2 Baruch is a Jewish pseudepigraphical text thought to have been written in the late 1st century AD or early 2nd century AD, after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. It is attributed to the biblical Baruch and so is associated with the Old Testament, but not regarded as scripture by Jews or by most Christian groups. It is included in some editions of the Peshitta, and is part of the Bible in the Syriac Orthodox tradition. It has 87 sections (chapters).
2 Baruch is also known as the Apocalypse of Baruch or the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch (used to distinguish it from the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch). The Apocalypse proper occupies the first 77 chapters of the book. Chapters 78–87 are usually referred to as the Letter of Baruch to the Nine and a Half Tribes.
The Letter of Baruch had a separate and wider circulation than the rest of the book, and is attested in thirty-six Syriac manuscripts.
The Apocalypse proper has been less widely available. One Latin excerpt was known from a quotation in Cyprian. A 4th–5th century AD Greek fragment was found among the Oxyrhynchus manuscripts. Two excerpts were known from 13th century lectionaries of the Syriac Orthodox Church.
The full text of 2 Baruch is now known from a 6th or 7th century AD Syriac manuscript discovered by Antonio Ceriani in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan in 1866. An Arabic manuscript of the whole text was discovered in 1974. It is apparently a rather free translation from a Syriac text similar to the Milan manuscript.
Although the canonical Book of Jeremiah portrays Baruch as Jeremiah's scribe, 2 Baruch portrays him as a prophet in his own right. It has a style similar to the writings attributed to Jeremiah: a mix of prayer, lamentation, and visions. Although Baruch writes of Nebuchadnezzar's sack of Jerusalem in 586 BC, the book is currently believed to have been written in reaction to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but written before 135 AD.
The Syriac is almost certainly a translation from the Greek; the original was probably written in Hebrew. There is a close relation between the apocalypse described here and that in 2 Esdras, but critics are divided over the question of which influenced the other. The probabilities favor the hypothesis that that in 2 Baruch is an imitation of that of Esdras and therefore later. This Apocalypse of Baruch deals in part with the same problems, the sufferings of the theocratic people, and their ultimate triumph over their oppressors. Its Messianism, in general, is earthly, but in the latter part of the book the Messiah's realm tends unmistakably towards a more spiritual conception. Greater importance is attached to the law than in the related composition. Some scholars of 2 Baruch have seen in it a composite work, but the majority of critics consider it unified.
As in 2 Esdras, sin is traced to the disobedience of Adam, but different stances are taken about the hereditary nature of Adam's sin: while 2 Esdras supports it, 2 Baruch has a quite different position: "each of us has been the Adam of his own soul" (54:15).
The first part of the text is structured in triplets: three fasts, each followed by three visions and three addresses to the people. The visions are notable for their discussion of theodicy, the problem of evil, and an emphasis on predestination. According to the text, the Temple's sacred objects were rescued from destruction under the protection of angels, to be returned during the restoration prophesied in the Book of Jeremiah. The second part of the text is a long letter (known as Letter of Baruch), which many scholars believe was originally a separate document.