The Eagle Vision of 4 Ezra

The large chart below provides various interpretations regarding the historical personages represented in the Eagle Vision as various wings and heads in 4 Ezra 11-12. Most of the data is taken from the appendix to the DiTommaso article (see bottom of chart), which clearly demonstrates the superiority of a Severan reading of the visions. For this reason, I’ve placed his reading first in the columns. As I obtain more information from the sources mentioned by DiTommaso, and discover any other suggestions of note, I will include them here.

My own opinion is that the Eagle Vision originally dated to the reign of Domitian and also contained no mention of three heads and eight small wings. There are two large blocks of material (11.20-35 and 12.17-30) which cover these elements, with minor editing elsewhere (11.1, 3-4, 9-11, 45; 12.2, 3a). Without these, the vision reads easily as one of a twelve-winged eagle, the twelve wings also corresponding to the first twelve Roman Emperors, bringing us up to Domitian. You may read more about this here.

For the time being, here is the scheme that I find fits the data best. See my Notes for explanations:

Wing 1: Julius Caesar 59/48/46-44  
Wing 2: Augustus 44/23-14  
Wing 3: Tiberius 14-37  
Wing 4: Caligula 37-41  
Wing 5: Claudius 41-54  
Wing 6: Nero 54-68  
Small Wing 1: Vindex 68 (rebellion, no rule) [these two small wings are placed
Small Wing 2: Macer 68 (rebellion, no rule) here according to 12.21]
Wing 7: Galba 68-69  
Wing 8: Otho 69  
Wing 9: Vitellius 69  
Wing 10: Vespasian 69-79  
Wing 11: Titus 79-81  
Wing 12: Domitian and Commodus 81-96 180-192  
Small Wing 3: Pertinax Jan 1-Mar 28, 193 87 days
Small Wing 4: Didius Julianus Mar 28-June 1, 193 66 days
Small Wing 5: Pescennius 193-194 (rebellion, no rule)
Small Wing 6: Albinus 193-197 (rebellion, no rule)
(Big) Head 1: Septimius Severus 193-211 (Feb 1)  
Heads 2 & 3: Caracalla and Geta 198-211 209-211 killed in late December
Head 3: Caracalla 211-217  
Small Wings 7 & 8: Macrinus and Diadumenianus 217-218 218  

In the following chart, a “[none]” indicates that the author named in bold at the top of the column has not offered an identification for that particular element.

(To navigate within this very wide chart, on a desktop machine, click within it and then use arrow keys; on an iPhone or iPad, to navigate sideways, use a double-fingered swipe.)

