Levi in Aramaic Levi and in the Testament of Levi
Marinus de Jonge
The subject of this paper is an investigation of the contribution of fragments of an Aramaic Levi Document (ALD) found at Qumran to the study of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (T.12Patr.) in general and of the <
I>Testament of Levi (T.Levi) in particular.
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs belong to the so-called Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament transmitted to us by early and medieval Christianity. In their present form they form a clearly Christian writing addressing Christian co
ncerns. Some scholars consider them basically Jewish, though more or less heavily interpolated and redacted by Christians. They still use them as evidence for ideas current in Judaism around the beginning of the present era. Others, like myself, are of th
e opinion that such a Jewish "Grundschrift", if it existed at all, cannot possibly be reconstructed; the Testaments have to be studied as a Christian composition making use of a surprising number of Jewish traditions, probably on the basis of acqua
intance with written Jewish sources.
For the study of the history, or rather the pre-history, of T.12Patr. comparison with sources that are clearly not Christian is of great importance. In the beginning of the century Cairo Genizah fragments from the Cambridge University Li
brary and the Bodleian Library in Oxford belonging to an Aramaic document dealing with Levi were published. R. H. Charles discovered that these partly overlapped with an addition found at T.L. 18:2 in the eleventh century Greek manuscript Athos Kou
tloumous 39 (= MS e) of T.12Patr. After the first publications of Aramaic Levi fragments found at Qumran - those assembled under the siglum 1Q21 by J. T. Milik in the first volume of Discoveries in the Judean Desert (1955) and the "Pr
ayer of Levi" published by the same author in the Revue Biblique of the same year - it became clear that these fragments and those once preserved in the Cairo Genizah represented one document. It was also obvious that yet another addition to MS
e, the one at T.L. 2:3, should be brought into play, in the same way as the addition to T.L. 18:3 just mentioned.
For a long time not much happened, as J. T. Milik did not produce the volume of Levi-fragments he announced in 1976. When further fragments were finally published in recent years the initial conclusions were confirmed. We have a substantial num
ber of Aramaic fragments from Qumran and from the Genizah, plus sizable parts of a Greek text preserved in MS Koutloumous 39, all representing one document that can throw light on the genesis of the Testament of Levi in T.12Patr. Very recent
ly Robert A. Kugler, in his From Patriarch to Priest. The Levi-Priestly Tradition from Aramaic Levi to Testament of Levi has tried to reconstruct this common document and compared it to T. Levi. In doing so he took into account the Le
vi-Priestly tradition in Jub. 30:1-32:9. and attempted to reconstruct a pre-Christian "Original T. Levi" in the stride.
Kugler's treatment of the texts is thorough and interesting, but his conclusions raise a number of questions. That is why it may be useful to have another look at the matter at this occasion.
I shall not deal here with many of the problems connected with the reconstruction, translation and interpretation of ALD but make critical use of the results of others, while I deal with the question to what extent the recently published
material sheds new light on the genesis of T. Levi. It should be clear that the new material at our disposal may help us to see things more clearly; but our knowledge is still fragmentary and, as so often, our arguments are like little pieces of s
tring, each too short to reach our goal; we have to tie the strings together in order to formulate an acceptable theory. Connecting the arguments within the framework of an overall theory remains a subjective activity.
2. The Testament of Levi
2.1. The collection of farewell-discourses of the sons of Jacob that bears the title "Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs" forms a unity. The opening and closing passages of the individual testaments are structured in the same way. In the body of e
ach testament we usually find the description of one or more episodes of the patriarch's life. The biographical details serve as illustrations for the exhortations that follow. The exhortatory passages give a spectrum of virtues and vices, together with g
eneral admonitions to obey the law of God and the commandments of the individual patriarch. At the end of each testament we find (a) prediction(s) of the future. There are many variations within this general framework, depending on the narrative material
available (in or outside the Bible), and there is also a great diversity in the predictions regarding the future.
This description also fits T. Levi. Compared to the other eleven this testament shows, however, a relatively great number of individual elements. Many of these can be explained by comparing the testament with the availabe Aramaic and Gre
ek fragments of the Levi-document under consideration. At the same time this comparison reveals a number of features that are peculiar to T. Levi. They are structural rather than incidental, and cannot be removed as later interpolations. They revea
l that the present T. Levi, though acquainted with the material found in the Levi-fragments and therefore different from the other testaments, looks at Levi, called to the priesthood by God himself, from a Christian point of view.
