The Testament of Asher, Concerning Two Faces of Vice and Virtue

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Hal Smith
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The Testament of Asher, Concerning Two Faces of Vice and Virtue

Post by Hal Smith » February 21st, 2019, 1:12 am

The Testament of Asher is one of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, which is apparently a 1st to 2nd century Christian composition based on pre-Christian Jewish texts. The Testament of Asher focuses in part on duplicity of character, wherein people show both good and evil.

The Testament of Asher, Chapter IV, verse 3 diverges considerably in English translations, and Roberts' translation seems confusing. R.H. Charles' translation says that Chapter IV is alluding to Chapter II. This suggests that Charles' translation is better. Maybe the fact that there are different manuscripts and the translators use them to make their versions in English explains the divergences.

One Greek text for Chapter IV goes:
1. Οἱ γὰρ ἀγαθοὶ ἄνδρες καὶ μονοπρόσωποι, κἂν νομισθῶσι παρὰ τῶν διπροσώπων ἁμαρτάνειν, δίκαιοί εἰσι παρὰ τῷ θεῷ.

2. Πολλοὶ γὰρ ἀναιροῦντες τοὺς πονηρούς, δύο ποιοῦσιν ἔργα, κακὸν διὰ καλοῦ, ὅλον ἐστὶ δὲ καλόν· ὅτι τὸ κακὸν ἐκριζώσας ἀπώλεσεν.

3. Ἔστι τις μισῶν τὸν ἐλεήμονα, καὶ ἀδικῶν τὸν μοιχὸν καὶ λῃστεύοντα· καὶ αὐτό ἐστι διπρόσωπον· ἀλλὰ τὸ πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθόν ἐστιν, ὅτι μιμεῖται κύριον, μὴ προσδεχόμενος τὸ δοκοῦν καλὸν μετὰ τοῦ ἀληθινοῦ κακοῦ.

4. Ἕτερος οὐ θέλει ἡμέραν ἀγαθὴν ἰδεῖν μετὰ ἀσώτων, ἵνα μὴ χράνῃ τὸ στόμα, καὶ μολύνει τὴν ψυχήν· καίγε τοῦτο διπρόσωπον, ὅλον δὲ καλόν ἐστιν,

5. ὅτι οἱ τοιοῦτοι δόρκοις καὶ ἐλάφοις ὅμοιοί εἰσιν· ὅτι ἐν ἤθει ἀγρίῳ δοκοῦσιν ἀκάθαρτοι εἶναι, τὸ δὲ πᾶν καθαροί εἰσιν, ὅτι ἐν ζήλῳ θεοῦ πορεύονται, ἀπεχόμενοι ὧν καὶ ὁ θεὸς διὰ τῶν ἐντολῶν μισῶν ἀπαγορεύει, ἀπεῖργον τὸ κακὸν τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ.

SOURCE: Ruslana Khazarzar's Library, http://khazarzar.skeptik.net/books/test_12g.htm
M. DeJonge's Greek text can be found on page 166 here: https://books.google.com/books?id=LvsUA ... 22&f=false

Chapters II - IV from R.H. Charles' 1908 translation are here, with the relevant parts in bold:
2. 1. A person then may with words help the good for the sake of the evil, yet the issue of the action leadeth to mischief. 2. There is a man who showeth no compassion upon him who serveth his turn in evil; and this thing hath two aspects, but the whole is evil. 3. And there is a man that loveth him that worketh evil, because he would prefer even to die in evil for his sake; and concerning this it is clear that it hath two aspects, but the whole is an evil work. 4. Though indeed he have love, yet is he wicked who concealeth what is evil for the sake of the good name, but the end of the action tendeth unto evil. 5. Another stealeth, doeth unjustly, plundereth, defraudeth, and withal pitieth the poor: this too hath a twofold aspect, but the whole is evil. 6. He who defraudeth his neighbour provoketh God, and sweareth falsely against the Most High, and yet pitieth the poor: the Lord who commandeth the law he setteth at nought and provoketh, and yet he refresheth the poor. 7. He defileth the soul, and maketh gay the body; he killeth many, and pitieth a few: this, too, hath a twofold aspect, but the whole is evil. 8. Another committeth adultery and fornication, and abstaineth from meats, and when he fasteth he doeth evil, and by the power of his wealth overwhelmeth many; and notwithstanding his excessive wickedness he doeth the commandments: this, too, hath a twofold aspect, but the whole is evil. 9. Such men are hares; clean,- like those that divide the hoof, but in very deed are unclean. 10. For God in the tables of the commandments hath thus declared.

