The pseudo-Jewishness of Pseudo-Phocylides
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CitationJonathan Klawans. 2017. "The Pseudo-Jewishness of Pseudo-Phocylides." Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp. 201 - 233. Available online: https://doi.org/10.1177/0951820717703217
For over 150 years, The Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides has been considered a Jewish work, though scholars have struggled to identify its purpose. This article revisits the question on definitional, evidentiary, and even moral grounds. On definitional grounds, it is problematic to speak of a Jewish work that displays no distinctive Jewish concerns. On evidentiary grounds, we know that the work was transmitted and used by Christians, and we can establish that its selective approach to biblical ethics aligns with identifiably Christian priorities. A Jewish provenance can be hypothesized, but we need not imagine a Christian context for the work. Finally, on moral grounds, we must avoid prejudicial assumptions, such that only a Jew could know the Pentateuch well enough to produce The Sentences. Pseudo-Phocylides's Jewishness is a pseudo-Jewishness. The evidence suggests its Christian use, its Christian allegiance and, therefore, its Christian authorship.