2.2. T. Levi focusses on Levi's priestly office and that of his descendants. It is of central importance for Israel but it is limited in time. The Most High, seated on his throne of glory, tells Levi; "Levi, I have given you the blessing of
the priesthood, until I come and sojourn in the midst of Israel" (5:2; cf. 4:4; 8:14). Repeatedly the future sins of the sons of Levi are announced, especially those against Jesus Christ (4:4 and chapters 10; 14-15 and 16). Chapter 17 describes the declin
e of the priesthood.
Chapter 18 announces the arrival of a new priest, sent by God, who introduces a new era. Levi, predicting this arrival in very special terms, tells that he will share in the joy about his coming, together with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (T.L.<
/I> 18:14). He says also that "His star will arise in heaven, as a king, lighting up the light of knowledge as by the sun of the day" (v. 3, cf. the description of his own office in 4:3), but does not tell that the new priest will be of his own tribe, whe
reas the corresponding passage in T. Judah 24:1 predicts: "a man will arise from my seed like the sun of righteousness." In both cases Jesus, a descendant of Judah and often referred to as "Son of David", is meant. In T. L. 2:10-11 we hear t
hat the one "who will redeem Israel" to be announced by Levi will come from Levi and Judah. Levi and Judah are mentioned together in many other testaments, the one representing the priesthood and the other the kingship. Even Judah, in his testament (T.
Jud. 21:1-6a) declares that the former is more important than the latter. A number of testaments connect the coming of a future deliverer with these two tribes, but in particular with Judah. This leads to a complex picture which I have analyzed elsew
In the Epistle to the Hebrews Jesus is called priest and high priest, but as one appointed by God as "priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedek" (Ps. 110:4, repeatedly referred to in Hebrews). He is superior to Levi and the Leviti
cal priests (see especially Hebrews 7). The approach found in by Hebrews did not encourage early Christians to emphasize connections between Jesus and Levi. But because Jesus was regarded as king and (high) priest the two could be linked, - as, for instan
ce, in Hippolytus' commentary on Genesis 49 and Deuteronomy 33.
2.3. Our oldest Greek manuscripts tell us that Levi's testament deals with "the priesthood and arrogance" and that covers its contents pretty well. Its main biographical item is Levi's action together with Simeon at Shechem - in fact the only story
in the Bible in which Levi plays a significant role (Genesis 34). It is introduced in T.L. 2:1-2 and recorded and commented upon in 6:3-7:4. It returns in the list of biographical details in chapters 11-12, where we read in 12:5 "I was eight years
when I went to the land of Canaan, and eighteen years when I killed Shechem, and at nineteen years I became priest...." There is a close connection between the "zeal" displayed by Levi at Shechem and his call to the priesthood. The Shechem story is prede
ded by a complex vision in which Levi makes a heavenly journey ending with an encounter with the Most High who appoints him priest (2:5-5:2). It is followed by an only slightly less complex vision in which seven men in white clothing carry out the actual
investiture (8:1-17). The two visions are connected and corroborate each other. In 8:18-19 we read: "and when I awoke I understood that this (vision) was like the former. And I hid this also in my heart and I did not tell it to anybody on earth."
The first vision is preceded by a prayer of Levi in 2:3-4. Pasturing the flocks at Abelmaul Levi "sees" the wickedness of men and asks God to be saved. The prayer is followed by an express command by the angel who has accompanied Levi on his he
avenly journey, to execute vengeance on Shechem because of Dinah. Levi is assured of the angel's assistance and receives a shield and a sword (5:3-6:7). Levi takes this to heart (6:1-2) and acts accordingly (6:3-7:4).
After the second vision we hear that Levi, Judah and Jacob visit Isaac, and that Isaac blesses Levi according to his visions (9:1-2). Jacob goes to Bethel (cf. Gen. 35:1-5), receives a vision concerning Levi's priesthood and brings tithes of ev
erything through Levi (9:3-4). After the entire family has moved to Hebron, Isaac instructs Levi repeatedly in the law of the priesthood (9:5-14). Some rules are mentioned specifically; they form a very mixed set.
