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the deduction has been drawn that when he wrote
the Gospel he supposed that all the post-Resurrec-
tion appearances which he describes took place on
Easter Day itself, but that he learnt a more ac-
curate chronology before he wrote Acts (cf. art.
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, V. 1). This is scarcely
credible, and assumes that the Gospels are what
they never claim to be chronological biographies,
like modern 'Lives.' This view makes St. Luke
get in all the events which happened after the
evening meal at Emmaus (v. 29 ), including the return
journey of the two disciples 7 or 8 miles to Jeru-
salem, before nightfall, for none of the authorities
suggests that the Ascension took place at night.
In Lk 24 we have a series of events foreshortened
(probably because the author had already planned
Acts), and no note of time is suggested.

There are, however, some indications that the
words ' forty days ' were not always taken exactly.
' Barnabas ' makes the Ascension take place on a
Sunday ( 15) ; but he does not say that it was the
same Sunday as the Resurrection ('the eighth
day ... in which also Jesus rose from the dead,
and, having been manifested, ascended up to
heaven'). He mentions the 'eighth' rather than
the ' first" day because it follows the seventh day
or Sabbath, of which he is treating ; he hints at the
replacement of the Jewish Sabbath by the Christian
Lord's day, but only obscurely. With this we may
compare the fact that in the Edessene Canons
(4th cent.) the Ascension was commemorated on
Whitsunday, and so in the Pilgrimage of ' Silvia '
( Etheria), though in that work the fortieth day after
Easter was observed for another purpose ; see the
present writer's art. ' Calendar, The Christian,' in
DCG i. 26 l a . This is some confirmation of the
suggestion that the Ascension took place on a
Sunday. There are also some speculations of an
extravagant nature, such as the valentinian idea
that the interval between the Resurrection and the
Ascension was 18 months, or that of certain Ophites
that it was 11 or 12 years, or that of Eusebius in
one place (Dem. Evang. viii. 2) that it was as long
as the Ministry before the Crucifixion ; see Swete,

Ap. Creed, p. 69 f. All that we can deduce from
these facts is that, while the Ascension may have
taken place on the Thursday, it may also have
happened on the following Sunday, or on any day
between or close to these dates.

5. Modern objections to the Ascension. The
present article is mainly concerned with the facts,
and the reader may be referred for an answer to
objections from a philosophical point of view to A.
S. Martin's article in DCG i., which is very full on
this head. Here it is enough to say (a) that the
objection that it is impossible for a body to disobey
the laws of gravity and to ascend instead of fall,
presupposes that the Resurrection body of our
Lord was under the same material conditions as
His body before Easter Day, which all the Evan-
gelists' accounts show not to have been the case.
Objections on this head are therefore really objec-
tions to the Resurrection, not to the Ascension.
(b) It is impossible to regard the account in Ac 1 as
a myth unless we adopt the now exploded theory
that the whole gospel story is such. The narrative
bears the same stamp of truth as the evangelical
records. For example, Sanday well points out the
authentic touch about the disciples desiring the
restoration of the earthly kingdom of Israel (v. 6f - ;
see HDB ii. 643 a ). However we may interpret the
narrative, there can be little doubt that it repre-
sents what the eye-witnesses believed to have taken

But an allegation of Harnack must be briefly
noticed here, as it deals with the facts. He says that
the special prominence given to the Ascension in
the Creeds is a deviation from the oldest teaching,
and that in the primitive tradition the Ascension
had no separate place (Dasapost. Glaubensbekennt-
niss, Berlin, 1892). He alleges the silence of the
Synoptists, of St. Paul in 1 Co 15 3ff< , and of the
chief sub-apostolic writers ; the placing, in some
old accounts, of the Session after the Resurrection
as if they were one act ; and the discrepancy noted
above as to the interval between the Resurrection
and the Ascension. These allegations have been
ably answered by Swete (Ap. Creed, ch. vi.). The
argument from silence (always precarious) is invalid
in the case of Mt. and Mk., which do not carry the
narrative so far as the Ascension (the end of Mk.
is lost) ; at best it hardly applies to Lk. (see above,
1), and the mention of the Ascension in 1 Co
15 3ff - would have been irrelevant to St. Paul's argu-
ment. Moreover, the Ascension belongs to the
history of the Church rather than to the gospel
narrative, and therefore it is not to be expected
that it should be found there except in allusion.
It is hard to see any force in the argument from
St. Paul's silence in one place when elsewhere he
so emphatically states his belief in the Ascension.
As to the sub-apostolic writers, the Ascension is
explicitly mentioned by 'Barnabas' ( 15), by Justin
(Dial. 38), and is probably referred to by Ignatius
(Magn. 7). The allegation that the Session and the
Resurrection were regarded as one act may be
tested by Ro S 34 , where St. Paul names successively
the Death, Resurrection, Session, and Intercession
of Christ. If the second and third of these are
one act, why not also the first and fourth? The
argument from the interval has already been dealt
with (above, 4). For fuller details, see Swete, Ap.
Creed. It is quite intelligible that those who believe
that our Lord is mere Man should find difficulties
in the doctrine that He ascended ; but it is not
really possible to maintain that the disciples did
not believe it.

