Apocalypse of Pseudo-Ephraem
Apocalypse of Pseudo-Ephraem (known today as the Sermon at the end of the world) is a 7th-century pseudoepigraphical Syrian tract attributed to the Church Father Ephrem the Syrian. It provides a glimpse into events that took place during its time in the Middle East.
Latin Pseudo-Ephraem and the Rapture Doctrine
A translation of a radically different "Ephraem" text, written in Latin and with disputed date, and also purported to be a sermon of Ephraem, has been put forward by Cameron Rhoades, a professor of Latin at Tyndale Theological Seminary, an unaccredited private Christian seminary located in Fort Worth, Texas. This document has been proffered as support for an early Church reference to a pretribulational rapture — the belief that a core of Christian believers who have died will be raised from the dead, and believers who are still alive and remain shall be "caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thess 4:17) in conjunction with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. While the Latin text is dated in the period 4th to 8th centuries, exactly when in that time bracket is questionable. The Latin text is certainly not translated from the (radically different) Syriac sermon, and may be earlier or later than the Syriac document. Its relation to the Greek texts is uncertain.
According to T. L. Frazier, "Collections of works ascribed to Ephrem exist in several languages, the largest body of texts being Greek. Nearly all the surviving texts attributed to Ephrem in languages other than Syriac and Armenian are derived from this Greek corpus, including the Latin corpus.
Thus, different translations from different underlying texts (Syriac text, Greek, and Latin) may be confusedly cited as the same Pseudo-Ephraem sermon and popular writers may not point out these important differences, e.g., that the Latin text is later and borrows from Pseudo-Methodius.
The opinions of scholars are divided on the origins of this apocalypse, but a date later than Ephraem with pseudonymous authorship are advanced by some. As an example, C. P. Caspari (Latin text editor) and Paul Alexander advance a date after the demise of (St.) Ephraem. Caspari would date it between late 6th and early 7th AD centuries. Alexander claims the work apparently was originally written at the end of the 4th AD century, but only reached its final form by the late 6th to early 7th centuries. Thus for these scholars, this is not the actual work of Ephraem the Syrian, but the work of some unknown preacher now termed 'Pseudo- Ephraem'. Yet, both Caspari and Alexander consider Pseudo-Ephraem to be greatly influenced by the actual work of Ephraem.
Different documents translated by different translators
A translation by Professor John C. Reeves, from the Syriac text published by Edmund Beck, is available from the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina.
A translation from the conflated Latin text was done by Cameron Rhoades a Latin professor at Tyndale Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas.
As referenced above, these two translations differ substantially because the underlying texts are in different languages and the Latin version borrows from portions of Pseudo-Methodius apocalypse (late 7th century).
- Dr Mal Couch (31 January 1997). Dictionary Of Premillennial Theology. Kregel Publications. pp. 329–. ISBN 978-0-8254-2410-6. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- The English translation of the Latin text in C.P. Caspari's Briefe, Abhandlungen und Predigten aus den zwei letzten Jahrhunderten des kirchlichen Altertums und dem Anfang des Mittelater (Christiania, 1890, pp. 208-20) was provided by Cameron Rhoades, instructor of Latin at Tyndale Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX.
- T.L. Frazier, "A Second Look at the Second Coming," p. 181.
- Bennett, David Malcolm: "Raptured or Not Raptured? That is the Question," The Evangelical Quarterly, 80.2 (2008), 144.
- Translated from the text in Edmund Beck, ed., Des heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Sermones III (CSCO 320; Louvain: Secrétariat du Corpus SCO, 1972), 60-71; see also 79-94 for Beck’s translation. The text is based on two manuscripts: (1) Codex Vaticanus Sir. 566, and (2) Codex Dublinensis (Trinity College) B 5.19. Editio princeps: Thomas Josephus Lamy, ed., Sancti Ephraem Syri Hymni et Sermones (4 vols.; Mechliniae: H. Dessain, 1882-1902), 3:187-212