MORE CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAJames R. Davila, University of St. Andrews, U.K.
Ottawa Christian Apocryphal Texts Workshop
The More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha project at the University of St. Andrews (http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/academic/divinity/MOTP/index-motp.html) has assembled an international team of scholars to translate a new collection of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. The project is headed by Professor Richard Bauckham and myself. I use the term "Old Testament Pseudepigrapha" to mean ancient books that do not belong to any of the major biblical canons but which claim to be written by a character in the Hebrew Bible or to be set in the same time period as the Hebrew Bible. Other retellings of biblical stories survive from antiquity, but there are far too many of them to be included in a single collection. This paper surveys and comments on texts in the MOTP corpus which fall under the category "Christian apocrypha," which I use here to mean pseudepigrapha transmitted by Christians and probably composed by them as well. I will also briefly note a number of works that were transmitted by Christians but which may be Jewish compositions.
Our overall criteria for inclusion in the MOTP corpus are somewhat more flexible, but at the same time more consistent and focused, than those that underlie the two-volume edition of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (OTP) published by Charlesworth in the 1980s.
First, with a few exceptions to be noted, we are limiting the corpus to texts for which a reasonable -- if not necessarily conclusive -- case can be made for a date of composition before the rise of Islam in the early seventh century C.E. (As an aside, it is interesting to note that our oldest text is an Iron Age II inscription dating to around 700 B.C.E.)
Second, we are including texts of any origin (Jewish, Christian, pagan, etc.).
Third, we are not including texts published already in the Charlesworth volumes unless we have important new manuscript data or we believe that the text was inadequately treated for other reasons.
Fourth, for purely practical reasons we exclude texts that fit best in and survive only in other coherent collections of works that have been treated (or deserve treatment) on their own terms. These include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi Library, the Hekhalot Literature, and the like. In some cases fragments of our texts survive in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but important manuscripts are known from elsewhere as well.
Finally, fifth, we have included a number of texts that were written in the form we have them well after the early seventh century, but which clearly either preserve earlier material or have a close relationship with such material
As noted, the corpus includes pagan pseudepigrapha, Jewish pseudepigrapha transmitted by Jews, Jewish pseudepigrapha transmitted by Christians, pseudepigrapha composed by Christians, etc. They survive in a great many different languages, including Arabic, Judeo-Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Greek, Hebrew, Manichean Iranian, Old Irish, Iron Age Jordanian (Northwest Semitic), Latin, Old Church Slavonic, Syriac, and Manichean Turkic. We currently have an international team of nearly forty contributors who are editing about sixty fairly well-preserved texts and numerous additional quotations and smaller fragments. We estimate that the project will produce two volumes of texts and may be about the same size as the Charlesworth corpus. The project is supported by a generous research grant from the Leverhulme Trust which has allowed us to hire Dr. Alexander Panayotov as a research fellow.
As a starting point I assume that texts that circulated only in Christian circles are Christian compositions unless a compelling positive case can be made for a different origin and that we should understand them first in the social context of their earliest surviving manuscripts and move backwards from there only on the basis of convincing evidence. Evidence for Jewish origin may include internal evidence for a pre-Christian date combined with informed interest on Jewish matters; compelling linguistic evidence for a Hebrew Vorlage; and a consistent pattern of sympathetic interest in Jewish ritual and halakha and Jewish ethnic and national interests. I have discussed these issues at length in my monograph The Provenance of the Pseudepigrapha: Jewish, Christian, or Other? and will not rehearse my arguments further here. The documents can be categorized in many different ways, but for the purposes of this paper I will list them according to genre. The summaries that follow give my own understanding of each text at present and are subject to any amount of correction by the editors of those texts in their contributions. Additional texts may also be added to the corpus as they come to our attention. If you know of any that seem relevant, please draw them to my attention.
Four Daniel Apocalypses are included in the corpus. The Syriac Apocalypse of Daniel survives in a single manuscript and may have been composed in the early seventh century. It is an "historical apocalypse" that describes the experiences of Daniel in Babylon and presents revelations about coming messianic woes, the Antichrist, and the return of Christ and his reign in the earthly paradise. The Armenian Seventh Vision of Daniel also comes within our time frame. In addition, we are including two relatively early Greek Apocalypses of Daniel that are post-600 but clearly incorporate earlier material and provide context for the fragmentary Danielic oracles mentioned below.
We have also decided to include the Armenian translation of 4 Ezra as a work in its own right, since it is of considerable interest for the history of the interpretation of this ancient apocalypse. In addition, the shorter works 5 Ezra (2 Esdras 1-2) and 6 Ezra (2 Esdras 15-16), which survive only in the Latin translation of 2 Esdras as additions to 4 Ezra, are included. Although they were translated by Metzger in his "4 Ezra" contribution to the Charlesworth corpus, we judged that they merited treatment as individual works in their own right.
