OLD TESTAMENT PSEUDEPIGRAPHA VOL. 2 NOW AVAILABLE
Charlesworth's second and final volume of The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha has just been released by Doubleday. This long-awaited collection of important early Christian and Jewish writings is the result of more than a decade of work by dozens of scholars, including F.A.R.M.S. correspondent Stephen E. Robinson. Each volume is 1000 pages long, and volume 2 contains a valuable index for both volumes. Act now if you want these books—a price increase has already been announced by Doubleday, effective January 1, 1986.
Readers of the Book of Mormon may find these volumes interesting for several reasons. For example, one recently discovered Syriac document appears in Charlesworth's volume 2 called the "History of the Rechabites." The Greek version, known as the "Narrative of Zosimus," was first published in English in 1890, and compares well with the stories and visions of Lehi and Nephi. For example, the story of Zosimus begins as he dwells in the desert, is led by prayer and faith, wanders through a dark and dreary waste to the bank of the river, over which he passes through a mist of darkness to a tree whose fruit is sweet above all and from which he eats and drinks. There Zosimus is greeted by an escort, who interrogates him as to his desires, shows him a vision of the Son of God, and introduces him to a group of people who fled from the destruction of Jerusalem at the time of Jeremiah and who keep records on tablets. From these people Zosimus learns the true way of righteousness, prayer, chastity, etc. Many interesting similarities to the Book of Mormon are obvious, although one is at a loss to explain exactly why these two separate writings are so similar. "If anyone wonders whether the Book of Mormon closely resembles any old writings from Palestine, here is a strongly intriguing case," concludes John Welch, director of F.A.R.M.S.
Also found in the pseudepigrapha are several accounts of "throne theophanies and prophetic commissions" that compare in many ways with the vision of Lehi in 1 Nephi 1. In that vision, Lehi saw God sitting on his throne and received his propethic call. This material is discussed in Blake Ostler's paper, soon to be published in BYU Studies and also available on the attached order form. Also, many of Hugh Nibley's papers, especially those about the prophet Enoch, comment extensively on this pseudepigraphic literature as well.
1 Nephi 13:39 prophecies that "other books" will come forth to testify "that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true." No one knows what these "books" are or will be, but ten years ago James Charlesworth, editor of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, remarked that this Book of Mormon propechy was "at least 100 years before its time. Mormons don't have to believe this prophecy; they have seen it fulfilled in their own lifetimes," he mused.
Both of the Charlesworth volumes can be ordered on the attached order form at discounts substantially below the retail rice. Order immediately if you want to receive this book for Christmas or before the already-announced publisher's price increase goes into effect.