Did the Apocalypse of Peter certainly use 4 Esdras?

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Did the Apocalypse of Peter certainly use 4 Esdras?

Post by rakovsky » Sat Jul 20, 2019 9:40 pm

In order to establish a date of authorship for the Apocalypse of Peter, some scholars, like C. Detlef Müller, as quoted on the Early Writings page (below), theorize that the Apocalypse of Peter used a quote from 4 Esdras. They conclude that since 4 Esdras was written about 100 AD, that the Apocalypse of Peter must be written after that date. But is it certain that the Apocalypse of Peter used a quote from 4 Esdras, and not, say, the other way around?

C. Detlef G. Müller writes (New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 2, p. 622):
The terminus a quo can be more precisely determined through the time of origin of 4 Esdras 5.33 (about 100 A.D.), which was probably used in the Apocalypse of Peter (cf. 4 Esd 5.33 with c.3)
4 Esdras 5.33 goes:
Then I said, “Speak, my lord.” And he said to me, “Are you greatly disturbed in mind over Israel? Or do you love him more than his Maker does?
Muller's translation of Chapter 3 of the Apocalypse of Peter includes:
And I asked him and said, 'Lord, allow me to speak thy word concerning these sinners: 'It were better for them that they had not been created'."
And the Saviour answered and said "O Peter, why speakest thou thus, "that not to have been created were better for them"? Thou resistest God. Thou wouldest not have more compassion than he for his image, for he has created them and has brought them forth when they were not (probably an error for: and has brought them forth from not-being into being). And since thou has seen the lamentation which sinners shall encounter in the last days, therefore thy heart is saddened; but I will show thee their works in which they have sinned against the Most High.
As much as I researched the topic, I didn't find any explanation for why Chapter 3 of the Apocalypse of Peter would be based on 4 Esdras 5:33, and not the other way around. In the Apocalypse of Peter, Peter is concerned for the punished sinners and Jesus implies that God has more compassion than Peter does for sinners (Thou wouldest not have more compassion than he for his image). In 4 Esdras, Esdras is concerned for Israel, and is asked rhetorically 'Or do you love [Israel] more than his Maker does?' I can see that the two passages could be related, but it's not definite. Further, it isn't clear why a passage about concern and love for sinners must be based on a passage about concern and love for Israel and not the other way around.

The best argument that I can think of for the Apocalypse of Peter using 4 Esdras if the passages really are related is that this passage in 4 Esdras is from the long section known as the Jewish Apocalypse of Esdras. If one theorizes that this section of 4 Esdras is non-Christian, then it would make sense that 4 Esdras wouldn't have been the one to take the passage from the (Christian) Apocalypse of Peter. Personally, I haven't found it proven that the Jewish section of 4 Esdras really is non-Christian, since there was alot of Jewish and Christian overlap in this very early period.

Allan Menzies in Anti-Nicene Fathers, Volume IX suggested that The Apocalypse of Esdras(A later work than 4 Esdras) that used the Apocalypse of Peter (AKA Revelation of Peter)[/u]:
But even previously to the discovery at Akhmîm, the general character of the book [ie. the Apocalypse of Peter] had been inferred from the scanty fragments preserved in ancient writers and from the common elements contained in other and later apocalyptic writings which seemed to require some such book as the Revelation of Peter as their ultimate source. Such writings are the (Christian) Apocalypse of Esdras, the Vision of Paul...[etc.] (Cf. ...Robinson and James, The Gospel according to Peter and the Revelation of Peter, 1892.)
SOURCE: https://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/009/0090067.htm
Robinson and James write in their 1892 book The Gospel according to Peter and the Revelation of Peter:
It became clear, moreover, that certain books showed more or less clear traces of obligation to this old Apocalypse [of Peter]: in particular, this was true of the second book of the Sibylline oracles, the Apocalypse of Paul, and the later Apocalypse of Esdras. (p.40)

The Apocalypse of Esdras... contains an Inferno scattered in various parts of the book, if so confused a patch-work as this document is can be dignified with the name of a book. The torments and sins described show one remarkable coincidence with the Apocalypse. (p.69)
Further, the date for 4 Esdras, which the scholars use to date the Apocalypse of Peter, should be better considered to be 90-96 AD, rather than Muller's date of "about 100 AD". This is because Domitian ruled in 81 to 96 AD, and the Early Writings entry for 4 Esdras says that DeSilva notes "most scholars... suggest that the book was written during the last years of Domitian's reign."

My research on the prophecies of the Messiah's resurrection: http://rakovskii.livejournal.com

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