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Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality%2C Thematic - Craig a. Evans

Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality%2C Thematic - Craig a. Evans

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Edited by

Craig A. Evans

Volume 14

Published under



formerly the Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement series


Mark Goodacre

Editorial Board

John M.G. Barclay, Craig Blomberg, R. Alan Culpepper, James D.G. Dunn,

Craig A. Evans, Stephen Fowl, Robert Fowler, Simon J. Gathercole,

John S. Kloppenborg, Michael Labahn, Robert Wall, Steve Walton,

Robert L. Webb, Catrin H. Williams


Volume 1: Thematic Studies



Copyright © Craig A. Evans, H. Daniel Zacharias, 2009

Published by T&T Clark

A Continuum imprint

The Tower Building, 11 York Road, London SE1 7NX
80 Maiden Lane, Ste 704, New York, NY 10038


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system,
without permission in writing from the publishers.

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-0-567-58475-5 (hardback)

Typeset by Data Standards Ltd, Frome, Somerset, UK.
Printed in Great Britain by the MPG Books Group, Bodmin and King's Lynn


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuaiity, published as two volumes,
represents the fourteenth and fifteenth volumes to appear in Studies in
Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity. Two of the previous volumes
are monographs. The other eleven volumes are collections of studies that
have more or less systematically worked through the Gospels, the letters
of Paul, other Judaeo-Christian bodies of literature from late antiquity, or
have investigated various questions pertaining to biblical understanding in
the period under review. Several other studies have focused on the
function of sacred Scripture in Rabbinic literature and other non-
Christian Jewish writings.
The present collection of studies focuses on the nature of sacred
Scripture and various aspects of its intertextuality. Volume 1 is comprised
of thematic studies. Early understandings of canon and Scripture, the use
of Scripture in later writings, and the interpretation and application of
various themes and narratives, allegories, and metaphors are treated in
these several studies. Volume 2 is comprised of exegetical studies, where
specific pericopes are treated. Most of these studies concern the function
of Scripture in New Testament writings. New proposals are made and
different approaches in method are considered.
As in the previous volumes, the present volume is enriched with
contributions by established scholars, as well as contributions by younger
scholars, whose work is making itself felt in the discipline. The editors
express their deepest thanks. The editors also wish to thank Sharon
Leighton for her assistance in editing and formatting several of the papers
as well as Adam Wright and Greg Monette for assisting with the
preparation of the indexes.

Craig A. Evans
H. Daniel Zacharias
Acadia Divinity College




Craig A. Evans and H. Daniel Zacharias


K. L. Noll


Francis Borchardt


Ian W. Scott


Matthew J. Goff


Jonathan T. Pennington



Anthony Le Donne



Peter T. Lanfer


Rivka Nir





Annette Yoshiko Reed



Radu Gheorghita



Stephen Moyise



Jin K. Hwang



Wayne Baxter



Aaron Canty





Analecta aegyptaica


Acta apostolicae sedis


Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae


Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research


Agypten und Altes Testament


Anchor Bible


D. N. Freedman (ed.), The Anchor Bible Dictionary (6
vols; New York: Doubleday, 1992)


Anchor Bible Reference Library

AbrN -



Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament


Acta orientalia


Ancient Christian Writers


Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan




Archiv fur Orientforschung


Arbeiten zur Geschichte des antiken Judentums und des


Arbeiten zur Geschichte des Spatjudentums und


W. von Soden, Akkadische Handwdrterbuch (3 vols;
Wiesbaden, 1965-81)


American Journal of Archaeology


American Journal of Arabic Studies


Australian Journal of Biblical Archaeology


Annual of the Japanese Biblical Institute


Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity


American Journal of Philology


American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literature


Association for Jewish Studies Review


American Journal of Theology


Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte


Analecta lovaniensia biblica et orientalia




Arbeiten zur Literatur und Geschichte des hellenistischen


Annual of Leeds University Oriental Society


Analecta biblica


J. B. Pritchard (ed.), Ancient Near East in Pictures
(Princeton, 1954)


J. B. Pritchard (ed.), Ancient Near Eastern Texts
(Princeton, 1969)


The Ante-Nicene Fathers


Analecta Gregoriana


Analecta orientalia


Andover Newton Quarterly


W. Haase and E. Temporini (eds), Aufstieg und
Niedergang der romischen Welt
(Berlin: de Gruyter,


Arbeiten zur neutestamentlichen Textforschung


Arbeiten zum Neuen Testament und Judentum


Alter Orient und Altes Testament


American Oriental Series


American Oriental Society Translation Series


American Philosophical Association Monograph Series


R. H. Charles (ed.), Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the
Old Testament
(2 vols; Oxford: Clarendon, 1913)


The Aramaic Bible


Austin Seminary Bulletin


Asia Journal of Theology


Acta seminarii neotestamentici upsaliensis


American Schools of Oriental Research


Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute


Alttestamentliche Abhandlungen


Abhandlungen zur Theologie des Alten und Neuen


Arbeiten zu Text und Sprache im Alten Testament


Das Alte Testament Deutsch


Acta theologica danica


Ashland Theological Journal


American Theological Library Association


Anglican Theological Review


Australian Biblical Review


Andrews University Seminary Doctoral Dissertation


Andrews University Seminary Studies


Biblical Archaeologist


Biblioteca de autores cristianos




W. Bauer, W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich, A Greek-
English Lexicon of the New Testament
(Chicago, 1957)


W. Bauer, W. F. Arndt, F. W. Gingrich, and F. W.
Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
(Chicago, 1979)


Biblical Archaeologist Reader


Biblical Archaeology Review


Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research


Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research,



Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists


Bonner biblische Beitrage


Beitrage zur biblischen Exegese und Theologie


Bulletin for Biblical Research


F. Brown, S. R. Driver and C. A. Briggs (eds), A Hebrew
and English Lexicon of the Old Testament
Clarendon, 1907).


F. Blass, A. Debrunner and R. W. Funk, A Greek
Grammar of the New Testament
(Chicago, 1961)


F. Blass, A. Debrunner and F. Rehkopf, Grammatik des
neutestamentlichen Griechisch


Beitrage zur Erforschung des Alten Testaments und des
antiken Judentums


Bibbia e oriente


Bulletin of the Evangelical Theological Society


Bibliotheca ephemeridum theologicarum lovaniensium


Beitrage zur evangelischen Theologie


Beitrage zur Forderung christlicher Theologie


Biblical Foundations in Theology


Berlin Gnostic Codex


Beitrage zur Geschichte der biblischen Exegese


Bulletin d'histoire et d'exegese de TAncien Testament


B. Reicke and L. Rost (eds), Biblisch-Historisches
(4 vols; Gottingen, 1962-66)


Biblia hebraica stuttgartensia


Beitrage zur historischen Theologie




Biblische Beitrage


Biblical Interpretation


Bibel und Kirche


Bibel und Leben


Biblica et orientalia


Bible Review


Biblische Studien (Freiburg, 1895-)




Biblische Studien (Neukirchen, 1951—)


The Biblical Seminar


Biblical Theology


Bibliotheque Theologique


Bulletin of the Israel Exploration Society ( = Yediot)




Bulletin of the International Organization for Septuagint
and Cognate Studies


Biblical Interpretation Series


Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of


Brown Judaic Studies


Bibel und Kirche


Biblischer Kommentar: Altes Testament


Bulletin de litterature ecclesiastique


Biblical Languages: Greek


The Bible and its Modern Interpreters


Bibliotheque du Museon


Biblische Notizen


Black's New Testament Commentary


Bibliotheca orientalis


Biblical Research


Bibliotheca Sacra


Biblische Studien


The Bible Translator


Biblical Theology Bulletin


Biblisch Theologische Studien


Bible Today


Bible et terre sainte


Berliner theologische Zeitschrift


Biblische Untersuchungen


Beitrage zur Wissenschaft vom Alten und Neuen


Beitrage zur Wissenschaft vom Alten Testament


Biblische Zeitschrift


Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fur die alttestamentliche


Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fur die neutestamentliche




Contributions to Biblical Exegesis and Theology


Catholic Biblical Quarterly


Catholical Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series


Corpus Christianorum: Series latina




Coptic Gnostic Codex


Cambridge Greek Testament Commentaries


Calwer Hefte


Church History


Chicago Studies


Catholic Historical Review


Christian Century


Christianity and Crisis: A Christian Journal of Opinion


J. B. Frey, Corpus Inscriptionum Judaicarum (2 vols;
Rome: Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana,


Canadian Journal of Theology


Commentaire du Nouveau Testament


Collectanea Theologica

Com Via

Communio Viatorum


Coniectanea biblica


Coniectanea biblica, New Testament


Coniectanea biblica, Old Testament


Concordia Journal


V. A. Tcherikover and A. Fuks (eds), Corpus Papyrorum
(2 vols; Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 1957-60)


Church Quarterly Review


Critical Review of Books in Religion


Currents in Research: Biblical Studies


Cahiers de la Revue d'histoire et de philosophic religieuse


Compendia rerum iudaicarum ad novum testamentum




Critical Quarterly


Canadian Society of Biblical Studies Bulletin


Corpus scriptorum christianorum orientalium


Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition


Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum


Christian Scholars Review


Christianity Today


A. Herdner, Corpus des tablettes en cuneiformes alpha-


Concordia Theological Monthly


Currents in Theology and Mission


Concordia Theological Quarterly


Criswell Theological Review


Dictionnaire de la Bible, Supplement




Dialog der Kirchen




Discoveries in the Judaean Desert


Discoveries in the Judaean Desert of Jordan


J. B. Green, S. McKnight and I. H. Marshall (eds),
Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (1992)


Deutsche Literaturzeitung


Drew Gateway


Dead Sea Discoveries




Dansk teologisk tidsskrift


Etudes bibliques


H. R. Balz and G. Schneider (eds), Exegetical Dictionary
of the New Testament
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990-


Estudios de Filologia Neotestamentaria


Eglise et Theologie


Exegetisches Handbuch zum Alten Testament


Europaische Hochschulschriften


Encyclopaedia of Islam


C. Roth and G. Wigoder (eds), Encyclopaedia Judaica


Evangeliseh-katholischer Kommentar zum Neuen




Epworth Review


R. H. Eisenman and J. M. Robinson, A Fascimile Edition
of the Dead Sea Scrolls
(2 vols; Washington: Biblical
Archaeology Society, 1991)


Ertrage der Forschung


Estudios biblicos


Ephemerides theologicae lovanienses


Etudes theologiques et religieuses


European University Studies


Der Evangelischer Erzieher


Evangelisches Forum


Evangelical Quarterly


Evangelische Theologie


H. Balz and G. Schneider (eds), Exegetisches Worterbuch
zum Neuen Testament

Exp Tim

Expository Times


Forschungen zum Alten Testament


Forschung zur Bibel


Facet Books, Biblical Series


Fontes Christiani


Forschungen und Fortschritte




Facets and Foundations - Reference Series


Formation and Interpretation of Old Testament


Foi et Vie


Forum: Foundations and Facets


Forms of Old Testament Literature


Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und
Neuen Testaments


Forschungen zur systematischen und okumenischen


La foi et le temps


Freiburger Zeitschrift fur Philosophic und Theologie


Gesammelte Aufsatze


Griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller


Gottingische Gelehrte Anzeigen


Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar (ed. E. Kautzsch; trans.
A. E. Cowley; Oxford, 1910)


Good News Studies




Gottinger theologische Arbeiter


Gutersloher Taschenbucher


Grace Theological Journal


W. Baumgartner et ah (eds), Hebrdisches und ara-
mdisches Lexikon zum Alten Testament


Hebrew Annual Review


Handbuch zum Alten Testament


Harper's Bible Dictionary


P. J. Achtemeier et al. (eds), Harper's Bible Dictionary
(San Francisco, 1985)


Herders biblischen Studien


Horizons in Biblical Theology


Harvard Dissertations in Religion


Hervormde Teologiese Studies


Heythrop Journal


Hibbert Journal


Handkommentar zum Alten Testament


Handbuch zum Neuen Testament


Harper's New Testament Commentaries


Handbook of Oriental Studies


History of Religions


Harvard Studies in Classical Philology


Harvard Semitic Monographs


Harvard Semitic Studies




Herders theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen


Herders theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen
Testament, Supplements


Harvard Theological Review


Harvard Theological Studies


Hebrew Union College Annual


Hermeneutische Untersuchungen zur Theologie


Interpreter's Bible


Institute for Biblical Research


Irish Biblical Studies


International Critical Commentary


G. A Buttrick (ed.), The Interpreter's Dictionary of the
(Nashville, 1962)


The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supplement


Israel Exploration Journal


International Journal for Philosophy of Religion


Indian Journal of Theology


Internationale katholische Zeitschrift


Internationale Monatsschrift fur Wissenschaft und


Israel Numismatics Journal




Israel Oriental Society


Issues in Religion and Theology


G. W. Bromiley et al. (eds), International Standard Bible
(Grand Rapids, 1979-88)


Irish Theological Quarterly


Journal of the American Academy of Religion


Jahrbuch fur Antike und Christentum


Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society of Columbia


Journal of the American Oriental Society


Journal of Biblical Literature


Journal of Bible and Religion


Jerusalem Biblical Studies


Jahrbuch fur biblische Theologie


Jahrbuch fur biblische Theologie (monograph series)


Judaica et Christiana


Judische Enzyklopddie


Journal of Ecumenical Studies


Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


Journal of Higher Criticism


Journal of Historical Studies




Journal of Jewish Studies


Judisches Lexikon (1927-30)


Journal of Near Eastern Studies


Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages


Journal of Philology


Jewish Quarterly Review


Jewish Quarterly Review Monograph Series


Journal of Religion


Journal of Religious Ethics


Journal of Religious History


Journal of Roman Studies


Judische Schriften aus hellenistisch-romischer Zeit


Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian,
Hellenistic and Roman Period


Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian,
Hellenistic and Roman Period,


Journal for the Study of the New Testament


Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Supplement


Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
JSOTManuals Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Manuals

Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Supplement


Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha


Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha, Supplement


Jewish Studies Quarterly


Journal of Semitic Studies


Journal for Theology and the Church


Journal of Theological Studies


Judaica: Beitrage zum Verstdndnis des judischen Schiksals
in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart


H. Donner and W. Rollig, Kanaandische und aramdische
(Wiesbaden, 1966-69)


Kommentar zum Alten Testament


L. Koehler and W. Baumgartner, Lexicon in Veteris
Testamenti libros


Kerygma und Dogma


Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar uber das Neue


Kirchen in der Zeit


Kleine Texte


M. Dietrich et al. (eds), The Cuneiform Alphabetic Texts
from Ugarit, Ras Ibn Hani and other places



(Abhandlungen zur Literatur Alt-Syrien-Palastinas, 8;
Munster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2nd edn, 1995)


Library of Ancient Israel


Loeb Classical Library


Lectio divina


Lutheran Quarterly


Lutherische Rundschau


Lutheran Rundblick


Liddell, Scott, Jones, Greek-English Lexicon


Library of Second Temple Studies


Lexikon fur Theologie und Kirche


Lund universitats Arschriften


Lumiere et vie




McCormick Quarterly


MacMaster New Testament Series


Monographs of the Hebrew Union College


J. H. Moulton and G. Milligan (eds), The Vocabulary of
the Greek New Testament
(London: Hodder &
Stoughton, 1930; repr. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974)


Moffat New Testament Commentary


The Modern Churchman


Modern Theology


Monographs of the Peshitta Institute


Monatsschrift fur Pastoraltheologie


Mitteilungen des Septuaginta-Unternehmens


Masoretic Text


Marburg theologische Studien


Miinchener theologische Zeitschrift




Mededelingen en Verhandelingen van het vooraziatisch-
egyptisch Genootschap 'Ex Oriente Lux'


E. Nestle and K. Aland (eds), Novum Testamentum


Nachrichten von der kon. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaft
zu Gottingen, Phil.-Hist. Klasse


New Blackfriars


New Century Bible


New Century Bible Commentary


M. R. P. McGuire et al. (eds), New Catholic Encyclopedia
(New York, 1967)


Neutestamentliche Entwiirfe zur Theologie


A. Pietersma and B. G. Wright, A New English



Translation of the Septuagint (New York and Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2007)




G. H. R. Horsley (ed.), New Documents Illustrating Early
(New South Wales: Macquarie University,


New Gospel Studies


Nag Hammadi Library


Nag Hammadi Studies


New International Biblical Commentary


New International Commentary


New International Commentary on the New Testament


New International Commentary on the Old Testament


C. Brown (ed.), New International Dictionary of New
Testament Theology


W. van Gemeren (ed.), New International Dictionary of
Old Testament Theology and Exegesis
(5 vols; Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 1997)


New International Greek Testament Commentary


New International Theological Commentary


New International Version


Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift


Norsk Teologisk Tidsskrift


Novum Testamentum


Novum Testamentum, Supplements


P. Schaff (ed.), A Selection of the Nicene and Post-Nicene
Fathers: First Series
(14 vols; Edinburgh: T & T Clark,
1886; repr. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954-71)


R. E. Murphy New Revised Standard Version


La nouvelle revue theologique


Neutestamentliche Abhandlungen


The New Testament in Context


Das Neue Testament Deutsch


New Testament Library


New Testament Message


Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus


New Testament Studies


Nederlands theologisch Tijdschrift


New Testament Tools, Studies and Documents


Numen: International Review for the History of Religions


Numen: International Review for the History of Religions,



Neue Zeitschrift fur systematische Theologie und




Orbis biblicus et orientalis


Overtures to Biblical Theology


Orientalia Christiana Periodica


Old Greek


W. Dittenberger, Orientis graeci inscriptiones selectae I-
II (Leipzig, 1903-1905)




Oriens christianus


Old Testament Essays


Old Testament Library


James H. Charlesworth (ed.), Old Testament
(New York, 1983-85)


Oudtestamentische Studien (journal)


Oudtestamentische Studien (monograph series)


Proceedings of the American Academy of Jewish Research


Palestine Archaeological Museum (in reference to the
accession numbers of the photographs of the Dead Sea


Peake's Commentary on the Bible


Palestine Exploration Quarterly


J. Migne (ed.), Patrologia graeca


K. Preisendanz (ed.), Papyri graecae magicae


Proceedings of the Irish Biblical Association


J. Migne (ed.), Patrologia latina


Presbyterion: Covenant Seminary Review


Princeton Seminary Bulletin


Perspectives in Religious Studies


Patrologia syriaca


Princeton Seminary Bulletin Supplement


Perkins School of Theology Journal


Princeton Theological Monograph Series


A. F. Pauly, Paulys Realencylopddie der classischen
(49 vols; Munich 1980)


The Qumran Chronicle


Quaestiones disputatae


Reallexikon fur Antike und Christentum


Revue biblique


Revista de cultura biblica


Revised English Bible




Revue des etudes juives


Religious Education


Religious Studies


Religious Studies Review




Restoration Quarterly
Rev. SC. Re. Revue de Science Religieuse

Review and Expositor


Revue de Qumran


Revue thomiste


K. Galling (ed.), Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart:
Handworterbuch fur Theologie und Religionswissenschaft

(Tubingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 3rd edn, 1957)


Revue dnistoire et de philosophic religieuses


Revue de Vhistoire des religions


Rivista biblica, Supplements


Religion in Life


Rowohlts Monographien


Regensburger Neues Testament


Review of Religion


Religious Studies Bulletin


Revue des sciences philosophiques et theologiques


Recherches de science religieuse


Religious Studies Review


Revised Standard Version


Religion & TheologiejReligie & Teologie


Religious Traditions


Revue theologique de Louvain


Revue de theologie et de philosophic


The Reformed Theological Review


Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten


Studies in Antiquity & Christianity


Studies in Ancient Judaism




Studien zum Alten und Neuen Testament


F. Preisigke et al. (eds), Sammelbuch Griechischer
Urkunde aus Agypten


Sources bibliques


Stuttgarter biblische Aufsatzbande


Stuttgarter biblische Beitrage


Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity


Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology


Studies in Biblical Greek


Society of Biblical Literature


Society of Biblical Literature Archaeology and Biblical


SBL The Bible and its Modern Interpreters


Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series




Society of Biblical Literature Early Judaism and Its


Society of Biblical Literature Masoretic Studies


Society of Biblical Literature Monograph Series


Society of Biblical Literature Resources for Biblical


Society of Biblical Literature Sources for Biblical Study


Society of Biblical Literature Septuagint and Cognate


Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers


Society of Biblical Literature Texts and Translations


Stuttgarter Bibelstudien


Studies in Biblical Theology


Sources for Biblical and Theological Study


Sources chretiennes


Sciences ecclesiastiques


Studia ad corpus hellenisticum novi testamenti




Sather Classical Lectures


Studies and Documents


Studia Evangelica


Svensk exegetisk drsbok


Second Century


Supplementum epigraphicum graecum


Suomen Eksegeettisen Seuran Julkaisuja ( =
Publications of the Finnish Exegetical Society)


Schriften der Finnischen Exegetischen Gesellschaft


South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism


Studies in Historical Theology


Studies in the History of Religions (supplement to



Schriften des Institutum Judaicum in Berlin


Studia Judaica


Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity


Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament


Scottish Journal of Theology


Stuttgarter Kleiner Kommentar: Neues Testament


Studia liturgica


Studien zum Neuen Testament


Society for New Testament Studies


Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series


Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt (jour




Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt
(monograph series)


Studies of the New Testament and its World


Society for Old Testament Study Monograph Series


Sacra pagina


Studia postbiblica


Studies in Religion 1 Sciences religieuses


Studies in Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity


Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics


Studia semitica neerlandica


Semitic Study Series


Studia theologica


Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah


Svensk teologisk kvartalskrift


Studia orientalia


Stone Campbell Journal


H. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen
Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch
(5 vols; Munich:
Beck, 1922-61)


Studia Patristica


Studia biblica


Studia liturgica


Stuttgarter Biblische Aufsatzbande


Stimmen der Zeit


Studien zum Umwelt des Neuen Testaments


Studia in veteris testamenti pseudepigrapha


Saint Vladimir's Theological Quarterly


Southwestern Journal of Theology


Transactions of the American Philological Association


Theologische Beitrage


Theologische Blatter


Theological and Biblical Resources


Theologische Biicherei


G. Kittel and G. Friedrich (eds), Theological Dictionary
of the New Testament
(Grand Rapids 1964-74)


G. J. Botterweck and H. Ringgren (eds), Theological
Dictionary of the Old Testament
(Grand Rapids, 1974-)


Theologia evangelica


Theologische Forschung (journal)


Theologische Forschung (monograph series)


Theologie und Glaube








E. Jenni and C. Westermann (eds), Theologisches
Handbuch zum Alten Testament


Theologische Existenz heute


Theologie der Gegenwart


Theologischer Handkommentar zum Neuen Testament


Theologische Wissenschaft


Toronto Journal of Theology


Theologisches Literaturblatt


Theologische Literaturzeitung


Tyndale New Testament Commentaries


Theologische Quartalschrift


Theologische Realenzyklopddie


Theologische Revue


Trinity Journal


Theologische Rundschau


Theological Studies


Texte und Studien zum antiken Judentum


Theological Students Fellowship


Theological Studies of the Jewish Theological Seminary
of America


Theologische Studien und Kritiken


Theologisch Tijdschrift


Tidsskrift for Teologi og Kirke


Theology Today


Trierer theologische Studien


Trierer theologische Zeitschrift


Texte und Untersuchungen


Trinity University Monograph Series in Religion


G. J. Botterweck and H. Ringgren (eds), Theologisches
Worterbuch zum Alten Testament
(Stuttgart, 1970-)


G. Kittel and G. Friedrich (eds), Theologisches
Worterbuch zum Neuen Testament
(Stuttgart, 1932-79)


R. L. Harris (ed.), Theological Wordbook of the Old
(Chicago, 1980)


Tyndale Bulletin


Theologische Zeitschrift


United Bible Society


United Bible Societies Greek New Testament




Understanding Jesus Today


Una Sancta


Union Seminary Quarterly Review




Uppsala universitetsarsskrift




Vigiliae christianae


Verkundigung und Forschung


Vetus Testamentum


Vetus Testamentum, Supplements


Veroffentlichungen der Wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft
fur Theologies


Word Biblical Commentary


Wissenschaftliche Beitrage zur kirklich-evangelischer


Wege der Forschung


Wissenschaftliche Monographien zum Alten und Neuen


Westminster Pelican Commentaries


Westminster Theological Journal


Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen


Yale Judaica Series


Yale Oriental Series


Zeitschrift fur agyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde


Zeitschrift fur die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft


Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenldndischen Gesellschaft


Zeitschrift des deutschen Palastina-Vereins


Zeitschrift fur katholische Theologie


Zeitschrift fur die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft


Zeitschrift fur Papyrologie und Epigraphik


Zeitschrift fur Religions- und Geistesgeschichte


Zeitschrift fur Theologie und Kirche


Zeitschrift fur wissenschaftliche Theologie


Zeichen der Zeit


Wayne Baxter, McMaster University
Francis Borchardt, University of Helsinki
Aaron Canty, Saint Xavier University
Matthew Goff, Florida State University
Radu Gheorghita, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Jin K. Hwang, Fuller Theological Seminary
Peter T. Lanfer, University of California
Anthony Le Donne, Durham University
Stephen Moyise, University of Chichester
Rivka Nir, Open University of Israel
K. L. Noll, Brandon University
Jonathan Pennington, Southern Seminary
Annette Yoshiko Reed, University of Pennsylvania
Ian W. Scott, Tyndale Seminary




Craig A. Evans and H. Daniel Zacharias

Scholarly interest and research in Jewish and Christian scriptural
intertextuality show no sign of abating any time soon. There are many
reasons for this, not least the discovery and publication of new materials,
ongoing archaeological excavations and discoveries, which enrich our
understanding of the cultural context in which early Jewish and Christian
literature emerged, and new developments in method and procedure.
Given these realities it was not surprising that in collecting papers for
publication it became necessary to expand the planned single volume into
two. Fortunately, the papers divided evenly into thematic studies and
exegetical studies.1

Volume One commences with K. L. Noll's interesting essay The
Evolution of Genre in the Hebrew Anthology', in which he utilizes a
Darwinian philosophy to argue that the Hebrew Bible works as an
artefact interpreted by a continually changing set of ideas that determine
its worthiness. Noll argues that most of the books that are now part of the
Hebrew Bible originated within elite circles of educated men, led by
scholars who did not view the texts as sacred and made no attempts to
disseminate them. As the texts grew during their use in the education of
the elite, Hellenistic scribes during the Ptolemaic period began rapidly to
disseminate them, and as new readers brought new values and assump
tions the collection evolved into a genre of sacred literature.

1 For the convenience of our readers we have assembled a Selected Bibliography on
Intertextuality in Early Jewish and Christian Literature. It will be found at the end of this
introduction. The bibliography comprises studies that appeared since the publication of C. A.
Evans (ed.), Of Scribes and Sages: Early Jewish Interpretation and Transmission of Scripture,
vol. 1: Ancient Versions and Traditions (LSTS, 50; SSEJC, 9; London and New York: T & T
Clark, 2004); vol. 2: Later Versions and Traditions (LSTS, 51; SSEJC, 10; London and New
York: T & T Clark, 2004).


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

In 'Concepts of Scripture in 1 Maccabees', Francis Borchardt explores
the concepts of Scripture expressed or implied by the author of 1
Maccabees. He finds that Scripture functions in two primary ways in the
narrative: First, it provides the promise of divine aid and protection; and,
second, it has an oracular function, in which it is used to decide proper
action. The author of 1 Maccabees also uses scriptural allusions from
Torah and possibly different parts of the Hebrew corpus, in order to
elevate the Hasmoneans to the status of biblical heroes. Borchardt
concludes that these phenomena give clear indication of a Scripture-
saturated author and readership.
Ian Scott's 'A Jewish Canon before 100 BCE: Israel's Law in the Book of
takes a penetrating look at the Letter of Aristeas to determine if
the idea of a Jewish canon truly is present in the text. Scott determines
that the author depicts the law of Moses as a canon in the strongest sense
of the word - closed, permanent and deliberately exclusive - within the
narrative. This leads Scott to conclude that scholars need to rethink the
concept of an 'open' Jewish canon before the turn of the era, as Torah was
likely viewed as a closed canon by that time. As Aristeas also demon
strates a belief in a fixed text, scholars also need to be cautious in claiming
that Second Temple Jews were ambivalent towards the pluriformity of
scriptural texts.

In 'Ben Sira and Papyrus Insinger' Matthew Goff discusses the
similarities between the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira and the second century
BCE text known as Papyrus Insinger. Although Jack Sanders has asserted
a direct dependence on Papyrus Insinger, Goff asserts that the similarities
discussed only point to the fact that the wisdom tradition on which each
composition draws, that of Egypt and Israel, has concerns and themes
that are similar to one another. There is no compelling evidence of direct

Jonathan Pennington's 'Refractions of Daniel in the Gospel of
Matthew' discusses the pervasive use of Daniel in the Gospel of
Matthew. Pennington focuses on what he discerns to be solid intertextual
allusions and highlights two important themes which emerge in the
evangelist's use of Daniel - divine revelation and eschatology.
Analysis of the Matthean Gospel is continued in Anthony Le Donne's
study 'Diarchic Symbolism in Matthew's Procession Narrative: A Dead
Sea Scrolls Perspective'. Le Donne discusses the intertextual relationship
of Matthew's procession narrative with Zech. 9.9, a relationship created
by the evangelist. His essay investigates the diarchic messianism implicit in
Zech. 9.9 and apparently attested in one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Le
Donne believes this diarchic messianism in part explains Matthew's
portrayal of Jesus, in which the latter is portrayed as offering an
eschatological, restorative role to the Temple priesthood at the time of the
entrance in to Jerusalem. This surprisingly open stance, Le Donne

EVANS and ZACHARIAS Introducition


maintains, may reflect the eschatological roles of Zerubabbel and Joshua
as depicted in Zechariah. Nevertheless, whatever the view of the historical
Jesus, the evangelist Matthew has ultimately portrayed Jesus as a singular

In 'Allusion to and Expansion of the Tree of Life and Garden of Eden
in Biblical and Pseudepigraphal Literature', Peter T. Lanfer traces the
tradition of the tree of life and garden of Eden in biblical and
pseudepigraphical literatures. Lanfer notes that Eden was sometimes
reimagined as the ideal temple in the book of Jubilees, 1 Enoch and other
Pseudepigraphic and Dead Sea Scrolls texts, and that in the Second
Temple period Adam and Eve disappeared from the story, giving way to
interest in the characteristics of paradise, as in Ezekiel, Zechariah, and
elsewhere. In these later conceptions of the idealized garden of Eden,
God's presence performs the function of the tree of life (or plant in other
ancient texts). 'What is clear in the texts here is that motifs of sacred trees
and gardens are employed as dynamic representations of the temple, the
faithful, the future Jerusalem and the presence of God. In these passages
the tree of life is consistently connected to God; either as the represen
tation of him, an extension of his will or the place where he makes himself

In 'Aseneth as the "Type of the Church of the Gentiles"', Rivka Nir
proposes that Joseph and Aseneth is a Christian composition whose
purpose is not only to persuade pagans to follow Aseneth and join the
Church, but also to persuade them to undertake a life of celibacy and
sexual abstinence, with a promise of entry into the heavenly bridal
chamber and resurrection in paradise. The author works toward this goal
by using three central symbols: the honeycomb as representative of the
Eucharist, the city of refuge as representative of the heavenly Jerusalem,
and the bees which symbolize the souls of believers who undertook to live
lives of chastity and sexual abstinence.
In 'Beyond Revealed Wisdom and Apocalyptic Epistemology: Early
Christian Transformations of Enochic Traditions about Knowledge',
Annette Yoshiko Reed inquires into traditions about knowledge in the
Book of the Watchers that may have influenced other early Christian
apologists and philosophers. She investigates the description of the angels
and the wisdom they pass on to humanity and their possible relationship
to Greek mythology, for example, Prometheus, but believes that the
parallels are better explained as reflecting the author's participation in
Mediterranean literary culture. To illustrate this point, Reed notes that
Justin Martyr provides an early Christian example of how the Enochic
tradition in the Book of the Watchers was used to describe two conflicting
supernatural sources: the Logos and the fallen angels. In Justin's system,
the truths in the teachings of Greek philosophers derive from the Logos,
while the source of the lies of the Greek mythographers is the fallen


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

angels. Athenagoras, in contrast to Justin, dismisses Greek philosophers
as dispensers of earthly wisdom that is tainted by its origins in the world
ruled by hungry daemons. Finally, Reed cites the example of Clement of
Alexandria, who actually uses the angelic instruction detailed in the Book
of the Watchers as proof of the heavenly origins of Greek philosophy.
In 'The Influence of the Septuagint on the New Testament: Toward a
More Objective Assessment', Radu Gheorghita discusses the influence of
the LXX on the New Testament authors, introducing and testing three
criteria for determining distinct Septuagintal influences in the New
Testament. Gheorghita's paper provides important contextual back
ground for the two papers that follow, both concerning Paul's use of

In 'How Does Paul Read Scripture?' Stephen Moyise follows Francis
Watson's contention that Paul offers a 'reading' of the Scriptures rather
than an 'exegesis'. Moyise compares three scholars and attempts to
provide a scriptural framework in the light of selected passages from
Romans and Galatians. According to Moyise, a scriptural framework
would need to (1) be known by others, (2) explain the flow of Paul's
discourse and (3) explain Paul's use of other Scriptures. Moyise asserts
both the strengths and weaknesses that each of the three approaches
brings. While Moyise asserts the importance of Watson's, Wagner's and
Hays's portraits of Paul's use of Scripture, he concludes that there is an
element of freedom in Paul's reading of the sacred text that does not
comport well with the notion of a controlling framework.
According to Jin K. Hwang's 'The Crises at Corinth and Paul's Use of
Numbers in 1 Corinthians', 1 Corinthians 10 is replete with allusions to
Numbers (v. 4: Num. 20.7-11; v. 5: Num. 14.16; v. 6: Num. 11.4, 34; v. 8:
Num. 25.1, 9; v. 9: Num. 21.5-6; v. 10: Num. 14.2; 16.11-35). But Hwang
also thinks we can find allusions to Numbers in 1 Corinthians 1-5, as
Thomas L. Brodie has suggested in previous work. Hwang's paper
explores the evidence for such allusions and demonstrates how Paul uses
Numbers in 1 Corinthians 1-5, to address various crises, including the
crisis of his apostolic authority at Corinth.
In 'From Ruler to Teacher: The Extending of the Shepherd Metaphor
in Early Jewish and Christian Writings', Wayne Baxter examines the
development of the shepherd metaphor from its original symbolic
relationship between king and subjects to the metaphor of teacher in
early Christian writings. Baxter believes a thematic precedent in the
Hebrew Bible of Yahweh as Israel's shepherd included a spiritual
governance and contributed to the change of the shepherd metaphor.
The shepherd as ruler metaphor also lost its referent with the cessation of
the Jewish monarchy and thus went from a political metaphor to an
apolitical metaphor that came to include teaching.
Finally, Aaron Canty's intriguing study, 'The Nuptial Imagery of

EVANS and ZACHARIAS Introducition


Christ and the Church in Augustine's Ennarationes in psalmos\ discusses
the Pauline prism through which Augustine read the Psalms, and
examines Augustine's Christo-ecclesiological interpretation of Psalm 44,
whereby Augustine describes the relationship between Christ and the
Church in nuptial terms. Canty's study illustrates again the adaptability of
sacred Scripture in the ever-changing lives of believing communities.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

Selected Bibliography On Intertextuality in Early Jewish and
Christian Literature Published Since 2004


Alkier, S., 'Die Bibel im Dialog der Schriften und das Problem der
Verstockung in Mk 4: Intertextualitat im Rahmen einer kategorialen
Semiotik biblischer Texte', in S. Alkier and R. B. Hays (eds), Die
Bibel im Dialog der Schriften: Konzepte intertextueller Bibellekture

(NET, 10; Tubingen: Fancke, 2005), pp. 1-22.
Blanchard, Y.-M., 'Le tils de l'homme et l'echelle de Jacob. Reflexion sur
l'intertextualite scripturaire et relecture de Jean 1,51, a la lumiere de
la bible juive', in C. Focant and A. Wenin (eds), Analyse narrative et
bible: Deuxieme Colloque International du RRENAB, Louvain-la-
Neuve, avril 2004
(Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2005), pp. 181—


Botha, P. J., 'Intertextuality and the Interpretation of Psalm 1', OTE 18
(2005): 503-20.
DeClaisse-Walford, N. L., 'An Intertextual Reading of Psalms 22, 23, and
24', in P. W. Flint and P. D. Miller (eds), The Book of Psalms:
Composition and Reception
(VTSup, 99; FIOTL, 4; Leiden: Brill,
2005), pp. 139-52.
Gignac, A., 'Lorsque Paul "raconte" Abraham, Agar et l'autre femme:
Narrativite et intertextualite en Ga 4,21-5,1', in C. Focant and A.
Wenin (eds), Analyse narrative et bible: Deuxieme Colloque
International du RRENAB, Louvain-la-Neuve, avril 2004
Leuven University Press, 2005), pp. 463-80.
Greifenhagen, F. V. 'Cooperating Revelations? Qur'an, Bible and
Intertextuality', Arc 33 (2005): 302-17.
Grohmann, M., '"The Word is Very Near to You!" (Deuteronomy
30.14): Reader-Oriented Intertextuality in Jewish and Christian
hermeneutics', OTE 18 (2005): 240-52.
Hibbard, J. T., 'Isaiah XXVII 7 and Intertextual Discourse about
"Striking" in the Book of Isaiah', VT 55 (2005): 461-76.
Kiessel, M.-E., 'Intertextualite et hypertextualite en Jn 11,1-12,11', ETL
81 (2005): 29-56.
Kranemann, B., 'Biblische Texte-liturgische Kontexte: Intertextualitat
und Schriftrezeption in der Liturgie', ThG 48 (2005): 254-64.
Moyise, S., 'Intertextuality and Historical Approaches to the Use of
Scripture in the New Testament', Verbum et Ecclesia 26 (2005): 447-


'Intertextualitat und historische Zugange zum Schriftgebrauch im
Neuen Testament', in S. Alkier and R. B. Hays (eds), Die Bibel im
Dialog der Schriften: Konzepte intertextueller Bibellekture
(NET, 10;
Tubingen: Fancke, 2005), pp. 23-34.

EVANS and ZACHARIAS Introduction


Prinsloo, G. T., 'Daniel 3: Intratextual Perspectives and Intertextual
Tradition', Acta patristica et Byzantina 16 (2005): 70-90.
Reinmuth, E., 'Allegorese und Intertextualitat: Narrative Abbreviaturen
der Adam-Geschichte bei Paulus (Rom 1,18-28)', in S. Alkier and R.
B. Hays (eds), Die Bibel im Dialog der Schriften: Konzepte
intertextueller Bibellekture
(NET, 10; Tubingen: Fancke, 2005),
pp. 57-69.
Roose, H., 'Polyvalenz durch Intertextualitat im Spiegel der aktuellen
Forschung zu den Thessalonicherbriefen', NTS 51 (2005): 250-69.
Skemp, V., 'Avenues of Intertextuality between Tobit and the New
Testament', in J. Corley and V. Skemp (eds), Intertextual Studies in
Ben Sira and Tobit: Essays in Honor of Alexander A. Di Leila, O.F.M.

(Washington: Catholic Biblical Association, 2005), pp. 43-70.
Sweeney, M. A., Form and Intertextuality in Prophetic and Apocalyptic
(FAT, 45; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005).
Welzen, H., 'Intertextuality: Traces of Mysticism', in P. C. Counet and U.
Berges (eds), One Text, a Thousand Methods: Studies in Memory of
Sjefvan Tilborg
(Boston: Brill, 2005), pp. 317-47.


Aune, D. E., 'Apocalypse Renewed: An Intertextual Reading of the
Apocalypse of John', in D. L. Barr (ed.), The Reality of Apocalypse:
Rhetoric and Politics in the Book of Revelation
(SBL Symposium
Series, 39; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2006), pp. 43-70;
reprinted in D. E. Aune, Apocalypticism, Prophecy and Magic in
Early Christianity: Collected Essays
(WUNT 199; Tubingen: Mohr
Siebeck, 2006), pp. 120-49.
Cook, J., 'Intertextual Readings in the Septuagint', in C. Breytenbach, J.
C. Thorn and J. Punt (eds), The New Testament Interpreted: Essays in
Honour of Bernard C. Lategan
(NovTSup 124; Leiden: Brill, 2006),
pp. 119-34.
Gesundheit, S., 'Intertextualitat und literarhistorische Analyse der
Festkalender in Exodus und im Deuteronomium', in E. Blum and
R. Lux (eds), Festtraditionen in Israel und im Alten Orient (VWGT,
28; Giitersloh: Giitersloher Verlagshaus, 2006), pp. 190-220.
Gieschen, C. A., 'Listening to Intertextual Relationships in Paul's Epistles
with Richard Hays', CTQ 70 (2006): 17-32.
Harrill, J. A., 'Servile Functionaries or Priestly Leaders? Roman
Domestic Religion, Narrative Intertextuality, and Pliny's Reference
to Slave Christian Ministrae (Ep. 10,96,8)', ZNW91 (2006): 111-30.
Heckl, R., '"Wenn ihr nicht umkehrt und werdet wie die Kinder." Das
Kind als Zeichen fur den Neuanfang - Die Intertextualitat zwischen
Mt 18,1-5 und dem Alten Testament', in D. Dieckmann and D.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

Erbele-Kiister (eds), 'Du hast mich aus meiner Mutter Leib gezogen':
Beitrage zur Geburt im Alten Testament
(BTS, 75; Neukirchen-Vluyn:
Neukirchener Verlag, 2006), pp. 121-43.
Hibbard, J. T., Intertextuality in Isaiah 24-27: The Reuse and Evocation of
Earlier Texts and Traditions
(FAT, 2/16; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck,
Kowalski, B., 'Intertextualitat als exegetische Methode', TGI 96 (2006):
Lioy, D., The Search for Ultimate Reality: Intertextuality between the
Genesis and Johannine Prologues
(Studies in Biblical Literature, 93;
New York: Peter Lang, 2006).
Nicklas, T., 'Semiotik - Intertextualitat - Apokryphitat: Eine
Annaherung an den Begriff "christlicher Apokryphen"', Apocrypha
17 (2006): 55-78.
Ortlund, E. N., 'An Intertextual Reading of the Theophany of Psalm 97',
SJOT 20 (2006): 273-85.
Schellenberg, R. S., 'Seeing the World Whole: Intertextuality and the New
Jerusalem (Revelation 21-22)', PRS 33 (2006): 467-76.
Schutti, C, Die Bibel in Elias Canettis Blendung: Eine Studie zur
Intertextualitat mit einem Verzeichnis der Bibelstellen
Beitrage zur Kulturwissenschaft: Germanistische Reihe, 70;
Innsbruck: Innsbruck University Press, 2006).
Seiler, S., 'Intertextualitat', in H. Utzschneider and E. Blum (eds),

Lesarten der Bibel: Untersuchungen zu einer Theorie der Exegese des
Alten Testaments
(Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2006), pp. 275-93.
Swart, G. J., 'Rahab and Esther in Josephus: An Intertextual Approach',
Acta patristica et Byzantina 17 (2006): 50-65.


Foster, R. L., ' "A Temple in the Lord Filled to the Fullness of God":
Context and Intertextuality (Eph. 3.19)', NovT 49 (2007): 85-96.
Grohmann, M., 'Judische Psalmenexegese als Paradigma kanonischer
Intertextualitat: Dargestellt am Beispiel von Ps 139 und Lev 12,2',
in E. Ballhorn and G. Steins (eds), Der Bibelkanon in der




(Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2007), pp. 62-73.
Hacham, N., '3 Maccabees and Esther: Parallels, Intertextuality, and
Diaspora Identity', JBL 126 (2007): 765-85.
Herzer, J., 'Jakobus, Paulus und Hiob: Die Intertextualitat der Weisheit',
in T. Kruger (ed.), Das Buch Hiob und seine Interpretationen: Beitrage
zum Hiob-Symposiums auf dem Monte Veritd vom 14.-19. August 2005

(ATANT, 88; Zurich: Theologischer Verlag Zurich, 2007), pp. 329-

EVANS and ZACHARIAS Introducition


Labahn, M., '"Verlassen" oder "Vollendet": Ps 22 in der
"Johannespassion" zwischen Intratextualitat und Intertextualitat',
in D. Sanger (ed.), Psalm 22 und die Passionsgeschichten der
(Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 2007),
pp. 111-53.
Maloney, L. D., 'Intertextual Links: Part of the Poetic Artistry within the
Book I Acrostic Psalms', RestQ 49 (2007): 11-21.
Martens, E. A., 'Impulses to Mission in Isaiah: An Intertextual
Exploration', BBR 17 (2007): 215-39.
McConvery, B., 'Hippolytus' Commentary on the Song of Songs and
John 20: Intertextual Reading in Early Christianity', ITQ 71 (2007):
Oropeza, B. J., 'Paul and Theodicy: Intertextual Thoughts on God's
Justice and Faithfulness to Israel in Romans 9-11', NTS 53 (2007):
Ruiten, J. van, 'Between Jacob's Death and Moses' Birth: The
Intertextual Relationship between Genesis 50.15-Exodus 1.14 and
Jubilees 46.1-16', in A. Hilhorst, E. Puech and E. Tigchelaar (eds),

Flores Florentino: Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Early Jewish Studies in
Honour of Florentino Garcia Martinez
(JSJSup, 122; Leiden: Brill,
2007), pp. 467-89.
Venter, P. M., 'Intertextuality in the Book of Jubilees', HervTS 63 (2007):
Williams, J. A., 'A Case Study in Intertextuality: The Place of Isaiah in the
"Stone" Sayings of 1 Peter 2', RTR 66 (2007): 37-55.

Chapter 1


K. L. Noll

The genre of many individual Hebrew scrolls, as well as the genre of the
emerging anthology we now know as the Hebrew Bible, changed radically
from the late Persian era to early Roman times.1

This thesis rests on the
insight that, like any cultural artefact, literature survives and replicates
only if it is useful. Usefulness is defined not by an author but by the user
of the text. The genre of the literature is determined, therefore, by an
interaction between the words on the page and the community of readers.
As the needs of readers change, genre changes. A text means what a
community of readers permits it to mean, and authorial intention has very
little to do with it.2
This thesis has different names among the academic disciplines.
Literary critics focus on an authoritative community and their collective
readers' response.3

Anthropologists speak of the impact of a social
context on genres of communication and their function.4


1 Presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in San Diego, 17
November 2007, under the title 'Rethinking Literary Function in the Emerging Hebrew
Canon'. My thanks to three colleagues: Cynthia Edenburg, who read an earlier draft of the
paper and offered valuable criticisms; Jo Anne Dyson, who engaged me in a probing
conversation about my thesis over dinner at The Fish Market; and my wife, Tina, whose
comments on, and editing of, earlier drafts sharpened my focus in significant ways.
2 For a definition and discussion of 'genre', see K. L. Noll, Canaan and Israel in
Antiquity: An Introduction
(London: Sheffield Academic Press/Continuum, 2001), pp. 31-41.
3 Stanley Fish, Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980). A similar approach was advocated at the
Society of Biblical Literature session, 17 November 2007, by Sarah Parks, 'Harry Potter,
Canon Discourse and the Biblical Canons'.
4 Since the days of Emile Durkheim, the impact of the sociology of knowledge has been a
central theme of the discipline, even as methods and terminology have evolved. I have in
mind especially the concept of the 'anonymous community' and the pressure this exerts on
modes of religious expression, as defined by Harvey Whitehouse, Modes of Religiosity: A
Cognitive Theory of Religious Transmission
(Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2004),
pp. 64-9; cf. 76, 129-31. One might also compare common patterns of behaviour among
modern fans of films, television shows and serial novels, who cluster into interpretative

NOLL Evolution of Genre


philosophy, which is my methodological foundation, invokes the influence
of so-called memes on the use of artefacts. In this case, the artefact is a
gradually evolving anthology of literature that is interpreted by an ever-
changing set of ideas (i.e., memes) about why the literature is worthy of

Obviously genre evolves when the wording of a text is modified over
time, like Hebrew versus Greek Esther; but even when the words have not
changed, the genre of communication frequently changes. To give one
obvious example, consider the history of interpretation for the Song of
Songs. Secular love poems became religious allegory. That example is not
an anomaly. The genre of a fixed, unaltered text can evolve for a vast
number of reasons. For example, the Gospel of Judas ceased to exist many
centuries ago, but was reborn when a manuscript was recovered recently
and now replicates widely in academic literature. From the viewpoint of
the ancient Gnostic author, the Gospel of Judas survives and multiplies for
the 'wrong' reason - because it is a literary artefact from a dead culture,
not because it expresses secret knowledge about Jesus Christ. The Song of
Songs became religious allegory and the Gospel of Judas became literary
artefact only because the community of readers changed.
In previous research I have tried to demonstrate that the existence of
the Bible as sacred text is a mistake, a by-product of this Darwinian

The Jewish Bible and its children, the various Christian Old
Testaments, exist for the wrong reason, if one views the matter from the
perspective of the ancient scribes who created the anthology. Documents
compiled, edited and preserved for non-religious purposes - having to do
largely with matters of ethnic formation, literary aesthetics, competition
with Greek models of literature and the training of an elite class of
Hebrew scribes - have evolved into sacred literature through no fault of

communities that take a proactive role in trying to shape the 'doctrine' associated with the
object of veneration. This has an impact on genres of communication, as well as how the
object of veneration survives and replicates. For an entrance into this research, see Janet
Staiger, Tans and Fan Behaviors', in Media Reception Studies (New York: New York
University Press, 2005), pp. 95-114.
5 I have outlined my Darwinian model in Ts There a Text in This Tradition? Readers'
Response and the Taming of Samuel's God', JSOTS3 (1999): 31-51.1 provided supporting
data in 'The Kaleidoscopic Nature of Divine Personality in the Hebrew Bible', Biblnt 9
(2001): 1-24; and 'The Evolution of Genre in the Book of Kings: The Story of Sennacherib
and Hezekiah as Example', in P. G. Kirkpatrick and T. Goltz (eds), The Function of Ancient
Historiography in Biblical and Cognate Studies
(London: T&T Clark International, 2008),
pp. 30-56. For a bibliography of publications dealing with Richard Dawkins's concept of the
meme, see Robert Aunger (ed.), Darwinizing Culture: The Status of Memetics as a Science
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).
6 See the previous footnote and Noll, Canaan and Israel in Antiquity, pp. 304-11. See also
my 'Was There Doctrinal Dissemination in Early Yahweh Religion?' Biblnt 16 (2008): 395-


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

their own. The anthology began as literature and later evolved its sacred
patina, but it exerted its religious authority for reasons that its ancient
authors would not recognize.
To illustrate the lack of 'intelligent design' in the content of the
anthology, consider the Latter Prophets through the lens offered by Philip
Davies and Martti Nissinen.7

Each has argued that prophetic scrolls exist
because a small core of royal archival material preserving authentic
prophetic announcements was selected and massively supplemented over
many generations, serving as exemplars for copying and frequent
reformulation. The implication of this hypothesis is that the Latter
Prophets were the by-product of scribal exercises and were never intended
to be publicly disseminated; their later status as sacred texts to be
proclaimed in religious contexts was accidental.
David Carr's recent work supports Davies and Nissinen by demon
strating that the entire biblical anthology originally comprised culturally
classic works memorized, copied and frequently reformulated over time
by an elite class of scribes.8

Although Carr adopts the conventional
viewpoint that prophetic books go back to prophets instructing disciples,
his evidence confirms the contrary thesis. The presence of the explicit
instructional language Carr outlines betrays the scrolls' function as
educational source books, rather than as prophetic proclamation, and
gives credence to William McKane's model of a prophetic text as a 'rolling

Moreover, Carr observes that the characteristic type-scenes for
instruction in Jeremiah are not as frequent or as explicit as those used in

This observation is what I would have expected in light of
research published by Julio Trebolle, who has demonstrated that Isaiah
was more widely disseminated and, apparently, religiously authoritative
earlier than was Jeremiah.11

By Hellenistic times, Isaiah was frequently
disseminated, copied, quoted or otherwise alluded to. By contrast,
Hellenistic Jeremiah was still evolving and was less frequently dissemin-

7 Philip R. Davies,' "Pen of Iron, Point of Diamond" (Jer 17.1): Prophecy as Writing',
in E. Ben Zvi and M. H. Floyd (eds), Writings and Speech in Israelite and Ancient Near
Eastern Prophecy
(Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2000), pp. 65-81; Martti Nissinen,
'How Prophecy Became Literature', SJOT 19 (2005): 153-72. See also Davies, Scribes and
Schools: The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures
(Louisville, KY: Westminster John
Knox, 1998), pp. 107-25.
8 David M. Carr, Writing on the Tablet of the Heart: Origins of Scripture and Literature
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). See also Philip R. Davies, 'The Jewish Scriptural
Canon in Cultural Perspective', in L. M. McDonald and J. A. Sanders (eds), The Canon
(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), pp. 36-52.
9 Carr, Tablet of the Heart, pp. 143-51. See William McKane, Jeremiah (ICC;
Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1986), pp. 1-lxxxiii.
10 Carr, Tablet of the Heart, p. 146.
11 Julio Trebolle, 'A "Canon within a Canon": Two Series of Old Testament Books
Differently Transmitted, Interpreted and Authorized', RevQ 19 (1999-2000): 383-99.

