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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V14, Page 865 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ASCENSION OF ISAIAH, an apocryphal book of the Old Testament. The Ascension of Isaiah is a composite work of very great interest. In its present form it is probably not older than the latter half of the 2nd century of our era. Its various constituents, however, and of these there were three—the Martyrdom of Isaiah, the Testament of Hezekiah and the Vision of Isaiah—circulated independently as early as the 1st century. The first of these was of Jewish origin, and is of less interest than the other two, which were the work of Christian writers. The Vision of Isaiah is important for the knowledge it affords us of Origen, Tertullian and by Justin Martyr. It was probably known to the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Thus we are brought back to the 1st century A.D. if the last reference is trustworthy. And this is no doubt the right date, for works written by Jews in the 2nd century would not be likely to become current in the Christian Church. (b) The Testament of Hezekiah was written between AD. 88–100. The grounds for this date will be found in Charles, op. cit. pp. lxxi.-lxxii. and 30-31. (c) The Vision of Isaiah. The later recension of this Vision was used by Jerome, and a more primitive form of the text by the Archontici according to Epiphanius. It is still earlier attested by the Actus Petri Vercellenses. Since the Protevangel of James was apparently acquainted with it, and likewise Ignatius (ad. Ephes. xix.), the composition of the primitive form of the Vision goes back to the close of the 1st century. The work of combining and editing these three independent writings may go back to early in the 3rd or even to the 2nd century. LITERATURE. Editions of the Ethiopic Text: Laurence, Ascensio Isaiae eatis (1819) ; Dillmann, Ascensio Isaiae Aethiopice et Latine, cum prolegomenis, adnotationibus criticis et exegeticis, additis versionum Latinarum reliquiis edita (1877); Charles, Ascension of Isaiah, translated from the Ethiopic Version, which, together with the new Greek Fragment, the Latin Versions and the Latin translation of the Slavonic, is here published in full, edited with Introduction, Notes and Indices (1900) ; Flemming, in Hennecke's NTliche Apok. 292-305 ; NTliche Apok.-Handbuch, 323-331. This translation is made from Charles's text, and his analysis of the text is in the main accepted by this scholar. Translations: In addition to the translations given in the preceding editions, Basset, Les Apocryphes ethiopiens, iii. "L'Ascension d'Isaie" (1894) ; Beer, Apok. and Pseud. (19oo)ii.124-127. The latter is a German rendering of ii.-iii. 1-12, v. 2-14, of Dillmann's text. Critical Inquiries: Stokes, art. " Isaiah, Ascension of," in Smith's Dict. of Christian Biography (1882), iii. 298-301; Robinson, " The Ascension of Isaiah " in Hastings' Bible Dict. ii. 499-501. For complete bibliography see Schiirer,3 Gesch. des jiid. Volks, iii. 280-285; Charles, op. cit. (R. H. C.)

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