The Testaments Of The Twelve Patriarchs
by R.H. Charles
October 2, 1907, Bardwell Road, Oxford
About the Author, Robert Henry Charles
Robert Henry (R. H.) Charles (1855–1931) was an Irish biblical scholar and theologian. He is known particularly for English translations of apocryphal and pseudepigraphal works, and editions including Jubilees (1895), the Book of Enoch (1906), and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (1908) which have been widely used. He wrote the articles in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica attributed to the initials “R. H. C.”
He was born in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, on 6 Aug 1855 and educated at the Belfast Academy, Queen’s College, Belfast and Trinity College, Dublin, with periods in Germany and Switzerland. He gained a D.D. and became Professor of Biblical Greek at Trinity College. He also became archdeacon of Westminster in 1919, serving until his death in 1931. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
About the Book
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is a constituent of the apocryphal scriptures connected with the Bible. It is a pseudepigraphical work comprising the dying commands of the twelve sons of Jacob. It is part of the Oskan Armenian Orthodox Bible of 1666. Fragments of similar writings were found at Qumran, but opinions are divided as to whether these are the same texts. It is considered apocalyptic literature.
The work is divided into twelve books, each purporting to be the last exhortations of one of the twelve titular patriarchs. In each, the patriarch first narrates his own life, focusing on his strengths, virtues, or his sins, using biographical material from both the Hebrew Bible and Jewish tradition. Next he exhorts his listeners to emulate the one and to avoid the other. Most of the books conclude with prophetic visions.
The Twelve Patriarchs