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Apocalypse of Zephaniah

ZEPHANIAH, APOCALYPSE OF. This Jewish pseudepigraphical book is known through references to it by Clement of Alexandria, c. a.d. 190 (Stromata, V.11.77) and Nicephorus, c. a.d. 820. Clement describes Zephaniah’s journey into the fifth heaven escorted by the Spirit. He saw angels in glory on thrones, singing the praises of the most high God. This work is quite similar to Ascension of Isaiah, 7-9 (see article).

There is a Christian Apocalypse of Sophoniah preserved in two pages of early 5th-cent. a.d. Sahidic Coptic MS. Sophoniah saw a soul being flogged in the nether world for its unrepented sins. Transported to a new locality, Sophoniah saw a multitude of angels of horrifying appearance. The text then becomes illegible. Its relation to Clement’s Apocalypse is uncertain, although the flogging scene resembles a similar scene in Apocalypse of Paul (see article) from Nag Hammadi Codex V, which has passages in common with Clement’s Apocalypse.

An Achmimic Coptic MS of the 4th cent. has a part of an apocalypse (eighteen pages) believed by some to be part of the work mentioned above. Its title is not preserved, so it is sometimes called the Anonymous Apocalypse. It describes the punishment in hell of the wicked as in the 2nd-cent. Apocalypse of Peter. All three works are prob. of Christian origin.


G. Steindorff, Die Apokalypse des Elias, eine Unbekannte Apokalypse und Bruchstucke der Sophonias Apokalypse, TU XVII, 3 (1899).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A (probably) Jewish apocryphal work of this name is mentioned in the Stichometry of Nicephorus and another list practically identical with this; a quotation from it is also preserved by Clement of Alexandria (Strom., v. 11,77). Dr. Charles thinks this indicates a Christian revision (Encyclopedia Brittanica, II, article "Apocalypse"); others suppose it to point to a Christian, rather than a Jewish, origin. See Schurer, HJP, div II, volume III, pp. 126-27, 132; GJV4, III, 367-69.