Open main menu


A Testament of Jacob, as has been said, exists in Coptic and other Eastern languages. Besides this (which seems to be an abridged form of a longer original), something called a Testament of Jacob is found in a Greek MS. at Paris (Coislin, 296); but it is merely an extract from the 49th chapter of Genesis. Further, a sixteenth-century writer, Sixtus Senensis, in his Bibliotheca Sancta, has an entry (p. 70) worth transcribing:

"There is current in print a Testament of the patriarch Jacob which Gelasius in the 29th Distinction (of the Decretum of Gratian) reckons among the books of apocryphal character." He here refers to the Gelasian Decree, where many copies read wrongly Testamentum Jacobi for Test. Jobi. What this printed Testament of Jacob, current in Italy in the sixteenth century, may have been, I have not been able to determine with certainty. There is just the chance that, as the Vision of Isaiah was printed in Latin more than once and wholly forgotten, so some really apocryphal work may have had a brief life; but it is far more likely that some réchauffé of the Blessings of Jacob, circulated with the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, is meant. Such a thing is, in fact, prefixed to some of the old translations of these Testaments, e. g. the English one printed by Richard Day.

There is, besides, a proper apocryph of Jacob in the shape of the Ladder of Jacob, extant only in Slavonic, and translated by Bonwetsch in the Göttingen Nachrichten for 1900, in two recensions. I shall reproduce this in English in the Appendix to this volume.