NOLL Evolution of Genre


ated or cited. I suggest, therefore, that what Carr has demonstrated is that
Isaiah was pressed into service as instructional material much earlier than
was Jeremiah. The latter enjoyed a longer life in the shadows, which helps
to explain the data compiled by Trebolle.
Karel van der Toorn attempts to refute the thesis that prophetic scrolls
derive from royal archives, but he accidentally supports that thesis by
noting that most biblical prophecy is too vague to derive from actual
prophets addressing specific situations.12

This suggests that very little
material goes back to real prophets, with or without a group of disciples
preserving their words. The few clear references in the texts to historical
persons and events are fragmentary remnants floating in the wine dark sea
of this heavily reworked material.
Moreover, Ziony Zevit observes that, when viewed as flesh-and-blood
prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah and the others come off as 'impractical men'
whose words are nothing more than sweeping generalizations.13

does his best to understand the rhetorical hyperbole of these scrolls as the
product of real people addressing real life settings, but the effort seems
quixotic. His characterization of the texts is compatible with the
conclusion that the texts are non-referential, that is to say, not composed
with any particular life-setting in mind.
The data, if not always the conclusions, of Carr, van der Toorn and
Zevit are sound; therefore, I conclude that, prior to Hellenistic times, the
scrolls we now know as Latter Prophets were never preached; these
prophecies were never widely disseminated; the names of these prophets
were not part of the common culture of everyday pre-Hellenistic Judaism.
Rather, the scrolls are the accidental by-product of a process of education
and enculturation among elite, educated men who made no attempt to
disseminate the contents of their texts. Dissemination took place only
later - much later - when Hellenistic scribes mistook these anthologies to
be the record of sermons preached by inspired men of hoary antiquity. In
short, the Latter Prophets have become sacred Scripture by mistake, for
they were never intended to be sacred Scripture.
The Latter Prophets illustrate the haphazard process by which the genre
of Hebrew literature evolved, but it is difficult to assign dates to the
process from these data. The difficulty is that the pace at which a genre
evolves does not necessarily coincide with the pace at which a text evolves.
The prophetic texts began to expand very early, probably in the late

12 Karel van der Toorn, Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible (Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), pp. 183-4. With the model Davies suggests, it is
reasonable to assume that an authentic prophet, such as Jeremiah, gradually became the
allegedly complex personality one finds in the Jeremiah scroD through the 'rolling corpus'
clustering McKane has posited.
13 Ziony Zevit, The Religions of Ancient Israel: A Synthesis of Parallactic Approaches
(London: Continuum, 2001), p. 510.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

seventh or early sixth century BCE, but the anthology of prophetic
exercise-texts did not become a genre of sacred literature until much later,
as other Hebrew texts also evolved into this new species of genre during
Hellenistic times. By contrast, the scroll of Exodus achieved its status as
religiously valuable, perhaps even religiously authoritative, before its text
ceased to evolve. Eugene Ulrich traces at least four, perhaps five, stages of
textual evolution in the extant manuscripts of Exodus.14
The evolution of the Hebrew anthology's genre toward sacred utility
and then sacred authority began roughly during the Ptolemaic period, as
Philip Davies suggests, for this is when dissemination of the anthology

Van der Toorn also posits a stage of deliberate textual
dissemination in the Ptolemaic century, but the process of generic
evolution did not begin earlier, as he suggests.16

He believes that Levitical
scribes were already disseminating the content of Torah texts, if not the
texts themselves, as early as the Persian era, and treating that content as
religiously authoritative. But van der Toorn's evidence amounts to
nothing more than conventional exegesis of the commonly cited biblical
texts, such as Nehemiah 8, as well as speculation about a character who is
probably a Hellenistic fiction, namely Ezra.17
During the Ptolemaic period, the Hebrew anthology began to become
sacred through an abrupt process of transformation analogous to Stephen
Jay Gould's notion of punctuated equilibrium.18

Rather than viewing the
evolution of the biblical genre as a very gradual process of increasing
sanctity over many centuries, it is more realistic to imagine a rapid
transformation over two centuries or so, from the early Ptolemaic to the

14 Eugene C. Ulrich, 'The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hebrew Scriptural Texts', in J. H.
Charlesworth (ed.), The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls, vol. 1: Scripture and the Scrolls,
(Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2006), pp. 77-99 (95-6; cf. 82 n. 7).
15 Davies, 'Jewish Scriptural Canon in Cultural Perspective'.
16 Van der Toorn, Scribal Culture, pp. 233-64.
17 Van der Toorn, Scribal Culture, p. 90, cf. 106 and 147. I agree with van der Toorn's
thesis that widespread dissemination of the texts, as opposed to dissemination of the contents
of the texts, first began in the Ptolemaic period, as argued in van der Toorn, Scribal Culture,
pp. 23-5, 260, and passim. In other words, of the two stages that van der Toorn hypothesizes
for the emergence of a religious canon (on pp. 248-62), only the second is plausible. For the
possibility (probability?) that Ezra was a Hellenistic fiction, see my Canaan and Israel,
pp. 293-5. See also Philip R. Davies, 'Scenes from the Early History of Judaism', in D. V.
Edelman (ed.), The Triumph of Elohim: From Yahwisms to Judaisms (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1996), pp. 145-82, who rightly contends that the tales of Ezra and Nehemiah
belong to a larger cluster of 'competing traditions ... with only Nehemiah attested before 200
BCE' (p. 162). Also, the very comprehensive thesis of Diana V. Edelman leaves little room for,
and little need of, a historical Ezra; see Diana V. Edelman, The Origins of the 'Second'
Temple: Persian Imperial Policy and the Rebuilding of Jerusalem
(London: Equinox, 2005).
18 Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge, 'Punctuated Equilibrium Comes of Age',
Nature 366 (1993): 223-7.

NOLL Evolution of Genre


middle Hasmonaean eras (thus, from 300 to 100 BCE, give or take a few
decades). Jesus ben Sira (c.200) knows most of the texts but does not yet
know them as a Bible, and even his grandson (c.130) venerates them
because they are ancestral, not because they are revealed.19
In this hypothesis, the three stages of generic evolution are clear, though
they probably overlap slightly. First, the pre-Hellenistic anthology was a
loosely denned collection of scrolls produced by and for the elites, the
scribal class that was, in all probability, connected with the leading class
of late Iron Age II Jerusalem, Iron Age III and early Persian-era Mizpah,
and later Persian-era Jerusalem. These scribes made no attempt to
produce multiple copies of the scrolls or to disseminate their contents. The
very existence of scrolls was, in all probability, a utilitarian by-product of
the need for convenient storage of textual exemplars for scribal training.
(It is easier to access one or two dozen scrolls than to sift through many
fragments of papyri or hundreds of ostraca.) Although each scroll
gathered to itself material of a like nature (e.g., origin myths in the
evolving scrolls that became the Torah, tales about legendary kings in the
evolving precursor to Samuel-Kings-Chronicles, sample exhortations and
oracles in the scrolls that became the Latter Prophets), the scrolls
themselves were not, in all probability, conceived as works of literature
analogous to, say, the works of Hesiod or the Epic of Gilgamesh, much
less the works of Herodotus or Thucydides. The gradual growth of each
scroll reflected the frequency of its use for copying and reformulation by
the scribes and their students, not a desire to construct a coherent 'history'
or a systematic 'theology'. This model also helps to explain the lack of
dissemination prior to the Hellenistic period. Scribes at outlying locations,
such as Iron Age Lachish and Tel Arad, did not need scrolls, so the scrolls
remained where most scribal training took place, either Jerusalem or
Mizpah, depending on the historical period.
Second, the period of punctuation - or rapid generic evolution - emerged
in the early to middle decades of the Ptolemaic era, when, as van der Toorn
has suggested, the scribes intended to place 'the ancestral heritage in the
hands of a lay readership'.20

This was not, however, an attempt to create a
religiously authoritative body of literature, as such a concept did not yet
exist. Initially, dissemination involved making copies of the literature for
those few Jews who could read and who also desired literature that
reinforced a sense of Jewish heritage in the face of competing ethnic
identities of the Hellenistic cultural exchange. The interpretation of the
anthology as religiously useful or even authoritative was unexpected, and

19 Arie van der Kooij, 'Canonization of Ancient Hebrew Books and Hasmonaean
Polities', in J.-M. Auwers and H. J. de Jonge (eds), The Biblical Canons (Leuven: Leuven
University Press, 2003), pp. 27-38 (30).
20 Van der Toorn, Scribal Culture, p. 260.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

emerged during a period of about ten to fifteen human generations (c.300
to 100 BCE) in which lay readers, as well as the priests, developed their own
agendas for the reading and transmission of the manuscripts.
The early Roman era represents a third stage, one of more gradual
generic evolution, as the scrolls began to circulate more widely among a
Jewish readership. After the period of punctuation, the sacredness of the
literature was taken for granted by all who were aware of the scrolls'
existence, so in the third stage this new idea increasingly dominated the
way in which the texts were used.
I have dealt with the first stage of this process elsewhere,21

but will note
briefly the equivalent of fossil evidence for the non-dissemination of
biblical content prior to the fourth century. On the one hand, the Ketef
Hinnom amulets present a conventional Iron Age patron god with solar
attributes, a prebiblical, liturgical version of Yahweh.22

On the other
hand, the Elephantine documents reveal a Jewish community in contact
with Jerusalem that knows nothing of biblical texts or their contents. They
do not even seem to know common biblical names, such as Abraham or
Moses, much less a biblically based version of Passover.23

In short, given
available evidence from the Iron Age to the Persian era, it is probable that
the vast majority of pre-Hellenistic Yahweh worshippers were never aware
of the anthology we call the Hebrew Bible, nor were they familiar with its

The second stage in this hypothesis is key: a period of punctuation, or
rapid evolution, in the genre of both individual scrolls and the anthology
as a whole. If a mostly secular anthology of literature was reinterpreted as
religious literature during a relatively short period of about ten to fifteen
human generations, then one would also expect a Cambrian explosion, a
burst of new exegetical activity during those generations. Not surprisingly,
the Ptolemaic era produced a great quantity of so-called inner-biblical
exegesis and early commentaries on older portions of the anthology, such
as the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira and the proto-masoretic Chronicles.

21 Noll, 'Was There Doctrinal Dissemination?' See also Noll, 'Is There a Text?' and
'Evolution of Genre in the Book of Kings'.
22 G. Barkay, M. J. Lundberg, A. G. Vaughn and B. Zuckerman, 'The Amulets from
Ketef Hinnom: A New Edition and Evaluation', BASOR 334 (2004): 41-71.
23 For recent discussions of the Elephantine texts see B. Porten, 'Settlement of the Jews
at Elephantine and the Arameans at Syene', in O. Lipschits and J. Blenkinsopp (eds), Judah
and the Judeans in the Neo-BabyIonian Period
(Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2003), pp. 451-70;
E. A. Knauf, 'Elephantine und das vor-biblische Judentum', in R. G. Kratz (ed.), Religion
und Religionskontakte im Zeitalter der Achdmeniden
(VWGTh, 22; Munich: Chr. Kaiser
Verlag, 2002), pp. 179-88; P.-E. Dion, 'La Religion des papyrus d'Elephantine: Un reflet du
Juda d'avant Feral', in U. Hubner and E. A. Knauf (eds), Kein Land fur sich allein: Studien
zum Kulturkontact in Kanaan, Israel/Paldstina und Ebirndri fur Manfred Weippert zum 65.
(OBO, 186; Gottingen: Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002), pp. 243-54.

NOLL Evolution of Genre


Ian Scott has examined the Letter of Aristeas and arrived at conclusions
that, in my view, support my Darwinian thesis.24

Scott suggested that the
translation of the Torah into Greek reflected conventional pieties of the
Hellenistic era. Lip service was paid to the human and humane wisdom of
the Torah commandments even by those who had no intention of
observing its stipulations, and the allegedly unique god of the allegedly
revealed 'history' narrated in the Torah was equated blandly with the
syncretistic monotheism of Hellenistic conventions. In other words, the
Torah's status as reflected in this second-century-BCE document defines
the Torah near the close of the period of punctuation as religiously
valuable (not authoritative), but in a very vague way.
These observations are precisely what my thesis predicts one will find in
this era: literate Jews seeking ways to render manifestly non-religious
literature religiously useful, but not yet possessing the mature language of
religious authority developed from Roman times. The long process of
rendering the Torah viable as a specific religious authority containing 613
commandments was yet to come, and required the gradual invention of an
Oral Torah.25

It is no surprise that the artefacts associated with
widespread dissemination of the Torah and its associated observances
appear in the archaeological record only after the period of punctuation.26
The text of the Torah became fixed before its status as religious authority
was fully understood or established, which is why the Torah is such an
awkward work of 'religious' literature.
Moreover, well-known evidence that most of us routinely overlook
suggests that the dissemination of Hebrew texts in the Hellenistic era was
greeted by Jews as an astounding innovation, for the contents of these
texts had not been previously known to them. This is the evidence of
struggle with and against the plain sense of the texts in the emerging
anthology. The struggle was caused by the many gods of the canonical
Bible, who tumble over one another, creating a kaleidoscopic image of

When one evaluates the frequently shifting nature of Yahweh's

24 Ian W. Scott, Ts the Bible Always Scripture? The "Low" View of the Pentateuch in
the Letter of Aristeas\ presented at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, San
Diego, 17 November 2007.1 disagree with one aspect of Scott's conclusions. If I understand
him, Scott jumps from the Letter of Aristeas (circa second century) back to the putative
period of translation in the third century to assert that the fixed Torah was a recognized
canon at that date. More likely, the author of the Letter of Aristeas assumed that the text of
the Torah known to him in the second century had been fixed from its inception. Thus, the
Letter of Aristeas does not attest to a fixed canon of Torah in the third century, but begins to
define a fixed canon of Torah in the later second century.
25 Martin S. Jaffee, Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian
Judaism 200 BCE-400 CE
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).
26 Seth Schwartz, Imperialism and Jewish Society, 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E. (Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 2001). Cf. Noll, 'Was There Doctrinal Dissemination?'
27 Noll, 'Kaleidoscopic Nature'.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

canonical personality, it is reasonable to conclude that the literati who
produced the anthology were aware of these many versions of deity and
chose not to harmonize them. The anthology they created betrays no hint
that it was intended to define, defend, proclaim or impose a religious
worldview, a divine revelation or even a theology about a god named
Yahweh. Quite the contrary, each Yahweh of the Bible was constructed
for its literary context - some religious contexts and some secular contexts
- and only later did the Deuteronomistic influence of the Shema begin to
harmonize them all into one Yahweh.
What necessarily results from an anthology that presents a god whose
personality changes regularly? Either interpreters will resist some divine
portraits in favour of others, or they will try to harmonize all portraits
into a single deity. We find both tendencies in the period of punctuation.
Some scribes rewrote texts with which they were unsatisfied. Jubilees and
the Qumran Temple Scroll were designed not to supplement but to replace
the uneven texts they have rewritten. On the other hand, we find elaborate
attempts to harmonize away the tensions in the texts, sometimes through
conflation and glossing of the texts themselves and sometimes through
elaborate Halakhah or Haggadah. As early as Demetrius the
Chronographer and Eupolemus, we have clear evidence of Jewish exegetes
who harmonize or rewrite to suit their own needs.28
Meanwhile, early Hellenism saw competing doctrines arising from the
anthology. For example, Genesis promotes a human origin for evil and 1
Book of Watchers promotes a supernatural origin. When neither
document was yet regarded as religiously authoritative, both could exist
without tension, and they are found side by side at Qumran.29

Ulrich rightly contends that if one were to enumerate a 'canon' (using the
term very loosely) among the Qumran people, that canon would include
both Genesis and 1 Enoch?0

Eventually, however, readers began to treat
these texts as religiously authoritative rather than merely religiously
useful, so that eventually canon-makers had to choose one or the other,
and 1 Enoch was the loser.

28 This is perhaps more true of Eupolemus than of Demetrius, but both display freedom
with respect to their sources. For discussion and the texts, see Carl R. Holladay, Fragments
from Hellenistic Jewish Authors,
vol. 1: Historians (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983), pp. 51-

29 I thank Philip Davies for alerting me to this example. See also Davies, 'And Enoch
Was Not, for Genesis Took Him', in C. Hempel and J. M. Lieu (eds), Biblical Traditions in
Transmission: Essays in Honour of Michael A. Knibb
(Leiden: Brill, 2006), pp. 97-107.
30 Eugene Ulrich, 'Qumran and the Canon of the Old Testament', in Auwers and de
Jonge, Biblical Canons, pp. 57-80. See also Eugene Ulrich, 'Our Sharper Focus on the Bible
and Theology Thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls', CBQ 66 (2004): 1-24; and James C.
VanderKam, 'Questions of Canon Viewed through the Dead Sea Scrolls', in McDonald and
Sanders, Canon Debate, pp. 91-109.

NOLL Evolution of Genre


In other words, the anthology we call the Hebrew Bible evolved its
sacred patina only after it was disseminated beyond the small circle of
scribes who created it, and the wider Jewish readership brought new
religious expectations to the text. Had the anthology been intended to be
religiously authoritative when first disseminated, one would expect a
rhetorical structure in the text more like the Qur'an and less like the
kaleidoscopic Yahweh of the Bible, and one would expect far fewer
examples of dissent from, or harmonization of, the variant Yahwehs.
For the pre-Hellenistic scribes of stage one, these documents were
compiled for the training and enculturation of their own group. The
scribes wrote and transmitted all kinds of documents, only a few of which
expressed their own religious beliefs. Many texts construct a Yahweh who
is little more than a narrative necessity, a story-world character whose
words and actions drive the narrative's plot. This is a Yahweh of the
poets, to borrow Varro's categories, and not the Yahweh of the city, the
Yahweh as Jews actually worshipped him.31

But for the newer, more
common Hellenistic Jewish readership - the Jews of the city, to modify
Varro's language - all the scrolls became sacred writ, guides to religious
piety. As a result, all the Yahwehs, no matter how ridiculous from a
religious vantage, became one divine Lord (\T7\^ miT ^lET SOO
"[flN miT ['Hear, Israel, Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one'; Deut. 6.4]).
Philip Guillaume put forth a vivid example of this process of generic
evolution during the period of punctuation.32

He suggested that what
Jesus ben Sira is really doing in his praise of the ancestors is trying to
transform manifestly secular literature into religiously useful literature.
Ben Sira is struggling to change the genre of his received anthology now
known as the Former Prophets, a series of narratives that are sometimes
secular, sometimes religious and sometimes sarcastically at odds with the
piety of Deuteronomy.33

Clearly, Ben Sira is fossil evidence for the fact of

generic evolution in early Hellenistic times.
The evolution of the anthology's genre from cultural heritage preserved
by and for an elite few, to this newer idea of sacred authority for the ever-
widening Jewish readership, did not go smoothly. A more gradual process
of evolution continued beyond the period of punctuation and remains

31 For discussion of Varro's categories, see Noll, 'Kaleidoscopic Nature', pp. 23-4.
32 Philip Guillaume, 'New Light on the Nebiim from Alexandria: A Chronography to
Replace the Deuteronomistic History', JHS (2006): 1-50 (section 6, 'Ben Sira's Purpose:
Prophetic Chronography', pp. 16-18).
33 For the sarcastic rejection of Deuteronomy in portions of the Former Prophets, see
my 'Deconstruction of Deuteronomism in the Former Prophets: Micaiah ben Imlah as
Example', in Duncan Burns and John W. Rogerson (eds), In Search of Philip R. Davies:
Whose Festschrift Is It Anyway?
(London: T & T Clark International, forthcoming); and
'Deuteronomistic History or Deuteronomic Debate? (A Thought Experiment)', JSOT 31
(2007): 311-45 (318-27).


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

discernible as the texts became more widely available from the second
century BCE. By Roman times, the notion of sacred text had become
widespread among those Jews who could read, but there was no
agreement about which texts were authoritative, and Emanuel Tov
notes that Qumran scribes treated all their manuscripts in identical

Nor were the received older manuscripts congenial to this new
readers' response. The awkwardness of treating documents that do not
intend to exert religious authority as though they ought to be religiously
authoritative is apparent in obviously secular works (e.g., Genesis, 1-2
Samuel) and in works that included both religious and anti-religious
passages (e.g., 1-2 Kings, which contains conventional piety in 2 Kgs 17
and religious satire in 1 Kgs 22). It is especially apparent in the Qumran
pesherim, which often pit the idea of sacred relevance against the peshat
(plain sense) of the texts themselves. The authors of the pesherim
frequently ignore the words they are quoting as they rush to apply them to
new, and obviously irrelevant, situations. James Kugel documents the
widespread inability of late Hellenistic and early Roman Jewish readers to
find a satisfactory way to use these newly declared, but obstinately
uncooperative, sacred texts.35

If one substitutes 'Hellenistic' for 'post-
exilic', I agree with Kugel when he writes, 'The Bible that modern
scholarship is so eager to discover is really a Bible that never was: it is
actually the raw material that only became the Bible following its radical
reconfiguration in post-exilic times.'36
A significant factor influencing the manner by which the anthology
evolved into sacred authority is that the texts were not yet widely available
even to those Roman-era Jews who wanted to believe them to be sacred
writ. This resulted in the idea of textual authority often preceding the
availability of the texts. For example, John Collins notes that Jewish
apocalyptic lacks any reference to a Davidic Messiah until the late second
century BCE, at the very earliest.37

Given the evidence of Trebolle and
Ulrich discussed earlier, Occam's razor suggests a reason for this:
apocalyptic did not discover a Davidic Messiah until the Former
Prophets began to be disseminated, and that dissemination lagged behind
the dissemination of the Torah and Isaiah, each of which contains a
specifically Davidic type of messianic motif only superficially, at the level

34 Emanuel Tov, Scribal Practices and Approaches Reflected in the Texts from the Judean
(Leiden: Brill, 2004), pp. 250-4.
35 James L. Kugel, Traditions of the Bible: A Guide to the Bible as It Was at the Start of
the Common Era
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998).
36 James L. Kugel, 'The Bible of Changed Meanings: Some Thoughts on John Barton's
Oracles of God, JHS 7 (2007): 12-21 (18).
37 John Collins, The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and
Other Ancient Literature
(New York: Doubleday, 1995), pp. 40-1, 49-56.

NOLL Evolution of Genre


of glossing. Thus, apocalyptic speculation emerged in the late third and
early second centuries BCE, but added a Davidic Messiah only after texts
telling of King David gradually became available, a process that began in
the late second century, or so, BCE.
Even as late as the first century of the Common Era, narratives in
Josephus as well as early Christian writings support this Darwinian thesis.
Josephus tells of figures like Theudas and the so-called Egyptian, each of
whom seems to have interpreted the book of Joshua in a naively literal

Theudas expected the Jordan River to part and the Egyptian
wanted to see the walls of Jericho fall. This kind of superstition is precisely
what one expects to see when the source text, the book of Joshua, ceases
to be the exclusive possession of a tiny, elite class of well-educated people
who did not view the text as a sacred history narrative. As the text made
its way among hoipolloi, it became a sacred history narrative through no
fault of its own, and naive believers used it for their own purposes.
Like the data from Josephus, the pesher-like evidence from the New
Testament demonstrates that the anthology we now call the Bible was
only emerging as a religious authority in the first century of the Common
Era. Christopher Stanley calls into question a widespread assumption that
when the apostle Paul quoted from Jewish Scripture, Paul assumed that
his intended audience would recognize the quotations, would be familiar
with the Scriptures from which the quotations derive, and would supply
unstated assumptions about the literary context of those Jewish texts.40
Stanley rightly notes that early Christian communities had little or no
access to Jewish Scriptures (a point also made by Trebolle) and that
Christian communities are unlikely to have known much if anything
about the texts Paul quotes. Paul was dumb like a fox. He counted on the
ignorance of his audience, knowing they would depend on Paul's own

38 The variety of Jewish speculations about a coming one (including one or several
Messiahs) is well known, but it is interesting to note how little of that speculation appears in
the texts Trebolle identifies as the 'canon within a canon'. A specifically Davidic messianic
conception appears in the Torah only in Gen. 49.10 (the royal predictions in Num. 24.7, 17
are not necessarily Davidic in nature). The scroll of Isaiah is more complex, because it is
difficult to tease apart passages that appear to have originated in Iron Age royal liturgy (i.e.,
Isa. 9.6) from later scribal expansion that involved interpretation of these early texts as
promise of a future Davidic Messiah (i.e., Isa. 16.5, as well as the mature forms of chs. 9, 11
and 32). What can be asserted unequivocally is that Isaiah's two figures that are explicitly
called Messiahs are the Persian Cyrus (44.28-45.1) and the prophet in Isa. 61.1, not Davidic
figures. Moreover, the Davidic Messiah is downplayed by Isa. 55.3. It seems that Davidic
messianism first crept into Trebolle's 'canon-within' through Psalms and the Twelve Minor
Prophets, later moving to Isaiah (albeit ambiguously) and one verse in the Torah.
39 Josephus War 2.259-63; Antiquities 20.97-8, 167-70.
40 Christopher D. Stanley, ' "Pearls before Swine": Did Paul's Audiences Understand
His Biblical Quotations?' Nov T 41 (1999): 124-44.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

interpretation of the texts he quoted, so that Paul could score rhetorical
points with his idiosyncratic interpretation of Jewish literature.41
This evidence from Paul's letters demonstrates that the idea that Jewish
writings ought to be religiously authoritative preceded widespread
familiarity with the anthology itself. In this case, when Paul (and
probably other early Christian leaders) claimed that Jesus died and rose
from the dead in accordance with the Jewish Scriptures (as in 1
Corinthians 15), the success of the claim was largely due to a widespread
ignorance of those very Scriptures, literature that does not, in fact, foretell
a dying and rising figure. Not surprisingly, when Ignatius of Antioch, two
generations later, attempts to proclaim his gospel, saying: 'It is written',
skeptics in his community can say: 'That is precisely the question', for the
Jewish Scriptures were by that time circulating more widely and people
could begin to test the claims being made about them.42

Only three
generations after Ignatius, Celsus, who by this time is thoroughly familiar
with Jewish Scriptures, can articulate skepticism against the rhetoric of
Christian proof-texting precisely because the rhetoric had become
authoritative prior to the actual task of finding the alleged proof-texts,
proof-texts that had to be manufactured through an aggressive Christian

The rhetoric of prophecy about Jesus became rote before the
actual texts became available, a source of enduring embarrassment for
Christians. Early Christianity evolved when Jewish sacred literature was
still only emerging as widely available and authoritative sacred literature.
The evolution of genre is the only thesis that adequately explains the
kaleidoscopic nature of the biblical god, a god who is the sum of a variety
of god-concepts created for a variety of literary purposes, then
harmonized by later, religiously motivated readers seeking a doctrine
about a god that they could worship. While some books in the Hebrew
anthology were designed to define, defend, proclaim or even impose a
religious viewpoint, the majority of the books were not. Clearly
Deuteronomy began and ended as a religious exhortation, and just as

41 Stanley discusses this possibility, cautiously, in 'Pearls before Swine', p. 134.
42 Ignatius, Phil. 8. In context, it is clear that Ignatius wanted his audience to believe that
a story about Jesus was foretold by 'archives' (probably Jewish Scriptures), but Ignatius was
defeated by skeptics in the congregation precisely because those skeptics had access to the
Jewish texts. One suspects that this was a possibility that Ignatius had not counted on, and he
was compelled, in the heat of the argument, to fall back on a rote recitation of the by-then
traditional rule of faith, asserting that the true 'archives' are the death and resurrection and
the faith generated through Jesus Christ. For the text, see W. Schoedel, Ignatius of Antioch
(Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985). For discussion of the attitude toward sacred text
expressed and implied by Ignatius, see Charles T. Brown, The Gospel and Ignatius of Antioch
(New York: Peter Lang, 2000), p. 205 and passim.
43 Stephen Benko, 'Pagan Criticism of Christian Theology and Ethics', in Pagan Rome
and the Early Christians
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986), pp. 140-62 (147-58,

NOLL Evolution of Genre


clearly the two books of Samuel were never intended to define or proclaim
a religious message.44

It is certainly not the case that the anthology as an
was compiled to define, defend, proclaim or impose a religious

The Hebrew anthology became religious literature during a short period
as its readership increased during Hellenistic times, and new readers
brought new values and very new a priori assumptions to what they were
reading. That is why the Bible contains the literary equivalent of junk
DNA, texts that are so inimical to a theological proclamation that
preachers and rabbis are compelled either to ignore those passages or to
preach sermons on the so-called hard sayings of the Bible. Modern
theologians who seek theological resonance in entertaining folktales such
as Samson; who seek models of prophetic piety in satirical anti-religious
tales such as Micaiah ben Imlah; who seek Heilsgeschichte in traditional
fiction assembled for its value as ethnic literature, such as the book of
Genesis; who seek divine revelation in so-called prophecies that were,
originally, little more than scribal exercises are only the latest participants
in what has been, over the past 2,000 years, an aggressive process of
eisegesis. The process of systematic theological whitewashing that we call
the history of biblical interpretation is poignant testimony to the evolution
of biblical genre. The Bible was not designed to be religiously authori
tative, and it has managed to function that way by sheer accident. It has
been useful to people for that purpose, even though it was not meant for
that purpose, and its evolutionary history renders it fit only in the way
that the human eye is fit for sight in spite of the awkward neural wiring
derived from its blind Darwinian design.

44 I discuss the limited audience for even the religious texts within the anthology in 'Was
There Doctrinal Dissemination?' and 'Evolution of Genre in the Book of Kings'. For the
secular nature of 1-2 Samuel, see my 'Is There a Text?'

Chapter 2


Francis Borchardt


The first book of Maccabees, like many other biblical and apocryphal
works, does not have a single unified view of any subject it discusses, the
Scriptures included. The Scriptures are described (or quoted) by multiple

and through a number of different literary forms.2

diversity of views does not even touch on the possibility of separate
redactional layers,3

each with its own separate agenda, as to the quality
and content of Scripture. The image of the Scriptures created by this book
is thus multifaceted. It will be our quest in this investigation to describe
these diverse views as best as possible, in order to give a composite view of
the concepts of Scripture in 1 Maccabees.

1. Method

I have narrowed down the rather broad topic to just four questions which
bring us closer to a definitive view of 'Scripture' according to 1
Maccabees: (1) Are the Scriptures holy for the author(s)/characters of

1 Jonathan: 12.9; Narrator: 1.56-57; 2.19-22*; 3.48, 55-56*; 4.47, 53; 7.17*; 14.8-9, 12*;
Mattathias: 2.51-60*; Judas 4.8-10*, 30-33*; 7.41*; and the Hasmonaean army: 4.24*; 9.21*
(*: These all contain some reference to passages we know from Scripture, however, see the
discussion in section 5b of this work.)
2 These include, but are not limited to, narrative report: 1.56-57; 3.48; 4.47, 53;
testament: 2.51-60, various genres of prayer: 4.30-33; 7.41; diplomatic treaty: 12.9 and
Preisgedicht (poem of praise): 14.8-9, 12.
3 Though the majority of scholarship on 1 Mace, does not recognize multiple layers of
composition, recently some have taken up the old addendum theory that 14.15 is the end of
the original work (see, e.g., the discussion of this by D. S. Williams, 'Recent Research on 1
Maccabees', CRBS 9 [2001]: 169-84). I argue differently that there are at least four literary
strata throughout 1 Mace, in my ongoing dissertation: Torah in 1 Maccabees (working title).
There is not enough space here to make the argument for this diachronic view of 1 Mace.,
thus my own conclusions will be omitted.

BORCHARDT Scripture in 1 Maccabees


the book? (2) What is the function of the Scriptures, or, how are they used
in 1 Maccabees? (3) To whom do the Scriptures belong? (4) What books
or teachings are included in the concepts of Scripture found in 1
Maccabees? Through answering these questions I hope to give a concise
but well rounded view of how 1 Maccabees comprehends Scripture. It is
easily discernible to the reader that each of these questions can be posed at
two levels - on the one hand we can address these questions to the
narrative world the book describes, and on the other hand we can seek for
answers among the compositional clues left by the author(s). Since both
are important, we will attempt to address the questions on both levels.
We begin our discussion of this topic with a tabula rasa. I find it
necessary not to assume anything about the existence or character of
Scripture either for the narrative world of our author(s) or for the broader
Judaean historical world in which he is writing. It is plain that we simply
do not know enough about a universally (or even widely) accepted Jewish
canon at this time to make any assumptions. Each of the two pillars upon
which many set their canonical (or proto-canonical) theories are prob
lematic. The library at Qumran cannot be considered representative of the
general scriptural ideal, both because of the sectarian nature of the
Qumran group, and because of the many additional contents of that

The prologue of Ben Sira has its own problems in that there
remain questions: such as, what is intended by the prologue? How should
we take into account its nature as an addition?5

So, we approach the
scriptural questions in this work with a view to creating 1 Maccabees'
picture of Scripture from scratch, and only then adding to this from our
historical knowledge.

4 See, e.g., the discussion of M. A. Knibb in the introduction to The Qumran Community
(Cambridge Commentaries on Writings of the Jewish and Christian World 200 BC to AD 200,
2; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 1-12, where he discusses the contents
of the Qumran scrolls with reference both to the biblical fragments and to the apocryphal
and psuedepigraphical ones, which he says 'may have been regarded as having canonical
status'. He continues his discussion with the purely sectarian documents.
5 G. Veltri, Libraries, Translations and 'Canonic' Texts: The Septuagint, Aquila and Ben
Sira in the Jewish and Christian Traditions
(JSJSup, 109; Leiden: Brill, 2006), pp. 196-7. Here
Veltri states that the intention of the prologue is to equate Ben Sira's writing to 'nothing
more or less, than the quintessence of past wisdom'. He supports this with the correct claim
that throughout the rabbinic tradition numerous writings and stories are quoted that nobody
would claim as canonical, but which simply applied to a specific situation. Veltri also notes
that the three separate (!) terms used for the other writings in the prologue show some
vagueness in their character even for the author(s) of the prologue. He is correct in not
projecting our tripartite canon back on the authors) of Ben Sira's prologue, and even calls
into question the attribution of the prologue to his grandson, stating that the word could
simply mean ancestor, placing the prologue's addition later in antiquity.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

2. Are the Scriptures Holy?

a. The Holiness of Scripture for the Hasmonaeans
There are two verses of particular importance in answering this question.
1 Maccabees 12.9 falls within a diplomatic letter sent from the high priest
Jonathan to the Spartans. In the letter, Jonathan, trying to reignite a long-
dormant friendship between the two nations, states that the Spartans
asked for and received friendship and alliance long ago (w. 5-8). In v. 9
Jonathan further states: 'therefore, though we have no need of these
things [i.e., alliances] since we have as encouragement the holy books (xa
PiPAia xa ayia)
that are in our hands, we attempt to send to renew our
friendship so that you might not be estranged from us'.6

The important
part of this verse for our question is obviously the 'holy books/scrolls' (TO
(3Aia xa ayia). Here Jonathan, the first Hasmonaean high priest,
answers our question unequivocally in the positive. The Scriptures are
plainly exalted and join the sanctuary vessels (4.49), the temple itself
(2.12), Jerusalem (2.7), the mountain (Zion?)7

(11.37) and the covenant

(1.15) as being called 'holy' in 1 Maccabees.8

Through the use of this
adjective, both in this document and in the rest of 1 Maccabees it is
evident that the scrolls, whatever texts they contain, are considered to be
set apart and are thought to reflect some element of the divine.
Though 12.9 is the only instance where the Scriptures are given the
specific title 'holy', v. 3.48 may further support this claim. The verse
describes the actions of Judas Maccabeus and his followers at Mizpah.
Specifically, it states that 'they opened the book of the law (KCX\
E^eiTETaoccv TO (}i
(3Aiov TOU vouou) to inquire into the matters about
which the gentiles consulted the likenesses of their gods'.9

The sentence

6 This translation, as all others in this work, is from the NRSV.

7 The mountain is described here as the place where the bronze tablets of the treaty by
the Seleucid king should be displayed. At other places in the text the location of tablets is Mt
Zion (e.g., 14.25).

8 Each of these descriptions of holiness is made in a different genre. The sanctuary
vessels are called holy by the narrator in a prose report of the events of the temple's
purification. The temple is called holy in the midst of Mattathias' lament over the events that
have driven him out of Jerusalem, which is called holy in the same setting. The mountain,
which is universally agreed upon as Zion, is called holy in a diplomatic treaty sent by
Demetrius II - the only occasion in which a gentile calls something holy. The covenant is
called holy in a brief narrative report on the first efforts of Jews to unite with the gentiles in 1
Maccabees. Thus there is no usual way the description is given by the author(s).
9 The NRSV here agrees with most translations and commentators who suggest that what
is meant by the phrase irspi
GOV e^ripEuvcov xa E0vr| xa buoicouaxa xcav E'ISCDACOV CCUXCDV is
that they were using the scroll of the law in the same way as the gentiles did the images of
their idols. However, J. Goldstein, J Maccabees (AB 41; Garden City, NY: Doubleday,
1976), p. 261, mentions the difficulty in interpreting the verse, and decides that it is surely
patterned after the story of Hezekiah and Sennacharib's message. So that his meaning for the

BORCHARDT Scripture in 1 Maccabees


suggests that the scroll of the law is used in the same way for the Jews as
the temple idols are used for the gentiles. We will return to the specifics of
use in a moment, but most important is that the Scripture10

is being
employed in a cultic sense. This point is sharpened by the reference to
gentile idols, which had and were perceived to have cultic and holy
meaning wrapped up with them.11

The holiness of the unrolled scroll (or
its contents) is further suggested by the other items present in this scene
with the group of Jewish rebels at Mizpah. These include the vestments of
the priesthood (xa lucma x% Upcoauvris), the first fruits and tithes
(irpcoToysvTiMaTa KCU TOS SsKaxas) and finally the Nazirites.12

All of
these were in the domain of temple use, and were, by extension, holy.13
Additionally, according to 3.46, the choice of Mizpah for this gathering is
due to its former function as a place of prayer (1 Sam. 7.5-11), a fact
which further stresses the cultic nature of the scene. When this context is
tied with the appearance of the book of the law, it is unquestionable that
according to the literary world presented in 1 Maccabees, Scripture can
truly be called holy.

b. Scriptural Holiness for Our Author

As for the holiness of Scripture at the compositional level, the evidence
is far less conclusive. To be sure, the author(s) has put the holiness of
the books into the mouth of a character that has great authority. The
author(s) is sympathetic to the Hasmonaeans in general, and Jonathan in

So, any proclamation made by that character may well be
thought of as shared by the author(s). The ubiquitous allusions to
passages that we recognize as Scripture may also hint at the author(s)'s
own knowledge of and reverence for those books. However, we must
caution ourselves not to draw too many conclusions from these references.

passage is that the Jews found places in the Scriptures which mentioned how the gentiles
consulted their gods. Goldstein does admit however that his translation strains the syntax.
We follow the NRSV here.
10 This of course assumes that the scroll of the law, at least, is Scripture. See the
argument in section 5 of this work.
11 See, e.g., 1.47.
12 The Nazirites are said to have completed their days, which according to Num. 6.5, 8
would not necessarily make them holy any longer. However, the intended meaning of this
passage seems to be that these Nazirites have just recently completed their days, and thus still
needed to make their offering at the temple (Num. 6.21), which is defiled at this point in the
narrative. So, they are still set apart for their God.
13 Though the specific adjective is not used in this passage, we have seen that both the
sanctuary vessels and the temple itself are deemed holy by the author(s). Thus, it may be
reasonable to deduce that all these other elements specifically dedicated to the divine were
considered holy as well.
14 J. R. Bartlett, 1 Maccabees (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), p. 31, points
this out most concisely, but the opinion is nearly universally shared.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

They may simply be familiar and appropriate parallels to the author(s)'s
own story, as opposed to being especially revered.

3. How are the Scriptures Used?

a. The Use of Scriptures by the Maccabean Heroes
The use of the Scriptures goes a long way to formulating a unified concept
of Scripture within this book. We have already seen two uses of Scripture
at 12.9 and 3.48, to which we shall return. These verses are indicative of
the way Scripture functions throughout the book on the narrative level. In
the level of composition there are more functions that can possibly be
discerned, and these will be discussed separately.
Verse 3.48, as we have seen, shows the Jews using the Scriptures in the
same way the nations use the likenesses of their gods.15

This statement is
broad, and could be misleading. It is unclear what is meant exactly by
buoicouaTcc, and further it is unclear what the Jews thought the gentiles
sought from these likenesses. According to some commentators, it is
probable that the images are statues of the gods, which provide

But it is also possible that the OUOICOUCCTO: m some of the
surrounding cultures had some sort of oracular or prophetic function,
revealing the will of the gods.17

If we try to find the function of Scriptures
through this comparison to idols, the final use of the Scriptures is not clear
from this context.

1 Mace. 12.9 clarifies the issue to an extent. It is apparent from this
verse that the Jews use their holy books as an encouragement and as
evidence of their contract with the divine. Jonathan's statement that 'we
have no need for [alliances]' gives a strong testament to the fortifying
nature the books had for the Jews. His declaration to the Spartans also
spells out that the holy Scriptures stand in place of alliances, and thus are
manifest proof of Israel's covenant with Heaven. This verse would lead
the reader to believe that the Scriptures were used more according to the
former use of the buoicouaTa than the latter prophetic/oracular function.
In the same diplomatic letter, Jonathan offers further evidence of this
understanding of the Scriptures at verses 12.14-15. He states that the Jews

15 However, note the alternative explanation of Goldstein, / Maccabees, p. 261, in n. 9


16 J. R. Bartlett, First and Second Books of Maccabees (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1973), p. 55.
17 D. Arenhoevel, Die Theokratie nach dem 1. und 2. Makkabder (Mainz: Matthias
Grunewald, 1967), p. 30 n. 123, stresses the oracular use but recognizes both uses here. R.
Doran, The First Book of Maccabees: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections (New
Interpreter's Bible, 4; Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), pp. 63-4, also suggests the book has an
instructional/oracular sense with his innovative translation of the verse.

BORCHARDT Scripture in 1 Maccabees


were unwilling to request aid from the Spartans or any of their other allies
during their wars (a statement which is belied by the treaty with the
Romans at 8.20-32, but likely a matter of diplomacy), and continues that
the reason for this is that the Jews already possess the help that comes
from heaven as their aid. It is clear from the close proximity and identical
context of the two statements, that the Scriptures provide the promise of
divine aid and protection for the Jews in the same way an alliance with
foreign powers would. So, according to the testimony of Jonathan's letter
to the Spartans, the function of the Scriptures is clear.
Several other verses could be read to support this usage of Scripture.
However, it depends upon whether one believes specific traditions we
recognize from the Bible were known at this time primarily from oral
communication of legends or from knowledge of the written works

Further, if one accepts that these traditions were known
from the written word, then he must encounter the question of whether
these written traditions were considered scriptural. The verses in question
are: 2.51-61 (a praise of the deeds of the ancestors), 4.8-11 (a recollection
of the events at the Red Sea), 4.30-33 (a recollection of the support of
heaven for David against the Philistines) and 7.41-42 (a recollection of the
defeat of the Assyrians as reported in 2 Kings 19.35). If all these instances
are references to Scripture by characters in 1 Mace, then at every instance
they agree with the use of Scripture in 12.9. They recall the deeds reported
in the Scriptures and use them as an encouragement and reminder of the
help heaven can bring. If they are only oral tradition divorced from the
texts, then no further evidence exists as to this application of Scripture by
the characters in 1 Mace.
A second use of Scripture is evidenced outside of the model discussed
above. This comes closer to the latter possibility of a prophetic/oracular
function. This model uses the Scriptures, specifically the book of the law,
to discern proper action. At 3.56, 4.47 and 4.53 the Hasmonaeans are
portrayed as performing specific deeds according to the law (Kara TOV
vouov). In each case the deed is directly traceable to ordinances appearing
in the Torah. The mention of the books of the law within 1 Maccabees
ensures that these references are intended to have a literary provenance.
At 3.56, Judas organizes his army into thousands, hundreds, fifties and
tens, and sends home all those who are otherwise engaged for various

18 Though it is clear that many commentators on 1 Mace., like Goldstein, / Maccabees,
pp. 285, 491 inter alia; and Bartlett, The First and Second Books, p. 168, assume nearly full
knowledge of our modern Bible, but more recent studies dealing with oral transmission call
this assumption into question. See R. A. Horsley, Scribes, Visionaries, and the Politics of
Second Temple Judea
(Louisville: WJK Press, 2007); D. M. Carr, Writing on the Tablet of the
Heart: Origins of Scripture and Literature
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); and M.
Jaffee, Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism 200 BCE-400 CE
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

reasons (Exod. 18.25; Deut. 20.5-8). Only after this does the army march
out against the gentile aggressors. It is not entirely clear whether both
actions are being described as 'according to the law' or only Judas'
decommissioning of soldiers, but both acts have applicable ordinances
immediately behind them. In w. 4.47 and 4.53 Judas and the blameless
priests he has selected assemble a new altar out of whole stones (Exod.
20.25; Deut. 27.5-6) and offer sacrifice on it the next morning in
accordance with the law (Exod. 29.38-42). Each of these instances stresses
the use of the law to know and follow divine will in the direst of situations.
These verses additionally give us the first indication in 1 Mace, that the
written law should be considered holy and thus scriptural.

b. The Function of Scripture for the Author (s) of 1 Maccabees

The uses of Scripture by the characters are limited to the two main
functions listed above: primarily as encouragement and secondarily as the
arbiter of orthodox behaviour. In addition to these functions, Scripture is
used by the author(s) as a background and reference point for much of his
narrative. The scriptural allusions are too numerous to quote here, but
they refer to most parts of our scriptural corpus, including Psalms (1
Mace. 7.17), prophecy (14.8-9, 12), Torah (14.8) and history (9.73).
However, we must remind ourselves of the familiar refrain that simply
because these texts are quoted does not mean that the author(s) found
them to be scriptural.
In any case these references mostly serve to compare the Hasmonaeans
or their deeds to similar situations in the Scriptures. In a few examples
these utilizations of Scripture hint at the fulfilment of prophecy (e.g.,
14.8-9, 12). No matter how these scriptural allusions are applied by the
author(s) their main purpose seems to be the elevation of the
Hasmonaeans to the status of biblical heroes through comparisons of
their orthodoxy or bravery.19

4. To Whom do the Scriptures Belong?

a. Possession of the Scriptures by the Characters
The answer to this question should be evident, however it has some
nuances. The Scriptures belong to Israel, this much is obvious. Nobody

19 E. Bickermann, The God of the Maccabees: Studies on the Meaning and Origin of the
Maccabean Revolt
(SJLA, 32; Leiden: Brill, 1979), p. 18; and D. S. Williams, The Structure of
1 Maccabees
(CBQMS, 31; Washington, DC: The Catholic Biblical Association of America,
1999), p. 107; however N. Martola, Capture and Liberation: A Study in the Composition of the
First Book of Maccabees
(Abo: Abo Akademi, 1984), p. 279, sees this as only window

BORCHARDT Scripture in 1 Maccabees


outside of Israel is mentioned in connection with the Scriptures, except as
an opponent in the case of Antiochus IV (1.56-57).20

It is important to
make clear as 12.9 does, that the Scriptures belong to all Israel, not only
Jonathan and the ruling party, not only the priesthood, but the whole
Jewish people. The Scriptures, and especially the law are shown to be part
of the Jewish and Israelite identity on numerous occasions, not least of
which are 1.56-57 and 3.48.
In verses 1.56-57 we see the books of the law and the book of the
covenant in the hands of Jews being persecuted under the reforms of
Antiochus IV. The possession, or indeed, existence of these books is a
crime, according to these verses. We learn here that all books of the law
which were found by Antiochus' officers were torn to pieces and burned,
and anyone who was found possessing the book of the covenant was
condemned to death. These new ordinances are couched among a series of
other ones that attempt to totally change and mutilate Jewish identity,
according to the text (1.48-49). Thus, for 1 Maccabees, even the gentile
opponents recognize that these books are tied in with the Jewish identity.
This agrees with what we have already seen in 3.48 where the book of the
law is tied in with the identity of the national cult. The scrolls of the law
form the national and religious identity of Israel for 1 Maccabees.
On another level it is interesting to note that the Scriptures are never
given a qualifier other than 'holy' in all of 1 Maccabees. That is, none of
the familiar biblical author(s) of Scripture or the Torah are implied.
Moses' name is never invoked in connection with the Scriptures, nor is the
name of the deity.21

The only ones shown to possess the Scriptures or the
law in any way throughout the book are the nameless victims of
Antiochus IV in 1.56-57, the family and followers of Judas at 3.48, and the
Jewish nation itself at 12.9. Indeed though the Scriptures are holy, and
evidently give proof of the divine promise, they are an earthly possession.
Also, it should be stressed that the Scriptures are a communal possession,
as seen in the examples cited above. There is no individual to whom the
literature is ascribed. The nation as a whole and its members are both the
sole possessors of the Scriptures and those solely possessed by them.

b. To Whom do the Scriptures belong, in the Author's View

For the author(s) of the work, the Scriptures are certainly within his
sphere of influence. Not only is he conversant with laws and ordinances,
but he knows many legends and psalms and elements of prophecy, which

20 Antiochus is shown in these passages to be an opponent of the scrolls of the law and
the scroll of the covenant, which seem to be at least a major part of what 1 Maccabees
considers Scripture (cf. section 5 of this work).
21 Indeed nowhere in 1 Maccabees is the deity named, but even 'Heaven', the word used
by 1 Mace for the deity is never portrayed as author or guardian of the Scriptures.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

may or may not be written and scriptural, as is evident by his many
references to these texts. The strong influence the Scriptures have on the
author(s)'s style and outlook reinforce the fact that he is a member of a
group to whom the Scriptures are authoritative. While the level of that
authority is ambiguous (as discussed in section 2b) there is no question
that it applies to the author(s). The implied audience for the work must be
of the same group too, because while events and laws from the modern
canon are referenced, they are not fully explained by the author(s). This
fact leads one to believe that the audience has an already existing
relationship with the texts. The upshot of this is that at some point in the
compositional process of 1 Maccabees there was a group that already held
a body of texts as authoritative and possibly holy.

