroic courage and loyalty to Christ are united with fanatical craving after a martyr's death: "I would rather die for Christ than reign over the whole earth" (Rom., vi); "He who is near the sword is near to God" (Smyr., iv). This is noble; but when he writes, "Entice wild beasts to become my sepulchre" (Rom., iv); "May I have joy of the wild beasts and find them prompt"; "Though they be unwilling I will force them" (Rom., iv.5), we realize how Aurelius (recalling perhaps some such case) was moved to write that "death was to be encountered, not as by the Christians like a military display, but solemnly, and not as if one acted in a tragedy" (Med. xi.3).

(2) Evil and Peril of Heresy and Schism.

"Abstain from heresy"; "These heretics mix up Jesus Christ with their own poison" (Trall., vi); "Flee those evil outshoots, which produce death-bearing fruit" (Trall., xi); "Avoid all divisions as the beginning of evils"; "Nothing is better than unity" (To Polyc., i; Phil., iii).

(3) Submission to Office-Bearers, Especially to the Bishop.

"Do nothing without your bishop, and be subject to the presbyters" (Mag., vii); "Be on your guard against heresy: and this will be, if ye continue in intimate union with Christ and with the bishop"; "He who does anything without the bishop's knowledge serveth the devil" (Smyr., ix). The bishop here is higher than "primus inter pares"; he is a new and separate office-bearer. Yet, without going beyond these epistles, we discern that such an episcopate was not an express apostolic institution. For had Ignatius been able to magnify the office as apostolically enjoined, so zealous a champion of episcopal authority would have adduced such injunction as the most cogent reason for submission. His zeal for the episcopate apparently sprang only from its high ecclesiastical expediency as the most effective agency for maintaining the church's unity against heresy and schism.

4. Other Notabilia:

(1) References to the Gospel of John.

The Gospel of John is never quoted, but numerous phrases suggest that it was in the writer's hands. He speaks of Christ "proceeding from the Father," "doing nothing without the Father," "in all things pleasing Him who sent Him." Christ is the "Door of the Father" and "Living water." Satan is the" Prince of this world." "The Holy Spirit knoweth whence He cometh and whither He goeth."

(2) Doctrine.

Ignatius asserts emphatically Christ's true Divinity: "Our God" (Eph., xviii; Trall, vii). The Trinity is frequently suggested, although not expressly affirmed. Christians are "established in the Son, the Father, and the Spirit"; "subject to Christ and the Father, and the Spirit." With strong support of episcopal authority no sacerdotalism is united. "Priest" occurs only once, "The priests are good: but Christ, the High Priest, is better." Here, as the context shows, the imperfect Levitical priesthood is contrasted with perfect high-priesthood of Christ.

(3) Ecclesiastical Usage.

Ignatius contains one of the latest references to the Agape as still conjoined with the Eucharist.

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pur'-shan, pur'-zhan,RATURE (ANCIENT):

I. LANGUAGE (Introductory)




1. Ordinary Ayestic

2. Gathic


1. His Date, etc.

2. Date of Avesta

3. Divisions of the present Avesta

(1) The Yasna

(2) The Vispered

(3) The Vendidad

(4) The Yashts

(5) The Khorda Avesta


1. Literature

2. Comparison


I. Language: (Introductory).

The Persian language, ancient and modern alike, is an Aryan tongue. In its ancient forms it is more closely connected with Vedic Sanskrit than with any other language except Armenian. Most of its roots are to be found also in Slavonic, Greek, Latin and other tongues of the same stock.


There were two main dialects in the ancient language of Iran (Airyanem),

(1) that of the Persians proper, and

(2) that of the Medes.

The former is known to us from the inscriptions of the Achemenian kings, the latter from the Avesta, and a few Median words preserved for us by Herodotus and other Greek writers.

