Skip navigation to content


James R. Davila
St. Mary's College
University of St. Andrews


(c) 2003:  reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the author

Presented in the Pseudepigrapha Group
Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting
Atlanta, Ga.,  24 November 2003

Abstract of paper available here


Handout for paper available here

[Note:  I am grateful to the Arts and Humanities Research Board for a research leave fellowship that, along with a semester of leave granted by the University of St. Andrews, has made the research for this paper possible.
Note:  I had originally planned to discuss only the History of the Rechabites, one source of the Story of Zosimus.  But now having written the paper, I see that I do have time to discuss the whole Story of Zosimus and shall do so.  I have amended the title of the paper accordingly.  You can read an old but still tolerably servicable translation of the Story of Zosimus by following the link, but note that the chapter divisions are different from the modern reckoning from 5b on (see n. 3 below).  You can also read my presentation on the Rechabites for the PSCO session.]

The Story of Zosimus
is a work of late antiquity or the early Middle Ages which was included by James Charlesworth in his second Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume with the title The History of the Rechabites .<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[1]<!--[endif]-->   Charlesworth published a translation of the Syriac version there and an edition and translation of the Greek version elsewhere.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[2]<!--[endif]-->   The work tells the story of the hermit Zosimus, who was guided to the Abode of the Blessed where he met a colony of holy naturist Rechabites who were taken to their paradisiacal realm by an angel in the time of Jeremiah.  After hearing about their history and lifestyle, Zosimus was returned home.  According to the Greek version, being first warned by angels, he was abused by the devil and a host of demons for forty days in their attempt to suppress the written account of his visit to the Abode of the Blessed.  Victorious, he drove the devil away, circulated the account, lived another thirty-six years, and was ushered to the afterlife by angels.


It is widely agreed that the Story of Zosimus is composite and contains core material composed in Jewish circles.  It is this second point - the Jewish origin of the core works - that I wish to challenge in this paper.  I will begin by summarizing the various reconstructions of the redaction of this work which scholars have advanced in the last generation, then I will look in detail at the redactional units that have been argued to be Jewish.  I will evaluate the case that has been made for this and will conclude with some remarks about the redactional history of the work and its origin overall.


            All commentators agree that chapters 19-23 are secondary accretions added to the Greek version by one or more Christian redactors, so I shall largely ignore them.  In 1978 Brian McNeil argued that chapters 1-17 are "a light Christian reworking of a Jewish text."<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[3]<!--[endif]-->   He finds only chapter 13 (Narr. 12 by his reckoning) to be a Christian passage. He argues that the allusions to the New Testament in 5.4 and to the Protevangelium of James in 7:8 (Narr. 6) are secondary additions and he attributes the allusions to the book of Acts in 10:4-5 (Narr. 9) to assimilation by a "translator" (what is translated from what to what remains unclear).<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[4]<!--[endif]-->   He also takes the reference to the "son of God" in 16:2 (Narr. 15) to be to Michael rather than Christ.  He takes this Jewish work to originate among Philo's Therapeutae (on whom more anon).


In 1979 Charlesworth's student, Elbert Garrett Martin, completed a doctoral dissertation on the Story of Zosimus (which he called the Account of the Blessed Ones ).<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[5]<!--[endif]-->   He takes the original and Jewish core of the work to be chapters 8-10 (minus a number of secondary verses and phrases).  A Jewish redactor added chapters 11-12 and 14-15 (minus 11:1; 15:3; and part of 15:10).  Then Christian redactors added 13:1-5, 16:1-7, followed by 1-7 and 17-18 and brief additions throughout.  The Syriac version also has a number of its own additions and variations.  Charlesworth himself published a reconstruction in 1976 in which he found chaps. 8-10 (7-9 in the old reckoning) to be the central core,<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[6]<!--[endif]--> and in his 1986 introduction to his translation of the Syriac version he appears sympathetic to Martin's reconstruction, although his analysis differs in details and he does not explicitly endorse Martin's conclusion that chaps. 8-10 are the original core.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[7]<!--[endif]-->   He cautiously declines to attribute the work to a particular provenance and regarding its origins he writes "[a]t this stage in our work it is best to suggest only that sections of this document are Jewish or heavily influenced by Jewish traditions, and that they may antedate the second century A.D."<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[8]<!--[endif]-->


