Qumran Pseudepigrapha in Early Christianity: Is 1 Clem. 50:4 a Citation of 4QPseudo-Ezekiel (4Q385)?
Benjamin G. Wright
For many and varied reasons, ancient Christians found much non-biblical Jewish literature worth using and preserving. For instance, before their discovery as part of the scrolls of Qumran, important Jewish works like 1 Enoch and Jubilees were know
n only in the versions transmitted in Christian communities. Christians put this literature to use as proof texts for various ideas, and, as a result, early Christian writers frequently cite passages from Jewish works.
The manner of citation used by Christian writers often provides clues to the origin of a particular quotation. To give just one example, the several citations by church fathers given in the name of the biblical prophet Ezekiel combined with ancie
nt testimony to more than one book by this prophet (Epiphanius Pan. 64.70 and Josephus Ant. 10:79) witness to the existence of an ancient Apocryphon of Ezekiel. In many more instances, however, scholars still do not know the origins o
f the citations, which frequently appear out of context and with vague citation formulae. The discovery and publication of so many Jewish pseudepigrapha among the Qumran scrolls provide an expanded range of texts that can be used in attempts to identify s
ome of these early Christian citations. The most prominent example from Qumran thus far is 4QPseudo-Ezekiel.
With the recent, accelerated work on the manuscripts from Qumran Cave 4 came the publication of several fragments deriving from a Hebrew Ezekiel pseudepigraphon, originally designated 4QSecond Ezekiel, but now called 4QPseudo-Ezekiel. Its origina
l editors, John Strugnell and Devorah Dimant, included in this work all the numbers from 4Q385-4Q390, but Dimant, who now has sole responsibility for their publication, currently limits its scope among these numbers to three copies: 4Q385 fragments 1-5, 1
2, 24 (PsEza); all of 4Q386 (PsEzb); 4Q388 at least fragment 8 (PsEzc). In her paper delivered at the Madrid Qumran Conference, she originally reported 4Q387 and 4Q388 as separate copies of 4QPseudo-Ezekiel, and thus she l
isted four copies of the work in her lot. In her contribution to the festschrift for David Flusser, however, she notes that she now considers 4Q387 to be a copy of a Pseudo-Moses pseudepigraphon. A fourth copy of this Ezekiel pseudepigraphon is contained
among the 4Q391 fragments (PsEzd) published by Mark Smith in DJD 19.
This cave 4 pseudepigraphon is framed as a dialogue between the biblical prophet and God. Several of the extant fragments reprise portions of the biblical Ezekiel, especially the Merkevah Vision (Ezekiel 1, 10) and the Vision of the Dry Bones (Ez
ekiel 37). Other passages, although probably originating under the influence of biblical texts, nevertheless do not closely follow them. Still others show little or no relationship to the biblical Ezekiel at all.
In the light of the initial publications of Strugnell and Dimant, Menahem Kister and Richard Bauckham, in separate articles, have argued that three patristic texts, two of which are cited with vague introductions and one whose introduction attrib
utes it to Enoch, may have originated in 4QPseudo-Ezekiel. Kister argues first that Barn. 12:1, which reads, "Similarly again he describes the cross in another prophet, who says, 'And when shall all these things be accomplished? The Lord says,
"When a tree shall bend and stand erect and when blood shall flow from the tree,"'" parallels closely, and perhaps has as its source the text of the Ezekiel pseudepigraphon found in 4Q385 2, "And I said, 'O, YHWH, when will these thin
gs happen?' And YHWH said to me, '...And a tree shall bend and stand erect....'" He also notes a similarity between 4Q385 3 and Barn. 4:3. In this case Barnabas attributes a passage to Enoch that ends "For to this end the Lord has cut sho
rt the days that his Beloved should make haste and come to his inheritance." In the Qumran fragment Ezekiel asks God to "Let the days hasten on fast until all men will say, 'Indeed the days are hastening on in order that the children of Israel m
ay inherit.'" About this text, however, Kister only muses that Barnabas may be a free rendering of a text like 4Q385, and indeed this parallel has less to commend it than the first.
