Pseudo-Philo: Rewriting the Bible

By Frederick J. Murphy | Go to book overview

3
From Adam to Joseph: Biblical
Antiquities 1-8

These initial chapters, which depend on Genesis, serve three main goals: to locate Abraham and his progeny in a "human geography" through genealogies, to contrast righteous Abraham with sinful humanity, and to set the stage for the Exodus.1. The two versions of the Creation in Genesis 1-2 are omitted. Pseudo-Philo reverses the order of the genealogies from Genesis 4-5. LAB 1 recapitulates Genesis 5 and LAB 2 does the same for Genesis 4. By this reversal, humanity's positive side is presented before the negative. The genealogy of chapter 1, which names Adam's descendants through Seth, does not contain much editorial comment. It culminates in Noah's birth. The genealogy in chapter 2 offers several editorial comments showing that various evils originated in Cain, the first murderer, and his descendants. By presenting humanity's positive side first, Pseudo-Philo suggests humanity's potential before detailing its failures. This pattern, potential for good followed by failure, is repeated several times in Pseudo-Philo. It is related to the plot's structure noted in the previous chapter: Israel's potential for living at peace with God is portrayed before its failure to realize that potential is recounted. Chapters 3-8 tell the story of humanity from the Flood to Israel's descent to Egypt. The chapters stress humanity's sinfulness, Abraham's refusal to join in their wickedness at the tower of Babel, the subsequent election of Abraham and his seed, and the migration of Abraham's progeny to Egypt.


Chapter 1: Adam's Descendants Through Seth

The genealogies in LAB 1-2 belong to the first category of rewriting listed in the previous chapter. Pseudo-Philo merely adds names to Genesis 4-5 and alters comments about or by individuals in the genealogies. Most of the added names in these and other genealogies are not found elsewhere in Jewish tradition. Multiplication of names gains the readers' confidence. Surely an author

____________________
1.
The Biblical Antiquities uses the name "Abram" until God formally changes it in 8:3. The present study uses "Abraham" whenever referring to that figure.

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