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Ritual in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha

ABSTRACT: RITUAL IN THE JEWISH PSEUDEPIGRAPHA

SYMPOSIUM ON ANTHROPOLOGY AND BIBLICAL STUDIES

James R. Davila

St. Mary's College

University of St. Andrews

Paleojudaica.com

Follow the links to access the draft of the paper presented at the symposium and the accompanying handout.

The 1980s and 1990s have seen the emergence of "ritual studies" as a field in its own right, one pursued with increasing methodological sophistication and applied not only in the social sciences but also in the humanities. Likewise, the study of the "Old Testament Pseudepigrapha" has blossomed since the publication of the two-volume collection of translations of the major texts, edited by James H. Charlesworth in 1983-86, and work on these texts increasingly recognizes the need to understand them on their own terms and not just as background for the New Testament or early Judaism. The purpose of this paper is to apply methods and insights from ritual studies to further our understanding of the "Jewish Pseudepigrapha," texts from the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha which can be shown on the basis of positive evidence to have been composed in Jewish circles.

For the purposes of this paper I define the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha as the literary remains of the anonymous/pseudonymous revelatory stream of tradition that originated in response to (or sometimes alongside of) the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament accepted in the major Jewish and Christian canons. For practical purposes, it consists of the works in the two Charlesworth volumes. The corpus to be studied is somewhat narrower than the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha per se for two reasons. One is simply to limit the texts to a more manageable number than the entire collection of fifty-two complete works in the Charlesworth edition. But a second reason is to give more cohesion to the chosen corpus. Charlesworth's collection was made on the basis of decisions taken in the twentieth century, unlike both the various biblical canons and the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were collected in antiquity on the basis of (still very imperfectly understood) criteria that made sense to the ancient collectors. By limiting the corpus to verifiably Jewish pseudepigrapha, we recover another ancient collection: Jewish pseudepigrapha found worthy of preservation by ancient Christians. This collection, although neither comprehensive nor the result of a single decision, was at least deliberately selected by ancient collectors and therefore, unlike the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha as a whole, comes to us on the basis of more than just the accidents of survival.

Catherine Bell, in her book Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), proposes a sixfold typology of ritual, including rites of passage, calendrical rites, rites of exchange and communion, rites of affliction, rites of feasting and fasting, and political rites. In this paper I intend to catalogue and analyze in a very preliminary way the rituals mentioned or described in the surviving Jewish pseudepigrapha, using Bell's typology as a basis (although nuancing it as necessary by other typologies and mappings such as those of Ronald Grimes). The preliminary cataloguing will give us new information about the rituals and types of rituals important in the Judaism of the centuries immediately before and after the turn of the era, and this is the primary objective of the paper. Another objective is to search for trends in the ritual repertoire of the Jewish pseudepigrapha which may give us insight into why Christians chose these texts and not others to preserve.

Draft Paper for Discussion

DRAFT FOR DISCUSSION

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

The 1980s and 1990s have seen the emergence of "ritual studies" as a field in its own right, one pursued with increasing methodological sophistication and applied not only in the social sciences but also in the humanities.  Likewise, the study of the "Old Testament Pseudepigrapha" has blossomed since the publication of the two-volume collection of translations of the major texts, edited by James H. Charlesworth in 1983-86 (OTP 1-2), and work on these texts increasingly recognizes the need to understand them on their own terms and not just as background for the New Testament or early Judaism.  The purpose of this paper is to apply methods and insights from ritual studies to further our understanding of the "Jewish Pseudepigrapha," texts from the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha which can be shown on the basis of positive evidence to have been composed in Jewish circles.  It is inspired to no small degree by Rob Kugler's recent article "Making All Experience Religious:  The Hegemony of Ritual at Qumran," (JSJ 33 [2002]:  131-52) which catalogues and explores the implications of the descriptions of ritual in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

 

For the purposes of this paper I define the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha as the literary remains of the anonymous/pseudonymous revelatory stream of tradition that originated in response to (or sometimes alongside of) the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament accepted in the major Jewish and Christian canons.  Thus I distinguish the Pseudepigrapha from the Apocrypha:  the Apocrypha are books omitted by the lists of prophetically inspired scriptures by Jews in the early centuries C.E. and often also omitted by the scriptural canons produced by Christian writers and church councils through late antiquity.  Nevertheless, their scriptural status was debated and increasingly asserted by Christians and ultimately they were included de facto in the canons of scripture of the Greek- and Latin-speaking churches as well as the canons of some churches that spoke other languages (e.g., Coptic and Ethiopic).  Some Pseudepigrapha were adopted as canonical by some writers or some churches, but none achieved the widespread recognition of the Apocrypha in Christendom.