In the 1990s Chris Knights published several articles on the Story of Zosimus in which he advanced a full reconstruction of the redaction history of the work.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[9]<!--[endif]-->   He noted that the unit consisting of chaps. 8-10, which had already been isolated by Martin, had clear redactional seams immediately before and after it.  In 7:14 Zosimus asks to know about the "administrations" ( dioikh/seij ) of the Blessed Ones, a question answered at length in chaps. 11-16 but ignored in 8-10, which tells the history of the group's transfer to their abode in the time of Jeremiah.  The transitions before and after 8-10 flow much better in the Syriac version, which implies that it has smoothed out the difficulties of the Greek.  Chaps. 8-10 concern the Rechabites, who are not mentioned elsewhere in the work; these chapters lack the distinctive vocabulary of the rest of the work; Zosimus does not appear in them; and they seem not to be present in the Ethiopic and Armenian versions.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[10]<!--[endif]-->   References in these chapters to the Rechabites being commanded to go naked (8:3-5; 9:9) are probably secondary insertions, since nudity was frowned upon in ancient Judaism, the nudity of the Blessed Ones is mentioned elsewhere in the work, and some passages in 8-10 which should mention the nudity do not (9:8; 10:2).  The mysterious references to avoidance of honey may also be secondary.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[11]<!--[endif]-->


            The implication is that chaps. 8-10 is not the original core of the Story of Zosimus , but an independent unit that was inserted into an already existing version of it.  Knights finds the original core of the work in chaps. 11-12, 14-16:7, a unit that he entitles the Abode of the Blessed .  Three main factors lead him to this conclusion.  First, this speech by the Blessed Ones addresses its listeners in the plural, which is inappropriate if Zosimus is in mind.  Second, Zosimus himself is never mentioned in the unit.  Third, chapter 13 is a secondary Christian addition that mentions Lent, Easter, and the resurrection of Christ.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[12]<!--[endif]-->   Thus Knights reconstructs the full redaction history of the Story of Zosimus along the following lines:  a Jewish work, the Abode of the Blessed (chaps. 11-12, 14-16:7), formed the original core and was in existence in a Greek form before about 850 C.E., when the Canon of Nicephorus Homolegata mentions the Apocalypse of Zosimus .  The Abode of the Blessed was expanded by a Christian author or authors to include chaps. 1-7, 13, and 16:8-18:5, additions that transformed the story into a travelogue of the hermit Zosimus.  Then the Greek History of the Rechabites (chaps. 8-10), also a Jewish work, was inserted between chapters 7 and 11, with minor changes introduced into it to harmonize it with the rest of the story.  Last of all, chapters 19-23 were added to the Greek version.