6. Importance of the Ascension for the practical
life. This has been indirectly pointed out above
( 3). The Ascension shows that the work of Christ
for man has never ceased, but is permanent,
although He has never needed to repeat His sacri-




fice. It has brought Jesus into closer touch with
us ; He has never ceased to be Man, and in the
heavenly sphere is not removed far away from us,
but is with us until the end of the world (Mt 28 30 ).
He raises our ideals from earthly things to heavenly;
and, giving us through the Spirit the new life
which enables us to follow Him, by His Ascension
teaches us the great Sursum Corda : ' Lift up your
hearts ; we lift them up unto the Lord.'

LJTBRATURB. W. Milligan, The Ascension and Heavenly
Priesthood of our Lord (Baird Lecture), London, 1892 ; H. B.
Swete, The Apostles' Creed, Cambridge, 1894, The Holy Spirit
in the New Testament, London, 1909, Appendix E, The Appear-
ances of our Lord after the Passion, do. 1907, The Ascended
Christ, do. 1910 ; J. Pearson, On the Creed, art. vi. ; J.
Denney, art. ' Ascension,' in H DB i. ; W. Sanday, art. ' Jesus
Christ/ ib. ii. ; A. S. Martin, art. 'Ascension,' in DCG i. ; J. G.
Simpson, art. ' Ascension,' in SDB ; J. H. Bernard, art.
' Assumption and Ascension,' in ERE ii. ; B. F. Westcott,
Com. on Hebrews, London, 1906; R. L. Ottley, The Rule of
Faith and Hope, do. 1912, p. 82fl. ; A. J .Tait, The Heavenly
Session of our Lord, do. 1912 ; S. C. Gayford, elaborate
review ol foregoing, in JThSt nv. [1913] 458.


ASCENSION OF ISAIAH. This is an apocryphon
now extant in a complete form in the Ethiopia
Version alone. It is composite in structure, and
contains three separate parts of different author-
ship, one being of Jewish and two of Christian
origin, but all alike apparently composed during
the 1st cent. A.D. It is thus of considerable im-
portance in the light which it throws upon the
views held in certain circles of the Christian Church
of the apostolic period with regard to the doctrines
of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection,
the Seven Heavens, the Antichrist, angels and
demons. It adds, moreover, to our knowledge of
the internal and external conditions of the Church,
and of the stage which had been reached in the
development of its organization. In phraseology
and ideas it presents interesting parallels with the
New Testament.

1. Composite character. The title ' Ascension of
Isaiah ' is strictly appropriate only to the latter part
of the work, chs. 6-11, in which Isaiah is success-
ively led through the firmament and six lower
heavens to the seventh heaven, and receives dis-
closures regarding the descent, birth, works, cruci-
fixion, and ascension of the Beloved. The first five
chapters deal in the main with Manasseh's wicked-
ness and Isaiah's martyrdom, with a curious inser-
tion (3 13b -4 18 ) which claims to be a vision foretelling
the life of Christ and the fortunes of His Church,
awkwardly introduced as explaining the wrath of
Beliar which occasioned the martyrdom of Isaiah.
A careful examination of the diction and subject-
matter of each section leads to the clear discrimina-
tion of three distinct sources.

