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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Assumptio Mosis

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The earliest notice of a work known as The Assumption of Moses (Ἀνάληψις Μωϋσέως ) we receive through Origen (De Princip. iii, 2), who remarks that what is said in Jude (Judges 1:9) concerning a strife between the archangel Michael and Satan over the body of Moses is taken from it (he names it the "Ascension of Moses"). It is also referred to by other Church fathers and later writers (comp. Fabricius, Codex Pseudepigr. i, 839 sq.; Hilgenfeld, Nov. Test. i, 108-110; Fritzsche, Proleg. p. xxxiv sq., etc.). In modern times a large portion of this work was brought to light by Ceriani in a Latin translation belonging to the Ambrosian Library at Milan, and which he published in the first part of his Monumenta (1861). The MS. itself is without a title; but it is evident that it is a version of the original Greek, as maybe seen from a passage found at the beginning (i, 14), which corresponds with an earlier citation. Since the appearance of Ceriani's publication, the composition has been republished by Hilgenfeld (Nov. Testam. extra Canonem, etc., 1866), Volkmar (Mose Prophetie und Hinmelfahrt, '1867 [Lat.. and Germ.]), Schmidt and Merx (Merx's Archiv, 1868, i, 111-152), and Fritzsche (Libri Apocr. Vet., Test. Grece, 1871). A retranslation into Greek was attempted by Hilgenfeld, in his Zeitschrift, 1868, and Messias Judceorum, 1869.

I. Contents of the Work. The work seems to be a sort of historical and prophetic address. of Moses to Joshua on the occasion of his succeeding him as leader of Israel. After a brief sketch of Jewish history, in which allusion is made to Herod the Great and his character, a graphic description of the end is given. The MS. ends abruptly in the twelfth chapter. But, from the whole tenor of the context, and as the fragments show, there is no doubt that the lost portion contained the account of the alleged strife over the body of Moses, which lent to the work the title Ἀνάληψις Μωϋσέως .

II. Age of the Composition. According to Wieseler, it was written soon after the death of Herod, about the year B.C. 2. Ewald places it in A.D. 6; while Hilgenfeld makes the date A.D. 44-45, and Schmidt and Merx A.D. 50-64. Schiirer rather prefers the date as given by Ewald or Wieseler.

III. Author of the Work.-From the attitude taken by the author towards the leading Jewish sects in ch. 7 and 10, some regarded him as a Pharisee, others as a Sadducee; but since he does not appear to coincide fully with either of these parties, Schtirer agrees with Wieseler that the author belonged to the so-called Zealots.

IV. Place of Composition. It is hardly doubtful that the book was written in Palestine; and, with this supposition, it was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaean. With certainty it cannot be asserted, although there is no doubt that the present Latin translation was made from the Greek. For the literature, see Schurer, Handbuch der neutestamentlichen Zeitgeschichte, p. 536 sq. (B. P.)

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Assumptio Mosis'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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