Both the pseudo-Athanasian Synopsis and the Stichometry of Nicephorus include ' Abraham' in their lists of apocryphal books; but whether they are referring to our Apocalypse, or to our Testament, or to some other work bearing Abraham's name, it is impossible to say. Priscillian is similarly vague when he asks whether anyone has ever 'read a book of Abraham among the prophets of the established canon'.1 Even more uncertain is the identity of the book (or books) 'of the Three Patriarchs' mentioned at the very end of the apocryphal list in the well known passage in The Apostolic Constitutions ( VI. xvi. 3) -- is one book being referred to here or are three? Are the 'three patriarchs' referred to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (as we should naturally expect)? Or is the fact that they occur at the very end of the list (after ' Isaiah' and ' David' and 'Elijah') significant, and are three later worthies therefore in mind?
Epiphanius, at first sight, is more definite. He records that among the apocryphal books used by the Sethians was one passing under the name of Abraham 'which also they assert to be a revelation'.2 The obvious interpretation of this statement is that it is a reference to our Apocalypse. On the other hand, the Testament contains not a little apocalyptic material; and this is recognised, for example, in the title of the Testament in the Rumanian version ('The Life and Death of our Father Abraham, the Righteous, written according to the Apocalypse . . .'). So there could clearly be confusion between Apocalypse and Testament. The Sethians, about whom Epiphanius is writing, may have used either the Apocalypse or the Testament, or, perhaps, another work incorporating material in one, or the other, or both, or neither.
Even greater uncertainty surrounds the interpretation of a passage in the Prologue to Palladius Lausiac History. In the traditional text of this passage Palladius refers to 'those who have written the lives of the Fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and____________________