In his important 1976 paper, “The Pseudepigrapha in Christianity,” Robert A. Kraft insists that scholars of ancient Judaism and Christianity need to take full account of the Christian contexts in which so-called Old Testament pseudpigrapha have come down to us before attempting to make the case that a text preserved only in late manuscripts in languages used primarily or exclusively by Christians reflects a Jewish original of the Second Temple period. The end result, Kraft admitted, is likely to be a smaller library of Jewish works from the turn of the era. This paper discusses 3 Baruch, an apocalypse that most scholars have treated as originally Jewish despite, in addition to its preservation by Christians, certain features quite unusual in Jewish works, as a test case. It argues that recent scholarship has failed to give adequate weight to Kraft’s crucial insights and suggests that scholarly accounts of diaspora Judaism in the Second Temple period would look rather different if those insights were taken more seriously. Finally it offers some tentative suggestions about a Christian setting in which 3 Baruch might have been composed.
© 2016 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston