The dates of the various constituents of the book are quite uncertain. Ewald, followed by Gifford and Marshall, assigns i.-iii. 8 to the period after the conquest of Jerusalem by Ptolemy I. in 320 B.C.; Reuss to some decades later; and Fritzsche, Schrade, Keil and Toy to the time of the Maccabees. Hitzig, Kneucker and Schürer assume that it was written after A.D. 70. Ryle and James (Pss. of Solomon, pp. lxxii.-lxxvii.) hold that iv. 31-v. 9 is dependent on the Greek version of Ps. xi., and that, accordingly, Baruch was reduced to its present form after A.D. 70. The most probable of the above dates appears to be that maintained by Fritzsche, that is, if we understand by the Maccabean times the early decades of the 2nd cent. B.C. For during the palmy days of the Maccabean dynasty the Twelve tribes were supposed to be in Palestine. The idea that the Jewish Kingdom embraced once again the entire nation easily arose when the Maccabees extended their dominion northwards over Samaria and Galilee and eastwards beyond the Jordan. This belief displaced the older one that the nine and a half tribes were still in captivity. With the downfall of the Maccabean dynasty, however, the older idea revived in the 1st cent. A.D. To the beginnings of the 2nd cent.
A.D. the view of the dead given in ii. 17 would point, where it is said that those whose spirits had been taken from their bodies would not give glory unto the Lord. The statement as to the desolate condition of the Temple in ii. 26a is with Kneucker to be rejected as an interpolation.
The Book of Baruch was never accepted as canonical by the Palestinian Jews (Baba Batra 14b), though the Apostolic Constitutions, v. 10, state that it was read in public worship on the 10th day of the month Gorpiaeus, but this statement can hardly be correct. It was in general use in the church till its canonicity was rejected by the Protestant churches and accepted by the Roman church at the council of Trent.
Literature. Versions and Editions. - The versions are the two Latin, a Syriac, and an Arabic. The Latin one in the Vulgate belongs to a time prior to Jerome, and is tolerably literal. Another, somewhat later, was first published by Jos. Maria Caro in 1688, and was reprinted by Sabatier, side by side with the ante-Hieronymian one, in his Bibliorum Sacrorum Latinae Versiones Antiquae. It is founded upon the preceding one, and is less literal. The Syriac and Arabic versions, printed in the London Polyglot, are literal. The Hexaplar-Syriac version made by Paul, bishop of Tella, in the beginning of the 7th century has been published by Ceriani.
The most convenient editions of the Greek text are Tischendorf's in the second volume of his Septuagint, and Swete's in vol. iii.; Fritzsche's in Libri Apocryphi Veteris Testamenti Graece (1871). The best editions of the book are Kneucker's Das Buch Baruch (1879); Gifford's in the Speaker's Apoc. ii. See also the articles in the Encyc. Biblica, Hastings' Bible Dictionary; Schürer, History of Jewish People.
Apocalypse of Baruch. The discovery of this long lost apocalypse was due to Ceriani. This apocalypse has survived only in the Syriac version of which Ceriani discovered a 6th century MS. in the Milan library. Of this he published a Latin translation in 1866 (Monumenta Sacra, I. ii. 73-98), which Fritzsche reproduced in 1871 (Libri Apocryphi V. T., pp.654-699), and the text in 1871 (Mon. Sacra. V. ii. 113-180), and subsequently in photo-lithographic facsimile in 1883. Chaps. lxxviii.-lxxxvi., indeed, of this book have long been known. These constitute Baruch's epistle to the nine and a half tribes in captivity, and have been published in Syriac and Latin in the London and Paris Polyglots, and in Syriac alone from one MS. in Lagarde's Libri V. T. Apocryphi Syr. (1861); and by Charles from ten MSS. (Apocalypse of Baruch, 1896, pp. 124-167). The entire book was translated into English by the last-named writer (op. cit. pp. 1-167), and into German by Ryssel (Kautzsch's Apok. und Pseud., 1900, ii. pp. 413-446).
The Syriac is translated from the Greek; for Greek words are occasionally transliterated, and passages can be explained only on the hypothesis that the wrong alternative meanings of certain Greek words were followed by the translator. The Greek in turn is derived from the Hebrew, for unintelligible expressions in the Syriac can be explained and the text restored by retranslation into Hebrew. Thus in xxi. 9, 11, 12, xxiv. 2, lxii. 7 we have an unintelligible antithesis, "those who sin and those who are justified." The source of the error can be discovered by retranslation. The Syriac in these passages is a stock rendering of δικαιοῦσθαι, and this in turn of צדק. But צדק means not only δικαιοῦσθαι but also δίκαιος εἶναι, and this is the very meaning required by the context in the above passages: "those who sin and those who are righteous." Again xliv. 12 the text reads: "the new world which does not turn to corruption those who depart on its beginning and has no mercy on those who depart to torment." Here "on its beginning" is set over antithetically against "to torment," whereas the context requires "to its blessedness." The words "on its beginning" - כראשו, a corruption of באשרו - "to its blessedness." Again in lvi. 6 it is said that the fall of man brought grief, anguish, pain, trouble and boasting into the world. The term "boasting" in this connexion cannot be right. The word = καύχημα = תהלה(?), corrupt for מחלה, "disease." A further ground for inferring a Hebrew original is to be found in the fact that paronomasiae not infrequently discover themselves in the course of retranslation into Hebrew. One instance will suffice. In xlviii. 35, "Honour will be turned into shame, strength humiliated into contempt ... and beauty will become a scorn" contains three such:
כבוד יהפך לקלון עז יורד אל בוז וּופי יהיה לדופי
(see Charles, Apoc. Bar. pp. xliv.-liii). The necessity of postulating a Hebrew original was first shown by the present writer, and has since been maintained by Wellhausen (Skizzen u. Vorarbeiten, vi. 234), by Ryssel (Apok. und Pseudepig. A. T., 1900, ii. 411), and Ginzberg (Jewish Encyclopaedia, ii. 555).