and knew all that was written therein which would befall him and his sons throughout all the ages."
In the Testaments, Levi (v.) speaks of the slaughter of Shechem as written on the tablets (as Jubilees xxx. 19, 20), Asher (ii.) says that the distinction between clean and unclean is declared there (also in the manner of Jubilees); and in vii. 5, "I have read (or known) in the tablets of the heavens that ye will surely be disobedient," etc. In each of these cases Dr. Charles eliminates the phrase "tablets of the heavens" for reasons which seem to me unsound. In each case there is a distinct resemblance to the use of the phrase in Jubilees.
We cannot be wrong, I think, in connecting the phrase in the Prayer of Joseph with the passage in Jubilees xxxi., and in supposing that in the Prayer the same vision of Jacob at Bethel is referred to.
The leading idea of the principal fragment is that angels can become incarnate in human bodies, live on earth in the likeness of men, and be unconscious of their original state. Israel does so apparently in order that he may become the father of the chosen people. It is, I believe, a doctrine which is unique in Jewish teaching.
It has been held—e. g. by J. T. Marshall (Hastings' Dict. Bible, II. 778)—that the Prayer was definitely anti-Christian: it claimed for the Patriarchs the same sublime and supernatural characteristics as Christians claimed for Our Lord. Also, whereas in early Christian exegesis the wrestling angel is identified with the Logos, the pre-existent Christ (as by Justin and Origen), the status of that angel is here lowered in favour of Israel. These are substantial arguments. I would add that the fragments appear to show knowledge of Christian ideas and terminology. These are the points: (a) pre-existence of the Patriarchs as opposed to "Before Abraham was, I am"; (b) incarnation; (c) firstborn of every living thing; (d) "his name should have precedence of mine."
Upon the whole I incline to think that the author of