            I am largely persuaded by Knights's redactional analysis:  he makes a good case for the independent preexistence of both the Abode of the Blessed and the History of the Rechabites and for their incorporation into the Story of Zosimus in the order indicated.  I wish, however, to challenge his case for either of these earlier works being Jewish compositions.  I believe there is a fundamental methodological weakness in the treatments of McNeil, Martin, Knights, and (to a lesser degree) Charlesworth.  Their working assumption when approaching ancient Old Testament pseudepigrapha that have been transmitted solely by Christians seems to be that if a text contains no explicit mention of Christian themes, or if such themes can be reasonably purged through redaction criticism, the text can be assumed to be of Jewish origin.  Robert Kraft has rightly challenged this assumption:  we have no reason to believe that ancient Christian writers could not have written texts on Old Testament themes without including obviously Christian elements.  In short texts such as the ones we are dealing with here, it could be that a Christian writer would simply find no reason to refer to such elements.  But in longer works a Christian might a priori refrain from such additions in order to maintain an air of Old Testament verisimilitude.  All this being the case, Kraft's proposal - that we begin by trying to understand the works in the context of the most ancient manuscripts in which they survive and only move backwards from there as required by the evidence - is a sensible one which I shall follow here.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[13]<!--[endif]-->   Building on Kraft's work, I have suggested elsewhere that Jewish works transmitted by Christians frequently may be impossible to isolate and that we can be confident of establishing their origin only when they are works of substantial length which show pervasive internal or external evidence of Jewish composition.  External evidence would include the survival of pre-Christian manuscripts or manuscripts transmitted by Jews; survival of an original written in Hebrew; or citation by Jewish authors as a Jewish work.  Internal evidence would include compelling internal indicators of a pre-Christian date of composition; compelling evidence of translation from Hebrew (and not Aramaic); or vital interest in issues of concern to Jews but not to Christians, such as the Jewish ritual cult, halakhic matters, and Jewish nationalist issues.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[14]<!--[endif]-->   It is with these methodological principles in mind that I wish to reexamine the Story of Zosimus and its component sources.  Although redactional analysis of the work has varied among scholars, the arguments they have advanced for a Jewish origin refer to material found either in the Abode of the Blessed or the History of the Rechabites , so I will consider each in turn as a potential Jewish document.


            The Abode of the Blessed .  Knights writes that "[i]t may be reasonably claimed . . . that Ab. Bles . is Jewish,"<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[15]<!--[endif]--> yet his efforts to argue the case are surprisingly perfunctory.  He asserts that a number of apparently Christian passages could be Jewish.  He reasonably points out that 12:3 says that the Blessed Ones are not naked, but wear the garment of immortality, and so the statement is compatible with a Jewish origin.  It may be that the references in 4:1, 5:2-3, 8:3-5 and 9:9 are inspired by 12:3; and 5:2-4 is also equivocal about the nakedness of the Blessed Ones.  The two interpolations in the History of the Rechabites seem to misunderstand and take the nakedness of the Blessed Ones as literal and unequivocal.  Knights also cites 2 Enoch 22:8, 3 Enoch 12:2-3; T. Job 48:3 and the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah as Jewish parallels for the concept of the "garment of immortality," although only the second can be classed with confidence as Jewish.  Still, he is right to assert that 12:3 need not by any means be by a Christian.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[16]<!--[endif]-->


            He is on much weaker ground in his treatment of chap. 16, which refers to "the Son of God himself," the "church," and the "Eucharist."  It is true that "none of these terms is of necessity Christian."<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[17]<!--[endif]-->   "Son of God" is an angelic title and can also be used of human beings, but this is the Son of God himself , evidently a unique case, surely referring to Christ.  Likewise, the Greek word e0kklhsi/a need not mean "church," but this is its most natural meaning in a document transmitted by Christians, and the word eu0xaristi/a can mean "thanksgiving" as well as Eucharist, but the natural meaning in the context of believers arriving at church would surely be the latter rather than the former.  Knights writes, "[t]hus all the words in Stor. Zos . 16 which appear, at first sight, to be Christian, are not assuredly so. The description could be a Jewish one, and I would suggest (like McNeil) that there is every reason to argue that it is."<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[18]<!--[endif]-->   In fact, there is little reason to do so and, in any case, he does not argue this, he simply asserts the possibility.  The most natural reading of the chapter by far is that it refers to explicitly Christian themes.  Yet this material cannot be readily excised as secondary and it leads us to the conclusion that the Abode of the Blessed is a Christian work.


            As far as I am aware, only one positive argument has been advanced in favour of the Jewish authorship of the Abode of the Blessed .  McNeil has pointed out that a passage in the Talmud Yerushalmi   (y. Yeb . 6.6) parallels the rules for the sexual asceticism of the Blessed Ones.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[19]<!--[endif]-->   The Talmudic passage requires that a man produce two children before he may "withdraw from the duty of propagation" and reports some debate on what exactly is meant by "two children."  The Abode of the Blessed 11:6-8 (Narr. 10) describes much the same custom for the Blessed Ones:  after a couple produce two children they separate and become celibate, although it adds that one of the children marries and the other remains a virgin, an idea lacking in the Yerushalmi passage and one that undercuts the purpose of the ruling.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[20]<!--[endif]-->   The concepts are similar but there is no reason to assume that this idea came directly from the Talmud or even Jewish tradition.  Asceticism was a matter of widespread interest in the ancient world and such ideas could have arisen and been discussed in many circles.  The parallel is interesting but by itself it proves nothing.


