The Jewish Apocalypse of Ezra deals with the problem of the Jews in the post-70 world.  Has God abandoned his people?  This is extremely important for New Testament studies since the “Jewish problem” arises in nearly every context.  The New Testament passage which deals with this problem in the most detail is Romans 9-11. While Paul reaches a similar conclusion, he does so in a non-apocalyptic manner.  Paul is obviously writing well before the fall of Jerusalem, so this is not the “crisis” which has caused Paul to ask about the fate of the nation of Israel.  In Paul’s case the “crisis” is the resurrection of Jesus in general and more specifically his own calling to be the apostle to the Gentiles which raises the question of what happens to the Jews in the new era of “church.”

ApocryphalPaul deals with the problem much differently than 4 Ezra.  Rather than question God’s fairness or badger God with questions about his management of the universe, Paul grounds his understanding of Israel in the election of the nation to be the people of God and in the unalterable promises of God (9:1-21).  Even there, Paul is willing to accept that God makes some things for destruction, as objects of his wrath.  But Israel is not by nature an object of wrath, although they have “experienced a hardening in part” (9:30, 11:25).  Romans 10 makes clear it is God’s desire for Israel to be saved, they are not cut off from God and a remnant of Israel will be saved in the future.  Romans 11:1 cannot be clearer:  God has not rejected his people, and eventually “all Israel will be saved” (11:26).

Paul is writing in the pre-A.D. 70 world.  Israel still exists as a political reality, Jerusalem and the Temple still stand.  4 Ezra is on the other side of the terrible destruction of Jerusalem asking a legitimate question – does God still care for Israel? This question may be at the heart of the closest parallel in the New Testament to 4 Ezra, the Book of Revelation.

While Revelation never states the question in quite the same way 4 Ezra does, the fate of Israel in the post-A.D. 70 world is near the center of the theology of the book.  That Israel will continue to suffer and pass through torment is a given in the book; the nation will ultimately be tested to the point of death.  At the last moment, the Messiah will appear and vindicate his people and establish them in peace and safety in Jerusalem (and later the New Jerusalem) with a restored temple and renewed worship.  Revelation demonstrates, like 4 Ezra, that God has a plan to set things right in the future for the nation of Israel.

Another text which deals with the problem of Israel in the period after the fall of Jerusalem may be the book of Hebrews.  This book deals with the theological problems caused by a belief in Jesus as Messiah, especially the sacrificial system in the light of the death and resurrection.  The sacrifices are no longer necessary for a Jew to approach God since Jesus has given access to all through his blood.  The temple and Jerusalem are therefore no longer needed.  This is argued in non-eschatologically and would have appealed to Jews in the Diaspora.