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Abraham, Testament of


ABRAHAM, TESTAMENT OF , apocryphal story of the death of Abraham. It is preserved in two Greek versions, the longer one being the more original. There are also Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Romanian versions. The book is part of an extensive literature of testaments and, in addition to the Testament of Abraham, there exist Testaments of Adam, Isaac, Jacob, the Twelve Patriarchs (sons of Jacob), Job, etc. The dependence of the book upon Jewish aggadic sources and the absence of Christian motifs with the exception of a possible influence of New Testament phraseology upon the actual wording show that the Testament of Abraham was composed by a Jew, writing in Greek, and was possibly based on a Hebrew (or Aramaic) original. The exact date of its composition is unknown. The book utilizes both Midrashim about Abraham and the aggadah about the death of Moses (see Assumption of *Moses). Thus, the reluctance of Abraham to accept his death from the hand of the archangel Michael is founded upon the narrative of Moses' death in Jewish sources. Finally Abraham is prepared to accept God's decision, if the angel will show him the whole universe. This wish is fulfilled and the author includes in his book interesting apocalyptic material. The heavenly judge is Abel, the son of Adam, because God wants humanity to be judged by a man (see *Son of Man). At the end, Abraham is killed by deception on the part of the Angel of Death.


M.R. James, Testament of Abraham (1892); G.H. Box, Testament of Abraham (1927); P. Riessler, Altjuedisches Schrifttum… (1928), 1091–1103; Ginzberg, Legends, 229–306.

[David Flusser]

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