 

For the practical purposes of this paper, the Pseudepigrapha consist of the works in the two Charlesworth volumes.  The corpus to be studied is somewhat narrower than the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha per se for two reasons.  One is simply to limit the texts to a more manageable number than the entire collection of fifty-two complete works in the Charlesworth edition.  But a second reason is to give more cohesion to the chosen corpus.  Charlesworth's collection was made on the basis of decisions taken in the twentieth century, unlike both the various biblical canons and the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were collected in antiquity on the basis of (still very imperfectly understood) criteria that made sense to the ancient collectors.  By limiting the corpus to verifiably Jewish pseudepigrapha, we recover another ancient collection:  Jewish pseudepigrapha found worthy of preservation by ancient Christians.  This collection, although neither comprehensive nor the result of a single decision, was at least deliberately selected by ancient collectors and therefore, unlike the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha as a whole, comes to us on the basis of more than just the accidents of survival.

 

Catherine Bell, in her book Ritual:  Perspectives and Dimensions [Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1997] 91-137),proposes a sixfold typology of ritual, including rites of passage, calendrical rites, rites of exchange and communion, rites of affliction, rites of feasting and fasting, and political rites.  In this paper I intend to catalogue and analyze in a very preliminary way the rituals mentioned or described in the surviving Jewish pseudepigrapha, using Bell's typology as a basis.  The preliminary cataloguing will give us new information about the rituals and types of rituals important in the Judaism of the centuries immediately before and after the turn of the era, and this is the primary objective of the paper.  Another objective is to search for trends in the ritual repertoire of the Jewish Pseudepigrapha which may give us insight into why Christians chose these texts and not others to preserve.

 

The study of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha presents its own set of challenges as a field; challenges that frequently have not been recognized or met by scholars using these texts as background material to mine for New Testament or later Jewish studies.  All of the Pseudepigrapha being considered in this paper went through a long period of transmission in Christian circles and Christian manuscripts.  We have incontrovertible evidence that some of them were originally composed in Jewish circles (e.g., the Book of the Watchers, which also survives in Aramaic fragments from Qumran) and it is reasonable to infer that many others were as well.  Nevertheless, establishing which Pseudepigrapha are Jewish compositions is not straightforward.  Frequently scholars have gone by the principle that whatever is not obviously Christian must be Jewish.  Robert Kraft has demonstrated the faulty logic and methodological unsoundness of this approach.  If the manuscripts we have were produced by Christians, we need to start with them and work backwards to a putative Jewish original only as required by the evidence.  Elsewhere I have proposed criteria for determining the likelihood that a pseudepigraphon is a Jewish rather than Christian composition.  Suffice it to say here that for the purposes of this paper I will limit my corpus of texts analysed to substantial works that show no indication of Christian interpolation and that display either compelling external or pervasive internal positive evidence of Jewish composition.  External evidence includes the survival of actual ancient Jewish manuscripts or external evidence of acceptance and transmission by ancient Jews.  Internal evidence includes content demonstrating a pre-Christian date of composition; compelling evidence of translation from Hebrew (and not Aramaic); and vital interest in issues of concern to Jews but not to Christians, such as the Jewish ritual cult, halakhic matters, and Jewish nationalist issues.  Space does not permit a detailed evaluation of each work in the corpus, but the reasons to include the following in the corpus should be straightforward:  the Letter to Aristeas , 2 Baruch , 1 Enoch (the Book of the Watchers, the Similitudes, the Astronomical Book, the Book of Dreams, and the Epistle of Enoch), 4 Ezra , Jubilees , 3 Maccabees , 4 Maccabees , the Testament of Moses , the Psalms of Solomon , Pseudo-Philo , and Sibylline Oracles3 and 5.

