Most important calendrical features.
1. Christis Sunday.
In a more archaic exegesis preserved byClement of Alexandria quoting an earlier source (Strom 6:16:145; Stählin506), Christ is the light and a “day” but this day is the Sabbath (such is theChristian understanding of the fourth commandment).
In Barsabas, Christ is still the lightand a “day” but this day is “the First from Sabbath” = Sunday (პირველი შაბათი, § 2; not“the first week,” cf. პირველსა შაბათსა = πρώτῃ σαββάτου in Mk 16:9). This is an additional argumentfor a third-century dating.
One has to recall the Apocalypse ofJohn where the starting point of the following visions falls on Sunday.
In the same manner as in both 2 Baruchand 4 Ezra, the seventh part of Barsabas’ sermon is dedicated toMoses and is related to the Pentecost. The calendrical setting of all thesetexts is the second half of the Pentecost period.
However, the first visions in 2 Baruchand 4 Ezra are related to specific dates in the 2nd month importantin the Second Temple period, whereas the beginning of the sermon of Barnabas isrelated to the Midpentecost: the Sunday of the corresponding week and thecommemoration of Noah. The commemoration of Noah on the Midpentecost istraceable back to the third century although may have pre-Christian roots.
The final and culminating partcorresponds to the Pentecost, in the same manner as in many Second TempleJewish apocalypses but especially 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra. Here,Barsabas explains the role of Christ as the second Moses, in the way thatChrist’s New Testament is a renewal of the Testament of Moses. Christ as NewMoses is the leitmotiv of the corresponding part of Barsabas’ work.
Actually, I know no liturgical interpretationof the remaining figures of Barsbas’ “holy prophets.” Nevertheless, in the lightof the given liturgical interpretations of Christ as Sunday, Noah, and Christas New Moses, which form a frame of the whole structure of work, one has tosuggest that such interpretations were implied.
Therefore, Barsabas’ work is aparaliturgical text, that is, a text relying on the liturgy but not created forthe needs of the liturgy. It is similar to some apocalypses but, however, it isclearly not an apocalypse.
Unlike John, 2 Baruch,and 4 Ezra, Barsabas’ work is not an apocalypse. Instead, it is aninverse apocalypse where the prophecies of the past (“mysteries”) are examinedand proclaimed as fulfilled. I don’t know how to call such a genre. Probably,“realized apocalypse” would be the best name.
We know, at least, one work of thesame or similar genre, the sermon of John II of Jerusalem on the encaenia ofthe Sion basilica in 394 (preserved in Armenian). It is also subdivided intoseven great parts, all of them being dedicated to some Old Testament“prefigurations” of the New Testament. Moreover, John of Jerusalem’s sermon isdepending on and explicitly quoting 4 Ezra.