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CHRISTIAN SIBYLLINE ORACLES (80-250 AD) 6 Questions

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The Christian Sibylline Oracles are a set of Christian poems written in Greek in the style of pagan oracles. The original pagan Sibylline oracles are lost to us except for some fragments. The oracles that have survived in a complete form were composed or edited by Christian writers in 80-250 AD. Those surviving 14 "Books" / Volumes of the Sibylline Oracles, translated by Milton Terry (1899), along with 7 fragments found in Lactantius and Theophilus of Antioch, can be found here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/sib/

(Question 1) Why should the second half of Book VIII have been written a century after the first half as the Catholic Encyclopedia claims? Is the claim about the century-long difference based only on the supposition that the first part is from the 2nd century and Jewish, and that the second part is Christian and therefore must be written much later?
The Catholic Encyclopedia suggests that Books I,II, VI,VII,VIII, XI, XII, XIII, and XIV are Christian or Christianized, and that VI,VIII,XI,XIV likely date to the 2nd to 4th centuries. For example, it says: "Book VIII offers peculiar difficulties; the first 216 verses are most likely the work of a second century AD Jew, while the latter part (verses 217-500) beginning with an acrostic on the symbolical Christian word Icthus is undoubtedly Christian, and dates most probably from the third century AD." (SOURCE: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13770a.htm)

James Charlesworth writes in his book "The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha":

Quote

The date of verses 1-216 can be fixed with some precision. Verses 65-74 envisage the return of Nero before the death of that emperor in AD 180. Verses 148f. say that Rome will have completed 948 years before it is destroyed. Strictly speaking, that should point to a date of AD 195. However, given that this destruction of Rome is still in the future, and that Sibylline chronology is never exact, this statement is quite compatible with a date about AD 175.

The latest possible date for the second half of the book is provided by Lactantius, who quotes extensively from the entire book. THere is no closer indication of date. Geffcken notes similarity of style throughout the book and suggests that there was no great lapse of time between the various parts.

 

(Question 2) What does the Sibylline Hexameter sound like in Greek?
In translating the Sibylline Oracles, Milton Terry commented that the English language naturally fits a Pentameter structure, whereas the Greek language fits hexameter. So when he made his translation of the Oracles, he deliberately translated them into English with a Pentameter verse from the Greek original, which was in hexameter.
So I would like to hear the Sibylline Oracles read in Greek hexameter. Are there recordings of this?
The Karavaki blog discusses the Sibylline oracles in Greek and has excerpts from it ("Ποιές ήταν οι Σίβυλλες; Τι έλεγαν για τον Αδάμ και τον Χριστό; Ο χρησμός του Απόλλωνα", 12/01/2014, LINK: https://karavaki.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/sibylle/)

Homer's Odyssey and Iliad were written in Hexameter. The first 21 lines of Homer's Odyssey is read here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d39VrPwBGkQ
Excerpts from the Iliad can be heard here: https://www.podium-arts.com/3346/iliad-excerpts-16-feb-15/
Prof. Leonard Mueller explains Dactylic Hexameter and gives a reading here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4trBxZyjkk

I don't know if the following songs actually quote the Sibyl:
Maria Farantouri's song "Oracles of the Sibyl": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mC6k5wBrS4
Her 2011 performance of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGa06iFcqtk
Merlin Beggar's "Son of the Sybil" song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G26WoSqpiGw
Nenas Venetsanou's 1982 "Oracles of the Sybil": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqqMB4hSa70

(Question 3) What other early Christian writings besides the Sibylline Oracles described the "cessation of prophets"?
Book I of the Christian Sibyllines appears to describe the foundation of the church of the Christians who follow the New Covenant, then the leading of the church by the apostles, then maybe the killing or suppression of the apostles by governments, then the defeat of the Judean rebels and looting of Judea by Rome's armies, all of which happened in the 1st century:

Quote

But when he [ie. apparently Christ] comes to light again in three days
and shows a model to men and teaches all things,
he will mount on clouds and journey to the house of heaven
leaving to the world the account of the gospel.
Named after him, a new shoot will sprout
from the nations, of those who follow the law of the Great One.
But also after these things there will be wise leaders,
and then there will be thereafter a cessation of prophets.
Then when the Hebrews reap the bad harvest,
a Roman king will ravage much gold and silver.


Charlesworth ascribes the looting by the Romans in the final verse above to what occurred under Vespasian in c. 70 AD. Peter, Paul, and James had been killed earlier, in c.62-63 AD. So I get the sense that the passage means that the "prophets" ceased (eg. with the deaths of leading apostles like Paul, Peter, and James), then a Roman leader (ie. Vespasian) destroyed and looted the Temple.
The best example of early writings describing the Cessation of prophets that comes to mind is the commentary by St. John Chrysostom or St. Augustine that in the beginning period of Christianity's spread, miracles and signs were used, but that after the Church got founded and strong enough, the Church switched to emphasizing reason and logic to spread its message.

(Question 4) How should a good person address this personal and emotional challenge of dealing with past trauma?
Book II of the Sibyllines says, "Do not vex thy heart With evils that are past; for what is done Can never be undone."
This is hard because there is trauma that has been done to people and even if one doesn't desire revenge, the trauma can still be hard to deal with. Consider for example how in Revelation, the martyrs cry out to God for justice.

(Question 5) Can you please explain William Deane's sentence below about editors adding in verses?
William Deane writes in his book "Pseudepigrapha" about Book IV of the Christian Sibylline Oracles:

Quote

 

An epilogue [in Book IV] about the condition of men after the judgment was thought to be sufficiently orthodox and in accordance with Christian notions to be transferred bodily to the Apostolical Constitutions, where it will be found in Book v. chap.7. The episode there is indeed somewhat longer than that contained in the MSS. of the Sibyllines, and the editors of the latter have added the verses thus preserved to their editions, judging rightly that there is sufficient authority for the insertion.

SOURCE: https://biblehub.com/library/deane/pseudepigrapha/the_sibylline_oracles.htm#1

 


Does Deane mean that an epilogue in Book IV was copied in a longer form into the Apostolic Constitutions and that afterwards the editors of Book IV ("the latter"?) inserted this longer form into Book IV, thinking that the Apostolic Constitutions were sufficient authority for the insertion?

(Question 6) Have you heard of the idea that Christ's cross was taken to heaven, which is mentioned in Book 6?
Book VI has an address to the Cross:

Quote

    O the Wood, O so blessed, upon which
    God was outstretched; the earth shall not have thee,
    But thou shalt look upon a heavenly house,
    When thou, O God, shalt flash thine eye of fire.


James Charlesworth writes in his book "The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha" regarding this passage: "The idea expressed in verse 37, that the cross would be taken up to heaven, was popular in later Christian writings."(For this he cites: Rzach-Wissowa 2A, col. 2141.)

 

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