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Second Century B.C. - First Century A.D.

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Martin McNamara writes: "In his treatise Against Apion (1.22 §§183-205 and elsewhere) Josephus gives a number of excerpts on Jewish history from a work he attributes to Hecataeus of Abdera—a well-known pagan Greek historian of the late fourth-early third century B.C. Modern scholarship is divided as to whether the excerpts are derived from the pagan writer Hecataeus or rather from a Jewish writer, presumably pseudonymous. The passages cited by Josephus, and the contents of the work as given by him, show such an acquaintance with Jewish affairs that the work may well be from the pen of Jew rather than of a pagan, the work may even have been composed by a Jerusalem priest who became a soldier and joined the army of Alexander the Great as it marched towards the Red Sea. A date of about 300 B.C. would suit for the composition of this work on the history of the Jews. Together with the excerpts given by Josephus in Against Apion 1.22 §§183-205, there may also be an excerpt from it in the same work 1.7.23 §§213-215 and also in The Letter of Aristeas 83-120." (Intertestamental Literature, p. 213)

Emil Schürer writes: "Under the name of this Hecataeus of Abdera there existed a book 'on the Jews,' or, as it is also entitled, 'on Abraham,' concerning which we have the following testimonies:— (1) Pseudo-Aristeas quotes Hecataeus as authority for the notion that profane Greek authors do not mention the Jewish law just because the doctrine held forth in it is a sacred one (Aristeas, ed. Mor. Schmidt in Merx' Archiv. i. 259 = Havercamp's Josephus, ii. 2. 107: διο πορρω γεγονασιν οι τε συγγραφεις και ποιηται και το των ιστορικων πληθος της επιμνησεως των προειρημενων βιβλιων, και των κατ αυτα πεπολιτευμενων και πολιτευομενων ανδρων, δια το αγνην τινα και σεμνην ειναι την εν αυτοις θεωριαν, ως φησιν Εκαταιος ο Αβδηριτης. See the passage also in Euseb. Praep. ev. viii. 3. 3, and more freely rendered in Joseph Antt. xii. 2. 3). (2) Josephus says that Hecataeus not only incidentally alluded to the Jews, but also wrote a book concerning them (contra Apion. i. 22: ου παρεργως, αλλα περι αυτων Ιουδαιων συγγεγραφε βιβλιον; comp. i. 23: βιβλιον εγραψε περι ημων). He then gives in the same passage (contra Apion. i. 22 = Bekker's ed. vol. vi. pp. 202, 1-205, 22) long extracts from thi work concerning the relations between the Jews and Ptolemy Lagos, their fidelity to the law, the organization of their priesthood, and the arrangement of their temple; lastly, a passage is given at the close in which Hecataeus relates an anecdote of which he was himself a witness at the Red Sea: a Jewish knight and archer, who belonged to the expeditionary corps, shot a bird dead, whose flight the augur was anxiously observing, and then derided those who were angry for their awe concerning a bird who did not even foreknow its own fate. Eusebius (Praep. ev. ix. 4) also gives single pieces from these extracts of Josephus. From the same source Josephus (contra Apion. ii. 4) gives the information that Alexander the Great bestowed upon the Jews the country of Samaria as a district exempt from taxation as a reward for their fidelity. While according to all this there can be no doubt, that the book treated on the Jews in general, Josephus tells us in another passage, that Hecataeus not only mentions Abraham, but also wrote a book concerning him (Antt. i. 7. 2 = Euseb. Praep. ev. ix. 16: μνημονευει δε του πατρος ημων Αβραμου Βηρωσσος . . . Εκαταιος δε και του μνησθηναι πλεον τι πεποιηκε βιβλιον γαρ περι αυτου συνταξαμενος κατελιπε). Is this identical with the work on the Jews? To the decision of this question the two following pieces of testimony mainly contribute. (3) According to Clemens Alexandrinus, the spurious verses of Sophocles were contained in the work of Hecataeus on Abraham and others (Clem. Al. Strom. v. 14. 113 = Euseb. Praep. ev. xiii. 40: ο μεν Σοφοκλης, ως φησιν Εκαταιος ο τας ιστοριας συνταξαμενος εν τω κατ Αβραμον και τους Αιγυπτιους, αντικρυς επι της σκηνης εκβοα). (4) Origen says that Hecataeus in his work on the Jews was so strong a partisan for the Jewish people, that Herennius Philo (beginning of the second century after Christ) at first doubted, in his work on the Jews, whether the work was indeed the production of Hecataeus the historian, but afterwards said that, if it were his, Hecataeus had been carried away by Jewish powers of persuasion, and had embraced their doctrines (Orig. contra Cels. i. 15: και Εκαταιου δε του ιστορικου φερεται περι Ιουδαιων βιβλιον, εν ω προστιθεται μαλλον πως ως σοφω τω εθνει επι τοσουτον, ως και Ερεννιον Φιλωνα εν τω περι Ιουδαιων συγγραμματι πρωτον μεν αμφιβαλλειν, ει του ιστορικου εστι το συγγραμμα: δευτερον δε λεγειν, οτι, ειπερ εστιν αυτου, εικος αυτον συνηρπασθαι απο της παρα Ιουδαιοις πιθανοτητος και συγκατατεθεισθαι αυτων τω λογω). According to these testimonies of Clement and Origen, there can be no doubt that the work 'on the Jews' was as much forged by a Jew as that 'on Abraham.' We cannot therefore conclude,—as according to the extracts in Josephus we might feel inclined,—that the work on the Jews is genuine, and that on Abraham spurious. The two are on the contrary very probably identical, and the different titles to be explained by the circumstance that the work was indeed entitled περι Ιουδαιων." (The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, pp. 304-305)

