More on Looking Up Citations: Pseudepigrapha

I blogged about looking up Philo citations in BDAG awhile back. But Philo (and even Josephus) aren’t the only potential targets you can work with.

There are a number of reasons to use pseudepigraphal writings (Greek or English or both) to supplement one’s study, though I think such reasons fall into two primary categores: cultural and linguistic. In this article I’ll focus a bit on the linguistic side of things (though I do venture into the cultural a bit), looking particularly at word meanings.

In my personal study, I like to look up cross-references when looking into word meanings. This is particularly handy if a word doesn’t occur often in the New Testament but does occur in other non-canonical writings. I was recently looking at 1Ti 3.8, specifically at the word ?????????????, which the ESV translates as greedy for dishonest gain.

The first thing, of course, was to look it up in BDAG. Here I found that it occurs 2 times in the NT, and both of these are in the Pastoral Epistles (1Ti 3.8 and Tt 1.7). Both contexts are the pretty much the same. But BDAG also cites instances of ????????????? in the Works of Philo (Sacr. Abel. 32) and in the pseudepigraphal Testament of Judah 16.1.

The instance in Philo is an interesting one in that it is one of the longest vice lists you’ll ever see. The Yonge edition of Philo translates ????????????? as eager for disgraceful gain. I won’t say much more about this as I’ve briefly blogged about it on my own blog, and I’m more interested in the pseudepigraphal reference here.

The instance in the Testament of Judah is interesting because of the co-occuring concept of drunkenness/too much wine. But first, I should preface this by familiarizing you with editions of the pseudepigrapha available or in progress here at Logos:

Ok, back to the Testament of Judah. T.Jud. 16.1 in Greek first, followed by Charles’ translation (translation of ????????????? in italics):

?????????? ???, ????? ???, ???? ?????. ???? ??? ?? ???? ??????? ???????? ??????· ?????????, ????????, ???????, ?????????????.

Observe, therefore, my children, the (right) limit in wine; for there are in it four evil spirits—of lust, of hot desire, of profligacy, of filthy lucre.

Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. 2004 (R. H. Charles, Ed.) (2:320). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Now, so we’re all on the same page, here’s 1Ti 3.8:

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. (1Ti 3.8 (ESV))

As mentioned above, the reference is interesting because of the inclusion of being drunk or having too much wine. In T.Jud., greed for dishonest gain (“filthy lucre” or perhaps “avarice”) is one of four effects of having too much wine. In 1Ti 3.8, no cause and effect between wine and greedy gain is made explicit, but the two are qualities that a deacon is not to have.

Even more interesting, along these lines, is that BDAG lists ????????????? occurring as a variant in 1Ti 3.3, in the list of virtues that are given as qualifications for overseers. The NA27 apparatus confirms this (MSS it lists as supporting the variant are 326, 365, 614 and 630). So somewhere along the lines, a scribe probably found it necessary to make 1Ti 3.3 read the same as Tt 1.7.

So, after having worked through the BDAG definition to some degree and examined available non-canonical references, we know just a little more about ????????????? than we would have had we simply accepted the gloss given by BDAG. We know:

  1. The instances cited by BDAG (that we can easily examine) are also in vice lists.
  2. The two NT instances (1Ti 3.8, Tt 1.7) and the instance from Testament of Judah also mention drunkenness or tipsy-ness in the same context. Does this indicate some cultural association between drinking too much wine and avarice?
  3. At least one scribe tried to unify 1Ti 3.3 and Tt 1.7, inserting ?????????????. 1Ti 3.3 also mentions drinking too much wine. Again, is there some cultural association?

I’m not positing some direct relationship between drinking too much wine and “filthy lucre”; but the thought that too much alcohol can impair decision making (perhaps evidenced by avarice) does seem prevalent in these citations. This may be one reason why the Pastoral Epistles recommend that leaders are “not greedy for dishonest gain” and not addicted to wine.

These are just some thoughts I had while working through those references. Without the additional resources, such examination just isn’t possible. Work like this may not be necessary for well-attested words in the NT; but for words that occur only a handful of times, it can be quite necessary.