            The History of the Rechabites .  Knights rightly takes the original language of this work to be Greek, inasmuch as it uses the Septuagint, and he also rightly regards such Semitisms as appear in it as Septuagintalisms.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[21]<!--[endif]-->   The Greek of 9:10 appears to echo Peter's words in the story of the transfiguration of Jesus in Mark 9:5 and parallels, but Knights simply raises the possibility, without argument, that it is "another Christian insertion into the text."<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[22]<!--[endif]-->   His main positive arguments involve connections with late rabbinic passages, almost all of which date to after the rise of Islam, in some cases long after.  According to Story of Zosimus 8:3 the father of the Rechabites "Aminadab," heard Jeremiah's preaching and in response commanded the Rechabites to adopt their peculiar lifestyle.  Knights points out that some rabbinic passages report that "Jonadab" ordered his followers to follow the prescribed lifestyle as a result of hearing Jeremiah's preaching.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[23]<!--[endif]-->   If we assume that "Aminadab" is a corruption of "Jonadab," it may be that this detail - and it is only a detail - derives from knowledge of late Jewish midrash, but it is equally possibly that it arises from an independent reading of Jeremiah 35 which took the Jonadab son of Rechab mentioned there to be a contemporary of Jeremiah, and by implication understood the Jonadab son of Rechab in 1 Kings 10:15-23 to be a different person.  Likewise, Jeremiah 35 does not make it explicit that the commands of Jonadab had divine authority behind them, but some rabbinic texts and one textual tradition of the History of the Rechabites 10:3 take this view.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[24]<!--[endif]-->   But this is a natural deduction and requires no genetic influence.


The History of the Rechabites 10:5-9 describes how an angel delivered the Rechabites from prison and led them through and then across a river to the land they currently inhabited, which was then surrounded by water and a wall of cloud.  Three rabbinic passages also refer to the exile of the Rechabites.  Pesikta Rabbati 31 identifies them with those from "the land of Sinim" who will return to the Holy Land at the eschaton according to Isa 49:12 (and who, by implication, are currently in exile).  According to the Midrash Aggadah to Num 24:22 the Rechabites were sent to the "dark mountains" by God at the time of the destruction of the temple.  And 2 Alphabet of Ben Sira 28 asserts that "the descendents of Jonadab live in Paradise where they entered alive."<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[25]<!--[endif]-->   The separate traditions are not very close to the History of the Rechabites but if we combine them in just the right way they are somewhat more impressive:  the Rechabites were taken away to a paradisiacal realm by God at the time of the destruction of the temple.  It may be that the writer of the History of the Rechabites was aware of a Jewish tradition to this effect (if one ever existed at all), although it seems equally possible that the rabbinic texts echo a non-Jewish tradition like the one found in the History of the Rechabites .  There is no evidence for a literary connection and it is not clear in which direction influence, if any, flowed.


Other arguments are weaker or more tangential still.  Knights acknowledges that the portrayal of Jerusalem "may be an entirely stylized one" and gives good reason for thinking so, yet he also asserts that "[t]he centrality of Jerusalem in The History of the Rechabites would point to the place of composition as being Palestine rather than Babylonia or Egypt or elsewhere in the Diaspora."<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[26]<!--[endif]-->   It hardly needs to be replied that an interest in Jerusalem in biblical pseudepigrapha is likely enough on its own terms and tells us nothing about a text's provenance.  Likewise, McNeil notes that Jeremiah figures in a number of extracanonical Jewish texts and suggests that the Story of Zosimus draws on "common legends and traditions" rather than having a genetic connection with any of the known works.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[27]<!--[endif]-->   This is likely enough, but all the Jeremianic works he cites were known to and transmitted by Christians and they doubtless developed their own body of Jeremiah legends.