3. 1. But do not ye, my children, wear two faces like unto them, of goodness and of wickedness; but cleave unto goodness only, for God hath his habitation therein, and men desire it. 2. But from wickedness flee away, destroying the (evil) inclination by your good works; for they that are double-faced serve not God, but their own lusts, so that they may please Beliar and men like unto themselves.

4. 1. For good men, even they that are of single face, though they be thought by them that are double faced to sin, are just before God. 2. For many in killing the wicked do two works, of good and evil; but the whole is good, because he hath uprooted and destroyed that which is evil. 3. One man hateth the merciful and unjust man[*][/i], and the man who committeth adultery and fasteth[**]: this, too, hath a two fold aspect, but the whole work is good, because he followeth the Lord's example, in that he accepteth not the seeming good as the genuine good.[***][/b] 4. Another desireth not to see a good day with them that riot, lest he defile his body and pollute his soul: this, too, is double-faced, but the whole is good. 5. For such men are like to stags and to hinds, because in the manner of wild animals they seem to be unclean, but they are altogether clean; because they walk in zeal for the Lord and abstain from what God also hateth and forbiddeth by His commandments, warding off the evil from the good.

Charles' Footnotes
[Verse 3]* This is the character described in II,5
**This character has been described in II.8
*** [Charles proposes that the text needed to be emended and that the phrase "the seeming good as the genuine good" is the way that the text should read]
SOURCE: https://books.google.com/books?id=33VvDwAAQBAJ&dq
So in Charles' version, Chapter 4 says that a good man can be right to hate a merciful, unjust man, as well as the adulterer who fasts, because the seeming good of accepting these duplicitous people is not the genuine good. Or to put it simply, a good man might hate the merciful, unjust man because the latter only seems good because of his mercy, but isn't actually good, because of his injustice.

Roberts and Donaldson's 1886 translation says for Chapter IV:
4. For good men, even they that are single of face, though they be thought by them that are double-faced to err, are just before God. For many in killing the wicked do two works, an evil by a good; but the whole is good, because he hath uprooted and destroyed that which is evil. One man hateth him that showeth mercy, and doeth wrong to the adulterer and the thief: this, too, is double-faced, but the whole work is good, because he followeth the Lord's example, in that he receiveth not that which seemeth good with that which is really bad. [171] Another desireth not to see good days with them that riot, lest he defile his mouth and pollute his soul: this, too, is double-faced, but the whole is good, for such men are like to stags and to hinds, because in a wild condition they seem to be unclean, but they are altogether clean; because they walk in a zeal for God, and abstain from what God also hateth and forbiddeth by His commandments, and they ward off the evil from the good.

FOOTNOTE
[171]Matt. v. 45. This seems contradictory.
SOURCE: http://mb-soft.com/believe/txua/twelve.htm
In Roberts' version, a good man might hate a merciful man, but do wrong to the adulterer and thief, and this is good as a whole because he doesn't accept either the good (the merciful), nor what is really bad (the adulterer and thief).

Charles' version sounds to me like it makes more sense and is a better translation. What do you think?
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Hal Smith

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Re: The Testament of Asher, Concerning Two Faces of Vice and Virtue

Post by Ken M. Penner » February 21st, 2019, 8:09 am

What is your question about the Greek?
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Hal Smith
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Re: The Testament of Asher, Concerning Two Faces of Vice and Virtue

Post by Hal Smith » February 21st, 2019, 6:37 pm

I am interested in your comments, if any, when comparing the Greek with the two translations.
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Hal Smith

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Re: The Testament of Asher, Concerning Two Faces of Vice and Virtue