(a) The Martyrdom of Isaiah (H-a^eb-Ua 2 i_ 3 i2
Sib-u). This narrates how in the twenty-sixth year
of his reign Hezekiah called Manasseh to receive
accounts of visions which he had seen ( I 1 - *). Isaiah,
who is present, warns the king of Manasseh's future
wickedness, and foretells his own martyrdom (I 7 " 18 ).
After Hezekiah's death, Manasseh, as foretold, for-
sakes the service of God and serves Satan, whereupon
Isaiah withdraws first to Bethlehem and then to
the desert with his companions (2 1 * 11 ). Meanwhile
Belchira, a brother of the false prophet Zedekiah,
son of Chenaanah, accuses Isaiah and his fellow-
prophets to the king, of prophesying evil against
Jerusalem, and claiming to have seen God, and
calling Jerusalem Sodom, and the princes the people
of Gomorrah (2 12 -3 10 ). Manasseh seizes Isaiah and
has him sawn asunder with a wood -saw. Isaiah
dies with wonderful firmness and constancy, com-
muning with the Holy Spirit till the end. This
narrative is mainly historical in form, and contains
nothing specifically Christian. In its outlook it
might well be Jewish, and this supposition is con-
firmed by the Patristic references (e.g. in Origen

and Jerome) which attribute the account of the
sawing asunder of Isaiah to Jewish traditions, and
also by the fact that the Talmud contains a similar
account of Isaiah's death. Further, the original
was probably written in Hebrew. In 2 1 a play upon
words appears when the passage is re-translatea in-
to Hebrew (nyj n^jJj). The name ' Malchira' in I 8 is a
transliteration of n '?^>?, as S. A. Cook has observed.
Above all, the curious term ' a wooden saw ' can
hardly be explained except as a misrendering of
YZ "wo, ' a wood-saw.'

(b) The Vision of Isaiah (6-11). In the twentieth
year of Hezekiah, Isaiah, in the presence of the
king, when speaking in the Holy Spirit, is taken up
in mind (cf. 2 Co 12 2 "*) through the firmament and
each of the six lower heavens in turn, and finally
arrives at the seventh heaven, to which he is ad-
mitted by special command of the Lord Christ.
There he sees all the righteous from the time of
Adam, including Abel, Seth, and Enoch, stript of
the garments of the flesh, not sitting on their
thrones nor as yet wearing their crowns of glory,
until the Beloved has descended to earth (9 12 - a ) and
ascended again (9 18 ). He sees the Great Glory, and
on His right the Lord (the Beloved) and on His left
the Holy Spirit. He worships the three, and his
Lord and the Holy Spirit worship the Great Glory.
The Father commissions the Son to descend to earth,
and tells of His ascension and final judgment. The
Son descends through each heaven in turn, assum-
ing in each the form of the angels who dwell in
them, and finally passes through the firmament and
then the air to the earth. There Isaiah beholds His
wonderful birth, miracles, and crucifixion, resurrec-
tion, mission of the Twelve, ascension, and session
on the right hand of the Great Glory. Isaiah returns
to his body and binds Hezekiah to secrecy concern-
ing the vision.

The date of this narrative is probably in the 1st
cent. A.D. The vision is quoted not only by Jerome,
Com. in Isaiam, Ixiv. 4 (Vallarsi, iv. 761), but also
by the Actus Petri Vercettenses, ch. xxiv. (p. 72, ed.
Lipsius), and by Hieracas the heretic, according to
Epiphanius, Hcer. Ixvii. 3. There is also a remark-
able parallel between Ignatius, Ep. ad. Ephes. xix.
and Asc. Is. 1 1 16 . There appears to be a reference
to the sawing asunder in He 1 1 87 . The author wrote
in Greek, and was a Christian with a Docetic tend-
ency and a crude conception of the Trinity.