    FLAVIAN                     POST-FLAVIAN   SEVERAN      
Order of eagle vision elements/rulers: DiTommaso Torrey Gfrörer Keulers Ewald Gunkel Oesterley Myers Knibb Stone Longenecker Box (orig.; big wings paired) Volkmar (wings paired) Box (redactor) von Gutschmid Barry Schwartz Le Hir
1. Wing 1 Caesar Caesar Caesar Caesar Caesar Caesar Caesar Caesar Caesar Caesar [none] Caesar Caesar Caesar Caesar Caesar Caesar Caesar
2. Wing 2 rules more than twice as long as successors [obviously Augustus, dated from the death of Caesar] Augustus Augustus Augustus Augustus Augustus Augustus Augustus Augustus Augustus Augustus [none]     Augustus Augustus Augustus Augustus Augustus
3. Wing 3 Tiberius Tiberius Tiberius Tiberius Tiberius Tiberius [none]/Tiberius? Tiberius [none] [none] Augustus Augustus Tiberius Tiberius Tiberius Tiberius Tiberius
4. Wing 4 Caligula Caligula Caligula Caligula Caligula Caligula [none]/Caligula? Caligula [none] [none]     Caligula Caligula Caligula Caligula Caligula
5. Wing 5 Claudius Claudius Claudius Claudius Claudius Claudius [none]/Claudius? Claudius [none] [none] Tiberius Tiberius Claudius Claudius Claudius Claudius Claudius
6. Wing 6 Nero Nero Nero Nero Nero Nero [none]/Nero? Nero [none] [none]     Nero Nero Nero Nero Nero
7. Wing 7 (number 12 is general, not specific) Galba Vindex Galba Galba Galba Vindex [none]/Galba? Vindex [none] [none] Caligula Caligula Galba Vespasian Vespasian Vespasian Vespasian
8. Wing 8 Otho Nymphidius Otho Otho Otho Nymphidius [none]/Otho? Nymphidius [none] [none]     Otho Domitian Titus Titus Domitian
9. Wing 9 (orig. only 8 wings) n/a Galba Vitellius Vitellius Vitellius Galba [none]/Vitellius? Galba [none] [none] Claudius Claudius Vitellius Trajan Domitian Domitian Trajan
10. Wing 10 n/a Piso Civilis Vespasian Vindex Piso [none]/Vespasian? Piso [none] [none]     Vespasian Hadrian Nerva Nerva Hadrian
11. Wing 11 n/a Otho Nerva Titus Nymphidius Otho [none]/Titus? Otho [none] [none] Nero Nero Titus Antoninus Pius Trajan Trajan Antoninus Pius
12. Wing 12 n/a Vitellius Trajan Domitian Piso Vitellius [none]/Domitian? Vitellius [none] [none]     Domitian Marcus Aurelius Hadrian Hadrian Marcus Aurelius and Commodus
(a person of the circa 68 troubles) Herod the Great [none] [none] Galba Titus Titus
14. Small Wing 2 (around the middle of the kingdom’s time, in a time of trouble) (a person of the circa 68 troubles) [none]       [none] Agrippa I [none] [none] [none] [none] Nymphidius   [none] Nerva [none] Otho Nerva
Vespasian Vespasian Vespasian Vespasian Vespasian Vespasian Vespasian Vespasian Vespasian Vespasian Vespasian Trajan Septimius Severus Septimius Severus Septimius Severus Septimius Severus
20. Right and Left Heads together Geta and Caracalla Galba and Otho Titus and Domitian Titus and Domitian Titus and Domitian Titus and Domitian Titus and Domitian Titus and Domitian Titus and Domitian Titus and Domitian Titus and Domitian Titus and Domitian Titus and Domitian Hadrian and Lusius Quietus Geta and Caracalla Geta and Caracalla Geta and Caracalla Geta and Caracalla
21. Right Head, after eating Left Head Caracalla Otho Domitian Domitian Domitian Domitian Domitian Domitian Domitian Domitian Domitian Domitian Domitian Hadrian Caracalla Caracalla Caracalla Caracalla
M. Opellius Macrinus and his son Diadumenianus Agrippa II and Berenice [none] [none] Nerva Macrinus and Diadumenianus Macrinus and Diadumenianus
DiTommaso Lorenzo DiTommaso, “Dating the Eagle Vision of 4 Ezra: A New Look at an Old Theory,” JSP 20 (1999) 3-38
Torrey C.C. Torrey, The Apocryphal Literature: A Brief Introduction. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1945
Gfrörer A. Gfrörer. “Das Jahrhundert des Heils. Geschichte des Urchristentums, vol. 1. Stuttgart: Schweitzerbart, 1838: [volume?] 69-93
J. Keulers J. Keulers, “Die eschatologische Lehre des vierten Esrabuchs”, Biblische Studien 20.2-3, Freiburg im Brieisgau: Herder, 1922: 118-122
Ewald H. G. A. Ewald. Das vierte Esrabuch: Nach seinem Zeitalter, seinen aräbischen Übersetzung und einer neuen Weiderherstellung. AKGWG 11. Göttingen, 1863
Gunkel H. Gunkel. Das vierte Buch Esra. Freiburg, etc: J.C.B. Mohr (P. Siebeck), 1899
Oesterley W.O.E. Oesterley. 2 Esdras: The Ezra Apocalypse. Westminster Commentaries. London: Methuen, 1933
Myers Jacob Myers. 1 and 2 Esdras. Anchor Bible 42. New York: Doubleday, 1974
Knibb R. J. Coggins and M. A. Knibb. The First and Second Books of Esdras. Cambridge Bible Commentary. New York: Campbridge University Press, 1979
Stone Michael Stone. Fourth Ezra, Minneapolis: Fortresss Press, 1990
Longenecker Bruce Lonenecker. 2 Esdras, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995
Volkmar G. Volkmar. Handbuch der Einleitung in die Apokryphen, II. Das vierte Buch Esra: Esdra Propheta. Tubingen, 1863
Box G. H. Box. “4 Ezra” in R. H. Charles, APOT: 2.542-624
von Gutschmid A. von Gutschmid, “Die Apokalypse des Esra und ihre spätern Bearbeitungen”, ZWT 3 (1860): 1-81
Barry P. Barry, “The Apocalypse of Ezra”, JBL 32 (1913): 261-272
J. Schwartz “Sur la date de IV Esdras,” Melanges Andre Neher. Paris: Maisonneuve, 1975. 191-196
Le Hir A. M. Le Hir, “Du IVe livre d’Esdras”, Etudes bibliques 1. Paris: Joseph Albanel, 1869. 173-208

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