Post by Ken M. Penner » February 21st, 2019, 6:40 pm

Hal Smith wrote:
February 21st, 2019, 6:37 pm
I am interested in your comments, if any, when comparing the Greek with the two translations.
That’s not what this forum is for. We discuss the Greek text rather than translations.
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Hal Smith
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Re: The Testament of Asher, Concerning Two Faces of Vice and Virtue

Post by Hal Smith » February 21st, 2019, 7:05 pm

OK, thanks for clarifying. I was only able to find one Greek text for this, although I expect that there may be others, since there are several manuscripts that R.H. Charles used.
Regards.
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Hal Smith

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Re: The Testament of Asher, Concerning Two Faces of Vice and Virtue

Post by Ken M. Penner » February 21st, 2019, 7:18 pm

Hal Smith wrote:
February 21st, 2019, 7:05 pm
OK, thanks for clarifying. I was only able to find one Greek text for this, although I expect that there may be others, since there are several manuscripts that R.H. Charles used.
Regards.
Charles (1908), The Greek versions of the Testaments of the twelve Patriarchs but of course the 1978 text by deJonge you pointed to earlier is more authoritative.
(The Google books link brought me to an inaccessible page.)
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Hal Smith
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Re: The Testament of Asher, Concerning Two Faces of Vice and Virtue

Post by Hal Smith » February 21st, 2019, 9:26 pm

Thanks!
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Hal Smith

Hal Smith
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Re: The Testament of Asher, Concerning Two Faces of Vice and Virtue

Post by Hal Smith » August 24th, 2019, 2:03 pm

Ruslana Khazarzar's Library gives the Greek text for Chapter IV, verse 3 as:
3. Ἔστι τις μισῶν τὸν ἐλεήμονα, καὶ ἀδικῶν τὸν μοιχὸν καὶ λῃστεύοντα· καὶ αὐτό ἐστι διπρόσωπον· ἀλλὰ τὸ πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθόν ἐστιν, ὅτι μιμεῖται κύριον, μὴ προσδεχόμενος τὸ δοκοῦν καλὸν μετὰ τοῦ ἀληθινοῦ κακοῦ.

SOURCE: Ruslana Khazarzar's Library, http://khazarzar.skeptik.net/books/test_12g.htm
R.H. Charles' 1908 book, The Greek versions of the Testaments of the twelve Patriarchs, has the Greek text of the Testament of Asher, which can be found on page 176 here: https://archive.org/details/greekversio ... /page/n248
There, verse 3 runs:
Esti tis mison tov Eleimona kai adikon, kai tov moixon kai visteuovta, kai auto esti diprosopov, alla to pav ergov agathov _____, oti mimeitai Kirion, Mi prosdokomenos to dokoin kalon meta toi alithinoi kalou.
Charles' text looks practically the same as Khazarzar's version, except that as I underlined above, Charles' version says nisteuonta instead of listeuonta, it is missing "estin" where I put the blank, and it ends in kalou instead of kakou.

M. DeJonge's 1978 Greek text of the Testament of Asher has Chapter IV Verse 3 on pages 138-139 here: https://books.google.com/books?id=LvsUA ... 22&f=false

DeJonge's version agrees with Charles' text for verse 3, except that at the end it says "kakou" like Khazarzar's text does, instead of "kalou".
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Hal Smith

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Re: The Testament of Asher, Concerning Two Faces of Vice and Virtue

Post by Hal Smith » August 24th, 2019, 2:19 pm

Ken M. Penner wrote:
February 21st, 2019, 7:18 pm
the 1978 text by deJonge you pointed to earlier is more authoritative.
(The Google books link brought me to an inaccessible page.)
Sorry about the Google Page being inaccessible. In my browser, Chapter I was accessible, later Chapters were inaccessible, but I could scroll down to get to Chapter IV. I am posting pages 138-139, which have Chapter 4 verse 3, for your convenience.
Image
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DeJonge2.png
DeJonge2.png (191.56 KiB) Viewed 775 times
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Hal Smith

Hal Smith
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Re: The Testament of Asher, Concerning Two Faces of Vice and Virtue

Post by Hal Smith » August 24th, 2019, 3:02 pm

In case Page 138 doesn't show up in the message above, you can find it here:
https://cdn3.imggmi.com/uploads/2019/8/ ... c-full.png
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