The Apocalypse of the Seven Heavens describes the fate of the righteous and the wicked as they are carried through the seven heavens to judgment. It is found complete in Anglo-Saxon and Middle-Irish versions and a Latin fragment from around 800 also survives. Its contents point to a date within our range. The Latin Vision of Ezra was translated in the Charlesworth Pseudepigrapha by J. R. Mueller and G. A. Robbins, but it was noted therein that a longer version was also known which seems to have been composed within our time frame, and it will be included in our corpus.
The Historia occisionis Abel is a Coptic apocryphon about Abel which is tentatively slated for inclusion. The Slavonic Adam Octipartite is a very brief text found in 2 Enoch and elsewhere, including non-Slavonic sources, and contains speculations about the creation of Adam's body from eight elements and connects him with the four corners of the world via an anagram of his name. It also survives in Latin and Old Irish versions. The Life of Adam and Eve (Apocalypse of Moses) is included in the Charlesworth corpus, but we shall be translating the Coptic fragments in our corpus. A very fragmentary Coptic Enoch Apocryphon includes an ascent of Enoch, angelic revelations granted to him, and interactions between him and his sister Tabitha, who is arguably the Sibyl. This late antique work is explicitly Christian and there is no reason to posit a Jewish original. A poorly preserved Apocryphon of Jacob and Joseph is found in several very fragmentary Greek manuscripts of the fifth and sixth century. The surviving content has to do with the story of Joseph, notably the return of his brothers to their father after their first encounter with Joseph in Egypt (Gen 42:29). Three additional accounts of the Maccabees are included in the project. 6 Maccabees is a Syriac poem which Sigrid Petersen argues shared a lost source with 4 Maccabees. 7 Maccabees is another Syriac work that focuses on the speeches of the mother the seven martyrs, Martha Shamoni, and her sons. And 8 Maccabees is a brief account of the revolt drawing on Seleucid sources and now preserved in the Chronicle of John Malalas, §§206-207. (We are not including the two works known as 5 Maccabees. One is merely a Syriac translation of book 6 of Josephus' Jewish War and the other is related, perhaps an Arabic epitome of the medieval Josippon.) A Narrative of Lamech survives in Old Church Slavonic and tells the story of Lamech's killing of the two men (Cain and a slave) in a version whose general contents were known in late antiquity and became quite popular thereafter. Since there are no other obvious candidates, we take this to be a translation of the Lamech apocryphon mentioned in the seventh century List of the Sixty Books. The Greek Story of Melchizedek survives in numerous manuscripts and translations, some of them ascribed incorrectly to Athanasius. It tells the story of the birth of Melchizedek, his conversion to monotheism and his calling down of the wrath of God upon his idolatrous and child-sacrificing neighbors and family; his retreat into the wilderness as a holy man; and how at God's behest Abraham found him and brought him back to civilization. This work draws on numerous Jewish traditions, particularly about Abraham, but it is clearly a Christian composition that explicitly advances a particular interpretation of the letter to the Hebrews. We are also including another Melchizedek Legend that survives in Greek in the Byzantine compendium known as the Chronicon Pascale and also in an Ethiopic version. The Questions of the Queen of Sheba survives in somewhat variant Syriac and Armenian versions which may go back ultimately to a Greek version. In it, the Queen asks Solomon questions about astronomy, biology, theology, and metaphysics, followed by a series of riddles.
A brief work called Jeremiah's Prophecy to Pashhur usually follows the Ethiopic version of the book of Jeremiah and is also known in Sahidic Coptic. In it the prophet predicts that the progeny of the hostile priest Pashhur of Jeremiah 20 will condemn a righteous healer (i.e., Christ) for thirty pieces of silver and shall reap eternal condemnation as a result. The oracles of the Tiburtine Sibyl survive in medieval Greek and Latin manuscripts. It describes the Sibyl's visit Rome, where she interpreted the dream of nine suns, which had been dreamed by one hundred judges in the same night. The interpretation revealed that the nine suns represented nine human generations. The original work has been heavily developed in different directions in the Greek and Latin manuscript traditions, but a Greek Vorlage of the early sixth century can be recovered with confidence. Arguments have been made for a lost fourth-century original that can be partly reconstructed and even a lost Jewish-Christian original of the early second century, which, again, can be partly reconstructed. But these remain hypothetical. Another Sibylline Oracle also survives in Latin and on the basis of its content has been dated to the fourth or fifth century C.E. We are also including fragments of two Danielic oracles stemming from Byzantium and quoted in later texts.
