The Apocryphal Old Testament

By H. F. D. Sparks | Go to book overview

THE LADDER OF JACOB

The Ladder of Jacob is extant only in Slavonic, in two distinct recensions, preserved in several MSS of the Palaea interpretata.1

About its origin nothing whatever is known. According to Epiphanius2 the Ebionites possessed an apocryphal work called 'AναßαßΦμοί 'Iακώßου ('Jacob's/ James's Steps'); but the contents of the work as described by Epiphanius in no way correspond with the contents of the Ladder. Moreover, both the literary context in which Epiphanius places it ('. . . other Acts of apostles'), and the fact that he uses the declinable form of the proper name ('Iáκωßος) strongly suggest that it was a New Testament apocryphon to which he was referring and that it was concerned with James, the Lord's brother.3

The central feature of the Ladder is Jacob's dream at Bethel. It begins as an amplification of Gen. xxviii. 10-12 after the manner of Jewish haggada. Then an angel appears, in typical apocalyptic style, to interpret Jacob's dream and goes on to prophesy his descendants' future suffering and their ultimate vindication.

That a Greek text lies behind the Slavonic is not only probable in itself, but it is also rendered more probable by certain points of contact between chap. vii in the 'longer' recension and one of the sources of the Narrative concerning things done in Persia, a 5th (?) cent. Greek work, first published in full in a critical edition by Bratke in 1899. If there was a Greek text of the Ladder, it will doubtless have formed part of the Greek Palaea; and since the Greek Palaea is usually dated in the 8th or 9th cents., a Greek Ladder must be pushed back into the 7th or 8th cents. at the latest, and it may well be very much earlier. There are no sound arguments for suggesting a Semitic original, though obviously such a possibility cannot be altogether excluded.

Since the Ladder is relatively brief it has been thought worthwhile to print translations of both the available Slavonic recen

____________________
1
On the Palaea see above, p. 364, n. 5.
2
Epiph. Haer. XXX. xvi. 7.
3
The normal Christian Greek for the patriarch Jacob is the indeclinable form, 'Iακώß, following the Septiagint (e.g. John iv. 5; Ep. Barn. viii. 4).

-453-

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The Apocryphal Old Testament
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Abbreviations and Symbols xix
  • Jubilees 1
  • Prologue 10
  • The Life of Adam and Eve 141
  • Appendix - Eve's Account of the Fall from the Apocalypse of Moses XV-Xxx 161
  • 1 - Enoch 169
  • 2 - Enoch 321
  • The Apocalypse of Abraham 363
  • The Testament of Abraham 393
  • The Testament of Isaac 423
  • The Testament of Jacob 441
  • The Ladder of Jacob 453
  • Joseph and Aseneth 465
  • The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs 505
  • The Assumption of Moses 601
  • The Testament of Job 617
  • The Psalms of Solomon 649
  • The Odes of Solomon 683
  • The Testament of Solomon 733
  • The Apocalypse of Elijah 753
  • The Ascension of Isaiah 775
  • The Paraleipomena of Jeremiah 813
  • The Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch 835
  • The Greek Apocalypse of Baruch 897
  • The Apocalypse of Zephaniah and an Anonymous Apocalypse 915
  • The Apocalypse of Esdras 927
  • The Vision of Esdras 943
  • Bibliography 946
  • The Apocalypse of Sedrach 953
  • Bibliography 956
  • Index of Scriptural References 967
  • Index of Ancient Authors and Works 973
  • Index of Modern Authors 975
  • Index of Subjects 981
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