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Cleodemus Malchus

Prior to First Century B.C.

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Emil Schürer writes: "The work of a certain Cleodemus or Malchus, of which unfortunately only a short notice is preserved, seems to have presented a classic example of that intermixture of native (Oriental) and Greek traditions, which was popular throughout the region of Hellenism. The notice in question is communicated by Alexander Polyhistor, but is taken by Eusebius, Praep. evang. ix. 20, not directly from the latter, but from Josephus, Antt. i. 15, who on his part quotes literally from Alexander. The author is here called Κλεοδημος ο προφητης ο και Μαλχος, ο ιστορων τα περι Ιουδαιων καθως και Μωυσης ιστορησεν ο νομοθετης αυτων. Both the Semitic name Malchus and the contents of the work prove, that the author was no Greek, but either a Jew or a Samaritan. Freudenthal prefers the latter view chiefly on account of the intermixture of Greek and Jewish traditions. But about 200-100 B.C. this is quite as possible in a Jew as in a Samaritan. In the work of this Malchus it is related, thta Abraham had three sons by Keturah, Αφεραν, Ασουρειμ, Ιαφραν, from whom the Assyrians, the town of Aphra and the land of Africa derive their names. . . . But while in Gen. xxv. Arab tribes are intended, our author derives from them entirely different nations, which were known to him. He then further relates, that the three sons of Abraham departed with Heracles to Libya and Antaeus, that Heracles married the daughter of Aphra, and of her begat Diodorus, whose son again was Sophonas (or Sophax), from whom the Sophaki derive their name. These last traditions are also found in the Libyan (or Roman?) history of King Juba (Plutarch. Sertor. c. ix., also in Müller, Fragm. hist. gr. iii. 471); only that the genealogical relation of Diodorus and Sophax is reversed: Heracles begets Sophax of Tinge, the widow of Antaeus, and Diodorus is the son of Sophax." (The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, pp. 209-210)

James Charlesworth writes: "Cleodemus Malchus probably lived sometime in the second century B.C. The odd mixture of Jewish and Greek ideas and loyalties leads some authorities either to affirm that he was a Samaritan (J. Freudenthal, Alexander Polyhistor. Breslau: Skutsch, 1875; p. 133) or to deny that he was a Jew (B. Z. Wacholder, no. 688; cf. no. 819). However, the extreme varities we are now perceiving within Judaism, especially in the second century B.C., should preclude us from denying that he was a Jew." (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, p. 93)

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