This collection of translations of the more important non-canonical Old Testament books is designed for popular rather than strictly academic use. The translations are accompanied by introductions and brief bibliographies.
About the Author
H. F. D. Sparks is at Oxford University.
Paperback: 1012 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 21, 1985)
The Vision Of Esdras
From The Apocryphal Old Testament
edited by H.F.D. Sparks
VISION OF THE BLESSED EZRA
Date: 4th - 7th century A.D.
Ezra prayed to the Lord, saying “Grant me courage, O Lord, that I might not fear when I see the judgments of the sinners.” And there were granted to him seven angels of hell who carried him beyond the seventieth grade in the infernal regions. And he saw fiery gates, and at these gates he saw two lions lying there from whose mouth and nostrils and eyes proceeded the most powerful flames. The most powerful men were entering and passing through the fire, and it did not touch them. And Ezra said, “Who are they, who advance so safely?” The angels said to him, “They are the just whose repute has ascended to heaven, who gave alms generously, clothed the naked, and desired a good desire.”
And others were entering that they might pass through the gates, and dogs were ripping them apart and fire was consuming them. And Ezra said, “Who are they?” The angels said, “They denied the Lord, and sinned with women on the Lord’s Day.” And Ezra said, “Lord, have mercy on the sinners!”
And they lad him lower beyond the fiftieth grade, and he saw in that place men standing in torments. Some were throwing fire in their faces, others, however, were whipping them with fiery scourges. And the earth cried aloud, saying, “Whip them and refuse to have mercy on them, because they worked impiety upon me.” And Ezra said, “Who are they, tho are in such torments daily?” The angels said, “They swelled with married women; the married women are those who adorned themselves not for their husbands, but that they might please others, desiring an evil desire.” Ezra said. “Lord, have mercy on the sinners!”
And again they brought him to the south, and he saw a fire, and poor ones and also women hanging, and angels were whipping them with fiery clubs. And Ezra said, “Lord have mercy on the sinners! Who are they?” And the angels said, “They dwelled with their mothers, desiring an evil desire.” And Ezra said, “Lord, have mercy on the sinners!”
And they led (him) downward in the infernal regions, and he saw a caldron in which were sulfur and bitumen, and it was roiling just like the waves of the sea. And the just were entering, and in the midst of it they were walking over the fiery waves, praising greatly the name of the Lord, just like those who walk over dew of cold water. And Ezra said, “Who are they?” The angels said, “They are the ones who daily were making better confession before God and the holy priests, freely bringing alms (and) resisting sins.” And the sinners came, wishing to pass over, and the angels of hell came and submerged them in the fiery stream. And from the fire they cried out, saying, “Lord, have pity on us!” But he did not have pity. A voice was heard, but a body was not seen because of the fire and the anguish. And Ezra said, “Who are they?” The angels said, “They were brought down by lust all their days, they did not receive strangers, they did not give alms; they took unjustly the things of others for them selves; they had an evil desire; therefore, they are in anguish.” And Ezra said, “Lord, have mercy on the sinners!”
And he walked as before and he saw in an obscure place and immortal worm, its magnitude he was not able to reckon. And in front of its mouth stood many sinners, and when it drew a breath, like flies they entered into its mouth; then when it exhaled, they all exited a different color. And Ezra said, “Who are they?” And they said. “They were full of every bad thing and they went about without confession or penitence.”
And he saw a person witting on a fiery throne, and his counselors stood around him in the fire, and they served him from the fire and out of every side. And Ezra said, “Who is that?” And the angels said, “That man, whose name is Herod, was king for a long time, who, in Bethlehem of Judea, slew the infant males on account of the Lord.” And Ezra said, “Lord judge a right judgment!”
And he walked and saw men who were bound and the angels of hell were pricking their eyes with thorns. And Ezra said, “Who are they?” The angels said, “They showed strange paths to those wandering.” Ezra said, “Lord, have mercy on the sinners!” And he saw virgins with five-hundred-pound neck irons on, as if near death, coming to the west. And Ezra said, “Who are they?” And the angels said, “They violated their virginity before marriage.” And there was a multitude of old men, lying prostrate, and over them molten iron and lead being poured. And he said, “Who are they?” And the angels said, “They are the doctors of the Law who confuses baptism and the law of the Lord, because they were teaching with words, but they did not spur on to work; and in this they are judged.? And Ezra said, “Lord have mercy on the sinners!”
And he saw visions of a furnace, against the setting sun, burning with great fire, into which were sent many kings and princes of this world; and many thousands of poor people were accusing them and saying, “They, through their power. Wounded us and dragged free men into servitude.” And he saw another furnace, burning with pitch and sulfur, into which sons were cast who acted wretchedly at the hands of their parents and caused injury by means of their mouth. And he saw in a most obscure place another furnace burning, into which many women were cast. And he said, “Who are they?” And the angels said, “They had sons in adultery and killed them” And those little ones themselves accused them, saying, “Lord, the souls which you gave to us these (women) took away.” And he said, “Who are they?” And the angels said, “They killed their sons.” And Ezra said, “Lord, have mercy on the sinners!"
