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Second to First Century B.C.

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Emil Schürer writes: "The poem of Theodotus on Sichem, a long portion from which is given partly by verbal quotation, partly by a statement of its contents, in Euseb. Praep. evang. ix. 22, seems to have been of the same kind as that of Philo on Jerusalem. The entire portion refers to the history of the town of Sichem. Its situation is first described, and then its seizure by the Hebrews, in accordance with Gen. xxxiv.; how Jacob first dwelt in Mesopotamia, there married and begat children, then departed with them to the district of Sichem, and received a portion of land from Emmor the king of Sichem; next, how Sichem the son of Emmor ravished Dinah, Jacob's daughter, whereupon Jacob declared himself ready to give Dinah to Sichem to wife, on condition that all the Sichemites should be circumcised; and lastly, how Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob's sons, slew Emmor and Sichem and, in conjuction with their brethren, destroyed the city of the Sichemites. Jacob's sojourn in Mesopotamia not being mentioned till after the description of the town of Sichem, and only as an introduction to the history of its seizure by the Hebrews which follows, it is evident that the history of the town of Sichem is the real theme of the poem; and since it is called a 'holy city' (ιερον αστυ), it can scarcely be doubted that Theodotus was a Samaritan. Hence the title Περι Ιουδαιων given to the poem in Eusebius can hardly be accurate. At the commencement of the extract it is said, tha tthe town had its name from Sikimios, a son of Hermes (απο Σικιμιου του Ερμου). Theodotus thus seems like other Hellenists to have embellished Jewish history with scraps from Greek mythology. The diction, as well as the construction of the hexameters, is better than Philo's. With respect to date, what was said of Philo applies here also." (The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, pp. 224-225)

Martin McNamara writes: "Eusebius in his work Praeparatio Evangelica (9, 22), quoting the pagan historian Alexander Polyhistor, gives excerpts from an epic on Schechem and the rape of Dinah (Genesis 34) said to have been composed by a certain Theodotus, a personage otherwise unknown. The exact title of the epic is not recorded. As a poet, Theodotus is rated highly by scholars, and as far better than other known Jewish writers such as Philo the Elder (no. 14 below) or Ezechielus (no. 15 below). The subject of the epic would seem to indicate that he was a Samaritan, as does his contrast of Schechem with Jerusalem, to the detriment of the latter city. He may, in fact, have been polemicizing in the epic against Philo the Elder, his contemporary, who is known to have written in praise of Jerusalem." (Intertestamental Literature, pp. 225-226)

James Charlesworth writes: "Theodotus' work obviously predates Alexander Polyhistor and probably dates from the early portions of the second century B.C. The concern for Schechem (Sikima) leads some scholars (viz. Denis, no. 24, p. 272; B. Z. Wacholder, no. 1402) to claim that Theodotus was a Samaritan. One could argue, however, that this hypothesis is unattractive for the following reasons: Alexander Polyhistor entitled Theodotus' epic Peri Ioudaion; a concern for Jacob, Dinah, and Schechem would be natural in a chronicle since these traditions were cherished by Jews of all sects (including the Samaritans); Eusebius extracts only a portion from the epic, leaving no clue to the contents of the remainder; at least two sections do not fit a Samaritan thesis: the mention that the Shechemites were immoral ("regarded neither bad nor good") and, compared to the brief note on the name Shechem, the relatively long section on how Levi and Simeon murdered Sychem and Emmor. In favor of a Samaritan hypothesis is the description of Shechem as 'the holy town' (hieron astu); but another possible translation is 'the splendid town.' The work was composed in Greek." (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, p. 210)

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