            Finally, McNeil also proposes that the Jewish core of the Story of Zosimus was written in the circle of the Therapeutae on the grounds that "if it be accepted that the Narration is a statement of the ideals of a Jewish community, then the group whose ideals it fits with the minimum of difficulty is the Therapeutae."<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[28]<!--[endif]-->   This is circular reasoning.  Jewish provenance is the point he sets out, but fails, to demonstrate.  On the contrary, he notes that the work rejects calendrical observances (chap. 12; Narr. 11), and with them by implication the sabbath and the Jewish festivals, and that it never refers to the Jewish law.  The Therapeutae explicitly observe festivals, we may assume they kept the Torah, and we are not told that they had any interest in angels, all of which McNeil acknowledges make the identification problematical.  As for the worship of the Blessed Ones, we learn that they pray (11:4); they commune with the angels and rejoice over the righteous and intercede for sinners (12:6-9); they observe Lent and Easter (13:1-5, in contradiction to 12:1); and that after joyful funeral services shared with the angels (15:5-16:4) they worship in church and celebrate the Eucharist (16:5-7).  It is only with painful contortions that this picture can be reconciled with any form of Judaism.


            What then are we to make of the Story of Zosimus ?  It should be clear by now that I am not persuaded that any level in its redactional history is Jewish.  I take the original core to be the Abode of the Blessed (chaps. 11:1-16:7) and see no reason to delete any of the surviving text of those chapters as secondary.  Around them was constructed the journey of the hermit Zosimus in chaps. 1-7 and 16:8-18:5, which make somewhat more of the nudity of the Blessed Ones than the original document.  Then the History of the Rechabites (chaps. 8-10), an originally independent unit, was added and adjusted slightly by the addition of the commands for the Rechabites to remove their clothing and probably the addition of the plural address to the "sons of men."  There are clear indications of Christian authorship in the Abode of the Blessed and the chapters on Zosimus the hermit, and perhaps in the History of the Rechabites as well.  Christian writers were perfectly capable of writing texts on Old Testament subjects containing no overtly Christian content, especially texts as short as this one, and it can be documented that in fact they did so.  A chapter of a book I am currently writing on the Christian transmission of Jewish pseudepigrapha deals with this issue at length, but here I will limit myself to a single example:  in his commentary on the Psalms the fifth-century Syrian Christian writer Theodoret of Cyrus treats each psalm separately and concentrates on basic exegesis.  A number of his commentaries on individual psalms have no Christian references and, were they excerpted and the original context lost, could easily be taken to have been written by a Hellenistic Jew.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[29]<!--[endif]-->   And the fact that there are rabbinic parallels to some material in both the Abode of the Blessed and the History of the Rechabites proves nothing.  The parallels are not close and, even if we take them to reflect Jewish influence, it is a well documented fact that many Christian writers in late antiquity were well acquainted with Jewish traditions.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[30]<!--[endif]-->


            Both McNeil and Knights have pointed to reasons why the Abode of the Blessed , the History of the Rechabites , and the redacted forms of the Story of Zosimus would have been appealing to monastic circles and might well have been adopted and transmitted in them.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[31]<!--[endif]-->   I would go further and suggest the likelihood that they were both composed and transmitted in such circles or in circles sympathetic to monasticism and the ascetic lifestyle.  (It is perhaps worth noting that both the Abode of the Blessed and the redacted form of the Story of Zosimus address themselves to all "the sons of men" to defend the strange ascetic lifestyle of the Blessed Ones.)  Monastic Christianity is the first context in which we should try to understand these texts and I see no need to seek an earlier, Jewish origin for any of them.  Does this prove that neither the Abode of the Blessed nor the History of the Rechabites was originally a Jewish composition?  Of course not.  But the question is improperly framed.  As Jacob Neusner has said, "what we cannot show, we do not know."<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[32]<!--[endif]-->   Scholars who wish to assert that either work was Jewish must demonstrate this with persuasive arguments, not assume it in the first place.  The case for a Jewish origin of the Story of Zosimus or its recoverable sources remains to be made.