The citation from "scripture" given in Apoc. Pet. 4:7-9 is the only such citation in the book. It clearly refers to Ezekiel's vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones, but the citation contains several important variations from the
biblical version which correspond to the vision as it is reported in 4Q385 2. Bauckham relies on four major pieces of evidence to argue that the passage, rather than a quote from Ezekiel 37, is actually from 4QPseudo-Ezekiel: (1) the beginning of 4Q385 2
5 is in the same sequence as the Apocalypse of Peter, (2) in both of these instances the effect is "to produce a formula characteristic of Ezekiel," (3) both 4QPseudo-Ezekiel and the Apocalypse of Peter present the phrase "bon
e to its bone" as what Yahweh commands Ezekiel to say, a major difference from the biblical text, (4) the phrase "joint to its joint" in 4Q385 2 5-6 parallels the reference to joints in Apocalypse of Peter, but has no basis in the Ma
soretic text. Bauckham concludes that "the Apocalypse of Peter... reflects the major characteristic feature of this passage [4Q385 2] of 4Q Second Ezekiel in its rewriting of Ezekiel 37. That the Apocalypse of Peter is actually q
uoting 4Q Second Ezekiel seems therefore very likely."
Bauckham ends his discussion with a significant point about this citation of 4QPseudo-Ezekiel. He remarks, "That 4Q Second Ezekiel was cited as scripture by the author of the Apocalypse of Peter is of interest in demonstrating
that this work was not confined to the Qumran community and increases the probability that it did not originate there." Of course, such a conclusion indirectly raises the issue of whether the extant patristic citations usually identified as part of
the Greek Apocryphon of Ezekiel come from the same work as that found in Qumran. Bauckham is less certain about that prospect, but, even though the Greek citations and the Qumran work contain no common passages, the form and content of several of t
he patristic citations would fit well with the Qumran work as we know it.
The fact that some early Christian writers were familiar with the Qumran Pseudo-Ezekiel makes it a prime candidate for comparison with patristic citations that make allusion to passages from Ezekiel or that sound like the biblical Ezekiel, even t
hough they may not be explicitly associated with the prophet. In his seminal article on the Apocryphon of Ezekiel known to early Christian writers, M. R. James listed several unidentified citations that Alfred Resch thought might come from that wor
k. Now, after the discovery of the Qumran manuscripts, one of Resch's suggested apocryphal Eekiel texts, 1 Clem. 50:4, may be proposed to be a citation of the same Jewish Pseudo-Ezekiel work found in multiple copies among the scrolls.
Clement of Rome knew non-biblical Ezekiel traditions; 1 Clem. 8:3 almost certainly originated in an Apocryphon of Ezekiel. In 50:4 Clement cites a prophetic passage as scripture by the introductory formula, "It is written"
(ge&graptai ga_r). The citation itself consists of three clauses. The first, "Enter into your inner chambers for a little while, until my anger and wrath pass away" is a shorter, variant form of Isa. 26:20. Th
e citation lacks several elements of the Isaiah passage, namely Isaiah's initial imperative "Go my people" and the middle portion of the biblical verse which exhorts the people to close the door of the chamber and to hide. Two nouns for God's an
ger occur in Clement's text while Isaiah has only one. The second clause of 50:4, "And I will remember a good day," has no obvious biblical parallel. Finally, the third clause, "And I will raise you up out of your graves," is taken fro
m Ezek. 37:12. In this section the verb "raise" and the noun for "tombs/graves" differ from the manuscript tradition of the Greek translation of Ezekiel. The divergences from the texts of Isaiah and Ezekiel in the first and third parts
of Clement's citation together with the absence of any biblical source for the second clause indicate that Clement is not likely creating a composite citation here, but is citing some text that he has found in this form in some source.