 

This may strike some as an unnecessarily limited corpus but my aim is to include works whose Jewish authorship is virtually assured and which have the prospect of helping us understand ritual in ancient Jewish works selected by Christians for transmission alongside scripture.  Some shorter works such as Pseudo-Phocylides may be Jewish, but such positive evidence as exists is weak.  Other substantial works, notably Joseph and Aseneth and the Testament of Job , have no obvious Christian elements but also no explicitly Jewish signature features, so I omit them.  I am uncertain whether they are Jewish or Christian compositions.  Other works show some Jewish signature features but have explicitly Christian elements in them.  I assume that these texts either began as or drew on Jewish works but sorting out the Christian vs. Jewish elements in the goes beyond the scope of this paper.  These works include 4 Baruch , the Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers , the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs , and the Treatise of Shem .  Still other works, including the Story of Zosimus /History of the Rechabites and the Testament of Abraham have been taken to have a Jewish core or original but in their current form lack Jewish signature features and have obviously Christian elements.  I remain to be convinced that they are not Christian compositions entirely.  Finally, I have left out all materials preserved only in Slavonic, since they are outside my range of expertise, and the quotation fragments of ancient Jewish works, since the ancient decision to quote them differs from an ancient decision to copy complete works.  In the future I hope to study the ritual in the Apocrypha and the quotations fragments along the same lines as in this paper.

 

I have presented the list of Jewish Pseudepigrapha in my corpus in alphabetical order by title but I propose to analyze them according to genre.  The largest category is apocalypses:  2 Baruch , the component compositions in 1 Enoch , and 4 Ezra .  The second largest is rewritten scripture:  Jubilees , 4 Maccabees , the Testament of Moses , and Pseudo-Philo .  Then there are nonscriptural narratives (the Letter to Aristeas and 3 Maccabees ), liturgy (Psalms of Solomon ), and oracles (Sibylline Oracles3 and 5).

 

For the purposes of this paper I follow Evan M. Zuesse's definition of "ritual," as "those conscious and voluntary, repetitious and stylized symbolic bodily actions that are centred on cosmic structures and/or sacred presences."  Analysis of the rituals in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha presents its own set of challenges that arise from the nature of the corpus, challenges rather different from those associated with, say, the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Most of the Pseudepigrapha are narratives that sometimes describe rituals, but they rarely give ritual instructions that the readers are actually expected to follow.  Also, these narratives are often retellings of biblical stories which repeat descriptions of rituals which may have had nothing to do with the ritual life of the author of the pseudepigraphon.  One, the Psalms of Solomon appears to come from the ritual life of a Jewish community, but gives us little information of the ritual use of the text.  And the Sibylline Oracles implicitly emerge from a ritual context, but little information about it is given and it is doubtful that the context is any more than window dressing for the pseudepigraphic life situation and authorship.  In order to take account of and minimize these difficulties I will approach the texts with the following methodological principles.  First, greatest weight will be given to descriptions of rituals that are actually prescribed for the reader or implicitly presented as normative.  We can reasonably assume that these formed part of the writer's ritual repertoire.  Unfortunately, as we shall see, such cases are rare apart from the book of Jubilees .  Second, I shall make special note of rituals carried out by actors in the narratives when those rituals do not correspond to events or acts described in a biblical story, perhaps indicating indirectly that the author approved of at least some of them, although many amount to the filling out of obvious details or to the grafting of details from elsewhere in the Bible, and some are manifest fantasy.  It is reasonable to keep the possibility open that some of these rituals were also realities in the ritual life of the author or the author's community, especially if a ritual appears repeatedly in one or more texts.  Third, descriptions of rituals derived from biblical stories will be noted (omitted in the oral presentation) but not taken into account in my analysis unless I find special reasons to do so.  Nonbiblical details in the retelling of a biblical story are potentially relevant for the second point above.  Fourth, allusions to idolatrous cults will be noted (omitted in the oral presentation) but not taken into account unless they tell us something particularly interesting.  Fifth, for an event in a narrative to qualify as a ritual it must implicitly or, preferably, explicitly involve physical action of some sort.  Taboos such as laws about clean and unclean foods or mentions of nonritual religious requirements such as tithing will not be taken into account, although, for example, rites for purification from contact with unclean foods will be.  Likewise descriptions of experiences do not count as rituals unless the experience is generated by deliberate actions:  visions and dreams are not rituals unless explicitly preceded by vision quests or incubations.  Sixth, these actions should be presented as things that are repeated in their proper social and sacral contexts:  feasts in honour of specific events or seasons are included but not feasts merely for the sake of feasting.  Assemblies with ritual import are included but not necessarily every assembly.  In other words, ritual activities are distinguished from ritual-like activities and only the former are taken into account.  Distinguishing the two can, naturally, be a subjective process.  Seventh, rituals undertaken by divine beings such as angels and rituals undertaken in an eschatological context are noted (omitted in the oral presentation) but used at most as collateral evidence alongside more secure data.  Eighth and last, I will make whatever I can out of rubrics and lateral reading to fill out the ritual contexts of liturgical and oracular works.

