The Apocryphal Old Testament

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

THE TESTAMENTS OF THE TWELVE PATRIARCHS

INTRODUCTION

The Testaments, as we know them, are a collection of the 'last words' of the twelve sons of Jacob. In the form in which they have been transmitted to us they are clearly the work of a single author or editor, inasmuch as each individual testament is constructed according to the same overall pattern. First, the patriarch gives his immediate family, assembled round his death-bed, details about his own early life and experiences: next he discourses at some length either on a particular virtue they should cultivate or on a particular vice they should avoid, charging them meanwhile to keep 'the law of the Lord' and live in obedience to 'the commands of the Most High': then he warns them (not infrequently on the basis of what he has read in 'the writing of Enoch') of the evils that will come upon them as a result of their moral deterioration, though he can usually assure them that 'in the last times' God will bring 'salvation', not only to Israel, but also to the Gentiles; and then, finally, he asks to be buried, not in Egypt, but in Canaan, at the family burial-place in Hebron - and it is recorded in each instance that this was done.

The earliest explicit reference to the existence of the Testaments in anything like their present form is in Rufinus's translation of Origen Homilies on Joshua:1 here Origen seems to be referring to the passage about 'the seven spirits of error' in T. Reub. ii and iii: he calls the work in which the passage occurs (according to Rufinus) 'a certain little book which is called The Testament (sic) of the Twelve Patriarchs'; and he notes that it is extra-canonical. Similarly, Jerome knew a 'Book of the Patriarchs', and adds that it is apocryphal:2 he says he found in it a statement which is most naturally understood as a free quotation from T. Naph. ii. 8; so there can hardly be any doubt that it is to our Testaments he is referring. Later on, the 'Patriarchs' occur among the recognized

____________________
1
Orig. In Iesu hom. xv. 6.
2
Hieron. Tract. de Ps. xv. 7.

-505-

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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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