The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs as Witnesses to Pre-Christian Judaism: A Re-Assessment

The latest Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha has been released. Though it consists of only three articles, one is of particular interest here. David A. DeSilva in his article, “The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs as Witnesses to Pre-Christian Judaism: A Re-Assessment” argues that while the final form of this text is the result of a Christian community, it can indeed provide insights into the world of Early Judaism. See the abstract below.

In regard to the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the pendulum of scholarship has been swinging in the direction of treating these texts as Christian compositions that, therefore, cannot be used to illumine pre-Christian Judaism. This article reassesses this movement in light, rst, of recent methodological propositions regarding deter- mining the faith community in which a text had its origin and, second, of traditional methodological approaches to the question of the Christian material found in extant manuscripts of the Testaments. It also challenges the hyper-Christianization of the Testaments in modern scholarship, arguing that, in many cases, material is being designated as distinctively Christian simply because interpreters are not sufciently aware of how their own lenses are coloring their readings. The Testaments remain an important witness to Hasmonean Jewish readings of Genesis, developments in ethical thought, and re-articulations of Israel’s hope.

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