James 4:5 -- A Quote From a Lost Apocryphal Scripture

by Leolaia 64 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Leolaia

    I just did some more research to find out more on the Targums. Very, very interesting. Three of them do refer to the oracles about Gog and Magog, but it is the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan which has the most elaborate account and which most probably preserves fragments from the Book of Eldad and Modad. All three Targums mention three prophecies. Two refer to events in the near future in the wilderness, while the third relates to the distant "final days". Here is the relevant text of the oracles from Ps.-Jonathan:

    "And the prophetic spirit rested on them. Eldad was prophesying and said: 'Behold, Moses shall be gathered from this world, and Joshua bar Nun shall be standing in his place and leading the people of the house of Israel and bringing them to the land of the Canaanites and giving them possession over it.' Medad was prophesying and said: 'Behold, quail came up from the sea and were covering the entire camp of Israel and shall become a stumbling-block to the people.' But the two prophesied as one and said: ' Behold, a king shall arise from the land of Magog at the end of days. He shall gather kings crowned with crowns, and prefects attired in silk clothes, and all the nations shall obey him. They shall prepare for war in the land of Israel against the sons of the exile. However, the Lord (qyrys) is near ('ytymws) them at their hour of distress, and all of them will be killed by a burning breath in a consuming fire that comes from beneath the Throne of Glory, and their corpses will fall on the mountains of Israel. Then all the wild animals and birds of heaven shall come and consume their bodies. And after this all the dead of Israel shall live and shall delight themselves with the good which was hidden from them from the beginning. Then they shall receive the reward of their labors" (Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan, Numbers 11:26).

    It is unclear how much of this derives from the original Edad and Modad. While the apocalypse in the book likely followed the outline given here, it is difficult to see this as anything more than a paraphrase or summary of received tradition -- if it weren't for the single phrase which closely resembles the saying quoted by Hermas: "The Lord is near them at their hour of distress." There are several things curious about this sentence. One is the transliterated Greek words. There are two of them: qyrys, from kurios "lord", and 'ytymws, from hetoimos "ready, at hand". As discussed above, this demonstrates that the tradition reported by Ps.-Jonathan had come from an intermediate Greek source, possibly a translation of Eldad and Modad. The use of hetoimos instead of Hermas' engus also would not be unusual if Ps.-Jonathan's source represented an independent translation into Greek from a Semitic original. In either case, the original saying would have likely originated in Psalm 144:18 which in the LXX more closely resembles Hermas' version; cf. "The Lord is near (engus kurios) to those who call upon him (epikaloumenois)". The linkage between prayer and the "drawing near" of the Lord (attested in Hermas) is also implicit in this verse. The other interesting thing about the sentence in Ps.-Jonathan is its ill-fit in the present context. The "them" in the sentence does not serve as the antecedent for the ones killed by the Lord in the next clause -- it instead refers to the "sons of the exile" that the Lord defends against the hoards of Magog. The appearance is thus that sentence in question is a fixed expression inserted imperfectly into the present context which reads much better without it.

    The oracle itself is clearly derived from Ezekiel 37-39. The reference of fire being brought on the armies of Magog belongs to Ezekiel 39:6, the description of corpses falling on the mountains and being consumed by animals and birds is found in Ezekiel 39:4, and the resurrection of the dead builds on the reviving of the dead in Ezekiel 37. It is interesting that Revelation too draws heavily on Ezekiel in its latter chapters, in much the same order: (1) revival of dry bones / the first resurrection (Ezekiel 37:10; Revelation 20:5), (2) the restored kingdom / the reign of the holy ones for one thousand years (Ezekiel 37:21; Revelation 20:4), (3) Gog of Magog battle the holy ones (Ezekiel 38:2; Revelation 20:8), (4) the birds gorge on the dead bodies (Ezekiel 39:4; Revelation 19:21), (5) the prophet is taken up to a high mountain (Ezekiel 40:2; Revelation 21:10), (6) the Temple/City is measured (Ezekiel 40:5; Revelation 21:15), (7) the Temple is the seat of God's glory (Ezekiel 43:2; Revelation 21:23), the river of life and the trees with healing leaves (Ezekiel 47:12; Revelation 22:2). This raises the question of how much the apocalypse in Eldad and Modad resembled Revelation. It is usually agreed among critics that Revelation incorporates an older Jewish apocalyse, so Revelation's historical relation to Eldad and Modad would be a fascinating question should a manuscript for Eldad and Modad ever turn up. Revelation already shows intriguing links with 2 Baruch and 1 Enoch.