5. What is Included in 1 Maccabees' Concept of Scripture?

This is perhaps the most difficult question relating to how 1 Maccabees
views Scripture. The first part of this question is: what books are included
in the idea of Scripture for the characters in 1 Maccabees? Which parts of
our modern canon(s) fall into the Scripture, as communicated by the
characters? The prime evidence for this answer comes at 1.56-57 wherein
the two books reported to be in the hands of persecuted Jews are the
books of the law and the book of the covenant. At 3.48 also, it is the book
of the law which is unrolled by the faithful Hasmonaeans and their
followers. These verses, however, do not completely answer the question.

a. 'Scriptural Status of the Book of the Law and the Book of the Covenant
What is the identity of these books? Are the terms 'book of the law' (TO
(}t|3Aiov TOU vouou) and 'book of the covenant' ((JifJAiov SiccOrjiais)

or do they refer to two separate literary works? Is it
possible that at this late date they still refer only to Moses' book of the
covenant and Josiah's law-book? However unlikely this possibility is,
there is little help from the narrative in answering these questions. Both
books are closely tied with the observance of laws, customs and
ordinances of the Jews. This can be clearly deduced by the context
surrounding w. 1.56-57 as well as through the names applied to these
books. Specifically, possession of the book of the covenant seems to be

22 Bartlett, The First and Second Books of Maccabees, p. 32 and Goldstein, 1 Maccabees,
p. 222 clearly view the terms as synonymous, but make no direct comment to this effect.
Arenhoevel, Die Theokratie, p. 24, however does comment that the difference in name
matters little. He goes on to say that the idea of F. M. Abel, Les Livres des Maccabees (Paris:
Gabalda, 1949), which holds that the book of the covenant still had a special place revered
apart from the Pentateuch is highly unlikely.

BORCHARDT Scripture in 1 Maccabees


very closely tied to observance of the law because both acts are
consecutively described as receiving the same death sentence from
Antiochus IV and his officers. However, the context is unclear about
whether the two titles refer to separate books, or are simply variant names
of the same opus. The evidence of the three passages mentioned above
(3.56; 4.47, 53), wherein Judas acts according to the law (KOTCX TOV vouov),
is similarly ambiguous. Each of these has a possible provenance from at
least two separate sources within the Pentateuch. What is likely is that
whether these books are separate, they both belong to the Pentateuch in
some way, because of their heavy legal emphasis.
Further possibilities of what could be included in 1 Maccabees' idea of
Scripture come from the testimony of Mattathias at 2.52-60 and from the
various prayers of the Hasmonaeans throughout the book.23

In all these
cases direct reference or allusion is made to episodes from the Pentateuch,
Deuteronomistic histories, prophetic writings and Psalms. This suggestion
comes with two caveats: (1) There is never mention of any book in relation
to these allusions, which opens the possibility that the Hasmonaeans are
speaking only from tradition and not from their scriptural knowledge. (2)
Even if the references are intended to be literary, allusions to familiar
nationalistic stories in order to build national morale do not necessarily
make those stories holy or scriptural. However, given the function of
Scripture described in 12.9 a reasonable supposition might extend the
scriptural status over some of these books.

b. Evidence of 'Scriptural Status in the References by Key Characters
1 Maccabees 2.52-60: The Testament of Mattathias

We can briefly discuss the evidence for each of these passages having a
scriptural basis. Verses 2.52-60, part of Mattathias' testament, praise a
series of ancestors whom we know from Scripture. Thomas Hieke has
argued that these verses stand in perfect accordance with Scripture on the
basis of the traditions they transmit.24

Hieke offers a number of proofs for
the textual bases for the references in Mattathias' testament. Though
Hieke's arguments are likely the best possible ways to draw connections

23 Prayers and exhortations for deliverance from enemies by Judas: 4.8-10, 30-33; 7.41;
prayer of lament by the Hasmonaeans: 9.21; prayer of praise by the Hasmonaeans: 4.24.
24 T. Hieke, "The Role of "Scripture" in the Last Words of Mattathias (1 Mace. 2.49-
70)' in Geza Xeravits and Jozsef Zsengeiler (eds), The Books of Maccabees: History,
Theology, Ideology. Papers of the Second International Conference on the Deuterocanonical
Books, Papa, Hungary, 9-11 June 2005
(Boston: Brill, 2007). Though Hieke starts from a
premise of the connections one can draw between Mattathias' testament and their present
context among the writings of the Old Testament, his concluding arguments offer that 1
Maccabees 'wants to convince Israel to follow this government which is presented as divinely
ordained and pre-figured by scripture'. He has either abandoned his foundation here, or has
made a logical error in his writing.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

between Mattathias' testament and their supposed scriptural background,
they do not convince in the end.
Let us examine Hieke's claims for a biblical basis for each of the
references. Concerning v. 52, wherein it is remarked that Abraham was
'found faithful when tested', Hieke remarks that the testing clearly calls to
mind the binding of Isaac (Gen. 22.1) due to the appearance of ireipa^co
('test') in the LXX account.25

There is, however, flawed reasoning behind
this statement. Hieke mentions himself that later Jewish tradition ascribed
ten trials to Abraham.26

Since this is the case, it is clear that having faith in
trial was perhaps Abraham's greatest known quality aside from being
father of the people. Therefore, it is difficult to connect this reference at v.
52 to just one or even two instances of trial, as the text makes no allusion
to a specific occasion, and likely refers to his general quality of being
rewarded when tested by God.
When relating the praise of Joseph (v. 53) to the scriptural account
Hieke wisely refrains from trying to tie Joseph's keeping of a command
ment (evToArj) in time of distress from any specific instance. Rather, Hieke
calls it a general quality of Joseph27

which draws analogies with the power
the Hasmonaeans gained as a result of their obedience to the law.
In regards to the praise of Phinehas (v. 54) Hieke is correct in drawing a
fairly strong connection between his quality of zeal (and subsequent
reward of everlasting priesthood) and the account in Num. 26.6-15.28

is supported by direct reference to the Phinehas event in 1 Mace. 2.26. The
case is also particularly strong in that Phinehas is a rather minor character
aside from this act, so an easy connection is made.
With reference to the praise of Joshua (v. 55), Hieke is not as strong in
tying a particular biblical passage to it. He takes a very broad approach to
his interpretation, identifying the command which Joshua fulfilled as his
becoming Moses' successor.29

This is such a vague statement that it is
difficult to tie it to the biblical account. Secondly the reward of Joshua -
becoming judge over Israel, seems self-fulfilling, if indeed his righteous
deed was to take the reins of power from Moses. Similar problems are
encountered with reference to the praise of Caleb (v. 56). 1 Maccabees
recalls his testimony before the assembly which was rewarded with an
inheritance in the land. Hieke claims one needs to know the story of Caleb

25 Ibid., p. 65.
26 Ibid., p. 65. Hieke mentions this as a reason for this also calling Gen. 15.6 to mind,
however he fails to draw the broader significance out of this statement.
27 Ibid., p. 66.
28 Ibid., p. 67. Hieke is particularly strong here in drawing linguistic relationships
between the vocabulary used for Phinehas' reward in Numbers and its recollection in 1
29 Ibid., p. 67.

BORCHARDT Scripture in 1 Maccabees


to understand the reference. Truer words were never written, and might
be applied to most of this praise of the ancestors. However, this particular
recollection has very little detail and could easily be passed on through
legend, especially considering Caleb's ties to a particular locale.31

the story certainly does appear in the Pentateuch, it cannot have its
provenance there.

One of the stronger connections Hieke puts forth comes through in his
examination of the praise of David (v. 57). Here, he notes that David's
acts of piety or mercy (EAEOS) have a number of connections (2 Sam. 9.1,
3, 7; 10.2; 1 Kings 2.7) in the accounts of David, and that the reward
referred to in 1 Maccabees is an almost verbatim quote of Nathan's
promise (2 Sam. 7.16).32

This strikes me as particularly strong because it is
not David's renown as king or general which is stressed, but his piety,
which is a particularly strong feature in the formulaic statements of the
books of Kings.33

It seems that oral tradition would hold onto David's
status as a king or great warrior sooner than it would hold on to stories of
his legendary piety.
In reference to the praise of Elijah for his zeal, and his reward of being
taken up into heaven (v. 58), Hieke again comes up with only weak
evidence for biblical basis. He admits that the text is very general and
could point to any number of incidents in which Elijah showed his zeal.34
This is the central point at which the connection to a text would have to be
made, because the story of Elijah being taken up into heaven was almost
certainly passed on through oral tradition. Thus any argument for a
textual basis of the praise of Elijah breaks down.
With respect to Hannaniah, Azariah and Mishael we encounter what
might be the best clue to the non-scriptural basis of the praise of the
ancestors (v. 59). The story of these three young men does not appear in
the MT version of Daniel, but only in the LXX version (or its Vorlage).
Thus, even if the story was written down at the time, it was certainly
dismissed as non-scriptural at some point along the way. Secondly, the
story of these men is fully the product of legend that would be passed on
in oral tradition, much like the story of Daniel, which follows. In the
praise of Daniel (v. 60), 1 Maccabees recalls that he was saved from the
lions, because of his innocence. Hieke notes that the term for innocence
does not occur anywhere (!) in the book of Daniel, but of course the issue
behind it does.35

The problem with this fact is that the salvation from the

30 Ibid., p. 68.
31 Num. 14.14 names Hebron as Caleb's inheritance.
32 Hieke, 'Role of Scripture', p. 69.
33 1 Kings 15.3, 11; 2 Kings 8.19; 14.3; 16.2; 18.3 inter alia.
34 Hieke, 'Role of Scripture', pp. 69-70.
35 Ibid., p. 70.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality I

lions clearly would be passed on by word of mouth, as would any tale of
Daniel's innocence. The verbal link would be the only place where a
strong connection could be made to a text, but it does not exist.
So, in the end there are only two very strong connections between the
objects of praise and the biblical text (Phinehas and David), while the
praise of Abraham, Joseph, Caleb and Daniel could be based on the text,
but nothing shows this definitively. Then there are the stories of Joshua
and the three young men which lend themselves to be understood more as
the products of oral tradition than as biblical references. This of course
does not address whether any of these texts were considered scriptural, or
simply nationalistic, which is a definite problem we have to encounter
from our modern vantage point.

I Maccabees 4.8-10: Judas' Exhortation

The prayers and exhortations of the Hasmonaeans, which also contain
references to passages from our modern canon, may be used to prove
some sort of scriptural status, if we can trace their literary provenance.
The first such instance comes from the mouth of Judas in the form of an
exhortation to his troops at 4.8-10. Here, he asks his troops to not be
afraid and to remember how the ancestors were saved at the Red Sea
when Pharaoh pursued them. He then asks his troops to cry to heaven to
see whether God will remember the covenant with the ancestors. The
central part of this passage is of course the recollection of the events at the
Red Sea. Certain details are lacking, such as the role of Moses and the
miraculous crossing. However the verses before and after lend significant
support to a textual basis for the knowledge of this story. First, the call to
be stalwart recalls the use of the 'holy Scriptures' Jonathan mentions to
the Spartans (w. 12.9, 15). Second, the tie of this event to the covenant
recalls the connection which is commonly made in Deuteronomy.36

we recognize enough evidence to not only consider this story to be based
on written work, but also scriptural.

1 Maccabees 4.30-33: Judas' Prayer for Aid

Judas' prayer for aid from heaven follows shortly after in the context of
the narrative (w. 4.30-33). Judas begins this prayer blessing the saviour of
Israel with a recollection of events known from 1 Samuel, before
launching into the request for aid against Lysias' army. Judas first recalls
the victory against the mighty warrior by the hand of David. This seems to
refer to one-on-one combat, and must be an allusion to the Goliath
episode. The problem here is that there are no details, and the story clearly
has a legendary character that would be passed on by oral tradition.
There are, however, two connections that may show signs of textual

36 Deut. 5.6; 6.21; 7.8, 17-19; 9.27; 11.3-4; 15.15, inter alia.

BORCHARDT Scripture in 1 Maccabees


provenance; one is the use of SouXou oou (your servant) in connection
with David. This phrase is used three times in the account (1 Sam. 17.31,
34, 58) and seems to be a running theme. However, the second person
David is addressing is Saul, not Yahweh. This could be evidence of licence
taken in the change of genre though. The other similarity this text has with
1 Sam. 17 is that, as in Judas' prayer (1 Mace. 4.33), David says that
Yahweh will strike down the Philistines and that the victory will let all the
world know there is a God in Israel. This similarity cannot account for a
textual connection on its own, but in conjunction with the other allusions,
may do so.

After Judas has invoked David's defeat of Goliath he recalls Jonathan's
takeover of the Philistine encampment with the help of his armour-bearer
(1 Mace. 4.30; 1 Sam. 14.6-15). The reference can be concretely tied to the
episode in 1 Sam. 14 through the armour-bearer, who bears no name in
both Judas' recollection and the biblical account. Additionally this
episode ties in well with the subsequent prayer in that Jonathan
specifically invokes Yahweh as the one who will defeat the enemy.
Judas asks for the same help. These connections overcome the fact that
few other details of Jonathan's victory are mentioned in the prayer. Thus,
the references to David and Jonathan suggest a reference to 1 Samuel, and
not simply to legendary tales. Judas' use of these references in connection
with a prayer for aid in warfare also hints that they fall under what
Jonathan calls 'holy books' in his letter to the Spartans. However we
cannot be totally sure of this.

/ Maccabees 7.41: Judas' Prayer Against Nicanor

The final prayer of Judas (v. 7.41) recounts the slaughter of 185,000 by the
hand of an angel, as a punishment for blasphemy spoken by the king's
messengers, before calling for God to do the same to the army of Nicanor.
This clearly recalls the story related in 2 Kings 18.28-35; 19.10-13, 35. The
combination of the blasphemy, the multiple messengers of the king, and
the exact number of soldiers killed suggests a textual basis as well. Though
the reference is short, it is so filled with important details, that the burden
of proof falls upon those who do not believe it to be based on 2 Kings 18-
19. The use again implies that this text falls under the title 'holy books',
both because of its encouragement and because it is used in a prayer.

/ Maccabees 4.24: Hasmonaean Victory Hymn

In one of two occasions where the mostly nameless and faceless followers
of Judas break their silence, they are said by the narrator to sing hymns to
heaven. One hymn is either quoted or named in 4.24: 'For he is good, for
his mercy endures forever'. The wording is almost identical to the second
clause of the first verse of Psalm 118. If one compares the vocabulary to

LXX Psalm 117 (MT 118) then the only different word is ay ados (good) in


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

Psalm 118 in place of KaAos (good) in 1 Maccabees. The difference could
easily arise from a matter of choice on the part of either translator, and
need not reflect a different Hebrew behind it. Though this does not prove
the army was singing Psalm 118, it certainly opens up the possibility.
Additionally, the occasion for the psalm - following a victory against
gentile forces, is highly appropriate. This makes it more likely that it is
Psalm 118 that is referred to.
An important question to ask, if this is Psalm 118, is whether this psalm
was considered scriptural. There is a clue in the text. The psalm is not
being used to encourage the troops, but it does remind them of their
covenant. It praises the deity repeatedly (Ps. 118.2-4) at its start and then
specifically states the same message communicated by Jonathan in his
letter to the Spartans. In Ps. 118.5-14 and especially in verse 8 the point is
clear: It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than in mortals. The use would
suggest that the psalm is scriptural for the characters of 1 Maccabees. One
possible mark against the reference is that if it is not Psalm 118, then there
is little support for its scriptural status. Supporting this view is the fact
that it is specifically called a hymn and not a psalm. In light of this we can
say the following: If the psalm is referenced here, then it is likely
scriptural, based on its use.

/ Maccabees 9.21: Lament of the Followers of Judas

After Judas' death, 1 Mace. 9.20-21 reports that all Israel lamented and
said, 'How is the mighty fallen, the saviour of Israel!' This lament bears
some faint resemblance to the first verse of David's so-called 'song of the
bow' in 2 Sam. 1.19. It is possible that this song, which is clearly also a
lament over the death of a hero in wartime, is being referred to. In support
of this is the use of the phrase TTCOS ETTEOEV 5UVO:T6S ('how the mighty has
fallen') which is almost an exact reproduction of the version of the song
we find in 2 Sam. (LXX): TTCOS ETTEGCCV SUVCCTOI. The only difference
between the two phrases is the plural, which has to do with the respective
subject(s) of lament. The phrase becomes a refrain in its use in 2 Samuel 1
and is repeated three times (2 Sam. 1.19, 25, 27).
There is a mark against this theory: the quotation in 1 Mace. 9.21 does
not end with the words above, but adds oco£cov TOV loparjA ('saviour of
Israel'). This line appears nowhere in David's lament over Saul, and,
though the sentiment vaguely exists there, it is by no means a dominant
theme. Rather, the phrase 'how the mighty have fallen' is paired with three
distinct verses, only one of which, 2 Sam. 1.27, creates a synonymous
parallel as the quote in 1 Maccabees does. Additionally, there are no other
hints that this phrase may be a quotation, or come from a written source
at all. It is wholly possible that this was an appropriate phrase for the
occasion, used without any reference in mind. The scriptural basis of this
phrase is thus doubtful.

BORCHARDT Scripture in 1 Maccabees


What we have seen through the evidence above is that the content of
Scripture for the characters in 1 Maccabees must surely begin with the
books of the law and the covenant, which more than likely are, or are
major parts of, the Pentateuch. Furthermore, there are some indications
that parts of the so-called Deuteronomistic histories, specifically 1 Samuel
14 and 17 and 2 Kings 18 and 19, might have been scriptural too. We also
have accepted the possibility that at least one psalm (118) may be
considered part of the Hasmonaean canon of 'holy scripture'. We have
noted as well, that many of the ancestors and events praised in
Mattathias' testament do not require scriptural foundations. The ones
that seem to, Phinehas (Numbers 26) and David (1-2 Samuel; 1-2 Kings),
only confirm the Maccabean canon we have noticed in the other
statements of characters.

b. Evidence of 'Scriptural Status for the Author(s) of 1 Maccabees 7.17
Quotation of Psalm 79

On the compositional level, the possible use of Psalm 79 by the author(s)
of 1 Maccabees at 7.17 is ambiguous. At 7.16, following the description of
Alcimus' wooing of the scribes and Asidaioi (7.12-15), the narrator states
that they accepted his offers of peace, but that Alcimus took sixty of them
and killed them KOTO TOV Aoyov ov hfpatytv CCUTOV ('in accordance with
the word which he wrote').37

The quote of Psalm 79 follows. Given the
reference to a written word, it seems likely that the narrator is quoting
Psalm 79.2-3 here.38

Though there are a few words missing in the first half

of the quote, the second half is a direct quotation.
While it is probable that 1 Maccabees is referring to the psalm as
something that has come to pass (as one might expect of holy Scripture),
the narrator also attributes the psalm to Alcimus.39

The fact that the
psalm (or at least the specific part of the psalm quoted) was authored by
Alcimus, puts the scriptural nature of said psalm in doubt. Though it is
possible the author(s) quotes the psalm to show the fulfilment of
prophecy, the reference may be less realization of 'holy word' than
recognition of the high priest's own words. That is, the reference to the
psalm is not meant to suggest some sort of holy or prophetic status for the
specific psalm or the psalms as a whole, but merely to show the fulfilment
of Alcimus' own words, either as irony or history. It is also possible that

37 Though certain manuscripts (the corrected text of Sinaiticus, the Lucianic text,
specific codices) supply alternatively 'the prophet', 'David', or 'the prophet Asaph', it is clear
that the original reading of Sinaiticus is the lectio dificilior and is followed by Rahlfs. I use
this reading in agreement with Goldstein and Scolnic; see notes below.
38 Goldstein, / Maccabees, p. 332, claims 7.17 is a free quotation of Psalm 79.
39 Ibid., p. 332 and B. E. Scolnic, Alcimus, Enemy of the Maccabees (Lanham: University
Press of America, 2005).


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

the author(s) both recognizes Alcimus' authorship of the Psalm and its
scriptural status, though this seems improbable.
In other parts of 1 Maccabees, such as the description of the ends of
reigns of high priests (9.22, 73; 16.23-24), it is clear 1 Maccabees is familiar
with the style of the books of Judges and Kings, however it is not evident
that these are also considered to be Scripture. (However, see the
discussion above.)

This problem of ambiguity is likely avoided when one looks at the
poetic preisgedicht describing Simon's reign in 14.4-15. There are
references to Leviticus (26.3-4), Zechariah (8.4) and Micah (4.4)40

particularly hint at the fulfilment of prophecy. Specifically, it is v. 8 which
nearly directly quotes the reward promised by Leviticus for keeping all the
statutes and ordinances. The suggestion is of course that in the reign of
Simon, all the decrees were followed. Similarly, 14.9a is a free quotation of
Zech. 8.4, where he states that old men and old women will sit in the
streets. 1 Maccabees only misses the women, but the meaning is the same:
Jerusalem is inhabited again and there is peace. Finally, 14.12 is a direct
quotation of Mic. 4.4, where the prophet states that in the time to come,
when Jerusalem is raised up, 'they shall all sit under their own vines and
under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid'. The text of
1 Mace. 14.12 merely brings this to the current situation and implies that
the prophecy is fulfilled. These latter quotations would suggest a level of
belief in these prophets as trustworthy. It is however unclear whether the
writings of the prophets were considered Scripture by the author(s) or by
the characters in his work.
Though the author(s) does obviously know additional writings to those
of which his characters show awareness, it is unclear whether he considers
these scriptural. It is almost certain the author(s), like his characters,
considers the Pentateuch scriptural. His use of quotes and stylistic points
of the rest of the literature in our modern canon(s) is not enough to make
definite statements about the status of those books. Perhaps this should
not be surprising though, for, as Giuseppe Veltri points out:

The written as well oral [sic] Torah had been given as an inheritance to
the Jewish people whose task was to observe, explain, and transmit it to
the present and future generations. This conception affects all the
Hebrew canon of the first five books, though not necessarily the others.
These never had the same position, degree and honour of the Mosaic

40 Goldstein, / Maccabees, p. 491. Though most of these references are agreed upon by

most commentators.
41 Veltri, Libraries, p. 11.

BORCHARDT Scripture in 1 Maccabees


Concluding Remarks

Let us review what we can say for certain about the Scriptures in 1
Maccabees: (1) The Scriptures are holy, and it is enough of an accepted
situation that it can be raised as a fact in a diplomatic communication
from a Jewish ruler to the nations. For the author(s) too, there seems to be
a strong belief in the holiness of some books due to their statements about
the divine. (2) The Scriptures are used as an encouragement to the Jewish
people, reminding them of their covenant with the deity, and their
frequent victories over adversity through this covenant throughout
history. The Scriptures also serve as a guideline for orthodox behaviour
and perhaps as a window toward divine will. The author(s) further uses
the Scriptures as support for his argument of Hasmonaean superiority
and as evidence for the validity of the rewards for obeisance to the Torah.
(3) The scriptures belong to Israel, that is, to the Jewish nation, its priests,
elders, leaders and commoners and most importantly to the ancestors.
They are however never described as belonging to the LORD or Moses or
any other individual. The author(s) is a member of the group to whom the
Scriptures belong and writes to this community, as is clear from his
biblical references and style. The biblical allusions the authors) makes are
frequent, but are never fully explained, which speaks to their familiarity to
the author(s) and audience. (4) The Scriptures consist of at least some
parts of the Pentateuch, as can be seen by the mention of the books of law
and covenant (1.56, 57; 3.48). There may be much more included, such as
some prophets and some of the Deuteronomistic history, as well as some
psalms, but it is not certain. This is due to the possibility of oral
transmission of prophecy and nationalistic legends, and the further
possibility that though the Former and Latter Prophets may have existed
in scroll form, they were not considered holy or Scripture. At the very least
the concept of Scripture in 1 Maccabees can be described as Torah-centric
with a possibility that it is limited to the Torah.
In closing, we recognize the composite concept of Scripture one
perceives after reading 1 Maccabees may be only partially complete. The
text gives few details and few definite clues from which the picture can be
filled out. However, it must be acknowledged that we know more about
the concept of Scripture for the characters and author(s) of this book,
than we do for most other books of the late Hellenistic period.

Chapter 3



Ian W. Scott

Introduction: No Canon for Second Temple Jews?

In recent discussions of Second Temple Judaism one often hears that there
was no canon of Jewish Scripture before at least the third or fourth
century CE. The suggestion is not that Jews were without any collection of
authoritative writings. It is simply that the ideas of closure and exclusivity
which are fundamental to the later notion of canon have not yet emerged
in Second Temple Jewish thought. A close reading of the Book of Aristeas,
however, seems to demonstrate quite the opposite - that some
Alexandrian Jews had developed a full concept of 'canon' well before
the Common Era. Although this work is often called the Letter of
it is not really a letter at all. It is a fictionalized account
(Sirjynois) of the translation of the Pentateuch into Greek under Ptolemy
II Philadelphus (285-246 BCE).1

The writer adopts the persona of Aristeas,
a gentile administrator in Ptolemy's Alexandrian court. The actual author
is most likely an Egyptian Jew who put pen to papyrus during the latter
half of the second century BCE.2

On a careful examination of this narrative

1 For recent surveys of Aristeas see J. M. G. Barclay, Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora
from Alexander to Trajan (323 BCE-117 CE)
(Berkeley: University of California, 1996),
pp. 138-50; G. Boccaccini, Middle Judaism: Jewish Thought, 300 BCE. to 200 CE
(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991), pp. 161-85; J. J. Collins, Between Athens and
Jerusalem: Jewish Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora
(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2nd
edn, 2000), pp. 97-103,191-5. Throughout I will use the name Aristeas to refer to the Active
narrator of the story and the italicized Aristeas for the literary work as a whole. Although
some writers find it convenient to call the author by the name Aristeas as well, I will avoid
this practice for the sake of clarity.
2 The recent consensus places Aristeas some time in the second century BCE, with a
preference (on grounds of language and the Ptolemaic procedures depicted) for the latter
third of that century. See Barclay, Mediterranean Diaspora, p. 445; Collins, Athens and
pp. 98-101; M. Hadas, Aristeas to Philocrates: Letter of Aristeas (New York and

SCOTT Jewish Canon before 100 BCE


we find that the Pentateuch (and the Pentateuch alone) is depicted as a
scriptural 'canon' in the strongest sense of the word. This 'law' is, for the
author of Aristeas, a fixed collection of documents whose contents cannot
be altered, the product of a considered decision to embrace only these
books as the highest authority for the Jewish community.

1. A Unified, Authoritative Collection

It should be obvious at least that the writer of this Alexandrian work
regards the Pentateuch as a single, unified collection of texts. It is
identified in the narrative by singular terms such as 'law' (vouos in 3, 45,
46, 122, etc.), 'legislation' (vouoeEoia in 5, 15, 31, 128, 129, 133, 147, 176,
313), or even 'the writing' (r\ ypa>r| in 155, 168). At the same time, the
plurality of these texts is recognized in plural designations such as 'the
books' (PipAia in 28, 31,46,176, 317) or 'the parchments' (TOUS UUEVOIS in

In section 30 these ideas of unity and plurality are brought together
in the expression 'books of the law' (TOU vouou ... |3i(iAia). Clearly this
'law' is understood by the author as a single collection consisting of
distinct individual books.
In the narrative of Aristeas this collection also functions as the one
authoritative basis for Jewish life. In general the members of the
Ptolemaic court treat the law as the legal constitution of the Jewish
people, and the high priest's own repeated references to Moses as 'the
lawgiver' (139, 144) seem to set him alongside such Greek legislators as
Solon and Lycurgus. When Eleazar describes the Jews' moral distinctive
ness he presumes that his people all live by the prescriptions of this legal
code. After all, his speech is framed as an apology for the odd practices
which gentile Alexandrians actually observe in the lives of their Jewish
neighbours, practices dictated by the Jews' unusual law (144). Through
this legislation, for example, Moses 'constrains' (avayKO^Ei) the Jewish
people to avoid eating animals without a cloven hoof (151). On the other
hand, it is because the Jews actually submit to such rules that they are
'separated from all other people' and so are saved from the corrupting
influence of the gentiles' wicked behaviour (151-152). Because the Jews
accept the law's authority, its requirements form 'unbreakable barriers

London: Harper, 1951), pp. 3-54; G. W. E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature between the Bible
and the Mishnah: A Literary and Historical Introduction
(Minneapolis: Fortress, 2nd edn,
2005), p. 198.

3 See also 'lawbooks' (voutuoc) in 10 (cf. Eleazar in 127). All quotations from the Greek
text are taken from the Thackeray edition, as re-published in 'Letter of Aristeas', edition 1.0,
in The Online Critical Pseudepigrapha (ed. K. M. Penner, D. M. Miller and I. W. Scott;
Atlanta: SBL, 2006), . This text has been
compared against Pelletier's more reliable edition. English translations are my own.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

and iron walls' (ccStccKOTrois X^PA





otSnpois TEI'XEOIV) which defend
Israel's monotheistic piety and righteousness (139). The Jews' actual
devotion to these practices is further attested by the Egyptian priests who
acknowledge them as 'people of God' (140-141) because of their uniquely
pious lifestyle.

2. Closed, Fixed and Permanent

Eugene Ulrich has rightly emphasized that even an authoritative
collection of texts is not yet a 'canon' in the sense made popular by
fourth-century Christian writers. Ulrich offers a stronger definition of

The final, fixed, and closed list of the books of scripture that are
officially and permanently accepted as supremely authoritative by a
faith tradition, in conscious contradistinction from those books that are
not accepted.4

In particular, Ulrich emphasizes that in order for a collection of
authoritative writings to be considered a 'canon' it must be the product
of 'reflective judgement' which produces a 'closed list' of texts.5

Does the

author of Aristeas really have such a robust view of the Pentateuch?
Certainly the narrative presumes that the law is 'closed'. Even the
wording of the collection is regarded as fixed and unchangeable. Hence
there is great concern in Aristeas for verbatim accuracy in the copying and
translation of the law (30-31). Once a precise translation has been made,
the Alexandrian Jewish leaders declare that 'this should remain exactly so'
(5iauE»vr| Tcttfff OUTCDS EXOVTOC) and that 'it should never be revised' (ur|
yEvriTCCi imSEuia SiaoKEurj) (310). They even add a curse on 'anyone who
might alter [SiaoKEudoEi] any of what was written by adding or changing
anything [TTPOOTISEW rj u£Ta(|>Epcov -ri], or by making a deletion

[TTOIOUUEVOS d>a»p£Oiv]' (311). Aristeas, the Active narrator, adds that
the curse was pronounced 'as was their custom' (KCCBCOS E'BOS auTdis

EOTIV) (311). In other words, the Jewish community has for some time
viewed the Hebrew text of Torah as fixed, and this notion is now simply
extended to the new translation. This ideal of fixity is no temporary

4 E. Ulrich, 'The Notion and Definition of Canon', in L. M. McDonald and J. A.
Sanders (eds), The Canon Debate (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2002), pp. 21-35 (31).
5 Ulrich, 'Notion and Definition', pp. 32-3. In the same volume, Philip Davies makes
some excellent observations about the oddness of this definition, since 'canon' language has
long been used to describe a much more diverse activity common to most literate cultures
('The Jewish Scriptural Canon in Cultural Perspective', in McDonald and Sanders (eds), The
Canon Debate,
pp. 36-52). Still, since in biblical studies it is usually the later theological
notions of canon which lie in the background of our discussions, it is appropriate for us to
use the term with particular care.

SCOTT Jewish Canon before 100 BCE


expedient. The Jewish leaders enact their curse to ensure that the
translation 'would be guarded forever, everlasting and permanent' (Sid

TTCCVTOS devvaa KCU UEVOVTO: 4>uAdoonTat) (311). Even though the realities
of textual transmission never lived up to this concern for stability, the
author of Aristeas understands every detail of the documents to be set and
unchangeable for all time.
If the very wording of the law is to be fixed, then the Alexandrian
Jewish community which makes the declaration must be operating (at
least in this depiction) with a 'closed list' of books. Nothing may be
'added' or 'deleted', certainly not entire works. Notice the close similarity
between the elders' declaration in Aristeas 311 and Athanasius' declar
ation in his 39th festal letter: 'Let no one add to these; let nothing be taken
away from them' (UTISE'IS TOUTOIS Ein{iaAA£Tco, ur|5£ TOUTCOV daip£io6co


This is the passage quoted by Ulrich himself in order to illustrate the
key idea of closure in his definition of canon.7

It is striking, then, that the
Jewish author of Aristeas, writing prior to 100 BCE, can have the
Alexandrian elders make such a similar declaration. The two statements
even use cognate terms (d<(>aip£Ois and d<|>atpEco) for the forbidden act of
'omitting' or 'removing' anything from their respective scriptural collec
tions. Granted, the 'things' which are fixed in Aristeas are primarily the
words and sentences, while Athanasius is more concerned with the
addition or subtraction of whole books. It would seem to require special
pleading, however, to argue that the statement in Aristeas means less than
the later Christian declaration. Rather, it would seem that the
Alexandrian Jews in the account are so familiar with the law as a fixed
list of books that it does not occur to them to ban such gross changes to its

3. The Product of 'Reflective Judgement'

Is there evidence, though, for Ulrich's other key feature of a 'canon'? Does
a 'reflective judgement' lie behind this closed collection of writings?
Within the narrative of Aristeas, the formal acceptance of the new
translation in 308-311 seems to reflect just this kind of judgement. For it is
not merely the reception of one more 'version' of Torah. Rather, this
scene re-enacts Israel's original reception of the law in the book of
Exodus. Harry Orlinsky has pointed out the ritual and verbal parallels
between the Alexandrian elders' ratification of the new translation and

6 Athanasius, Ep.fest. xxxrx, in Fonti. Fasciolo ix. Discipline generate antique (ii-ix s.).
Les canons des peres grecs, vol. II
(ed. P.-P. Joannou; Rome: Tipographia Italo-Orientale S.
Nilo, 1963), pp. 71-6 (75, lines 5-6). The English translation follows A. Robertson in NPNF*

7 Ulrich, 'Notion and Definition', p. 31 n. 31.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

Israel's acceptance of the original Torah in Exod. 24.3-7. There the
nation was gathered and Moses 'read aloud to the people' (^TND Nip**!
•IT!) the words of the law (Exod. 24.7).9

The assembled Israelites then
responded by committing themselves to obey the divine commands (Exod.
24.7). In Aristeas 308, likewise, we are told that Demetrius 'gathered the
assembly of the Jews', took the newly completed translation, and 'read it
aloud to them all' (TrccpavEyvco irdai). As in Exodus, the assembled
Jewish community responds with affirmation, this time heaping accolades
on Demetrius and asking that he have copies made 'to be passed on to
their leaders' (uETccSouvat TOTS IIYOUUEVOIS auxcbv) (309). In Exodus the
ceremony of ratification takes place at the site where the Torah was
received, Mt Sinai. In Aristeas 308, likewise, the author is at pains to
emphasize that the community gathers to approve the new text at 'the site
where the work of translation had been completed' (TOV TOTTOV ou KCU TO
IpurjvEias ETEXEOOTI).10

Notice, too, that the group of 72 translators
who stand with the gathered throng seems calculated to correspond to the
70 elders who went with Moses up the mountain to receive the Hebrew
original (Exod. 24.9).11

After all, the account of their selection in Aristeas
46-50 identifies the translators as 'elders' (irpEOpuTEpot) and the author
even resurrects the full 12 tribes so that each can be represented in the

In this context the assembly gathered to hear the new
translation is not merely one particular 'community' of Jews. As Orlinsky
emphasizes, the presence of the translators allows all 12 tribes to be

8 Harry Orlinsky, 'Septuagint as Holy Writ and the Philosophy of the Translators',
HUCA 46 (1975): 89-114 (94-5).
9 Orlinsky ('Holy Writ', pp. 94-5) points out two closely parallel rituals in other biblical
books. In 2 Kings (4 Kdms) 23.2 the people gather in the temple and Josiah 'read aloud to
them' (pmNQ ^IjTI) the text of the rediscovered 'Book of the Law'. Again, in Neh. 8.3 (2
Esdr. 18.3) the post-exilic community gathers in Jerusalem to hear the law once more. We are
told that Ezra 'read from it* (D N*"p',,

)) and that the words were heard by 'the ears of all the
(pV'n'b'D "*3Tt%)_ Orlinsky also notes a partial parallel to this ritual in Jer. 36.1-10.
10 See also Sylvie Honigman, Septuagint and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria: A Study
in the Narrative of the Letter of Aristeas
(New York: Routledge, 2003), pp. 53-9. Honigman
has noted that Aristeas seems in fact to be structured around three episodes which parallel
the events of the book of Exodus. First, we find that the Jews have been taken to Egypt as
slaves and we witness their liberation (12-27, 33-37). Second, we see the selection of elders
from all the 12 tribes of Israel (46-50). Aristeas 308-311 then constitutes the third episode in
this triptych of intertextual connections with Exodus.
11 Honigman {Septuagint, p. 58) is likely right that the author of Aristeas is forced to the
number 72 (instead of the biblical 70) by his desire to have the Jewish delegation fit
Hellenistic civic practice, in which each tribe would be represented by an equal number of
delegates. The figure of six delegates from each tribe, unusual in Hellenistic political
assemblies, is evidence of the writer's attempt to come as close as possible to a parallel for the
70 elders of Exodus.
12 So Orlinsky, 'Holy Writ', p. 98; Honigman, Septuagint, p. 57.

SCOTT Jewish Canon before 100 BCE


represented in a formal gathering of the whole 'Jewish people' (TO irXflSos
Tcbv'louSaicov) (308).13
All of this would seem to confirm the suggestion made by Orlinsky, and
echoed by both Sylvie Honigman and Benjamin Wright, that this
ceremony amounts to the Jewish people's formal acceptance of the
Greek law as authoritative Scripture in its own right.14

The echo of
Deuteronomy in the curses which follow simply underlines the fact that
the people are here re-affirming these texts as the basis of their
relationship with their God.15

One could ask for no clearer example of
'reflective judgement' than this. For the author of Aristeas, the
Alexandrian community has enacted once again Israel's ritual of
commitment to the authority of the law, now in its Greek manifestation.
Yet the 'reflective judgement' for which Ulrich looks in the birth of a
canon seems to be more than a positive decision that a certain list of texts
is authoritative. He seems to require that this 'reflection' include the
conscious and deliberate exclusion of other texts which might have been

Here we must admit that Aristeas lacks any hint of such a

polemic against other documents.17

In fact, there is no clear reference or
allusion to a single Jewish text aside from the books of Moses themselves.
Yet the overt disputes surrounding the canon lists of fourth-century
Christian writers are not the only kind of evidence which can point to a
considered rejection of other documents as 'non-canonical'. On the
contrary, the silence in Aristeas about any competing documents may
simply indicate that the Jewish community in the narrative is settled and
unanimous in their decision. Where there are no competing judgements,
there is no need for polemics. One might argue, of course, that the
'judgement' in favour of a canon cannot really be 'reflective' unless the
community in question has entertained alternative opinions as 'live

13 Orlinsky, 'Holy Writ', pp. 96, 98; so Honigman, Septuagint, p. 57; H. G. Meecham,
The Letter of Aristeas: A Linguistic Study with Special Reference to the Greek Bible

(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1935), p. 305. All of these writers point also to the
similar, formal use of TrAfjSos in 1 Mace., 2 Mace., and Acts.
14 See Orlinsky, 'Holy Writ', pp. 96-100; Honigman, Septuagint, p. 53; See also B. G.
Wright III, 'Translation as Scripture' in W. Kraus and R. G. Wooden (eds), Septuagint
(Atlanta: SBL, 2006), pp. 47-61.
15 Orlinsky ('Holy Writ', pp. 95-6) points out Moses' instruction in Deut. 4.1-2: 'You
must neither add (ou TTpoo6r
|0£T£) anything to what I command you nor take away anything
from it (
OUK OC^EASTTS dir' auToO)'. Cf. Honigman, Septuagint, p. 59; A. Paul, 'Traductions
grecques de la Bible avant la Septante?' in M. M. Mactoux and E. Geny (eds), Melanges P.
Leveque, IV, Religion
(Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1990), pp. 315-28 (323).
16 See Ulrich, 'Notion and Definition', pp. 30-3.
17 See, e.g., S. Jellicoe, 'The Occasion and Purpose of the Book of Aristeas: A Re-
Examination', NTS 12 (1966): 144-50. It seems more probable, however, that the book is
arguing for the full, independent authority of the Greek translation, over against a secondary
status dependent on the Hebrew original.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

options'. Yet this requirement would seem suspiciously 'modern' and
European in its bias toward diversity of opinion as a prerequisite for
'reflection'. Moreover, if one were to require evidence of diverse opinions
in order to recognize the existence of a canon, one would be in the odd
position of affirming that a collection is 'canonical' where its communal
authority is comparatively weak, but denying that same collection the title
'canon' when it succeeds in establishing its hegemony! Provided that a
community is at least aware of other writings, or of other communities
which look to different authoritative texts, the affirmation of a closed
collection is always implicitly a rejection of those other possibilities. To
the extent, then, that an authoritative collection is closed, and is
deliberately affirmed in its authority by the community in question, this
ought to suffice as the 'reflective judgement' necessary to establish a fully
fledged scriptural canon.
What we can say in the case of Aristeas is that the Jewish community of
the narrative, though it knows other writings, gives no other text the same
authority it grants to the law. Eleazar and the Jewish translators realize
that other peoples live by other laws (e.g., 239-240). They are quite clear,
however, that the only law they will recognize is the code handed down
from Moses. It is precisely the distinctiveness of this law that has kept the
Jews pure, as a nation, from the idolatry of other peoples (139-141). Even
more significant is the complete silence in the narrative about the
'prophets' or other Jewish works outside the Pentateuch. The author of
Aristeas certainly knew of other Jewish writings, many of which were
already being afforded some measure of authority by Jewish commu

Even if the Alexandrian author is intent on reflecting the situation
at the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus (the early to mid-third century BCE) it
is difficult to imagine that he thought Eleazar and the translators were
ignorant of other Jewish writings. The Hebrew original of Ben Sira's
wisdom, written between 196 and 175 BCE, already reflects an extensive
knowledge of the 'prophetic' corpus and seems to presume a similar
familiarity in his audience (see Sir. 50.1-21).19

Would the author of
Aristeas, writing at least a generation later, imagine that these other

18 Around this same time Ben Sira's grandson, another Jew staying in Alexandria, tells
us that wisdom and instruction are found in 'the Law and the Prophets and the other books
of the fathers' (
TOU VOUOU Kca xcbv rrpo<|>r|Tcbv KOU TCOV dAXcov ircxTpicov PipXicov) (Sir.,
prologue 8-10; cf. 1). Even if this description of Israel's literature cannot be read as the
translator's own reference to a scriptural 'canon', it clearly illustrates the breadth of Jewish
literature with which the author of Aristeas would have been familiar. On the date of the
Greek version of Ben Sira, see Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature, pp. 62-3.
19 For Ben Sira's date see Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature, p. 62. One can easily point to
other evidence of the prophets' popularity throughout the second century BCE. Some time
around 164 BCE, for example, the author of Daniel knows Jeremiah as a prophet of God and
can quote from some form of his book (Dan. 9.2; cf. Jer. 25.12; 29.10).

SCOTT Jewish Canon before 100 BCE


ancient writings had been unknown in the previous century? After all,
most of those prophetic writings purport to be centuries older than the
Ptolemaic dynasty itself. Under these circumstances the silence in Aristeas
about any other Jewish texts is highly significant. The law of Moses is
simply presumed to be the one and only authoritative basis for Jewish life.
These works alone are chosen to be translated because they alone are
credited with founding and maintaining the Jews' distinctive piety and

So when the Jewish people gather (in representative form) and
embrace the Greek law as their fixed and foundational authority, we must
understand this as an exclusive decision which, however implicitly, refuses
the same status to any other documents.
This is not to say that the Jewish community in Aristeas rejects other
Jewish books outright. In no period of Jewish or Christian life has the
recognition of some books as a 'canon' implied that nothing else had
value in shaping the community's faith and practice. Returning to the
39th Festal Letter of Athanasius, we find that his list of canonical books is
followed immediately by another list of writings 'appointed by the Fathers
to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the
word of godliness'.21

These other books are edifying and are even afforded
a crucial role in the formation of catechumens. They simply do not play
the same kind of authoritative role for Athanasius that the 'canonical'
documents do. Likewise, the Jewish closing of the Tanakh did not require
the abandonment of the Mishnah or the other Rabbinic writings. In the
same way, the writer of Aristeas may not mean to imply that his third-
century-BCE forebears rejected the authority of the prophets entirely. In
the narrative of Aristeas, however, only the law of Moses is judged fit by
the Jewish community to stand as their central, unchangeable, unques
tionable authority. Whatever other texts they might accept are clearly
subordinated to the primary authority of the law. In this sense, the
people's decision is deliberately exclusive.