 

The ritual data extracted from the Jewish Pseudepigrapha will be categorized and analyzed according to the typology set forth by Bell, nuanced at times by the earlier typology of Ronald Grimes.  Bell uses the following six "genres" or categories:

 

1.  Rites of Passage are, most basically, rites of birth, coming of age, marriage, and death.  But these may be supplemented by any number of additional rites, such as those in the seven Christian sacraments.

 

2.  Calendrical Ritesare ritual observances of seasonal changes or commemorations of important historical events.

 

3.  Rites of Exchange and Communion include various kinds of offerings to a deity, sacrifices (involving destruction of the offering and perhaps some type of communal consumption), prayer, incantation, divination, consultation of oracles, incubation, and fertility rites.  These rites operate on a continuum between quid-pro-quoexchanges for benefits (material gains, atonement, spiritual advances, etc.) and nearly disinterested communion and devotion to the divine.

 

4.  Rites of Affliction have the purpose of mitigating the influence of negative forces such as demonic spirits, sins, karma, and impurity.  They include rituals of healing, exorcism, purification, and self-affliction and purificatory preparation for encounters with the divine (such as voluntary trance and possession, and vision quest) as well as oaths and curses intended to mobilize negative forces against oath breakers or enemies, and executions of malefactors to purify the community.

 

5.  Feasting, Fasting, and Festivals are cultural performances expressing commitment to the religion, society, community, etc.  These include lamentations, processions, games and contests, pilgrimages, and carnivals and rituals of reversal.

 

6.  Political Rites display and promote the power of political institutions, using symbolic representation to make these institutions a part of the order of things.  They include royal rites, enthronement rituals, legal ceremonies, ceremonies of warfare, and ritual dramas with a political end.

 

Even given the comprehensiveness and flexibility of this typology, it is not always easy to categorize a ritual and, in some cases, a ritual may fit into more than one category.  But these categories are heuristically useful and will guide my analysis.  Due to time limitations, the detailed analysis of the individual works is omitted in this, the oral-presentation version of the paper.

 

 

 

 

SYNTHESIS

 

 


The general picture of ritual in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha is as follows.

 

Rites of Passage .  Weddings are mentioned in 2 Baruch , 4 Ezra , and 3 Maccabees .  Some details are given about them and these generally cohere with what we know from elsewhere or are themselves inherently plausible.  Burial and funeral rites are mentioned in 2 Baruch , 4 Ezra , Jubilees , Pseudo-Philo , the Testament of Moses , and the Psalms of Solomon .  Again, most details are stereotypical (loud weeping, rent clothes, ashes on the head) and some are fantastic (twenty-eight years of mourning for Abel), but some, such as the forty days of mourning for Abraham, the thirty days of mourning for Kenaz, or the secondary burial of the sons of Jacob may reflect practices in the time of the writer.  Likewise, the funerary laments given in Pseudo-Philo may reflect the sort of funerary laments common in the author's time.  Circumcision is commanded in Jubilees and treated as normative by Pseudo-Philo , 4 Maccabees , and the Testament of Moses .  The rites of purification after childbirth are prescribed and justified by Jubilees.

 

Calendrical rites .  Celebration of the following festivals is explicitly prescribed:  the sabbath (2 Baruch , Jubilees , Pseudo-Philo ), Passover/Unleavened Bread (Jubilees , Pseudo-Philo ), Shavuot (Jubilees , Pseudo-Philo ), Firstfruits (2 Baruch ; mentioned also by Jubilees and Aristeas ), the Festival of Trumpets (Pseudo-Philo ), and Booths (Jubilees and Pseudo-Philo ).  Jubilees and the Astronomical Book also emphatically endorse the three-hundred-sixty-four-day calendar and Jubilees prescribes the associated four festivals of remembrance to mark the seasons.  In addition, 3 Maccabees describes what appear to be Jewish rites celebrated in Egypt in honour of the legendary deliverance of the Jews from Ptolemy IV Philopater and Pseudo-Philopresents the memorial rite for the death of Jephthah's daughter as a four-day holiday with a specific date.

