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In Chapter XXIX of the Apocalypse of Abraham, a "man" appears 1:

And I [looked and] saw a man going out from the left side of the heathen; and there went out men and women and children, from the side of the heathen, many hosts, and worshipped him.

And while I still looked there came out from the right side (many), and some insulted that man, while some struck him; others, however, worshipped him. [And] I saw how these worshipped him, and Azazel ran and worshipped him, and having kissed his face he turned and stood behind him.

And I said: “O Eternal, Mighty One! Who is the man insulted and beaten, who is worshipped by the heathen with Azazel?”

And He answered and said: “Hear, Abraham! The man whom thou sawest insulted and beaten and again worshipped—that is the relief (granted) by the heathen to the people who proceed from thee, in the last days, in this twelfth hour of the Age of ungodliness. But in the twelfth year of my final Age I will set up this man from thy generation, whom thou sawest (issue) from my people; this one all will follow, and such as are called by me (will) join, (even) those who change in their counsels.

Wikipedia suggests 2 it might be a reference to Jesus, but doesn't make a very strong case about it:

According to Jacob Licht (Professor of Biblical Studies, Tel-Aviv University), this work is a Jewish text, although not one that represents mainstream rabbinic Jewish thought. Licht writes:

The most obvious and perhaps the correct explanation of this passage is to declare it a late Christian interpolation, yet "the man" does not fit the medieval Christian concept of Jesus. His function is not clearly messianic. This problematic passage therefore may have originated in some Judeo-Christian sect, which saw Jesus as precursor of the Messiah, or it may be Jewish, badly rewritten by an early Christian editor. Perhaps it reflects a Jewish view of Jesus as an apostle to the heathen, an explanation which would make it unique, and indeed startling.


1 The Apocalypse of Abraham. Edited, With a Translation From the Slavonic Text and Notes by George Herbert Box.
2 Wikipedia contributors, "Apocalypse of Abraham," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Apocalypse_of_Abraham&oldid=782000316 (accessed September 15, 2017).

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Box published his translation of the Apocalypse of Abraham in 1918, along with commentary. (PDF of his translation and commentary are here.) Box suggests the book as a whole was written after AD 70 but no later than 'the early decades of the second century'.

Despite Box writing in the early twentieth century, before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Nag Hammadi texts, his conclusion is still accepted today. In his book The Apocalyptic Imagination, John J. Collins likewise states that three apocalyptic texts — one of them being the Apocalypse of Abraham — were written when the memory of AD 70 was still raw.

Along with Box, Collins states that the passage is 'definitely interpolated', calling it a 'strange insertion'. Collins writes:

The passage must be taken as a reference to Christ, although the suggestion that he is worshiped by Azazel is unorthodox and reflects a sectarian, Bogomil viewpoint.

While Box agrees that 'The man is clearly intended to be Jesus', he suspects the reference to the man coming from 'the left side of the heathen' is some kind of copyist error. Box:

[The man's] emerging “from the left side of the heathen” is curious. If the text is in order it must apparently refer to the emergence into prominence of the Early Christian Church in the Gentile world. It clearly cannot refer to racial origin [of Jesus], for it is stated further on in the chapter that “the man” sprang from Abraham’s “generation” and God’s people.

In the Apocalypse of Abraham, the directions 'right' and 'left' appear to represent the Jews and the gentiles, respectively. For example, chapter 22 has:

"These which are on the left side are the multitude of the peoples which have formerly been in existence and which are after thee destined, some for judgement and restoration, and others for vengeance and destruction at the end of the world. But these which are on the right side of the picture—they are the people set apart for me of the peoples with Azazel."

Box offers an emendation that would result in chapter 29 reading:

And I [looked and] saw a man going out from the right side

This would result in the text saying Jesus came from the Jews (the right side), was 'worshiped' by gentiles (the left side), and was 'insulted' and 'struck' by 'some' Jews (the right side), while other Jews joined the gentiles in worship of him. When Abraham asks who 'the man' is, the text further states that in the end 'all' people will follow the man.

The text continues a bit past the section quoted in the original question; this extra bit provides some clarification as to the interpolation's eschatology:

this one all will follow, and such as are called by me (will) join, (even) those who change in their counsels. And those whom thou sawest emerge from the left side of the picture—the meaning is: There shall be many from the heathen who set their hopes upon him; and as for those whom thou sawest from thy seed on the right side, some insulting and striking, others worshipping him—many of them shall be offended at him. He, however, is testing those who have worshipped him of thy seed, in that twelfth hour of the End, with a view to shortening the Age of ungodliness.

As Box notes, this seems to be typically 'Pauline' soteriology, especially fitting that of Romans 11. There, Paul writes that the gentile world accepts Jesus as savior far quicker than his fellow Jews do, but that in the end all Jews and all gentiles will be saved together.


Collins mentions in a footnote that R.G. Hall ("The 'Christian Interpolation' in the Apocalypse of Abraham", JBL 107/1) 'takes the man as a Roman emperor and the passage as thoroughly Jewish'.

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