4. The Language of 'Canon'

Finally, it should not go unnoticed that Aristeas actually calls the law a
'canon'. Ulrich is representative of the recent discussion when he writes

20 It is certainly not the case that Ptolemy or his courtiers have an exclusive interest in
legal codes. The legal genre of Moses' works seems incidental to the interest they generate for
Aristeas and Demetrius, who are driven by a much broader interest in 'divine matters' (

SEICC) (3). One would think that such an interest would draw them as much toward the oracles
of Jeremiah or Isaiah as to the Mosaic collection. Throughout the account, however, these
gentile students of Jewish wisdom seem unaware that these other documents even exist.
21 Athanasius, Ep. fest. xxxix.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

that the term 'as used in relation to the Bible arose in Christian circles'.
Similarly, Julio Trebolle Barrera claims that 'the Greek term "canon"
comes from New Testament studies' and that it 'belongs to a very late
period in the history of the formation of the NT canon'. Hence it is 'quite
unsuitable' to use the term 'canon' in reference to Jewish collections prior
to the common era.23

Yet the writer of Aristeas constitutes a clear, and
very early, example of what these scholars deny. This second-century-BCE
Alexandrian writer refers to the law using the same Greek word, KCCVCOV,
which was used by later Christian writers in describing their larger biblical
collection. In section 2 Aristeas describes the intellectual and educational
ideal which he and Philocrates share. He reminds his audience that 'if it is
inclined toward piety, the greatest of all goals, [the soul] obtains a rule
which will not deceive when one consults it [airAaveT Kexpr|UEvr| KCCVOVI]'
(2). It is not immediately clear that the KCCVCOV under discussion is the
Jewish law. The nature of this 'rule' is left unspecified, a generic reward
toward which Aristeas' pious life will lead. Aristeas goes on to explain,
however, that this piety, this devotion to 'divine things', led him to join the
embassy to Eleazar in Jerusalem (3). What did Aristeas hope to gain from
his journey? What is this 'greatest benefit' (|JEyiaTr|v co^eAeiav) which the
high priest offers? It is his ability to 'interpret the divine law' (*rr|v
Epimveiav TOU Seiou vouou), that is, the Torah which is written 'in Hebrew
characters' (ippcciKoTs ypccuuocaiv) (3). This legislation is the prize he
gained in his pious quest. It would seem, then, that the 'rule' (KCCVCOV)
which Aristeas has hoped to attain is embodied in the Jewish law. This
identification of the law as a reliable KCCVCOV is then reinforced when
Eleazar describes Torah's function in Jewish life using the cognate verb
Kccvovi^co, 'measure or judge by rule\24

'Everything', says the high priest,
'is judged according to this standard [KEKCCVOVIOTCCI] SO that righteousness
will result' (168).

Taken together, these two passages make it clear that the author of
Aristeas understands the law to be a KOCVCOV, a rule or standard according
to which Jews ought to measure all of their life and behaviour. True, the
thrust of the term 'canon' here is not first and foremost the closed and
fixed nature of the Mosaic books. By calling the law a canon the author
is instead highlighting its function in the Jewish community. Yet even the
fourth-century Christian polemicists seem to use this term as much more
than a mere signal that their list of authoritative books is closed. When

22 Ulrich, 'Notion and Definition', p. 22. Ulrich goes on to claim that 'no similar term is
attested in Jewish writings, including the Septuagint... until comparatively late' (ibid., p. 22).
By 'comparatively late' Ulrich clearly means later than the first century CE, perhaps as late as
the fourth century CE (ibid., p. 31).
23 J. Trebolle Barrera, The Jewish Bible and the Christian Bible (trans. W. G. E. Watson;
Leiden: Brill, 1998), p. 14.
24 LSJ, 875 (1.1).

SCOTT Jewish Canon before 100 BCE


Athanasius introduces his list of the books which ought to serve as a

KCCVCOV, he is concerned above all with the pastoral impact of other books
on 'the ignorant and simple' who are ied astray'.25

The books authorized
in the bishop's letter are the ones he believes to be 'fountains of
salvation' where 'they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words
they contain'.26

This concern seems very close to the interest in Aristeas
on finding a KCCVCOV which can be an unerring guide in life (Aristeas 2).
Our discussions of canon must thus accommodate the fact that the
author of Aristeas can already refer to a closed, exclusive list of
authoritative books as a 'canon' more than a century before the dawn of

Conclusions: The Idea of Canon among Second Temple Jews

All of this works together to show that the Book of Aristeas depicts the
law of Moses as a canon in the full sense of the word. A strong sense of
canon - including the ideas of closure, permanence and deliberate
exclusivity - did not have to wait for the emergence of the Christian canon
in the fourth century CE. At the very least we can say that this idea of
canon was already present in some Jewish circles more than four centuries
earlier. We can likely go further and speculate that the author of Aristeas
embraced this concept of canon himself as he reflected on Torah. Indeed,
it is difficult to avoid the likelihood that if we see such a view depicted
(with no polemical edge) in a popular text of the time, then it would have
been espoused by some whole Jewish communities.
The implications of this evidence for the current conversation around
canon development are profound and far-reaching. The ideas found in
Aristeas suggest that it is only partly true to say that the Jewish canon
remained 'open' in the late Second Temple period. For some Jews, the
Pentateuch was likely viewed as a fixed, closed and exclusive canon for
Israel from at least the early second century BCE onward. The fact that
other collections could then be added alongside the law need not have
detracted from the canonical nature of that Mosaic collection. After all,
many Jews seem not to have added any further books to the law itself.
There is also considerable evidence that many Jews continued to regard
Torah as Israel's primary authority, even after they came to embrace
other writings as part of a wider scriptural heritage.27

In fact, Aristeas
seems to confirm Philip Davies' suggestion that the later Tanakh was not

25 Athanasius, Ep.fest. XXXIX.
26 Ibid.
27 One may detect, for example, the lingering priority of the law in the prologue of
Sirach, which ends with the hope that the translated wisdom will benefit those who 'are


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

one canon, but rather a composite collection of canons. The supple
mentary collections which later emerged alongside the law may not at first
have been afforded the depth of authority granted to Torah.
On the other hand, the existence of the idea of canon at this early stage
requires that we re-think our interpretation of the evidence for diversity or
openness in the scriptural collections of some Jewish groups. The
popularity of Jubilees and the Temple Scroll at Qumran does not
necessarily mean that the list of Moses' books was understood to be
'open' by Jews on the ground. It may be that the Qumran sectarians
worked with an alternate canon of the law which was still as closed and
fixed for that community's members as the Pentateuch is for the author of
Aristeas. On the other hand, if some Jewish groups did have a less rigid
understanding of their Scriptures, Aristeas reminds us that others could at
the same time have thought more in terms of a fixed and exclusive 'canon'.
Finally, once the ideas of closure, permanence and exclusivity are an
established part of the Jewish intellectual repertoire, it can become both
meaningful and accurate to speak of 'pre-canonical' literature. This need
not involve an anachronistic projection of the final Tanakh back into the
Second Temple period, as if that particular end were an inevitable
historical necessity. Rather, once a true canon of the law was established
in some Jewish groups, it would be natural for questions to arise as to
whether other inchoate groups of documents might some day be 'closed'
in the same way. In other words, it becomes plausible to think that some
Jews anticipated the closure of, for example, the collection of the
prophets, long before that closure was a common reality. The emphasis on
a fixed text of Torah in Aristeas even suggests that we should be more
cautious in claiming that Second Temple Jews always accepted the
pluriformity of their scriptural books.29
The evidence presented by the Book of Aristeas does not somehow
license a return to the simplistic, overconfident models of canonization of
an earlier generation. The work of Eugene Ulrich and others has forced us
now to recognize that the canon's development was a far messier, and far
later, process than we had imagined before. We cannot even say whether
the author of Aristeas shared the completely Torah-centric outlook of the

disposed to live according to the law (EVVOUCOS PioTeueiv)' (prologue 35-36). This is the same
writer who, earlier on in the prologue, identifies a collection of 'prophets' alongside the iaw'
as another source of instruction.
28 Davies, 'Jewish Scriptural Canon', p. 48. On the other hand, I would suggest that the
evidence of Aristeas does not fit well with Davies' suggestion on the same page (and
throughout much of the article) that the Hebrew canons represented 'more or less all that
there was' (ibid., 48). Aside from anything else, this impression may be the result of other
Hebrew literature having been forgotten. The canon of the law, however, was clearly closed
for the author of Aristeas despite an abundance of other Hebrew writings in existence.
29 See, e.g., Ulrich, 'Notion and Definition', pp. 31-2.

SCOTT Jewish Canon before 100 BCE


Jews in his narrative, or whether he allowed a significant role for Israel's
prophets which is simply obscured by his subject matter. What Aristeas
does show, however, is that we cannot correct earlier maximal readings of
the evidence for canon development simply by rushing to the opposite
extreme of minimalism.

Chapter 4


Matthew J. Goff


It has been claimed that one of Ben Sira's most important sources is the
Demotic Egyptian wisdom text known as Papyrus Insinger. Jack Sanders
argues that there are too many points of contact to warrant 'explanation
on the basis of sage observation alone. We are dealing with borrowing.'1
Sanders makes a notable contribution to the study of Ben Sira by
pointing out its numerous affinities with P. Insinger. But their similarities
are probably not a case of direct dependence. In many cases the
similarities between P. Insinger and Ben Sira can be easily attributed to
the fact that each work draws on the native wisdom traditions of its own
country, and there are broad similarities between the traditional wisdom
of Egypt and of Israel. The two compositions also have features, I shall
argue, that are compatible with broader intellectual trends during the
Hellenistic period.

Papyrus Insinger

Papyrus Insinger comprises over 800 maxims that are in the form of single
line, complete sentences.2

It contains practical and ethical instruction,

An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the Society of
Biblical Literature in Philadelphia on 20 November 2005. A more in-depth engagement of the
topics raised in this article is available in M. J. Goff, 'Hellenistic Instruction in Palestine and
Egypt: Ben Sira and Papyrus Insinger', JSJ 36 (2005): 147-72.
1 J. T. Sanders, Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom (Chico: Scholars Press, 1983), p. 100. In
earlier scholarship he expressed more caution. See his 'Ben Sira's Ethics of Caution', HUCA
50 (1979): 73-106 (esp. 105). He restates the thesis of his 1983 book in 'Concerning Ben Sira
and Demotic Wisdom: A Response to Matthew J. Goff, JSJ 38 (2007): 297-306.
2 Translations are from M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (3 vols; Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1973-80), 3.184-217. Scholarship on this text includes J. R.
Houser Wegner, 'Cultural and Literary Continuity in the Demotic Instructions' (Ph.D. diss.:
Yale, 2001); M. Lichtheim, Late Egyptian Wisdom Literature in the International Context: A

GOFF Ben Sira and Papyrus Insinger


while also treating theological topics such as the divine control of the
world. Frantisek Lexa, one of the first editors of P. Insinger, dated the
work to the first century CE, and thus later than Ben Sira (c. 180 BCE).3
The Danish scholar Aksel Volten proposed that the original text of the
composition was older and 'vielleichf dates to pre-Ptolemaic times (that
is, older than 323 BCE).4

There are no historical references in the text that
would require an early dating. Lichtheim suggests conservatively that P.
Insinger may be older than 100 CE.5
Sanders asserts that 'it seems to be a safe assumption' that P. Insinger
was written before Ben Sira, or perhaps at roughly the same time.6

caution among Egyptologists on this point is well founded. Wisdom texts,
in both the Hebrew and Egyptian traditions, are in general notoriously
hard to date with precision. In this regard P. Insinger is no exception. The
view that Ben Sira relied directly on P. Insinger also has a language
barrier. One must assume either that Ben Sira knew Demotic or that an
Aramaic or Hebrew version of P. Insinger was in circulation.7

Neither of
these possibilities can be ruled out completely. But there is no explicit
evidence for either of them.8

Study of Demotic Instructions (OBO, 52; Fribourg and Gottingen: University Press and
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1983); eadem, 'Observations on Papyrus Insinger', in E. Homung
and O. Keel (eds), Studien zu altdgyptischen Lebenslehren (OBO, 28; Fribourg and Gottingen:
University Press and Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979), pp. 283-305; F. Lexa, Papyrus
Insinger. Les enseignements moraux d'un scribe egyptien du premier siecle apres Jesus Christ
(Paris: Librairie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1926). See also N. Shupak, Where Can Wisdom
Be Found?
(OBO, 130; Fribourg and Gottingen: University Press and Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht, 1993).

3 Lexa, Papyrus Insinger, 2.110. This date is based on the handwriting of the document.
P. Humbert, Recherches sur les sources egyptiennes de la litterature sapientiale d'Israel
(Neuchatel: Secretariat de l'Universite, 1929), pp. 143—4, 175, understands P. Insinger to be
from the first century CE. The correspondences between the two texts illustrate for him close
contact between Hebrew and Egyptian wisdom in the Hellenistic age. Lexa, Papyrus Insinger,
2.86, argues that Ben Sira and P. Insinger were influenced by the same sources. See also
Sanders, Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom, p. 80.
4 A. Volten, Das demotische Weisheitsbuch (AAeg, 2; Copenhagen: Einar Munksgaard,

1941), p. 123.

5 Ancient Egyptian Literature, 3.184. This view is also adopted in Houser Wegner,
'Cultural and Literary Continuity', p. 61.
6 Sanders, Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom, p. 70.
7 Sanders, Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom, p. 100.
8 Sanders, 'Concerning Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom', p. 304, argues that the discovery
of a transliteration of an Aramaic version of Psalm 20 into Demotic removes the 'language
barrier' I have raised (see my 'Hellenistic Instruction', p. 152). We both grant that it is
possible Ben Sira could have been familiar with a translation of P. Insinger - I merely stress
that no evidence of such a translation exists. See C. F. Nims and R. C. Steiner, 'A Paganized
Version of Psalm 20.2-6 from the Aramaic Text in Demotic Script', J AOS 103 (1983): 261-


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality I

Social Values and Moral Instruction in Ben Sira and Papyrus

There are many intriguing similarities between Ben Sira and P. Insinger,
as Sanders observes. Both portray the ideal man of wisdom. Both stress
filial piety and the avoidance of anxiety.9

They also urge one to avoid

greed and teach that secrets be kept,10

and both make a distinction

between the wise man and the fool.11
Both works stress the importance of one's name and reputation. Ben
Sira reads: 'The human body is a fleeting thing, but a virtuous name will
never be blotted out... The days of a good life are numbered, but a good
name lasts forever' (41.11-13; cf. 11.33; 15.6; 44.14; 45.1; 46.11; 49.1).12
This echoes the traditional wisdom of Proverbs.13

Papyrus Insinger also
emphasizes the name of the wise man: 'Wherever the wise man is, the
praise of his name is with him' (29.5; cf. 9.1-2, 23; 10.13; 14.3; 16.9; 22.8;
23.12; 28.8). The importance of one's reputation is commonplace in
Egyptian wisdom.14
Ben Sira and P. Insinger advocate what Sanders has aptly called an
'ethics of caution'.15

This term refers to a deferential and cautious attitude
in relation to superiors. P. Insinger states, for example: 'Do not approach
when it is not the time for it, for then your master will dislike you. Do not
be far, lest one must search for you and you become a stench to him'
(10.12-13; cf. 3.10-14; 4.2, 4; 22.8).16

Ben Sira offers a similar lesson:

74. A translation of this text is available in R. C. Steiner, 'The Aramaic Text in Demotic
Script', in W. W. Hallo et al. (eds), The Context of Scripture (3 vols; Leiden: Brill, 2003),

9 For filial piety, see Insing. 2.14 and Sir. 3.8; for the avoidance of anxiety, compare
Insing. 19.7-8 (the seventeenth instruction is devoted to this topic) with Sir. 30.21-24.
10 For the avoidance of greed, compare Insing. 15.19 (cf. 5.6; also note the fifteenth
instruction is devoted to this topic) with Sir. 31.5 (cf. 14.3; Prov. 28.20); for the value of
keeping secrets, compare Insing. 21.15 with Sir. 27.21 (cf. 13.12; 22.22; 27.16-17).
11 For P. Insinger compare, for example, 6.19 and 9.7. For Ben Sira, 21.10. See also
Lichtheim, Late Egyptian Wisdom Literature, pp. 118-19.
12 Sanders, Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom, pp. 84—5.
13 See, for example, Prov. 10.7: "The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name
of the wicked will rot.' Cf. 10.5; 22.1; Qoh. 7.1.
14 Instruction of Any: 'Do not leave when the chiefs enter, lest your name stink' (4.1);
Instruction of Ankhsheshonq 17.26: 'Be gentle and your reputation will increase in the hearts
of all men'; Instruction of Kagmeni: 'Let your name go forth while your mouth is silent' (II/
1); Instruction of Ptahhotep: 'A man of means - what is he like? Your name is good, you are
not maligned' (240), 'The hearer [of wisdom] of whom this is said, he is well-endowed and
honored by his father; his remembrance is in the mouth of the living.' (560fT.).
15 Sanders, 'Ben Sira's Ethics of Caution', p. 105.
16 Sanders argues that Ben Sira fuses together advice from Insing. 10.12-13 with Prov.
25.6-7: 'Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence or stand in the place of the great;
for it is better to be told, "Come up here," than to be put lower in the presence of a noble'.

GOFF Ben Sira and Papyrus Insinger


'When an influential person invites you, be reserved, and he will invite you
more insistently. Do not be forward, or you may be rebuffed; do not stand
aloof, or you will be forgotten' (13.9-10; cf. 32.9). The traditional wisdom
literature of both Israel and Egypt teaches an 'ethics of caution' before the

This comportment accords with the retainer class setting of
the scribe, in both Egypt and Palestine. It is not required to posit a direct
connection that links Ben Sira to P. Insinger or any other Egyptian text.
The subject of women is prominent in both instructions. In P. Insinger
fools are unable to resist the allure of women (7.21-23; 8.2; cf. 14.10), and
the wise do not associate with them (8.17). The Demotic wisdom text
contrasts good and bad women in 8.4-11, part of which reads: 'There is
she who is praised mistress of the house by virtue of her character. There
is she whom I hold in contempt as an evil woman' (11. 9-10; cf. 11. 18-19).
Ben Sira 25.13-26.18 infamously makes a distinction between good and
bad wives (cf. 7.26; 23.22-26; 36.26-31; 40.19).18

The distinction between a
good and bad wife is also in biblical wisdom (Prov. 12.4; cf. 18.22; 19.14).
Egyptian wisdom likewise offers an overall contrast between good and
bad women, although the two are generally not distinguished in a single



Many of the affinities between Ben Sira and P. Insinger are common-

But their similarities are too general to warrant positing direct dependence. See Sanders, Ben
Sira and Demotic Wisdom,
p. 85; idem, 'A Hellenistic Egyptian Parallel to Ben Sira', JBL 97
(1978): 257-8.

17 One should exercise caution at banquets attended by nobility according to Prov. 23.3-
4. The Instruction of Ptahhotep has a similar lesson: 'If you are in the antechamber, stand
and sit as fits your rank, which was assigned you the first day. Do not trespass - you will be
turned back, keen is the face (the king's) to him who enters announced, spacious the seat of
him who has been called. The antechamber has a rule, all behavior is by measure' (220ff.). See
also Instruction of Any 6.10ff.: 'Do not sit when another is standing, one who is older than
you, or greater than you in his rank'; 5.1 Iff.: 'Attend to your position, be it low or high; it is
not good to press forward, step according to rank' (cf. 4.1); Instruction of Amenemope
11.15-20: 'Keep your tongue from answering your superior, and take care not to insult him
... Converse with a man of your own measure'; 24.21-25.1: 'Do not sit down in the beer
house in order to join one greater than you'; Instruction of Ankhsheshonq 18.12: 'He who
hides from his master will get a hundred masters.'
18 Lichtheim observes this parallel, as does Sanders. See Lichtheim, Late Egyptian
Wisdom Literature,
p. 161; Sanders, Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom, pp. 86-7. Consult also
Volten, Das demotische Weisheitsbuch, p. 49; J. J. Collins, Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic
(OTL; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1997), pp. 64-70; W. C. Trenchard, Ben
Sira's View of Women
(Chico: Scholars Press, 1982); T. Ilan, Jewish Women in Greco-Roman
(Tubingen: Mohr, 1995); C. Camp, 'Understanding a Patriarchy: Women in Second
Century Jerusalem Through the Eyes of Ben Sira', in A.-J. Levine (ed.), 'Women Like This':
New Perspectives on Jewish Women in the Greco-Roman Period
(SBLEJL, 1; Atlanta:
Scholars Press, 1991), pp. 1-39.
19 In chapter 6 the Instruction of Any praises the mother as an ideal type of woman and
in chapter 3 warns one about the 'femme fatale' who can tempt men with her beauty. See


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

place topics in Egyptian and biblical wisdom. This problematizes the
opinion that Ben Sira relied on P. Insinger. In many instances it is simplest
to claim that each text was drawing from its own wisdom tradition, and
that biblical and Egyptian wisdom have numerous themes and topics in

Unjust Suffering and the Prosperity of the Wicked in Ben Sira and
Papyrus Insinger

Some similarities between Ben Sira and P. Insinger cannot be easily
explained through an appeal to traditional wisdom. This is the case, for
example, with the themes of suffering and injustice. The refrain of P.
Insinger asserts that God is in control of events: 'The fate [s3y] and the
fortune [shne] that come, it is the god who determines them.'21

One should

thus avoid excessive worrying during difficult circumstances: 'It is the god
who gives patience to the wise man in misfortune' (19.9).22

Insinger teaches that the suffering of the wise is to their benefit: 'The man
of god is in prison [for his very gain]' (20.5). Papyrus Insinger 20.20
affirms that 'good steering' [hmy], that is, the ability to guide oneself

Houser Wegner, 'Cultural and Literary Continuity', pp. 282-316; A. Depla, 'Women in
Ancient Egyptian Wisdom Literature', in L. Archer (ed.), Women in Ancient Societies: An
Illusion of the Night
(New York: Routledge, 1994), pp. 24-52.
20 Regarding Sanders' critique of the views presented here, I am surprised how little he
does with this core point, which he does not refute. Instead he dismisses my approach as
'thematic', whereas, he argues, one should focus on the wording of specific texts. See his
'Concerning Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom', p. 299. By word order he mainly means
similarities in the order of passages in the two texts that have similar content. He has pointed
out affinities, for example between Sir. 13.9-13 and a lengthy passage (35 lines long) of P.
Insinger (10.12-11.23) (ibid., pp. 301-2). I do address the issue of structure (see, for example,
my 'Hellenistic Instruction', pp. 167-8 and below) but the value of the sequence of parallels
in terms of arguing for direct literary dependence of Ben Sira on P. Insinger is greatly
weakened by the points I raise in this essay - (1) the lack of evidence that Ben Sira knew
Demotic or that a translation of P. Insinger in Aramaic or Hebrew was in circulation; (2) one
cannot conclusively establish that P. Insinger was written before Ben Sira.
21 P. Insinger, like Egyptian wisdom literature in general, uses 'god' [ntr] in the singular.
This does not refer to a single god who is kept anonymous. That is refuted by the presence of
multiple named gods in the document: Thoth (4.17; 9.6; 18.3; 21.11), Hathor (8.11, 18), Mut
(8.18), Hapy (16.21), Pre (20.17), Horus (20.18), Isis (20.19), Sakhmet (34.4), the bull gods
Apis and Mnevis (35.9) and Osiris-Sokar (35.14). M. V. Fox argues that the preference for
the term 'god' does not reflect a monotheistic tendency (contra Lexa, Papyrus Insinger, 2.99).
Rather it is a 'designation for a set of beings', a collective term for the divine, who can be
manifested by one named god or another, and also by the vague expression 'god'. See his
'Two Decades of Research in Egyptian Wisdom Literature', ZAS 107 (1980): 120-35 (esp.
123-6); W. Barta, 'Der anonyme Gott der Lebenslehren', ZAS 103 (1976): 79-88.
22 The wise and pious man perseveres: 'A time in misfortune does not make the man of
god give up' (21.2; cf. 19.15; 20.4).

GOFF Ben Sira and Papyrus Insinger


successfully in life, comes after trouble and grief (cf. 21.10; 30.20; 31.13).
Injustices do not show that no god is in control. Rather they are
opportunities for character development.
According to P. Insinger, unjust suffering will be recompensed by the
divine, although it is not clear when exactly this will occur. It will not
happen after death: 'The end of the godly man is being buried on the
mountain with his burial equipment' (18.12; cf 2.9-12). Misfortune will be
corrected at some point during the life of the wise. It may even occur at
the very end of his life: 'He [the god] creates the good through the fate at
the end of old age' (19.20).23
One should not lose heart at the sight of the prosperity of the wicked.
Their success does not mean that they will go unpunished: 'The god does
not forget the punishment for any crime' (20.11). By the moment of death
the wicked person will have paid for his deeds: 'The impious man does not
die in the fortune which he likes' (20.3). The successes of the impious are
construed as forms of punishment: 'A lifetime is given to the impious man
in order to make him encounter retaliation (p3 tb3). Property is given to
the evil man in order to deprive him of his breath through it' (30.23-24; cf.

The evil man is portrayed as anxious and worrying, punishing himself
with a sense of guilt: 'The impious man alone suffers a thousandfold'
(31.7). Thus the wicked person suffers even when he is prosperous: 'When
the evil man has well-being he asks for death in it' (26.7). He knows that at
some point he will have to pay for his crimes, and this gnaws at him. Being
wicked, he is being punished even when he prospers.
Papyrus Insinger attempts to combine an assertion of divine control
with a recognition of life's unpredictability. The two do not go together
particularly well. One has to trust P. Insinger when it teaches that the
prosperous wicked suffer inwardly. There are harsher punishments than
the receipt of property. The pious man suffering wrongfully is taught that
he can learn from the experience, although there are types of misfortune
that have little to teach. The wisdom of P. Insinger requires no small
amount of faith.

Ben Sira has similar views regarding unjust suffering. One should be
patient amidst adversity: 'Trust in the Lord and keep at your job; for it is
easy in the sight of the Lord to make the poor rich suddenly in an instant'
(11.21). Like P. Insinger 19.20, Sir. 11.26-28 teaches that the righteous

23 The Instruction of Ankhsheshonq teaches, like Insing. 19.20, that vindication might
not occur until the end of life: 'Do not say "The enemy of the god is alive today"; look to the
end. Say "Good fate" at the end of old age' (11.21-22). These maxims conclude with the
exhortation: 'Put your affairs in the hand of the god' (11.23; cf. 20.6; 22.25). Ankhsheshonq
also deals with the theme of theodicy. This is clear from the conceit of the work. The
instruction is ostensibly written by a priest of Re who is unjustly imprisoned.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

person may have to wait until the day of death for God to reward him for
his conduct: 'it is easy for the Lord on the day of death to reward
individuals according to their conduct ... Call no one happy before his
death; by how he ends, a person becomes known.'24

Even if the righteous
suffers, he should be comforted by the fact that God can change his
situation in an instant.25

In a manner similar to P. Insinger, Ben Sira
teaches that the wise can benefit from misfortune: 'Accept whatever
befalls you, and in times of humiliation be patient. For gold is tested in the
fire, and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation' (2.4-5; cf.

Ben Sira, like P. Insinger, considers the prosperity of the wicked a
theological problem. The unpredictability of life means that the success of
the wicked could be reversed at any time: 'Do not envy the success of
sinners, for you do not know what their end will be like' (9.11). As in P.
Insinger (20.11), Ben Sira teaches that the sinner who achieves prosperity
through misdeeds will eventually be punished: 'The sinner will not escape
with plunder, and the patience of the godly will not be frustrated' (16.13;
cf. 17.15; 40.13). Ben Sira, like P. Insinger, attempts to affirm both
humanity's moral freedom and the existence of an overarching divine plan
that ensures the prosperity of the righteous and the punishment of the

Ben Sira argues that the inevitability of judgement fills the wicked with

mental anguish.27

According to Sir. 40.5-6, the thoughts of humankind
are filled with anxiety: 'there is anger and envy and trouble and unrest.
And when one rests upon his bed, his sleep at night confuses his mind ...
He is troubled by the visions of his mind like one who has escaped from
the battlefield.' Ben Sira 40.8-9 states that these problems affect the
wicked much more than the righteous: 'To all creatures, human and
animal, but to sinners seven times more, come death and bloodshed and
strife and sword, calamities and famine, and ruin and plague' (cf. v. 14).
Ben Sira 40.8-9 thus makes a claim similar to the assertion in P. Insinger
31.7 that the wicked suffer inwardly a thousand-fold.
Ben Sira's attempt to resolve the problem of theodicy is as unsuccessful
as that of P. Insinger. It is not clear how death comes 'sevenfold' to the
sinner, and, as with P. Insinger 31.7, one must take Ben Sira at his word

24 J. L. Crenshaw, "The Problem of Theodicy in Sirach: On Human Bondage', JBL 94
(1975): 47-64 (esp. 54); G. L. Prato, // Problema delta Teodicea in Ben Sira (AnBib, 65;
Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1975). Cf. Prov. 13.21; 1 Sam. 2.6-8; Ps. 113.7-8.
25 Such a person should be confident that he will be requited on the day of his death, if
not sooner: 'Those who fear the Lord will have a happy end; on the day of their death they
will be blessed' (1.13; cf. 51.30).
26 Collins, Jewish Wisdom, pp. 80-4.
27 Crenshaw, 'The Problem of Theodicy', p. 57.

GOFF Ben Sira and Papyrus Insinger


when he asserts the inner turmoil of the wicked.28

Ben Sira's call for
patient tolerance of suffering (even to the day of death) is rather
unsatisfying, like that of P. Insinger, and avoids the unnerving issue of
God's tolerance of human suffering. The advice is also at odds with the
claim that 'retribution does not delay' (Sir. 7.16). It is hard to believe Ben
Sira when he claims that basic elements of human life, such as water, salt
and wheat, are 'good for the godly, but for sinners they turn into evils'
(39.27; cf. Wis. 16.24). Unlike Job, Ben Sira does not seem willing to
engage the issue of theodicy. His instruction on the unequal distribution
of suffering, like P. Insinger's, appeals primarily to people who are not
given much.

The Cosmic Context of the Human Plight

Both Ben Sira and P. Insinger marginalize the difficulties of the human
condition by emphasizing the grandeur of the created order. This is
perhaps why both compositions place lengthy sections on the goodness of
creation close to the end - the twenty-fourth chapter in P. Insinger, out of
twenty-five (30.17-33.6) and Ben Sira, 39.12-35 and 42.15-43.33.29
The stated intent of the twenty-fourth instruction of P. Insinger is to
teach the 'knowing [of] the greatness of the god so as to put it in your
heart' (30.18). The chapter also stresses the omniscience of God. He
knows the answer to one's question before it is asked (31.5; cf. 11. 1-2). He
does not only know the interior life of the human being; he orchestrates it:
'He directs the heart and the tongue by his commands' (31.11). Likewise
he knows the events of the world because he has decreed how they are to
happen, down to the smallest detail: 'The blow of the lance that comes
from afar, the place where it lands is decreed for it' (31.6; cf. 1. 12).
Papyrus Insinger 31.23 declares: 'The hidden work of the god, he makes
it known on the earth daily.' He made the light and darkness, the earth,
the months and years (the calendar), the seasons of summer and winter,
the produce that is grown for food, the constellations (so that they can be
studied), and the sweet water (31.24-32.6). These maxims highlight
elements of the natural order that allow humankind to sustain itself and

28 Collins, Jewish Wisdom, p. 94.
29 The recounting of the elements of creation in Job likewise occurs at its end, in chs 38-
41. Humbert, Recherches sur les sources egyptiennes, pp. 140, 142, suggested that Job 38 and
Sir. 39.12-35 and 42.15-43.33 were written in imitation of ia litterature des scribes
ptolemiques', a wisdom tradition 'dont le Papyrus Insinger ne nous aurait conserve qu'un
tardif chainon'. See also G. von Rad, 'Hiob XXXVIII und die altagyptische Weisheit', in M.
Noth and D. Winston Thomas (eds), Wisdom in Israel and in the Ancient Near East (VTSup,
3; Leiden: Brill, 1955), pp. 293-301; T. Schneider, 'Hiob 38 und die demotische Weisheit', TZ
47 (1991): 108-24; Sanders, Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom, pp. 75-80.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

prosper. According to P. Insinger, the goodness of creation and its
suitability for human life testify to the divine fashioning of the natural
order. Elements of creation were made for specific reasons: 'He created
wealth for truthfulness, poverty for falsehood. He created work for the
stupid man, food for the common man' (31.15-16). The purposefulness of
the cosmos is also asserted in the Stoic tradition.30
The author grants that his students may question the extent of the
divine orchestration of the natural world. The exposition of creation in P.
Insinger (31.24-32.17) is placed before a series of questions and false
statements, as if to address them:

The impious man does not say There is god' in the fortune which he
He who says Tt cannot happen' should look to what is hidden.
How do the sun and the moon go and come in the sky?
Whence go and come water, fire, and wind?
Through whom do amulet and spell become remedies? (31.18-22)

The twenty-fourth chapter does not only teach that the cosmos is a divine
product. It asserts the goodness and purposefulness of creation in part to
address the issue of theodicy.
The creation hymns of Sir. 39.12-35 and 42.15-43.33 have striking
similarities to the twenty-fourth instruction of P. Insinger.31

As in the
Demotic text, various features of the natural order were created with
specific purposes in mind. Ben Sira 39.16 is reminiscent of P. Insinger
(33.5), since both affirm that creation has a rational structure: 'AH the
works of the Lord are very good, and whatever he commands will be done
at the appointed time.' Doctors should be praised, since their skills in
medicine reveal aspects of creation that benefit mankind (Sir. 38.1-15).

30 See for example, Porphyry, Abst. 3.20.1, 3: 'Every product of nature, when it achieves
the natural end for which it was bora, is benefited. But the pig has been born for the natural
end of being slaughtered and eaten. When this happens to it, it achieves its natural end, and is
benefited'; Lactantius, Ir. 13.9-10: 'The Stoics, failing to discern the truth, reply most
clumsily that among plants and animals there are many whose usefulness has up to now gone
unnoticed; but that this will be discovered in the course of time, just as numerous things
unknown in earlier centuries have been discovered by necessity and use.' See A. A. Long and
D. N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers (2 vols; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1989), 1.329-330; U. Wicke-Reuter, Gottliche Providenz und menschliche Verantwortung bei
Ben Sira und in der fruhen Stoa
(BZAW, 298; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2000), pp. 13-54.
31 For discussion of Ben Sira's creation hymns, see R. A. Argall, / Enoch and Sirach
(SBLEJL, 8; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995), pp. 135-64; N. Calduch-Benages, 'God, Creator
of All (Sir 43.27-33)', in R. Egger-Wenzel (ed.), Ben Sira's God: Proceedings of the
International Ben Sira Conference, Durham, Ushaw College, 2001
(BZAW, 321; Berlin: de
Gruyter, 2002), pp. 79-100; Wicke-Reuter, Gottliche Providenz, pp. 55-105; F. V. Reiterer,
'Die immateriellen Ebenen der Schopfung bei Ben Sira', in N. Calduch-Benages and J.
Vermeylen (eds), Treasures of Wisdom: Studies in Ben Sira and the Book of Wisdom.
Festschrift M. Gilbert
(BETL, 143; Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1999), pp. 91-127.

GOFF Ben Sira and Papyrus Insinger


The same argument is made in P. Insinger 32.12. The Hebrew version of
Sir. 39.30 teaches that dangerous things, such as scorpions and vipers,
were created 'to meet a need and are kept in his storehouse for the proper

The Stoics, who also stressed divine providence's stewardship of
the cosmos, had similar problems when explaining aspects of the world
that are detrimental to human life.34

According to Ben Sira, it is
impossible to doubt the goodness and purposefulness of creation: 'All the
works of the Lord are good and he will supply every need in its time. No
one can say "This is not as good as that" for everything proves good in its
appointed time' (39.33-34; cf. v.21). The sage acknowledges that some
may disagree with his reasoning.35

This is also the case in P. Insinger


Ben Sira praises the grandeur of creation. Sanders points out that the
sage mentions months and seasons (43.6), and P. Insinger the day, month
and year (32.2), and that both include fresh water (Sir. 43.22; Insing.

They also both mention the sun (Sir. 42.16; 43.1-5; Insing. 31.20),
the moon (Sir. 43.6-8; Insing. 31.20), and the stars (Sir. 43.9-10; Insing.

This, however, does not necessarily imply direct dependence. Sir.
42.15-43.33 recounts many aspects of the natural order that are praised in
the Psalter and elsewhere in the biblical tradition, especially Job 38 and
the Prayer of Azariah.38
Ben Sira's enumeration of the wonders of creation, like that of P.
Insinger, minimizes the issue of theodicy. His poem on the misery of the
human condition in 40.1-10 is literally surrounded by praise of the natural
order. Ben Sira 18.10-12 places the human plight in a cosmic context:
'Like a drop of water from the sea and a grain of sand, so are these few

32 Sanders, Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom, p. 75; A. A. Di Leila and P. W. Skehan, The
Wisdom of Ben Sira
(AB, 39; New York: Doubleday, 1987), p. 441.
33 Di Leila and Skehan, The Wisdom of Ben Sira, p. 45; B. G. Wright, No Small
Difference: Sirach's Relationship to its Hebrew Parent Text
(SBLSCS, 26; Atlanta: Scholars
Press, 1989), pp. 14^-50.
34 M. Aurelius, for example, wrote: 'Nothing is harmful to the part which is
advantageous to the whole. For the whole contains nothing which is not advantageous to
itself... As long as I remember that I am a part of such a whole I shall be well content with
all that happens' (10.6). See D. Winston, 'Theodicy in Ben Sira and Stoic Philosophy', in R.
Link-Salinger (ed.), Of Scholars, Savants, and Their Texts (New York: Lang, 1989), pp. 239-
49 (esp. 241); J. K. Aitken, 'Divine Will and Providence', in Egger-Wengel (ed.), Ben Sira's
pp. 282-301; Wicke-Reuter, Gottliche Providenz, pp. 224-73.
35 Crenshaw, 'The Problem of Theodicy', pp. 48-51.
36 Sanders, Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom, pp. 79-80.
37 They also emphasize that the full extent of divine mastery over the cosmos remains
hidden from human comprehension (Sir. 43.32; 1.3; 18.4-5; Insing. 32.18; cf. 31.23).
38 Examples include the sun (Sir. 42.16; 43.1-5; Pss. 8.3; 19.4b-6; Pr. Azar. 40); the moon
(Sir. 43.6-8; Pss. 8.3; 104.19; 89.39; Pr. Azar. 40); the stars (Sir. 43.9-10; Bar. 3.34-35; Job
38.32; Pr. Azar. 41). For additional parallels, see my 'Hellenistic Instruction', p. 171.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

years (the hundred years allotted to a human life, 18.9) among the days of
eternity. That is why the Lord is patient with them ... He sees and
recognizes that their end is miserable; therefore he grants them forgiveness
all the more' (cf. 17.32). Ben Sira is cognizant of the difficulties of the
human condition. But he is much more comfortable affirming the
grandeur of creation. Ben Sira's approach to theodicy is similar to that of
God in Job 38^1.


Ben Sira and P. Insinger have much in common. Many of their similarities
pertain to conventional sapiential topics such as filial piety. It is by no
means clear that Ben Sira had access to the Demotic wisdom text. In many
cases it is reasonable to attribute their affinities to the fact that the wisdom
tradition each composition draws on, that of Egypt and Israel, had
concerns and themes that are similar to one another.
The two compositions have parallels aside from ethical instruction.
Both teach that the magnitude and purposefulness of the natural order
reflect divine providence. One of the prevailing attitudes in the Hellenistic
age has been called 'cosmic religion', that is, 'the expression of religious
values in terms of the physical universe'.39

This intellectual trend
represents the confluence of several traditions, including Chaldean
astronomy and Stoic philosophy. These traditions promoted the idea of
determinism on a cosmic scale. While determinism can teach the grandeur
of God, it also presents difficulties in terms of explaining the instability of
human affairs and the ever-present possibility of the reversal of fortune.
Themes such as creation and determinism in Ben Sira and P. Insinger, and
their unsatisfying attempts to explain theodicy, suggest that they were
both affected by such intellectual trends. Some of their similarities are
better ascribed to the fact that they were both shaped by the Zeitgeist of
the Hellenistic age than to direct dependence. Ben Sira and P. Insinger are
influenced both by traditional wisdom and their Hellenistic milieu.

39 J. J. Collins, 'Cosmos and Salvation: Jewish Wisdom and Apocalypticism in the
Hellenistic Age', in Seers, Sibyls and Sages in Hellenistic Roman Judaism (JSJSup, 54; Leiden:
Brill, 1997), pp. 317-38 (esp. 327).

Chapter 5


Jonathan T. Pennington


Like all the New Testament authors, when Matthew is cut he bleeds Bible.
As one saturated in the Jewish Scriptures, Matthew regularly reveals his
indebtedness to these writings at all levels - from basic vocabulary to
theological themes. We are not surprised then to find so many quotes
from and allusions to the Old Testament in the First Gospel. Even more
thoroughgoing than that of the other Synoptic Gospels,1


provides us with over 60 explicit and implicit citations and quotations.2

addition to these, there are countless other allusions which we can discern
with various levels of confidence. As Hays rightly observes about all of the
Gospels, the evangelists are concerned to show that Jesus' teachings,
actions, death and vindication 'constituted the continuation and climax of
the ancient biblical story'. The Old Testament was the 'generative milieu
for the gospels, the original environment in which the first Christian
traditions were conceived, formed and nurtured'.3

This is apparent for

Matthew as much as for any of the Gospels.4

An earlier version of this paper was first presented as 'Refractions of Greek Daniel in the
Gospel of Matthew' at the Greek Bible section at the 2007 annual meeting of the Society of
Biblical Literature in San Diego, CA.
1 Compared to the other Synoptics, Matthew includes all of the OT citations from
parallel passages in Mark and Q and expands upon them. See the detailed yet succinct
analysis in W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the
Gospel According to St. Matthew,
vol. 1 (Edinbutgh: T&T Clark, 1988), pp. 33-58.
2 Richard Beaton, Isaiah's Christ in Matthew's Gospel (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2002), p. 17, leaning on the works of M. D. Goulder and D. Senior.
3 Richard B. Hays, 'The Canonical Matrix of the Gospels', in Stephen C. Barton (ed.),
The Cambridge Companion to the Gospels (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006),
p. 53.

4 See the excellent discussion in R. T. France's, Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher
(Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1989), particularly pp. 166-205. France argues that
the theme that best summarizes the whole of Matthew's message is the fulfilment of the OT.
While this could be said for all of the NT books, in Matthew it plays a most dominant role.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

When we begin to examine the particulars of Matthew's use of the OT,
one group of writings stands out, the Prophets. For example, of
Matthew's ten famous fulfilment quotations, every one of them cites a
prophetic text with the possible exception of the use of Psalm 78 in Mt.
13.35, though even this citation has reference to Isaiah.5

As is well known,
Isaiah plays a decisive role in Matthew, appearing frequently, at crucial
points in the narrative, and providing theological content to the First
Gospel. Matthew's use of Isaiah is not unique. Indeed, the second and
third parts of Isaiah are already being picked up and reused in this way in
the Book of the Twelve, 1 Enoch, Wisdom of Solomon and others, and this
continues right into Matthew.6

Also important to Matthew are the

prophetic books of Jeremiah and Lamentations,7





to name a few.
We can suggest the same for the book of Daniel. A study of the history
of the influence of the book of Daniel reveals that this work was very
important throughout the Second Temple period and beyond.11

copies have been discovered at Qumran, and mention of Daniel is found
in 1 Maccabees, the Sibylline Oracles, 3 Maccabees, and 4 Ezra, as well as

5 M. J. J. Menken, Matthew's Bible (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2004), in his
essay, 'Isaiah and the "Hidden Things": The Quotation from Psalm 78,2 in Matthew 13,35',
he argues that this fulfilment quotation indeed has important Isaianic elements and even
more, that the longer textual variant here that reads 'through Isaiah the prophet' is original.
6 In addition to Beaton's Isaiah's Christ, one may also consult a number of articles,
including Adrian Leske, 'Isaiah and Matthew: The Prophetic Influence in the First Gospel: A
Report on Current Research', in W. H. Bellinger, Jr. and W. R. Farmer (eds), Jesus and the
Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 and Christian Origins
(Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press, 1998),
pp. 152-69.

7 Michael Knowles, Jeremiah in Matthew's Gospel: The Rejected Prophet Motif in
Matthaean Redaction
(Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993). A good recent example of
the subtle but powerful way in which Lamentations serves as a subtext for Matthew can be
found in David Moffitt, 'Righteous Bloodshed, Matthew's Passion Narrative, and the
Temple's Destruction: Lamentations as a Matthean Intertext', JBL 125/2 (2006): 299-320.
8 Clay Alan Ham addresses the topic of the influence of Zechariah's messianic hope on
Matthew in The Coming King and the Rejected Shepherd: Matthew's Reading of Zechariah's
Messianic Hope
(Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2005).
9 Note especially the important and repeated use of Hos. 6.6: T desire mercy, not
sacrifice' at decisive points in Jesus' theological disagreement with his adversaries (Mt. 9.13;

10 See the interesting discussion of how Matthew is likely picking up the language of
Greek Jonah in R. Timothy McLay's The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), pp. 159-69.
11 One may consult with benefit the weighty, two-volume analysis of Daniel's
composition and reception in J. J. Collins and P. Flint (eds), The Book of Daniel:
Composition and Reception
(Leiden: Brill, 2001). Also worth perusing is Lorenzo
Ditommaso's tome, The Book of Daniel and the Apocryphal Daniel Literature (Leiden:
Brill, 2005).

PENNINGTON Daniel in the Gospel of Matthew


frequently in many eras of the rabbinic traditions.12

Josephus calls Daniel 'one of the greatest prophets' and devotes a portion
of his Antiquities to a lengthy paraphrase of Daniel. Lorenzo Ditomasso's
recent and thick volume traces the widespread influence of Daniel -
especially its apocalyptic sections - in Muslim apocalypses, in the
Byzantine period, in mediaeval texts, in Latin, Syriac, Ethiopian,
Arabic, Old and Middle English, Irish and Armenian. One must only
name the time, place and language, and it seems Daniel will be there.
When we turn to the NT, the marked influence of Daniel is ubiquitous.
For Jesus himself and the authors of the NT, it is clear that Daniel formed
an important conceptual and textual context.13

The most obvious
connection is the Gospels' frequent emphasis on the 'Son of Man',
apparently stemming from Dan. 7.13-14,14

but many other connections
can be posited as well. The index of citations and allusions in the Nestle-
Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (27th ed.) bespeaks Daniel's import
ance: listed are approximately 200 references to Daniel in the NT books.
As Craig Evans points out, 'proportionately, this puts Daniel in the same
category as Isaiah and the Psalms, the books most frequently quoted and
alluded to in the New Testament'.15

Add to this data the NT's obvious
knowledge and use of the Greek Bible and we have a recipe for the
influence of Greek Daniel on the NT and on Matthew in particular.
Space constraints will not allow me to discuss in detail all of the ways in
which Matthew uses Daniel. Instead, I will briefly catalogue these and
then focus on two of the most important ways in which Daniel influences
Matthew, through the themes of divine revelation and eschatology. My
thesis is straightforward: Matthew is drinking deeply at the well of Daniel
and at many levels we can discern his intertextual use of this important
book. Indeed, several core ideas presented in Matthew seem to stem
directly from Daniel, and understanding these themes helps us understand
Matthew's theological emphases.

12 J. J. Collins, Daniel: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Minneapolis: Fortress,

1993), pp. 72-89.

13 A list of relevant articles and monographs on this debated topic can be found in the
discussion and footnotes of A. Y. Collins, 'The Influence of Daniel on the NT', in J. J.
Collins, Daniel, pp. 90-123. Other specific works include Greg Beale, The Use of Daniel in
Jewish Apocalyptic Literature and in the Revelation of St John
(Washington: University Press
of America, 1984).

14 On the history of the interpretation of 'Son of Man', see Delbert Burkett, The Son of
Man Debate: A History and Evaluation
(SNTSMS, 107; Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1999). See also below.
15 Craig A. Evans, 'Daniel in the New Testament: Visions of God's Kingdom', in Collins
and Flint (eds), The Book of Daniel, vol. 2, p. 490.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

Daniel's Many Appearances - From Cameo to Oration

In terms of my method for this analysis I began in the first instance with
the 20-plus references to Daniel in Matthew in the NA27

appendix. I
supplemented this by a number of connections that have been made in
various commentaries and articles, in addition to some of my own
observations. What becomes quickly apparent is that Daniel's uses in
Matthew are not all of equal weight or value. Daniel makes many
appearances, in many guises, as it were, that we can lay out on a spectrum
from cameo appearances to full-blown orations. To use a different
analogy, some of the manifestations of Daniel in Matthew prove to be
little more than 'red herrings', while others may be truly called 'smoking
guns', and there are many in between.
For the data surveyed here I will only present appearances of Daniel in
Matthew that seem legitimate - that is, cases where either a citation or
allusion appears to be intended and a solid case can be presented for a
lexical and/or conceptual connection. There are in fact several instances
where the NA27

appendix suggested a use of Daniel in Matthew that,
upon my own examination, proved to be less than convincing (red
herrings). These occurrences will not be covered here.16

In our interest and
love for intertextuality we must be careful not to fall prey to what might
be called - on analogy from Samuel Sandmel's famous article -
'intertextomania'. I have sifted the data carefully and eliminated
connections that seem to be only general and not specific.

Cameo Appearances

This category includes four different texts in Matthew that appear to have
some real connection to particular texts in Daniel, albeit small. These
include the use of Greek Dan. 4.12, 21 (MT 4.9, 18) in Mt. 13.32, Dan. 10.6
in Mt. 28.3, Dan. 2.34-35, 44-45 in Mt. 21.44, and Dan. 4.17 (MT 4.14) in
Mt. 11.11. The most significant of these is the first one. In Matthew this
reference to Daniel is found in the context of the parable of the kingdom
of heaven being like a mustard seed which, although it is very small, grows
to be such a height that the birds of heaven can even nest in its branches.
Matthew appears to be leaning on not only Daniel here, but also LXX Ps.
103.12 and also possibly Ezek. 17.22-23 and 31.5-6. We will see below that
this is not the only use of Daniel in Matthew 13 and that is part of its

16 The references to Daniel in Matthew in the NA27

appendix that I find are not strongly
supported enough to be considered true intertexts are: Dan. 2.45 in Mt. 24.6 and 26.54; Dan.
3.28 in Mt. 4.5; Dan. 6.18 (ET v. 17) in Mt. 27.66; Dan. 9.3 in Mt. 11.21; Dan. 9.24 in Mt.
4.5; Dan. 10.9 in Mt. 17.6; Dan. 11.41 in Mt. 24.10; Dan. 12.12-13 in Mt. 10.22.