 

Rites of exchange and communion .  Sacrifices are mentioned frequently in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha, often with numerous now unverifiable details, such as those that are attributed to Noah's sacrifice or to the sacrifices accompanying Levi's priestly investment in Jubilees .  There are also numerous references to prayer in these works, sometimes with plausible, if unverifiable, details about content and accompanying postures.  Both 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra portray their protagonists as praying for divine revelations and Jubilees associates prayer with an apotropaic function.  There are various references to one person blessing another in some of the works and it is difficult to decide whether this is ritual or ritual-like activity.  But both Jubilees and Pseudo-Philo portray characters first kissing and then blessing another character in what may be a conscious ritual.  Incubation rites involving ritual activity preceding sleep and a dream revelation are found in 2 Baruch , the Book of the Watchers , and perhaps 4 Ezra and Pseudo-Philo .  The last also gives rules for discerning the origins of dream auditions and has one character seek divinatory omens.  The Psalms of Solomonrefers to singing in a communal context and describes its own contents as "psalms" and "hymns."

 

Rites of affliction .  Jubilees explicitly prescribes observation of the Day of Atonement and 3 Maccabees alludes to the holiday.  Pseudo-Philo prescribes the following of the rules for the purification of the leper.  Both Jubilees and Pseudo-Philo refer to rites of judicial execution.  Oaths and curses figure in the narrative of Jubilees and the Letter of Aristeas describes a curse called down on anyone who tampers with the Greek translation of the Pentateuch.  2 Baruch and 4 Ezra describe similar vision-quest rituals involving isolation, weeping, and a seven-day fast, along with some other variations.  The Testament of Moses and the Psalms of Solomon refer to fasting as a purificatory rite.  The Letter of Aristeas refers to the washing of the hands in the sea as a purification with prayer and elsewhere also mentions unspecified rites of purification.  Sibylline Oracle 3 mentions an ablution associated with morning prayer.  Pseudo-Philogives the text of a song of exorcism attributed to David.

 

Feasting, fasting, and festivals .  Jubilees prescribes the use of the second and priestly tithes for feasting, although one might consider this a calendrical rite as well.  Otherwise, it is difficult to distinguish descriptions of rituals from ritual-like behaviour in these works.  Fasts in 2 Baruch and the Testament of Moses do look like rituals but references to lamentation in 2 Baruch , 3 Maccabees , and the Sibylline Oracles are less clear.  Pseudo-Philo and 3 Maccabeesrefer to feasts of various kinds and the latter to a procession.

 

Political rites .  Jubilees describes Levi's ceremony of priestly investment; Pseudo-Philo portrays a reading of the Torah to the assembled people and a twenty-eight-day covenant renewal ceremony in the time of Joshua; it also describes a ceremony of casting lots to choose a ruler; and 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra present a number of assemblies with the elders or the people.  The third is probably inspired by the biblical story of the choosing of Saul by lot.  It is far from clear whether or to what degree the others reflect real rituals in the time of the author.  Frequent references to the sanctuary and the Jerusalem temple show that its cult had considerable political significance.

 

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Let us draw some generalizations from the evidence that has been assembled here.  The greatest density of ritual is found in the book of Jubilees , followed closely by Pseudo-Philo ; both are works of rewritten scripture.  If they were omitted from our corpus, our harvest of rituals from these texts would be far more meager.  Considerably less ritual is found in the apocalypses 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra , and less still in all the other works.  Jubilees and Pseudo-Philo give us a fair amount of halakhic exegesis, often different from later rabbinic interpretations.  The rituals we find prescribed and described in the corpus also often come to us with numerous interesting nonbiblical details, some generalized from other biblical passages, some clearly arising from the author's fantasies, but some are possibly genuine reflections of rituals actually known to the authors.  Jubilees commands the observance of one ritual not found in the Bible:  the four festival days of remembrance to mark the seasons of the solar year.  (Whether the solar calendar itself is nonbiblical can be debated, although it is not explicitly described in the Bible).   Other new rites are described without being specifically commanded.  We are introduced to the celebration of new Jewish calendrical rites in Egypt.  We find references to incubation rites; rules for the evaluation of revelatory dream auditions; communal singing in assembly; seven-day vision quests and perhaps other types; purificatory rites of ablution associated with prayer; an exorcistic song; and a number of assemblies.

