Pseudo-Philo: Rewriting the Bible

By Frederick J. Murphy | Go to book overview

10
Major Characters: God, Humanity, Israel,
Leaders, Other Major Figures

Most of the material in the next three chapters can be found scattered throughout the commentary of chapters 3 through 9. This chapter and the following ones do not repeat that analysis. They rather pull together the various strands of the narrative to arrive at a generalized picture of characters (this chapter), themes (chapter 11), and reflections of the author's real world (chapter 12). In most cases, the listing of passages that support a certain interpretation is illustrative rather than exhaustive. The full effect of the points made in these three chapters can be appreciated only in combination with the detailed investigations of the preceding chapters.


God

God is the most important character in the Biblical Antiquities. God is revealed by the divine words and actions, by how others relate to God and what they say about God, and by the narrator's comments. Analysis of God must consider other characters and must also look at plot. Since God as a character unifies the narrative, this leads to the following overview of the entire work.1.

The Biblical Antiquities is a narrative theodicy, a defense of God's ways. It does not address a specific problem like the destruction of the temple, as does 4 Ezra or 2 Baruch. Indeed, it was probably written before 70 C.E. Rather, Pseudo-Philo addresses a more general situation in which Israel is dissatisfied with its subjection to a foreign power, inadequate leadership, and a populace with conflicting ideas concerning what to do about the situation and what God wants. Pseudo-Philo exonerates God. God is as clear as can be throughout history. It is first humanity as a whole and then Israel in particular that is obtuse. Simply put, obedience to God brings success, disobedience brings disaster. All sin receives its punishment. Complete dependence on God leads to a perfect relationship with the Deity. God has done everything possible to make that a reality. History is a succession of events directed by God toward

____________________
1.
Perrot discusses many of the following ideas in "La providence divine," SC 230, 49-52.

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