1 Clem. 50:4 is not the only place where Ezekiel and Isaiah 26 come together in Jewish and Christian literature. Several texts that concern Ezekiel himself or material from his book invoke Isa. 26:19-20. In Pan. 64.70 Epiphanius be
gins with a citation of the Greek of Isa. 26:19, "For the dead will rise and those in their tombs will be raised up" and then segues into a parable about two men, one lame and the other blind, who despoil a king's garden, which Epiphanius says c
ame "from Ezekiel's own apocryphon." A later rabbinic midrash, Song of Songs Rab. 7:8, relates that Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah went to Ezekiel to ask if they should bow down to Nebuchadnezzar's idols. Ezekiel responds that his teacher
Isaiah told him, "Hide yourself a little while until my anger passes away," a citation of Isa. 26:20. Finally, 4Q385 4, a fragment containing Ezekiel's vision of the merkevah, most likely alludes to Isa. 26:20. Strugnell and Dimant transcribe li
ne 3 +]q +(mk )bx. The verb )bx appears nowhere in Ezekiel, but Isa. 26.20 begins (gr +(mk ybx.
This same conjunction of biblical texts may be present in 4Q385 12, another of the 4QPseudo-Ezekiel fragments; and this conjunction is very reminiscent of the prophetic citation in 1 Clem 50:4. Although the text of 4Q385 12 is fragmentary,
the almost certain reconstruction of line 3 as Md)] Nb reveals that the fragment is about Ezekiel. The first full sentence in line 1 that begins "And all the people rose up
" probably indicates that the events of the fragment concern Ezekiel 37, the Vision of the Dry Bones. Specifically, the sentence is probably the culmination of a longer paraphrase of the events of Ezek. 37:9-10. It is only here in the biblical Ezekie
l that a group rises up. After the dry bones come together in 37:7-8, God commands Ezekiel to prophecy to the breath. The four winds come and bring breath into the people. The people then "stood up on their feet (Mhylgr
l( wdm(yw)." In fact these verses may provide a plausible reconstruction of the end of 4Q385 12 1. I would suggest, based on Ezek. 37:10, that the line should read, Mhylgr ]l( [wdm(]yw M(h lk wmwqyw. The condition of line 2 prevents any certainty as to what is happening, but the first person singular pronoun
suggests that Ezekiel is the speaker. The vocabulary of line 2 does not reflect any passage from the biblical book, and apparently God's statement to Ezekiel in Ezek. 37:11 was not included in 4QPseudo-Ezekiel, but was replaced with something else. Since
line 3 begins with a vacat, whatever is happening in line 2 probably constitutes the end of a section.
The continuing storyline of Ezekiel 37:12-14, however, provides a good framework for the new section beginning with 4Q385 12 3. God speaks to Ezekiel, "And YHWH said to me, 'Son of [Man]... ." The next 2 lines, 4-5, are the ones of imme
diate interest. The words that can be read with confidence are, r#) d( wbk#y, "and they will lie/rest until... ." Preceding them are the letters tav-mem, which I take as a feminine plural n
ominal ending with a third person plural possessive pronoun. The extant portion of line 5 begins with the combination of letters yod-kaph-mem, a second person plural possessive ending, and the line ends with the phrase "and from the land (Cr)h Nmw)."
Any reconstructions here must be tentative, but the context of this fragment in Ezekiel 37 and the combination of Isa. 26:20 and Ezek. 37:12, which I believe appears in lines 4-5, may provide some assistance. Beginning with line 4, if the storyli
ne follows Ezekiel 37, after the people stand up the next thing that God tells Ezekiel to say to the people is in 37:12, "Thus says the Lord God, I am going to open your graves (Mkytwrbq) and bring you up out of
your graves (Mkytwrbqm), my people." Keeping Ezekiel 37 as the frame, the tav-mem in line 4 might be reconstructed Mtwrbq, "their tombs." There is a small st
roke of a letter visible on the microfiche photo (PAM 44.195) before the tav that is, at least, not inconsistent with a waw that is necessary for the plural ending on the noun.