Tne title ' A 80608 * 011 f Isaiah ' properly belongs
to this section of the work. Jerome so quotes it.
Epiphanius . refers to it as rb ' kvapariicbv 'Ho-atov.
The Ethiopia, Slavonic, and Latin texts of 6 1 imply
the title ' Vision of Isaiah,' and so does Montf aucon s

(c) The Testament of Hezekiah, a Christian Apo-
calypse (S 181 "-* 18 ). This title is given in Cedrenus
i. 120-121 (ed. Bonn), and is appropriate only to the
above section. As Charles observes : ' that such a
work was incorporated in the Ascension might also
be inferred from I 2b ^*, which describe the contents
of Hezekiah's vision.' It describes, briefly string-
ing together various details in the manner of an
epitome, the coming and death of the Beloved ; the
descent of the angel of the Christian Church ; the
ascension ; the falling away of the Church, and the
prevalence of error, impurity, strife, and covetous-
ness ; the coming of Beliar in the likeness of a law-
less king, a matricide, who claims to be God, and
demands Divine worship, and persecutes the saints
for three years, seven months, and twenty-seven
days. This persecution is ended by the second
coming of the Lord, who drags Beliar into Gehenna,
and gives rest to the godly, sets up a kingdom of the
saints, who afterwards are transformed, and ascend,
apparently, to heaven. The final judgment follows,
and the godless are annihilated.

The date cannot be later than A.D. 100, for 4"




presupposes that there were a few still alive who
had seen the Lord in the flesh. The fusion of the
three originally distinct conceptions of the Anti-
christ, of Beliar, and of Nero Eedivivus cannot well
be put earlier than A.D. 88 (see Charles, Asc. Is. pp.
li-lxxiii). So the date of this section falls between
A.D. 88 and 100. .

2. Importance for New Testament study. (a)
The Trinity. i. The First Person is called ' the
Great Glory' (9 s7 10 16 II 32 ), ' the Most High ' (6 s 7 23
10 6 - 7 ), and ' Father ' (8 18 ; cf. 7 8 10 6 - 7 in Charles'
restored text).

ii. The Second Person is generally referred to as
' the Beloved ' ( I 4 - 8 - 7 - 18 3 18 - 18 4 3 - 8 - " 18 - 21 5 1S 7 17 - 23

8 18. 28 QI2) Qr < my Lord ' ( 8 13 9 37 1Q 7. 16. 17) > an( J a ] so once

as ' Lord of all those heavens and these thrones ' (8 9 ).
His name is as yet unknown. He is ' the Only-
Begotten, . . . whose name is not known to any
flesh ' (7 s7 ), ' the Elect One whose name has not been
made known, and none of the heavens can learn His
name ' (8 7 ). The title ' Christ,' and the phrase ' who
will be called Jesus ' (see 9* note in Charles' ed. ) are
probably original to the work. The title ' Son of
Man' in the Latin and Slavonic versions of II 1 is
probably original, and was excluded by the editor of
the present Greek version for doctrinal reasons (see
Charles, Asc. Is. p. xxvi).

It is noteworthy that the title ' the Beloved ' is
bestowed on Christ by the Bath Qol in Mk I 11 9 7 ,
and it is used by St. Paul in Eph I 6 . As Armitage
Robinson (HDB ii. 501) points out, it was probably
a pre-Christian Messianic title. It is used in the
OT of Israel, and so would naturally be trans-
ferred from the people to the Messiah, like the
titles ' Servant' and ' Elect.' It was, moreover, a
term interchangeable with the Messianic title ' the
Elect,' as Luke (9 35 ) substitutes 6 4K\e\eyfj.tvos (K B,
etc.) for 6 dyaTnjrck (Mt 17 6 , Mk 9 7 ). In early
Christian writings also the title is applied to
Christ, e.g. Ep. Barn. iii. 6, iv. 3. 8 ; Clem. Rom.
lix. 2 f. ; Ign. Smyrn. inscr. ; Herm. Sim. ix. 12. 5.
No doubt the writer thought the term most appro-
priate in a work claiming to be an ancient Jewish,
prophecy of Christ, but its vagueness also betrays
the undeveloped Trinitarian conceptions of the
period. The Son and the Holy Spirit receive
worship (9 s3 ' 36 ), but they in turn worship the Great
Glory (9 40 ). They stand, one on His right hand
and the other on His left (9 s8 ). (We may compare
the Hieracite doctrine in Epiph. Hcer. Ixvii. 3.)
The command to descend to earth is given by the
Father (10 8 ). The conception of the gradual
descent from heaven to heaven, with corresponding
transformation in form, suggests a Gnostic colour-
ing, and possibly a Docetic tendency, as do also
the statement that the Beloved escaped recognition
at each stage, and the miraculous appearance of
the born babe two months after the Virgin's con-
ception. The Protev. Jacobi and the Actus Petri
have interesting parallels to the narrative here
(II 8 ' 14 ), while we can hardly doubt that it is the
source of Ignatius' words in ad. Ephes. xix., Kal
^XaOev rbv dpxovra rov alu>vos rovrov TJ irapOevla ~M.aplas
Kal 6 To/crrds avrr)*, 6fj.oLws Kal 6 Bdvaros rov Kvplov.
' The concealment of the real nature of Christ is
the entire theme of lO 8 -!! 19 .' He is, however,
really crucified, and descends to the angel of Sheol
(II 19 - 20 ; cf. 10 8 ). In His ascension He has resumed
His proper form, and all the angels of the firma-
ment and the Satans see Him and worship Him
(II 23 ; cf. 10 18 ). On arriving in the seventh heaven,
He sits down (not stands, as in 9 38 ) on the right
hand, and the Holy Spirit on the left (II 32 - * 8 ).
His session Avith God, however, will not be realized
by the angels of the world until the final judgment
(10 12 ).

