Jacobovici’s Imagination Part 2: The importance and Origin of the Story Joseph and Aseneth

I’m still working through Jacobovici’s work The Lost Gospel – the difficulty in with critiquing this work is similar to the difficulties with the Jesus Family Tomb project I’ve published previously – it is not so difficult to find errors in logic, errors in fact, or half truths in the work, rather there are so many such problems, it is difficult to compile the sheer number of critical shortcomings in the book and maintain articles that are reasonably concise and do not become boring. (Simply recording the sheer number of errors in Jacobovici takes a significant extra period of valuable time).

There are three issues however, that are easier to document because they appear throughout the book. The first is the assertion that because this work is found in Pseudo-Zacharias Rhetor’s A Volume of Records of Events which have shaped the world it must be a Christian work (rather than a Jewish one as most scholars believe, which they further substantiate with a number of questionable assertions) and that Pseudo-Zacharias must have considered this to be a matter of earth shaking importance (often noting the conversion of Constantine which is also noted in the volume).

Despite the rather grandious title, not all of the works in Pseudo Zacharias’s book are actually earth shattering. For example, Zacharias records an account of the seven sleepers of Ephesus, an alleged miracle that was certainly interesting to the author at least, but the story is not earthshaking. Similarly, according to Jacobovici’s notes, it contains an account of first century relics and a history of the debates over the person of Christ – of interest to a theologian or historian, certainly, but not earth shattering.

Similarly, its inclusion in Psuedo Zacharias this does not demonstrate, as he asserts, that the work is Christian. While there are elements that appear to be Christian elements later added to the texts, (the book exists in numerous versions; the presence of material being added to the original is highly likely). Christians have preserved other works by Jewish authors, Joesephus’s works, for example, very quickly come to mind (as his books were largely ignored by Jewish scholars of previous generations because he was considered to be an apostate), as do the Apocryphal books found in the Septuagint.

As I noted, my own judgment of the work is that it was probably originally a diaspora Jewish work (it reminds me of several such works I’ve read in Seminary) – he has noted that the book lacks a discussion of Torah observance (despite the fact that the book takes place before the Covenant of the Torah was delivered to Israel through Moses), among other unusual assertions. Yet this is highly questionable. The last section of Asneth centers on Levi’s influence on protecting Asneth from a plot between Pharaoh and some of Jacob’s brothers, in the end Pharaoh bows to Levi. In my opinion, the centrality of Levi to this section of text is probably a reference to the Torah, since the tribe of Levi is the tribe most associated with the Torah.

Next time we will discuss Jacobovici’s view of typology.

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