Then Michael and Gabriel came and said to him, “Come into heaven!” And Ezra said, “As my Lord lives, I may not come until; I see every judgment of sinners.” And they led him downward in to the infernal regions beyond the fourteenth level. And he saw lions and little dogs lying around fiery flames. And the just came through them and they crossed over into Paradise. And he saw many thousands of the just and their habitations were the most splendid of any time.
And after he saw this, he was lifted up into heaven, and he came to a multitude of angels, and they said to him, “Pray to the Lord for the sinners,” And they put him down within the sight of the Lord. And he said, “Lord, have mercy on the sinners!” And the Lord said, “Ezra, let them receive according to their works.” And Ezra said, “Lord, you have shown more clemency to the animals. Which eat the grass and have not returned you praise, than to us; they die and have no sin; however, you torture us, living and dead.” Sand the Lord said, “In my image I have formed man and I have commanded that they not sin and they sinned; therefore they are in torments. And the elect are those who go into eternal rest on account of confession, penitence, and largesse in almsgiving.” And Ezra said, “Lord, what do the just do in order that they may not enter into judgment?” And the Lord said to him “(just as) the servant who performed well for his master will receive liberty, so too (will) the just in the kingdom of heaven.” Amen.
Never in your long ascendancy will you lose the power to recognize your associates of former existences. Always, as you ascend inward in the scale of life, will you retain the ability to recognize and fraternize with the fellow beings of your previous and lower levels of experience. Each new translation or resurrection will add one more group of spirit beings to your vision range without in the least depriving you of the ability to recognize your friends and fellows of former estates.
Princess Bride 1987 Wallace Shawn (Vizzini) and Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya)
Vizzini: HE DIDN'T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
And here is mystery: The more closely man approaches God through love, the greater the reality -- actuality -- of that man. The more man withdraws from God, the more nearly he approaches nonreality -- cessation of existence. When man consecrates his will to the doing of the Father's will, when man gives God all that he has, then does God make that man more than he is.
"And do you not remember that I said to you once before that, if you had your spiritual eyes anointed, you would then see the heavens opened and behold the angels of God ascending and descending? It is by the ministry of the angels that one world may be kept in touch with other worlds, for have I not repeatedly told you that I have other sheep not of this fold?"
But we know that there dwells within the human mind a fragment of God, and that there sojourns with the human soul the Spirit of Truth; and we further know that these spirit forces conspire to enable material man to grasp the reality of spiritual values and to comprehend the philosophy of universe meanings. But even more certainly we know that these spirits of the Divine Presence are able to assist man in the spiritual appropriation of all truth contributory to the enhancement of the ever-progressing reality of personal religious experience—God-consciousness.
When you are through down here, when your course has been run in temporary form on earth, when your trial trip in the flesh is finished, when the dust that composes the mortal tabernacle "returns to the earth whence it came"; then, it is revealed, the indwelling "Spirit shall return to God who gave it." There sojourns within each moral being of this planet a fragment of God, a part and parcel of divinity. It is not yet yours by right of possession, but it is designedly intended to be one with you if you survive the mortal existence.
And the greatest of all the unfathomable mysteries of God is the phenomenon of the divine indwelling of mortal minds. The manner in which the Universal Father sojourns with the creatures of time is the most profound of all universe mysteries; the divine presence in the mind of man is the mystery of mysteries.
To every spirit being and to every mortal creature in every sphere and on every world of the universe of universes, the Universal Father reveals all of his gracious and divine self that can be discerned or comprehended by such spirit beings and by such mortal creatures. God is no respecter of persons, either spiritual or material. The divine presence which any child of the universe enjoys at any given moment is limited only by the capacity of such a creature to receive and to discern the spirit actualities of the supermaterial world.
Paradise is the eternal center of the universe of universes and the abiding place of the Universal Father, the Eternal Son, the Infinite Spirit, and their divine co-ordinates and associates. This central Isle is the most gigantic organized body of cosmic reality in all the master universe. Paradise is a material sphere as well as a spiritual abode. All of the intelligent creation of the Universal Father is domiciled on material abodes; hence must the absolute controlling center also be material, literal. And again it should be reiterated that spirit things and spiritual beings are real.
Culture presupposes quality of mind; culture cannot be enhanced unless mind is elevated. Superior intellect will seek a noble culture and find some way to attain such a goal. Inferior minds will spurn the highest culture even when presented to them ready-made.
True liberty is the associate of genuine self-respect; false liberty is the consort of self-admiration. True liberty is the fruit of self-control; false liberty, the assumption of self-assertion. Self-control leads to altruistic service; self-admiration tends towards the exploitation of others for the selfish aggrandizement of such a mistaken individual as is willing to sacrifice righteous attainment for the sake of possessing unjust power over his fellow beings.
How dare the self-willed creature encroach upon the rights of his fellows in the name of personal liberty when the Supreme Rulers of the universe stand back in merciful respect for these prerogatives of will and potentials of personality! No being, in the exercise of his supposed personal liberty, has a right to deprive any other being of those privileges of existence conferred by the Creators and duly respected by all their loyal associates, subordinates, and subjects.
There is no error greater than that species of self-deception which leads intelligent beings to crave the exercise of power over other beings for the purpose of depriving these persons of their natural liberties. The golden rule of human fairness cries out against all such fraud, unfairness, selfishness, and unrighteousness.