The significance of the crucifixion is nowhere
noticed, but in 9 18 the ' plundering of the angel of

death ' (cf. Ign. ad. Magn. ix. ; Mt 27 52> M ; Evang.
Nicodemi, i. i, xi. 1 [ed. TLsch.J) is regarded as the
result of the descensio in inferno, (cf. 1 P 3 19 4 e ).
In the Test. Hez. (i.e. 3 13b -4 18 ) His work include*
the founding of the Church ('the descent of the
angel of the Christian Church,' 3 1S ), and, after
coming forth from the tomb on the shoulders of
Gabriel and Michael, the sending out of the Twelve.
Those who believe in His cross will be saved, and
many who believe in Him will speak through the
Holy Spirit. The Ascension, not the Resurrection,
is the distinctive object of faith to the believer in
2 9 3 18 . At His second coming the Lord will Him-
self drag Beliar into Gehenna (4 14 ), and give rest to
the godly still alive in the body (cf. 2 Th I 6 - 7 , 1
Th 4 17 ). The saints (i.e. the departed) will come
with the Lord (1 Th 3 18 4 14 ) and descend and be
present in this world (4 16 ), and the Lord will minister
to those who have kept watch in this world (cf. Lk
12 37 ). Apparently an earthly Messianic Kingdom
is implied (cf. Rev 20 1 ' 8 ). It is followed by a
spiritual translation to heaven, the body being left
in the world (4 17 ). Then follows ' [a resurrection
and] a judgment,' and the godless are entirely de-
stroyed by fire from before the Beloved (4 18 ).

iii. The Third Person is spoken of as an angel,
the angel of the Spirit (4 21 9 39 - 40 10 4 II 4 ) or the
angel of the Holy Spirit (3 18 7 23 9 s8 II 83 ). In com-
munion with Him, Isaiah endures his martyrdom,
and also is carried in spirit to the third heaven.
The Holy Spirit stands (9 s8 ), and after the Ascen-
sion sits (II 33 ) on the left hand of the Great
Glory. The angel of the Holy Spirit in 3 16 must
be regarded as Gabriel, and in II 4 He performs
the part of Gabriel in the Annunciation.

(b) The Resurrection is apparently a spiritual
one. The 'garments,' i.e. spiritual bodies, are
reserved for the righteous, with the robes and
crowns in the seventh heaven (4 16 7 s2 8 14 - x ). These
garments are received at once after death (8 14 9 1] ),
the thrones and crowns not till after the Ascension
of Christ (9 12 - 13 ). The living whom the Lord finds
on His return will be 'strengthened in the gar-
ments of the saints.' There is a temporary
Messianic Kingdom, and (?) a feast (4 16 ), followed
by a spiritual consummation in heaven (cf. Ph 3 21 ,
1 Co 15 62 - 63 ). The righteous from Adam downwards
are already in the seventh heaven, stript of the
garments of the flesh, though not yet seated on
their thrones and crowned (9 9 ). The Final Judg-
ment is referred to in 4 18 and 10 12 .

