Page 182 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

Basic HTML Version

176
JEW ISH BOOK ANNUAL
the pseudoepigraphic literature. The author of the Wisdom of
Solomon, who apparently belonged to the pre-Hasmonean
period, purposely adopted the peseudoepigraphic name of the
ancient wise King Solomon. The pseudoepigraphic apocalyptic
and historical books, such as Enoch and Jubilees, are also largely
anonymous. The scholars who translated the Bible into Greek
remained unidentified.
Not only did Ben Sira, who lived in Jerusalem and wrote in
Hebrew, fail to put his name to his work, but also Philo, who lived
in Alexandria and wrote in Greek. Philo’s name was added to his
books at a later date by copyists on the basis of tradition. The
name of Philo’s father remains unknown.
The first Jewish Hellenistic writer who expressly used his name
was Josephus, who presented himself in the introduction to his
The Jewish War
as follows: “I Joseph, son of Mattathias, of the
priests in Jerusalem.” He thus followed the practice of the Greek
authors who in writing about contemporary events stressed that
they were eyewitnesses in order to lend authority to their books.
The Dead Sea sectarians did not mention the names of the
authors of their books. They refer often to a central figure who is
called “Teacher of Righteousness” (and who may perhaps be the
author of the Thanksgiving Psalms). It may be assumed that the
sectarians retained knowledge of the name of their leader for
some generations. Still, they refrained from recording his name.
This practice was followed also by the authors of mystical
writings, such as the Hekhalot. The tradition of anonymity was
maintained as well by the early Christians writers. Early Christian
literature resembles in this regard the contemporary Jewish writ­
ings. However, by approximately the fourth or fifth generation,
when the leadership among the Christians shifted from those of
Jewish descent to those who came from Greek and Hellenist
circles, Christian writings began to record the names of authors.
This was in keeping with the practice that obtained in the Roman
Hellenistic world of the time.
UNIQUENESS OF ORAL LAW
In dealing with the Oral Law, the teachings of the Tannaim and
Amoraim, we are confronted by a number of singular develop­
ments in the history of world literature. The literature o f the Oral
Law is characterized first of all by the prohibition of writing down