Pseudepigraphic Testaments

A number of “testaments” survive from antiquity. These texts present themselves as the last words of important biblical figures such as Moses, Jacob, and Joseph. The SBLHS 2 §8.3.4 provides abbreviations for each work. This post will explain how to use these abbreviations when citing the testaments.

1. Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

Perhaps the most well known of the testament genre, the work referred to as the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (ca. second century BCE) is a collection of pseudepigraphical “last words” of the twelve sons of Jacob. Although gathered into a single collection, each testament is preserved with its own unique title and citation system. Each text should therefore be cited independently. For instance, rather than refer to T. 12 Patr. 1.2.1, it is more exact to refer to T. Reu. 2.1. The abbreviations for these works are as follows:

T. Ash. Testament of Asher
T. Benj. Testament of Benjamin
T. Dan Testament of Dan
T. Gad Testament of Gad
T. Iss. Testament of Issachar
T. Jos. Testament of Joseph
T. Jud. Testament of Judah
T. Levi Testament of Levi
T. Naph. Testament of Naphtali
T. Reu. Testament of Reuben
T. Sim. Testament of Simeon
T. Zeb. Testament of Zebulun

Note: Since these works and those listed below are unattributed ancient works, the titles are not italicized.

2. Testaments of the Three Patriarchs

The works sometimes referred to as the Testaments of the Three Patriarchs (ca. first–third centuries CE) are three independent works presenting themselves as the last words of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As with the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, each should be cited according to the individual testament. For instance, rather than refer to T. 3 Patr. 1.2.1, it is more accurate to refer to T. Ab. 2.1. The abbreviations for these works are as follows:

T. Ab. Testament of Abraham
T. Isaac Testament of Isaac
T. Jac. Testament of Jacob

The Testament of Abraham is preserved in two basic versions, a long form (A) and a short form (B). Citations to the Testament of Abraham should include a notation that indicates which version of the text is being cited. For instance, to cite chapter 2, verse 1 of the long version of the Testament of Abraham, use the following format: T. Ab. A2.1.

3. Additional Testaments

In addition to the aforementioned collections, there are a number of additional testaments (ca. first century BCE–fifth century CE) attributed to various biblical figures. Each should be cited as an independent work using the appropriate abbreviation:

T. Adam Testament of Adam
T. Job Testament of Job
T. Moses Testament of Moses
T. Solomon Testament of Solomon

As with other ancient works, it is good practice to identify the name of the translator and any relevant citation information when quoting from each testament. For example:

“So King Solomon called the boy one day, and questioned him, saying: ‘Do I not love thee more than all the artisans who are working in the Temple of God? Do I not give thee double wages and a double supply of food? How is it that day by day and hour by hour thou growest thinner?’” (T. Sol. 1.3 [Conybeare]).

15. The testament goes on to say, “Do not devote your attention to the beauty of women, my children, nor occupy your minds with their activities” (T. Reu. 4.1 [H. C. Kee, OTP 1:783]).

For more on citing passages from James H. Charlesworth’s The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, see our blog post here.

Works Cited

Charlesworth, James H., ed. 1983–1985. Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 2 vols. New York: Doubleday.

Conybeare, F. C., trans. 1898. “The Testament of Solomon.” JQR 11:1–45.

 

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