Apocryphon of Ezekiel

Introduction and paraphrase prepared by Bob Bryant

    The Prophet Ezekiel, it would appear wrote more than one book. The only book that remains in it's entirety is found in the Bible. The second book, of which only a few fragments remain, has also been preserved in the Christian tradition. What remains of the Apocryphon of Ezekiel is rather scarce. Of the fragments that remain, only one tells a story. The first fragment is a story of a blind man and a lame man and their attempt at thievery. The story tells how a king has had his figs stolen by the blind man and the lame man as a team. Neither of the two men can accomplish this on their own, but by working together, they could do so. The fragment ends with a stated moral of the story which says that the body and the soul of a person will be judged by God for the acts that both commit, for they go through life as a team. This fragment is the only one of the five to have survived on its own. The remainder have been saved only as citations in other works.

    The earliest appearance of the Apocryphon as a citation is in a work by Clement of Alexandria at the end of the first century C.E. The guesses as to the earliest date that it could have been written is a range of about a hundred years, from 50 B.C.E to 50 C.E. Although, fragment 4 does make mention of "The Lord Jesus Christ" in the past tense, it could also be assumed that it would have to have been written sometime after Jesus began his ministry. The way in which only some of this has survived, but almost all of it being in many other texts, shows that the writings of the author were popular and well known.

Fragment 1:

The lame and blind men in the garden

    A certain king of this world had a beautiful fig garden. In this garden he had growing some beautiful and ripe figs. In his kingdom were living two men which he had neglected. They were a blind man and a lame man. One night, the lame man conspired with the blind man to steal into the garden and help themselves to some of these figs. Leading the blind man to him with a rope, the lame man climbed upon his back, and acted as the eyes for the blind man. In this way, the two men managed to get into the garden, and eat the figs growing therein. When the king discovered that his figs were missing, he went to the blind man and asked him how such a thing could happen. The blind man responded by saying; "How could I have done this, I who cannot see?" Then the king went to the lame man and asked of him the same question. The lame man responded by saying; "How could I have done this, I who cannot walk?" The king then put the lame man on the blind mans back, and demonstrated how the two had worked together to accomplish there goal, and they were unable to deny it. It is in this way that the body is connected to the soul, and the two will be judged by what both have done, and endure no separate judgment.

Fragment 2

    Repent, house of Israel, from your lawless ways. I say to you, my people, "Even if the list of your sins stretches from heaven to earth, and if they are as black as they can be, and you turn to me, and with all of your heart say, 'Father', I will forgive you, and look on you as holy.

Fragment 3

    Look at the cow, She has calved, and yet she is pregnant.

Fragment 4

    In this manner, our Lord Jesus Christ also said, "It is what I have seen you doing that I will judge you for."

Fragment 5

    Therefore, he told Ezekiel ... "I will cure the lame, and heal the ill, those who have wandered away, I will return to the fold, and I will feed them upon my holy mountain ... and I will be their shepherd and I will be as close to the as a second skin."

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9/22/97

prepared for Intro. to the New Testament
by Bob Bryant
bryantr@albnet.EDU

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