II. Old Persian Inscriptions.

These fall between 550 and 330 B.C., and contain about 1,000 lines and 400 words. They are carved upon the rocks in a cuneiform character, simplified from that of the neo-Susian, which again comes from the neo-Babylonian syllabary. In Old Persian inscriptions only 44 characters are employed, of which 7 are ideographs or contractions. The remaining 37 phonetic signs are syllabic, each consisting of an open syllable and not merely of a single letter, except in case of separate vowels. The syllabary, though much simpler than any other cuneiform system, does not quite attain therefore to being an alphabet. It was written from left to right, like the other cuneiform syllabaries. Of Cyrus the Great only one Persian sentence has been found: Adam Kurush Khshayathiya Hakhamanishiya, "I am Cyrus the King, the Achemenian." Darius I has left us long inscriptions, at Behistan (Besitun), Mt. Alvand, Persepolis, Naqsh i Rustam, etc., and one at Suez, the latter mentioning his conquest of Egypt and the construction of the first (?) Suez canal:

Adam niyashtayam imam yuviyam kantanaiy haca Pirava nama rauta tya Mudrayaiy danauvatiy abiy daraya tya haca Parsa aiti.

("I commanded to dig this canal from the river named the Nile, which flows through Egypt, to the sea which comes from Persia.")

We have also inscriptions of Xerxes at Persepolis and many short ones of Artaxerxes I, Artaxerxes Mnemon, and Artaxerxes Ochus. From them all taken together we learn much concerning the history and the religion of the Achemenian period. It is from Achemenian or Old Persian, and not from the Medic or Avestic, that modern Persian has sprung through Pahlavi and Dari as intermediate stages. This is probably due to the political supremacy which the Persians under the Achaemenides gained over the Medes. The few words in the inscriptions which might otherwise be doubtful can be understood through comparison with Armenian and even with the modern Pets, e.g. yuviya in the above inscription is the modern vulgar Pets jub.

III. Medic Dialect.

1. Ordinary Avestic:

The Medic dialect is represented in literature by the Avesta or sacred books of the Zoroastrians (Parsis). The word Avesta does not occur in the book itself and is of uncertain meaning and signification. It is probably the Abashta of Beh. Inscr., IV, 64, and means either

(1) an interview, meeting (Sanskrit avashta, "appearance before a judge"; At. ava-sta, "to stand near"), or (2) a petition (Pahl. apastan, "petition"; Arm. apastan, "refuge," "asylum"),

in either case deriving its name from Zoroaster's drawing near to Ahura Mazda in worship.

This dialect represents a much greater decadence in grammar and vocabulary than does the Old Persian. Many of its consonants and most of its vowels are weakened. Its verbs have almost entirely lost the augment; its declensional system shows extreme confusion. It stands to Old Persian grammatically somewhat as English does to German Its alphabet, consisting of 43 letters, is derived from the Syriac (probably the Estrangela), and is written from right to left. As a specimen of the language of most of the Avesta we give the following extract (Yasna LXIV, 15(61)):

Daidi moi, ye gam tasho apasca urvarwsca

Ameretata, haurvata, Spenista Mainyu Mazda,

Tevishi, utayuiti, Mananha Vohu, senhe.

"Give me, O thou who didst make the bull (earth),

and the waters and the plants, immortality, health-

O most Bountiful Spirit, Mazda

-strength, might, through Vohu Mano, I say.")

2. Gathic:

There is a sub-dialect of Medic (Avestic) known as the Gatha-dialect, from the fact that the Gathas or "Hymns" (Yasna XXVIII-XXXIV, XLII-L, LII), and also the prayers (Yatha Ahu Vairyo, Ashem Vohu, Airyama Ishyo, and originally Yenhe Halam, and a few scattered passages elsewhere) are composed in it. This represents, speaking generally, an older form of the Avestic. It is probably the old language of Bactria or of Margiana Gatha I, 2, runs thus:

Ye vw, Mazda Ahura, pairijasai Vohu Mananha,

Maibyo davoi ahvw (astivatasca hyaTca mananho)

Ayapta AshaT haca, yais rapento daidiT hvathre.