Chapter 10 deals, quite unexpectedly, with predictions of the future sins of Levi's sons, using the Sin-Exile-Return-pattern that is often found in T.12Patr. and that is, surprisingly, repeated in chapters 14-15 and 16. This deliberate r
epetition of the SER-pattern shows how much importance was attached to the future sins of Levi's descendants and their punishment. Only 16:5 mentions future bliss in a clearly Christian phrase: "(among the Gentiles you will be for a curse and for dispersi
on) until he will again visit (you) and in pity receive you through faith and water."
Between the first SER-passage in chapter 10 and the second one in chapters 14-15 we find a list of biographical details concerning Levi and his children and grandchildren in chapters 11-12. There follows a parenetical passage in chapter 13 that
emphasizes study of the law and obedience to it. "Wisdom in the fear of the Lord with diligence" cannot be taken from a person, even when he loses everything he possesses and has to go into exile. The example of Joseph is expressly mentioned. Chapter 13
is the only straightforward exhortatory passage in T. Levi; it does not refer to Levi's priesthood or that of his sons.
Chapter 17 describes the story of the priesthood according to jubilees. It is very brief and reads like a bad abstract from a larger text. It ends with a description of the seventh jubilee according to the SER-scheme, followed by the mention of
new sins of the priests and, in chapter 18, by the announcement of their punishment by the Lord, the extinction of the priesthood and the arrival of a new priest.
In chapter 19 T. Levi ends with the usual closing passage in which, remarkably Levi's descendants are introduced as "we". After Levi's summons to choose between darkness and light, the law of the Lord and the works of Beliar, we read: "And we a
nswered our father saying: Before the Lord we will walk, according to his law" (v. 2). One may note that Justin in his Dialogue with Trypho (116:3) calls the Christian community "the true highpriestly race of God". Christians bring pure offerings t
o the Lord among all the nations, in accordance with Mal. 1:11. Apparently the author expects his Christian readers to identify themselves with Levi's descendants.
3. The Aramaic and Greek Levi-fragments
3.1. It is helpful to begin with some introductory remarks:
3.1.1. The Aramaic and Greek fragments dealing with Levi are of very diverse provenance. According to M. Beit-Arié the Genizah material was written before 1000 CE. We have the text of ten columns, wholly or in part. On the basis of an au
topsy of the Bodleian and Cambridge material and comparison with the Greek texts from Mount Athos R. A. Kugler has recently concluded that, originally, there must have been three double leaves with altogether 24 columns.
As to the fragments found at Qumran: First there are those assigned to 1Q21, assembled by Milik. Next there is the material from Cave 4 classified as 4Q213 and 4Q214, now divided over six manuscripts by J. C. Greenfield and M. E. Stone, all dat
ed about the middle of the first century BCE or slightly earlier. 4Q540, 541 and 548 have been tentatively called 4Q Test. Levic,d,e by E. Puech; he came to that decision on the basis of supposed parallels between 4Q540, fra
gment 1 and T.L. 17:6-10, between 4Q541, fragm. 9 and T.L. 18:2-4 and between 4Q548 and T.L. 19:1. Kugler has rightly remarked that these proposals are based on what T. Levi contains and not on what is known to be part of Ar
. Levi from unquestioned witnesses to it. Moreover these parallels are not all that striking; Puech's hypothesis should therefore not be adopted.
The Greek texts are found in an eleventh century manuscript, but the shape and the date of the Vorlage of these additions to the regular text of T. Levi cannot be determined. The first addition to e, at T.L. 2:3, con
sists of a prayer of Levi. with an introduction and a closing sentence. It forms a unity and is inserted just before the mention of a similar prayer in T.L. 2:14. Did the scribe still know its original context? Does the same apply to the addition i
n e to T.L. 5:2 which may also belong to the earlier Levi document? The last insertion, at T.L. 18:2 has a proper beginning corresponding to T.L. 9:1, but breaks off unexpectedly with the birth of Levi's son Merari (cf. T.L.
The small Syriac fragment published by R. H. Charles (British Library Add. MS. 17,913) corresponds to part of Cambridge Genizah fragment, col. d.
3.1.2. Notwithstanding this diversity of provenance these fragmentary texts are witnesses to one single underlying text. Put in parallel columns they show overlap in numerous cases. There is clearly no direct literary dependence one way or anot
her between the existing witnesses. Yet they may be used to correct and to supplement each other, and for the reconstruction of the underlying text - although there is likely to remain a considerable degree of doubt as to its original Wortlaut, due
to numerous orthographical and grammatical variants and differences in wording. The presence of a number of Aramaic fragments at Qumran makes it certain that the text at the basis was not only non-Christian but also pre-Christian. Most scholars date it i
n the third century BCE. Some have argued in favour of the theory that the original language was Hebrew, but it seems difficult to prove this conclusively.