James Charlesworth writes (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, pp. 120-122):

Three phases in work upon so-called Pseudo-Hecataeus can be discerned. Nineteenth and early twentieth-century scholars concurred that Peri Ioudaion was also called Peri Abramou (Jos. Ant. 1.7, 2; cf. Clem. Alex. Strom. 5.14, 113 and Protr. 7.74, 2; and Eus. Pr. ev. 13.13, 40), and was written in the third century B.C. by a Jewish pseudographer, founded perhaps on selections from Hecataeus (viz. E. Schürer, History, 2d. Div., vol. 3, pp. 304f.; J. Freudenthal, Alexander Polyhistor. Breslau: Skutsch, 1875; pp. 165f; P. Dalbert, Missionsliteratur, pp. 65-67).

The second phase began with H. Lewy's critical analysis of the traditions preserved in Josephus ("Hekataios von Abdera Peri Ioudaion," ZNW 31 [1932] 117-32). Lewy's conclusion that Peri Ioudaion is not pseudepigraphical but authentically from Hecataeus has influenced the judgment of several specialists, notably T. Tcherikover (no. 124, pp. 426f.), Y. Gutman (no. 40, pp. 39ff.), and J. G. Gager, Jr. (no. 892c).

Today we are in a third phase; while subtle distinctions are perceived, two contrary conclusions are affirmed. Thirty years after Lewy's publication B. Schaller claimed that much of the material attributed to Hecataeus was spurious (no. 898c; cf. also A.-M. Denis, no. 24, pp. 262-67). N. Walter (no. 899a) and B. Z. Wacholder (no. 898) are now arguing that all of Josephs' material is derived from a pseudographer. They distinguish between Pseudo-Hecataeus 1, who wrote Peri Ioudaion in the first half of the second century B.C., and a Pseudo-Hecataeus 2, who wrote Peri Abramou sometime later but before Josephus.

M. Stern (no. 894) would agree with Walter and Wacholder that Peri Ioudaion and Peri Abramou must be distinguished and that the latter is a pseudonymous product of Jewish religious propaganda. But he would reject the claim that there is anachronistic material in Peri Ioudaion, and that the tone in this text is dissimilar to that in the Diodorus material. Peri Ioudaion, therefore, is a Jewish revision of a genuine Hecataeus composition.

Gager published many arguments similar to those by Stern, but seems to be in even greater disagreement with Walter and Wacholder. In 1969 he presented an impressive argument in favor of the authenticity of many passages that had been considered spurious (no. 892c).

The main question is whether some traditions which criticize the Jews for not mixing with other nations can be identified with other traditions which sound like an apology for Judaism. The issue is clarified but not completely resolved by a recognition that "pagans" could speak favorably about the Jews.

R. Doran writes: "In our view, only two references to Hecataeus of Abdera should be assigned as inauthentic: the testimony of Josephus, Antiquities 1.159, and fragment 2, the verses of Sophocles from 'On Abraham and the Egyptian' as cited by Clement, Stromateis 5.113. The other references are authentic fragments of Hecataeus of Abdera, and should be dated about 300 B.C. Both inauthentic references are to a book about Abraham that must be dated before Josephus. However, since no actual content of this inauthentic work is cited beyond some spurious verses of Sophocles, no conclusions can be drawn as to provenance or to a date for this Pseudo-Hecataeus." (The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 2, p. 907)

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