The testament of Abraham.

Counted among the pseudepigrapha.


Attributed author(s).
Anonymous.

Text(s) available.
Online Critical Pseudepigrapha.
New Advent: Testament of Abraham (English only).
OT Pseudepigrapha: Testament of Abraham (English only).
Pseudepigrapha: Testament of Abraham (English only).
BELIEVE Religious Information: Testament of Abraham (English only).

Useful links.
Testament of Abraham in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
Apocrypha in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
EJW (Peter Kirby).

Jewish background texts (Jim Davila).

The testament of Abraham is counted as one of the pseudepigrapha.


Peter Kirby (Early Jewish Writings).

Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on the testament of Abraham:

E. P. Sanders writes: "The Testament of Abraham is a Jewish work, probably of Egyptian origin, which is generally dated to the latter part of the first century AD. It is most closely related to the Testaments of Isaac and Jacob, both of which are dependent on it. It has many themes in common with several other works, most notably 2En and 3Bar. It should not be confused with the Apocalypse of Abraham, even though the latter work also describes a heavenly tour (chapters 15-29)." (Outside the Old Testament, p. 56)

Martin McNamara writes: "This work is extant in two Greek recensions, a long one (A) and a shorter one (B). It is also found in a number of other languages. It is given the title Testament although no mention is made in the work of Abraham having made one. This, however, seems implied since Abraham is told to 'set his affaris in order' (no. 1). The Archangel Michael is sent to Abraham to ask him to render up his soul. This Abraham refuses to do. He agrees only after he has been promised that he will be allowed to survey the entire universe before death. He is taken in a chariot and is shown the inhabited world, but grows very angry on seeing the sins that are committed. He is also shown a vision of God's judgment, with many passing through the broad gate to perdition and only a few through the narrow gate to salvation. Abraham repents of his harsh attitude towards sinners. Michael is again sent to fetch Abraham's soul. God the Father tells him: 'Take my friend Abraham to the garden (of Paradise), where the tabernacles of my righteous ones and the abodes of my holy ones Isaac and Jacob are in his bosom, where there is no toil, no sadness, no sighing, but peace and joy and endless life' (no. 20)." (Intertestamental Literature, p. 104)

James Charlesworth writes: "The Testament of Abraham is extant in numerous languages, the texts of which were edited separately by various scholars, viz. the Greek by M. R. James (The Testament of Abraham: The Greek Text Now First Edited with an Introduction and Notes. Cambridge: CUP, 1892). The book has been translated into English by G. H. Box (The Testament of Abraham. London: S.P.C.K., 1927); M. Gaster (Transactions of the Society of Biblical Arhcaeology. London: Society of Biblical Archaeology, 1887. Vol. 9, pp. 195-226; repr. Studies and Texts in Folklore, Magic, Medieval Romance, Hebrew Apocrypha, and Samaritan Arhceaology. London: Maggs, 1925-1928. Vol. 1, pp. 92-124); W.A. Craigie (ANF 10. Pp. 183-201); and M. E. Stone (no. 522 below); also see W. Leslau's Falasha Anthology, pp. 92-102. It is unlikely that this composition is either a second-century Jewish-Christian work (James) or a pre-Christian Essene work (K. Kohler, 'The Pre-Talmudic Haggada II: The Apocalypse of Abraham and its Kindred,' JQR 7 [1895] 581-606). It is most likely a Jewish composition from the first century, although the actual date and original language are debatable. In the first nine chapters the archangel Michael vainly seeks to obtain the soul of Abraham, who refuses to die. A deal is arranged by which Abraham agrees to come with Michael if he can first see the created world, a wish that is granted and described in an apocalyptic section that covers 10-14. Upon returning home Abraham refuses to die, but is eventually tricked by Death (chps. 15-20)." (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, p. 70)