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• Confuted b by these testimonies, soine are wont to take • refuge by saying, that those are not Sibylline Oracles, but • forged and composed by our people.' 'He expected that tbis objection would be inade to his quotations; and he knew it to have been before. They are wont,' he says, “ to • betake themselves to this refuge.'
These things are well known to the learned : I mention them only for the sake of those of my readers who need information, and may be glad of it.
Mr. Whiston, whoc asserts that the present copy of the Sibylline Oracles, as they are now extant, in eight entire . books, is not, in general, the same with that which was extant before, and at the first times of christianity, but very different from it,' says d likewise : The present spu
• rious additions to the genuine Sibylline Oracles may be in some measure traced up to the middle of the second * century itself.' This is granting all we want at present.
We have then probable evidence that the whole, or a large part, of our present collection was in being in the second century: and certain evidence from Lactantius of its being composed before the end of the third century.
12.) Whatever was the particular view of the author in composing this work, and however improperly some ancient writers have produced testimonies from it in their defences of the christian religion, it is now of use to us, as it affords an argument that our gospels were extant, and in much repute, in the author's time. He is to be blamed for assuming the character of a Sibyl. However, intending to compose a work in a prophetical style, and therein to represent, among other things, many particulars relating to our Saviour and his doctrine ; he takes for his guides the historical books of the New Testament, and follows them throughout, with very little variation ; excepting only what was needful, or agreeable, when they were to be turned into verse.
And if he had been pleased to write a pretended prophecy, describing enigmatically the several books of the New Testament received in his time, as he has described the Roman emperors from Julius Cæsar to Adrian, it might be very acceptable.
III. There is also a book called, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, “the sons of Jacob, delivered to their • sons ;' in which those patriarchs are introduced speaking
• His testimoniis quidam revicti, solent eo confugere, ut aiant, non esse illa carmina Sibyllina, sed a nostris conficta atque composita. Lact. I. iv.
• A Vindication of ihe Sibylline Oracles, p. 36. 'd Ibid. p. 49.
their last dying words, containing predictions of things future, and rules of virtue and piety; which they deliver to their sons as a choice treasure, to be carefully preserved, and to be delivered by them to their children.
There have been long since several editions of these Testaments in Latin : but Grabe e first published them in Greek from some manuscripts in our Universities; and
If from his edition they have been re-published by & Fabricius. Since which 'Mr. Whiston has given the publici an English translation of them.
Cave, in the first part k of his Historia Literaria, places the anonymous author of this book at the year 192; but in the second part of that work he appears inclined to think, he wrote nearer the beginning of the second century. It is generally concluded, that these Testainents were composed before the time of Origen; because he quotes a book with that title in one of his Homilies upon the book of Joshua, which we now have only in a Latin version. • Wem find also,' says he, the like sentiment in a little book called, the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, though it is not in the canon.' It has been thought that this book was cited by Origen more than once : but Grabe" has shown this to be the only quotation of it in that father. And there are scarce two or three other quotations of this work, in all the christian writers, for the space of seven or eight hundred years. Jerom seems to intend it among others, when he says, there p had been forged revelations of all
• the patriarchs and prophets.?
Cave 9 thinks it not unlikely that the author was a judaizing christian. Dodwell was of the same opinion, as
Spicil. Patr. T. i. p. 129.
Vid. ibid. p. 144, 336. 8 Cod. Pseudepigr. V. T. 1713. p. 496. h Authentic Records, P. i. p. 294, &c.
i I have made considerable use of that translation in my extracts, though I do not always follow it exactly.
k P. 52. 1 P. 29.
m Sed et in alio quodam libello, qui appellatur Testamentum Duodecim Patriarcharum, quamvis non habeatur in canone, talem tamen quendam sensum invenimus, quod per singulos peccantes singuli Satanæ intelligi debeant. Homil. xv. in Josuam, sub fin. Confer Testamentum Ruben. sect. 3.
Spicil. ibid. P. 131, 132. • Vid. Grabe, ibid. p. 134, &c. 335, 336. Mr. Whiston's Authentic Records, vol. i. p. 439—441.
p Et si tibi placuerit, legito fictas revelationes omnium patriarcharum et prophetarum. Adv. Vigilantium, Hieron. Op. T. iv. P. 2. p. 284.
9 Judæus an christianus fuerit auctor, haud liquido constat; judaïzans forte christianus, quales isto ævo non pauci extiterunt. Hist. Lit. P. 1. p. 52. Quin opus sit cujusdam judaïzantis christiani dubitari nequit, cum omni fere paginâ inepte satis aliquid de Christo ingerit. Hist. Lit. P. 2. p. 29.
we are assured by' Grabe; but he supposed them conposed before the end of the first century. Grabe thinks s rather, that they were written by some Jew before our Saviour's coming, and were afterwards interpolated in some places by a christian. But Mr. Wbiston asserts, that 'the • Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs are really genuine, • and one of the sacred apocryphal or concealed books of • the Old Testament.'
Grabe supposes that this book was written in Hebrew. But of this there is no credible testimony : for that learned man does not u rely upon the story, that it was translated into Greek by St. Chrysostom. I think it might be written in Greek, though the author was a Jew.
I do not very well know what Cave means, when he says this book was written by a judaizing christian. If thereby he means only a Jew converted to christianity, I am not unwilling to assent to him, though I do not look upon that as a clear point. But if he means an imperfect christian, or one who joins the law with the gospel, as necessary to man's acceptance with God, I see no signs of it in this work. For here is very frequent mention of the share which the Gentiles should have in the salvation by the Messiah, without any hints of their complying with the law of Moses. The dispersion and captivity of the Jews, as punishments of their unrighteous treatment of Christ, are much insisted upon. And St. Paul's is a favourite character in this book, who is supposed to have been quite rejected by those christians that judaized. I shall have occasion to take passages enough to set this matter in a full light.