In view of all this one may call the underlying document "Aramaic Levi" or, as Greenfield and Stone have suggested "Aramaic Levi Document" (ALD). Because we do not have any remains of the beginning or the ending of the document it is dif
ficult to determine its literary genre It is not advisable to use the word "testament" in the title.
3.1.3. Most scholars are of the opinion that T. Levi is directly or indirectly dependent on a written source identical or very similar to ALD; the alternative, dependence of both documents on a common source or oral tradition, has
not much to recommend it. In practice this has meant that the order of the available fragments of ALD and the structure of the document have been determined by comparison with T. Levi. R. A. Kugler has recently protested against this proced
ure and advocated a different structure as far as the first part of ALD is concerned.
In principle the danger of circular reasoning indeed exists; it remains to be seen, however, whether there has proved to be any such danger in practice, and whether Kugler's alternative reconstruction has to be preferred.
3.2. After these introductory remarks we may proceed to a survey of the contents of ALD on the basis of the available fragments. Apart from the very fragmentary text on columns a and b of the Cambridge fragment (dealing with the Shechem epis
ode) the Cairo Genizah and Athos material gives a continuous text, providing parallels for the end of T. Levi 8 to the end of T. Levi 13, with the exception of T. Levi 10. That is: they give the end of a vision; the story of the journ
ey to Isaac, to Bethel and again to Isaac; next Isaac's instructions to Levi (compared to those in T. Levi 9 these are extremely lengthy and detailed). This is followed by a biographical account concerning Levi and his descendants ending (as alread
y noted) with the typical verse 81. Levi's speech on the value of Wisdom pronounced earlier, in the year his brother Joseph died, follows in vv. 82-95.
Chapter 10, the first of the three SER-passages in T. Levi dealing with the sins of the sons of Levi, is a deliberate addition on the part of the author of this testament who wanted to stress that point, important in his picture of the
The new finds at Qumran have yielded additional material overlapping and supplementing the Genizah and Athos texts (with the exception of Cambridge cols. a and b) - as Greenfield and Stone as well as Kugler have shown. Numerous details still ha
ve to be discussed and a close analysis, particularly of the speech on Wisdom, for which there is relatively much new material, is called for. The point I want to make now is that there is still no reason to doubt that T. Levi and ALD run pa
Some small fragments called 4Q Levia ar 3-5 (so Greenfield and Stone) do not have anything in common with other known fragments, but ever since J. T. Milik suggested that they may correspond to the beginning of th
e second SER-passage in T. Levi 14, they have been put after the Wisdom speech. Important elements in this text are the announcement of sins of the sons of the speaker and a supposed reference to Enoch (corresponding to that in T.L. 14:1). I
note, however, that Greenfield and Stone are not at all sure that Milik's reading of that name is warranted. In that case the suggested place of these fragments is even more doubtful than it always has been.
3.3. We now turn to the remaining texts: the Cambridge fragments dealing with what happened at Shechem, the fragments with the Prayer of Levi and the introduction to a vision, first edited by Milik (now called 4Q Levib ar fragments 1 and 2), and a piece of text dealing with a woman who has desecrated the name of her father, adding a blessing for the pious from the Levitical line (4Q Levib ar fragments 3 and 4).
Although there is no direct link with other fragments of ALD or with T. Levi the third piece of text seems to have to be connected with the story of Dinah and so will have to be placed somewhere after what remains of the narrative
of the Shechem episode in columns a and b of the Cambridge fragment. Greenfield and Stone as well as Kugler point to Jubilees 30:5-17, forbidding intermarriage with Gentiles. This discourse comes immediately after a short account of what happened
at Shechem; it is followed by vv. 18-20 which promise an eternal blessing for Levi and his descendants because of Levi's zeal for the law of the Lord.
