As there are undoubtedly conflicting elements in the book, it is possible to assume either a diversity of authorship or a diversity of sources. The latter view is advocated by Ryssel and Ginzberg, the former by Kabisch, de Faye, R. H. Charles and Beer (Herzog's Realenc., art. "Pseudepigraphen des Alten Testaments," p. 250). A short summary may here be given of the grounds on which the present writer has postulated a diversity of authorship. If the letter to the tribes in captivity (lxxviii.-lxxxvi.) be disregarded, the book falls into seven sections separated by fasts, save in one case (after xxxv.) where the text is probably defective. These sections, which are of unequal length, are - (1) i.-v. 6; (2) v. 7-viii.; (3) ix.-xii. 4; (4) xii. 5-xx.; (5) xxi.-xxxv.; (6) xxxvi.-xlvi.; (7) xlvii.-lxxvii. These treat of the Messiah and the Messianic kingdom, the woes of Israel in the past and the destruction of Jerusalem in the present, as well as of theological questions relating to original sin, free will, works, the number of the saved, the nature of the resurrection body, etc. The views expressed on several of the above subjects are often conflicting.
In one class of passages there is everywhere manifest a vigorous optimism as to Israel's ultimate well-being on earth, and the blessedness of the chosen people in the Messianic kingdom is sketched in glowing and sensuous colours (xxix., xxxix.-xl., lxiii.-lxxiv.). Over against these passages stand others of a hopelessly pessimistic character, wherein, alike as to Israel's present and future destiny on earth, there is written nothing save "lamentation, and mourning, and woe." The world is a scene of corruption, its evils are irremediable, its end is nigh, and the advent of the new and spiritual world at hand. The first to draw attention to the composite elements in this book was Kabisch (Jahrbücher f. protest. Theol., 1891, pp. 66-107). This critic regarded xxiv. 3-xxix., xxxvi.-xl. and liii.-lxxiv. as independent sources written before the fall of Jerusalem, A.D. 70, and his groundwork, which consists of the rest of his book, with the exception of a few verses, as composed after that date.
All these elements were put together by a Christian contemporary of Papias. Many of these conclusions were arrived at independently by a French scholar, De Faye (Les Apocalypses juives, 1892, pp. 25-28, 76-103, 192-204). The present writer (Apocalypse of Baruch, 1896, pp. liii.-lxvii.), after submitting the book to a fresh study, has come to the following conclusions: - The book is of Pharisaic authorship and composed of six independent writings - A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, B3. The first three were composed when Jerusalem was still standing and the Messiah and the Messianic kingdom were expected: A1, a mutilated apocalypse = xxvii.-xxx. 1; A2, the Cedar and Vine Vision = xxxvi.-xl.; A3, the Cloud Vision = liii.-lxxiv. The last three were written after A.D. 70, and probably before 90. Thus B3 = lxxxv. was written by a Jew in exile, who, despairing of a national restoration, looked only for a spiritual recompense in heaven. The rest of the book is derived from B1 and B2, written in Palestine after A.D. 70. These writings belong to very different types of thought.
In B1 the earthly Jerusalem is to be rebuilt, but not so in B2; in the former the exiles are to be restored, but not in the latter; in the former a Messianic kingdom without a Messiah is expected, but no earthly blessedness of any kind in the latter, etc. B1 = i.-ix. 1, xxxii. 2-4, xliii.-xliv. 7, xlv.-xlvi., lxxvii.-lxxxii., lxxxiv., lxxxvi.-lxxxvii. B2 = ix.-xxv., xxx. 2-xxxv., xli.-xlii., xliv. 8-15, xlvii.-lii., lxxv.-lxxvi., lxxxiii. The final editor of the work wrote in the name of Baruch the son of Neriah.
The above critical analyses were attacked and rejected by Clemen (Stud. und Krit., 1898, 211 sqq.). He fails, however, in many cases to recognize the difficulties at issue, and those which cannot be ignored he sets down to the conflicting apocalyptic traditions, on which the author was obliged to draw for his subject-matter. Though Ryssel (Kautzsch, Apok. u. Pseud. des A. T. ii. 409) has followed Clemen, neither has given any real explanation of the disorder of the book as it stands at present. Beer (op. cit.) agrees that xxxvi.-xl. and liii.-lxx. are of different authorship from the rest of the book and belong to the earlier date.