    The description of Eldad and Modad's end-times prophecy is much shorter in the Targum Neofiti, but it has some rather important details:

    "At the very end of days God and Magog ascend on Jerusalem, and they fall at the hand of King Messiah, and for seven years the children of Israel shall kindle fires from their weapons, and they will not have to go out to the forest" (Targum Neofiti, Numbers 11:26).

    Here the warrior-king who defeats the Gentile barbarians is called "King Messiah". There is also a strange remark about the restored Israel being able to use their weapons to produce fires for a seven-year period. It is impossible to tell how much of this is independent tradition or derives from our Eldad and Modad. Taking both texts together, it is clear that such prophetic speculation was popular during the day, as several Dead Sea Scrolls oracles discuss the attack of Gog and Magog and their destruction at the hands of the messianic deliverer:

    "[The Branch of] David will appear in the Last [Days ... He will defeat] his enemies and God will support him with a [spirit of] strength [...] and God will give him a throne of glory, a [sacred] crown, and elegant garments.... [He will put a] scepter in his head and he will rule over all the Gentiles, even Magog [and his army, all] the peoples his sword will control....He stretched out his hand against them and struck them so that the mountains shook and the corpses lay like garbage in the middle of the streets" (4Q161-162 2:9).
    "You shall not turn back until the annihilation of the guilty ... so that they know that [you are God when you] carry out judgments on Gog and on all his company that are assembled about us....Lay your hand upon the neck of your enemies and your feet upon the backs of the slain. Crush the nations, your adversaries, and may your sword devour guilty flesh. Fill your land with glory, and your inheritance with blessing" (1QM 11:10-11, 15-17; 12:11-12).

    Although none of these texts are dependent on the texts under discussion (and vice versa), they contain clusters of motifs which recur in the Targum passages. It is interesting that the Gog and Magog attack placed at the "end of days" in the Eldad and Modad prophecy is positioned in Revelation 20:8 after the first resurrection and after the thousand-year messianic kingdom. Such a two-stage eschaton is also mentioned in the Rabba: "Elijah was hidden and he will not be seen again until King Messiah comes. And the he will be seen but will be hidden a second time, and seem again only when Gog and Magog come" (Seder Olam Rabba, 17). It's too bad the apocalypse is no longer extant, it would make for an interesting comparison. There is one important motif in the Targum of Ps.-Jonathan which can be traced to pseudepigraphal literature; in referring to the armies of Magog, it states that "all of them will be killed by a burning breath in a consuming fire". This is exactly what is described in the sixth vision of 4 Ezra:

    "And I looked and behold, that man flew with the clouds of heaven (i.e. the Son of Man figure from Daniel); and wherever he turned his face to look, everything under his gaze trembled, and whenever his voice issued from his mouth, all who heard his voice melted as wax melts when it feels the fire. After this I looked, and behold, an innumerable multitude of men were gathered together from the four winds of heaven (i.e. the armies of Magog) to make war against the man who came up from the sea (i.e. the Messiah)....When he saw the onrush of the approaching multitude, he neither lifted his hand nor held a spear or any weapon or war; but I saw how he sent forth from his mouth as it were a stream of fire, and from his lips a flaming breath, and from his tongue he shot forth a storm of sparks. All these were mingled together, the stream of fire and the flaming breath and the great storm, and fell on the onrushing multitude which was prepared to fight, and burned them all up" (4 Ezra 13:3-11).

    Another interesting thing about the Targum of Ps.-Jonathan is that it inserts some biographical details about Edad and Modad: "They were the sons of Elisaphan bar-Parnak. Jochebad, daughter of Levi, gave birth to them for him at the time when Amram her husband divorced her and to whom she was married before she gave birth to Moses". This is the sort of "background information" that can be expected from a pseudepigraphon that represents a haggadaic expansion of a bare OT passage; however, the information may well derive from some other source. As for the pseudepigraphon itself, it was listed in the Stichometry of Nicephorus and was described as only 400 stichoi in length. By comparison, 1 Enoch was described as 4800 stichoi in length, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs was 5100 long, and the Assumption of Moses occupied about 1400 stichoi. Eldad and Modad was therefore a very short book, comparable to the length of the epistle of James. In this vein, it is interesting that in the same section that mentions Eldad and Modad, Hermas reports that an old woman bestowed on him a "little book" (biblidion), beseeching him to transcribe it, and Hermas says that he copied the book letter by letter in unical form (Vis. 2.1.3-4). Although this episode could rightly be dismised as a literary device, it is curious that Hermas goes on to interpret the contents of this book and this is where he quotes from Eldad and Modad and starts using language shared with James and the apocryphal quotations of 1 and 2 Clement.

