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Fragments of Pseudo-Greek Poets

Third to Second Century B.C.

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Emil Schürer writes: "Both Jewish and Christian apologists repeatedly appeal to the most eminent Greek poets to prove, that the more intelligent among the Greeks held correct views concerning the nature of God, His unity, spirituality and supramundane character. Many such quotations, especially in Clemens Alexandrinus, are really taken from the genuine works of these poets, and have been skilfully selected and explained by the apologists. But among these genuine quotations are also to be found not a few which have been palpably forged in the interest of either Jewish or Christian apologetic. The works where such forged verses have been discovered are chiefly the following: 1. Aristobulus in Eusebius, Praeparatio evangelica, xiii. 12. 2. Clemens Alexandrinus, Strom. v. 14; also given in Euseb. Praep. evang. xiii. 13; comp. also Protrept. vii. 74. 3. The pseudo-Justinian Cohortatio ad Graecos, c. 15 and 18. 4. The pseudo-Justinian work, De monarchia, c. 2-4 (the two latter in Otto's Corpus apologetarum christian. vol. iii.). The authors to whom the verses are ascribed, are: the great tragic poets Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides; the writers of comedies, Philemon, Menander, Diphilus; a large fragment is ascribed to Orpheus; and certain verses on the Sabbath to Hesiod, Homer and Linus (or Callimachus)." (The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, pp. 294-295)

H. Attridge writes: "The spurious epic verses were quoted by Aristobulus (c. 150 B.C., according to Yorb); hence they were composed and collected in the late-third or early-second century B.C. In connection with one of the fragments attributed to Sophocles (number 5 in this translation), Clement quotes as his source a work on Abraham, ascribed to the Greek ethnographer and historian Hecataeus. This work was, no doubt, a Jewish pseudepigraphon, probably identical to the work on the same subject alluded to in Josephus, Antiquities 1.159. Thus this work must have been written before the last quarter of the first century A.D. Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine how much of the collection was known to Pseudo-Hecataeus. In any case, it is unlikely that the author of this Jewish pseudepigraphon composed the pseudonymous dramatic verses. At most, it can be said that the verses predate this work of Pseudo-Hecataeus and thus probably were composed in the late-hellenistic or early-Roman period. Nothing definite can be said about their provenance." (The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 2, pp. 821-822)

Emil Schürer writes: "In forming a judgment concerning the origin of these pieces the following considerations are of importance. Almost all the portions, which come under notice, are found both in Clemens Al. Str. v. 14. 113-133 (=Eus. Pr. xiii. 13. 40-62, ed. Gaisford), and in the pseudo-Justinian work, De monarchia, c. 2-4. Aristobulus and the Cohortatio ad Graecos have only single verses and such as are found in the others also. Both in Clement and in the work De monarchia however, the suspicious portions stand pretty thick together; in the De monarchia indeed almost without other accessories. It is thus clear that either one made use of the other or that both drew from a common source. A strict observation shows however that the former supposition cannot be accepted. For though the pieces quoted are almost all identical, they are more completely and accurately given now by one now by another. It is then indubitable that both drew from a common source, in which all the suspected pieces were probably found together. What this source was moreover we are directly told by Clement: it was the work of the pseudo-Hecataeus on Abraham. For Clement introduces the first of the suspected quotations, a supposed portion of Sophocles, with the words (Strom. v. 14. 113 = Eus. Pr. xiii. 13. 40, ed. Gaisford): Ο μεν Σοφοκλης, ως φησιν Εκαταιος ο τας ιστοριας συνταξαμενος εν τω κατ Αβραμον και τους Αιγυπτιους, αντικρυς επι της σκηνης εκβοα. Böckh already showed that he on the whole correctly perceived the state of matters by ascribing all the quotations from the scenic poets (tragic and comic) to the pseudo-Hecataeus. Hence it was no advance when Nauck, e.g. (in his edition of the Fragm. tragic.), and Otto (in his notes in the Corp. apologet.) again spoke of Christian forgeries, for the work of the pseudo-Hecataeus is certainly Jewish. The verdict of Böckh must however be also extended to the large portion from Orpheus and to the verses of Hesiod, Homer and Linus on the Sabbath, which are already cited by Aristobulus (in Euseb. xiii. 12) and the forgery of which is therefore set by many, e.g. Valckenaer, and also Böckh to the credit of Aristobulus. The Orphean piece is also found both in Clem. Alex. Strom. v. 14. 123 sqq. (=Euseb. xiii. 13. 50 sqq.) and in the work De monarchia, c. 2, in the midst of the forged verses of the tragic and comic poets. And the testimonies of Hesiod and Homer concerning the Sabbath stand at least near in Clement (Strom. v. 14. 107 = Euseb. xiii. 13. 34), and in juxtaposition, along with the Orphean piece, certainly in Aristobulus. It is hence very probable that these forgeries also belong to the pseudo-Hecataeus." (The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, pp. 295-297)

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