"To me, O Ahura Mazda, who approach you two through Vohu Mano,

grant the benefits from Asha, (those) of both worlds,

both of the material (world)

and of that which is of the spirit, through which (benefits)

may (Asha) place in glory those who please him.")

The meter of the Gathas, like that of the other Avestic poems, is based on the number of syllables in a line, with due regard to the caesura. But the condition of the text is such that there is great difficulty in recovering the original reading with sufficient accuracy to enable us to lay down rules on the subject with any certainty. The first Gatha is composed of strophes of 3 lines each (as above). Each line contains 16 syllables, with a caesura after the 7th foot.

IV. Zoroaster.

1. His Date, etc.:

Many of the Gathas are generally ascribed to Zoroaster himself, the rest to his earliest disciples. They compose the most ancient part of the Avesta. It is now becoming a matter of very great probability that Zoroaster lived at earliest in the middle of the 7th century B.C., more probably a century later. The Arta Viraf Namak says that his religion remained pure for 300 years, and connects its corruption with the alleged destruction of much of the Avesta in the palace burned by Alexander at Persepolis, 324.B.C. This traditional indication of date is confirmed by other evidence. Zoroaster's prince Vishtaspa (in Greek Hustaspes) bears the same name as the father of Darius I, and was probably the same person. Vishtaspa's queen Hutaosa, who also protected and favored Zoroaster, bears the same name (in Greek Atossa) as Cambyses' sister who afterward married Darius, and probably belonged to the same family. Zoroastrianism comes to the fore under Darius, whereas Cyrus in his inscriptions speaks as a decided polytheist. Hence, we conclude that the earliest part of the Avesta belongs to circa 550 B.C. Of Zoroaster himself we learn much from the Avesta, which traces his genealogy back for 10 generations. It mentions his wife's name (Hvovi), and tells of his 3 sons and 3 daughters. His first disciple was Frashaostra, his wife's natural uncle. His own name means "Owner of the yellow camel," and has none of the higher meanings sometimes assigned to it by those who would deny his existence. Tradition says he was born at Ragha (Raga, Rai) about 5 1/2 miles South of the present Tehran, though some think his native place was Western Atropatene (Azarbaijan). Rejected by his own tribe, the Magi, he went to Vishtispa's court in Bactria. The faith which he taught spread to the Persian court (very naturally, if Vishtispa was identical with Darius' father) and thence throughout the country. Tradition (Yasht XIX, 2, etc.) says that the Avesta was revealed to Zoroaster on Mt. Ushi-darena ("intellect-holding") in Sistan. But it is not the composition of one man or of one age.

2. Date of Avesta:

Herodotus makes no mention of Zoroaster, but speaks of the Magi (whom he calls a Median tribe (i.101)) as already performing priestly functions. His description of their repetition of charms and theological compositions (i.132) would agree very well with recitation of the Gathas and Yasna. Mention of controversies with Gautama, Buddha's disciples (Yasht XIII, 16) who probably reached Persia in the 2nd century B.C., is another indication of date. The fact that in both the Yasna and the Vendidad heretics (zanda) are mentioned who preferred the commentary (zand) on the Avesta to the Avesta itself, is a sign of late date. Names of certain persons found in the Avesta (e.g. Atare-pata, a Dastur who lived under Hormuzd I, 273 A.D., and Rastare-Yaghenti, whom the Dinkarl identifies with the chief Mobed of Sapor II, 309-379 A.D., Aderpad Marespand, and who, according to the Patet, section 28, "purified" the revelation made to Zoroaster, i.e. revised the text of the earlier parts of the Avesta) enable us to prove that certain portions of the work as we now have it were composed as late as near the end of the 4th century of our era. It is said that the text was in confusion in the time of Vologases I (51-78 (?) A.D.). A reccnsion was then begun, and continued with much zeal by Ardashir Papakan, 226-240 A.D. According to Geldner (Prolegomena, xlvi) the final recension took place some considerable time after Yezdigird III (overthrown 642 A.D.). In the times of the Sasanides there were, it is said, 21 Naskas or volumes of the Avesta, and the names of these are given in the Dinkart (Book IX). Of these we now possess only one entire Naska, the Vendidad, and portions of three others.