  • A Paduan
    A Paduan
    A Paduan....I respect your desire to defend "the fundamentalist approach to the Bible,"

    I don't believe that I defend the fundamentalist approach to the Bible - perhaps you may have misunderstood me; I presented 'God is Spirit' when presented with 'All Scripture is inspired of God' - it is my way of saying 'Scripture is Spiritual'.

    In the case of John 7:38, I would say that Exodus 17:6 belongs to a range of many texts which contain one small feature of the logion in John 7:38 -- in this case, it would be the pouring of water from a source for people to drink.

    I thought the obvious part was about striking the rock three times

    there is no linguistic similarity between the texts

    In a 'literary' sense --- each straw is not the same as the other, though they both may bear wheat - and straw is always just straw - and I really don't want to sound rude here, but I've wondered what you're doing with it - making a bed, or gathering it into a barn ?

    a pretty vague connection

    some say veiled

    nowhere in the OT do the waters come form one's koilia "womb, breast" -- they instead flow from a "rock" or "Jerusalem"

    Nowhere in the OT are waters described as coming from one's breast - that's really the beauty of it isn't it - i.e. before Christ (side note Leolaia - I reckon you'd get a kick out of studying 'digging for water')

    you've just illustrated why the scriptures cited in John 7:38 and 1 Clement 17:6 do not derive their content or linguistic form from the OT verses you mentioned.

    Not suprising

    As for 1 Clement 17:6, there is nothing remotely like it at all in Exodus 4:1 either in wording or concept. It takes some imaginative thinking to link the two texts (which I frankly don't understand), and even if you succeed in linking them as remotely paralleled in concept, there is absolutely nothing in Exodus 4:1 that explains the linguistic form or even the immediate concept of the Clementine verse. It is a "scripture" that corresponds to nothing in the OT,

    Did you consider that Clement was simply edifying for people in his own language imaginative thinking - in a way like the language imaginative thinking I wrote above about stories straw - no doubt you could debate about the origin of my linguistic form - but I understood much of what Clement was saying in that phrase - why ?

    Recall that Clement was a catholic, a priest even - you haven't been exposed to that language - and the sermons that many give.

  • Midget-Sasquatch

    A Paduan,

    As a compromise reached between my parents, once my father converted to the JWs, I grew up going through the catholic school system, at the same time "officially" living life as a dub.

    I understand your referring to the incident at Horeb, with striking the rock 3 times, being a "veiled" allusion to the triune nature of God. So I see how you're linking Clement's writing of water flowing from the Father with that incident. If it were only that passage alone being argued, then I can see your take on it.

    But there are some solid similarities between James and the clementine writings (especially with the the specific linking of "double-minded" with "wretched") which (even taking the trinity as a granted) can best be explained by their having used a common apocryphal source.

    It was a very interesting read Leolaia. Thank You very much. A nice historical argument that batters the idea of a undisputed closed cannon.

    A side question since I may be too ignorant to have grasped it: What in particular (other than the slightly different wording) leads to the conclusion that the later writing of Clement used that same common apocryphal source independently as a primary source, and not just have lifted that passage from 1 Clement as a secondary souce? Couldn't the changes in wording and the difference in detail just be due to the later writer quoting from memory?

  • Earnest
    I'm not sure tho what you mean by Jesus recognizing the LXX as scripture.....it was the Greek-speaking gospelists who utilized the LXX in composing the gospels; the gospels portray Jesus (insofar as they do) as an Aramaic or Hebrew speaker.

    While Aramaic/Hebrew was most likely the language Jesus normally used for both conversation and teaching, there is some evidence that he also spoke Greek. A discussion of this probably belongs to a separate thread but there was an article in Biblical Archaeology Review, Sept.-Oct.1992, p.58 - "Did Jesus Speak Greek?", by JA Fitzmeyer, which suggests a number of reasons (his conversation with Pilate, with the Roman centurion, with the Syro-Phoenician woman) to conclude Jesus probably knew Greek. One reason I thought quite persuasive was the probability that Jesus worked as a carpenter in Sepphoris (the nearest city to Nazareth) where the lingua franca was almost certainly Greek.

    Whether Jesus used the LXX at times, or the Gospel writers put the words into his mouth, is a moot point. But there are some passages (e.g. Mark 7:1-23) where the MT is quite inappropriate to the argument being made.

