This is a collection of pseudonymous last testaments of the 12 sons of Jacob. Each testament offers ethical exhortations appropriate to the patriarch. Vices and virtues are contrasted so the reader may learn from the life stories of each of the fathers of Israel. Recurring topics include money, sexuality, compassion and hatred, truth and falsehood, pure and impure minds, arrogance and humility, simplicity, envy, endurance, and demonic spirits. The Testament of Asher warns against duplicity and exhorts readers to serve God with one's whole mind. Appropriate to the fictional setting before the Mosaic Law, the book does not require circumcision, Sabbath observance, or Jewish dietary codes for good moral conduct. The Testaments also concern the future of Israel and the hope of final salvation of both Jews and Gentiles. The testaments stress forgiveness of sins as exampled in the lives of the patriarchs, and the priesthood and mediation of the Messiah(s), expected to descend from the tribe of Judah / Levi.
Sources:Illustrative material from Genesis 29:30-31:24; 34; 35:16-26; 37-50 Influenced by a dominant anti-Hasmonean attitude
Canonical Status: Old Testament Pseudepigrapha
Author:Anonymous anti-Hasmonean, probably Pharisaic, Jew Redaction and / or interpolations by anonymous Christian(s)
Date: shortly before 100 BC
Original Language:Probably Greek Some scholars defend a hypothetical Aramaic or Hebrew original
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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