Heavenly Ascent

The Epistle of the Apostles

Jesus describes his ascent through the heavens (v. 13), commands the Apostles to preach the gospel (v. 19, 30), describes his descent into hell (v. 27), prophecies of the man Saul (v. 31), and speaks of the future state of apostasy and persecution (v. 34-7). This apostasy is to occur during the lifetime of those who believe on the Apostles words (v. 34). Coptic, Ethiopic, Latin, and Slavonic versions.

Bibliography

Translation – W. Schneemelcher, Apocryphal New Testament, 191-227

The Apocryphon of James

The events in this text occurred “after [Jesus] had departed from us,” “five hundred and fifty days since he had risen,” therefore it seems that it should not be categorized as a forty-day text. However, because it has found its place in various forty-day articles, and Gnostic myths concerning the length of the ministry vary, it is included here.

The Apocalypse of Paul

Paul ascends with and angel into the third heaven, where he is told not to reveal any of what he is to observe (Fol. 33a). Paul is shown the glory of the prophets as well as those who believe in the prophets (Fol. 33b). He is taken to the veil where he sees thrones, whereupon there are garments, “the preciousness of which was indescribable.” Also Paul sees crowns lying before the thrones, and a man dressed in white apparel (Fol. 36a).

Encomium on Saint John the Baptist, by John Chrysostom

Jesus gives his great commission, but also speaks concerning the present glory of John the Baptist (Fol. 10a, Fol. 10b). He ascends with the Apostles through the heavens and they see John the Baptist and Zacharias in the third heaven, where men are arrayed in “celestial apparel” (Fol. 10b – Fol. 12b). Details pertaining to Heaven and Paradise are given and the Apostles are brought back onto the Mount of Olives.

Bibliography

Translation – Budge, Coptic Apocrypha, 335-351 (at 344-346)

Book of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, by Bartholomew the Apostle

Jesus is resurrected and descends into hell, binding Satan and releasing the children of Adam – excepting Judas Iscariot and two others. He heals the wound created by the Fall of Adam and Eve (Fol. 3b). Cherubim, Seraphim, “the Powers”, “the Virgins”, and Angelic Hosts surround the door of the tomb in concentric circles, singing hymns. The seven firmaments open and the Father descends to raise Christ from the dead (Fol. 6a, 6b).

The Mysteries of Saint John the Apostle and Holy Virgin

The heavens open and John is taken by the Cherubim up into the seventh heaven, where John learns that within the Cherubim is hidden all “the words of the Father” (Fol. 1b; Fol. 2a).

During Saint John’s time with the Cherubim, he asked questions and received answers. The Savior is not included in this portion of the narrative, as he stayed behind as John and the Cherubim ascended. The instruction was simply given to John to ask whatsoever questions he had on his journey (Fol. 2a; Fol. 2b).

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