Scholars have usually put 4Q Levib ar 1-2, together with the corresponding Athos text, before the fragmentary Cambridge text on Shechem, assuming that ALD, like T. Levi, recounted two visions, one be
fore and one after the events at Shechem. The first vision in T.Levi 2-5 is a very complicated one, with undoubtedly Christian elements, and its counterpart in ALD may have been much simpler. But given the agreement in order elsewhere there
did not seem to be reason to doubt a parallel sequence here too.
There were positive indications: the answer of the angel in T.L. 4:2-3, 5 seemed to be an answer to Levi's prayer in ALD rather than to that in T.L. 2:4. In T. Levi the vision is situated at Abelmaul and ALD s
peaks about Abel-main. There is one accompanying angel in both documents and in both cases the gates of heaven are opened; ALD unfortunately breaks off at this point, but T. Levi describes here a heavenly journey of the patriarch.
And as to the end of the vision described before the journey of Levi with Jacob's family to Bethel: here we hear of seven angels, both in T. Levi and in ALD (represented by Bodleian col. a 1-13 supplemented with some small new fra
gments). At the end, in T.L. 8:18-19, Levi says that after this vision he understood that this was like the former, and that he hid this also in his heart (cf. 6:2, at the end of the first vision). The corresponding passage in ALD has been t
ranslated: "The one vision is even as the other" - following the (first ever) translation of Charles who, however, seems to be influenced by the parallel in T. Levi. Greenfield and Stone translate: "Then I said: 'this is a vision, and thus I am ama
zed that I should have a vision at all.'" The text continues: "And I hid this too in my heart" - which may still implicitly refer to a first vision, as in T. Levi.
Greenfield and Stone have questioned the usual view by pointing out that the prayer of Levi in ALD seems to suppose a situation at which Levi's children are present, fitting a farewell scene, but not the one presupposed in T. Levi
2. Next, the washing ceremony before the prayer will be an action of Levitical purification. This may mean that Levi's prayer followed his consecration. Greenfield and Stone do not, however, propose a specific order for this part of ALD.
Kugler's solution is a very radical one. He tries to prove that ALD had only one vision, after the Shechem incident and before the journey of Jacob and his family to Bethel. Neither the usual arguments for a two vision theory nor the sug
gestions made by Greenfield and Stone are compelling; at all points he offers alternative interpretations and translations. In favour of his hypothesis he mentions ALD vv. 78-79 (Cambridge col. d 15-18), "...and I was eighteen when I killed Shechem
and destroyed the workers of violence. I was nineteen when I became a priest." He notes that this runs parallel to T.L. 12:3 (already mentioned above), "... and (I was) eighteen years when I killed Shechem, and nineteen when I became priest." In K
ugler's view the authors of T. Levi should have adjusted this statement, because in its story the patriarch is already elevated to the priesthood before Shechem. But they did not, in my view because for them it was the actual investiture in T. L
evi 8 that counted. I fail to see why the author of ALD, too, could not have written the biographical note concerned after recounting two visions.
Another argument is supplied by Kugler's reconstruction of the Cairo Genizah document. It leads him to calculate an eight-column gap between the end of Cambridge a-b (with what remains of the Shechem narrative) and Bodleian a (the end of a visi
on). In that gap he situates Levi's Prayer and one vision. The fragmentary text about intermarriage, already tentatively situated after the Shechem incident, can well be explained as part of an angelic speech to Levi connected with the vision (cf. Jubi
This reconstruction is quite ingenious, as are Kugler's attempts to disprove the arguments of those scholars who assume two visions. I want to suggest that Kugler, though cautious at every step he takes, simply wants to prove too much. Given th
e fragmentary state of the evidence we are unable to prove that the new non-Genizah evidence has to be fitted in the gap just indicated (assuming that Kugler has rightly assessed the size of the gap). It is still possible to put part of the material befor
e the Shechem episode and to assume that the order of events in ALD and in T. Levi was similar, if not identical. Definite proof one way or the other is not possible; in the meantime there is something to be said in favour of proceeding on t
he assumption that, given the situation elsewhere, T. Levi and ALD run parallel here too.
3.4. Our knowledge of ALD remains fragmentary like the document itself. Yet we may say a few things of the picture of Levi it presents. Levi is a priest who receives very detailed instructions concerning sacrifices (vv. 13-61), though not ex
actly those mentioned in the relevant sections of the Law of Moses. In the "Prayer of Levi" (vv. *6, *18) and in the final passages of Isaac's instructions (vv. 48-50, 58-61) his seed joins him in his office, and shares in the eternal blessing connected w
ith the priesthood.
