I beleive the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated, copied, and interpreted correctly. In the course of my studies of the Bible, I've discovered that it has a long and convoluted history. So, these are my discoveries and my musings of Christian history and doctrines.

Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Part 1

The other day I wrote that there was a book called The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs that was discovered amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls. This book claims to be the biographies of the twelve sons of Jacob in which each of the twelve tell their life stories, talking freely about their sins as well as their virtues and giving advice to their families before dying.

In reading it, I found a lot of prophesies concerning Jesus Christ. These testaments were not written in the typical style characteristic of the Old Testament as we know it with all it's symbols, cryptic visions, and poetic style. Instead it is very blunt, frank, plain and to the point. The ethical teachings of this document are of a much higher and nobler spiritual state than is characteristic of the Old Testament and is very similar in many aspects to Christ's teachings. Some scholars write that some of the sermon on the mount uses phrases from these Testaments. It has also been written that "St. Paul appears to have borrowed so freely that it seems as though he must have carried a copy of the Testaments with him on his travels." (1)

In doing some research on the subject, I found out that this book is actually a "pseudepigrapha" meaning that the real author or authors is unknown. Because of it's Christian content, much controversy surrounds it as some authors can't accept the fact anyone would write so plainly about Christ before His birth. So scholars argue that it is a redaction (edited document) by Christians of an older, and unknown Jewish document from the 2nd century B.C., while others argue that that it is a Christian document integrating earlier Jewish material and place it's composition in the 2nd century A.D.

Because it is difficult to remove these Christian passages without disturbing the continuity of the text, it is ASS-U-ME-d by some that it was a very thorough Christian editing job (Marinus de Jonge). So tightly integrated is the Christian text with the overall document, that the scholars find it difficult, if next to impossible, to determine what the contents of the supposed original document exactly were.

1. The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, The Forgotten Books of Eden (Alpha House, Inc.: Newfoundland, 1927), p. 220.


Anonymous Barb said...

The Old Testament seems to show the brothers selling Joseph into slavery and lying to their father and then jumps to them meeting Joseph in Egypt during the great famine. We see Joseph's years in between. It is evident that they have matured but we miss the process. Yet, their sorrow is real as they refuse to bring Benjamin and have him held as ransom. It would love to hear their plain words telling of their sins. I also would love to hear them speak of Christ. I believe Prophets of Old Testament times would have been very intimately versed in Christ's going back to Adam. However, mainly Isiah's words are preserved for the King James Version. His words are very prophetic, however, so to assume that others could not be equally prophetic does not seem reasonable to me.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Scott N. Ashby said...

The difference between the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and Isaiah is that it is much easier to understand. Isaiah uses a lot of symbolism and a certain poetic style which makes him difficult to understand by many readers, but the Patriarchs is plain, blunt and in your face.

The problem with the book, because it is a pseudepigrapha, is that we don't know how much is fact, tradition passed by word of mouth for centuries, or just plain fiction. But we do know about the life of Christ, which makes the prophesies stick out like a sore thumb.

But still, it is interesting reading, for me anyways.

5:48 PM  

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