I've often thought what a boon it would be to New Testament scholarship if we could have a copy of Papias' "Expositions of the Logia of the Lord." Given Papias' desire for living tradition over against written record, it could provide tremendously valuable insights into the nature of the oral Jesus tradition at the beginning of the second century and perhaps shed more light on that oral tradition back into the first century. I was just reminded of this today, and this led me to think about this more broadly: Out of all the lost documents related to early Christianity--those mentioned by early Christians but no longer extant, those for which we have fragments or quotations but not whole manuscripts--which would I most wish to be discovered?
After giving his list he adds:
Anyone else have a similar wishlist? If we hurry, we may get it off in time for Christmas... :-)
This is a subject near and dear to my heart, since the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project on which my colleague Richard Bauckham and I are working, aims to include a list of all Old Testament pseudepigrapha mentioned in surviving literature from antiquity to the present, whether or not the works survive themselves. So here is my preliminary list of now lost or highly fragmentary ancient pseudepigrapha of which I would like to have complete manuscripts in their original languages.
The Stichometry of Nicephorus mentions:
- The Testament of Moses
- The Assumption of Moses
- Eldad and Modad
- Of the Prophet Elias
- Of the Prophet Sophonais
- Of Zacharias the father of John
- Pseudepigrapha of Baruch, Ambacum (Habakkuk), Ezekiel, and Daniel
The List of the Sixty Books mentions some of these and also (some overlap?):
- Vision of Esaias
- Apocalypse of Sophonias
- Apocalypse of Zacharias
The Gelasian Decree mentions in addition (again, possibly some overlap with above?):
- The book, concerning the daughters of Adam, of Leptogenesis
- The book which is called the Penitence of Adam
- The book concerning the giant named Ogias who is stated by the heretics to have fought with a dragon after the Flood
- The book which is called the Penitence of Jannes and Mambres
- The Writing which is called the Interdiction (or Contradiction) of Solomon
We have bits of some of these, but none (or at least very few) of them complete. Add to them the Aramaic Book of Giants (see also here) and the Nazarene Apocryphon of Jeremiah in Hebrew, mentioned by Jerome.
That's all I can think of off the top of my head (with the help of M. R. James's The Lost Apocrypha of the Old Testament). If I've missed some lost Old Testament pseudepigrapha known only by title or small fragment, drop me a note and let me know.
Incidentally, some very good news about our More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project is going to be announced soon. Watch this space.
Also, blogging may be light for a while. The page proofs for my book, The Provenance of the Pseudepigrapha: Jewish, Christian, or Other? have arrived, thanks to a remarkably quick production on Brill's part. I was just getting started on them this afternoon when I got a call from the Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha asking if they could e-mail me the proofs for my 27,000-word article, "(How) Can We Tell If a Greek Apocryphon or Pseudepigraphon Has Been Translated from Hebrew or Aramaic?" and would I be able to manage a turnaround by Monday. (The narrow window is due to a technical glitch that is no one's fault and it can't be helped.) This is good news, since it means that the article should be out next month and the book in the fall. But it also does mean that I'm going to be pretty busy reading proofs and supervising the book indexing for some time. Bear with me.
UPDATE: Michael Turton and Stephen Carlson post their wish lists. And Jim West posts his.
UPDATE (21 July): Ken Ristau posts his wish list.
UPDATE (22 July): Manuscript Boy posts his medieval wish list. But one of his wished-for books is in the future.
UPDATE (24 July): Justin Dombrowski posts his wish list of five. I also especially covet his first two.
UPDATE (25 July): Christopher Heard weighs in at Higgaion. I've thought of some more, which I'll try to post presently.
LATER: Lost treatises of the first-century Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria: three books missing from Questions and Answers on Exodus, one book from Drunkenness, and three books from Dreams. We also lack That Every Fool is a Slave (the companion piece to Good Person), two books On Covenants, a treatise On Rewards, the lives of Isaac and Jacob, perhaps a companion piece to Contempl. Life, and the promised sequel to Eternity (assuming it was written). There are also references to a treatise On Piety, although it has also been suggested that this is another name for Virtues. (The treatise names are from the SBL Handbook.) A number of Philo's treatises also survive only in Armenian translation, and I would like the Greek originals of those too, please.
I should perhaps also note the "external books" forbidden by R. Akiva in the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 10.1), although these are to be read at your own risk! Then there's also the passage in Mishnah Pesahim 4.9 (some manuscripts) which refers to a "book of healings" suppressed by King Hezekiah. Not that there was such a book in Hezekiah's time, but it's possible that a pseudepigraphon with that description was circulating in the Tannaitic period.
UPDATE: Ellen Birnbaum, Philo scholar, e-mails to say she approves of my list of lost Philonica. She adds:
Years ago, Hanan Eshel mentioned to me as a great desideratum the history of the Jewish war against Rome by Justus of Tiberias. (Though this is [probably] non-biblical, I thought I'd mention it anyway.)
In Against Apion, Josephus cites several sources that would illuminate our knowledge about attitudes of non-Jews towards Jews, and there are also the fragmentary Acts of the Alexandrian Martyrs (CPJ 2: nos. 154-59). Though your criteria for inclusion may be Bible-related works, some of these (esp. counter-accounts of the Exodus) may fall into that category in a perverse sort of way!
UPDATE (26 July): Reader Eric Rowe e-mails:
FWIW, at the top of my wish list would be Origen's Hexapla, partly for the (albeit possibly few) new readings, but mainly for its sheer importance.
Indeed. Also, on the H-Judaic list, Michael Stone is looking for the Book of Noah in rabbinic and later literature:
First, any references in Rabbinic or later texts to a book, testament or other document attributed to Noah. I am, of course, familiar with Sefer Noah in Jellineck, Bet HaMidrash.
If he finds any references, I hope he will share them with the list.
Also, Joe Cathey points to excerpts from a classical article on the Book of Giants by W. B. Henning which is now online. It discusses the story of Ogias the giant.
UPDATE: Brandon Wason has some suggestions over at Novum Testamentum.
UPDATE (5 August): Speaking of ancient lost books, many of these books might as well be lost for all people know about them, but thanks to new funding for the MOTP project, you should be able to read them soon.
UPDATE (30 December 2006): I've added to my lost books wish list here and here. See also here and here.