writer of this was acquainted with the Prayer of Joseph; but I do not see (as I should like to see) evidence that the one book has drawn much from the other or is modelled upon it.
All that we can fairly gather from the title is that the book must have contained a prayer or prayers of considerable bulk uttered by Joseph (as Asenath contains a long prayer of Asenath). On what occasion it was offered, whether in the pit, or in prison, or on his deathbed, there is no certainty.
From the fragments we can gather one point of importance. Jacob says, "I that speak unto you, I have read what shall befall you and your sons." He is therefore addressing some or all of his descendants, and he does so in the terms used by the Patriarchs in the Testaments when they are on their deathbeds. Also, I think, the revelation of his angelic nature is one which would naturally be reserved until the end of his life. Further, in Gen. xlviii., where the blessing of Joseph's sons is related, there are coincidences of expression: "My God," and "When I was coming from Mesopotamia of Syria." Thus the book contained a dying speech of Jacob, of which we have a portion. I am tempted to think that it was addressed to Joseph and his sons Ephraim and Manasseh. The grounds are naturally slight: (a) We already have, in Genesis xlix., the full address of Jacob to the twelve; (b) there are coincidences of language with the episode of Joseph's sons in Gen. xlviii.
The matter and doctrine of the fragments occupy us next. The pre-existence of Jacob as an angel, and of Abraham and Isaac is here taught in the crudest way. The terms, however, are confusing. If Jacob is first-begotten of every living thing, is he senior to Abraham and Isaac? One must doubt whether the writer had thought this out. He is bent on emphasizing the dignity of Jacob, and finds himself forced to mention the two other Patriarchs.
On pre-existence of souls in general a good deal has been written: an essay by F. C. Porter in O. T. and