Thursday, August 17, 2006

Notes on the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs

In reading through T12P a number of things caught my eye:

- The emphasis on avoiding sexual immorality (e.g. T.Reub. 5.1-6; T. Levi 14.6-7; T. Iss. 7.1-3; T. Dan. 5.5).

- The emphasis on keeping the law of God (T. Levi 13.1-9; 19.1-3; T. Iss. 5.1; T. Zeb. 5.1; T. Dan. 5.1; T. Benj. 10.1-11; T. Dan. 6.11 [righteousness of the law]; T.Gad 4.7 ["For among all men the spirit of hatred works by Satan through human frailty for the death of mankind; but the spirit of love works by the Law of God through forebearance for the salvation of mankind])

- The many references to the Book of Enoch (T.Sim. 5.4; T. Levi 10.5; 14.1; T.Jud. 18.1; T. Dan. 5.6; T. Naph. 4.1; T. Benj. 9.1)

- The existence of two messiahs: Aaronic and Davidic (T.Sim. 7.1-3; T.Jud. 21.3-4; T. Naph. 8.1-5; T. Benj. 11.1-5; cf. 1QSa 2.11-21; CD 11.23; 14.19; 19.10; 20.1; Zech. 4.14)

- God's righteousness (T.Levi 3.2; 18.1-14; T.Jud. 22.2)

- The "Two Ways to Live" in T. Asher 1.3-5.4; cf. Deut. 30.15; Josh. 24.15; Jer. 21.8-14; Sir. 15.11-17; 2 Enoch 30.15; Mt. 7.13-14; Ep. Bar. 17; Did. 1; Clem. Hom. 5.7; Clem of Alexandria, Strom. 5.5.

- NT parallels like Eph. 6.13 with T.Levi 8.2 [putting on armour]; Rom. 9.22-23 with T. Naph. 2.2-4 [rights of the potter]; John 19.11 with T.Naph. 8.9 [greater sin].

- Hope for restoration (T. Levi 16.5 [compassion after dispersion]; T. Levi 17.1-10 [restoration after desolation]); T. Asher 7.5-7; T. Benj. 9.2;

- A mixture of grace and ethical rigorism:

"Therefore my sons, do righteousness on earth in order that you might find it in heaven." (T. Levi 13.5)

"And unless you had received mercy through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our fathers, not a single one of your descendents would be left on the earth." (T. Levi 15.4).

Also, T. Asher 5.2 and 7.6

Interesting stuff with respect to NT Background!


Daniel Kirk said...

When I dug through the T12P a couple years ago, I was alerted to the high likelihood of Christian redaction. Do you do any mental imaging of back-and-forth between an original non-Christian text and a Christian overlay?

Michael F. Bird said...

Daniel, Yeah. There is some definite Christian interpolation going on, esp. with the ref to the "Lamb of God". Some of the Messianic texts could go either way.

J. B. Hood said...

Hey Mike doing some similar studies myself.
What do you make of 15.4? how should we interpret "through Abe, Isaac, Jake"?

13.5 is interesting as well. Do you have a good standy-by explanation of how dik-root words should be taken in T12P and related Apoc/Pseud material? Justice/righteousness? (Apart from the rule that context is often critical.)

Ken Schenck said...

I always thought the three heavens of TLevi was an interesting comment in relation to Paul's journey in 2 Cor. and perhaps a glimpse of what the author of Hebrews pictured in his mind when he wrote of Christ passing through the heavens.