O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37, KJV)

I gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But now, what shall I do to you? I will cast you out from my presence. (2 Esdras 1:30, NRSV)

Latin Vulgate manuscrpit; ita vos collegi ut gallina filios suos sub alas suas. modo autem quid faciam vobis? proiciam vos a facie mea.

Most scholars agree that 4th Ezra was original composed in Hebrew. The Hebrew version, which is now lost was later translated into Greek. The Greek version, which of has survived only in bits of fragments paraphrases and quotations and by later authors was translated into Latin which has addition of an introduction (chapters 1-2), Syriac manuscript (7a1), Ethiopic, Georgian, Arabic, Armenian and Coptic start from chapter 3.

Evidence of the Greek fragments. Definite quotations or paraphrases of the Greek text of 4 Ezra include the following:

4 Ezra 5:35 - Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 3:16
4 Ezra 7:103 - Apostolic Constitutions 2.14.9
4 Ezra 8:23 - Apostolic Constitutions 8.7.6

Possible quotations, allusions to 4 Ezra:

4 Ezra 5:5a - Barnabas 12:1
4 Ezra 7:94 - Vision of Hermas 1.3 (allusion)
4 Ezra 14:21-22, 37-47 - Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 1:22 (allusion)


  • Is 2 Esdras 1:30 a prophecy that Jesus later quotes?
  • Is 2 Esdras original Hebrew written before the book of Matthew?
  • Is 2 Esdras 1 & 2 from Latin Vulgate added or Syriac, Ethiopic, Georgian, Arabic, Armenian and Coptic lost chapter 1, 2?
  • @NigelJ Thanks Nigel I know about them! Jul 9 at 14:02
  • 1
    No, it is a much later Christian interpolation, added to an otherwise Jewish text. And the first two and last two chapters are independent books, called Fifth and Sixth Ezra, which were not originally part of Second Esdras, the latter consisting initially only of Fourth Ezra (chapters 3-14), written around AD 100, as can easily be glimpsed from its various passages.
    – Lucian
    Jul 9 at 15:54

This link in Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2_Esdras says that tradition reckons this to have been written by 5th century BCE priest and scribe, Ezra, but scholarship places its composition between 70 and 218 CE. If the scholars are correct, then whoever wrote 2 Esdras was repeating Jesus’ original words. The main body of the book appears to be written for consolation in a period of great distress. One scholarly hypothesis is that it dates to the destruction of Jerusalem and its second temple in 70 CE by Titus. That city and temple were still standing when Jesus uttered his prophetic words in Matthew 23:27.

That would mean that whoever wrote 2 Esdras was largely repeating the words of Jesus which he spoke nearly 40 years before they were fulfilled. And Matthew had written those words in his gospel account of Jesus before A.D. 70, and possibly even as early as A.D. 50. Only if 2 Esdras had been written before Jesus was born could this question raise the possibility of Jesus quoting from an older, prophetic source. He certainly quoted many times from the ancient Hebrew scriptures commonly known as the Old Testament, but in this case it is logical that Jesus could not have quoted from a book that had not yet been written.

  • Agreed - 2 Edsras quotes Jesus/Matthew not the other way around. This is typical of a pseudepigraphon. If God had intended that this work be pert of the Bible canon, the God would have preserved it in it original language rather than the appalling dilapidated state we now find it.
    – Dottard
    Jul 9 at 20:46
  • @Dottard: There is nothing appalling or dilapidated about its state; books before the Babylonian captivity were mostly in Hebrew (Masoretic and Samaritan); then, an Aramaic layer was understandably added (Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel); then, a Greek one (the Apocrypha, the canonical Septuagint, and the New Testament), due to the rise of the Macedonian and Ptolemaic empires; then, a Latin one (Second Esdras), due to the political and military momentum gained by the Roman empire around the time of Trajan.
    – Lucian
    Jul 10 at 7:44
  • @Lucian - you have made the point well - non of the canonical books have these "layers" of various languages and re-translation and later additions. All exist in the original language. Edras is a mish-mash of who knows what.
    – Dottard
    Jul 10 at 8:51
  • @Dottard: The canonical scriptures have three layers: Hebrew (most OT), Aramaic (some OT), and Greek (NT).
    – Lucian
    Jul 10 at 9:06

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