3. Divisions of the Present Avesta:

The present Avesta is divided into 5 parts:

(1) The Yasna

The Yasna root yaz, Sanskrit yaj, "to invoke," "to praise") contains 72 chapters of hymns for use at sacrifices, etc., including the "Older Yasna" or Gathas.

(2) The Vispered

The Vispered (vispa, "every," "all," and radha, "a lord") is divided into 24 chapters in Geldner's edition; it is supplementary to the Yasna.

(3) The Vendidad

The Vendidad (van plus daea plus data, "law for vanquishing the demons") contains 22 chapters. The first chapter contains the Iranian myth about the order in which the provinces of the Iranian world were created by Ahura Mazda. It tells how the Evil Spirit, Anro Mainyus, created plagues, sins and death, to destroy the good creatures of the Good Spirit. The greater part of the book contains ceremonial laws and formulas, some of them loathsome and all rather petty and superstitious in character.

(4) The Yashts

The Yashts, 21 in all, are hymns, telling many mythological tales about Mithra, Tishtriya, etc.

(5) The Khorda Avesta

The Khorda Avesta ("Little Avesta") consists of a number of short compositions, hymns, etc., compiled by the Aderpad Marespand (Adharpadh Mahraspand, Atarobat Mansarspendan) already mentioned, in Sapor II's reign.

Much of the Avesta is said to have been destroyed by the Khalffah `Umar's orders when Persia was conquered by the Arabs after the battle of Nahavand (642 A.D.). Certainly `Umar ordered the destruction of Persian libraries, as we learn from the Kashfu'z Zunun (p.341).

V. Pahlavi.

1. Literature:

Under ancient Persian literature may be classed the Pahlavi

(a) inscriptions of Sapor at Hajiabad and elsewhere,

(b) legends on Sasanian coins,

(c) translations of certain parts of the Avesta, made under the Sasanides for the most part,

(d) such books as the Arta Viraf Namak, the Zad Sparam, Dinkart, Ormazd Yasht, Patet, Bundishnih, etc.

These are mostly of religious import. The Arta Viraf Namak gives a description of the visit of the young dastur Arta Viraf, to the Zoroastrian heaven. The Bundihishnih ("creation") tells how Ormazd and Ahriman came into being, and treats of the 9,000 years' struggle between them. Pahlavi, as written (the so-called Huzvaresh), contains an immense number of Aramaic words, but the Persian terminations attached to these show that they were read as Persian: thus yehabunt-ano is written, and dat-ano ("to give") is read. Pahlavi works that are no longer extant are the sources of the Vis o Ramin, Zaratusht Namah, Shahnamah, etc.

2. Comparison:

In order to understand the relation in which the Persian dialects and stages in the history of the language stand to one another, it may be well to subjoin a list of words in Old Persian, Avestic, Pahlavi and modern Persian. It will be seen that Ayestic is not the source of the Aryan part of the present tongue.


Friend.... zusta daushta dost dust

Hand...... zasta dasta dast dast

Bactreia.. Bakhdhi Bakhtri Bahr Balkh

Straight.. drva(sta) duruva(sta) drust durust

Greatest.. mazista mathishta mahist mahin Most right razista rasta rast rast

Abode..... nmana maniya man man-dan ("to remain")





Achaemenian inscriptions, Korsowitz, Spiegel, Rawlinson: Geiger and Kuhn (editors), Grundriss der iranischen Philologie; Darmesteter, Etudes iraniennes; Spiegel, Eranische Altertumskunde; Noldeke, Aufsatze zur persischen Geschichte; W. Geiger, Ostiranische Kultur im Alterium; Geldner's edition of Avesta; Professor Browne, Literary History of Persia; De Harlez, Manuel de la langue de l' Avesta, Manuel de la langue Pehlevie, and Introduction to the Avesta; Haug, Book of Artd Viraf; Cook, Origins of Religion and Language.

