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Home Book of Abraham Special Section The Pseudepigrapha (Background to the Abrahamic Literature, Among Other Things): Discussing it's Significance and Importance

The Pseudepigrapha (Background to the Abrahamic Literature, Among Other Things): Discussing it's Significance and Importance

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Research by Kerry A. Shirts

Critics contend that "Pseudepigrapha" means, roughly translated - spuriously attributed - in this instance to "biblical" writers. It was common for later Jewish, Gnostic, and Christian writers to use the names of Patriarchs or Apostles to give legitimacy to their works - the majority of which were expunged from the Canon - like the Infancy Gospels, along with dozens of variations on the "Acts" of the Apostles.You cited, among others: 1Enoch, Apocalypsis Baruch, 2 Esdras, Jubilees, assorted Midrash, the Talmud and the Zohar. The only book given even "apochryphal" status is 2 Esdras - all the rest are pseudepigrapha, and are totally irrelevant, seeing as the Kabbalistic School is a fringe movement within Judaism, and a strictly Medieval one at that (to say nothing of being highly blasphemous and occultic) - hardly counts as a font of "biblical" tradition. Jubilees can be positively dated to 250 B.C., and is thus hardly a reliable source of information - it is in fact an extemporization on the themes in Genesis and Exodus - but is primarily an attempt to reform the Jewish system of calculating festivals. 1 Enoch is spurious, as well as pseudepigraphic - the Jews knew squat about the solar system at the time it was purported to have been written by "Enoch." So, notice anything so far? I'll point it out to you - not one single Canonical reference. Nadda. Zilch.

Our rebuttal to this single critic, and others who agree with his argument:

And some very specific refutations of your grossly incorrect understanding of the Pseudepigrapha, using, of course, the *top guns* in the field. The critics' whole approach is historically incorrect. Critics are coming at it with 20th century eyes, something that James H. Charlesworth demolishes hand over fist. It is not only nice, but absolutely *necessary* to have a full understanding and broad background in this magnificent field. Critics haven't understood the true nature of the documents we are dealing with at all.

James H. Charlesworth, Dean of scholars in this field has gathered together two most magnificent volumes of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, hereafter cited as OTP) in which he notes the following that it would be more than wide of you Christians to start understanding. "...the early pseudepigrapha were composed during a period in which the limits of the canon apparently remained fluid at least to some Jews, and that some Jews and Christians inherited and passed on these documents as ***inspired.*** (OTP, Vol. 1, p. xxiii - my emphasis). They did not necessarily regard them as apocryphal, or outside a canon. (Ibid.)

Critics are obviously incorrect about the history of the canon and what is scripture and what isn't, to the early Jews and Christians, which is the area I am coming from with the BofA and the literature dealing with Abraham 100B.C. - 100A.D. Again, Charlesworth notes something important for us all to understand.... "many authors of pseudepigrapha believed they were recording God's infallible words." (p. xxiv). Charlesworth nails the final nail in your coffin argument by stating - " call the Pseudepigrapha "non-canonical" or the biblical books "canonical" can be historically inaccurate prior to A.D. 100 and the period in which most of the documents were written. These terms should be used as an expression of some ***later "orthodoxy"***... it is potentially misleading to use the terms "noncanonical" "canonical," "heresy," and "orthodoxy" when describing either Early Judaism or Early Christianity." (p. xxiv).

Charlesworth next notes how Webster's identifies the meaning of the term Pseudepigrapha. It says the term is denoting "spurious works purporting to emanate from biblical characters." Yet note what Charelsworth says! "That definition is ***MISLEADING.***" (p. xxv - my emphasis). And why? Because as Charlesworth so correctly notes "ancient writings are dismissed ***subjectively*** as illegitimate." (p. xxv - my emphasis). A most excellent analysis of this is, again, Frank Moore Cross's article "The Text Behind the Text of the Hebrew Bible" in Herschel Shanks fine collection of essays "Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls", Random House, 1992, Ch. 11. You might also consult with great profit, Ronald S. Hendel's "When the Sons of God Cavorted with the Daughters of Men" Ch. 13 same volume, as well as Hartmut Stegemann's electrifying article "Is the Temple Scroll A Sixth Book of the Torah - Lost for 2,500 Years?" Ch. 10 same volume. In light of these ground breaking discussions, you would also greatly profit from consulting the Symposium at the Smithsonian Institution Oct. 27, 1990, "The Dead Sea Scrolls After Forty Years", especially James A. Sanders incredibly electrifying remarks! Critics need to seriously update their benign information and understanding.

Charlesworth goes on even further however..... "Contemporary scholars employ the term "pseudepigrapha" not because it denotes something spurious about the documents collected under that title, but because the term has been inherited and is now used internationally." (p. xxv). And in fact, "...we possess only part of the writings produced by Jews during the period 200 B.C. to A.D. 200. We know many works are lost since early Christians quoted from and referred to documents now lost." (p. xxviii). We also know that "it is obvious that Judaism was not monolithically structured or shaped by a central and all-powerful "orthodoxy." (p. xxix). He notes further " is difficult to decide whether an early document is essentially Jewish or Christian." (p. xxix).

Now then, critics obviously have not consulted Richard Laurence's "Book of Enoch"

either. Laurence notes it well that Enoch was quoted in Jude ***AS SCRIPTURE*** and then asks in a terrified voice "...have we moderns betrayed our trust by excluding an inspired record from the Bible?" (p. iv). Iraneaus and Clement of Alexandria quoted Enoch "without questioning its sacred character." (p. iv). Tertullian noted that the "Scripture of Enoch" had been excluded from the Hebrew Canon in his day, however, the book was still considered by him as "the divinely inspired autograph of that immortal patriarch...let us not reject nothing which belongs to us," he noted. (p. iv-v). Tertullian quoted Jude as proof that Enoch was scripture to him and the Christians of his day. It was considered "as sacred as the Psalms or Isaiah in the eyes of the famous theologian..." (p. v). In fact, the Book of Enoch was found "...standing immediately before the Book of Job, which is its proper place in the Abyssinian Canon." (p. vii).

Laurence also notes that "...from an over-anxiety to preserve that Canon inviolate, they [the apocrypha] have been not simply rejected, but loaded with every epithet of contempt and obloquy." (p. xv). More startling still, is the idea drawn from "Orthodoxy" that the correct number of Gospels was four and the church should have four pillars as the based of the Gospel itself, hence only 4 Gospels included in the Canon. But this imagery itself was built up from and based on the lost Book of Enoch! (. xviii). And for a SOLID 9 pages, Laurence provides direct quotations in the New Testament from the Book of Enoch! (pp. xxv-xxxiii). Jesus himself quoted from the Book of Enoch *as scripture*!

Critics are obviously blatantly incorrect and grossly uninformed concerning the early situation of the scriptures. Hence my always nagging that we read all we can and as widely as we can so as to have a more correct understanding.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 May 2010 11:16  

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