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First Century A.D.

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Online Text for Pseudo-Philo

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Information on Pseudo-Philo

Martin McNamara writes: "The Biblical Antiquities of Pseudo-Philo (Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum) is extant in Latin only and in a late Hebrew translation of the Latin. The original language was most probably Hebrew. In its present form, it gives the narrative of the Hebrew people from Adam to Saul, although it probably was once more extensive. In places it merely gives the biblical text. More often, however, it has introduced additional material on the text, although not always in the expected place. It is a rich source for Jewish tradition as known in Palestine, in certain communities at least, during the first century A.D. Its traditions, emphases and themes are very important for the study of first century Judaism, especially of the Pharasaic or rabbinic type, and also may be of importance for understanding the New Testament. The author's interests, for instance, have been compared with those of St. Luke, particularly in the third Gospel." (Intertestamental Literature, pp. 280-281)

Leonhard Rost writes: "The contents in outline are: i-vi—the primal history from Genesis 5 to 11, including an extended account of Abraham's deliverance from the fiery furnace, associated with the tower of Babel; viii—Jacob's descendants; ix—the sojourn in Egypt and brith of Moses; x-xix—the Exodus, journey through the desert, revelation at Sinai, the golden calf, and the death of Moses; xx-xxiv—the deeds of Joshua and his farewell discourse; xxv-xxviii—the judge Kenez; xxix-xlviii—the other judges; xlix—Elkanah's refusal of the kingship; l-liii—Samuel's youth (I Sam. 1-3); liv-lv—the story of the ark (I Sam. 4-6); lvi-lvii—Saul's appointment as king (I. Sam. 9:1-10); lviii—victory over the Amalekites and Agag (I Sam. 15); lix-lx—the anointing of David and the evil spirit of Saul; lxi—Goliath; lxii—Jonathan's friendship with David; lxii—the priests of Nob; and lxix-lxv—the witch of Endor and the battle with the Philistines. With Saul's dying order to the Amalekites to say to David, 'Thus says Saul, Do not remember my hatred and my injustice,' th narrative breaks off, twice referring the reader to the book of Judges and once to I Samuel for additional information." (Judaism Outside the Hebrew Canon, p. 196)

Daniel J. Harrington writes: "The parallels between LAB, 4 Ezra (2 Esdras), and 2 Baruch are not sufficient to prove a date of composition after AD 70. A date prior to AD 70 (and perhaps around the time of Jesus) is suggested by the kind of Old Testament text used in the book, the free attitude towards the text, the interest in the sacrifices and other things pertaining to cult, and the silence about the destruction of the temple. These same points, as well as the likelihood that LAB was composed in Hebrew, indicate a Palestinian origin." (Outside the Old Testament, p. 8)

James Charlesworth writes: "It is becoming clear that Pseudo-Philo is not so late as earlier scholars concluded. The traditions recorded therein are ancient (cf. G. Vermes, Scripture and Tradition in Judaism: Haggadic Studies, 2d. ed. [SPB 4] Leiden: Brill, 1973; passim), and the work itself is rather early, dating probably from around A.D. 100 (G. Delling, nos. 1190, 1191; C. Dietzfelbinger dates Ps-Philo between A.D. 70 and 135; cf. his Pseudo-Philo, Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum. Göttingen Ph.D., 1964; pp. 191-94 [N.V.], and his no. 1192, p. 95; also see L. H. Feldman's caveat, no. 1205, pp. xxviii-xxxi) and possibly before A.D. 70 (P.-M. Bogaert, no. 619, vol. 1, p. 246; Harrington, nos. 1198, 1202, 1203). The author probably lived in Palestine (cf. Delling, nos. 1190, 1191; Dietzfelbinger, no. 1192, p. 96; Harrington, no. 1200) and wrote in Hebrew (J. Strugnell, no. 1391d, esp. p. 207; Harrington, nos. 1198, 1202, 1203; Dietzfelbinger, no. 1192, pp. 92f.; but cf. Feldman's caution regarding the possibility of Greek, no. 1205, pp. xxv-xxvii). Some scholars have argued for a relationship with the Dead Sea Scrolls (e.g. M. Philonenko, 'Remarques sur un hymne essénien de caractère gnostique,' Sem 11 [1961] 43-54; idem, 'Une paraphrase du cantique d'Anne,' RHPR 42 [1962] 157-68; idem, nos. 1207, 1208; cf. Feldman, no. 1205, pp. xxxviii-xliii)." (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, p. 170)

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