PENNINGTON Daniel in the Gospel of Matthew


Supporting Actors

Moving beyond the realm of mere cameo appearances, but still not to the
highest level of influence, we may offer a few instances where Matthew's
use of Daniel can be described as functioning in the role of a supporting
actor. These include Dan. 4.17 in Mt. 28.18, Dan. 7.9-10 in Mt. 17.2;
19.28; 28.3, and Dan. 3.6, 11, 15, 20, 21 in Mt. 13.42, 50. Again, space
must limit our discussion, but a few comments can be made.
Regarding Mt. 28.18 we may observe that this climactic conclusion to
Matthew reflects a number of important OT texts including Gen. 1.1;
12.2-3; 2 Chron. 36.23, Dan. 7.13-14 and others. But Dan. 4.17
(particularly the OG17

) also seems to play a role. Matthew and Daniel
here both share an emphasis on the important word-pair 'heaven and
earth' and the authority in heaven to reign over all the earth. These prove
to be important themes in Jesus' ministry stemming especially from
Daniel's influence (see also below).
We may also comment on how Dan. 7.9-10 connects with Mt. 19.28. In
Mt. 19.28 we read of the time of the 'new genesis'18

when the Son of Man
will sit on his glorious throne, apparently a throne forjudging, along with
his disciples who will sit in judgement over the 12 tribes of Israel. The link
with Dan. 7.9-10 is very straightforward,19

though it is difficult to discern
whether the Greek Daniel versions are more directly the source than the
Aramaic. Either could be the subtext.
Most important at the level of 'supporting actor' is the reference to the
'fiery furnace' in Mt. 13.42 and 50, stemming from several verses in Daniel
relating to the famous story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These
two verses in Matthew are part of several instances of similar judgement
language in his Gospel. Matthew 13.42 and 50 refer to the fiery furnace as
a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. In Mt. 8.12 we
read of being cast into outer darkness, accompanied by weeping and
gnashing of teeth. Matthew 22.13 and 25.30 use identical language. And
Mt. 24.51 is similar with reference only to the weeping and gnashing of

17 In this essay I have not been able to address fully the textual issues of the Hebrew/
Aramaic Daniel in comparison to the Old Greek (OG) and Theodotion (Th) versions. One
may consult inter alia Tim McLay, The OG and Th Versions of Daniel (Atlanta: Scholars
Press, 1996) and Sharon Pace Jeansonne, The Old Greek Translation of Daniel 7-12
(Washington: Catholic Biblical Association, 1988). As the argument progresses I will make
some comments on which version(s) of Daniel Matthew appears to be using in particular

18 For an analysis of the meaning of this expression in the context of Matthean - Genesis
intertextuality, see my essay, 'Heaven, Earth and a New Genesis' in Jonathan T. Pennington
and Sean M. McDonough (eds), Cosmology and New Testament Theology (London: T & T
Clark, 2008), pp. 28^4.
19 Dale C. Allison Jr., The Intertextual Jesus: Scripture in Q (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity
Press International, 2000), pp. 137-140, also sees this text as clearly referring to Dan. 7.13-14.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

teeth. This last phrase, 'weeping and gnashing of teeth', is formulaic for
Matthew and is the consistent element throughout all these texts. Clearly
these all refer to the same 'place' and experience of judgement, identified
in 13.50 as at 'the close of the age'.
Matthew seems to be relying on the Greek version(s) of Daniel here,
with nearly identical wording. There are in fact several verses in Daniel
that could serve as the intertext for Matthew, because in Daniel 3
reference is made to the 'furnace' and the 'fiery furnace' multiple times
(3.6, 11, 15, 20, 21).20
Matthew's citation could be coming from any of these texts, though it is
difficult to be certain whether there is a particular verse in mind or
whether he is combining these many references into one set phrase. Either
way, the fixed expression TT\V Kauivov TOU mjpos, which is used so
consistently in Daniel and then in the exact same form in Matthew makes
a strong case that Matthew is using a Greek version of Daniel here, not
the Aramaic, though it is uncertain whether the OG or a proto-
Theodotionic version is in view.21
Moving beyond such source-critical work, the more important question
is why Matthew uses these words from Daniel here. Interestingly,
commentaries on Matthew uniformly make mention of the fact that this
is nearly a verbatim quote from Dan. 3.6 (though they do not always
mention the other texts in Daniel from which it might come), but there is
very little discussion of why this quote is here or how it functions in

It is quite odd to consider that Jesus is now using the words
and deeds of the evil Nebuchadnezzar as the words of his own teaching.
Though it is a favourite Matthean motif, I do not think he intends us to
think in Matthean terms that 'something greater than Nebuchadnezzar is
here' (cf. 12.6, 41, 42).
John Nolland is one exception in that he does address the question in

20 In addition to these texts Daniel also makes several general references to the furnace
and the men being cast in without using the formula that Matthew apparently picks up on.
These are in OG 3.21; Th 3.22; OG 3.24, 25, 46.
21 Acknowledging this, it is yet possible that Matthew's words could reflect that he is
using a different recension of the LXX than either the OG or Th. This is indeed the theory of
M. J. J. Menken. His comments on this verse in particular, however, are that we cannot be
certain what biblical text Matthew was using here. The verb form in Matthew may be from
his pen and not a quote at all, as this chapter shows much redactional reworking. He
concludes that 'Matthew himself was responsible for the unmarked quotation in 13,42.50,
but that it is impossible to determine its textual type'. Menken, Matthew's Bible, pp. 270-1

22 For example, there is no discussion in Davies and Allison, Matthew, vol. 2; Ulrich
Luz, Matthew 8-20 (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2001); Donald A. Hagner,
Matthew 1-13 (WBC, 33A; Dallas: Word Books, 1993); Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary
on His Handbook for a Mixed Church under Persecution
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2nd edn,

PENNINGTON Daniel in the Gospel of Matthew


his commentary. In passing he suggests a couple of reasons why Matthew
is quoting Daniel here. It may be 'to strengthen the allusion to Daniel in
the previous verse' as well as to suggest 'that this fiery fate is partly to be
seen as a turning of the tables on those who have oppressed God's

Regarding his first suggestion - that it strengthens the connection with
Daniel in Mt. 13.41 - I think he is certainly right. The ubiquitous 'Son of
Man' in Matthew, especially when used in eschatological contexts, has its
origins primarily in Dan. 7.13-14. For Matthew to refer to Daniel so
explicitly in the following verse serves much to trigger the Daniel link.
I think Nolland is also correct to suggest that the reason Jesus uses such
familiar Daniel 3 language from the lips of Nebuchadnezzar is because
there is herein a great ironic twist. The very words that were used for evil,
Jesus now adopts to make a radical statement about all those who do not
align with him. As Taco Bell's advertising department has cleverly
quipped, 'Think outside the bun', so too Matthew has added a nice twist
to these memorable words. Such a twist is certainly one of the marks of
Jesus' parables. The unexpected, topsy-turvy nature of the kingdom of
heaven is best described by using the genre of the surprising parable. It is a
distinctive of Jesus' parables that they contain what Henry James would
call 'the turn of the screw', the unexpected twist wherein the profundity
speaks. Therefore, it stands to reason that this is the function of the
Danielic quotation here.
In fact, Daniel appears several times in Matthew 13 and this seems to
serve an even broader purpose that links Daniel with Matthew regarding
the themes of divine revelation and eschatology. This leads into our next
level of appearances of Daniel in Matthew, the Orations.


At the highest level of influence and usage of Daniel in Matthew I can
discern four major ways in which Daniel makes a significant contribution
to the content of the First Gospel. These are of such importance that we
can classify them, to continue our metaphor, as orations - or even
soliloquies - in the drama of Matthew. In these instances, not only is the
intertextual use of Daniel apparent, but we can also discern that it has had
a considerable influence on the shape and content of Matthew's teaching.
Of these four, we will focus on the last two - divine revelation and
eschatology - but all four are of great weight.

23 J. Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), p. 561.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality I

Son of Man

One does not have to read very deeply into Gospel scholarship and
Christology before running into the issue of the origin and meaning of the
phrase, 'Son of Man'. This expression was apparently Jesus' preferred title
for himself, and the Evangelists regularly preserve this. One interesting
observation is that, for whatever reason, the early Church, as reflected in
the rest of the NT writings, does not use this expression to describe Jesus.
Instead, it is found almost exclusively in the four Gospels, and on the hps
of Jesus in reference to himself. Of the 50 or so different sayings in which
it occurs in the NT, all but one of these are in the Gospels.24
Because of its importance to Christology and historical Jesus studies,
research into this phrase has become a virtual cottage industry. One
knows you are entering an academic minefield when a topic not only has
many books written about it, but also books and articles written about the
history of the debate on the topic. Because entering into the full fray of
this matter would take us beyond our more specific point, I must tread
lightly. Thankfully, although we certainly could not say there is now
consensus on this matter, there is a wide measure of agreement that the
origin of the phrase 'Son of Man' as a title comes from a Christological
interpretation of Dan. 7.13.25

Some of the strongest evidence for this is the
fact that Second Temple Judaism was already reading this text
messianically (e.g., / Enoch, 4 Ezra; 4Q246 2.1-10; 4Q174, 4Q252), and
it was easy for early Christianity to do the same, applied to the person of

When we consider 'Son of Man' in Matthew, we find that the Danielic

24 Burkett, The Son of Man Debate. As to the question of why the title is found almost
exclusively in the Gospels, Burkett suggests that this is because the expression has currency
primarily in Palestinian Christianity (traces of which are retained in the Gospels) as opposed
to Hellenistic Christianity (as reflected in the rest of the NT writings). Burkett, Son of Man
p. 123.

25 In addition to Burkett, see the brief discussion and footnotes in Allison, The
Intertextual Jesus,
pp. 130-1. Also helpful is the discussion of this matter in the first part of
A. Y. Collins' essay, 'The Influence of Daniel on the New Testament', pp. 90-105. Regarding
which version of Daniel that Matthew is using, Danny Zacharias makes a solid argument
that Matthew is familiar with the Old Greek version of Dan. 7.13-14. Danny Zacharias, 'Old
Greek Daniel 7.13-14 and Matthew's Son of Man' (paper presented at the Annual Meeting of
the Society of Biblical Literature, Washington, November 2006).
26 Burkett, Son of Man Debate, pp. 122-3. See also John Collins, The Sceptre and the
Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature
(New York:
Doubleday, 1995), who concludes regarding several Qumran texts: 'The Son of God text
suggests that the messianic interpretation of Daniel 7 had begun already in the Hasmonean
period' (p. 167).

PENNINGTON Daniel in the Gospel of Matthew


connection is obvious. In addition to the many general uses of 'Son of
Man' on the lips of Jesus,28

we can identify at least four clear and
important ways that Dan. 7.13-14 serves as an intertext in Matthew.29
These are its usage in Matt. 24.30; 25.31; 26.64; 28.18-20. To conclude this
brief section on the Son of Man in Matthew we may also mention that
although it was not original to Matthew, it is apparent that the words
from Dan. 7.14 also appear as an addendum to the Lord's Prayer (6.13) in
many manuscripts. These match most closely with the Th version and
indicate that many early Christians saw the link between Daniel 7 and

The Kingdom of God in Heaven and the Kingdoms on the Earth

A second way in which Daniel serves as a key backdrop to Matthew is
with the theme of the kingdom of God, and particularly how this is
interwoven with the contrast between heaven and earth. Although I
believe this is one of the most important ways in which Daniel informs
Matthew, I will keep my comments here brief because I have dealt with
this a fair amount elsewhere.30

Following is a short summary of the

argument on this particular point.
Both David Wenham and Craig Evans have observed how closely
Daniel's emphasis on and description of God's kingdom relates to Jesus'
own teaching on the kingdom. Wenham states that 'the full significance of
the Danielic background has not usually been recognized, and that in fact

the book of Daniel may be the primary background to the Gospels' teaching
about the Kingdom'?1

Wenham identifies the key passages as Daniel 2 and
7, and argues convincingly that there are both linguistic and conceptual
links with these texts and the Gospels. Evans concurs with Wenham and
develops this idea more fully. Evans highlights seven 'telling indications'
of Daniel's influence on Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom.32


27 Regarding the sections in Matthew that could be considered 'Q', we may note that
Dan. 7.13-14 plays an important role. According to Allison's analysis, Dan. 7.9-14 is Q's
most frequent intertext and it serves as bookends around the source. Allison, The Intertextual
p. 139.

28 There are 30 occurrences of 'Son of Man' (always in reference to Jesus and always
spoken by him) in Matthew.
29 The NA27

Appendix lists five links between Dan. 7.13-14 and Matthew: Mt. 11.3;
26.64 [identified as a quote]; 24.30 [quote]; 25.31; 28.18. However, I find the connection in
11.3 more general and not particularly strong. Any connection that is there appears to
function at the level of the general Jewish expectation (as reflected in John's question) that
another 'One' was to come, but the specific connection with Daniel is unclear.
30 Jonathan T. Pennington, Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew (NovTSup 126;

Leiden: Brill, 2007).

31 D. Wenham, 'The Kingdom of God and Daniel', ExpTim 98 (1987): 132-4 (132).

Emphasis mine.

32 Evans, 'Daniel in the New Testament', pp. 510-23.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

an impressive array of linguistic links between the Gospels and Daniel,
Evans presents a persuasive case for the essential Danielic background to
Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom.
Building upon these observations I argue that Matthew's unique
expression r| f3aaiAeia TCOV oupaveov ('the kingdom of heaven') is coined
through Matthew's reflection upon the dual themes in Daniel of God's
sovereign rule (or kingdom) in heaven and the theme of the contrast of
heaven and earth. The motif in Daniel, especially in chs 2-7, of the God of
heaven's kingdom over against the rulers on earth (such as
Nebuchadnezzar) turns out to be a frequent and important theme in
Matthew as well. In Matthew this Danielic combination of God's
kingdom with the heaven and earth contrast theme gets converted into his
frequent heaven and earth language and important phrases such as 'the
kingdom of heaven' and 'Father in heaven'.33

Divine Revelation

Another important way that Darnel informs the themes and theology of
Matthew is with the emphasis in both books on the divine revelation of
mysteries, particularly mysteries concerning the future kingdom(s).
Several key texts in Daniel form the basis for this same crucial emphasis
in Jesus' teaching, especially as found in Matthew 13.
One of these key texts in Daniel is 2.28-29.

OG 2.28-29 dAA' son 8EOS EV oupavcp dvaKaAuTrrcov uucrrripia os s5r|-
PaaiAei NaPouxoSovooop a Ssi ysveaSai STT' EGXCXTCOV TCOV
riuepeov paoiXeu sis TOV aicova CfiQx TO EVUTTVIOV KOCI TO opaua T%

iiuspcov KM 6 avaKaXuTTTcov MUOTRJPIA ESTJACOOE 001 a 8f\ ysvEoSai

TH 2.28-29 dAA,

syvcopioEV TCO paoiAE? NapouxoSovooop a 8si yEVEo8ai ETT' EOXCXTCOV


oou dvEpTjoav TI 5ET ysvsoSai \IST6L raura KOC\ 6 exTTOKOAuTTTCOV UUOTTJ-
pia syvcopioEV
001 a 8B\ ysvEo8ai

This is an important text in Daniel. It serves to introduce the potent vision
of the Four Kingdoms (2.29-46). It is also the means by which Daniel is
exalted to become the chief satrap in all of Bablyon (2.48). In this story a
great emphasis is placed on the contrast of the (true) God of heaven versus
mere men on earth, even great kings and wise men. As I have suggested
already, this theme of the God of heaven and his kingdom versus men on

33 See particularly chapters 10 and 12 of Pennington, Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of


PENNINGTON Daniel in the Gospel of Matthew


the earth is an important one in Daniel 2-7. Here this contrast is very
explicit. In 2.10 the distressed wise men of Babylon complain to
Nebuchadnezzar that 'no man on earth' can both tell the king what his
dream was and interpret it. In stark distinction to this, Daniel enters the
scene and is at pains to emphasize that such wisdom and power come not
from any man - himself included - but only come from the God of heaven
(2.27-28). He has stressed the same thing in his prayer in 2.20-23.
In the NA27

appendix Dan. 2.28-29 is listed as an allusion for Mt. 24.6
and 26.54. These connections are not invalid, but they are somewhat
general. In both Matthean passages the point is that Jesus is able to speak
of the future and that these things 'must be' (5e? yeveoBai, which is found
also in both Greek versions of Daniel). I think there is a valid link here,
but even more strongly - even though it is not mentioned in the NA27
appendix - is the use of Dan. 2.28-29 in Matthew 13.
Matthew 13 is a key turning point in the whole book. Up until this
point Jesus has been teaching plainly and boldly with recognizable
authority. But in 12.14, after a series of Sabbath conflicts with the
Pharisees, the religious leaders take counsel together to destroy Jesus. This
results in a fulfilment quotation from Isaiah 42 about the gospel going to
the gentiles. And even more striking, Jesus' entire teaching style changes.
Beginning in ch. 13 Jesus speaks only in parables. We typically think of
Jesus' parables as examples of his accessible, 'man on the street'
pedagogical skill, but in fact just the opposite is the case. After the clear
and straightforward kind of teaching the people heard in the Sermon on
the Mount, Jesus' new style of instruction in parables and proverbs and
similes and metaphors makes no sense. The people's response is not,
'Now, we understand', but just the opposite, 'What is he talking about?'
The disciples are just as perplexed and so they ask Jesus directly about this
change. His response is found in 13.11.

OTI \j|iiv SeSoxai yvcovai xd uuoTTipia xfjs PaoiAsias TCOV oupaveov
SKEIVOIS 5s oil SsSoTai

The new dividing line between the people of God and those outside is not
ethnicity (cf. the opening salvo of Mt. 3.8-10) but instead the understand
ing of truth about Jesus, and this understanding is given to some by divine
revelation and not to others. And those who were supposed to have such
understanding do not and so what they do have will be taken away (13.12).
This stress in Matthew on the necessity of divine revelation to
understand Jesus is also found in other important passages. These include
11.25-27, where Jesus thanks the Lord of heaven and earth for hiding
things from the wise but revealing them to babes. The refractions of
Daniel 2 are not difficult to discern here as well. In fact, in Werner
Grimm's volumes on Jesus and Daniel he has an extensive discussion of


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

the connection of these two passages. Another essential passage that
emphasizes the same is the famous Caesarean Philippi confession of Mt.
16.13-20. In this discussion initiated by Jesus about who they think the
Son of Man is, we read the strong declaration that Peter's right
understanding came to him not by humanity ('flesh and blood') but by
the Father in heaven. It is not difficult to see how similar this teaching in
Matthew is to the same emphasis in Daniel 2.
Thus, the proclamation in Mt. 13.11 does not stand alone in the First
Gospel. To return specifically to its connection with Daniel 2, in addition to
the same thematic concept, one of the strongest and clearest links is the
repetition of the word 'mysteries' (uuOTTipia) from Dan. 2.28, 29 in Mt.
13.11. The mysteries about the (future) kingdom(s) are the focal point in
both books. This little Danielic word LiuGTrjpia at first may seem to be only
a cameo appearance in Matthew, but upon further reflection this cameo
proves to be very significant, even as a cameo may in fact be in a film or play.
This word is found only 21 times in the LXX,35

and of the 'canonical' OT,
only in Daniel. All of the other uses come from Judith, Tobit, 2 Maccabees,
Wisdom and Ben Sira, but most of these are more general statements that are
not connected with divine revelation.36

In Daniel the word is very frequent,
occurring eight times in ch. 2 in both OG and Th, as well as an additional
occurrence in Th at 4.9. The use of the plural in Matthew is particularly
interesting as this matches up with the Daniel uses more closely than Mk 4.11
which (in the parallel to Mt. 13.11) uses the singular uuGTrjpiov.37
It seems clear in light of the statistical data (and particularly the
infrequency of the LXX usage) and the strong overlap conceptually

34 Werner Grimm, Jesus und das Danielbuch, vol. 1: Jesu Einspruch gegen das
Offenbarungsystem Daniels
(Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1984), pp. 1-66. See also Evans,
'Daniel in the New Testament', p. 513.
35 This is the number of unique occurrences of the lexeme, that is, not counting when
different Septuagintal recensions both use the word, such as in Tobit (LXX V Sinaiticus) and
Daniel (OG and Th).

36 The occurrences outside of Daniel are Jdt. 2.2; Tob. 12.7, 11 (same in both LXX and
Sinaiticus versions, speaking of the 'secret of the king'); 2 Mace. 13.21; 4 x in Wisdom (2.22
and 6.22 both speak of the secret wisdom of God; others not connected to divine mystery);
4 x in Sirach (not connected to divine mystery but rather proverbs about not revealing
secrets of a friend).

37 The data is as follows: Of the 21 unique occurrences of the lexeme in the LXX, 10 are
singular and 11 are plural, plurals including the occurrences in Dan. 2.28, 29, and the first of
two instances in v. 47. The singular uses of the word are found in Dan. 2.18, 19, 27, 30, and
the second occurrence in v. 47. In terms of correspondence with the Aramaic, it appears both
the OG and Th switch between singular and plural at the same places as the Aramaic. Of the
28 occurrences of the word in the NT, there are only three in the Gospels, each in the
Synoptic parallel passage about Jesus' teaching in parables (Mt. 13; Mk 4; Lk. 8). All of the
NT occurrences are singular with the exception of Mt. 13.11, Lk. 8.10 and three instances in 1
Corinthians (4.1; 13.2; 14.2; cp. singulars in 2.1, 7; 15.51.

PENNINGTON Daniel in the Gospel of Matthew


between Daniel and Matthew on the issue of revelation from God, that
Daniel 2 is the intertext behind Matthew's usage.38

As to which version
of Daniel is serving in this role it is again difficult to tell. All three of the
versions are quite close, including on the usage of the plural instead of
the singular. Nonetheless, in light of Matthew's obvious knowledge of the
Greek versions (e.g., the exact phrase &? ysvEo8ai in Mt. 26.54), it is
reasonable to posit the Greek version(s) is/are at play here.
Daniel 2.28-29 is not the only way in which the theme of divine
revelation in Daniel feeds into and informs Matthew. We have already
mentioned how crucial Matthew 13 is for this overall theme in the First
Gospel. It is interesting to note then, several other ways in which Daniel
informs this chapter in Matthew.39
Closely related to the discussion above, a key word in Matthew 13 is
ouvtmjt ('understanding'). This word occurs 26 times in the NT, including
nine times in Matthew,40

six of which are in Matthew 13 (vv. 13, 14, 15,
19, 23, 51). This word encapsulates well the main idea of ch. 13, as I have
described it above. At this turning point in the First Gospel, the disciples
of Jesus are defined as the ones who understand his teaching, as opposed to
those outside. Leaning on the language of the quote from LXX Isa. 6.9,
Matthew uses the theme of understanding - or misunderstanding - to
redefine the people of God along the lines of receiving divine revelation.41
Understanding the mysteries of the kingdom is what marks the people of

38 We may note that much more work can be done here on tracing the theme of
'mystery' in the Second Temple period as it flows from Darnel into Matthew. Some
important work has already been done on this topic, including one of the standard works on
the subject in the modern period, R. E. Brown, The Semitic Background of the Term
'Mystery' in the New Testament
(Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968). See also G. Bornkamm's essay
s.v. in TDNT. Also, discussion particularly about the use of the word in Daniel can be found
in Beale, The Use of Daniel, pp. 12-19.
39 Beyond the discussion that is to follow we may also note the intriguing link that can
be made between the Joseph of Genesis and Daniel and then the Joseph of Matthew 1-2. In
this way these three important men's lives parallel, especially around the issue of revelation
related to dreams. As has been observed, the stories of Daniel and the patriarch Joseph have
many obvious parallels (see Collins, Daniel, pp. 39-40). The significance of this is highlighted
even more when one observes how Joseph the husband of Mary in Matthew 1-2 parallels
both Daniel and the OT Joseph (see the interesting discussion in Davies and Allison,
Matthew, vol. 1, p. 182). Related to this connection is the appearance of the 'magi from the
East', who were often associated with Daniel and the Babylonian Exile (cf. Dan. 2.2, 10).
This was the traditional view held by Celsus, Jerome and Augustine. Many modern
commentators understand the reference to magi from the East as Danielic and Babylonian.
For example, Hagner, Matthew 1-13, p. 27; Gundry, Matthew, pp. 26-7.
40 Cp. five times in Mark and four times in Luke.
41 He also uses this word later in Jesus' words exhorting the crowd to listen and
understand (15.10), and twice more to describe the disciples coming to understand (usually
later) Jesus' esoteric teachings (16.12; 17.13). See also Jeannine K. Brown, 'The Rhetoric of


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

In addition to the quoted verse from Isaiah it appears that this same
theme and word from Daniel also serve as the subtext for Matthew, and in
this case the Th version stands apart from OG significantly. In the OG
version the verb OUVITUJI occurs three times (11.33, 35; 12.3) and the noun
form GUVEOIS four more times (1.17 [2x]; 1.20; 2.21). But in the Th
version this word group proves to be a major emphasis, the verb being
found 21 times and the noun form an additional nine times. There are
several key occurrences, including 2.21 (Th only) where the noun is used
to describe the giving of understanding activity that the God of heaven
does. It seems that again, drinking deeply at the well of Daniel's themes
and vocabulary, Matthew reflects this same important idea, possibly from
a proto-Theodotionic recension.
This connection is made especially strong in Dan. 12.3, and this proves
to be a very important theological move for Matthew.

OG 12.3 Kcci oi ouvievxes 4>avo0oiv cos (|>coaxfjpes xoG oupavoG KCXI OI

KATICRXUOVTES xous Aoyous uou coaei xa aaxpa xoG oupavoG eis TOV

aicova xoG aicovos

Th 12.3 KAI oi ouvievxes e^duipouaiv COS T\ AauTrpoxns xoG


xous a'icovas KOU exi

Mt. 13.43 Toxe OI SiKaioi eicAduvpouaiv cos 6 fjAios ev xfj (3aaiAetg xoG

TTOCXPOS auxcov. 6 e'xcov coxa cxKouexco.

Daniel 12 plays an important role in several NT texts,42

including the
'abomination of desolation' (see below) and the great resurrection
promise that 'many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall
awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting
contempt' (12.2 RSV). Just following this image of the resurrection (that
will become so important for the Second Temple literature and especially
the NT) the further description is given that these resurrected ones will
shine 'as the brightness of the firmament' (Th) or 'like the stars of heaven'

(OG). In addition to its conceptual connection with the resurrection in Mt.
25.31-46 and other texts,43

Greek Dan. 12.3 shows a striking link here
with Mt. 13.43, as an examination of the texts shows. It is the Th version
that shows the strongest verbal connection here, employing the same verb

Hearing: The Use of the Isaianic Hearing Motif in Matthew 11.2-16.20', in Daniel Gurtner
and John Nolland (eds), Built upon the Rock: Studies in the Gospel of Matthew (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), pp. 248-69.
42 A. Y. Collins, 'The Influence of Daniel', pp. 110-11, gives several examples of the use
of Daniel 12 in the NT, though she (somewhat surprisingly) does not mention 12.3, either
here or in her discussion of Daniel in Matthew (pp. 98-9).
43 See A. Y. Collins, 'The Influence of Daniel', p. 111. She writes: 'Although the explicit
idea of resurrection is lacking from the Matthean text, the notion of distinct eternal destinies
for good and wicked people may be dependent, in part at least, on Dan 12.2.'

PENNINGTON Daniel in the Gospel of Matthew


kAauvpouoiv, from EKACXUITCO (cp. OG <|>CXVOUGIV). This is all the more
striking in that this is a hapax legomenon in the NT, and it is found only
seven times in the Greek Bible.44

This seems clear evidence of Matthew's
knowledge of and use of some recension similar to what became the Th

What is particularly important to note as well is that Matthew has
substituted the Greek's oi OUVIEVTES for his own oi 5'IKCXIOI. Tn other
words, the 'righteous ones' - which in Matthew stands for those who are
aligned with Jesus, expressing faith in him, living according to his
kingdom teaching - are the ones who, combining the notion from Daniel,
are the understanding ones. These texts fit together extremely well, with
Matthew's intertextual twist that the righteous ones, the understanding
ones, are the ones who will be resurrected. To be a righteous one is to be
an understanding one - via divine revelation - and these are the ones who
will be resurrected and be in the kingdom of Jesus' Father.
We may also note that the words that conclude Matthew's saying in
13.43, The one who has ears, let him hear' are quite similar to his
comment in 24.15, 'let the reader understand', both of which likely recall
the comment in Dan. 12.10 that only the wise will understand the secrets
revealed to Daniel.45
All of these clear connections between Daniel and Matthew 13
regarding the same theme of divine revelation also help explain why
Matthew uses the language of Daniel and the fiery furnace. I suggested
above that Matthew's use of the Daniel language of the 'fiery furnace' in
Mt. 13.42 and 50 serves to make the connection with the Son of Man in
13.41 more explicit, as well as to twist the language of the former
oppressors back on themselves. We may now offer a third reason why this
striking language of the fiery furnace appears in Matthew 13. It is another
whisper to the reader, 'Think Daniel'. This explicitly quoted phrase, 'the
fiery furnace' is like the outcropping of a mineral-laden rock on a hillside,
indicating that underneath the surface lies a vein worth pursuing.
To conclude this discussion, we may observe how Matthew's use of the
divine revelation theme from Daniel is a classic example of Matthew's
intertextual technique. He has imbibed this OT text and has imbued its
truths into his own teaching, all being retrofitted in light of the coming of
Jesus the Christ, the fulfilment of all the OT's hopes and promises. In
Daniel the protagonist strongly emphasizes that he is not the one who can
reveal mysteries (in contrast to the false claims of the court magicians) but

44 2 Sam. 22.29; Ezek. 43.2; Dan. (Th) 12.3; and four times in Ben Sira (26.17; 43.4, 8;


45 Robert H. Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St Matthew's Gospel with Special
Reference to the Messianic Hope
(Leiden: Brill, 1967), p. 49, argues for a deliberate echo of
Dan. 12.10 on this point in Mt. 24.15. See also R. T. France, Matthew, p. 912.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality I

that it is the God of heaven who does. The continuity with Daniel is that
Matthew's Jesus makes the same point, teaching that apart from divine
revelation from the Father in heaven one cannot understand. Yet there is
also an important discontinuity here. At the same time, Matthew's Jesus-
centredness or high Christology shines through because the revelation of
the mysteries that God gives in Matthew is not merely the interpretation
of a dream or even specifically the details of what is to come in the future,
but rather the revelation about who Jesus is. To be aligned with God in
heaven one must be aligned with Jesus on earth; he is the Christ. Such a
claim shows the qualitative or ontological difference between Jesus'
discussion about the revealing of mysteries and Daniel's. Daniel's
revelations have nothing to do with him. Not so with Jesus. One is
immediately reminded of similar situations in Matthew where Jesus 'one-
ups' the great OT figures, including Moses (e.g., 'You have heard it said,
but I say to you ...') and David, Solomon, the temple and others (cf. the
many 'something greater than X is here ...' sayings).


The final major way in which Daniel is influencing Matthew can be placed
under the large category of eschatology. Granted, this is a massive topic and
a huge area of scholarly output - and rightly so; the NT is thoroughly
eschatological in its outlook. But despite the generic-ness of the term I have
still chosen to employ it here because it is large enough to encompass several
ways in which Daniel in particular is working its way out in Matthew.
Matthew is rifled through with apocalyptic language and imagery and is
continually looking forward to the eschaton.46

The Beatitudes, the whole
Sermon on the Mount, the missionary discourse of ch. 10, the language
and imagery of the Passion narrative - all of these are full of apocalyptic
eschatology. The most obvious and concentrated example is in the fifth
and final major discourse in Matthew, the one that addresses explicitly
and succinctly the future times, chs 24-25.
These chapters in Matthew, in addition to sharing a similar worldview
with Daniel 7-12, also reveal many specific references to Daniel. We can
analyse them under four subcategories of eschatology: the end of the ages;

46 Donald Hagner states: 'From beginning to end, and throughout, the Gospel makes
such frequent use of apocalyptic motifs and the apocalyptic viewpoint that it deserves to be
called the apocalyptic Gospel: Donald A. Hagner, 'Apocalyptic Motifs in the Gospel of
Matthew: Continuity and Discontinuity', HBT1 (1985): 53-82 (60). He also states that an
apocalyptic perspective 'holds a much more prominent place than in any of the other
Gospels' (p. 53). Many other works can be consulted, including David C. Sim, Apocalyptic
Eschatology in the Gospel of Matthew
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); O.
Lamar Cope,4

"To the Close of the Age": The Role of Apocalyptic Thought in the Gospel of
Matthew', in Joel Marcus and Marion L. Soards (eds), Apocalyptic and the New Testament:
Essays in Honor of J. Louis Martyn
(Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1989), pp. 113-24.

PENNINGTON Daniel in the Gospel of Matthew


the time of tribulation; the abomination of desolation; and resurrection/
eternal life. On each of these important topics Daniel makes a major
appearance in Matthew.

The end of the ages

Daniel 9.26 shows an interesting connection with Matthew in several
ways. The two Greek versions and the Hebrew all vary from each other a
fair amount and in every case the content here is very esoteric. The NA27
lists Mt. 11.3 as an allusion to Dan. 9.26 and the connection there likely
refers to the expectation of 'the coming one' (especially from Th).
However, there is much more in Dan. 9.26-27 that one can see as a subtext
for the Gospels, particularly reference to the future time of tribulation (see
below) and mention of the Anointed One (even using XP»OTOS in OG 9.26;
Th uses xpiopa) who will be cut off or killed.47

Additionally, we may note
that the OG in this verse twice uses a word that becomes a Matthean
favorite, OUVTEAEKX.
This word occurs 81 times in the LXX,48

22 of which are in the OG of
Daniel. This is compared to only six occurrences in the Th version.49

of the instances of this word are concentrated in 9.26-27 (six times in OG
here; only two times in Th), and at other times in the OG the word is used in
connection with the coming armies and tribulation. What makes the
connection with Matthew so strong is that this word appears exclusively in
Matthew in the NT, with the exception of one usage in Heb. 9.26. In
Matthew it is found at 13.39,40,49; 24.3; 28.20. It seems likely Matthew is
picking up this word from Greek Daniel and using it multiple times.
In Mt. 28.20 the word speaks of Jesus' promise of his presence in the
future, and in this verse the word also provides an important literary and
theological bookend with Matthew's first two words, (3i(}Aos YEVEOECOS
(1.1). In 24.3 the word plays an important part in setting up the entire
eschatological discourse of chs 24-25. The disciples ask Jesus to teach them
about the sign of his coming and 'the close of the age'. The infrequency of
this word in the NT and its great frequency and content connection with
Daniel (especially OG) make this a good candidate for intentional allusion.
The recurrence to OUVTEAEICX three times in Mt. 13 is also very significant

47 The NA27

appendix lists Dan. 9.27 as linked with Mt. 4.5, though this is not as
immediately recognizable. The reference in Matthew is to Jesus being taken to the pinnacle of
the temple. The connection in Daniel seems to be the reference to Jerusalem, the temple and
the Christ. By itself these would not likely prove to be clear connections, but taken in light of
other uses of Dan. 9.26-27, this may be a valid allusion to draw.
48 As above, not counting the times where it occurs in different versions of the same
book, such as OG and Th, and in this case, the two different textual witnesses to the book of

49 All of the Th occurrences are also found in parallel in the OG, with the OG also having

16 more uses.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

eschatologically. These three concentrated references to the OUVTEAEIOC are
found in Jesus' eschatological parables of the wheat and the tares and the
dragnet of fish, both of which speak of a future time of separation of the
righteous from the wicked, an important eschatological motif. The
connection with Daniel is certainly plausible here but is not necessary
based only on this shared eschatological theme. However, Matthew's
frequent use of this common Danielic term OUVTEAEIOC adds much to the
argument. Yet even more, what makes this connection even more likely
and striking is that just after each of these uses of OUVTEAEIOC in Matthew 13
we have the direct quote from Daniel regarding being cast into the fire:

OUVTEAEIOC in 13.39, 40, followed by Daniel quote in 13.42

OUVTEAEIOC in 13.49, followed by Daniel quote in 13.50

Thus, we have yet another function of the 'fiery furnace' quotes from
Daniel in Matthew 13: they are part of the thick web of multiple Daniel
references woven together into this key chapter. The Daniel 4 quotes in
Matthew 13 are interwoven with these important eschatological references
to the 'end of the ages' from Daniel 9 and other places, particularly the
reference to the OUVTEAEIO:.
On this score we may posit that the influence of OG upon Matthew is
once again probable as OUVTEAEIO: is such a frequent and important term
there. However, the word does also occur in Th, even if not as frequently,
and Matthew may pick up the lexeme from some proto-Theodotionic

Time of tribulation

There are several uses of Dan. 12.1-3 in Matthew, one of which was
discussed above in connection with Mt. 13.43, and several others that will
be discussed below in relation to the resurrection. But here we may also
note briefly how Dan. 12.1 relates to the coming time of tribulation spoken
of in Mt. 24.21. It is difficult to say if Matthew is quoting either of our
versions of the Greek Bible here, though the conceptual link is there. There
may be a slight edge to something like the Th as subtext, though this is not
entirely certain. Interestingly, the NA27

margin here says explicitly 'Dn
12,1 Theod'. A future time of testing also appears in Dan. 12.10.

The Abomination of Desolation

Along with 'Son of Man', one of the strongest links made between Daniel
and the Gospels - Matthew included - is reference to the 'abomination of
desolation(s)'. This threefold reference in Daniel (9.27; 11.31; 12.11)50
refers to the defiling of the Jerusalem temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes

50 Also note that 8.13 appears to refer to the same thing with the expression r\ auccp-ria


PENNINGTON Daniel in the Gospel of Matthew


in 167 BC (cf. 1 Mace. 1.54, 59; 6.7; 2 Mace. 6.1-5). There is no doubt that
Daniel's several references to the 'abomination of desolation' are the
backdrop for the NT's conception of the same. Luke interprets this as the
destruction of Jerusalem (Lk. 21.20) while Mark and Matthew are not as
clear, though the destruction of Jerusalem and/or some future time are in
view. But what is most striking is that Matthew goes out of his way, rather
unexpectedly, to make the Daniel connection unmistakably obvious by
introducing the phrase with: TO pnBev 5id Aavir|A TOU TRPO<|)RJTOU. This is
inserted into the middle of the sentence, as an informational aside. Indeed,
this reference is not found in any of the other Gospels, and except for this
redactional comment Matthew is quite close to Mark in language (cp. Mk
13.14-20 with Mt. 24.15-22). In fact, this is the only reference to Daniel by
name in all of the NT.

Mt. 24.15 t

OTOCV OUV ?5nT6 TO pSsAuyuoc T% EpnucoaEcosTO pu8ev 5ia

So the source of Daniel is indisputable. The question is where in Daniel
this comes from and how the Greek versions play into this. One possibility
is 9.27 (identical in OG and Th). We may note that both versions are
followed immediately by reference to the ecos ouvTeAeiocs (plus the
additional KOU OUVTEAEIO in OG). AS discussed above, this becomes a
favorite Matthean expression. We may also note the further connection in
Mt. 24.14 with its reference to the end coming (TOTE rJX£l T


One immediate difference between these identical Greek versions and
Matthew is the plural 'desolations' as compared to Matthew's singular

T% IpnucooEcos.51

It is possible that Matthew reflects the single number
of the poel particle 005QD, though this is far from certain. Actually, the
Hebrew reads quite differently here from Matthew who seems to be
following the Greek instead; the Hebrew should be rendered something
like 'upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate'

(RSV). The Hebrew goes on to speak again of 'the desolater', thus it seems
the MT is speaking more specifically of a person while the Gospel's focus
on the action. Either Greek version could be the source for Matthew here,
despite the singular-plural difference.
Another possible source for Matthew is Dan. 11.31.52

We may note
once again that unlike Matthew, the pSeAuyucc here is anarthrous, though
this is not likely of great importance. Like Matthew, however, the OG's
Epnucooeoos here is singular, as opposed to the plural in Dan 9.27. Also
noticeable, Th uses a different word here - F|<|>O:V.OUEVOV, from d<|>av.£eo -

51 There is also the difference between the articular version in Matthew and the
anarthrous in Daniel, although the varied uses of the Greek article make this likely not of
great importance.

52 The OG reads pSeAuyucc eprmcooecos and the Th has pSsAuypa rVtxxviauEvov.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

thus breaking up the formulaic expression. This gives a slight edge to OG
as Matthew's source, at least in the sense that the usage is consistent and
more frequent in OG, though this is not a necessary conclusion.
Yet another possibility, and likely the best candidate for Matthew's
source is Dan. 12.11.53

This occurrence of the phrase matches Matthew in
its use of the singular TTJS epnucooscos. The only difference between the OG
and Th here is the presence or absence of the article. Again, this is not
highly significant for a difference in meaning, though it should be
observed that this makes the OG text match Matthew exactly. Thus we
may suggest that OG 12.11 is best said to be 'what was spoken through the
prophet Daniel'. This is not to say that each of the three instances of the
'abomination of desolation' are not combined together - they are - but
that in terms of a direct citation, which Matthew obvious wants to give us,
it appears he is reading the OG text at 12.11.54
As to the question of the meaning of this intertext in Matthew, Davies
and Allison query whether this suggests that Matthew's community might
have used the LXX because this is where the book of Daniel belongs to 'the
prophets', as opposed to in the Hebrew Bible where Daniel is among the
writings. This does seem reasonable. However, they rightly note that this
is not the necessary inference, as there are other texts that refer to Daniel
as a prophet without making this LXX versus Hebrew Bible assumption.55
Nevertheless, this stands as an interesting observation regarding
Matthew's text-type.
I would also suggest that Matthew's explicit citation of Dan. 12.11
helps his readers see the other links he makes with Daniel 12, including
especially in chs 24-25.
Finally, we may also remark that this explicit reference to 'the prophet
Daniel' lends much credence to the overall thesis of this essay, that
Matthew is reading and reflecting on Daniel for his own narrative
teaching about Jesus.

Resurrection!Eternal life

The fourth and final use of Daniel in Matthew's eschatology concerns the
topic of eternal life and the resurrection from the dead. We have
mentioned above how Daniel 12.3, with its reference to the wise shining
like the firmament/heavens, is used in an important way in Mt. 13.43.
Daniel 12.3 is a picturesque description of the future resurrection which is

53 The OG reads TO fSSeAuyua TTJS epnM&x^W and the Th has (JSeAuyua sprjucocrecos.
54 This is somewhat in tension with Davies and Allison, Matthew, vol. 3, p. 345 n. 114,
which says that the suggestion that 'any one of these texts in Daniel is in view to the exclusion
of the others is unlikely'. This is correct that not one text is used in exclusion of the others,
but it does seem OG 12.11 is the clearest and most direct text, and the others support it.
55 Davies and Allison, Matthew, vol. 3, p. 345 n. 113.

PENNINGTON Daniel in the Gospel of Matthew


spoken of in Dan. 12.2. Of course, much can be said about the developing
theology of resurrection in the Second Temple period and how central of
an idea this is in the NT, but we will restrict our current discussion to one
particular verse in Matthew that is a refraction of Dan. 12.2, Mt. 25.46.56
This text in Matthew is by no means the first reference to a future time
of judgement and separation of the righteous and the unrighteous, nor the
first mention of a future punishment (cf. from ch. 13 the parables of the
wheat and tares and the dragnet of fish, and the multiple references to a
place of darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth). But this verse is the
conclusion to the most extended image of the future judgement in
Matthew (25.31-46, using the image of the sheep and the goats), and it
serves as the concluding climax to the entire eschatological discourse of
chs 24-25.

The texts of Daniel (all three versions) vary from each other a bit but
the concept is the same as it is in Matthew. What OG, Th and Matthew all
share exactly is the phrase eis Ccor|v aicoviov. The OG also shows some
affinities to Matthew with its use of the oi 5e expression which is not only
here in Mt. 25.46 but is also a regular feature of Matthew's style (found
around 60 times). The common conception at work here is the
eschatological separation of peoples at a time of physical resurrection.
A. Y. Collins addresses the question of Dan. 12.2's influence on the NT
and concludes that this notion from Daniel 'is of central importance in the
New Testament'.57

She also states that although most of the NT passages
about the resurrection do not show direct verbal links with Daniel 12, one
important exception is Mt. 25.31-46. Although the explicit mention of
resurrection is not found in this Matthean text, the exact phrase sis Ccorjv
is important and 'the notion of distinct eternal destinies for good
and wicked people may be dependent, in part at least, on Dan. 12.2'.58
Thus, it seems we have good reason to make an explicit connection
between Dan. 12.2 and Matthew here.
To conclude our discussion of Daniel's influence on Matthew's
eschatology we can pull together several pieces of the data. Davies and
Allison, in discussing the background of Matthew 24, offer the following
helpful chart of parallels between Daniel and Matthew 24.59

56 The NA27

appendix also lists Mt. 27.52[-53] as an allusion to Dan. 12.2. The reference
in Matthew to many saints being raised and entering the holy city does relate in general to the
resurrection promise of Dan. 12, but the lexical connections are minimal.
57 A. Y. Collins, 'The Influence of Daniel', p. 111.
58 Ibid.
59 Davies and Allison, Matthew, vol. 3, p. 332. Time has not allowed me to analyse all of
the connections that Allison has suggested here. I have chosen to focus on the four
subcategories discussed above, but more work can be done here. One additional possible use
of Daniel in Mt. 24 beyond what Allison gives here is Dan. 12.12 in Mt. 24.13. See A. Y.
Collins, 'The Influence of Daniel', p. 111.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

Matthew 24


Temple destroyed

v. 3


Time of the end

v. 3


Rumours of war

v. 6

9.26; 11.44

Persecution of saints

w. 9-11

7.25; 11.33


v. 15

8.13; 9.27; 11.31; 12.11

Time of tribulation

v. 21


Son of man on clouds

v. 30


Allison concludes: 'While it is too much to say that Matthew 24 (or its
main source) is a midrash upon Daniel, the clear allusions and the explicit
citation of "the prophet Daniel" (v. 15) are proof that, for Matthew, the
end-time scenario will fulfill the words of Daniel and Jesus simultan
eously.' I agree and would add that there are even more allusions to and
echoes of Daniel in this Matthean discourse, including in ch. 25 as well.
Indeed, I would suggest that in addition to the explicit reference to Daniel
in 24.15 and the multiple references to the Son of Man here, Matthew
frames the entire discourse of these two chapters with allusions to Daniel.
Daniel makes an appearance at the beginning in Mt. 24.3 and at the end
with Mt. 25.46. Daniel's part in Matthew's eschatology functions at a very
high level and can be easily classified as an oratory role.


I have just offered my general conclusion as to the widespread use of
Daniel in Matthew - it is there, it is important, and there is still work to be
done. Matthew loves the prophets and he very much wants his readers to
understand that, as he says in 26.56, 'all the writing of the prophets have
been fulfilled' in Jesus, and this certainly includes the important words of
Daniel. I have sought to show in this essay that a key subtext for Matthew
is Daniel (especially some Greek version). Moreover, understanding how
Matthew employs the language of Daniel reveals something about the rich
intertextuality of the First Gospel and helps us understand the depth of
Danielic meaning with which Matthew is investing some of his own key
themes, especially the Son of Man, heaven and earth, divine revelation
and eschatology.

Chapter 6



Anthony Le Donne

Craig Evans has recently suggested that Jesus' public entry into Jerusalem
and procession toward the temple (hereafter: Procession) might demon
strate the expectation for a/the political messiah to be endorsed by the
temple priesthood and, perhaps particularly, by the anointed high priest.1
His study surveys a number of Rabbinic texts that interpret Zech. 4.14
messianically and suggests that 4Q254 frag 4 'may preserve the earliest
extant link in a chain of messianic interpretation of Zechariah 3-4'.2

this way, Evans' reading of 4Q254 follows the early comments of George

I think that there is merit to their reading of this fragment. While
the present paper will not focus on 4Q254, it will suggest that this
messianic application of Zechariah might be indicative of Qumran's more
general understanding and use of Zechariah. With this in mind, I will be
drawing further attention to another text which, in my estimation, betrays
a similar understanding of Zechariah.
Evans focuses primarily on Mark's account of Jesus' Procession and (by
way of Mark) the historical event itself. My own paper will largely
sidestep the earlier stages of the Jesus tradition to focus on Matthew's

1 ' "The Two Sons of Oil": Early Evidence of Messianic Interpretation of Zechariah 4.14
in 4Q254 4 2\ in Donald W. Parry and Eugene Ulrich (eds), The Provo International
Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls: Technological Innovations, New Texts, and Reformulated
(STDJ, 30; Leiden: Brill, 1998), pp. 566-75; 'Diarchic Messianism in the Dead Sea
Scrolls and the Messianism of Jesus of Nazareth', in L. H. Schiffman, E. Tov and J. C.
VanderKam (eds), The Dead Sea Scrolls: Fifty Years after Their Discovery. Proceedings of the
Jerusalem Congress, July 20-25, 1997
(Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society and the Israel
Antiquities Authority, 2000), pp. 558-67.
2 Evans, 'Two Sons', p. 571.
3 '4Q254 Fragments 1 and 4, and 4Q254a: Some Preliminary Comments', in Proceedings
of the Eleventh World Congress of Jewish Studies
(Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies,
1994), pp. 185-92.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

interpretation of Jesus' Procession. My modest contribution to this thesis
will suggest (1) that Matthew's account of the Procession betrays an
expectation that is akin (but not identical) to that which was common to
the Dead Sea community and (2) that Matthew was probably conversant
with a form of diarchic messianism as his use of Zechariah demonstrates.
Specifically, this paper will suggest that Matthew portrays Jesus riding
two animals toward the temple (Mt. 21.5) to address the diarchic
expectations of his contemporaries.