At the same time in the prayer all emphasis is on Levi's holiness, purity, wisdom and knowledge; he prays to be guarded against the unrighteous spirit and fornication and pride. He asks that God may show him the holy spirit and grant him counse
l and wisdom, knowledge and strength (vv. *7-*8). Also Isaac's priestly instructions begin with an exhortation to remain holy and to shun sexual impurity (vv. 16-18). Levi's final prayer is: "Make me a participant in your words to do true judgment for all
time, me and my children for all the generations of the ages" (v. *18). V. 59 in the priestly instructions ends with "blessing will be pronounced by your seed upon the earth."
In the appended instructions pronounced by Levi in the year of Joseph's death all emphasis is on reading, writing and teaching of wisdom. Here Joseph is the great example for Levi's children (vv. 82 and following verses). Warnings against futur
e sins of Levi's descendants will have accompanied the exhortations, though it is difficult to determine their exact place in ALD.
ALD, as well as 4Q Qahat and 4Q Amram, clearly originated in priestly circles which stressed purity in the priestly office, but also the instructional functions of the priests (cf. Deut. 33:8-11; Mal. 2:4-9). In one way or
another there is a connection between Levi's calling to the priesthood and his exploits at Shechem, but in view of the very fragmentary state of our evidence exactly at that point it is difficult to make out the exact nature of that connection. Some schol
ars have found indications that royal prerogatives are connected with Levi (Bodl. col. a, 1-7 together with 1Q21; ALD v. 67 in the Greek and Aramaic; perhaps also a few phrases in the newly discovered part of the Wisdom speech, now numbered v. 99 b
y Kugler). This would be in accordance with a picture of Levi as zealous fighter for the Lord at Shechem after the manner of the Levites in Exod. 32:26-29 and Phinehas in Numbers 25. Kugler protests; this connection is present in T. Levi 5-6 where
Levi, after his calling to the priesthood, receives the explicit command to execute vengeance on Shechem. It is not found in ALD, according to him; this mentioned Levi's appointment only after his exploits at Shechem. "The first and foremost eviden
t theme is Levi's suitability for the priestly office owing to his passion for his own purity and that of the community." I wonder, because I do not accept Kugler's reconstruction as proven at this point; we shall return to this in the next section.
4. Levi in ALD and T. Levi
4.1. It is now time to return to the picture of Levi in T. Levi and to ask again to what extent it was influenced by that found in ALD. As I indicated in section 2, the present T. Levi is "structurally" Christian; but it does a
cknowledge the special position of Levi and his tribe, as (high) priests, judges, scribes and teachers of the Law, in the time before the arrival of Jesus Christ. And its description of the role played by Levi and his descendants is without any doubt clos
ely related to that found in the Aramaic and Greek fragments discussed in section 3.
The question then arises how we should explain those differences between T. Levi and ALD that are more likely to go back to the Vorlage from which the Christian authors of T. Levi worked, than to these authors themse
lves. If we put the question this way we realize how little we know about that Vorlage. First, we do not know exactly what ALD contained and how it was structured. Next, the authors of T. Levi may have had ALD before them in a form th
at differed from the one we try to reconstruct on the basis of the existing fragments. Let us look, for instance, at the Greek fragments in MS e for a moment. We know next to nothing about the Vorlage from which they were taken. But if these
fragments survived until the eleventh century, there is a chance that a much fuller Greek document could be used by those responsible for T.12Patr. at the end of the second century. Such a document may have had its own development apart and differ
ent from that represented by the other witnesses to ALD.
Kugler has come up with another solution by positing an intermediary "Original Testament of Levi" between ALD and T. Levi. He has also tried to determine its place in what he calls "The Levi-Priestly Tradition from Aramaic Levi
to Testament of Levi." Although he proceeds cautiously and only wants to gain a sense of Original T. Levi's outline and not to determine its exact contents, he is so enthusiastic about the result of his reconstruction and so confident o
f having found the "original" testament that he forgets to deal with the form of the Levi-priestly tradition in the T. Levi found in T.12Patr. I am as skeptical about his reconstruction as about all previous attempts by other scholars; Kugle
r, of course, regards my position as too conservative. Yet we do well to bear in mind that it is the present Christian T. Levi that lies before us, not the supposed "original" one.