<!--[if !supportEndnotes]-->


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[2]<!--[endif]--> James H. Charlesworth, The History of the Rechabites , vol. 1, The Greek Recension (SBLTT 17/SBLPS 10; Chico, Calif.:  Scholars Press, 1982).


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[3]<!--[endif]--> Brian McNeil, "The Narration  of Zosimus," JSJ 9 (1978):  68-82, quotation from p. 68.  The current reference system for the Story of Zosimus, developed by Martin (see n. 6 below), has added versification and divided what was previously chapter five into two chapters.  McNeil uses the older system and his references are noted parenthetically; otherwise I will use Martin's chapters and versification.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[4]<!--[endif]--> McNeil's reason for finding the allusions to be secondary is that they are out of context and inapt.  However, scriptural allusions or even quotations in ancient literature frequently take no account of the original context of a passage, so there is no particular reason to think that these allusions are redactional rather than from the hand of the original author.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[5]<!--[endif]--> Elbert Garrett Martin, "The Account of the Blessed Ones:  A Study of the Development of an Apocryphon on the Rechabites and Zosimus (The Abode of the Rechabites)" (Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 1979), esp. 169-70.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[6]<!--[endif]--> James H. Charlesworth, assisted by P. Dykers, The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research (Missoula, Mont : Scholars Press, 1976), 223-28.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[9]<!--[endif]--> Chris Knights, "'The Story of Zosimus' or 'The History of the Rechabites'?" JSJ 24 (1993):  235-45; idem, "Towards a Critical Introduction to 'The History of the Rechabites,'" JSJ 26 (1995):  324-42; idem, "The History of the Rechabites - an Initial Commentary," JSJ 28 (1997):  413-36; idem, "A Century of Research into the Story/Apocalypse of Zosimus and/or the History of the Rechabites," JSP 15 (1997):  53-66; idem, "The Abode of the Blessed :  A Source of the Story of Zosimus ?" JSP 17 (1998):  79-93.  Knights' unpublished doctoral dissertation also deals at some points with the Story of Zosimus :  Christopher Hammond Knights, "The Rechabites in the Bible and in Jewish Tradition to the Time of Rabbi David Kimh 9 i" (2 vols.; Ph.D. diss., University of Durham, 1988).


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[10]<!--[endif]--> His arguments are summarized in "The Abode of the Blessed ," 80-81.  See also "'The Story of Zosimus,'"237-40.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[11]<!--[endif]--> Knights, "'The Story of Zosimus,'"240-41; idem, "The History of the Rechabites ," 419-20, 428, 429.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[12]<!--[endif]--> Knights, "The Abode of the Blessed ," 83-84, 86.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[13]<!--[endif]--> Robert A. Kraft, "The Pseudepigrapha in Christianity," in Tracing the Threads: Studies in the Vitality of Jewish Pseudepigrapha (ed. John C. Reeves; SBLEJL 6. Atlanta:  Scholars Press, 1994), 55-86; idem, "The Pseudepigrapha and Christianity Revisited:  Setting the Stage and Framing Some Central Questions," JSJ 32 (2001):  371-395.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[14]<!--[endif]--> See my paper "Jewish Pseudepigrapha and Christian Apocrypha:  (How) Can We Tell Them Apart?" presented in the New Testament, Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and Dead Sea Scrolls Seminar at the British New Testament Conference in Cambridge, England, on 5-7 September 2002 and available online at