Henry Wharton, who thought this work an imposture, and that the author was a christian, is not positive that he was a Jew.
Beausobre, in his late learned work, The Critical History of Mani and Manichæism,' delivers his judgment on this book, and the author, after this manner: That it was forged at the end of the first, or the beginning of the second century, by some christian converted from judaism: and he suspects that the author of the Twelve Testaments Spicileg. ibid. p. 132, 133.
Atque hæc fere sunt, quæ cuipiam persuadere possent, Testamenta XII. Patriarcharum a Judæo ante Christum natum literis consignata, posthæc autem a christiano hinc inde interpolata esse. Ibid. p.
· Authentic Records, p. 410. u Vid. Spicileg. p. 143.
v Christianum fuisse compertum Sectam quidem judaïcam præ se fert impostor, ut exinde Judæis fucum piâ fraude faciat.- -Auctarium Usseri de Scripturis et Sacris Vernaculis, cap. ii. p. 321, 322.
L. ii. c. 2. sect. 5. T. i. p. 354,355.
was an Ebionite, and that he believed Jesus to be the son of Joseph and Mary—one of the tribe of Judah, and the other of the tribe of Levi; which he thought necessary to entitle him to the priesthood and the kingdom. It is true, says be, that the titles of “God' and the Great God, which are given to Christ in this book, are not agreeable to the style nor the faith of the Ebionites. But it can hardly be doubted, that they have been added by the Greek translator ; for there is good reason to believe that the original was Hebrew.
I have spoken already to several of these points. But I do not see how it is consistent with Ebionitism to speak of St. Paul as this writer does, not to mention other things. Whether the author thought Jesus to be the son of Joseph and Mary, may be questioned. The following extracts may be of use to clear up this difficulty. I see no good reason to think that the titles of • God' and • Great God,' given to Christ, have been interpolated. The work is all of a piece, and the same style runs through the several Testaments. But yet it may be questioned, whether the author did not so far agree with the Ebionites, as to be an Unitarian. I shall put down likewise passages enough of this book concerning our Lord's deity and humanity, or the presence of the Divine Being with the Messiah, to enable every one to judge of this matter. And if in these places the author appears an Unitarian, there will be the less reason to suppose them interpolations.
It appears to me very evident, that these Testaments are not the real last words of the Twelve Patriarchs. The clear knowledge of christian affairs and principles, shows this book to have been written, or else very much interpolated, after the publication of the christian religion. But, setting aside for the present the consideration of that matter, if these Testaments are not really genuine, they are an imposture. Some apocryphal books of the Jews might be written after those in their canon, without being liable to such a charge. But these are genuine, or they are forged with a view of imposing on mankind : for the author frequently alludes to the books of the Jewish canon, or takes thence expressions and passages without ever acknowledging it. And the better to support the character of that early age, the time of these patriarchs, though he knows every thing in the Old Testament as well as they who have that whole volume before them, he quotes only · the Scrip'ture of Enoch, the Tables of Heaven,' [if thereby he
* Vid. Grabe, Spicileg. T. i. p. 338, &c. Fabric. Cod. Pseudepigr.
* means any book at all,) and the Scripture of our Fa
y • thers; intending probably the fore-mentioned scripture or prophecy of Enoch.
I shall give some instances of this proceeding. Testament of Zabulon, sect. 3. · For which cause it was written in the scripture of the law of Enoch, that he who will not raise up seed to his brother, his shoe shall be loosed, and they shall spit in his face.' Which expressions seem to be taken from Deut. xxv. 7, 8, 9. Levi, sect. 18. • The Lord will raise up a new priest, to whom all the words of the Lord shall be revealed, and he shall make the judgment of truth in the fulness of days, -and the earth shall be glad, and the clouds shall rejoice, and the knowledge of the Lord shall be poured out upon the earth, as the water of the seas.' These things appear to me plainly borrowed from Isa. xi. 29. See also Habak. ii. 14. Reuben says, sect. 1. I drink no wine, nor strong drink, and no flesh came within my mouth. I tasted not any pleasant bread, but
, mourned for my sin.' Which are the words of Daniel, a little transposed, according to the custom of allusions or loose quotations. See Daniel, ch. x. 2, 3. Judah, sect. 24. • And a man shall be raised up of thy seed, as a son of righteousness.' Zabulon, sect. 9. ' And after these things, the Lord himself, the light of righteousness, will arise to you, and there will be healing and commiseration under his wings.' Which expressions, and characters of the Messiah, are plainly taken from Malachi, iv. 2. In the Testament of Judah, sect. 24, the Messiah is spoken of as the • Branch of the Most High God;' as in Zacharias, iii. 8, vi. 12.
And when the author delivers somewhat very unlikely to be known but from the books of the Old Testament; that he may the better prevent the suspicion of his borrowing from them, he usually takes care to mention particularly the prophecy of Enoch, or some such writing. Thus Test. Napthali, sect. 4. •I say this, my sons, because I know, by the holy scripture of Enoch, that you will yourselves also depart from the Lord.' And Levi, sect. 10.®· For the house which the Lord will choose shall be called Jerusalem, as is contained in the book of Enoch the righteous.' This is more than Moses appears to have known: and it is very unlikely that Levi should be acquainted so long beforehand, with the name of the place which God would choose. The author undoubtedly knew this the same way that we V. T. p. 559, and Mr. Whiston's Collection of Authentic Records, vol. i.
Eyvwv ev ypaon natepwv ue. Zabulon, Test. sect. 9.