Zechariah and Qumran

To begin, it is helpful to recall the famous text from Zechariah that shaped
Matthew's understanding of the Procession, Zech. 9.9:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you; He is righteous and endowed with
salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey [11011],5

even on a colt


the foal of a donkey BTUrttTp].7

This prophecy was originally intended to legitimate Zerubbabel, a
descendant of David, as king in a time when there had been an absence
of this office in Israel. But before the significance of Zechariah can be fully
appreciated, it must be pointed out that this passage is itself an allusion to
1 Kgs 1.32-40. In this passage, David choreographs Solomon's enthrone
ment procession and anointing by having him mount David's mule and
parade to the temple alongside Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet.
For the purposes of the present study, it is crucial to point out that
David never mounts an animal in this manner to legitimate his claim to
the throne. This act is done by Solomon in order to claim his status as
David's successor. This act symbolically distinguished Solomon from
Adonijah. Both were heirs, but David placed Solomon on his own mule to
symbolically endorse him as the rightful heir to his father's throne.8
Furthermore, David had hoped to promote the notion that Solomon
would be a greater king than his father (1 Kgs 1.37). It is also important

4 This is not to say that Matthew's interpretation of the historical event is of little value.
For a fuller discussion of Jesus' Procession and one that includes historiographical analysis
(i.e., historical analysis) see my The Historiographical Jesus: Memory, Typology and the Son
of David
(Waco: Baylor University Press, forthcoming).

5 LXX: uTTo£uyiov.


7 LXX omits this phrase.
8 Contrast the unsuccessful processions of Absalom (2 Sam. 18.9) and Mephibosheth (2
Sam. 19.26); cf. J. A. Sanders, 4

A New Testament Hermeneutic Fabric: Psalm 118 in the
Entrance Narrative' in C. A. Evans and W. F. Stinespring (eds), Early Jewish and Christian
(Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987), pp. 177-90 (179).

LE DONNE Dior chic Symbolism in Matthew


that David's endorsement of Solomon included the support of both the
prophet Nathan and Zadok the priest. They announced his new office
with a shout and accompanied his procession. Lastly, it is no small detail
that Zadok the priest plays a crucial role in anointing Solomon.
Considering this historical backdrop, the possibility must be considered
that such a Jewish royal procession was a uniquely Solomonic act.
Solomon was the first 'son of David' to become like his father and
eventually supersede his father.
Zechariah drew upon this imagery in order to embody what was first
achieved in the reign of Solomon. As David's original choreography
intended, the act of riding a colt amid shouts of royal adulation was a
symbolic claim to be David's successor. Thus the act was Davidic in a
particularly Solomonic sense.
Zechariah was prophesying that Zerubbabel
would sit on David's throne just like Solomon had.
This affinity with Solomon is of particular importance for Zechariah,
because Zerubbabel is prophesied as the coming builder of the temple;9
this too is the responsibility of the Davidic king and it is particularly
Solomonic. In this light, Zech. 6.12-13 clarifies:

Then say to him, 'Thus says the Lord of Hosts, "Behold, a man whose
name is Branch, for he will branch out from where he is; and he will
build the Temple of the Lord." Indeed, he will build the Temple of the
Lord and it is he who will bear the honor and sit and reign. And there
will be a priest at his throne and a council of peace between the two.'

Besides confirming the role of Zerubbabel as temple builder, this text
highlights the mutual relationship between Zerubbabel (here called
'Branch') and Joshua the high priest no doubt following the lead of 1
Kings 1. Moreover, these two figures are coupled in Zech. 4.1410


called the 'sons of anointing'


Zechariah's invitation
toward messianic interpretation is obvious and, clearly, was not lost on
the Qumran community.
As Zechariah's influence extends into the Common Era, its impact can
be seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls. As is well known, Qumran's messianism
included multiple offices.12

Joseph Fitzmyer voices his initial surprise at

this duality:

9 Cf. also Hag. 2.9.
10 The vision of Zech. 4 shows the temple as a lamp-stand alongside two olive branches
which pour out their oil
11 Cf. J. J. Collins, The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and
other Ancient Literature
(New York: Doubleday, 1995), p. 77.
12 The most common view is that the Qumran community was awaiting two
eschatological figures. However, some argue that the Dead Sea sect believed that the
eschatological 'high priest' was already present in their community and were awaiting a royal


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

Even though PTCED was applied in post-monarchial times to a historical
priest in Leviticus 4, it is a surprise to see a priestly figure become a part
of the Qumran community's messianic expectations, because there is
little in the Old Testament itself about a future 'priest/ unless Zech
6.13b is so understood.13

While Fitzmyer suggests this connection very cautiously, more might be
said about this connection. Besides the possible echo of the referent

in several scrolls,15

Geniza B explicitly appeals to Zechariah in

the context of multiple messianic offices:

.ynan na ipsn Dirte o'xrcn Via: Tmb... 6
ma mn sran nnnT Tn mro imn torn 7

men sran rm1

? wan* cmaEam mpsn fpn lo'ar 10
.'anen pro* 11

When God visits the land to return the just deserts of the wicked upon
them. When the oracle of the prophet Zechariah comes true, O sword,
be lively and smite my shepherd and the man loyal to me so says God. If
you strike down the shepherd, the flock will scatter. Then I will turn my
power against the little ones [cf. Zech. 13.7]. But those who give heed to
God are the poor of the flock [cf. Zech. 11.7] they will escape in the time
of punishment, but all the rest will be handed over to the sword when
the Messiah of Aaron and of Israel comes. (CD 19.6-11).16

anointed figure before both 'messiahs' could be established in Jerusalem. See discussions in
Collins, Scepter, ch. 4 and M. Abegg, 'The Messiah at Qumran: Are We Still Seeing Double?'
DSD 2 (1995): 125-44.

13 J. A. Fitzmyer, The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,

2000), p. 83.

14 It is commonly argued that Qumran has adapted the vegetation language of Jeremiah,
e.g., A. S. van der Woude, Die Messianischen Vorstellungen der Gemeinde von Qumran
(Assen: Gorcum, 1957), p. 171; D. Juel, Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of
the Old Testament in Early Christianity
(Philadelphia: Fortress, 1998), p. 67; C. A. Evans,
'Are the "Son" Texts at Qumran Messianic?' in J. H. Charlesworth, H. Litchenberger and G.
S. Oegema (eds), Qumran-Messianism: Studies on the Messianic Expectations in the Dead Sea
(Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1998), pp. 135-53 (141); J. Laansma, / Will Give You Rest
(WUNT, 98; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1997), pp. 225-6. There can be little doubt that the
Jeremiah texts cited above also contributed to the 'Branch' language. I do not wish to paint
these two passages as mutually exclusive options.
15 4Q161 7-10 3.22; 4Q174 1-3 1.11; 4Q252 5.3-4, 4Q285 5 3; 5 4.
16 I follow the translation of M. Wise, M. Abegg and E. Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A
New Translation
(San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1996).

LE DONNE Diarchic Symbolism in Matthew


The first line of the cited passage (line 6) concludes a previous section on
the virtues of keeping the Lord's commands until the last days. This
transition gives occasion for the author to express his hope for a day of
divine visitation and judgement. What follows are two overt appeals to
Zechariah which show that the community believed this book to be
eschatologically instructive. Moreover, this passage associates the fulfil
ment of Zechariah's judgement day with the coming of two anointed
figures. In lines 10-11, we see the now famous refrain that bespeaks
Qumran's messianic dualism:
The quotes from Zechariah are from chs 11 and 13; both chapters
emphasize a shepherding metaphor that predicts a bloody end to Israel's

It is by way of this divine judgement that a remnant of Israel
would be saved and refined. In all likelihood, the Dead Sea community
saw themselves as this righteous remnant and awaited an eschatological
diarchy to be established for them and against the corrupt Jerusalem
temple establishment.19

Although the immediate context of chs 11 and 13
do not mention the dual anointed figures, this Qumran interpreter seems
to have imported these figures from previous passages in the book.
Taking this passage together with 4Q254, we are in a position to
confirm the early suspicion of Fitzmyer and the more recent suggestion of
Evans that Zechariah played a crucial role in influencing the Qumran
community's expectation of a messianic diarchy.20

And in this particular
text, we see that this influence specifically included the messianic exegesis
of Zech. 13.7. I move now to the Gospel of Matthew which also quotes
Zech. 13.7.

Zechariah and Matthew

As I consider the possibility of diarchic messianism in Matthew's version
of the Procession, I aim to triangulate Matthew between Mark (on which

17 Cf. CD 12.23; 14.19; 20.1; 4Q266 flOi.12; 4Q269 flli.2. George Brooke has recently
reminded me that JTOD is rendered in the singular. However, he is willing to grant that the
(virtual) scholarly consensus considers that the singular is elsewhere indicative of multiple
messiahs. This study will follow the majority opinion that the phrase is best considered as a
designation of multiple offices unless the context demands otherwise.
18 It has been notoriously difficult to interpret this metaphor with specific identities but
most commentators agree that the central issue is concerned with issues of leadership.
19 C. Rabin's early reading of this passage suggested that the author identified the
struck-down shepherd as the Teacher of Righteousness (The Zadokite Documents [Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1954], p. 31).
20 A fuller treatment might revisit 4Q174 1.10-13 which conflates and exploits 2 Sam.
7.12, 14; Amos 9.11; and Zech. 6.13. While 2 Sam. 7 is most prominently interpreted,
Zechariah's stamp is evident as there are two eschatological figures mentioned and the royal
figure is called the 'Branch of David' recalling Zechariah's metaphorical title.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

Matthew is dependent) and Qumran (which stands along a relatively
parallel trajectory). Exegetically, this will (1) involve analysing how
Matthew has followed and redacted Mark's Procession account and (2)
comparing Matthew's apparent agenda with the general messianic
ideology of the Qumran community.
F. F. Bruce catalogued 11 parallels between Zechariah and Jesus'
Passion spanning all four Gospels.21

To summarize these parallels, the
following chart has set direct quotations in quotes, strong allusions in
simple text and echoes in italics.




1. 'Say to the Daughter of Zion,
"Behold, your king coming ... mounted
on a colt, the foal ...!"'

9.9 + Isa. 62.11 Mt. 21.5

2. 'King coming ... seated on an ass's


Jn 12.15

3. '... shall not look on him whom they
have pierced'

12.10 + Exod.

Jn 19.33-37

4. 'I will strike the shepherd ...'


Mk 14.27//Mt.

5. Weighed out ... 30 pieces of silver


Mt. 26.15

6. Money cast down ... used to buy field 11.13 + Jer. 18.2 Mt. 27.9-10

7. The poor of the flock // little ones


Lk. 12.32

8. My covenant blood

9.11 + Exod. 24.8 Mk 14.24

9. Temple Mount cleft (?)


Mk li.23//Mt.

10. Flowing of living water

13.1 + Isa. 44.3 Jn 7.38

11. House of trade22

Tg. Zech. 14.21


As seen here, the first four parallels take the form of direct quotations.
Taken together, 5 and 6 seem strongly influenced by Zechariah even
though no direct quote is supplied. The next five represent faint echoes,
perhaps too vague to be noticed individually. But given the weight of the
previous six and the overall total, one is compelled to consider their merit.
All told, it seems probable that the association between Zechariah and
Jesus' Passion tradition was early and widespread.

21 F. F. Bruce, 'The Book of Zechariah and the Passion Narrative', BJRL 43 (1960-61):


22 In this case, the key conceptual parallel is the Aramaic paraphrase 'there shall no
longer be a trader in the house of the YHWH on that day'. Here the meturgeman has
changed 'Canaanite' to 'trader'. The late date of the written tradition cautions against any
strong argument. Even so, it seems that there are two exegetical options available. The first
places this tradition after the destruction of the temple. If this is so, Tg. Zech. suggests that
the Herodian temple was remembered as an institution corrupted by the abuse of trade. The
second option is that the written tradition represents a much earlier sentiment that is
contemporary to the issue at stake in Jesus' temple demonstration. Both options cast further
light on the state of the temple shortly before its destruction.

LE DONNE Diarchic Symbolism in Matthew


I include this chart to demonstrate succinctly both Matthew's keen
interest in Zechariah and that this interest takes cues from the evangelist's
received tradition. Matthew has followed Mark's lead in quoting Zech.
13.7 and has taken this saying as a key for understanding the larger
significance of the events of the Passion (see points 1, 4, 5, 6 and 9 charted
above). Noticing the many similarities between Mark's Passion and
Zechariah, Matthew has created something of a Zechariah matrix. This
can be seen in Matthew's interpretation of Jesus' Procession as the
fulfilment of Zech. 9.9. It can also be seen in Matthew's expansion of Mk
14.11 to include details from Zech. 11.12-13. Bruce is then correct to quote
Dodd on this matter:

There is no reason to suppose that this belongs to the primitive corpus
of testimonia, but we may well believe that Matthew was led to it
because the whole passage of Zechariah was already recognized as a
source of testimonies.23

In this way, Matthew has followed a redaction trajectory present in the
tradition he has received and has expanded it.24

It seems that Matthew's
retelling took its interpretative cues from those implicit in Mark. I think
that this is particularly true of Matthew's retelling of Jesus' Procession.
Matthew's account of the Procession strays from Mark's with regard to
its immediate telos. In Mark's Procession, Jesus ends his journey at the
temple, looks around and leaves. In Matthew, this anticlimax is dropped
altogether to include what becomes one of the most climactic moments of
narrative: Jesus' demonstration in the temple. Matthew has taken the
broader telos of the story and placed it in the immediate context of Jesus'

The temple was, of course, both Jesus' final destination and the
central focus of his symbolic act. In both these ways, Matthew's broader
telos is not radically different than Mark's. What Matthew does change is
Mark's immediate anticlimax. This is simply good storytelling.26
Given Zechariah's influence upon Matthew's interpretation, the
evangelist's teleological emphasis is understandable. For Matthew,
Jesus' royal office is linked with his relationship to the temple, and as

23 C. H. Dodd, According to the Scriptures: The Sub-Structure of New Testament
(London: Collins, 1952), p. 62 as quoted in Bruce, 'Book of Zechariah', p. 349.
24 P. J. Achtemeier observes that in comparison to Matthew, Mark's Procession account
seems 'unusually ambiguous' ('And He Followed Him: Miracles and Discipleship in Mark
10.46-52', Semeia 11 [1978]: 115-45 [130]). Matthew's account has thus taken steps to
improve this ambiguity.
25 Cf. Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14-28 (WBC, 33B, Dallas Word Books, 1995),

p. 600.

26 It should be noted, however, that Mark's placement of the fig tree incident (Mk 11.12-
14, 20-26) was undoubtedly strategic. Mark has couched Jesus' temple action within a type of
actualized parable. With this in mind, it is possible that Matthew's alteration comes closer to
how the event was originally remembered. This is confirmed by Luke's corresponding climax.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

such, Matthew places Jesus' demonstration in closer proximity to Jesus'
Procession. This shift is better explained when Matthew's use of
Zechariah is examined. As mentioned, Zech. 9.9 mimics Solomon's
original claim to the throne in 1 Kgs 1.32-40. Zechariah employs this
imagery because Zerubbabel's most important office is that of temple
builder. The prophet portrays him as the antitype of Solomon in order to
demonstrate his authority as the 'Branch' of David which extended from
the promised 'seed' of 2 Sam. 7.27
According to Mt. 21.9, Jesus rides into Jerusalem amidst the shouts,
'Hosanna, Son of David! Blessed be he who comes in the name of the
Lord! Hosanna in the Highest!' This is a departure from Mark in that
'Son of David' is inserted in place of Mark's mention of 'the kingdom of
David our father!' The observation that Solomon's was the prototypical
inaugural procession is relevant because Matthew has added the
Solomonic title 'Son of David' to his Procession narrative. If it can be
granted that Matthew had more than just a superficial interest in
Zechariah, and that Zechariah modelled Zerubbabel after Solomon, it is
possible that Matthew has followed suit by applying to Jesus a title best
known for its application to David's first successor: Solomon.28

As stated
above, David's legacy does not include a symbolic coronation procession.
This ritual stems from Solomonic tradition. Thus Matthew's application
of this title to Jesus may well demonstrate a typological appeal to
Solomon. In this story, Jesus' Procession leads to the temple where Jesus
will demonstrate his authority over it as the messianic Son of David.
Zechariah guides Matthew's imagery in this regard.
It is then helpful to remember that Zadok played a key role in
Solomon's procession and anointing. This homogeny between king and
high priest influenced Zechariah who further emphasized joint offices of
'the sons of anointing'. This must be kept in mind when reading Mt. 21.2,
5 and 7. Here Matthew borrows from Zechariah by inventing dual
animals, LXX Zech. 9.9 reads:

XocTpe o65pa Suyaxep IICOV Krjpuoae OuyaxEp lepouoaAnM ISou b



27 2 Sam. 7.13 indicates that David's 'seed' will 'build a house for My name'.
28 For a fuller defence of this point, see The Historiographical Jesus. With regard to the
title 'Son of David', one of the central theses of my dissertation was that, when applied to
Jesus, 'Son of David' is a typological designation that draws as much from Solomonic
typology as it does from Davidic typology. Indeed the only time that 'Son of David' is
applied as a title in the Hebrew Bible is in reference to Solomon. Moreover, the phrase 'Son
of David' is extant in the Dead Sea Scrolls only once, when it is applied to Solomon in
4Q398 fl 1 13.1-2:'[.. .the bles]sin[gs] came on [and] in the days of Solomon, the Son of David

LE DONNE Diarchic Symbolism in Matthew


Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; proclaim it aloud, O daughter of
Jerusalem; behold, the King is coming to thee, just, and a Saviour; he is
meek and riding on an ass, and a young foal!

The LXX takes the Hebrew parallel description of the same animal
(TVWrWp TIT^fll man) and creates the possibility of two separate
animals. Similarly, Matthew has taken this poetic category and literalized
it in his narrative.29

The literalization of Zech. 9.9 has been almost
universally noticed by commentators. But while most commentators
explain what Matthew has done, few answer why he has done it. I would
contend that this literalization is an extension of the first-century belief in
dual messiahs as evidenced in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Given that Zechariah was the dominant mnemonic paradigm at work in
Matthew's interpretation, his literalization of the two animals might also
have served to comment on Jesus' relationship with the temple establish
ment. In Zechariah, both Zerubbabel and Joshua were anointed and each
had a crucial role in re-establishing the temple; Zerubbabel took on
Solomon's mantle of building the temple, while Joshua occupied Zadok's
priestly office. This is most probably the paradigm that informed
Matthew's interpretation of Jesus' relationship with the temple. But in
Jesus' case, the high priest is absent and at odds with Zion's king.
What is not clear at this point is whether Matthew is portraying Jesus as
filling both offices due to the absence of his counterpart, or whether the
evangelist has merely intended to highlight the negligence of the high
priest. If it is the former, Matthew's account serves as a defence against
those who would begrudge Jesus both offices. If it is the latter, Matthew
has demonstrated that Jesus made every effort to include the temple
establishment in the coming kingdom; it was their decision to reject the
messiah that ultimately excluded them. In either case, Matthew has
ultimately portrayed Jesus as a singular messiah. If Matthew did indeed
feel the need to address diarchic messianism (viz. Qumran messianism), he
does so by highlighting that Jesus alone rode into Jerusalem on two

29 Ironically Gos. Thorn. 47 reads, 'Jesus said, "A person cannot mount two horses or

bend two bows".'

30 In his critique of my paper at the Society of Biblical Literature (annual meeting, 2007),
James Charlesworth called further attention to the fact that Matthew's preposition and
plural pronoun indicates that Jesus rode upon both animals: Kai eireicaOioEV
(Mt. 21.7). This 'absurdity' (his word) might further suggest that the evangelist intended to
portray Jesus as holding both messianic offices. It ought to be noted, however, that the New
American Standard attributes the number to the plurality of coats upon the animals.

Chapter 7



Peter T. Lanfer

The tree of life first appears in biblical literature in Gen. 2.9 where it
stands in the middle of the garden of Eden. It is described for the final
time in Rev. 22.2 forming an inclusio with all but a few chapters of the
Christian canon. However, the fact that the tree of life appears in only
nine verses between the biblical Urzeit and Endzeit (three more verses if
Apocryphal references are counted) would seemingly diminish its signifi
cance. Yet, the tree of life has curiously remained a fixture in the
imaginations of both Jewish and Christian authors. The tree of life
particularly appears in texts that imagine the 'historical' Eden as the
original and ideal temple, and imagine the consummation of history as a
'return to, and restoration of, Eden'. Revelation 22, for instance, reverses
the expulsion of humankind from the garden of Eden in Genesis 3 thereby
restoring access to the tree of life and to paradise.1

References to the tree
of life in the Second Temple period formed a new category in which
eschatological expectations were articulated under the influence of Eden
mythology 'embedded' in Jewish religious consciousness. In the vast body
of literature that considers the attributes of a future paradise, the tree of
life takes a prominent place, especially in its role of providing the fruit of
immortality and healing to the elect. Most interesting to this study are
texts in which the tree of life takes on a different role, that of representing
or establishing the presence of God in paradise or in the world. To reach
this metaphorical end, several transformations took place. Firstly, the

1 'The phrase in v. 14b corresponds rather closely, though inversely, to Gen 3.22-24,
which narrates the expulsion of Adam from Eden because of the possibility that he might eat
from the tree of life and so live forever.' David E. Aune, Revelation 17-22 (WBC, 52C;
Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), p. 1221. See also Daniel Wong, 'The Tree of Life in
Revelation 2.7', Bibliotheca Sacra 155 (1998): 211-26 (223); and Shozo Fujita, 'The
Metaphor of Plant in Jewish Literature of the Intertestamental Period', JSJ 7 (1976): 30-45
(33). Paradise in Revelation is described as 'the "holy city" or the "new Jerusalem'".
However, this paradise is clearly depicted as a restored 'Eden'.

LANFER Tree of Life and Garden of Eden


former Eden was re-imagined in some texts as the original and ideal
temple. Secondly, the future paradise (sometimes called 'Zion', or the 'new
Jerusalem') took on the character and functions of the former Eden. In
the Second Temple period, the characters of Adam and Eve essentially
disappear from view, giving way to the greater interest in the character
istics of paradise as the place of God's presence and an extravagant image
of beauty and limitless delight.2
The Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh dating to the second millennium BCE
provides the first textual reference to a plant held in secret by the gods that
grants life to the one who grasps hold of its fruit: 'If thy hands obtain the
plant, [thou wilt find new life]'. (Tablet XI, 266-270.)3

In a later verse
Gilgamesh says to Urshanabi, his boat-man guide: 'Urshanabi, this plant
is a plant apart, whereby a man may regain his life's breath ... its name
shall be "Man becomes Young in Old Age." I myself shall eat (it) and thus
return to the state of my youth.' (Tablet XI, 277-282).4

This plant is not
specifically a tree, and the plant gives Gilgamesh 'rejuvenation, not

However, this plant which is the source of some life to
Gilgamesh probably lies somewhere in the distant background of the fruit
of the tree of life in Gen. 3.22 which would cause man to 'live forever'.6
Another source of Edenic and tree of life imagery is the ancient Near
Eastern motif of primeval waters that split into four branches to 'nourish'
the entire world. The oldest depiction of this image is 'a wall-painting in
the palace of Mari from the 18th century BC ... [in which] two goddesses
each hold a vase with a tree or plant from which four water streams with
fish rush out'.7

These four mythical streams are also found in Gen. 2.10 in

2 There are a number of excellent treatments of the interpretation of paradise in the
Second Temple period including M. Himmelfarb, 'The Temple and the Garden of Eden in
Ezekiel, the Book of the Watchers, and the Wisdom of ben Sira', in J. Scott and P. Simpson-
Housley (eds), Sacred Places and Profane Spaces: Essays in the Geographies of Judaism,
Christianity and Islam
(New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), pp. 63-78; G. W. Nickelsburg,
Resurrection, Immortality and Eternal Life in Intertestamental Judaism (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard Divinity School, 1972); J. T. A. G. M. van Ruiten, 'Eden and the Temple: The
Rewriting of Genesis 2.4-3.24 in the Book of Jubilees\ in Gerard Luttikhuizen (ed.) Paradise
Interpreted (Leiden:
Brill, 1999), pp. 63-94; and Edward Wright, The Early History of Heaven
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2000) to name a few of the more relevant treatments of
the subject.

3 James Pritchard (ed.), The Ancient Near East, vol. 1 (Princeton: Princeton University

Press, 1958), p. 73.
4 Ibid., p. 74.
5 Ibid., n. 1.
6 LXX quotes are taken from Septuaginta (ed. A. Rahlfs, Stuttgart: Deutsche
Bibelgesellschaft, 1979), Hebrew texts from BHS, English biblical quotes from NRSV, Dead
Sea Scrolls texts from Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (New York:
Penguin Books, 1998). All other translations are mine unless otherwise noted.
7 E. Noort, 'Gan-Eden in the Context of the Mythology of the Hebrew Bible*, in
Luttikhuizen (ed.), Paradise Interpreted (Leiden: Brill, 1999), pp. 21-36 (31).


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

which 'a river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it
divides and becomes four branches' (Gen. 2.10).8

It is of great interest to
this inquiry that the Mari wall-painting locates the origin of the rivers in
the tree or plant held by the goddesses. Thus, the four mythical rivers in
the Hebrew Bible are connected to the life-giving properties of the source,
variously defined as Eden, the temple, the city of God, the throne of God
or even God.9

Only Ezek. 31.4 describes a tree as the source of rivers in a
metaphor about Assyria. Here the waters of the deep are the source of the
tree's growth and 'its rivers flow around the place [the tree] was planted,
sending forth its streams to all the trees of the field' (Ezek. 31.4).10

The Garden of Eden, Jerusalem and the Temple

One of the unique innovations of Jewish and Christian literature in the
Second Temple period is the re-imagining of the 'historical' Eden as a
blueprint for the ideal temple. The Book of Jubilees conceives of the
historical Eden as a sanctuary indicating that: 'the Garden of Eden is a
holy place, more holy than any land (3.12); it is a place that belongs to the
Lord (4.26)'.11

Moreover, the former Eden is conceived as 'the Holy of

8 See comments in Noort, 'Gan-Eden', p. 21.
9 For example: 'for my people ... have forsaken me, the fountain of living water' (Jer.
2.13). See also Jer. 17.13; Jn 4.10-14; Rev. 21.6, 22.17. In Jn 7.38 believers are also identified
as the source of living water. 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'
Ambrose of Milan speculated that Jesus was not just the source of the primeval river in Eden
but the river itself. 'Is not this stream our Lord Jesus Christ, the fount as well as the father of
eternal life.' This fount 'irrigates paradise'. (Parad. 3.13) H. S. Benjamins, 'Paradisiacal Life:
The Story of Paradise in the Early Church', in Luttikhuizen (ed.), Paradise Interpreted
(Leiden: Brill, 1999), pp. 153-67 (163).
10 W. F. Albright notes a strong relationship between the cosmic tree in Ezek. 28-31
with the land of Eden, in comparison with Sumerian Edin, which was the abode of the heroes
and blessed in some Syrian and Canaanite systems. W. F. Albright, 'The Location of the
Garden of Eden', AJSL 39 (1922): 15-31 (29).
11 Van Ruiten, 'Eden and the Temple', pp. 75-6. See also: J. M. Baumgarten,
'Purification after Childbirth and the Sacred Garden in 4Q265 and Jubilees', New Qumran
Texts and Studies
(STDJ, 15; Leiden: Brill, 1994), pp. 3-10; J. T. A. G. M. van Ruiten,
'Visions of the Temple in the Book of Jubilees', in B. Ego, A. Lange and P. Pilhofer (eds)
Community without Temple (Tubingen: Brill, 1999); pp. 215—27r

; Florentino Garcia Martinez,
'Man and Woman: Halakhah Based Upon Eden in the Dead Sea Scrolls', in Luttikhuizen
(ed.), Paradise Interpreted (Leiden: Brill, 1999), pp. 95-115 (112-13); and D. W. Parry,
'Garden of Eden: Prototype Sanctuary', in idem (ed.), Temples of the Ancient World (Provo,
UT: Deseret Book Co., 1994), pp. 126-51. The Book of Jubilees is dated by Wintermute, F.
M. Cross and J. C. VanderKam to around 100 BCE. See for discussion, O. S. Wintermute,
'Jubilees: A New Translation and Introduction', in J. Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament
vol. 2 (New York: Doubleday, 1985), pp. 35-142 (43).

LANFER Tree of Life and Garden of Eden


Holies and the residence of the Lord' (8.19).12

The identification of the
garden of Eden with the 'Holy of Holies' is further confirmed through
Adam's sacrifice at the gates of Eden when he is expelled from it. '[Adam,
acting as a priest] burns incense at the gate of the Garden of Eden [3.27]13
... [which] is burned in front of the Holy of Holies.'14

This sacrifice of
Adam establishes Eden as a place of ritual purity where God and the
righteous can cohabit. In addition, the priestly offices and sacrificial
exercises were present from the beginning of creation and will be present
in the eschatological future.
The process of looking back to Eden as the model for the future
paradise begins with the prophet Ezekiel who is 'the first to conceive the
eschatological era explicitly in the colors of the Garden of Eden'.15

Ezekiel, the reversal of the desolation of the land is expressed as becoming
'like the Garden of Eden' (Ezek. 36.35).16

Furthermore, Ezekiel identifies
the new Jerusalem with Eden by mentioning subterranean waters (Ezek.
47.1, 9) and sacred trees (Ezek. 47.12).17

The mystical waters flowing out
of the new city of Jerusalem firmly establish the connection between the
new holy city and Eden (Zech. 14.8; Joel 3.18; Ps. 46.4).18

The future
temple is likewise associated with the garden of Eden in '1 Enoch 24-27;
the Testament of Levi 18.6 and Testament of Dan 5.12; Apocalypse of

12 ' And he [Noah] knew that the Garden of Eden was the holy of holies and the dwelling
of the Lord. And Mount Sinai (was) in the midst of the desert and Mount Zion (was) in the
midst of the navel of the earth. The three of these were created as holy places, one facing the
other' (Jub. 8.19).

13 'And on that day when Adam went out from the Garden of Eden, he offered a sweet-
smelling sacrifice - frankincense, falbanum, stacte, and spices - in the morning with the rising
of the sun from the day he covered his shame' (Jub. 3.26-27).
14 Van Ruiten, 'Eden and the Temple', pp. 77-8. See Exod. 30.1-10, Lam. 2.6. The
correlation of the 'historical' Eden and the temple is found in at least one other text, '4Q265
[7 ii 12-14], [which] shows that the equation in Jubilees of Eden with the temple was not only
known, but was used for the same purpose [i.e, to affirm the holiness of Eden regarding the
purity law of Lev. 12.2]'. Garcia Martinez, 'Man and Woman', p. 113. 'For holy is the
Garden of Eden, and every fresh shoot that is in it is holy [as it is written, If a woman
conceives and bears a male child,] then she shall be unclean for seven days; as at the time of her
menstruation, she shall be unclean
(Lev. 12.4)'. This concern for the purity of the sanctuary as
defined in Leviticus coupled with the proclamation of the holiness of the garden of Eden
explicitly connects Eden with the sanctuary in 4Q265 7 ii 12-14.
15 J. Levenson, Theology of the Program of Restoration of Ezekiel 40-48 (Missoula:
Scholars Press, 1976), p. 34. See also L. E. Stager, 'Jerusalem and the Garden of Eden', Eretz-
26 (1999): 183-94.
16 See also Isa. 51.3 and the discussion in van Ruiten, 'Eden and the Temple', p. 79.
17 See the discussion of this passage in Levenson, Theology of the Program of

Restoration, p. 30.

18 Zech. 14.8: 'On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem'; Joel 3.18: Tn
that day ... a fountain shall come forth from the house of the
LORD and water the Wadi
Shittim'; Ps. 46.4: 'There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy
habitation of the Most High'; see also Letter of Aristeas, pp. 89-90.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

Moses 29.1-6; and some Qumran texts where the expression DTK ETTpD
("sanctuary of Adam") is used (cf. 4Q174; 4Q265; 4Q241)'.19

As the
sanctuary in this passage is contrasted in 4Q174 with the sanctuary of
Israel that was 'formerly laid waste', it seems that an eschatological
sanctuary is intended. However, it is unclear whether it will be a physical
sanctuary, a community of elect or a metaphorical sanctuary modelled on
the garden of Eden. In numerous eschatological passages life is delivered
from God (either from himself, his throne, his temple or his city) by means
of the mystical waters flowing out of a metaphorical Eden.20

In these
representations of the future paradise, God performs the same function as
the tree or plant that appears in Mari as the source of the rivers and the
metaphorical source of life. There is also a mosaic from the threshold to
the palace in Dur Sharrukin (Khorsabad) which provides an interesting
parallel with the re-imagination of the temple as an 'Eden-like' garden.
This threshold consists of repeated palm and floral motifs that mark off
the exterior of the palace from the interior metaphorical 'garden' of the
king. This metaphor identifies the interior of the palace and, likewise, the
interior of the temple as the place of the king's presence or the theophany
of the deity.

The identification of Jerusalem with a new Eden is also found in the
imagining of a future 'new creation' or 'day of creation' when the renewal
of the sanctuary and the city are the central events in the renewal of all
creation. The new creation is explicitly connected to the rebuilding or
'creation' of God's sanctuary in Jub. 1.29: 'From [the day of creation
until] the day of the new creation when the heaven and earth and all of
their creatures shall be renewed ... until the sanctuary of the Lord is
created in Jerusalem upon Mount Zion.' The phrase 'day of the new
creation' implies a future 'beginning' rather than an end to history. This is
clearly an eschatological allusion, and not a reference to the [former]
creation in Genesis.
More allusions to the re-creation of nature appear in the Hebrew Bible
in the motif of the victory of the 'divine warrior'. As Frank Moore Cross
and Jon Levenson convincingly suggest, the victorious return of the
'divine warrior' is linked with the 'fructification' of nature, especially with
his victorious return to his temple.21

Levenson asserts, for example:

19 Van Ruiten, 'Eden and the Temple', p. 79. M. Wise and van Ruiten interpret the
(D"?N EHpO) as 'temple of Adam', M. Wise, '4QFlorilegium and the Temple of
Adam', RevQ 15 (1991): 103-32; van Ruiten, 'Eden and the Temple', p. 79. The translation
'Sanctuary of men' is found in Vermes, and suggests a restored or elect community in the last
days, rather than a 'temple of Adam', or a temple modelled on the historical Eden.
20 1 En. 14.19; Ezek. 1.13; 4Q204 [En*] 1 vii 1; Rev. 22.1, 4Q385 fr. 6, 11, Dan. 7.9-10.
21 'The coming of the Divine Warrior from battle to his new temple on his newly-won
mount... [and] the appearance of his radiant storm cloud is both awesome and fructifying.

LANFER Tree of Life and Garden of Eden


Since the fructification of nature is a motif connected with the return of
the divine warrior in victory, and since that return often results in his
assuming kingship in his temple on the mountain, as in Ex. 15.17-18, it
is quite ordinary that the temple and its mountain should be conceived
as a paradise. This connection of Eden with the old mythic notion of
divine warrior and victory is explicit, not in Ezekiel, but in his successor,
Second Isaiah, where Eden is what Zion becomes (Is. 51.3) after
YHWH's saving battle (w. 4-5).22

The return of God to his throne in the Apocalypse of Moses (explicitly
located in paradise) has a similar fructifying effect. In this passage, dated
between 100 BCE and 200 CE, a number of motifs are combined, including
God's cherubim/throne/chariot, the fructification of nature at the return
of the divine warrior, as well as the association between the throne of God
and the tree of life.23

And God returned to Paradise, seated on a chariot of cherubim, and the
angels were praising him. When God came into Paradise, all the plants,
both of the portion of Adam and also of my portion, bloomed forth and
were established. And the throne of God was made ready where the tree
of life was (Apoc. Mos. 22.4).24

As a result of God's return to paradise, his throne is 'made ready where
the tree of life was' and there is a renewal of 'all the plants' in paradise.
The planting of the tree of life in paradise in 4 Baruch has the same
effect of renewing the plants upon God's return to paradise.25

The motif
of the tree of life as the place of God's presence (or God's theophany) is
replicated in a number of other passages as well. 2 Enoch records, for
example, that 'in the midst of the trees (is) that of life, in that place
whereon the Lord rests, when he goes up into Paradise' (2 En. 8.3 ).26


His rule is manifest in the fertility of the drenched earth, of seed and womb.' (Frank Moore
Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973],
p. 156).

22 Levenson, Theology of the Program of Restoration, p. 31.
23 M. D. Johnson, 'Life of Adam and Eve: A New Translation and Introduction', in
Charlesworth (ed.), Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 2, pp. 249-96 (252).
24 Johnson, 'Life of Adam and Eve', p. 281.
25 'And the tree of life which is planted in the middle of Paradise will cause all the
uncultivated trees to bear fruit', (4 Bar. 9.17), S. E. Robinson, '4 Baruch', in Charlesworth
(ed.), Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 2, pp. 413-26 (414).
26 F. I. Anderson, '2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch', in Charlesworth (ed.), Old
Testament Pseudepigrapha,
vol. 1 (New York: Doubleday, 1985), pp. 102-213 (114-15). The
fifth-century CE book of 3 Enoch similarly records that 'From the day when the Holiness,
blessed be He, expelled the first Adam from the Garden of Eden, Shekhinah was dwelling
upon a Keruv under the Tree of Life' (3 En. 5.1). For discussion see I. Gruenwald,
Apocalyptic and Merkavah Mysticism (Leiden: Brill, 1980), pp. 50-1. The importance of
Enoch in the re-imagination of Eden in the coming apocalypse is perhaps a reflex of Gen.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

these passages, the roles of tree of life and God are not interchangeable,
but the connection between the presence of God and the tree clearly
remains. What is certain in these passages is that the occasion of God's
enthronement is expressed with symbols of gardens, fruitfulness and
sacred trees.

Two aspects of the motif of the return of the divine warrior in victory to
his throne are royal investiture and processional entry. Richard Barnett
makes an interesting case in his study of ancient Near Eastern gateway art
arguing that these reliefs are connected to the processional entry of the
deity. Sphinxes, cherubim and other composite figures frequently inhabit
the garden scenes in temples, throne rooms and on cylinder seals.27

fantastic animals, usually winged, typically appear in heraldic compos
itions flanking the deity or the king.28

It is possible that the composite
animals represented some abstract concepts like the power, fertility and
protection of the king or deity.29

A clearer role of these composite animals
is as metaphorical guardians of the king or deity. For example, in
Canaanite literature, cherubim are entrusted with the guardianship of El's

Similarly, in the Yahwistic creation story of Gen. 3.24 'the LORD
caused cherubim to dwell to the east of the garden of Eden ... to guard
the way to the tree of life'. In essence, these cherubim are guarding access
to the metaphorical place of God's throne and presence. In the same way,
the cherubim portrayed in the decorations of the tabernacle (Exodus 26)
and the temple (1 Kings 6) bar access to 'eternal time and space, the
mysterious, transcendent reality beyond the portal'.31
At the victory of God, this access to the place of God's presence is
restored and offered at the time of judgement or the culmination of
history. For instance, / En. 25.4-5 records that, '(as for) this fragrant tree
[the tree of life], no flesh is permitted to touch it till the great judgment...
It then shall be given to the righteous and holy ... it shall be transplanted
to the holy place, to the temple of the Lord [1 Enoch 25.4-5 Greek

5.22-24 where Enoch walks with God. This privileged activity is restricted to Enoch, Noah
(Gen. 6.9), Abraham (Gen. 17.1; 24.40; 48.15), Isaac (Gen. 48.15), the 'faithful priest' (1 Sam.
2.35), the king (1 Sam. 12.2) and Hezekiah (2 Kgs 20.3).
27 The cylinder seals will not be discussed at length in this article, but the frequency with
which the sacred tree scene is found on seals is noteworthy, especially for the dissemination
and portability of the motif. These seals as a collection deserve further inquiry.
28 See the discussion of iconography in T. Oman, 'An Iconographic History: Symbols of
Royalty and Divinity', BAR 26/4 (July/August 1995): 38-9.
29 As suggested in E. Borowski, 'Cherubim: God's Throne?' BAR 21/4 (July/August

1995): 36-41.

30 As noted by F. M. Cross, 'The Priestly Tabernacle in the Light of Recent Research',
in A. Biran (ed.), Temples and High Places in Biblical Times: Proceedings of the Colloquium in
Honor of the Centennial of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, 1981), pp. 169-80 (172).
31 J. Milgrom, 'Cherubim - Gateway to the Divine', BAR 21/6 (Nov./Dec. 1995): 14-18.

LANFER Tree of Life and Garden of Eden


(Panopolis)]'. The temple in this passage is clearly a reconfigured
eschatological 'Eden' that will contain the tree of life which the righteous
and holy can access freely. The motif of the re-opening of paradise is also
found in the Testament of Levi 18.10-11: 'And he shall open the gates of
paradise ... and he will grant to the saints to eat of the tree of life';33

and 2
Esdras/4 Ezra
8.52: 'Because it is for you that paradise is opened, the tree
of life is planted.'34

In this passage and elsewhere in 1 Enoch, the tree of
life is linked to the throne of God through the idea that prior to the great
judgement, the tree of life is 'kept' on a mountain in the northwest, which
is 'like the throne of God' (1 En. 18.8; 24.3; 25.3). On the day of
judgement the tree of life is moved, paradise is opened and the fragrance
of the tree of life 'shall be in the bones of those who enter the holy place,
who then shall live a long life on earth (/ Enoch 25)'.35

And in Apoc. Mos.
13.3-5, the eschatological reopening of paradise is also specifically
connected to bodily resurrection, and the hope for future cohabitation
with God in paradise:

It [the oil of mercy from the Tree of Life] shall not come to be yours now
(but at the end of times). Then all flesh from Adam up to that great day
shall be raised, such as shall be the holy people, then to them shall be
given every joy of paradise and God shall be in their midst.

32 E. J. C. Tigchelaar, 'Eden and Paradise: The Garden Motif in some early Jewish
Texts: (1 Enoch and Other Texts Found at Qumran)', in Luttikhuizen (ed.), Paradise
Interpreted (Leiden:
Brill, 1999), pp. 39-62 (61). 'The Ethiopic adds "towards the north it shall
be transplanted to the holy place" [Ethiopic (± Tana 9) 25.5]': Tigchelaar, 'Eden and
Paradise', p. 61. See the references and commentary on this passage in Aune, Revelation 17-
pp. 1221-2. See also: P. Grelot, 'La geographie mythique d'Henoch et ses sources
orientales', RB 65 (1958): 33-9. Translation by Tigchelaar, 'Eden and Paradise', p. 44. See
also R. H. Charles, The Book of Enoch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1893), p. 99.
33 H. C. Kee, 'Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs', in Charlesworth (ed.), The Old
Testament Pseudepigrapha,
vol. 1, pp. 775-828 (795).
34 See also Rev. 2.7. Also noteworthy are texts about paradise by the early fathers of the
Christian church. For example, 'Tertullian in Adversus Marcionem, II.IV indicates that man
was "transferred into paradise, out of the world into the Church". [The Church here takes
the place of the temple, identified as paradise]. [Similarly,] Methodius in Symposium, DC.3
says that "the tree of life which paradise once bore, the Church has now again produced for
all."' Benjamins, 'Paradisiacal Life', p. 154.
35 See discussion in G. Nickelsburg, / Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch
Chapters 1-36; 81-108
(Hermeneia; Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2001), p. 315. See also:
Tigchelaar, 'Eden and Paradise', p. 43. E. Isaac, '1 (Ethiopic Apocalypse of) Enoch', in
Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1, pp. 1-89, (26). Enoch is told
that the fragrance of the tree will 'penetrate their bones, long life will they live on earth, such
as your fathers lived in their days'. That the fragrance of the tree will 'penetrate' the bones of
the righteous suggests the possibility that bodily resurrection (as a new 'birth' echoing Gen.
2.7) is anticipated here. Interestingly, paradise here is described as an eschatological holy
place on earth, not in heaven. The expectation of the righteous in this passage is also for long
life, not for eternal life.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

In these passages, the hopes for the eschatological planting of the tree of
life and the reopening of paradise are consistently coupled with the
presence of God or rooted in the temple or throne as the place of God's

Related to the idea of restored access to paradise and the tree of life is
the establishment, or 'planting' of the tree of life. The transplantation of
the tree of life is found in some manuscripts of / En. 26.1, in which Enoch
narrates his journey around the world: 'from there I went into the center
of the earth and saw a blessed place, shaded with branches which live and
bloom from a tree that was cut'.36

In this passage, the tree functions in a
similar way to the tree of life, though it is not specifically identified as
such. It is noteworthy here that the tree is located at the 'center of the
earth', an identification consistent with the geography of Enoch, Ezekiel
and the Book of Jubilees. As the centre of the earth, the tree acts as the
axis mundi, the place of God's theophany and the main point of contact
between the supernatural realms and the earth. The idea of the tree at the
centre of the world may also serve as a counterpart to the 'evil' tree or
haughty tree which is cast down in Ezekiel 31, Isaiah 14, Dan. 4.9-12 and
4Q458 fi, 8-9.

Positive descriptions of a tree which 'covers the whole earth' can be
found in Ezekiel 17 and lQHa


Jon Levenson suggests that
the tree in Ezekiel 17 is a prophecy concerning a 'new David ... [who] is a
"dry tree" or "low tree" awaiting his exaltation.'38

In each of these

passages about a cosmic tree, the tree represents a king or kingdom.39

be clear, the tree of life in most texts is 'not the same as the cosmic tree,
but the functions of the trees can belong to the same category as
iconography shows'.40

Moreover, the relationship between the tree of life
and this cosmic tree is made explicit in a passage from the Coptic Nag
Hammadi Codices which record, 'now the color of the tree of life is like

36 Isaac, '1 (Ethiopic Apocalypse of) Enoch', p. 26; Nickelsburg, following R. H. Charles
(Enoch) leaves out 'of the felled tree' which is found in both the Ethiopic and the Codex
Panopolitanus texts citing it as a 'later gloss, alluding to the idea of a remnant sprouting from
Israel's fallen tree' (Nickelsburg, A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, p. 318). It is likely
that this gloss (if it is a gloss) would have been included in early versions of the text, as the
traditions concerning the remnant of Israel's fallen tree can be found already in Isa. 11.1
which figures prominently in many messianic predictions.
37 'There appears to be no significant connection with the idea of the tree of life, except
that there may be some assimilation of the two metaphors in lQHa

6(14): 7-19 where the
plant is said to extend its roots to the waters of Eden.' P. Tiller, 'The "Eternal Planting" in
the Dead Sea Scrolls', DSD 4 (1997): 312-35 (313).
38 Levenson, Theology of the Program of Restoration, p. 95.
39 See Tiller, 'The "Eternal Planting"', p. 331.
40 Noort, 'Gan-Eden', p. 35.

LANFER Tree of Life and Garden of Eden


the sun ... its height goes as far as heaven' (NH II, 5, 110, 2-111, 5).41

tree of life in 4 Baruch also acts as a counterpart to the cosmic trees (i.e.
kings) that had exalted themselves. In this passage the tree of life 'which is
planted in the middle of Paradise' as the 'firmly rooted tree' will judge the
'trees which had ... boasted and said, "we raised our top to the air"' (4

The 'Eternal Planting' and the Tree(s) of Life

In some texts of the Second Temple period, the motifs of the tree of life
and the future paradise are appropriated on a communal and individual
basis. For example, the motif of an 'eternal planting' in the Dead Sea
Scrolls typically refers to the faithful members of the community. The
authors of several Qumran fragments, who see themselves as the faithful
ones, 'apply the plant imagery to themselves, (1QS 8.5; 11.7-9; 1QH 14
(6). 15; 16(8).6; CD 1.7-8)'.43

The metaphor of the 'eternal planting'
'describes the restored people of God as a plant, established by God in the
land and lovingly tended so that it produces righteous deeds, glory to God
and future growth'.44

However, it is noteworthy that the eternal planting
is not necessarily connected with sacred tree symbols. Yet in certain cases
there is assimilation of the metaphors. The Hebrew Bible describes the
faithful as trees that are 'planted in the house of the Lord' in Ps. 92.12-13
and oaks called 'the planting of the Lord' in Isa. 61.3.45

In a number of
passages, the faithful are described using the metaphor of the tree of life,
or trees in paradise (Ps. Sol. 14.3; 1QH 6.14-19; 10.25-26; Ode Sol. 11.16;
Gos. Truth 36.35-37 and Tg. Onq. to Ps. 1.3).46

The passage in which these

41 J. Magne, From Christianity to Gnosis and From Gnosis to Christianity {trans. A. F. W.
Armstrong; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993), p. 79. In this passage, the tree of life has a unique
function, and an interesting relationship with the tree of knowledge. Eating from the tree of
knowledge arouses 'souls from the torpor of the demons, in order that they might approach
the tree of life'. Eating the fruit of the tree of life results in the condemnation of 'the
authorities and their angels' (NH II, 5, 110, 2-111, 5). See Charlesworth, (ed.),
77K? Old
Testament Pseudepigrapha,
vol. 2, p. xxvii.
42 Robinson, '4 Baruch', p. 414. 4 Baruch is dated 70-136 CE.
43 Nickelsburg, A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, p. 445.
44 Tiller, 'The "Eternal Planting'", p. 313.
45 Ps. 92.12-13: 'The righteous flourish like the palm tree, and grow like a cedar in
Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.'
Isa. 61.3: 'They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his

46 See Tiller, 'The "Eternal Planting'", p. 313; G. J. Brooke, '4Q500 1 and the Use of
Scripture in the Parable of the Vineyard', DSD 2 (1995): 268-94; and Fujita, 'The Metaphor
of Plant', pp. 30-45.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

two metaphors are most clearly mixed is Psalms of Solomon 14.3-5 which
calls the faithful 'trees of life' whose 'planting has been rooted forever'.

