“Ascension of Isaiah”
“a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial insofar as it involves another, supernatural world.” Renan
Note: The literary genre called ‘apocalyptic’ is collected and organized here in such a way as to show the progression of eschatological thought in the late Second Temple period. One goal will be to show the writers’ expectations of an imminent end, and how the ultimate expectation of a ‘final end of the world’ in the events surrounding the great eschatological event (the conquering of the Gentiles to them, the fall of Jerusalem and its temple to us) was a misapprehension of the nature of fulfillment found in the advent of Jesus Christ – who was denied as the Way of Victory. Another goal will be to show how the demise of apocalyptic literature following the final end of the Jewish state lends support to the Preterist idea of prophetic fulfillment associated with that desolation. Christian works written in the first generation following AD70 — most of which display the sense of vindication felt as a result of the fall of Jerusalem — will be presented as the capstone of the apocalyptic genre.
Ascension of Isaiah
(On Nero, the Beast) (mid-second century)
“Beliar (Nero). . . shall descend . . . in the form of a man, a lawless king, a slayer of his mother, who . . . will persecute the plant which the Twelve Apostles of the Beloved have planted. . . . He will act and speak in the name of the Beloved and say ‘I am God and before me there has been none else.’ And all the people in the world will believe in him, and will sacrifice to him. ” (Ascension of Isaiah, 41 Ill)
“I saw all the righteous from Adam. And I saw there the holy Abel and all the righteous. And there I saw Enoch and all who were with him, stripped of the garment of the flesh, and I saw them in their higher garments, and they were like the angels who stand there in great glory” (Ascension of Isaiah 9:7-9; trans. by Müller in Schneemelcher)
“Go and descend through all the heavens; descend to the firmament and to that world, even to the angel in the realm of the dead . . . that you may judge and destroy the prince and his angels and the gods of this world and the world which is ruled by them, for they have denied me and said ‘We alone are, and there is none beside us’. And afterwards you will ascend from the angels of death to your place, and you will not be transformed in each heaven, but in glory you will ascend and sit on my right hand. And the princes and powers of this world will worship you” (Ascension of Isaiah 10.7-14).
And after it has come to its consummation, Beliar, the great prince, the king of this world who has ruled it since it came into being, shall descend; he will come down from his firmament in the form of a man, a lawless king, a slayer of his mother, who . . . will persecute the plant which the Twelve Apostles of the Beloved have planted; and one of the twelve will be delivered into his hand. . . All that he desires he will do in the world; he will act and speak in the name of the Beloved and say ‘I am God and before me there has been none else’. And all the people in the world will believe in him, and will sacrifice to him and serve him saying, ‘This is God and beside him there is none other’. . . And after (one thousand) three hundred and thirty-two days the Lord will come with his angels and with the hosts of the saints from the seventh heaven with the glory of the seventh heaven, and will drag Beliar with his hosts into Gehenna” (4:1-14).
What do YOU think ?