(c) Beliar. The idea of demonic possession is
very prominent in the Martyrdom of Isaiah.
Beliar is regarded as served by Manasseh and
ruling in his heart (I 8 - u 2 1 - 4 - 7 3 11 5 1 - 18 ), and as
aiding Belchira (5 s ). The name ' Beliar ' is absent
from the Vision, and in the Test. Hez. it has quite
another meaning, the Beliar Antichrist appearing
in the form of a man Nero (4 2 - 14 - 16t 18 ). In the
Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs Beliar appears
in both meanings, at times as the source of immoral
deeds, and at times as the Antichrist (see Charles,
Asc. Is. I 8 n.). In the Sibylline Oracles, ii. 167 he is
to come as the Antichrist, working signs ; in iii.
63-73 to proceed from the Roman Emperors, deceive
the elect, and finally be burnt up. He is also
called Matanbuchus (2*) and Mechembechus (5 3 ).
His relation to Sammael is puzzling. In part the
two seem identical ; both dwell and rule in the
firmament (7 9 4 2 ), take possession of Manasseh
(2 l I 9 3 11 5 1 ), are wroth with Isaiah for his visions
(5 18 3 13 5 1 ), and cause Isaiah to be sawn asunder
(II 41 5 18 ). But in part Sammael seems to be sub-
ordinate. He exerts himself to win Manasseh as
the subject of Beliar (I 8 ). Beliar has kings under
him (4 16 ), and is the prince of this world (I 3 4 2 ;
cf. 4 18 ). He will finally be cast into Gehenna with
his armies (4 14 ). In 2 Co 6 18 St. Paul .asks ' What



concord hath Christ with Beliar?' Here eithe
meaning of Beliar is possible. In 2 Th 2 1 " ls! th
two ideas appear to be fused with yet a third tha
of a human sovereign wi v h miraculous powers
The ' man of lawlessness ' is possibly a translation
of ' Beliar ' (cf. LXX : Avdpes irapdvofjioi in Dt 13 1
etc.). In Asc. Is. 2 4 Beliar is the angel of lawless
ness, and makes Manasseh strong in apostatizing
and lawlessness (cf. 2 7 ). The sins specified ar
witchcraft, magic, divination and auguration
fornication, and the persecution of the righteous
The ' falling away ' of 2 Th 2 3 is referred to in
Asc. Is. 3 21 : 'on the eve of His approach, Hi
disciples will forsake . . . their faith and thei
love and their purity.' Cf. ' few in those days wil
be left as His servants ' (4 13 ; cf. Lk 18 8 ).

(d) The Antichrist and Nero Redivivus. In 4
we are told :

at ruler, the king of this world [cf. Jn 1231 1 4 3(
16"J will descend, who hath ruled it since it came into being
yea he will descend from his firmament [cf. Eph 22 fti2] i n thi
likeness of a man, a lawless king, the slayer of his mother [i.e
Nero; cf. Sib. Or. iv. 141, v. 145. 363, viii. 71] ... will persecute
the plant which the Twelve Apostles . . . have planted [i.e. the
Church]. Of the Twelve, one [i.e. Peter] will be delivered into
his hands. . . . There will come with him all the powers of this
world [cf. Rev 16" 207-9]. ... At his word the sun will rise at
night [cf. Rev 13" 1920, 2 Th 28J. . . . He will say " I am God '
[cf. 2 Th 2<] ... and all the people in the world will believe in
him, and they will sacrifice to him [cf. Rev 134. 8. 12]. . . . Anc
the greater number of those who shall have been associated
together to receive the Beloved, he will turn aside after him [cf
Mt 2424, Mk 1322 ; contrast 2 Th 2N>-12]. . . . And he will set up
his image ... in every city [cf. Rev 1314].'

The time of his sway will be 3 years, 7 months,
and 27 days (4 12 ). This period points back to Dn
7 a> 12 7 (cf. Rev 12 14 ) ; but in 4 14 the time is given as
(one thousand) three hundred and thirty-two days.
During this period the few believers left flee from
desert to desert (4 13 ; cf. Rev 12 6 - 14 ). Beliar is finally
destroyed, not by Michael but by the Lord Him
self (4 14 ).

(e) Angels. While there is no reference to the
functions of good angels as mediators or inter-
cessors, spiritual powers are conceived of as the

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