In 1985, Doubleday published the second volume of The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. Fifty-two documents plus supplements (some sixty-five in all) are included in this monumental work on the OT pseudepigrapha.
Charlesworth offers the following careful definition of “pseudepigrapha”: (1) a Jewish or Christian writing (sole exception of Ahiqar, an Assyrian work that helps us to understand early Jewish thought), (2) writings that are attributed to famous figures of Israel's past, (3) writings that claim to contain God's word or message, (4) writings that frequently build upon ideas and narratives present in the Old Testament, (5) writings composed during the period 200 b.c. to a.d. 200 or that preserve Jewish traditions from that period. It is clear that the term “pseudepigrapha” is now a catchall term and, since it is well established internationally, is the accepted nomenclature for this collection of literature. Its literal meaning of “false superscriptions” is true of only some of the documents.
As might be expected, there is some fluidity in the number of books included among this literature. Ewert (p. 80) notes that about eighteen documents make up the “standard list” of pseudepigrapha. However, since this list of eighteen was created, others have come to light. For instance, some have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It will be convenient to list the fifty-two documents Charlesworth edits according to his classifications. These books were never serious contenders for canonicity in mainline Christianity even though at least two of them are quoted in the NT (Jude 14-15 = 1 Enoch 1:9; and Jude 9 is from the Assumption of Moses). However, the Ethiopian canon contains Jubilees and 1 Enoch among its eighty-one canonical writings (Cowley, 318-23). Most books of the pseudepigrapha have been preserved for us in the Oriental churches such as the Ethiopic, Coptic, and Syriac.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Now that you've created a Bible Gateway account, upgrade to Bible Gateway Plus: the ultimate online Bible reading & study experience! Bible Gateway Plus equips you to answer the toughest questions about faith, God, and the Bible with access to a vast digital Bible study library. And it's all integrated seamlessly into your Bible Gateway experience. Try it free for 30 days!