W. St. Clair Tisdall




lit'-er-a-tur. See preceding article.

1121. gramma -- that which is drawn or written, ie a letter
... Definition: a letter of the alphabet; collectively: written (revelation); (a) a
written document, a letter, an epistle, (b) writings, literature, learning. ...
// - 6k

3098. Magog -- Magog, a foreign nation
... Magog, sometimes as name of a people, sometimes as name of a country in the Old
Testament, probably the Scythians; hence: used in apocalyptic literature. ...
// - 6k

1114. goes -- a wailer, a sorcerer, a swindler
... 1114 -- originally, a sorcerer (in ancient Greek literature); in NT times, 1114 ()
is a a shameless cheat pretending to use supernatural power; an (), looking ...
// - 7k

Strong's Hebrew
5612. sepher -- a missive, document, writing, book
... 47), book (79), books (2), certificate (3), deed (6), deeds (3), illiterate* (1),
indictment (1), letter (14), letters (15), literate* (1), literature (2), read ...
/hebrew/5612.htm - 6k

Select Masterpieces of Biblical Literature
Select Masterpieces of Biblical Literature. <. Select Masterpieces
of Biblical Literature Various. Edited by Richard ...
// masterpieces of biblical literature/

... LITERATURE. The literature on the Life and Character of Christ has of late
received very large additions in Germany, France, Holland ...
// person of christ/literature.htm

... Literature. C. Sagittarius: Introductio in historiam ecclesiasticam.
Jen.1694. F. WALCH: Grundsätze der zur K. Gesch. nöthigen ...
/.../schaff/history of the christian church volume i/literature.htm

The Literature
... Introduction to Early Christian Literature and Its Setting THE LITERATURE. ... Justin
and Athenagoras must suffice to indicate that class of literature. ...
// christian fathers/the literature.htm

... Prolegomena to St. Ambrose. I."Literature. Sec. 1. Editions. All the
Editions of the works of St. Ambrose which preceded that ...
/.../ and letters of st ambrose/i literature.htm

... Introductory Essay on the Manichæan Heresy, Chapter I. "Literature.
I. Sources. The following bibliography of Manichæism is ...
/.../writings in connection with the manichaean controversy /chapter i name.htm

... Chapter V Sources and Literature. Section 3. Literature. In making ... Albanus.
Consult for older literature relating to the Donation. La ...
/.../pamphilius/the life of constantine/section 3 literature.htm

... Chapter III Eusebius' Church History. Section 5. Literature. The literature
upon Eusebius' History is very extensive. Many of the ...
// history/section 5 literature.htm

... Chapter I."Literature. i. editions of chrysostom's works. S. Joannis
Chrysostomi, archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani, Opera omnia ...
// the priesthood/chapter i literature.htm

Additions to the Literature
... ADDITIONS TO THE LITERATURE. In General Kattenbusch: Lehrbuch der vergleichenden
Confessionskunde, Freib., 1892."Gumlich: Christ. Creeds and Conff., Engl. ...
/.../additions to the literature.htm

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) The collective body of literary productions, embracing the entire results of knowledge and fancy preserved in writing; also, the whole body of literary productions or writings upon a given subject, or in reference to a particular science or branch of knowledge, or of a given country or period; as, the literature of Biblical criticism; the literature of chemistry.

2. (n.) Learning; acquaintance with letters or books.

3. (n.) The class of writings distinguished for beauty of style or expression, as poetry, essays, or history, in distinction from scientific treatises and works which contain positive knowledge; belles-lettres.

4. (n.) The occupation, profession, or business of doing literary work.