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[15]<!--[endif]--> "The Abode of the Blessed ," 85.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[19]<!--[endif]--> McNeil, "The Narration of Zosimus," 72-73.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[20]<!--[endif]--> If each couple produces only two children and half of all the children do not reproduce, the community will shrink by fifty percent each generation until no one is left.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[21]<!--[endif]--> "Towards a Critical Introduction," 327-30; "The History of the Rechabites ," 418-19, 420, 422, 424, 425, 427, 432.  For the general problem of isolating Greek pseudepigrapha that have been translated from a Semitic language see my paper, "(How) Can We Tell if a Greek Apocryphon or Pseudepigraphon Has Been Translated from Hebrew or Aramaic?" presented in the Apocrypha Group at the International SBL meeting in Cambridge, England, 23 July 2003, and available online at


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[23]<!--[endif]--> Ibid., 416-19; "The Rechabites in the Bible and in Jewish Tradition," 2:45-55.  The rabbinic texts are Mekhilta de Rabbi Simeon to Exod 18:27; Tanhumah Shemini 5//Tanhumah Buber Shemini 14; Sifre Numbers 78; and Yalkut Shim'oni to the Prophets 38.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[24]<!--[endif]--> "The History of the Rechabites ," 429-30; "The Rechabites in the Bible and in Jewish Tradition," 2:45-55.  The rabbinic texts are Mekhilta de Rabbi Simeon to Exod 18:27; Sifre Numbers 78; and Yalkut Shim'oni to the Torah 169.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[25]<!--[endif]--> "The History of the Rechabites ," 434-36; "The Rechabites in the Bible and in Jewish Tradition," 2:97-98.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[26]<!--[endif]--> "Towards a Critical Introduction," 332, his emphasis.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[27]<!--[endif]--> "The Narration of Zosimus," 74.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[29]<!--[endif]--> Robert C. Hill (trans.), Theodoret of Cyrus:  Commentary on the Psalms , 2 vols. (FC 101-102; Washington, D.C.:  Catholic University of America Press, 2000-2001).  See, for example, his commentaries on Psalm 13 (1:104-5); Psalm 121 (2:282-83); Psalm 124 (2:288-89); and Psalm 149 (2:370-371).  None of these passages make any reference to explicitly Christian ideas.  In the commentary to Psalm 124 he speaks positively of the Jews and in the commentary to Psalm 149 he refers to the campaign of the Maccabees.  Note also that in the commentary to Psalm 79 (2:41-44), which does refer to Christian themes, he speaks positively of the temple and the Law and he mentions the association of the psalm with the Maccabees.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[30]<!--[endif]--> Alexander Golitzin, "Recovering the 'Glory of Adam':  'Divine Light' Traditions in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Ascetical Literature of Fourth-Century Syro-Mesopotamia" in The Dead Sea Scrolls as Background to Postbiblical Judaism and Early Christianity:  Papers from an International Conference at St. Andrews in 2001 (edited by James R. Davila; STDJ 46; Leiden:  Brill, 2003), 275-308.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[31]<!--[endif]--> McNeil, "The Narration of Zosimus," 75, 80-81; idem, "Asexuality and the Apocalyse of Zosimus, HeyJ 22 (1981):  172-73; Knights, "Towards a Critical Introduction," 337-38; idem, "The Abode of the Blessed," 93.  In the penultimate reference Knights notes some passages in which the Rechabites are taken as models for monastic communities.  The early Christian writers had a positive view of the Rechabites and referred to them several more times.  Hegesippus tells us that when James the brother of Jesus was being stoned, one of the Rechabites, who are identified as a priestly family to which Jeremiah testified, protested (Eusebius, Hist. eccl . 2.23); the Rechabites are held up as an example by John Chrysostom for not disobeying their father's command (Hom. Acts 5:34) and as people approved by the prophets (Hom. Matt. 12:38-29 4); and Jerome extols the asceticism of the Rechabites in Jov. II.3.15) and calls them "holy men" in Epist. 52.3.


<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[32]<!--[endif]--> Jacob Neusner, Rabbinic Literature and the New Testament.  What We Cannot Show We Do Not Know (Valley Forge, Penn.: Trinity Press, 1994).


Contact details

St Mary's College
The School of Divinity
University of St Andrews
South Street
St Andrews
Fife KY16 9JU
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 462850
Fax: +44 (0)1334 462852