- Testament of Abraham
The Testament of Abraham is a 1st century CE Jewish work originating in Egypt. [ [http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/testabraham.html Testament of Abraham] ] It is often treated as one of a trio of very similar works, the other two of which are the
Testament of Isaacand Testament of Jacob, though there is no reason to assume that they were originally a single work. All three works are based on the Blessing of Jacob, found in the Bible, in their style.
The first English translation was published by
M. R. James["The Testament of Abraham, the Greek Text now first edited with an Introduction and Notes. With an appendix containing extracts from the Arabic Version of the Testaments of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, by Barnes, Texts and Studies", ii. 2: Cambridge.] . The "Greek testament of Abraham" is preserved in two recensions from six and three manuscripts respectively. This testament is also edited by Vassiliev [In his "Anecdota Graeco-Byzantina", 1893, i. 292-308.] from a Vienna MS already used by James. According to James, it was written in Egyptin the 2nd century CE and was translated subsequently into Slavonic [Tichonrawow, "Pamjatniki otretschennoi russkoi Literaturi", 1863, i. 79-90.] , Romanian [ Moses Gaster, " Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology", 1887, 1X. 195-226.] , Ethiopic and Arabic.
As regards its origin James writes (op. cit., p. 55): "The Testament was originally put together in the second century by a
Jewish Christian", for the narrative portions he employed existing Jewish legends, and for the apocalyptic, he drew largely on his imagination. He holds that the book is referred to by Origen of Alexandria, Horn. in Luc. xxxv. With the exception of x.xi. the work is really a legend and not an apocalypse. To the above conclusions Schürer, "Geschichte des jd. Volkes", 3rd ed., iii. 252, takes objection, and denies the reference in Origen, asserting that there are no grounds for the assumption of a partial Jewish origin. Kohler on the other hand ("Jewish Quarterly Review", 1895, V. 581606) has given adequate grounds for regarding this apocryph as in the main an independent work of Jewish origin subsequently enlarged by a few Christian additions, and it is Kohler's stance that most scholars follow today.
This testament deals with Abraham's reluctance to die and the means by which his death was brought about. The testament states that when Abraham is told of his impending death, he tried to put it off by asking first to see the entire world, a wish that is granted by a flying chariot. Abraham is then granted a vision of heaven, with his deeds having been recorded in a book, and being weighed by a balance, both concepts of the land of the dead that are heavily influenced by Egyptian ideas, and the judgement of
Ma'at. When Death finally comes in person for Abraham, Abraham tries to resist, but is finally tricked into dying.
*text of [http://reluctant-messenger.com/testament_of_abraham.htm Testament of Abraham]
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