The holy ones of the Lord shall live in it forever; the paradise of the
Lord, the trees of life are his holy ones (TCX £uAa TTJS C"%> oa\o\ auroG).
Their planting has been rooted forever; they will not be plucked up all
the days of heaven because the portion and inheritance of God is

Similarly, Odes of Solomon 11.18-19 declares 'blessed, O Lord, are they
who are planted in your land, and who have a place in your Paradise, and
who grow in the growth of your trees, and have passed from darkness
to life'. In 1QH 8 from the Qumran corpus, the righteous sectarians
are called 'the "tree[s] of life" [U"T\ "'HI?] ... called in a collective
way, "a plant of truth pIQ^H PUBD]" in line 10 and "everlasting trees"
[•71D ^S] in line 12. It is beyond dispute that they all symbolize the
people of the sect.'48

In 1QH 18 (formerly VII) 20 the motif of the plant
and the tree of life may also be combined by reference to Eden and the
bearing of'fruits of life': 'the fruitful Plant [by the] everlasting [spring shall
be] an Eden of glory [bearing] fruits [of life]'. In 1QH XVI (formerly VIII),
Hymn 18, 1-14 which begins: 'Thou hast placed me beside a fountain of
streams' the following passage clearly unites the faithful supplicant with a
tree of life. '[For Thou didst set] a plantation of cypress, pine, and cedar
for Thy glory, trees of life p"!! ^HIJ] beside a mysterious fountain.'49

supplicant in this passage gives thanks for his own placement in the
community (symbolically planted as a tree) and the 'plantation' of the
whole community (as 'trees of life'). The image of the tree(s) of life being
set up by a 'fountain of streams' or a 'mysterious fountain' recalls the
primeval rivers in Eden and the temple. In an interpretation of 2 Sam. 7.10
and Exod. 15.17-18, 4Q174 similarly indicates that the faithful will be
'planted' in the last days as a temple (sanctuary of men/Adam) which will
never be destroyed.50

In this sanctuary 'the Lord shall reign for ever and

47 Translation of LXX and emphasis both mine.
48 Fujita, "The Metaphor of Plant', p. 40. The certainty with which Fujita speaks
concerning these symbols is taken from the introduction of this hymn in line 1 where the
author proclaims, 'You placed me by a streaming fountain in a dry ground and a spring of
water in a parched land.' Here the author, and presumably those who read or recited this
hymn, would have conceived of themselves as symbolicaDy planted in a land near a spring of
water like the eschatological tree of life.
49 Translation Vermes, emphasis mine.
50 '[/ will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them that they may dwell there
and be troubled no more by their] enemies
.. .(2 Sam vii, 10) ... This is the House which [He
will build for them in the] last days, as it is written in the book of Moses, In the sanctuary
which Thy hands have established, O Lord, the Lord shall reign for ever and ever
(Exod xv, 17-
18). This is the House into which [the unclean shall] never [enter nor the uncircumcisedJ ...

LANFER Tree of Life and Garden of Eden


ever' (Exod. 15.17-18) suggesting that this sanctuary (figuratively com
posed of 'trees of life') houses the presence of God.51


This diachronic study of paradisaical language confirms the persistence of
the themes of the tree of life and idyllic gardens in Jewish and Christian
literature. The various texts evaluated in this study by no means include
all references to the tree of life or royal gardens. For example, in many
Christian and Jewish texts the tree of life benignly functions as a metaphor
for blessing52

or a tree that bears fruits of immortality53

or healing.54
There is also room for substantial further research concerning the
allusions to the tree of life and the garden of Eden in Rabbinic literature
and in the literatures of Jewish and Christian mysticism. What is clear in
the texts here is that motifs of sacred trees and gardens are employed as
dynamic representations of the temple, the faithful, the future Jerusalem
and the presence of God. In these passages the tree of life is consistently
connected to God; either as the representation of him, an extension of his
will or the place where he makes himself present. These motifs resonate
with ancient Near Eastern iconography and literature concerning sacred
trees and royal gardens. They additionally find lucid expression in the
apocalyptic speculations of the Second Temple period and re-emerging
mythology that hopes for restoration in the 'last days'. What is
remarkable about the mysticism of apocalyptic and messianic expect
ations is that it is securely rooted in old motifs and language. What is
more, this mystical literature reflects the exegesis of obscure passages,
minor characters and odd references to articulate their hopes. Characters
such as Enoch, the tree of life, the throne chariot and the cosmic waters

for there shall My Holy Ones be ... He has commanded that a sanctuary of men be built for
Himself, that there they may send up, like the smoke of incense, the works of the Law'. (4Q
174 fl_2i.l-7).

51 4Q174 is broken in line 6 which Vermes reconstructs as '[Its (the House's) glory shall
endure] for ever; it (the House's glory?) shall appear above it (the House) perpetually.' This
line would make more sense if the referent of'its glory' were something other than the house/
sanctuary. Perhaps what is intended here is the glory of God hovering over the sanctuary as
in 2 Chron. 7.3, 'all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the
the temple'.
See also Ezek. 43.4-5; Sir. 36.19; Exod. 40.34-35.
52 E.g., Prov. 11.30; 13.12; 15.4; 4 Esdras 2.12; 4 Mace. 18.16.
53 E.g., Rev. 2.7; Gen. 3.22; Apoc. Mos. 28.3.
54 E.g., 4 Ezra 7.123-126; L.A.E. 31, 36; See also a mediaeval midrash called the 'Book of
Noah' about wise men of Greece and 40 magicians who travelled 'east of Eden' to collect
'healing herbs' and 'herbs from the tree of life'. See Ralph Marcus, 'Tree of Life in Essene (?)
Tradition', JBL 74 (1955): 274; and Adolph Jellinek, mion JTD, vol. Ill (Leipzig, 1855),
p. 156.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

flowing out of Eden are combined to envision the future place of God's
theophany. In this atmosphere of eschatological expectation, the tree of
life and the mythology of Eden consistently combine to establish the
presence or enthronement of God and the promise of immortality.

Chapter 8


Rivka Nir

From just a few biblical verses in Genesis (41.45, 50-52) an anonymous
composition was spun out, in Greek, telling a love story about Joseph and

At the centre of the work is the conversion of Aseneth from idol
worship to faith in God. After Joseph refused to kiss her claiming: 'It is
not right for a man who worships God, who with his mouth blesses the
living God, and eats the blessed bread of life (apTov EuAoyripEvov £co%),
and drinks the blessed cup of immortality (iroTiipiov EuAoyrjpEVOV
ccSavaatocs), and is anointed with the blessed unction of incorruption
(XptojjaTi £UAOYT]|JEVCD a>6apaias), to kiss a strange woman, who with
her mouth blesses dead and dumb idols, and eats of their table the bread
of anguish, and drinks of their libations the cup of treachery, and is
anointed with the unction of destruction' (8.5),3

she decides to destroy her

1 Ephraim the Syrian, HVirg. 21.9.
2 There are 16 Greek manuscripts, dating from the tenth to the nineteenth centuries, of a
total of over 80 texts in various languages. The Greek manuscripts can be divided into two
groups: a shorter text published by Marc Philonenko, Joseph et Aseneth. Introduction, texte
critique, traduction et notes
(SPB,13; Leiden: Brill, 1968), on which is based the translation by
D. Cook, 'Joseph and Aseneth', The Apocryphal Old Testament, H. F. D. Sparks (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1984), pp. 473-503 and a longer text published by Christoph Burchard,
Untersuchungen zu Joseph und Aseneth. Uberlieferung - Ortsbestimmung (WUNT, 8;
Tubingen: Mohr, 1965), and idem with Carsten Burfeind, Joseph und Aseneth (Leiden:
Brill, 2003). On the manuscripts and the history of scholarship on the subject, see further
Dieter Sanger, Antikes Judentum und die Mysterien (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1980), pp. 11-
87; Christoph Burchard, 'Joseph and Aseneth', in James H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Old
Testament Pseudepigrapha,
vol. 2 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1985), pp. 177-201;
Randall D. Chesnutt, From Death to Life: Conversion in 'Joseph and Aseneth' (JSPSup, 16;
Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), pp. 20-93; Ross Shepard Kraemer, When Aseneth
Met Joseph: A Late Antique Tale of the Biblical Patriarch and His Egyptian Wife,
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 5-9, 225-6.
In various manuscripts the title is variously given as 'The Book of Aseneth', 'The Prayer of
Aseneth', "The Confession and Prayer of Aseneth', and the like.
3 The English citations of Joseph and Aseneth in this article are adapted from Cook,
'Joseph and Aseneth', based upon the group of short texts, and Burchard, 'Joseph and
Aseneth', based upon the group of long texts.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

idols and to accept the belief in one God. For a full week Aseneth
practises acts of penance. On the morning of the eighth day, a man of

appears to her from heaven, and commands her to remove her
clothes of mourning, to wash her face, and to put on a new garment. He
tells her that after she has eaten the 'bread of life', drunk the 'cup of
immortality', and been anointed with the 'unction of incorruption', she
would be united with Joseph forever as his bride. Her name would no
longer be Aseneth, but 'City of Refuge', for under her wings all who give
their allegiance to God in penitence (metanoia) would find shelter (15.4-6).
When Aseneth offers to set a table with bread and wine for the man of
God, he asks for a honeycomb. Miraculously, she finds a honeycomb
white as snow, that confers immortality on whoever eats from it, and they
both eat from it (15.14-16.11). Then thousands of bees come out of the
honeycomb, all white with coloured wings, wearing gold crowns on their
heads, and with sharp stings. They encircle Aseneth from head to toe, and
more bees, like queen bees, settle on her lips. At the man of God's order,
the bees leave Aseneth and fall to the ground dead, but then they revive
and fly into Aseneth's courtyard and find refuge among the branches of
the trees. The scene ends with the burning of the honeycomb (16.13-17.4),
the ascension of the man of God back to heaven and the marriage of
Joseph and Aseneth.
Like others of that group of works, the so-called Old Testament


this composition has provoked considerable scholarly
controversy over the identity of its author, the period and the place in
which it was written, and most importantly, the theological purposes it

The thesis I am proposing here is that Joseph and Aseneth is a Christian
composition and that its purpose is not only to persuade pagans to follow
Aseneth and join the Church, but also to persuade them to undertake a
life of celibacy and sexual abstinence, a life which carries the promise of
entry into the heavenly bridal chamber and resurrection in paradise. The
author, I argue, strives for this goal by using three central symbols: the
honeycomb, the city of refuge and the bees.6

4 In the Greek manuscripts he is invariably called a man, avSpcoTros (FG: avBpcoTros £K

TOU oupavou; B: av6pcoTros <|>CC>TOS £K TOU oupavou; D: b avOpcoTros TOG 0EOG).
5 Though the story of Joseph and Aseneth is not told in the voice of either of the main
characters in the work, Joseph or Aseneth, as is the case in most of the pseudepigraphal
works, its concentration on the biblical figures of Joseph and Aseneth justify the work's
categorization as Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.
6 In this thesis I follow Pierre BatifTol, ('Le livre de la Priere d'Aseneth', in idem, Studia
patristica. Etudes d'ancienne litterature chretienne
(Paris: E. Leroux, 1889-90), pp. 1-87) who
published the first critical edition. In his wake see E. W. Brooks, Joseph and Asenath: The
Confession and Prayer of Asenath Daughter of Pentephres the Priest
(London and N. Y.
Macmillan, 1918), pp. xi, xv. F. J. A. Hort, 'Aseneth, History of, in Henry Wace and

NIR Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


1. The Honeycomb

Other scholars have already noted the similarity between the description
of the honeycomb and that of the manna, which descended for the people
of Israel according to the biblical account.7

Like Aseneth's honeycomb,
manna was perceived as a white, miraculous bread descended from
heaven. It too is described as the food of angels, it is associated with honey
and sweetness, is connected with dew and generates eschatological hopes.8

William C. Piercy (eds), A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the
Sixth Century A. D.
(London: John Murray, 1877-87), pp. 176-7; Albrecht Wirth, Danae in
christlichen Legenden
(Prague, Vienna and Leipzig: F. Tempsky and G. Freytag, 1892),
pp. 27-9; Montague R. James, 'Aseneth', in James Hastings, A Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 1
(Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1898-1902), pp. 162-3; idem, 'Apocrypha', in T. K. Cheyne and J.
Sutherland Black (eds), Encyclopedia Biblica vol. 1, (London: Adam and Charles Black,
1899), p. 254; Emil Schurer, Geschichte des judischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi, vol. 3
(Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 3rd edn, 1909), pp. 399-401; Wilhelm
Bousset, Die Religion des Judentums im Spdthellenistischen Zeitalter (Berlin: Reuther and
Reichard, 1906), p. 24; P. Fiebig, 'Pseudepigraphen des AT's', in Friedrich Michael Schiele
and Leopold Zscharnack (eds), Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart; Handwortenbuch in
gemeinverstandlicher Darstellung,
vol. 4 (Tubingen: Mohr, 1913), pp. 1952-64; O. Stahlin, 'Die
hellenistisch-judische Literatur', in Wilhelm Schmid and Otto Stahlin (eds), Geschichte der
griechischen Literatur
(Handbuch der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft,; Munich: C.
H. Beck, 1912-24), II. 1, pp. 587-8; For modern scholars who proposed Christian authorship
or Christian interpolation see Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, pp. 5-6,237-9,253-74; T.
Holtz, 'Christliche Interpolationen in "Joseph und Aseneth'", NTS 14 (1967-68): 482-97;
Cook, 'Joseph and Aseneth', p. 469; Michael Penn, 'Identity Transformation and Authorial
Identification in Joseph and Aseneth', JSP 13/2 (2002): 171-83 (182); James R. Davila, The
Provenance of the Pseudepigrapha: Jewish, Christian, or Other?
(Leiden: Brill, 2005), p. 195.
Sanders rejects Holtz's position but admits that the longer text contains Christian
interpolations: Ed Parish Sanders, 'Covenant as a Soteriological Category and the Nature
of Salvation in Palestinian and Hellenistic Judaism', in Robert Hamerton-Kelly and Robin
Scroggs (eds), Jews, Greeks, and Christians: Religious Cultures in Late Antiquity: Essays in
Honor of William David Davies
(Leiden: Brill, 1976), pp. 11-44 (25).
7 Victor Aptowitzer, 'Asenath, the Wife of Joseph: A Haggadic Literary-Historical
Study', HUCA 1 (1924): 239-306 (282-3); Philonenko, Joseph et Aseneth, pp. 96, 187; idem,
'Initiation et mystere dans Joseph et Aseneth', Initiation (ed. C. J. Bleeker; SHR, 10; Leiden:
Brill, 1965), pp. 152-3; Burchard, 'Joseph and Aseneth', pp. 190, 212,228; Holtz, 'Christliche
Interpolationen in "Joseph und Aseneth"', p. 483; B. Lindars,' "Joseph and Aseneth" and
the Eucharist', in B. P. Thompson (ed.), Scripture: Meaning and Method, Essays Presented to
Anthony Tyrrell Hanson
(Pickering, North Yorkshire: Hull University Press, 1987), pp. 181-
99 (187); Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, p. 258; Moyer Hubbard, 'Honey for Aseneth:
Interpreting a Religious Symbol', JSP 16 (1997): 97-110 (98); Anathea Portier-Young,
'Sweet Mercy Metropolis: Interpreting Aseneth's Honeycomb', JSP 14 (2005): 133-57 (142).
8 Manna is described in the Bible as a miraculous white bread descended from heaven:
Exod. 16.14-15, 31, 35; Josephus, Ant. 3.30. Hence it is termed 'bread from heaven' (Ps.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

But no Jewish source ever described manna as granting eternal life.9

aspect connects the honeycomb rather to the traditions of the Greek and
Roman world in which honey, like ambrosia and nectar, was thought to
be produced in heaven. Food for gods and kings, it prevents decay and
destruction of the body of the dead, and confers immortality on the

Our author drew on both of these traditions, the Jewish and Graeco-
Roman, in creating his image of the honeycomb, but employed the image
in an entirely novel context. In this work the honeycomb symbolizes, I
claim, the sacrament that was at the centre of the ritual of conversion to
Christianity, the Eucharist, in which the believer partakes of the body and
the blood of Christ by eating the bread and drinking the wine. 11
Consider the following:

1. Christian tradition identified manna, the bread from heaven, with
the body of Jesus, a prefiguration of the Eucharist. Jesus was 'the
true bread from heaven', which 'gives life to the world' (Jn 6.32-33)
and 'whoever eats of this bread will live forever' (John 6.48-51).
2. The three elements of the meal of which Aseneth partakes, and
which the honeycomb symbolizes - the bread, the wine (TTOTrjpiov)

105.40; Neh. 9.15) or 'a hero's meal' (Ps. 78.25). Following the LXX translation of the last
verse as 'bread of angels'
(ccpTOV ccyyeAcov), Talmudic sources consider manna food of
angels: b.Yoma 75b; Tank., Beshalah 33; Eliahu Rabba 23. The manna descended with the
dew (Num. 11.9). Manna is part of the future ritual which Elijah will establish: Mekhilta of
Rabbi Ishmael,
Beshalah 5. In later sources it is food for the righteous, ground by mills in the
third heaven, shehakim: b.Hag. 12b. It is associated with the appearance of the Messiah:
Pesikta Rabati 15; Song Rab. 2.9, and elsewhere. Philo says of manna that it was 'sweeter
than honey' (yAuKimpov UE
AITOS) Fug. 138; Det. 117. See further Rivka Nir, The Destruction
of Jerusalem and the Idea of Redemption in the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch
(Atlanta: SBL,
2003), pp. 140-2.

9 Rudolf Schnackenburg, 'Das Brot des Lebens', in Gret Jeremias et al. (eds), Tradition
und Glaube: Das fruhe Christentum in seiner Umwelt: Festgabe fur K. G. Kuhn
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1971), pp. 32&-42 (339-40).
10 E.g. Virgil, Georg. 4.149-52; Lactant EHv. inst. 1.22.19-20; Porphyry, Antr. nymph. 16-
19; Schurer, Geschichte des jiidischen Volkes, p. 401; W. Michaelis, 'ueAi', TDNTTV: 552-554;
Holtz, 'Christliche Interpolationen in "Joseph und Aseneth"', p. 483; M. Schuster, 'Mel',
PW 15.1: 364-84 (381); Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, 'Ambrosia und Nektar', Ausfuhrliches
Lexicon der griechischen und romischen Mythologie,
vol. 1 (Leipzig, 1884-86) pp. 281-2;
Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, pp. 167-72, 200.
11 Batiffol, 'Le livre de la Priere d'Aseneth', p. 29; Brooks, Joseph and Asenath, pp. xi,
xv. A survey of the main suggestions for the identity of the honeycomb is in Portier-Young,
'Sweet Mercy Metropolis', pp. 141-2.
12 1 Cor. 10.1-4; Rev. 2.17; Origen, Horn. Exod. 7.4; Ephraim the Syrian, HVirg. 37.2;
Gillian Feeley-Harnik, The Lord's Table: Eucharist and Passover in Early Christianity
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981), p. 114.

Nm Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


and the unction (xpiopa)13

- are all connected in Christian tradition
with the Eucharist. The expressions 'bread of life' and 'cup of
immortality' are common terms for the bread and wine of the
sacred meal because they are believed to bestow life and immor
tality on whoever partakes of them. 14

A blessing over 'unction of
incorruption' xp»OM«Ti a>0ccpofa alongside those over bread and
wine does indeed have its place in the early Eucharist.15

In the
Apostolic Tradition 5, attributed to Hippolytus, there is an
instruction that the blessing of the oil should be said using the

13 The triadic formula is at the centre of the controversy over the theological identity of
the work. Of the scholars who consider the work Jewish, some have suggested that the
formula reflects the blessings said at the beginning and end of daily meals of havurot. E.g.,
Joachim Jeremias, 'The Last Supper', ExpTim 64 (1952): 91-2. In the view of Christoph
Burchard, 'The Importance of Joseph and Aseneth for the Study of the New Testament: A
General Survey and a Fresh Look at the Lord's Supper', in Gesammelte Studien zu Joseph
und Aseneth
(SVTP, 13; Leidin: Brill, 1996), pp. 263-95 (274, 278), and idem, 'Joseph and
Aseneth', p. 212, the triad refers not to a meal but to central human needs for food, drink and
ointment, and correspond to the biblical triad of grain, wine and oil, which can provide life,
immortality and purity. For Chesnutt, From Death to Life, p. 38, and idem, 'Perceptions of
Oil in Early Judaism and the Meal Formula in Joseph and Aseneth', JSP 14/2 (2005): 113-32
(113, 121, 126-31), these passages are intended to demonstrate that life and immortality are
achieved by the proper Jewish use of food and ointment with their appropriate blessings, in
contradistinction to idolatrous meals which lead to death. The daily meals of Jews are
compared to manna, and Aseneth and all other proselytes achieve immortality when they
lead their lives in a Jewish manner (more Judaico). John C. O'Neill, 'WTiat is Joseph and
Aseneth About?' Henoch 16 (1994): 189-98 (193), connects the triad to the Passover meal as
it was celebrated, without sacrifice, in the diaspora. Many other scholars have discerned here
a ritual formula associated with sacred meals in various religious groups including the
Qumran community, the Therapeutae, Jewish mystic groups and gentile mystery cults,
especially that of Isis. Karl Georg Kuhn, 'The Lord's Supper and Communal Meal at
Qumran', in Krister Stendahl (ed.), The Scrolls and the New Testament (New York: Harper &
Brothers, 1975), pp. 65-93 (74-7); Philonenko, Joseph et Aseneth, pp. 92, 94; Lindars,
"Joseph and Aseneth" and the Eucharist', pp. 188-9.
14 Ignatius, Eph. 20; Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 4.18.5. In the Syriac Acts of Thomas (William
Wright [ed. and trans.], Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles [London, 1871; repr. Amsterdam:
Philo Press, 1968] it is called 'Living bread, the eaters of which die not' (Acts Thorn. (Syr.) 8);
Ephraim the Syrian, HVirg. 36.1 calls the Eucharist, symbolizing as it does the body of
Christ, 'a living sacrifice'; Gregory of Nyssa, Ascens. Christi; 1 Cor. 10.16: To TTOTiipiov T%
EuAoyias (Cf. TTOTriptov suAoyias: Joseph and Aseneth 8.9 [the long version], 8.11 [the short
version]); Jean Danielou, The Bible and the Liturgy (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of
Notre Dame Press, 1956), p. 185; G. D. Kilpatrick, 'The Last Supper', ExpTim 64 (1952): 4^8
(6). Note, however, that in Joseph and Aseneth there is eating of a honeycomb, but not
drinking from a cup. This accords with the more central place the breaking of bread has in
the Eucharist ritual. See Acts 2.42; 20.11; Lk. 24.30; Ps.-Clem. Horn. 14.1.
15 See the papyrus fragment of a Coptic version of the Didache found in Oxyrhynchus in
Egypt: F. Stanley Jones and Paul A. Mirecki, 'Considerations on the Coptic Papyrus of the


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

same formula as for bread and wine. The identification of the
honeycomb with this meal is explicit in the long version of Joseph
and Aseneth,
in which, after Aseneth has eaten from the honey
comb, the man of God tells her that she has 'eaten bread of life, and
drunk a cup of immortality, and been anointed with ointment of
incorruptibility' (16.16).
3. The order in which the components of the meal are listed by the
man of God, first the 'bread of life' then the 'cup of immortality', is
that of the Eucharist, in which the benediction of the bread
precedes that of the wine.17
4. The honeycomb gives off a scent which 'smells like myrrh', (16.6), is
called 'a breath of life', (16.4) and, when burned, produces a
'refreshing fragrance' (17.3) which fills the room. All these connect
the honeycomb to the 'scent of life' that emanates from the body of

Didache (British Library Oriental Manuscript 9271)', in Clayton N. Jefford (ed.), The
Didache in Context: Essays on Its Text, History, and Transmission
(Leiden: Brill, 1995),
pp. 47-87 (53); Stephen Gero, 'The So Called Ointment Prayer in the Coptic Version of the
Didache: A Re-Evaluation', HTR 70 (1977): 67-84 (67).
It is disputed whether the term stinoufi in the Coptic version should be translated as
ointment (uupov) 0r as fragrance or incense. For the literature on the dispute, see Jones and
Mirecki, 'Considerations on the Coptic Papyrus of the Didache', pp. 84-5; Joseph Ysebaert,
'The So-Called Coptic Ointment Prayer of Didache 10,8 Once More', VC 56 (2002): 1-10.
But there can be no doubt that in Constitutiones Apostolorum 7 (F. X. Funk [ed.], Didascalia
et constitutiones apostolorum,
vol. 1 [Paderborn: Libraria Ferdinandi Schoeningh, 1906]
p. 414, lines 10-14) the blessing was understood as one over oil. See also the blessing over oil
in the Ethiopic translation of the Didascalia: John Mason Harden, The Ethiopic Didascalia,
(London: SPCK, 1920), p. 172.
16 Hippolytus of Rome, Trad. ap. 5; Paul F. Bradshaw, Maxwell E. Johnson and L.
Edward Phillip, The Apostolic Tradition (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002), p. 50; Dom
Emmanuel Lanne, 'La benediction de l'huile', in Achille M. Triacca and Alessandro Pistoia
(eds) Les benedictions et les sacramentaux dans la liturgie (Rome: C. L. V. Edizioni
Liturgiche, 1988), pp. 165-70.
Yet more evidence is found in Cyril of Jerusalem, Cyprian, Pseudo-Dionysius and
Ephraim the Syrian, among others: Cyril of Jerusalem, Myst. cat. 4.8; Cyprian, Ep. LXX.2:
Porro autem eucharistia est unde baptizati unguntur oleum in altri sanctificatum; Pseudo-
Dionysius, Hier. eccles. IV 472D-473A; Ephraim the Syrian, HVirg. 37.2-3.
17 Mk 14.22-25; Mt. 26.26-29; 1 Cor. 11.23-26; Acts Thorn. (Syr.) 8. The same order,
bread-wine, appears in a meal in the Qumran community: Community Rule Scroll 2.11-12
(1Q28). The opposite order, wine-bread, is found in Lk. 22.17-20; Did. 9.2-4; Clement of
Alexandria, Strom. According to Hans Lietzmann, Mass and Lord's Supper
(Leiden: Brill, 1979), pp. 162-3, the order wine-bread is the later one, influenced by the
Jewish practice of kiddush. David Flusser, 'The Last Supper and the Essenes', Immanuel 14
(1982): 23-7; repr. in idem, Judaism and the Origins of Christianity (Jerusalem: Magnes Press,
1988), pp. 202-6, maintains the opposite position, that the order wine-bread in Luke reflects
the original practice, with the implication that Jesus and his disciples followed the traditional
Jewish custom.

NIR Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


Christ, since he is the true sacrifice and embodies the fragrance of
paradise. 18
5. In the long version, the honeycomb was made by the bees of
paradise 'from the dew of the roses of life that are in Paradise'
(16.14). The dew of the flowers of paradise is a common image in
Christian descriptions of paradise, and symbolizes the word of the
Lord, his gospel, which descends like dew and is sweet as honey.19
The dew of the roses of life is the 'healing dew', 'the dew of the

which restores from death and promises eternal life, as
does the bread of the Eucharist.

The clearest proof, however, that the honeycomb symbolizes the bread of
the Eucharist derives from the liturgical elements which accompany the
scene. From Christian sources it appears that the Eucharist liturgy of
early Christianity included four elements.21

First, a table was set on which

bread and wine were placed (offertio).22

The second part was the
Eucharistic sacrifice, based on a prayer of thanksgiving recited over the
bread and the wine.23

The third part was the 'breaking of bread'
(airoKAaois, KACCOIS), which symbolizes participation in the body of Jesus
and is at the centre of the rite and the liturgy of this sacrament.24


18 This perfumed fragrance fills the house in preparation for his death and burial and
will spread throughout the world after his death: Jn 12.3; 19.39-40; Mt 26.6-13; Mk 14.3-9. R.
Nir, 'The Aromatic Fragrances of Paradise in the Greek Life of Adam and Eve and the
Christian Origin of the Composition', NT 46 (2004): 20-45.
19 Homilia de virginitate [Anon.]: D. Amand and M. C. Moons (eds), 'Une curieuse
homelie grecque inedite, sur la virginite adressee aux peres de famille', Revue Benedictine 68
(1953): 18--69 (13, 39).

20 Based on LXX Isa. 26.19. See the 2 Bar. 29.6, there too in the context of eschatological
dew. Odes Sol. 35.1, 5: 'The gentle showers of the Lord overshadowed me with serenity ...
and He gave me milk, the dew of the Lord'. Cf. 11.13-16.
21 Gregory Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy (London: Dacre Press, 1945), p. 48; Danielou,
The Bible and the Liturgy, p. 127; Louis Bouyer, Liturgical Piety (Notre Dame, IN:
University of Notre Dame Press, 1954), p. 75; Gerard Rouwhorst, 'Bread and Cup in Early
Christian Eucharist Celebration', in Charles Caspers, Gerard Lukken and Gerard
Rouwhorst (eds), Bread of Heaven (Kampen: Pharos, 1995), pp. 11-40 (30).
22 The ritual setting of the table for the Eucharist is based on Ps. 23.5 interpreted by the
Church Fathers as an image for the Eucharistic meal. The association of the verse with the
Eucharist is found in many Christian sources: Acts 16.34; Ambrose, Sacr. 5.7; Ambrose,
Myst. 8.43; Sacr. 5.13; Gregory of Nyssa, Ascens. Christi; Danielou, The Bible and the
pp. 182-3.

23 This is in the most literal sense of the Eucharist: in Greek, 'thanksgiving'. Justin
Martyr, 1 Apol. 65, 67; Acts Thorn. (Gk) 49 (A. F. J. Klijn, The Acts of Thomas [Leiden: Brill,
1962], p. 90).

24 Lk. 24.30, Acts 2.42, 20.7, 1 Cor. 10.16; Ignatius, Eph. 20.2; Did. 14.1. Lietzmann,
Mass and Lord's Supper, p. 20; F. E. Warren, The Liturgy and Ritual of the Ante-Nicene
(London, SPCK, 1912), p. 26; G. D. Kilpatrick, The Eucharist in Bible and Liturgy
(The Moorehouse Lectures, 1975; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p. 67;
Rouwhorst, 'Bread and Cup', pp. 26-7.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality I

fourth part was the 'communion' (KOIVOVICX), that is, the 'sharing' by the
believers of a common meal in which together they eat the sacred elements
of the ritual, the bread and the wine, and thus partake of the body of
Christ and are united with him.
All these characteristic features of the Eucharist liturgy are found in the
scene of the honeycomb in our work, and in the same order. First,
Aseneth offers to 'set a table' (BEOCO Tpdire^ccv) for the man of God, and
to place on it bread and wine (15.14). After she discovers the honeycomb,
she 'placed that on the table which she had set for him' (KCU irapE6r|KEV
auTO km TTJS TpaiTE
^ris T\ fjToinaoEV EVCOTTIOV auxou).25

The man of God
then recites a blessing of thanksgiving over Aseneth and the honeycomb
(16.7-8). He then stretched out his hand and broke off a piece of the
honeycomb (atTEKAaoEV EK TOU Kipiou).26

In the final stage of the ritual,
the 'communion', the man of God shares the honeycomb with Aseneth.
He himself eats of the honeycomb, and then with his hand puts what is left
of it into Aseneth's mouth saying, 'Eat', and she eats (16.15).
This identification of the honeycomb as a symbol of the Eucharist
accords with Aseneth's activities before this ritual meal (Chs 10-13):
fasting, praying in a kneeling position with the body facing east, hands
outstretched, and eyes turned upward, all these actions match the liturgy
and practices of penitence required of converts to Christianity and those
of the catechumens who were prepared for baptism in the first centuries of
this era. 27

Prayer and fasting were widely practised in Christian conversion rituals.
Before anyone could be baptized and take part in communion he or she
had to fast.28

Fasting was accepted as a means of achieving purification
and atonement for sins, especially sins of idolatry, and there is evidence

25 So the long version. Burchard with Burfeind, Joseph und Aseneth, p. 206.
26 Contra Kilpatrick, The Eucharist in Bible and Liturgy, p. 61, who dismisses the
identification of this meal with the Eucharist because no bread is broken. Compare the meal
in Qumran: 'Wfaen they set the table to eat or wine to drink, the priest will stretch his hand
first to bless at the beginning the bread and the wine' (1QS 6.4-5; lQSa 2.18-21). Kuhn, 'The
Lord's Supper and Communal Meal at Qumran', p. 75 n. 39.
27 For descriptions of the practices of Christian conversion rites by four authors of the
fourth century, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose of Milan, John Chrysostom and Theodorus of
Mopsuestia, see H. M. Riley, Christian Initiation (Washington: The Catholic University of
America Press, 1974), pp. 54-84.
28 Justin Martyr, / Apol. 61.2; Warren, Liturgy and Ritual, p. 63; Danielou, The
Theology of Jewish Christianity,
p. 320; Willy Rordorf, 'Baptism According to the Didache',
in Jonathan A. Draper (ed.), The Didache in Modern Research (Leiden: Brill, 1996), pp. 212-
22 (216); Franz Joseph Dolger, Der Exorzismus im altchristlichen Taufritual (Paderbora:
Ferdinand Schoningh, 1909), pp. 80-6.

Nm Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


for a week-long fast before Easter, corresponding to that of Aseneth's.29
But fasting was, along with prayer, also considered effective in exorcising
the demon of idolatry, central to the rites preparing candidates for
baptism and the first step in the rites of initiation into Christianity.30
Exorcism is also central to the prayers of Aseneth in which she asks
deliverance from her 'enemy' (ex8pos), 'the wild primeval lion' and 'the
Devil' who persecute her (12.7-10).31

Aseneth's posture during prayer,
kneeling, also corresponds to that of Christian prayer. Origen maintains
that kneeling is required for confession of sins before God.32

Aseneth, Christian prayer too, from earliest times, was directed eastward,
toward the rising sun.33

Prayer facing east was of particular significance in
the rituals of conversion, for the east symbolized paradise, which opened

29 Dionysius of Alexandria, Ep. ad Basilidem 1; Acts of Paul and Tecla 20; the
Itinerarium of Egeria 28, (John Wilkinson [trans.], Egeria's Travels to the Holy Land
[London: SPCK, 1971]), p. 130. Paul F. Bradshaw, 'The Origin of Easter', in Paul F.
Bradshaw and Lawrence A. Hoffman (eds), Passover and Easter: Origin and History to
Modern Times
(Two Liturgical Traditions, 5; Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame
Press, 1999), pp. 81-97 (86); Warren, Liturgy and Ritual, p. 92; Maxwell E. Johnson,
'Preparation for Pascha? Lent in Christian Antiquity', in Paul F. Bradshaw and Lawrence A.
Hoffman (eds), Passover and Easter: The Symbolic Structuring of Sacred Seasons (Two
Liturgical Traditions, 6; Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000), pp. 36-54

30 Mt. 17.21; Mk 9.29; Didascalia 21; Apoc. El. 1.20-22; Acts Pet. 22; Dolger, Der
Exorzismus im altchristlichen Taufritual,
pp. 80-6; Danielou, The Theology of Jewish
p. 321; N. Mitchell, 'Baptism in the Didache', in Jefford (ed.), The Didache in
pp. 226-55 (251); Arthur Voobus, Liturgical Traditions in the Didache (Stockholm:
ETSE, 1968), p. 20. Wearing sackcloth, placing ashes on the head and fasting were common
expressions of remorse and penance in Judaism.
31 sx6pos is another term for the Devil: Mt. 13.24-28; Lk. 10.19; 1 Cor. 15.26; Phil. 3.18;
see W. Foerster, 'expos', TDNTII: 814. The lion represents the Devil, as in 1 Pet. 5.8-9. In
Apoc. El. 2.6-15, the Devil is described as a king who will arise in the west, will cross the sea
as a roaring lion, and will guilefully circle the cities of Egypt and encourage idolatry. G. W.
E. Nickelsburg, 'Joseph and Aseneth', Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah
(Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981), pp. 258-62 (259,263); Burchard, 'Joseph and Aseneth', p. 221.
For similar descriptions by Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose and John Chrysostom, see Riley,
Christian Initiation, p. 47.
32 Origen, Or. 30; Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 2.23.6, see also 5.5.1; Acts of Paul and Thecla 20;
Tertullian, Or. 23, 29; Ps.-Clem. Rec. 3. 50 and many further references in Warren, Liturgy
and Ritual,
pp. 132-3.

33 Basil the Great, Spir. Sanct. 27.66; Tertullian, Apol. 16; Clement of Alexandria,
Strom. 7.7; Origen, Or. 32; Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. 9.6; Apos. con. 2.57; 7.45.2; Didascalia 12;
Hugo Rahner, Greek Myths and Christian Mystery (New York and Evanston: Harper &
Row, 1963), p. 168.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

to converts on their severance from idolatry.34

Raising eyes upwards with

outstretched hands is also associated with Christian prayer.35
Having separated from the world of idolatry Aseneth is now ready for
the other central sacrament in the process of conversion, baptism, which
precedes the Eucharist and is a condition for communion. After her week
of fasting and prayer, the man of God instructs Aseneth to remove the
black garment she is wearing, wash her hands and face in 'living water'

(14.12-13) - or 'pure water', EV u5om KOcSccpcp (14.17) - put on a new and
garment (KCCIVTI KOH AaMirpd)36

or a white garment never before

touched (oToAr| AEUKTI dOiiaros)37

and gird her waist with a brilliant
(white) double girdle of virginity (SiirAr|V ^COVTJV AocMiTpdv T%
TTocp0Evias), that is, one girdle on her waist and another on her chest.
Aseneth did as she was instructed (14.15-16), and thus 'was made new,
and refashioned, and given new life' (15.4).
This description of the 'washing' has the main characteristics of
Christian baptism as it was presented to candidates, the catechumens,
undergoing the process of acceptance to the Church. First, the candidate
for baptism had to disrobe. This ritual disrobing, preparatory to baptism,
was invested with symbolic meaning, a metaphor for removing the old self
and its practices.38

Christian baptism requires 'living water' (EV u5cm

£COVTI) such as a river or sea.39

But even more characteristic of Christian
baptism is the white garment catechumens wore after baptism.40


34 Apos. con. 2.57. 15; Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. 19.9; Gregory of Nyssa, Orat. Dom. 5;
Danielou, The Bible and the Liturgy, pp. 32-3; Basil the Great, Spir. Sonet. 27.66.192a.
35 Odes Sol. 27; 42; Tertullian Apol. 30.4; idem, Bapt. 20; Cyril of Jerusalem, Myst. cat.
1.2; Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions 9.32; Acts John 43, 111; Warren, Liturgy and Ritual,
pp. 95, 133.

36 Philonenko, Joseph et Aseneth, p. 180; Chesnutt, From Death to Life, p. 126.
Philonenko suggests that these verses describe a rite of purification but does not connect it to
Christian baptism (p. 179).
37 Batiffol, 'Le livre de la Priere d'Aseneth', p. 60.
38 Gregory of Nyssa, Bapt.; idem, Ep. I; Commentary of Theodore of Mopsuestia on the
Lord's Prayer and on the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist
(ed. Alphonse Mingana;
Woodbrooke Studies, 6; Cambridge: W. Heffer, 1933), pp. 53-4, 68; Odes Sol. 11.9-11; 15.8;
21.2; Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions 2.25 (trans. P. Harkin, ACW, 31; New York:
Newman Press, 1963). J. Danielou, Terre et Paradis chez les Peres de l'Eglise', Eranos
Jahrbuch 22, Mensch undErde,
(Zurich: Rhein Verlag, 1954), pp. 433-72 (462-3). On change
of clothing as part of religious initiation rituals, see W. A. Meeks, 'The Image of the
Androgyne: Some Uses of a Symbol in Earliest Christianity', History of Religions 13/3
(1974); 165-208 (184-8); Cyril of Jerusalem, Myst. cat. 2.2. The practice was attributed to the
verse, T had taken off my robe. Was I to don it again?' (Song 5.3). See also Col. 3.9-10; Gal.
3.27; Eph. 4.22-24.

39 Acts 8.36, 16.13; Did. 7.1; Odes Sol. 30.1; Ps.-Clem. Rec. 67; Justin Martyr 1 Apol. 61;
and see Rev. 7.17, 21.6, 21.1.
40 Rev. 7.9-17. Cyril of Jerusalem, Myst. cat. 4.8; Danielou, The Bible and the Liturgy,
pp. 35, 49; Geoffrey Wainwright, Christian Initiation (London: Lutterworth Press, 1969),

NIR Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


white clothes symbolize the 'new self and replace the old pre-baptism
garments, which represented the 'old self.41

The terms 'refulgent garment'
(Iv5u|ja <|)COTEIV6V) and 'new white garments' are technical terms in the
context of baptism and the garments bespeak purity of body and soul.42
Aseneth's 'renewal' after 'washing' and the 'new life' she receives accord
with the basic notion of Christian baptism, death with Christ and rebirth,
a symbol of new life, re-creation, and renewal (Rom. 6.3-4). 43

2 'City of Refuge'

After Aseneth partakes of the ritual meal, she becomes 'a walled mother
city (MTiTpoTToAis) of all who take refuge with the name of the Lord God,
the king of the ages' (16.16 in the long text). Thus is fulfilled the promise
of the man of God to Aseneth that after she eats the bread of life, drinks
the cup of immortality, and is anointed with the unction of incorruption,
her name will no longer be Aseneth but 'City of Refuge' (TTOAIS
({>UYTJs) for in her many nations will take refuge, under her wings
many people will be sheltered, and within her walls 'those who give their

p. 15. Josephus, War 123.137, records that the Essenes thought it a good thing to be clothed
in white garments and that prospective initiates wore white clothing during their first
probationary period. It is important to note, however, that the Essenes had the initiates wear
these white garments before, not after, they were 'allowed to share the purer kind of holy
water'. The white garment, raised eyes and outstretched arms during prayer, reverence for the
number 7 - note the seven virgins (17.4-6) - high value placed on virginity and sexual
abstinence, common meals for men and women, and rituals of fasting, led some to identify
Aseneth's conversion with the Therapeutae described by Philo, Contempl. 36, 65, 66. See M.
Delcor, 'Un Roman d'amour d'origine therapeute', Bulletin de Litterature Ecclesiastique 63
(1962): 3-27 (22-6); Kuhn, 'The Lord's Supper and Communal Meal at Qumran', p. 76;
Pierre Geoltrain, 'Le Traite de la Vie Contemplative de Philon d'Alexandrie', Semitica 10
(1960): 11-61 (26-7). However, the meal of the Therapeutae does not include key elements of
Aseneth's meal - bread, wine (but rather bread with salt and hyssop) and a blessing over oil.
See Philo, Contempl. 81; Philonenko, Joseph et Aseneth, pp. 92, 104-5.
41 Ambrose, Myst. 7.34; Riley, Christian Initiation, p. 418.
42 Cyril of Jerusalem, Proc. 15; Ephraim the Syrian, Parad. 6.9; Ambrose, Myst. 34. See
also S. Safrai, 'Early Testimonies in the New Testament of Laws and Practices Relating to
Pilgrimage and Passover', in R. Steven Notley et al. (eds), Jesus' Last Week (Jerusalem
Studies in the Synoptic Gospels, 1; Leiden: Brill, 2006), pp. 41-51 (46); Meeks, 'The Image of
the Androgyne', pp. 187-8; Danielou, 'Terre et Paradis chez les Peres de l'Eglise', p. 464.
43 See: 2 Cor. 5.17; Tit. 3.5; also Jn 3.5. Hippolytus calls it 'remission of sins by the
baptism of regeneration': Hippolytus of Rome, Trad. ap. 21; Mingana, Commentary of
Theodore of Mopsuestia,
p. 62; J. van Goudoever, Biblical Calendars (Leiden: Brill, 1961),
p. 170; John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions 9.12; Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Asceticism
and Society in Crisis, John of Ephesus and the Lives of the Eastern Saints
(Berkeley and Los
Angeles: University of California Press, 1990), p. 111.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

allegiance to God in penitence (pETavoia) will find security' (15.6 in the
short text).44

The expression 'city of refuge' harks back to the biblical notion of the
cities, which were to serve as a refuge for 'a manslayer who kills a person
by mistake' (Num. 35.6, 11-34). In the Septuagint, these cities are termed

TTOASIS TCOV >uya5£UTTipicov (LXX Num. 35.6),45

cities of flight. The term
emphasizes the function of these cities as places to which unwitting
manslayers may flee and seek refuge. The term KaTcc^uyTi in the
Septuagint also translates the noun

in the sense of 'shelter',


The city of refuge, then, symbolizes the city to which
people may flee to find shelter, safety and salvation. In Joseph and Aseneth
this city of refuge is none other than the heavenly Jerusalem.
It is generally agreed that the promise the man of God makes to
Aseneth, that many people will find refuge in her, is based on the
Septuagint translation of Zech. 2.15.47

In the Masoretic Text God says to
Zion, 'Shout for joy, fair Zion! For lo, I come; and I will dwell in your
midst - declares the Lord. In that day many nations will attach themselves
01*2)1) to the Lord.' For 0^1) 'attach themselves', the Septuagint
provides KaTa^eu^ovTai, 'will find refuge'. The parallelism in the passage
implies that the city of refuge in which the 'many nations will find refuge'
is Zion. The term used in Joseph and Aseneth for the city, 'metropolis',
also implies that this city should be identified with Jerusalem.48

But the
descriptions of the city in other passages indicate clearly that what is
meant is not the historic Jerusalem on earth, but the heavenly Jerusalem,
described here in unmistakable Christian contours. Joseph tells Aseneth

44 See also 19.5-7 in the long text.
45 Num. 35.15: (|>uyd5iov, ^uyaSsTov; Deut. 19.3: Kaxa^uyrj-
46 The verb
KaTCHJyeuyeiv, to flee: Num. 35.25-26; Deut. 4.42; Josh. 20.9; Isa 10.3; Ps.
59.17-18,143.2. It can refer as well to God, as in 'O God, the rock wherein I take shelter: my
shield, my mighty champion, my fortress and refuge' (2 Sam. 22.3), and 'O Lord, my strength
and my stronghold, my refuge in a day of trouble' (Jer. 16.19).
47 Philonenko, Joseph et Aseneth, p. 55; Burchard, 'Joseph and Aseneth', p. 189; Bohak,
Joseph and Aseneth, p. 76; O'Neill, 'Joseph and Aseneth', p. 194. See also Jer. 50.4-5; Isa.

48 Jerusalem as metropolis: LXX Isa. 26.1 urjTpoiToAis TnoTrj I tcov. Similarly Philo,
Flacc. 45-46; Legat. 281.3; Josephus, Ant. 11.161.1; War. 7.375.2.
The Syriac version, made sometime in the sixth century has, instead of 'city of refuge', the
expression emmd da-mdintd, 'metropolis'. On the other hand, when the angel blesses
Aseneth's virgins he says they will be seven pillars of the 'city of refuge' (mdmat gawsd), and
all are the daughters of the 'city of refuge' (beta dqeriata dbet gawsd) of the chosen. Clearly
these terms are interchangeable. For the Syriac version see Zacharias Rhetor, Historia
(ed. E. W. Brooks; CSCO, 83, Scr. Syri, 38; Liber I, p. 38, line 16; p. 40, lines
11-12), and R. Murray, Symbols of Church and Kingdom (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1975), p. 298. In the Latin version in Batiffol, Aseneth is named not 'City of Refuge',
but multi refugii, apparently misreading the Greek
TTOAIS (city) as TTOAUS (much). See
Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, p. 148 n. 139.

Nm Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


that she is blessed, 'because the Lord God founded your walls in the
highest, and your walls (are) adamantine walls of life (tcx TBiyj] oou
aSccudvTiva Teixn Ccofjs), because the sons of the living God will dwell in
your City of Refuge, and the Lord God will reign as king over them for
ever and ever' (19.8 in the long text). Elsewhere Aseneth is described as
having 'her place of rest in the highest (t% KaTairauoeeos a\JT%)',49

her walls like adamantine eternal walls, and her foundations founded
upon a rock of the seventh heaven (22.13 in the long text).50
Just like this city of refuge, the heavenly Jerusalem is described in
Christian sources as situated in heaven, 'in the highest'; the handiwork of
God, not of man; a walled city whose heavenly walls were founded by
God and are made of live stones, bestowing heavenly life on all who dwell
within them.51

And like the city of refuge, the Christian heavenly

Jerusalem is described as a resting place.52
In the long version, Aseneth not only becomes a city of refuge, but
paradise itself. Her body flourishes like the flowers of life; her bones are as
the cedars of paradise; she will remain there, eternally young and her
beauty will never fade (16.16).53

49 See also 17.6; 15.7 (in the long text); 8.11 (both texts).
50 Both passages in the long version (19.8; 22.13) exist originally only in the Syriac and
Armenian versions: Ulrich Fischer, Eschatologie und Jenseitserwartung im hellenistichen
(BZNW, 44; Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1978), p. 118; Burchard,
'Joseph and Aseneth', pp. 233, 239; For similar descriptions see 4 Ezra 10.27; Sib. Or. 5.250;
1 En. 90.29.

51 So Heb. 11.10; 12.22; Phil. 3.20. The term used in Joseph and Aseneth in the
description of the walls, aoauavxiva, [s interpreted also as referring to diamond. Based on
descriptions in the Hebrew Bible of Jerusalem in the time to come (Isa. 54.11; 60.10; Ezek.
28.13), the heavenly Jerusalem is described in Revelation as a heavenly city, next to God in
heaven. Its radiance is like a very rare jewel. The wall is built of jasper, while the city is pure
gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with precious stones
(Rev. 21.2, 9-27).

