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Jewish Apocalyptic Literature: Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

Specific Approaches, Passages, and Themes

Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is of especial interest to students of early Judaism and Christianity, though this importance is not always recognized. This collection preserves extra-biblical traditions about the sons of Jacob, it reflects a moral worldview of Jews and Christians around the turn of the era, and it casts light on its authors' eschatological imagination. There is no document in the Pseudepigrapha more valuable than the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Where Qumran and its theology are discussed, so is the Testaments. Where the ethical teachings of Jesus are analyzed, the parallels in the Testaments must be considered. Where the eschatology and messianism of late Judaism and early Christianity are an issue, the same themes in the Testaments cannot be avoided. The Testaments contains remnants of ancient sources otherwise lost; it may be unique outside the New Testament in its double love-command and universal salvation. The doctrine of the two Messiahs claimed for it is paralleled only in the Qumran literature.

General Resources

Translations and Commentaries