 

To place the evidence in context, it is worthwhile to compare the data in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha to the ritual assemblage and density in the texts of the Qumran library.  First, there are interesting differences in the genres in the two collections:  apocalypses are rare in the Dead Sea Scrolls apart from Daniel and some books from the Enochic corpus; there are no Greek oracles like the Sibyllines; and there are few, if any, nonscriptural narratives (e.g., Proto-Esther, 4Q246, and 4QFour Kingdoms?) and such as seem to be present are never in Greek.  Contrawise, among the Jewish Pseudepigrapha we find no group constitutions such as the Community Rule and the Damascus Rule, no halakhic treatises such as 4QMMT and the Temple Scroll; no eschatological tactical treatises like the War Scroll; no targumim; no scriptural commentaries; no substantial sapiential works; and no calendrical texts.  Both corpora have some of the same apocalypses, rewritten scriptures (some with a high density of halakhic content), and liturgical/poetic material.

 

The Qumran texts give rites for entry into the sect and for expulsion from it.  There is nothing similar in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha.  Both corpora show at least some interest in the basic Jewish rites of passage, including circumcision, marriage, and burial.  Both corpora assume the basic Jewish festivals (minus Purim, which is never mentioned in either) and both contain works that assume the solar calendar is normative (only Jubilees in the Pseudepigrapha), although the Qumran texts also try to correlate it with the lunar calendar.  Some Qumran texts prescribe additional festivals, the most momentous being the annual sectarian covenant renewal at the time of Shavuot.  Some Pseudepgrapha also prescribe additional calendrical rites, based either on biblical material or on legendary events in the Egyptian Jewish community.  Both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish Pseudepigrapha refer to sacrifices, often giving nonbiblical details in passing, and to prayer.  Both assume communal singing.  Although the Qumran sectarian texts certainly assume that divine revelation was still available to the Teacher of Righteousness, any ritual context for this is lost.  The Jewish Pseudepigrapha may preserve at least a few details of such rituals in the incubation rites they describe, as well as in the rites of affliction I have called "vision-quests."  Both corpora assume observation of the Day of Atonement and of biblical purity rituals and some nonbiblical ablutions.  Both refer to exorcism rites.  As for feasting, fasting, and festivals, nothing like the sectarian communal meal appears in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha and there is indeed little of this ritual genre to be found in that corpus.  Both corpora recognize at least by implication the political importance of the cult of the Jerusalem temple, although the Qumran sectarians may have distanced themselves from it.  (I remain to be convinced of this, though.)  The Jewish Pseudepigrapha are oblivious to the sorts of political rites associated with the sectarian group(s), although there is some recognition of priestly political authority, especially in Jubilees.

 

Finally, I should comment on what we can discern of the principles of selection of the Christian tradents who transmitted the Jewish Pseudepigrapha.  They had a special interest in visionary texts such as apocalypses and oracles and, perhaps for this reason, they have preserved some fictional accounts of incubations and vision quests which may give us some information on the ritual context of such experiences.  They also clearly enjoyed retold biblical stories and Jewish nonbiblical narratives with a quasi-biblical feel to them and they had some interest in poetry/liturgy.  Surprisingly, they preserved no substantial sapiential works, although the short, gnomic text Pseudo-Phocylides is probably Jewish.  Not surprisingly, they preserved no explicitly halakhic or calendrical works, although Jubilees and Pseudo-Philo incorporate a substantial halakhic content.  Perhaps these works were copied simply because they preserved what looked like ancient traditions explicating the scriptures and the halakhic elements were tolerated but ignored, just as they are in the Christian biblical canons.  Overall the density of ritual in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha is considerably less than in the Qumran library.  And the inclusion of the Book of the Watchers, Jubilees and 3-4 Maccabees shows that the original language of these works was of little interest to Christian tradents.  They probably encountered them in Greek and either assumed that works set in the biblical period were originally composed in Hebrew or else the question of the original language did not occur to them at all.

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

 

 

This survey of the ritual material in the identifiable Jewish Pseudepigrapha has enriched our knowledge of Jewish ritual in the Second Temple period and late antiquity, showing, first, that Jewish life included details of known rites and rites otherwise unknown from the Dead Sea Scrolls and the rabbinic texts.  Even if many of these rites are entirely fictional, they show what Jews in this period found plausible as the sort of rituals other Jews might have followed.  Second, some of these otherwise unattested rituals give us some tantalizing data on what may have been rites of intermediation in this period.  I hope to follow up this point in a future publication.  Third, a comparison of ritual in the Jewish Pseudepigraph with ritual in the Dead Sea Scrolls shows a broad similarity of interests but with countless differences of detail and some significantly different emphases.  The latter can be explained largely by the differing agendas of a first-century Jewish sect and various Greek-speaking Christian collectors of the early centuries C.E.  Fourth, this comparison gives us some hints of the sort of things that Christians may have encountered but did not copy (halakhic works, sapiential works, sectarian constitutions) and thus help us guess at what might have been in the Jewish literature of late antiquity that did not survive