    Also, sometimes the LXX might preserve a vorlage that is closer to the original Hebrew than the MT.

    And the LXX was not a fixed text itself until Origen standardised it with his Hexapla. So, if the LXX is "scripture" we are still left to determine just which version of the LXX that is.


  • Leolaia

    A Paduan....You're entitled to read meaning into the text if you want to (such as reading in a concept of a triune God into Exodus 4:1 and John 7:38), it's a time-honored exegetical technique going back to the pesher of the Essenes and the typological approaches of the early Christians, but this should not be confused with actual literary analysis. The Society can read itself into the Bible and find numerous references to itself there (as the antitype of Jeremiah, as the antitype of John, etc.), but that doesn't mean that such references are really there! Instead, I'm interested in the literary history of a given text and its possible sources both in terms of language and concept. The concept you alluded to as "obvious" (three strikes to the rock as symbolizing a triune God) is not part of the text in Exodus -- any more than the holy cross is really mentioned in the 318 men circumcised by Abraham (as Justin Martyr believed) or Noah's wife mentioned in Genesis is really a reference to the "great crowd". And there is nothing in John 7:38 that has anything to do with the number 3 (!); so clearly the texts are not even linked in this very tortured way. If anything, your post shows the lengths one would have to go to connect two texts that really have little to do with each other. This is far different from, say, John 19:24 quoting directly from Psalm 22:18 (identified as "words of scripture"), or John 1:23 quoting directly from Isaiah 40:3 (introduced as something "Isaiah prophesied"). Since there is only the most general resemblence in concept and no resemblence in terms of language or phrasing, by any method of literary criticism Exodus 4:1 could not be the direct source of John 7:38 because the differences far outweigh any similarities. A much better candidate is Psalm 78:15-16 which does have verbal similarities with John 7:38 -- but even here the scripture is too different to make it anything more than an indirect source or a partial source. Both the concept and wording of "rivers" flowing from one's kolia is not found in any known "scripture" that John could have been citing. That is why I included it as an example of an unprovenanced quotation of "scripture" which could well derive from apocryphal sources.


    But there are some solid similarities between James and the clementine writings (especially with the the specific linking of "double-minded" with "wretched") which (even taking the trinity as a granted) can best be explained by their having used a common apocryphal source.

    Especially since the word dipsukhos "double-minded" was virtually unheard of at the time -- attested in only a handful of texts which themselves show common interdependence in other ways. The only exception is the use of the verbal form in parallel passages in the Didache and Barnabas, and this is the exception that proves the rule: in both cases the term occurs in a pre-Christian Jewish document (called the "Two Ways") which was incorporated into these two books.

    It was a very interesting read Leolaia. Thank You very much. A nice historical argument that batters the idea of a undisputed closed cannon.

    As does the use of 1 Enoch in the NT. I hope to do a similar thread about this soon, or least the use and quotation of pseudepigraphal works in the epistle of Jude.

    Earnest....Aside from the obvious question of the historicity of these details (which are not without serious problems), I noticed that they all involved verbal interaction. Literacy is a whole different matter. Jesus could have well learned to speak or understand Greek while working as a carpenter in Galilee, but such an occupation would hardly have involved much reading or writing -- or formal schooling for that matter.

  • Leolaia

    Here are the references to my post, if any of you are interested in further reading on this topic:

    Charlesworth, James H. 1985. The Old Testament Pseudepigrpaha and the New Testament: Prolegomena for the Study
    of Christian Origins. Cambridge: CUP.

    Dibelius, Martin. 1976. James: A Commentary on the Epistle of James. Hermeneia -- A Critical and Historical
    Commentary on the Bible. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

    Grant, Robert M. and Holt. H. Graham. 1965. The Apostolic Fathers: A New Translation and Commentary.
    New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons.

    Holmes, Michael. 1999. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

    Lightfoot, J. B. 1890. The Apostolic Fathers: A Revised Text with Introductions, Notes, Dissertations, and
    . Pt. I: S. Clement of Rome. New York: Macmillan.

    Marshall, Sophie. S. 1973. "Dipsukhos: A local term?" Studia evangelica 6: 348-351.

    Martin, E. G. 1983. "Eldad and Modad: A new translation and introduction." In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha:
    Volume II: Expansions of the 'Old Testament'
    , pp. 463-465. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co.

    Osiek, Carolyn. 1999. Shepherd of Hermas: A Commentary. Hermeneia -- A Critical and Historical Commentary on
    the Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

    Porter, Stanley E. 1990. "Is dipsuchos (James i,8; 4,8) a 'Christian' word?" Biblica 71: 469-498.

