The Testament is known from more than thirty Greek MSS, which contain a variety of legends, lives of saints, and other hagiographical material, and date from the 13th to the 17th cents. It is known also from several versions -- Coptic (Bohairic), Arabic, Ethiopic, Slavonic, and Rumanian.
The Greek MSS are clearly divisible into two distinct recensions -- the longer (= A) and the shorter (= B); and these recensions are distinct in the sense that they represent different arrangements of what is frequently different material, and there are no reasons for thinking either that B is an abridgement of A or that A is an expansion of B. The question to what extent the versions support one or other of these recensions admits of no easy answer. Thus, the Coptic follows neither exactly: it is on the whole much closer to B, but some details in it, which are absent from B, show resemblances to material contained in A. The Rumanian inclines towards A, although it is by no means identical with it. The Slavonic, on the other hand, inclines very definitely towards B, though the situation here is complicated by the fact that, as so often with Slavonic texts, a number of different 'inner-Slavonic' recensions have to be reckoned with. Of the Arabic and Ethiopic (which appears to have been made from the Arabic) there are no printed editions; but from what is known of the Arabic it would seem that it, like the Slavonic, also inclines towards B, though again with considerable variations. So also the Ethiopic.
James in his edition printed the Greek text of both recensions one after the other, using six MSS for A and three for B. Vassiliev printed only the text of the A recension, relying on a single MS (Cod. Vind. theol. 237 = James's E). The Greek text printed opposite Stone's English translation is a photographic reproduction of James's text of both recensions. Our own translation follows the A recension, except that four passages which are of more than
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Publication information: Book title: The Apocryphal Old Testament. Contributors: H. F. D. Sparks - Editor. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1984. Page number: 393.
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