Handout

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INTRODUCTION

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Ritual Studies

 The "Old Testament Pseudepigrapha"

Jewish Pseudepigrapha (and criteria for inclusion)

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The Corpus by Genre:  Apocalypses:  2 Baruch , 1 Enoch (the Book of the Watchers, the Similitudes, the Astronomical Book, the Book of Dreams, and the Epistle of Enoch), 4 Ezra ; Rewritten Scripture:  Jubilees , 4 Maccabees , the Testament of Moses , Pseudo-Philo ; Nonscriptural Narratives:  the Letter to Aristeas , 3 Maccabees ; Liturgy:  Psalms of Solomon ; Oracles:  Sibylline Oracles 3 and 5

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Evan M. Zuesse's definition of "ritual":  "those conscious and voluntary, repetitious and stylized symbolic bodily actions that are centred on cosmic structures and/or sacred presences."

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Methodological Principles:

1.  Greatest weight given to rituals that are actually prescribed

2.  Next greatest to described rituals not found in the biblical text

3.  Rituals taken from biblical accounts noted but not taken into account

4.  Allusions to idolatrous cults noted but not taken into account

5.  Rituals implicitly or (preferably) explicitly involve physical actions;

6.  actions presented as things repeated in their proper social/sacral contexts

7.  Rituals involving divine beings or in an eschatological context are noted but not used

8.  Rubrics & lateral reading may help fill out the ritual contexts of liturgical and oracular works

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ANALYSIS ACCORDING TO BELL'S RITUAL "GENRES":

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1.  Rites of Passage :  weddings; burials and funeral rites/laments; circumcision; purification after childbirth

2.  Calendrical Rites :  sabbath; festivals of Passover/Unleavened Bread, Shavuot, Trumpets, Booths; 364-day calendar and four seasonal festival days; Egyptian memorials of deliverance; rite of memorial for Jephthah's daughter

3.  Rites of Exchange and Communion :  sacrifices (details unverifiable); prayer (intercession, mantic, apotropaic); blessings; incubation; rules for evaluating dream auditions; singing in a communal context

4.  Rites of Affliction :  Day of Atonement; purification of the leper; judicial execution; oaths and curses; vision quests; fasting; purificatory ablutions; song of exorcism

5.  Feasting, Fasting, and Festivals :  second and priestly tithes; fasts and feasts?; procession

6.  Political Rites :  Levi's ceremony of priestly investment; reading of Torah and covenant renewal ceremony; casting lots to choose a ruler; references to the sanctuary and the Jerusalem temple

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SYNTHESIS

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Generalizations:  highest ritual density (much of it halakhic) in Jubilees and Pseudo-Philo ; many new details in the whole corpus, some perhaps of actual ritual praxis; some new rites described

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Comparison of literary genres and ritual types to the Qumran library

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Principles of selection used by the Christian tradents: had a special interest in visionary texts and (despite halakhic content) retold biblical stories; did not include substantial sapiental works or halakhic or calendrical works; had less interest in ritual than the collectors of the Qumran library; had little concern with original languages of texts

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CONCLUSION

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1.  Details of both known and previously unknown rites

2.  Tantalizing data on what may have been ancient rites of intermediation

3.  Comparison with Qumran Library shows a broad similarity of interests but with countless differences of detail and some significantly different emphases (reflecting the different agendas of the tradents)

4.  The comparison gives some hints of what the Christian tradents may have encountered but not copied

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

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 Bell, Catherine.  Ritual:  Perspectives and Dimensions .  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1997.

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Charlesworth.  OTP 1-2.

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Grimes, Ronald L.  Research in Ritual Studies:  A Programmatic Essay and Bibliography , esp. pp. 1-3.   ALTA Bibliography Series No. 14.  Metuchen N.J.:  ATLA and Scarecrow, 1985.

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 Kugler, Rob.  "Making All Experience Religious:  The Hegemony of Ritual at Qumran." JSJ 33 (2002):  131-52.

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Zuesse. Evan M.  "Ritual." ER 12:405-22.

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