#20: Fourth Ezra and the Tragedy of the Evil Heart

As we continue our series on the idea of an “evil inclination” in Second Temple literature, we return to Fourth Ezra (4 Ezra/2 Esdras) and Second Baruch, and how these books, written in the wake of the destruction of the Second Temple, deal with a belief in an “evil heart” inherited from Adam.

Why is Ezra in Fourth Ezra so pessimistic about the human tendency toward evil?

How is the pessimism of Fourth Ezra more tragic than the similar approach we saw in Philo?

Why would anyone want to believe in an unavoidable tendency toward evil inherited since the first human?

This episode looks closely not only at how Jews understood the evil inclination in response to the Temple’s destruction, but also at ways to examine an ancient belief that seems puzzling to us.