Joseph and Aseneth is a narrative describing the conversion of Aseneth, the pagan wife of the patriarch Joseph. The story is set in Egypt when Joseph was gathering grain in preparation for future famine. Aseneth, the daughter of Pentephres the priest of Heliopolis , falls in love with the handsome Joseph. Joseph refuses to marry her because she worships idols. Only after Aseneth repents of her idols and converts to the worship of Joseph's God do they marry and conceive two sons. Joseph becomes the target of the envy of Pharaoh's son, who enlists the aid of some of Joseph's brothers. But Joseph's other brothers and God defend him. During the conspiracy, both Pharaoh and his son die, leaving Joseph to succeed to rule over all Egypt. The book's language and imagery of conversion has many similarities to that used in early Christianity.
Titles: Other titles of this book, from various manuscripts, include:The Confession and Prayer of Aseneth, the daughter of Pentephres, the Priest The Wholesome Narrative Concerning the Corn-Giving of Joseph, the All-Fair, and Concerning Aseneth, and How God United Them The History of Joseph the Just and Aseneth his Wife
Sources:Aseneth is mentioned in Genesis 41:45, 41:50, and 46:20. This book attempts to explain and elaborate upon these Old Testament passages. Later Jewish sentiments considered exogamous marriages between Jews and pagans offensive.
Canonical Status: Old Testament Pseudepigrapha
Author: anonymousPossibly Jews of Essene or Therapeutae sects Possibly Egyptian Jews, with interpolations by anonymous Christians Possibly Christians
Date and Origin:between the 1st century BC and early 2nd century AD probably Egypt
Original Language:Originally written in Greek Versions are extant in Armenian, Slavonic, Latin, Middle English, and Syriac
Notes prepared by Mark Seitz (Junior Biblical Literature Major)
for the Wesley Center for Applied Theology at Northwest Nazarene University
Copyright 2000 by the Wesley Center for Applied Theology
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