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____________________