Page:LostApocryphaOfTheOldTestamentMRJames.djvu/101

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THE OLD TESTAMENT

and much else. And Esaias said to him: 'Verily, thy words go not down into his heart; but it must also befall that I should be slain by his hand.' Ezechias, hearing that, wished to slay his son, saying, 'It is better for me to die without a son than to leave such a son, who should both provoke God, and persecute the saints.' And Esaias the prophet hardly restrained him, saying, 'God will make this thy counsel of none effect,' seeing the piety of Ezechias, that he loved God more than his own son." He then gives the story of Manasseh's captivity, sufferings, and deliverance, in words which coincide with those of the Apostolic Constitutions (ii. 22) and are pretty evidently taken from them; he omits the Prayer of Manasses which is given there. (Very shortly afterwards he quotes the story of King Amon, which is also in the Apostolic Constitutions (ii. 23): and elsewhere he uses that book. So we need not doubt that the Constitutions (or Didascalia) are his source for the latter part of his account of Manasseh.) In the above passage about Hezekiah and Isaiah it is to be noted (a) that the king's illness is specially mentioned, and (b) that his words ("It is better for me," etc.) do not occur in the Ascension.

Later on, in Hom. 33, he says that the Jewish people "bore false witness, in the person of those who slew the prophets, especially against Esaias, before King Manasses, saying: He calls your princes men of Sodom and the people of Israel men of Gomorrha: he blasphemes, saying that he has seen the Lord Sabaoth, whereas God says: No man shall see my face and live. Wherefore also he was sawn with a wooden saw." This passage from the Opus Imperfectum is not adduced, I think, by any of the editors of the Ascension. It is in substance Asc. iii. 8–10, v. 1, the order of the two accusations being reversed, and the text shortened by the Homilist. So he knew a part of the Asc. which does not, ex hypothesi, belong to the Testament (iii. 13b–iv. 18). Indeed, we ought to credit him with knowing the whole of Asc., for we have fragments of a Latin version covering all the book, preserved in a