The words following the tav-mem of line 4 do not come from Ezekiel 37. They may, however, recall the thought expressed in Isa. 26:20 and represent an interpretation of the dry bones vision as concerning resurrection of the righteous. Sinc
e there is no conjunction prefixed to wbk#y the preceding word probably began the sentence and might thus be reconstructed something like "in their graves" (Mtwrbqb). Th
e yod-kaph-mem sequence in line 5 may be reconstructed in consonance with what has preceded as Mkytwrbq "your tombs/graves," a frequently occurring term in Ezek. 37:11-14.
Thus, the whole section from lines 4-6 would be an interpretive paraphrase of the events narrated in Ezek. 37:10-14 with an allusion to Isa. 26:20 interposed. The passage then would read, with some supplied material, "And Yahweh said to me,
'Son of [Man, say/speak(?)] to them(?) ...[in] their [graves] they will lie/rest until [my anger passes and I will raise you up from] your [graves] and from the land..." This last phrase also may continue the storyline of Ezekiel 37 in which, after t
he section about being raised from their graves, God promises the people to restore them to their land. What the intervening material, represented here by ellipsis dots, may have been would depend on how wide the column widths were, which at present is an
Reconstructing the fragment in this way may begin to provide a coherent reading, but several interpretive difficulties require consideration. First, if lines 3-5 speak about God's intention to raise the faithful out of their graves, as I have sug
gested, then how does one account for its position after the statement that the people have already risen up? The easiest explanation is the one that I have given above, 4QPseudo-Ezekiel simply follows the order of events in Ezekiel 37.
It also, however, represents a literary feature used elsewhere in 4QPseudo-Ezekiel, in 4Q385 2, part of the Dry Bones vision itself, which presumably preceded 4Q385 12 in the work. Beginning in 4Q385 2 2 Ezekiel speaks about those in Israel who h
ave been faithful, after which he asks in line 3, "And these things (presumably what YHWH has already told him) when will they happen and how will they be paid back for their piety?" God commands Ezekiel to prophecy to the bones, which come toge
ther. After God tells Ezekiel to prophecy again, flesh reappears on the reconstitued bones. God then tells Ezekiel to prophecy a third time, and the people come alive. Finally "a great crowd of people stood and they blessed YHWH Sabaoth who made them
live." Only after the people stand and bless God does Ezekiel again ask, "O YHWH when will these things happen?" God gives another reply which seems to include the strange prophecy about a tree bending and becoming erect. Thus, Ezekiel's q
uestions might be taken in the first instance to address the restored community of the text, in the second, the community that is reading the work.
I understand 4Q385 12 to be working rhetorically in a similar manner to 4Q385 2. After the people rise up, God speaks to Ezekiel about what will happen in the still to materialize future. This most likely represents the future of the group who co
mposed or used the text. The Dry Bones vision is understood in the Qumran text not to be about community restoration, but as a prophecy about resurrection of the righteous who have been faithful to the law. And just as the dry bones were raised to life in
Ezekiel so God will raise those who are now, that is in the contemporary life of the text authors/readers, in their graves. Thus the text functions on two levels. On one level, it describes a resurrection that God accomplished before the eyes of Ezekiel,
and on the other it prophecies a resurrection that will yet occur for the community who used this work. 4Q385 2 has a past and future aspect and so does 4Q385 12 in the way that I have attempted to make sense of it.
A second interpretive issue that requires explanation is the change from third to second person between lines 4 and 5. This switch may also represent a way of including the reading/interpretive community in the events themselves. In this case, li
ke the one above, God raised the Israelites up in the past, and he will raise the present community, here spoken to in the second person. Other Qumran texts also exhibit changes in person for what appear to be similar reasons. One example is 4Q462.
This text presents its own interpretive problems, but it apparently is a "pre-sectarian" or "non-sectarian" text that uses historical allusions to highlight "the return of the Jewish people from disapora." Line 9 says, "
;they captured his people (a reference to the Babylonian captivity?); the light was with them and upon us (emphasis mine)...." Here the text shifts from the third person "them" of the historical allusion seemingly to the "us"; of the present community.