Magical and Mantic Works
Two or three Lunationes (works of prognostication on the basis of the moon's location or appearance) attributed to the prophet Daniel will be included, as will the Somniale Danielis, an "alphabetic dream manual." The Hygromanteia of Solomon (or Epistle to Rehoboam) is a Greek astrological and magical treatise attributed to Solomon and addressing his son Rehoboam. And the Selendromion of David and Solomon is a lunarium, a set of divinatory guidelines for each day of a lunar month. This example of the genre has been heavily Judaized or at least heavily biblicized, in that references to the pagan gods have been replaced with biblical events and characters. Crown's edition of the Testament of Solomon was translated by D. C. Duling in the Charlesworth corpus, but we believe the earliest manuscript of this work is worthy of treatment on its own. The so-called Vienna Papyrus is a fragmentary fifth or sixth century manuscript that seems to have been a scroll containing the material on the thirty-six decans (deities ruling the zodiac) of TSol 18 redacted into a form somewhat differently organized than in the Testament of Solomon. Redaction-critical observations have been advanced by Duling to argue for this manuscript being a excerpt from the larger work rather than an independent source later incorporated into the Testament of Solomon. A work known as The Signs of the Judgment gives a list of fifteen catastrophic omens of the eschaton. It survives in Armenian, Irish, Latin, and Hebrew versions (the Hebrew probably secondary to the Latin). The Armenian and Irish apocryphal traditions were not in contact, so a work surviving in both has a good case for being relatively early.
Possibly Jewish Pseudepigrapha
A number of works of possibly Jewish origin survive only in manuscripts transmitted by Christians. First, three Sermons on Jonah, Samson, and God are found only in an Armenian translation. Although their attribution in the manuscripts to Philo of Alexandria seems to be erroneous, the content of the first two strongly supports the contention that they are ancient Jewish sermons. (I have not yet seen the third.) Second, a Coptic Apocryphon of Jeremiah survives complete in a single manuscript, but fragments of other manuscripts go back to the ninth and seventh centuries C.E. The text, which is rife with anachronisms, retells Jeremiah's confrontations with King Zedekiah and narrates the fall of Jerusalem; Jeremiah's hiding of the Temple treasures; the Babylonian exile; the Rip Van Winkle-like seventy-year sleep of the righteous eunuch Ebedmelech; and Jeremiah's recovery of the Temple treasures at the end of the exile. The work contains Christian references as it stands, but some would argue that it was originally a Jewish composition. Third, in 1990 Ephraim Isaac published an Ethiopic History of Joseph that he believed went back to a Second Temple Jewish work, perhaps via Arabic and Syriac versions. Unknown to him, the Syriac text behind the Ethiopic had actually been published already in the late nineteenth century, as was recently noticed by Kristian Heal, and the Syriac History of Joseph is to be translated for our project. A Coptic Apocryphon of Joseph survives in part in a single fourth-century Sahidic manuscript. This is a work of rewritten scripture that retells the story of Joseph, beginning with the betrayal by his brothers. The text breaks off with Joseph traveling with the Ishmaelites after being sold, but codicological data allow for a considerable amount of lost text after this. It was taken to be a Christian monastic work by J. Zandee, but more recently Jan Dochhorn and Anders Klostergaard Petersen have argued for a Jewish origin. Finally, the Horarium of Adam is a sapiential work embedded in the Testament of Adam but which also had a life outside this work. It catalogues the twenty-four hours of the day, indicate what sort of being or natural phenomenon offers praise to God during each hour and the perspective of the work has been argued to be Jewish. The Testament of Adam was translated in 1983 by S. E. Robinson in the Charlesworth Pseudepigrapha, but new manuscript evidence for the Horarium has emerged since then and it deserves a treatment on its own in any case.
In addition, new material from Qumran and elsewhere that may belong to the Apocryphon of Ezekiel has been recovered in recent years. The traditional five fragments of this work were covered in the Charlesworth corpus, but the new material merits a full reexamination of the text and all possible surviving sources for it. Likewise, additional material in Greek and Slavonic related to the Assumption and Testament of Moses has also been collected. These fragments are included in our corpus. The collected fragments of the Apocryphon of Ezekiel were translated for the Charlesworth Pseudepigrapha and a long Latin fragment of a work assigned the title Testament of Moses was also translated therein, although the relationship of the latter to our Moses fragments is not always entirely clear. The new Ezekiel and Moses fragments are preserved in Christian contexts but some or all of them may stem from Jewish works. We are also including fragments from an Elijah apocryphon or apocrypha, and these remarks are largely appropriate to it as well. Other quotation fragments are included in the corpus, such as Justin the Gnostic's Book of Baruch quoted by Hippolytus (Haer. 5.20-22; 10.11); The Paraphrase of Seth, also quoted by Hippolytus (Haer. 5.18.1); another Book of Baruch quoted by Cyprian (Test. 3.29); a dubious reference to a book about Zechariah and King Joash, quoted by Sozomen (Historia Ecclesiastica 9.17); patristic quotations of unspecified prophets; and pseudo-biblical quotations in patristic sources.
The Cave of Treasures survives in a complete Syriac version and fragments of a Coptic one. It is a long retelling of the biblical narrative which begins with the six days of creation and ends with the resurrection of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. It may have been composed before 600 C.E. and, in any case, it draws on earlier material including the Testament of Adam. The Palaea Historica is a Byzantine Greek composition from the ninth century or later which retells the Old Testament story from creation to King David, along with material about Isaiah and King Uzziah, a garbled version of the story of Tobit ("Bit"), and material from the apocryphal additions to Daniel. It includes a version of the Story of Melchizedek mentioned above and draws on a great deal of earlier Jewish and Christian biblical legend.