Dating of the new testament writings
Apocalyptic literature was both a message of comfort and an effort to solve the problems of the sufferings of the just and the apparent hopelessness of a fulfilment of the prophecies of Israel's sovereignty on earth.
But the inevitable consequence of the apocalyptic distrust of everything present was its assumption of the guise of the remote and classic past; in other words, its pseudonymous character.
The Jewish apocalypses furnish the completing links in the progress of Jewish theology and fill what would otherwise be a gap, though a small one, between the advanced stage marked by the deuterocanonical books and its full maturity in the time of Our Lord; a maturity so relatively perfect that Jesus could suppose as existing in the popular consciousness, without teaching , the doctrines of future retribution, the resurrection of the body, and the existence, nature, and office of angels.
Jewish apocalyptic writing is an attempt to supply the place of prophecy, which had been dead for centuries, and it has its roots in the sacred oracles of Israel.
(See CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.) The original and proper sense of the term as applied to the pretended sacred books was early obscured.
But a clue to it may be recognized in the so-called Fourth Book of Esdras, which relates that Estrus (Era) by divine inspiration composed ninety-four books.
Naturally basing itself upon the Pentateuch and the Prophets, it clothed itself fictitiously with the authority of a patriarch or prophet who was made to reveal the transcendent future.
It has been employed in various ways by early patristic writers, who have sometimes entirely lost sight of the etymology.
It has been deemed better to classify the Biblical apocrypha according to their origin, instead of following the misleading division of the apocrypha of the Old and New Testaments.
Broadly speaking, the apocrypha of Jewish origin are coextensive with what are styled of the Old Testament, and those of Christian origin with the apocrypha of the New Testament.
The most important and valuable of the extant Jewish apocrypha are those which have a large apocalyptic element; that is, which profess to contain visions and revelations of the unseen world and the Messianic future.
Jewish apocalyptic literature is a theme which deserves and has increasingly received the attention of all interested in the development of the religious thought of Israel, that body of concepts and tendencies in which are fixed the roots of the great doctrinal principles of Christianity itself, just as its Divine Founder took His temporal generation from the stock of orthodox Judaism.