The story of Joseph and Aseneth.

An ancient Jewish romance.


Attributed author(s).
Anonymous.

Text(s) available.
NT Gateway: Joseph and Aseneth (English only; David Cook; also available in .pdf).
OT Pseudepigrapha: Joseph and Aseneth (David Cook; English only).
Google Books: Fabula Josephi et Asenethae Apocrypha (Gustav Oppenheim; Latin; full view).
University of Rochester (TEAMS): Storie of Asneth (Russell A. Peck; Middle English; with introduction).

Useful links.
Aseneth Home Page (Mark Goodacre).
Apocrypha in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
Apocrypha and Aseneth in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Joseph and Aseneth at Wikipedia.
EJW (Peter Kirby).

Jewish background texts (Jim Davila).

The story of Joseph and Aseneth is an ancient Jewish romance. Its original language was probably Greek, but it is available in Syriac, Slavonic, Armenian, Latin, and Middle English versions.


Peter Kirby (Early Jewish Writings).

Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on the story of Joseph and Aseneth:

Chr. Burchard writes: "JosAsen appears to have originated in the Jewish diaspora of Egypt, no later than c. AD 100 and perhaps as early as the first century BC. A sectarian milieu has been suggested: Essenes, Therapeutae, or some unknown form of Judaism shaped in the iamge of a hellenistic mystery religion. But the book presents Judaism, not a special form distinct from others. According to some scholars, it was written to promote Jewish mission among non-Jews, or Jews, or both. However, Judaism as depicted in JosAsen is not mission-minded. Besides the book never bothers to explain Jewish life. The sabbath, circumcision, the interdiction against pork, the standards of levitical purity, indeed the necessity of keeping the Law, which is fundamental to all forms of Judaism, go unmentioned. So it is safer to assume that JosAsen was meant to be read by Jews as a reminder of the supernatural vitality and lofty morality which were theirs. We should remember, however, that the Egyptian diaspora undoubtedly included many proselytes and attracted 'God-fearing' sympathizers such as we know, e.g., from the Book of Acts." (Outside the Old Testament, p. 94)

James Charlesworth writes: "That Joseph and Asenath is a fifth-century Christian work, based upon a Jewish writing, is a dated conclusion (P. Batiffol, Le Livre de la Prière d'Asénath [Studia Patristica 1-2] Paris: Leroux, 1889-1890). That it is an early, perhaps late first-century A.D., Jewish composition is a contemporary perspective (cf. C. Burchard, Untersuchungen zu Joseph und Aseneth [WUNT 8] Tübingen: Mohr, 1965; see esp. pp. 148-51; Philonenko, no. 1003; A.-M. Denis, no. 24, pp. 40-48). Most scholars now contend that the original language is Greek (Burchard, Untersuch., pp. 91-99; Philonenko, no. 1003, pp. 27-32). The parallels with the Dead Sea Scrolls have raised the possibility of influence from the Essenes, or more probably from the Therapeutae; some scholars affirm a relationship (P. Riessler, no. 62, p. 1303; K. G. Kuhn in The Scrolls and the New Testament, ed. K. Stendhal. New York: Harper, 1957; pp. 75f.; M. Delcor, 'Un roman d'amour d'origine thérapeute: le livre de Joseph et Asénath,' BLE 63 [1962] 3-27); others deny it (Philonenko, no. 1003, p. 105; Burchard, Untersuch., pp. 107-12)." (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, p. 137)