52 Heb. 3.7-4.13. Like the resting place in Joseph and Aseneth, the 'resting place' in the
Epistle to the Hebrews is no longer in Canaan and in the terrestrial Jerusalem but in heaven.
On Jerusalem as a resting place, see Robert Louis Wilken, The Land Called Holy (New
Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992), pp. 52-5.
53 Flowers are a frequent characteristic of descriptions of paradise in Christian sources.
Ephraim the Syrian, HParad. 9.3-5; see further 10. 6-10; Cyril of Jerusalem, Proc. 1. Nir,
'The Aromatic Fragrances of Paradise', pp. 20-45. Cedars too are characteristic of Christian
descriptions of paradise. They are part of the image of 'the Lebanon', identified with the
Church or with Christ: Hedley Frederick Davis Sparks, 'The Symbolical Interpretation of
Lebanon in the Fathers', JTS n.s. 10: (1959): 264-79 (272); Ambrose, Virg. 1. 44. In paradise
there is also no ageing. As Ephraim the Syrian put it, 'None grow old there for none die
there.' (HParad. 7. 22; 14. 11-12).
The description of the heavenly Jerusalem, identified with paradise, appears in the
pseudepigraphic literature: 2 Bar. 78-86; 4 Ezra 8.52; / En. 45.3-6; 2 En. 42.3; 8.1; 9.1; T. Dan
5.12; T. Levi 18.9; 4QFlor 1: 7-8; Fischer, Eschatologie und Jenseitserwartung im hellenistichen
pp. 120-1.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

The description of Aseneth as a city of refuge, as the heavenly
Jerusalem, and as paradise, establishes her as a symbol for the Christian
Church. The clearest identification of the 'city of refuge' with the Church
is found in the works of the Syrian fathers. Ephraim the Syrian calls the
Church a 'city of refuge' whose tower is Jesus.54

Though the term 'city of
refuge' is never explicitly attributed to Aseneth, Syrian church fathers did
see her as a symbol for the 'church of the gentiles'. Aphrahat, comparing
Jesus to Joseph writes, 'Joseph married the daughter of an unclean (i.e.
Gentile) priest, and Jesus brought to himself the Church from the unclean

Similarly Ephraim the Syrian writes about Ephraim, the
younger son of Joseph and Aseneth, 'Thou art the son of Aseneth,
daughter of a priest, who was a type of the Church of the Gentiles. She
loved Joseph, and the Son of Joseph has holy Church loved in truth.'56
The Church, in Christian thought, is also the embodiment of paradise, as
set out in the Syriac work, Cave of the Treasures, 'Eden is the Holy
Church, and the Paradise which was in it is the land of rest and the
inheritance of life, which God hath prepared for all the holy children of

Those who find refuge there will become its citizens (Eph. 2.19), in
the words of John Chrysostom: 'For we have been enrolled as citizens of
another state, the heavenly Jerusalem.'58
The depiction of Aseneth, then, as a city of refuge is a distinctly
Christian one, and presents Aseneth in this part of the story as a symbol
for the Church, which is in turn the heavenly Jerusalem and paradise.
Who are these many nations who will take refuge in the city and find
shelter within its walls? The solution to the riddle lies in understanding the
meaning of liexdvoia, the entry-ticket to the city.
The verb METCXVOECO means 'to change one's mind', or intention, 'to
regret', 'to change one's religion'; the noun M^Tfiuoia means 'second
thoughts', 'regret', 'repentance', 'conversion'. The verb appears in this last
sense, 'to change one's religion, to convert', in both Hellenistic and
Christian texts, and is particularly frequent in the pseudepigraphic

54 Ephraim the Syrian, HNat. 3.15; In the Syriac Acts of Thomas the expression bet
(house of refuge) signifies Christ and the Church. Acts of Thomas (Syr.) 10; Murray,
Symbols of Church and Kingdom, pp. 160,167, 222. In the Peshitta the term bet gawsd stands
for B^pD TI7 (city of refuge). Murray, Symbols of Church and Kingdom, p. 222.
55 Aphrahat, Dem. 21. 9.
56 Ephraim the Syrian, HVirg. 21.9; Murray, Symbols of Church and Kingdom, pp. 135—
6; Aubrey William Argyle, 'Joseph the Patriarch in Patristic Teaching', ExpTim, 67 (1955—
56): 199-201 (200); Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, p. 254.
57 E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Cave of Treasures, (London: The Religious Tract
Society, 1927), pp. 62-3; Ephraim the Syrian, HPar ad. 6. 7-12: 'He planted the garden most
fair, he built the church most pure'; Cyprian, Ep. LXXIII.10; LXXV.15; Murray, Symbols of
Church and Kingdom,
p. 261; Danielou, 'Terre et Paradis chez les Peres de FEglise', pp. 461,

58 Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions, 4.29.

NIR Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


literature. If we take this line of interpretation we can understand the
METfivoia in Joseph and Aseneth as 'conversion'. Those entering the city of
refuge, then, must be the gentiles who, following Aseneth, accept faith in
God in its Christian version. They, the story promises, will find a 'resting
place' and salvation in the heavenly Jerusalem, in paradise, that is, in the

Nonetheless, it seems that in the context in which |jETavoia appears in
Joseph and Aseneth, the preferable interpretation is the more common
one, that is 'repentance' rather than 'conversion'.61

What 'repentance'
means in Joseph and Aseneth is clear from the description of it put into the
mouth of the man of God:

For Penitence is the Most High's daughter and she entreats the Most
High on your behalf every hour, and on behalf of all who repent; for he
is the father of Penitence and she the mother of virgins and every hour
she petitions him for those who repent; for she has prepared a heavenly
bridal chamber for those who love her62

and she will look after them for
ever. And Penitence is herself a virgin, very beautiful and pure and
chaste and gentle;63

and God Most High loves her, and all his angels do

her reverence64

(15.7-8 in the short text).

What characterizes this 'penitence'? The metaphor for 'penitence' is a
virgin, beautiful, pure, chaste and gentle. She looks after virgins and loves
them very much; and hence God loves them as well, and will prepare for

59 'uETavota', BAGD, pp. 640-1; 'ueTavoia, EDNT, p. 417; Johannes Behm and Ernst
Wurthwein 'uexavoeco, uETavoia', TDNT, IV: 991, 999, 1002, 1007; Jacques Dupont,
'Repentir et conversion d'apres les Actes des Apotres', ScEcclXl (1960) : 137-73 (142): 'Le
terme ueTavoia assume ainsi l'idee de conversion'; J. Wendling, 'L'appel de Jesus a la
conversion', Hokhma 27 (1984):3-38 (10); Riley, Christian Initiation, pp. 23-4; Did. 10.6;
Ignatius. Eph. 10.1.

60 Otfried Hofius, Katapausis, Die Vorstellung vom endzeitlichen Ruheort in Hebraerbrief
(WUZT, 11; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1970), p. 67; U. Fischer, Eschatologie und
Jenseitserwartung im hellenistichen Diasporajudentum,
p. 123; Portier-Young, 'Sweet Mercy
Metropolis', pp. 137, 152.
61 Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, pp. 26, 61, 130, interprets metanoia as
'repentance', but associates it with 'wisdom', particularly as regards its attributes such as
beauty, purity, and holiness, its functions as an intercessor, and God's love for it. The
interpretation is anchored on Prov. 8.17; Sir. 4.14; Wis. 8.3; 6.12; A. Standhartinger, Das
Frauenbild im Judentum der Hellenistischen Zeit, Ein Beitrag anhand von 'Joseph und Aseneth',

(Leiden: Brill, 1995), pp. 192-9, 201-4.
For criticism of the identification of metanoia as wisdom, see Portier-Young, 'Sweet Mercy
Metropolis', p. 146. Elsewhere Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, p. 267, associates
metanoia with the Christian Holy Spirit.
62 In the long text: 'and for all who repent she prepared a place of rest in the heavens'.
63 In the long text: 'a virgin pure and laughing always and she is gentle and meek'.
64 In the long text: 'And I too love her exceedingly, because she is also my sister. And
because she loves you virgins, I love you, too.'


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

all repentant virgins a heavenly bridal chamber (in the short text) or a
resting place in heaven (in the longer text). She is the daughter of God,
God loves her and the angels honour her.
It follows that those who will find refuge in the heavenly city are not
those who merely converted to Christianity, but rather the virgins who,
like Aseneth, repented.65
Who are these virgins, and what is meant by their virginity? In Joseph
and Aseneth
Aseneth is described as 'a virgin who detests men', or 'detests
strange men' (7.8; 8.1 in the short text), and Joseph is described as a virgin
who 'detests all strange women' (4.9; 7.6-7; 8.1-3 in the short text) and
their love is described as the love of brother and sister (7.11; 8.1-3 in the
short text). This combination of terms is familiar from early Christian
sources describing 'virgins', both male and female, who devote themselves
to Christ and publicly declare their determination to take the vow of
virginity and sexual abstinence. They forgo earthly marriage to marry
Christ and enter with him into the heavenly bridal chamber.66

Now, this
phenomenon was widespread in the entire Christian Church from the
fourth century on, as is evidenced by the large number of works on
virginity composed about that time.67

However, I believe, the particular
emphasis that Joseph and Aseneth places on virginity - the promise to
virgin penitents of entry into the heavenly city of refuge, the use of the
term 'heavenly bridal chamber', the depiction of Aseneth and Joseph as
virgins and their relationship as that of brother and sister - expresses
notions especially characteristic of the early Syrian Church.
The fourth-century Syrian Church appears in the writings of Aphrahat
and Ephraim the Syrian, as well as in such early Syriac works as the
Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip,6

* and especially the Acts of
as urging its believers to take an oath of virginity, understood as

65 That entry into the city of refuge is reserved for virgins is indicated also in the blessing
the man of God gives to the seven virgins: 17.6 in the longer text.
66 Male 'virgins' appear as early as Rev. 14.4; 2 Cor. 11.2. On Joseph as a symbol of
virginity and sexual abstinence, see Ps.-Clem. Ep. Virg. II.8; Gregory of Nyssa, Contra
Basil the Great, Sermon XIX (De Temperantia et Incontinentia) and in Ep. II. 3;
XLVI. 4; Methodius, Symp. 12; A. W. Argyle, 'Joseph the Patriarch in Patristic Teaching',
p. 200.

67 Willy Rordorf, 'Marriage in the New Testament and in the Early Church', Journal of
Ecclesiastical History
20 (1969): 193-210; Susanna Elm, 'Virgins of God' The Making of
Asceticism in Late Antiquity
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), pp. 25-6. Works on virginity
were written by Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, John
Chrysostom and others. The notion lies at the root both of monasticism and of the celibate

68 The Gospel of Thomas and Gospel of Philip, though known to us in Coptic and
included in the Gnostic collection of Nag Hammadi, were composed in Antioch in a Greek-
and Syriac-linguistic environment and reflect Syrian Christianity. See Jacques E. Menard, 'Le
Milieu syriaque de l'Evangile selon Thomas et de l'Evangile selon Philippe', Rev. Sc. Re. 42

Nm Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


renunciation of earthly marriage in favour of spiritual and eternal
marriage to Christ.69

Those who undertook a life of absolute sexual
abstinence and renounced earthly marriage were known in the Syrian
Church of the late third and fourth century as yihidaye ("singles,

These included two groups - btule ("virgins),71

single persons

who had never married, and qaddise (saints, holy ones),72

married persons who at some point after the beginning of their marriages,
or when widowed, renounced sexual activity. Both groups included both
men and women, and enjoyed special status in the Christian community.
They constituted the elite of the believers, and were referred to as the
Qydmd (generally understood to mean 'Covenant')73

The members of the

Qydmd considered each other 'brother' and 'sister',74

and, like Aseneth
and Joseph, remained integrally part of their own families, not leaving
their communities as was the case later with monastics.75

(1968): 261-6; R. Murray, 'The Theology of Symbolism in St. Ephrem's Theology', Parole de
I'Orient 6/1
(1975-76): 1-20 (10); Sebastian P. Brock, The Luminous Eye, The Spiritual World
Vision of Saint Ephrem
(Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publication, 1992), p. 139.
69 See also Amand and Moons, 'Une curieuse homelie grecque'. The origin of the work
is obscure. In its present form it is in Greek but appears to have been translated from Syriac;
the Christologjcal terminology indicates early Syrian Christianity. Arthur Voobus, History of
Asceticism in the Syrian Orient,
vol. 1, (CSCO, Subsidia 14, Louvain: Secretariat du
CorpusSCO, 1958), pp. 67-9.
70 In the Peshitta the term translates monogenes, 'the only begotten', as an epithet of
Christ. In the view of Brock, The Luminous Eye, p. 136, three central notions are
encapsulated in the Syriac term, which carries the senses - singular, individual, unique;
single-minded, not divided in heart; and single in the sense of unmarried, celibate.
71 Masc.: btuld; fern.: btultd; plu.: btule. For similar terms see Murray, Symbols of
Church and Kingdom,
p. 152, no. 3; 13.
72 KEFTp; 'pure', 'continent'. The term derives from Exod. 19.10, 15, where Moses
interprets the divine command DHCTTpT as requiring sexual abstinence. Ephraim the Syrian,
Comm. Gen. 6.12, describes a state of qaddishuta in Noah's ark. See Brock, The Luminous
p. 134.

73 On the virgins of the Qydmd see Voobus, History of Asceticism, 1: 90-108; Sidney H.
Griffith, 'Asceticism in the Church of Syria: The Hermeneutics of Early Syrian Monasticism',
in V. L. Wimbush and R. Valantasis (eds), Asceticism (New York and Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1995), pp. 220-45 (223, 229); idem 'Monks, "Singles" and the "Sons of the
Covenant": Reflections on Syriac Ascetic Terminology', in E. Carr et al. (eds), Eulogema:
Studies in Honor of Robert Taft, S.J.
(Rome: Pontificio Ateneo S. Anselmo, 1993), pp. 141—
60 (143); Simon Jargy, 'Les "fils et lilies du pact" dans la litterature monastique syriaque',
OCP 17 (1951): 304-20 (311, 312, 315); Sebastian Brock, Ephraem the Syrian: Hymns on
(Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1990), p. 26; Harvey, Asceticism
and Society in Crisis,
pp. 6-7; Elizabeth A. Clark, Reading Renunciation, Asceticism and
Scripture in Early Christianity,
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 1999), p. 31.
74 Ps.-Clem. Ep. virg. I. 1; Acts Thorn. (Syr.) 8.
75 On virgins who remained in their parents' homes under the authority of their fathers,
common in the eastern church in the fourth century, see Amand and Moons, 'Une curieuse
homelie grecque', pp. 35-45; David Amand de Mendieta, 'La virginite chez Eusebe d'Emese
et l'ascetisme familial dans la premiere moitie du IVe siecle', Revue d'histoire ecclesiastique 50


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

Virgins of this sort are intended in the passage where the man of God
addresses the virgins in the plural, 'And because she loves you virgins, I
love you, too.'76

The passage extols virgins who determined to lead their
lives unwed and sexually abstinent and to consecrate their lives to Christ
in order to enter with him into the heavenly bridal chamber.
Starting in the parable of the ten virgins of Mt. 25.1-13, the image
developed of a heavenly bridal chamber in paradise into which will enter
only pure virgins who were spiritually wed to Christ, depicted as a
bridegroom, and for whom a special place is reserved in the eschatological
kingdom of heaven. This image of a heavenly bridal chamber is a
distinctly Christian one and has no parallel in Jewish sources. It is
especially common in early Syriac literature.77

In contrast to ephemeral
earthly marriage, the heavenly bridal chamber is eternal, and not subject
to divorce; it is pure, radiant and free of blemish.78

The bridal chamber of
which we have been speaking is in fact the Church, the holy of holies of
the spiritual temple in the heavenly Jerusalem, where the virgins unite with
Christ the bridegroom and where they achieve redemption, resurrection
and immortality.

The longer text of Joseph and Aseneth makes no mention of a bridal
chamber. Rather, Metanoia entreats the Most High for a 'place of rest in
the heavens' for penitents. The difference between the two texts in the
description of the heavenly place is not very significant since, as we have

(1955): 770-820 (800-5). Elm, 'Virgins of God', pp. 14, 38, 47. Elizabeth A. Clark, 'Ascetic
Renunciation and Feminine Advancement: A Paradox of Late Ancient Christianity', ATR 63
(1981): 240-57 (245, 247, 248) refers to this as 'house monasticism' or 'familial monasticism'.
76 Because Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, p. 62, takes the term metanoia to refer
to 'Wisdom' she is puzzled by the plural in the sentence and suggests tentatively that the
reference is to Aseneth's seven virgin companions. My interpretation avoids the difficulty.
77 Antoine Guillaumont, 'Monachisme et Ethique Judeo-Chretienne', Judeo-
Christianisme, Recherches de Science Religieuse, offertes au Cardinal J. Danielou
Recherches de science religieuse, 1972), pp. 199-218 (202); Voobus, History of Asceticism, 73;
Brock, Ephraem the Syrian, pp. 26-33; Harvey, Asceticism and Society in Crisis, p. 5; Elm,
'Virgins of God', p. 37; A. C. Rush, 'Death as a Spiritual Marriage: Individual and Ecclesial
Eschatology', VC 26 (1972): 81-101.
78 Francois Graffin, 'Hymnes Inedites de Saint Ephrem sur la Virginite', VOrient Syrien
6 (1961), Hymn 3.63-103, pp. 222-3; Aphrahat, Bern. 6.1; 6.6; Ephraim the Syrian, HParad.
7. 15; Chrysostom, On the Necessity of Guarding Virginity, in Elizabeth A. Clark, Jerome,
Chrysostom and Friends
(New York and Toronto: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1979), pp. 235-6;
Pseudo-Athanasius, On Virginity, 51; Acts of Thomas (Syr.) 8; Amand and Moons, 'Une
curieuse homelie grecque', pp. 35, 37, 39, 49, 57, 63. The bridal chamber is a common feature
of Gnostic literature. Gos. Phil. 117, 1-30; 118, 10-20; 119, 4-9; 130, 23-24; 134, 5; Irenaeus,
Adv. Haer. 1.13.3; in the Gospel of Philip there are five sacraments of which the highest is the
mystery of the bridal chamber. See Meeks, 'The Image of the Androgyne', pp. 189, 190;
R. M. Grant, 'The Mystery of Marriage in the Gospel of Philip', VC, 15 (1961): 129-40 (132);
Eric Segelberg, 'The Coptic Gnostic Gospel of Philip and its Sacramental System', Numen 7
(1960): 189-200 (197-200).

NIR Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


seen, the heavenly resting place is identified with the 'city of refuge' which
in turn is paradise, the heavenly Jerusalem, and the Church, and can
therefore be identified with the bridal chamber as well.79
In conclusion, the description of Metanoia in Joseph and Aseneth is a
paean to virginity and its rewards, and brings to the fore the main message
of the work. Upon receiving her new name, 'City of Refuge', Aseneth
becomes a symbol for the Christian Church, the Church of the gentiles,
identified with the heavenly Jerusalem and paradise, in which will find
shelter not only those who have converted and undertaken faith in Christ,
but mainly those who are prepared to do 'penitence' (METCCVOIOC, tydbuthd),
that is, to take the vow of virginity and to lead a life of sexual abstinence.
Such virgins 'are truly the city of God, and the houses and temples in
which God abides and dwells and among which He walks, as in the holy
city of heaven'.80

Aseneth personifies the ultimate virgin, the mirror image
of Metanoia, the heavenly virgin who has repented and is the model for
other virgins who are called to follow in her footsteps. To these virgins,
men and women alike, who entirely renounce earthly marriage and devote
their lives to Christ, Joseph and Aseneth promises entry into the heavenly
and eternal bridal chamber, to the resting place with Christ which God
prepares for them in heaven.81

3. The Bees

Who are the bees that came out from the honeycomb and what is the
connection of this fantastic scene to Aseneth's conversion? 82

draws attention to the close relation between the image of the bees here
and the symbols and images which were prevalent in connection with gods
and kings in ancient Egypt and in the Hellenistic and Roman world.83

79 See Aphrahat, Dem. 6.6; Graffin, 'Hymnes Inedites de Saint Ephrem sur la Virginite',
pp. 222-3; Odes Sol. 11, 12.
80 Ps.-Clem. Ep. virg. I. 9.
81 It goes without saying that the repentance here is not the Jewish notion of repentance,
which is not a religious conversion but a return to an absolute faith in God founded on the
commands of the Torah. Nothing of the sort is found here. Ed Parish Sanders, 'The
Covenant as a Soteriological Category', p. 23; 'uETavoia', EDNT, p. 416; Behm and
Wurthwein, TDNT, IV: 993, 997.
82 The scene of the bees is the most difficult to interpret in the whole work. See
Burchard, 'Joseph and Aseneth', p. 230 n. 16h2; J. J. Collins, 'Joseph and Aseneth: Jewish or
Christian?' JSP 14/2, (2005): 97-112 (110-11), admits that 'their symbolism in Joseph and
Aseneth, however, is obscure, and all interpretations hitherto proposed are controversial'.
83 Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, pp. 167-71. See also Philonenko, Joseph et
pp. 65-9, who associates the bees with the Egyptian goddess Neith. Similarly
Collins, 'Jewish or Christian, pp. 110-11. On the symbolism of bees in Egypt and in the
Graeco-Roman world, see A. B. Cook, 'The Bee in Greek Mythology', HS 15-16 (1895-96):
1-24; Olck, 'Beine', PW 3/1: 431-50; C. Hocker Der Neue, PW 2: 64£-50; Hilda M.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

Especially important is the evidence from the Graeco-Roman world in
which bees were thought to be divine beings84

symbolizing eternity and

the immortal soul. In the fourth book of Virgil's Georgica*5

represent souls, which have a divine kernel; they are a symbol of rebirth
and of resurrection of lifeless bodies and they are an emblem of the
promise of eternal life in heaven. Particularly instructive is Porphyry, the
third-century Neoplatonist. Souls about to be born, he says, are called
bees. For bees symbolize the souls just before reincarnation, by which they
will live righteously and, after the gods' will is done, return to the place
from which they came.86
If we interpret the image of the bees in Joseph and Aseneth in light of the
evidence of these Greek and Roman writers, the bees can represent the
souls of the righteous believers, who having undertaken Christian faith are
about to be reborn. Like bees they have divine wisdom and inspiration,
and once released from the bonds of the physical world return deathless to
the heavens. They are then eternal and immortal. Like bees, they ascend
to renewed life from the dead body and will achieve eternal life in

I suggest, however, that the author of Joseph and Aseneth chose the
symbol of the bees mainly for another connotation bees had in the
Hellenistic-Roman world which fits his theological message even better. In
that world, bees were a symbol not only of the souls of the righteous about
to be born, but also of purity, virginity and sexual abstinence. Bees have
no sex; they are neither male nor female.88

Virgil writes: 'You will marvel
that this custom has found favour with bees, that they indulge not in
conjugal embraces, nor idly unnerve their bodies in love, or bring forth

Ransome, The Sacred Bee (London: Butler & Tanner, 1986), pp. 24-34, 91-139; M. Bettini,
'The Bee, the Moth and the Bat: Natural Symbols and Representations of the Soul',
Anthropology and Roman Culture: Kinship, Time, Images of the Soul (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 197-226.
84 Aristotle, Gen. an. 3.10.761a; Petronius, Satyr., 56.6: T think bees are divine


85 Virgil, Georg. 4.219-227; Bettini, 'The Bee, the Moth and the Bat', pp. 203, 212, 215;
Ransome, The Sacred Bee, pp. 96-7, 112-18; Cook, "The Bee in Greek Mythology', p. 20.
86 Porphyry, Antr. Nymph., pp. 17-19; Bettini, 'The Bee, the Moth and the Bat', pp. 197,
199. Ransome, The Sacred Bee, pp. 31, 108; Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, p. 171.
87 Indeed there is evidence that Christian writers used bees as an image for the Church,
or for its believers, and likened the words of the Lord and the eternal gospels to honey:
Ephraim the Syrian, HNat. 28.9-10; Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. 9.13 quoting Prov. 6.8;
Didascalia 15; Methodius, Symp. 8.2, 9.1; P. Piovanelli, 'Une nouvelle citation de la version
Ethiopienne de Joseph et Aseneth', Henoch 15 (1993): 43-6.
88 Bettini, 'The Bee, the Moth and the Bat', pp. 201,202, 218; Ransome, The Sacred Bee,
p. 106; W. Telfer, '"Bees" in Clement of Alexandria', JTS 28 o.s. (1927): 167-78 (168).
Hocker, 'Beine', p. 649.

Nm Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


young with travail, but of themselves gather their children in their mouths
from leaves and sweet herbs.'89
In Joseph and Aseneth, then, bees can symbolize the souls of believers
who undertook to live lives of chastity and sexual abstinence. Like bees,
the virgins do not copulate, have no association with sexual love, and do
not give birth. This connotation of bees is explicit in Christian sources.
Ambrose likens the virgin Church to bees. Expounding on Song 4.11, he
presents it in the following words:

Virginity is fit to be compared to bees, so laborious is it, so modest, so
continent. The bee feeds on dew, it knows no marriage couch, it makes
honey. The virgin's dew is the divine word, for the words of God
descend like the dew. The virgin's modesty is unstained nature. The
virgin's produce is the fruit of the hps, without bitterness, abounding in
sweetness. They work in common, and their fruit is in common. How I
wish you, my daughter, to be an imitator of these bees, whose food is
flowers, whose offspring is collected and brought together by the mouth.
Do imitate her, my daughter. Let no veil of deceit be spread over your
words; let them have no covering of guile, that they may be pure, and
full of gravity. And let an eternal succession of merits be brought forth
by your mouth. Gather not for yourself alone ... And I also point out to
you what flower is to be culled, that one it is Who said: 'I am the Flower
of the field, and the Lily of the valleys, as a lily among thorns' (Song.

The bee represents the virgin Church, which like the bee is chaste, modest
and far removed from conjugal relations. Both the bee and the Church
produce their fruit by their mouths - the fruit of the bee is the honey made
from dew, the fruit of the virgin Church is the divine Word, the Logos,
which, like dew, is the 'fruit of the lips', and like honey abounds in
sweetness and is eternal.91

89 Virgil, Georg. 4.197-201. See also Aristotle, Gen. an. 3. 10.759a 8 - 761b 2; Augustine,
Civ. Dei 15.27.4; Callimachus, Hymn. Apoll. 110-16; Porphyry, Antr. Nymph. 17-18.
90 Ambrose, Virg. 1. VIII 40-41; Bettini, 'The Bee, the Moth and the Bat' (p. 201) notes
that Rufinus of Aquileia cited this aspect of bees as support for his claims of the virginity of
Mary. See also Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, p. 168. This meaning of the bees was
already noted by Batiffol, 'Le Livre de la Priere d'Aseneth', p. 29. Admittedly, I have not found
in Syriac literature an explicit imagining of virgins as bees. It is noteworthy that Ambrose is
depicted in painting as having a beehive at his side. Ransome, The Sacred Bee, p. 105.
91 The identification of the bees in Joseph and Aseneth as virgins sheds light on the
mention of the comb which was made by bees of paradise from the dew of the roses of life
(16.14 in the long version). The virgins produce the honeycomb, that is the body of Jesus, in
paradise, from the dew of the flowers of life, that is from the words of the Lord and his
tidings. Methodius of Olympus makes no mention of bees in the Symposium, but he does
describe virginity, TTapBsvia, as the wings of the soul by which the soul is elevated above the
corruption of the body to regions above this world and to fields of purity. Methodius, Symp.
8. 1-2.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

This interpretation of the bees, as a symbol of virgins, is reinforced by
the details of the description of the bees. What characterizes these bees?
The bees that came up from the honeycomb, we are told, 'were white as
snow, and their wings were iridescent - purple and blue and gold; and they
had golden diadems on their heads and sharp-pointed stings' (16.13).
The white bees represent virgins after baptism. We have already noted
that converts to Christianity wore white clothes after baptism. The phrase
'white as snow' refers to the function of baptism as that of cleansing sins,
which, in the biblical phrase, 'will turn snow-white'.92

Thus Ambrose

addressing people being baptized:

After these white robes were given to you as a sign that you were putting
off the covering of sins, and putting on the chaste veil of innocence, of
which the prophet said: Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop and I shall
be cleansed, thou shalt wash me and I shall be made whiter than snow.'
(Ps. 51.9). For he who is baptized is seen to be purified both according
to the Law and according to the Gospel: according to the Law, because
Moses sprinkled the blood of the lamb with a bunch of hyssop (Ex.
12.22); according to the Gospel, because Christ's garments were white
as snow, when in the Gospel He showed forth the glory of His
Resurrection. He, then, whose guilt is remitted is made whiter than
snow. So that God said by Isaiah: 'Though your sins be as scarlet, I will
make them white as snow' (Isa. 1.18).93

The white clothes worn after baptism, then, explain the white colour of
the bees. But what does baptism have to do with virginity? In fact, there is
much evidence that in the early Church, and in particular in the fourth-
century Syrian church, the decision to maintain a life of virginity for both
men and women, the vow to be ihiddyd, was taken on the occasion of

That the commitment to forgo earthly marriage and instead to marry

92 Isa. 1.18; Ps. 51.9; Dan. 11.35.
93 Ambrosius, Myst. 7.34; John Chrysostom, Huit Catechises baptismales inedites, 2.27,
(Introd. A. Wenger, SC 50; Paris 1970) p. 149; 8.25, p. 260; Danielou, The Bible and the
pp. 194, 200; S. P. Brock and S. A. Harvey, Holy Women of the Syrian Orient
(Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1987), p. 58.
94 Ephraim the Syrian, Epiph. 8. 16; Tertullian, Exh. cast. I; Richard Hugh Connolly, 'St
Ephraim and Encratism', JTS 8 (1906): 41-8 (47); F. C. Burkitt, 'Aphraates and
Monasticism: A Reply', JTS 1 (1905): 10-15 (15); Marie-Joseph Pierre, Aphraate le sage
Person, Les Exposes
(SC, 349; Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1988), p. 110; Griffith, 'Asceticism
in the Church of Syria', p. 226; Robert Murray, 'The Exhortation to Candidates for Ascetical
Vows at Baptism in the Ancient Syriac Church', NTS 21 (1975): 59-80 (65); idem, Symbols of
p. 15; idem, 'The Character of the Earliest Syriac Christianity', in N. G. Garsoian, T.
F. Matthews and R. W. Thomson (eds), East of Byzantium: Syria and Armenia in the
Formative Period
(Washington: Dumbarton Oaks, 1982), pp. 3-16 (7); Brock, The Luminous
p. 123.

NIR Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


Christ was made specifically on the occasion of baptism was based on the
words of Paul in Gal. 3.27, according to which, at baptism, the believer
was 'clothed in Christ' and united with him. For this reason John
Chrysostom treats baptism as the moment at which a bride enters a bridal
chamber with Christ.95

As Alfred C. Rush defines it: 'Bridal mysticism ...
is of the sacramental order, originating in the initiation of baptism. It is
baptism that makes everyone the spouse of Christ, that brings about the
sacred marriage between the Christian and Christ.'96
The association of the white colour of the bees with baptism and
celibacy is reinforced by the additional imagery of the crowns on the
heads of the bees and their sharp stingers. When baptized, one was
required to choose between marriage and a vow of virginity, which in the
Syrian church was termed 'taking the crown'.97

This nexus of baptism,
vow of celibacy and crown appears in the words of Ephraim the Syrian
addressed to the baptized:

You to be baptized, who have found the kingdom in the very bosom of
Baptism, Step down, put on the yihidaya who is the Lord of the
kingdom. Blessed are you who have been crowned (emphasis added).98

In the Odes of Solomon (1.1-5) the crown, pictured as a floral wreath,
represents the Lord, who is as a crown on the head of the believer. Its
branches blossom; they are not parched. Its fruits are salvation. This
crown is associated with the flowers of life in paradise from which the
heavenly crowns are plaited.99
The crown made of the flowers of life in paradise which adorns the
heads of the virgins at baptism symbolizes, like the dew discussed above,
the word of Christ, his presence, which is as a 'pure crown of continence
from words' on the head of the believer. It opens the door of the bridal

95 John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions 1.1.
96 Rush, 'Death as a Spiritual Marriage', p. 83; Danielou, The Bible and the Liturgy,
p. 200; Riley, Christian Initiation, pp. 422, 445-9. Brock, Ephraem the Syrian, pp. 26-33, has
noted that from early times the Syrian Church was described as the bride of Christ, and that
in its liturgical texts its marriage to Christ occurred at the moment Christ was baptized.
Harvey, Asceticism and Society in Crisis, p. 5; Murray, Symbols of Church and Kingdom,
pp. 131^2.

97 Danielou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity, p. 327; Murray, Symbols of Church,
p. 141; Eric Segelberg, 'The Baptismal Rite according to Some of the Coptic-Gnostic Texts of
Nag Hammadi', St.Patr. 5, TU 80 (1962): 117-28. According to Voobus, History of
1.91, at baptism people would wear white dresses and crowns were placed on
their heads. In liturgical hymns 'crown' stands for baptism.
98 Ephraim the Syrian, HEpiph. 13, 14; Griffith, 'Asceticism in the Church of Syria',

p. 227.

99 Odes Sol. 20.7-8; Cyril of Jerusalem, Proc. 1; Ephraim the Syrian, HParad. 6.12;
Danielou, The Bible and the Liturgy, p. 193.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

chamber for the virgins to enter. In the Odes of Solomon (9.8-11) it is
the virgins of the 'true Qyamd of the Lord' who win these crowns.
The celibate and ascetic life was described in terms of holy war and as a
struggle in which whoever prevails is crowned. In Joseph and Aseneth the
stingers of the bees suggest this battle.101

The nature of this battle is
explained by Aphrahat in his seventh Demonstration, 'On Penitents'. This
homily, about holy ones and virgins, describes celibacy in terms of holy
war and struggle. Those who would join the 'covenant' (Qyamd) and be
'sons of the covenant' are obliged, as a condition for baptism, to maintain
an ascetic way of life including sexual abstinence, celibacy and virginity.
This way of life is described, in language drawn from Deut. 20.2-8, as a

sacred war.102

A battle for the crown is mentioned also in the passage from the Odes of
quoted above, 'the wars were on account of the crown'. Ephrem
sums up virginity as follows, 'Its battle is on earth, its crown in

The white bees, then, with the crowns and stingers, represent the
believers who at baptism took the crown of battle in their determination
to lead lives of celibacy and virginity.104
The colouring of the wings accords well with our interpretation of the

100 Amand and Moons, 'Une curieuse homelie greque', pp. 44, 56.
101 The image of the lives of Christians in general, not only of virgins, is described in
Christian sources as a 'struggle' (a8Xnois) and a battle to achieve the eternal crown
a<^0apTov OT6<|>auov: 1 Cor. 9.24-27; Eph. 6.10-17; 2 Tim. 4.7-8; 1 Pet. 5.4; In Acts Thorn.
5.50 the Christian is an athlete. Perpetual struggle was a defining characteristic of Christian
life. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions 3.11; 5.27:

Let us, therefore, take courage and strip ourselves for the contests. Christ has put
on us armor that is more glittering than any gold, stronger than any steel, hotter
and more violent than any fire, and lighter than any breath of air. The nature of this
armor does not burden and bend our knees, < but it gives wings to our limbs and
lifts them up. If you wish to take flight to heaven, this armor is no hindrance. It is a
new kind of armor >, since it is a new kind of combat.

Mingana, Commentary of Theodore of Mopsuestia, pp. 46, 47.
102 Aphrahat, Dem. 7, 19-21, 25; Ephraim the Syrian, HEpiph. 7.8; HParad. 6.24; John
Chrysostom, Instruction and Refutation Directed against those Men Cohabiting with Virgins
(Elisabeth A. Clark, Jerome, Chrysostom and Friends [New York and Toronto: The Edwin
Mellen Press, 1979], pp. 201, 203; Pseudo-Athanasius, On Virginity 11. Virginity as a struggle
is found in Epiphanius, Pan. Haer. 61, 'Against Apostolics', IV. 7.1; Voobus, History of
103 Ephraim the Syrian, HParad. 6.24.
104 For more on this 'battle' in the early Syrian literature see A. Voobus, History of
1: 88-90; Murray, 'The Exhortation to Candidates for Ascetical Vows' pp. 59-80.
The Acts of Thomas is devoted especially to sexual abstinence and in the struggle with sexual
temptations, which struggle is seen there as a war against the rule of Satan in the present

NIR Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


bees. Gideon Bohak sees in the colours of the bees the key to the
symbolism of the honeycomb and the bees. The four colours - purple
(iTopupa), blue (uaiav6os), crimson (KOKKOS) and linen (f3uooos)105

prominently in the furnishings of the Jewish temple and in the garments of
the priest106

, from which he concludes that the bees with their crowns and
'priestly raiment' symbolize the priests in the temple.107

The various
colours on the wings of the bees, I add, match not only the colours of the
priestly garments, as Bohak says, but also the colours of the curtain of the
temple as it is described in early Christian traditions.108

The bees, on each
of whose wings are the colours of the temple curtain or of the high priest's
garments, symbolize the souls of the believers. In the Christian view, each
of these represents the curtain of the new temple, which is the body of
Jesus, and they are all as high priests part of that new temple. 109
All these motifs - crown, struggle and temple, all associated with
chastity - appear in the following passage from the Acts of Thomas:
'Blessed are the spirits of the holy ones (chaste ones), who have taken the
crown and gone up from the contest to what is given up to them. Blessed

105 The short text names three colours - Trop<|>upa and UOCKIVOOS with gold threads,
vrjuaxa xpvoou. The long text names four colours-Trop(|>upa, udiav6os, KOKKOS, (Juaatva

iuaTta xpuox**!*}-

106 For the colours of the garments of the high priest see Exod. 39.22-29; Josephus, Ant.


107 Bohak, Joseph and Aseneth, pp. 11-12. Bohak thinks primarily of the temple of
Onias, the history of which is the historical framework of the Joseph and Aseneth story in his
view, a view I do not share.
108 Prot. Jos. 10-12; C. D. Tischendorf, Evangelia Apocrypha (Hildesheim: G. Olms
Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1966),
pp. 1-50; Emile de Strycker, La form la plus ancienne du
Protevangile de Jacques
(Brussels: Societe des Bollandistes, 1961),
pp. 108-113; Elliott, The
Apocryphal New Testament,
p. 61; 2 Bar. 10.19; Nir, The Destruction of Jerusalem, pp. 110-
17. The same colours reappear in the description of Aseneth's bed (2.15): 'And the bed had a
coverlet of purple [irop<|>upa] woven with gold, embroidered with blue, and fine linen
[(JuooosJ.' The tower in which Aseneth lives represents the Church in paradise; thus the bed
can represent its altar.

109 See 1 Cor. 3.16-17; 6.19; 10.17. Acts Thorn. (Syr.) 8; A. Medebielle, 'Eglise', in
Dictionnaire de la Bible (Paris: Libraire Letouzey et Ane, 1963),
pp. 487-691 (665-8);
Aphrahat, Dem. 6. 10-11; Murray, Symbols of Church and Kingdom,
p. 71; Liber Graduum
XII. 285-304, (ed. M. Kmosko; PS, 3; Paris: Firmin didot, 1926), Ps.-Clem. Ep. virg. 1.9;
Sebastian Brock considers the concept that each individual represents the whole and the
whole represents the individuals, one of the ideological foundations of the asceticism in the
early Syrian Church, a concept which made it possible to see in each believer a Church, and
to see the Church, taken as a whole, as the actualization of the new temple, which is the body
of Jesus: Brock, Ephraem the Syrian: Hymns on Paradise, 27; idem, The Luminous Eye,
p. 31.
The same notion is behind the identification of each soul of a believer as a bride of Christ and
partner in the marriage festivity of the Eucharist. See Brock, The Luminous Eye,
p. 125.


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

are the bodies of the holy ones which are worthy to become clear temples
that the Messiah shall dwell in them.'110
This interpretation of the bees in Joseph and Aseneth also accounts for
the two classes of bees which appear in the story. The distinction between
the regular bees and the bees, 'as big as queens', that settled on Aseneth's

I suggest, corresponds to the distinction in the Syrian church
between the virgins, btule, who never married and 'holy ones', qaddise,
who maintained sexual abstinence within or after marriage.112

'queen' virgins, who never married and maintained chastity for their entire
lifetimes, constituted the elite of the ascetic Syrian church, vis-a-vis the
other 'holy ones', who had experienced earthly sexual life and maintained
chastity, but within marriage or in widowhood. If the entire church is the
'covenant', the queen virgins are the Qydmd within the Qydmd.113

virgins could be called 'queens' for they were married to Christ, who is
portrayed in Christian sources as a king.114

Thus Aphrahat: 'O virgins,
who have espoused yourselves to Christ, if one of the bnay Qydmd should
say to one of you "May I live with you, and you serve me" you say to him
"I am betrothed to a man, the King, and him I serve."'115
Why do the bees cling to Aseneth's lips? This is best understood in the
context of the Hellenistic-Roman tradition from which the entire imagery
of the bees is drawn. There are many references to bees attaching
themselves to the mouths of poets and orators, such as Homer, Pindar,

110 The Acts Thorn. (Syr.) 8. Voobus, History of Asceticism, 1:96; Murray, Symbols of

Church, p. 74.

111 In the long text the great and queen-like bees encircled Aseneth's mouth and made
upon her mouth and her hps a comb similar to the one which was lying before the man and
all those bees ate the comb which was on Aseneth's mouth.
112 The existence of these two clearly defined groups within the Qydmd is well
documented: Aphrahat, Dem. 6.8; Ps.-Clem. Ep. virg. 1.4; Methodius, Symp. 1.5; N. Koltun
Fromm, 'Yokes of the Holy-Ones: The Embodiment of a Christian Vocation', HTR 94
(2001): 205-18 (210); Eusebius of Emesa (R. E. Winn, 'The Church of Virgins and Martyrs:
Ecclesiastical Identity in the Sermons of Eusebius of Emesa', Journal of Early Christian
11/3 (2003), pp. 309-38 (332, 337).
113 Murray, Symbols of Church, pp. 11-16, 260; Voobus, History of Asceticism, 1.72;
Burkitt, 'Aphraates and Monasticism', p. 10; G. Nedungatt, 'The Covenanters of the Early
Syriac-Speaking Church', OCT 39 (1973): 191-215, 41^-44 (200-5); Jargy, 'Les "fils et filles
du pact"', p. 312; Pierre, Aphraate le sage Person, Les Exposes, p. 103; A. J. Van der Aalst,
'A Porigine du monachisme syrien: les "ihidaye" chez Aphraat', in A. A. R. Bastiaensen et al.
(eds), Fructus Centesimus: Melanges offerts a General J.M. Bartelink (Instrumenta Patristica,
19; Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1989), p. 323; Griffith, 'Monks, "Singles" and the "Sons of the
Covenant"', p. 159. Griffith, 'Asceticism in the Church of Syria', pp. 223, 229, 238.
114 The Acts Thorn. (Syr.) 8; Aphrahat, Dem. 17.2; Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions

2.19, 29.

115 Aphrahat, Dem. 6.7; Ambrose, Virg. 1. VII.36-37.

NIR Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


Plato, Sophocles, Virgil and Lucan, portending their poetic or rhetorical
skills and purity of expression.116
This tradition accords well with my interpretation. As in the case of
poets and philosophers, pure words emanate from the mouth of Aseneth,
who here symbolizes the Church. These words are the 'fruit of the lips'
which the Church creates, as Ambrose puts it, the divine speech, the words
of the Lord, the good tidings, the Logos, Christ which Aseneth as the
Church and the bees as the believers represent. In the Acts of Judas
the Church is described thus: 'Her mouth is open and it becometh
her, wherewith she uttereth all songs of praise. The twelve Apostles of the
Son and the seventy two disciples thunder forth His praises in her. Her
tongue is the curtain, which the priest raiseth and entereth in.'117
The 'bee' scene concludes with the fulfilment of the eschatological
promise implicit in virginity - resurrection and entry into paradise. The
bees died, but were resurrected, avEOTTjoav118

and after coming back to
life they fly into the courtyard of Aseneth's house. The description of this
courtyard (2.17-20) - as a walled garden with 72 guards, with a spring of
water at the right of the court, a river flowing through the centre and the
plenitude of fruit trees - corresponds to the descriptions of paradise in
Christian sources.119
If Aseneth's courtyard represents paradise, the tower (2.1-15) standing
at its centre could be the Church in paradise, where the heavenly bridal-
chamber is located.
Kraemer observes that Aseneth's three rooms in her tower house
constitute a temple.120

However, a tripartite structure is also a feature of

116 Ransome, The Sacred Bee, pp. 103-5; Mary R. Lefkowitz, The Lives of the Greek
(London: Duckworth, 1981), pp. 24, 59, 80, 155; Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph,
p. 168.

117 Acts Thorn. (Syr.) 1; Chrysostom, Horn. 2 Cor. 30; Ephraim the Syrian, HParad. 6.8;
HFaith 20.6-7, Murray, Symbols of Church, p. 260; idem, 'The Theology of Symbolism in St.
Ephrem's Theology', p. 19; Methodius, Symp. 3.8.
118 'avicrrnui' LSJ. In the long text the bees fly to heaven and those who wanted to injure
Aseneth, fell to the ground and died, then rose and went to the court adjoining Aseneth's
house and sought shelter among the fruit-laden branches of the trees.
119 Rev. 22.1, 2; Ephraim the Syrian, HParad. 4.1; I. Ortiz de Urbina, 'Le Paradis
eschatologique d'apres S. Ephrem', OCP, 21 (1955): 467-72 (468); Odes Sol. 11.16-23; Apoc.
Paul 22; Apoc. Ab.
21; 2 En. 8; 30; 1 Enoch 24; L. A. E. 22.3; 37.3 (Gk.); 32.1-2 (Lat.);
Kraemer, When Aseneth Met Joseph, pp. 116-18; Portier-Young, 'Sweet Mercy Metropolis',
p. 140. These descriptions take their start from the reference to the 'garden locked' in Song
4.12, the description of the eschatological temple in Ezek. 47.1-12 and the description of the
garden of Eden in Gen. 2.9-10. See also Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns (Hodayot) (1QH),
XVI.4-26 (E. L. Sukenik, The Dead Sea Scrolls of the Hebrew University (Jerusalem: Magnes
Press/The Hebrew University, 1955), VIII pp. 4-26.)
120 Kraemer, When Aseneth met Joseph, pp. 99, 116, 119-20; A. Lieber, T Set a Table
before You: The Jewish Eschatological Character of Aseneth's Conversion Meal', JSP 14/1
(2004): 63-77 (67).


Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality 1

the Church as an embodiment of paradise. Paradise is described by
Ephraim the Syrian as composed of three distinct levels - the peak, on
which God descended, the garden in which the tree of life grows,
surrounded by a fence and now guarded by a cherub, and the lowest level
where Adam settled after the fall. The tripartite division is the model for
the three parts of the temple and a symbol for the three categories of the
Church familiar to Ephraim - the 'victors' (the ascetic nassihe) in the
upper part, the righteous (zaddiqe) in the middle part, and the penitents
(tayyabe) at the bottom. The three parts are equated with the three decks
of Noah's ark - for animals, birds and Noah himself; and with Mount
Sinai at the giving of the Torah, when the people stood at the foot of the
mountain, Aaron and the priests stood closer in the middle of the
mountain and Moses at the top near God. The key to the divisions, he
says, is the Church. 121
Furthermore, Christian sources depict the Church as a tower. 122

As in
the Shepherd of Hermas, the tower can symbolize the heavenly Jerusalem,
also built square and its upper reaches hidden in heaven.123

The highly
symbolic episode of the bees ends in a promise for the fulfilment of the
hopes implicit in it. The man of God asks Aseneth, 'Have you observed
this?' and she answers, 'Yes, my lord, I have observed it all.' The man
says, 'So shall be the words I have spoken to you.' (Joseph and Aseneth
17. 1-3).

Thus is fulfilled the promise of resurrection in paradise and eternal life
in the city of refuge which Joseph and Aseneth offers to the pagans whom
it invites to join the ranks of the Christian Church and to take the vow of

. . 194



Three images are at the centre of the story of Aseneth's conversion - the
honeycomb, the city of refuge and the bees. Their significance becomes
clear against the background of Christianity and the missionizing activity

121 Ephraim the Syrian; HParad. 2.11-13; Murray, Symbols of Church, pp. 258-9; see
further, Ephraim the Syrian, HEccl. 34.4 where the three classes of Christians are symbolized
by the three cities of refuge. There they are called 'the lower', 'the middle' and 'the perfect':
Murray, Symbols of Church, pp. 259, 309; idem, 'The Theology of Symbolism', p. 9;
Danielou, 'Terre et Paradis chez les Peres de l'Eglise', pp. 454-5, 466.
122 Herm. Vis. 3.3-4; Sim. 9.2, 13.1. See also Ephraim the Syrian, HNat. 1.44; Aphrahat
'He is the Tower on which many build' (Dem. 14.39); Ephraim the Syrian, HNat. 3.15;
Ephraim the Syrian, Comm. Diat.; Murray, Symbols of Church and Kingdom, pp. 219-220.
123 C. Chavasse, The Bride of Christ (London: Faber and Faber, 1946), p. 114.
124 Portier-Young, 'Sweet Mercy Metropolis', p. 140: The bees represent the inhabitants
of the city, chosen ones, who have sought God's mercy and gained it through the person of

NIR Aseneth as the 'Type of the Church'


it conducted in the vast Hellenistic world, and more specifically against
the background of the call to celibacy emanating from the Syrian Church
in the third and fourth centuries of this era. Study of these symbols
illustrates the ways in which Christianity adopted these images from the
world around it, and the skill and creativity with which Christians wove
these symbols into their theology. The book of Joseph and Aseneth can
illuminate one of the avenues through which early Christianity spread its
faith. It used not only overtly Christian literary works, but also what we
may call covertly-Christian literature, disguised as an old biblical story,
but rich in Christological images and symbols, that paved the way and
prepared readers' hearts and minds for the overt mission. This biblical
disguise, on the other hand, dictated the framework within which the
author had to create the plot of his story and achieve his theological aims.
Thus, paradoxically, with all the exhortation to celibacy and sexual
abstinence, the virgin Aseneth had to marry Joseph and bear him two
sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.

Chapter 9



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