    Seitz, Oscar. 1944. "Relationship of the Shepherd of Hermas to the Epistle of James." Journal of Biblical
    Literature 63: 131-140.

    ----------. "Antecedents and signification of the term dipsukhos." Journal of Biblical Literature 66: 211-219.

    ----------. 1958. "Afterthoughts on the term 'Dipsychos.' " New Testament Studies 4: 327-334.

  • Leolaia

    I just stumbled across another text that has some conceptual parallels for the text presumed to underlie James, Hermas, and 1 and 2 Clement:

    "Love the truth and walk in it, but do not draw near (qarba) the truth with a double heart ('ella bakal'e leb), and do not associate with those of a double heart. But walk in righteousness, my children, and it will guide you in the paths of goodness, and righteousness will be your companion. For I know that the state of violence will grow strong upon the earth, and a great scourge will be consummated upon the earth ... a great scourge will come from heaven upon all these, and the holy Lord will come forth in wrath and with a scourge to execute judgment upon the earth... And they will be removed from all the earth, and they will be cast into fiery judgment, and they will be destroyed in fierce, eternal judgment. And the righteous will arise from his sleep, and wisdom will arise and be given to them" (1 Enoch 91:3-10).

    There are three parallels here: (1) the verb "draw near" (cf. James 4:8; 1 Clement 23:1-2; Hermas, Vis. 2.3.3. = Book of Eldad and Modad), which is used in close proximity with the (2) "double heart" expression (cf. James 4:8-9; 1 Clement 23:3; Hermas, Vis. 2.2.7), and the (3) coupling of this moral admonishment with an eschatological -- if not apocalyptic prophecy -- which is what we find in James 5, the quotations cited by 1 and 2 Clement, and certainly in the Eldad and Modad cited by Hermas. Of course, I'm not arguing that 1 Enoch lay behind these texts as well -- but it clearly belongs to the same genre and is illustrative of the kind of source we might expect. The apocalyptic prediction is also generic but quite compatible with the kind of prophecy attributed to Eldad and Modad in the Targums. There are also more tenuous similarities which are expected in literature of this didactic genre; compare the above admonishment of "walking in truth" and keeping to the "ways of goodnes" with James 5:19-20: "If one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death". Very much the same kind of thing from the apocalyptic-minded cultural and conceptual milieu.

  • Narkissos


    Very interesting additions. The parallel with the Pseudo-Jonathan Targum is a very strong confirmation imo.

    About Targum Neofiti, you say:

    There is also a strange remark about the restored Israel being able to use their weapons to produce fires for a seven-year period. It is impossible to tell how much of this is independent tradition or derives from our Eldad and Modad.

    Why not just from Ezekiel 39:9?

    Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and make fires of the weapons and burn them--bucklers and shields, bows and arrows, handpikes and spears--and they will make fires of them for seven years.

    Earnest: what "Scripture" is, or is not, is always a dogmatic, i.e. Church, decision. The question whether the LXX is "made Scripture" when quoted by the NT is typically a modern, Protestant question, dependent on the Reformers' inclination toward Jerome's hebraica veritas. Down to Jerome in the Catholic Church and down to the present in Eastern churches the LXX is Scripture (period).

    By the way your example of Mark 7 is a very interesting one. Having Jesus refuting the Pharisees (who referred only to the Hebrew Tanakh) in Galilee (where the Pharisees only came after 70) on the basis of the LXX text is an unmistakable mark of a late Greek literary composition.

  • Leolaia

    Narkissos....Uh, duh.... I must've missed that one, lol. That is rather interesting, as the two Targums depend on this section of Ezekiel in different ways...

    Now that you've read the thing, what do you think of the overall thesis? Particularly with the shared intertextuality between James, the extrabiblical quotations and environs in 1 and 2 Clement, and Hermas? What really cinched it for me was the link between the Modad and Eldad quote in Hermas with a similar passage in James (which, by the way, NOBODY who has written on the subject has ever noticed or commented on), and that the mysterious "scripture" cited in James echoes the passage about Eldad and Modad in Numbers. It's those double and triple linkages back and forth that really made me think that there's something to this....

  • Narkissos


    As I said I found it very convincing. If nobody ever pointed to this connection before (I was not aware of that, even though I couldn't remember of such an explanation: there are so many things I didn't read!) it would be worth putting your posts together and sending them to JBL or another scholarly review. I guess no commentary on James or Hermas could miss that point from now on.

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