Literature (2 Occurrences)
... writings upon a given subject, or in reference to a particular science or branch
of knowledge, or of a given country or period; as, the literature of Biblical ...
/l/literature.htm - 82k

... to which belong the Hebrew and Aramaic tongues of the Bible; secondly, as one of
the languages into which the Bible and other church literature were early ...
/a/arabic.htm - 17k

... CONTENTS 1. Philology 2. Astronomy and Astrology 3. Religious Texts 4. Law 5. Science
6. Literature 7. History and Chronology 8. Commerce 9. Letters I. The ...
/l/library.htm - 16k

Paradise (6 Occurrences)
... 2. Use in Jewish Literatare: In the apocryphal and pseudepigraphical literature
the word is extensively used in a spiritual and symbolia sense, signalizing the ...
/p/paradise.htm - 16k

Fourth (87 Occurrences)
... 3. Language 4. Versions 5. Origin of the Book 6.
Date LITERATURE ===== This book was not ...
/f/fourth.htm - 43k

Enoch (18 Occurrences)
... Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found, because
God translated him" (Hebrews 11:5). See further, APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE, sec. ...
/e/enoch.htm - 15k

Folly (68 Occurrences)
... 1. General: Taking the words generally, apart from the Wisdom literature, we find
nabhal frequently translated "fool" and nebhalah, "folly"; nabhal, however ...
/f/folly.htm - 39k

Witchcraft (8 Occurrences)
... of the Words 2. Biblical Usage 3. Common Elements in Witchcraft and Ancient Oriental
Magic 4. Rise, Spread and Persecution of Witchcraft LITERATURE 1. Meaning ...
/w/witchcraft.htm - 23k

Thomas (12 Occurrences)
... 2. In Apocryphal Literature: According to the "Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles"
(compare Budge, The Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50), Thomas was of the ...
/t/thomas.htm - 17k

Fool (95 Occurrences)
... 1. General: Taking the words generally, apart from the Wisdom literature, we find
nabhal frequently translated "fool" and nebhalah, "folly"; nabhal, however ...
/f/fool.htm - 47k

Bible Concordance
Literature (2 Occurrences)

Daniel 1:4 lads in whom there is no blemish, and of good appearance, and skilful in all wisdom, and possessing knowledge, and teaching thought, and who have ability to stand in the palace of the king, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.

Daniel 1:17 As to these four lads, God hath given to them knowledge and understanding in every 'kind of' literature, and wisdom; and Daniel hath given instruction about every 'kind of' vision and dreams.



Related Terms



Paradise (6 Occurrences)

Fourth (87 Occurrences)

Enoch (18 Occurrences)

Folly (68 Occurrences)

Witchcraft (8 Occurrences)

Thomas (12 Occurrences)

Fool (95 Occurrences)

Athens (5 Occurrences)

Acrostic (2 Occurrences)

Jeremy (2 Occurrences)


Printed (2 Occurrences)

Sanhedrin (19 Occurrences)

Witch (2 Occurrences)

Begging (18 Occurrences)



Beggar (5 Occurrences)

Proverb (24 Occurrences)





Magician (5 Occurrences)

Accommodation (1 Occurrence)

Beg (77 Occurrences)

Armenia (2 Occurrences)


Tiberius (1 Occurrence)

Print (3 Occurrences)

Rest (831 Occurrences)

Magic (12 Occurrences)

Apostolic (2 Occurrences)

Salvation (386 Occurrences)

Corinth (13 Occurrences)


Languages (36 Occurrences)


Conscience (36 Occurrences)

Dreamer (4 Occurrences)


Virgin (62 Occurrences)


Nicolaitans (2 Occurrences)

Lend (21 Occurrences)

Learning (40 Occurrences)

Literate (1 Occurrence)

Lettered (1 Occurrence)

Greece (15 Occurrences)

Iconium (6 Occurrences)

Friendship (13 Occurrences)

Friend (139 Occurrences)

Twelve (176 Occurrences)

Revival (1 Occurrence)


Elamites (2 Occurrences)


Alexandria (4 Occurrences)

Asnapper (1 Occurrence)

Inspiration (4 Occurrences)

Scroll (70 Occurrences)





Lads (20 Occurrences)

Writing (194 Occurrences)

Last (1087 Occurrences)

Latin (2 Occurrences)



Introduction (3 Occurrences)

Birth (357 Occurrences)

Elam (24 Occurrences)


Proverbs (11 Occurrences)

Dream (82 Occurrences)

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