Friday, February 16, 2007

Slavonic Pseudepigrapha Lectures

Dr. Macaskill has provided us with very full and detailed online lectures to go with today's class session:
"The Slavonic Pseudepigrapha: An Introduction"

"An Introduction to 2 Enoch"
This should be enough to keep you all busy during the weekend. I also lectured on 5 Ezra, but I will post that file on Monday.

Introducing the Slavonic Pseudepigrapha and 2 Enoch

My lecture today is essentially two talks rolled into one. I will introduce the Slavonic Pseudepigrapha and discuss the problems associated with them and then introduce 2 Enoch, which nicely illustrates these problems.

Here are my brief abstracts

The Slavonic Pseudepigrapha: an Introduction

A substantial number of pseudepigraphical texts have been preserved for us in the Slavonic languages. Most of these have parallels in traditions preserved in other languages such as Greek and Latin. A small number, however, are unique to the Slavonic context, although some of their constituent parts have parallels in other traditions. These texts provide rich insights into the ongoing life of the Pseudepigrapha in Slavonic and Byzantine contexts, but they pose a number of problems for students, the most significant being the level of variation between their individual textual witnesses. In order to work with them, one must appreciate something of the linguistic and textual contexts of the works. Such an appreciation will help to highlight the ancestry, the influences and the distinctive problems associated with the Slavonic Pseudepigrapha.

An Introduction to 2 Enoch

The text that we refer to as 2 Enoch, Slavonic Enoch or even The Book of the Secrets of Enoch is a fascinating example of the Slavonic Pseudepigrapha and of the distinctive problems associated with them. In the lecture I will discuss the ways in which the manuscripts witness to those problems as I outlined them in The Slavonic Pseudepigrapha: an Introduction. We will discuss: 1) macro variation between manuscripts and recensions; 2) micro variation within text families; 3) the verifiable route of transmission of 2 Enoch; 4) debates over the provenance of 2 Enoch. This will lay a groundwork for next week’s lecture on themes within 2 Enoch.

Much fuller versions of both lectures will be added to the main course web-site in due course. These will contain some helpful additional detail that I simply don't have time to cram into the session today.

I will also give students a short outline of the narrative of 2 Enoch at today’s lecture.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Translation of 5 Ezra

As promised, I have posted the authoritative translation of 5 Ezra by Theodore Bergren. This is based on the best available Latin text and should be used rather than any other translation.

I have also updated the class schedule on the OT Pseudepigrapha website to clarify what we are doing in the next few weeks. We will fill out the schedule further as the semester progresses.

It would be helpful if the class members would print out the Begren translation and the RSV translation of 5 Ezra and bring them to class tomorrow for comparative purposes. (The translation of 5 Ezra in the Charlesworth OTP is the same as that of the RSV, both by Bruce Metzger - about whom there is recent sad news - so no need to duplicate it if you already have it.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pseudepigrapha Translations Online

The Noncanonical Literature page of the Wesley Center Online has a collection of translations of OT Pseudepigrapha. There you can find translations of 2 Enoch (covered this week) and 1 Enoch (of which chapters 37-71 comprise the Similitudes of Enoch) to be covered this semester), as well as many other Pseudepigrapha. Also this week, we shall be covering 5 Ezra, which appears as chapters 1-2 of 4 Ezra or 2 Esdras. You can read the translation of the Revised Standard Version here. Later this week I shall post a better translation by Ted Bergren.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Pseudepigrapha Journal in the News

The Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha gets a mention in today's Jerusalem Post. Some of the issues covered in class last week appear as well.
Lack of 2nd Temple period rabbinic control may have caused assimilation

A deep linguistic and cultural chasm between the Jewish communities of the West and their brethren in the East led to the almost total assimilation of Western Greek- and Latin-speaking Jews during the last centuries of the Roman Empire, according to a study by Prof. Doron Mendels of the Hebrew University and Dr. Arye Edrei of Tel Aviv University published in the January issue of The Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha.

"We have quite decisively shown that the view that the rabbis [of the Talmud] had authority over the whole Jewish Diaspora in the Hellenistic period and later is not true," Mendels, an expert on the Hellenistic world and its Jews, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.


According to Mendels, "In the East, they spoke Aramaic and Hebrew, whereas in the West they spoke Greek and Latin. This gap was never bridged by the rabbis. They never translated all the rabbinic [material], which for a long time [remained] oral."

Prof. Aharon Oppenheimer of Tel Aviv University says the thesis put forward by Mendels and Edrei "makes sense." Given the oral nature of the rabbinic texts, "there's a great likelihood that for Jews in Rome, only pieces or fragments arrived, not whole tractates or chapters," he said.

"Because of this language gap," continued Mendels, "the two parts of the Jewish Diaspora had different corpora of literary works. The eastern side had the Bible, the midrashim, the Mishna and the Talmud, whereas the western part had the Bible in Greek, and also part of the Apocrypha, the external texts."

These Apocrypha, such as the second Book of Maccabees, were excluded from the Jewish canon in the East by the rabbis. Thus, "the Jewish bookshelf was different in the West and the East as a consequence of the language gap," Mendels said. "Even the Haggada of Passover, developed in the second century, wasn't translated into Greek."

You can find the January 2007 issue of the JSP, which contains this article, here. The abstract can be accessed for free, but you have to have a paid personal or institutional subscription to download the article itself.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Preparation for this week's lecture on the Slavonic texts

It would be helpful for students to read Andrei Orlov's "Introduction: The Slavonic Pseudepigrapha" before Friday's lecture. This can be found at the following site:

I will provide a thorough handout of my lectures on Friday and we will post a summary of the lecture on the Old Testament Pseudeigrapha module website before then.