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Abraham, Other Books of

ABRAHAM, OTHER BOOKS OF

In addition to the Apocalypse of Abraham, extant in Slavonic, and the Testament of Abraham, preserved in a number of versions, there are several references in the literature of the first centuries of this era to works attributed to Abraham. Among the apocryphal works included in the early Christian lists attributed to Pseudo-Athanasius and Nicephorus, there is a book entitled Abraham. Its length is given as 300 stichoi. Similar, unclear references may be found in Apostolic Constitution 6:16 and elsewhere. More significant is Epiphanius' account (Adversus Haereses 38:5) of the Sethian Gnostic sect as "composing certain books in the name of great men… of Abraham, which they say to be an apocalypse and is full of all sorts of wickedness." Origen refers to a book relating a contest between good and evil angels over the salvation or perdition of Abraham's soul (Homilies on Lk. 35). It has been suggested that this incident may be related to the weighing of the soul, whose good and evil deeds are of equal measure, as described in Testamentum Abraham (a, 12f.). Yet, it must be noted that these two stories are far from identical, and Origen is probably drawing on a different Abraham book. An Arabic Life of Abraham is mentioned by James (Apoc. Anecd. 2, 81). Armenian works called The Story of Abraham, Isaac and Mambres, The Ten Temptations of Abraham, History of Abraham, Memorial of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and others exist in manuscripts (e.g., Erevan 569, 717, 1425 et al.), but have never been studied.

bibliography:

M.R. James, Lost Apocrypha of the Old Testament (1920), 16 ff.; idem, Testament of Abraham (1892), 7–29.

[Michael E. Stone]

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