4.2. In the present context there is no place for a detailed discussion of Kugler's analysis of T. Levi leading to the reconstruction of the so-called original version of it. I want, however, to discuss some passages of T. Levi in ord
er to illustrate how complicated the matter really is.
Let us begin with the first vision, in T. Levi 2-5, without any doubt a composite passage. It may be divided into two or three sections, preceded by an introduction in 2:3-5, which mentions a prayer of Levi and a subsequent sleep and vision. In
2:6-4:1 we have a (very complex) description of seven heavens, an announcement of Levi's future task and a prediction of judgment. In 4:2-6 we hear of the answer to Levi's prayer, directly followed, in 5:1-6:2, by the account of a meeting of Levi with th
e Most High, his calling to the priesthood and a command by the angel to execute vengeance on Shechem because of Dinah. It all ends with Levi's waking up; he blesses the Most High and the angel, and returns to his father.
In both sections we find clearly Christian elements. Kugler tacitly omits those in 4:2-6:2, which he regards as part of Original T. Levi, together with 2:3-5. The first section, 2:6-4:1 he assigns to a later redactional stage. This seems
to be too simple a solution but, anyway, he is right in emphasizing that 5:1-6:2 link up with 6:3-7:4, describing Levi's role in the events at Shechem, a section he regards as basically representative of what appeared in Original T. Levi.
In T. Levi Levi is clearly depicted as a warrior-priest executing God's judgment on Shechem (5:3-4, after vv. 1-2; 6:8). In this respect it deviates from the ALD reconstructed by Kugler; this is for him a clear sign that Origin
al T. Levi represents a different stage in the development of the Jewish Levi-priestly tradition. Kugler thinks, however, that Original T. Levi used elements of the single post-Shechem vision in ALD as basic building blocks for the pre-S
hechem vision in his work.
This is a very complicated theory. There is certainly no reason to assume that the Christian authors of T. Levi would have dwelt at such length on Levi's role at Shechem, both in 5:1-6:2 and in 6:3-7:4, if this had not been in their V
orlage. Because what they found went back to the biblical account in Genesis 34, and clearly formed part of the tradition concerning Levi's activities, they saw no reason to change the narrative as it stood. But is it really evident that we should ass
ume an intermediate Original T. Levi because this Vorlage does not agree with the supposed contents of (a form of) ALD? The situation is complex, but Kugler seems to make it even more complicated, and unnecessarily so.
We now turn to Isaac's instructions to Levi about the priesthood in T.L. 9:6-14, corresponding to vv. 14-61 in ALD. There is no doubt that this part of T. Levi gives some sort of extract of the very detailed instructions in
ALD (although it abbreviates so much that we cannot be certain it knew them exactly in that form). After "the law of the Lord" in general, Isaac teaches Levi "the law of the priesthood" in particular; five types of offerings are mentioned (vv. 6-7
). Then follows the extract that emphasizes purity in vv. 9-11, but says very little about sacrificing (vv. 12-14). In fact, Levi is warned against "the spirit of impurity (pornei/a)" which, in due time, "will defile the
holy things by your seed" (we should remember that a SER-passage denouncing the sins of Levi"s offspring follows in chapter 10). As a priest Levi will have to take for himself a wife who has no blemish, and has not been defiled, and is not of a race of s
trangers and gentiles" (v. 10).
It would seem to me that the present text of T. Levi can be explained as the result of abbreviation and redaction of a text like that in ALD by its Christian authors and that there is no need to assume an intermediary Original
T. Levi. Of course the authors of T. Levi acknowledged that the priest Levi had cultic functions, and that priests were subject to strict marriage laws. They did not go into details with regard to the rules concerning sacrifices, no longer rele
vant for their audience. They did emphasize the danger of porneiva, however, a sin repeatedly denounced in T.12Patr., especially in T. Reuben and T. Judah.
Next, a few remarks about T. Levi 13, a chapter with general exhortations, parallel to ALD vv. 81-95 (plus some text in new fragments). Again there is general agreement that the former knew the latter, but abbreviated and redacted
it heavily. The most striking feature is that ALD stresses "truth" and "wisdom", whereas in T. Levi the law of God and wisdom (subordinate to it) occupy a central position. In both cases the exhortations are general rather than specific and
relevant for any audience, Jewish, Christian or even pagan.
How do we explain the emphasis on the Law in T. Levi 13 (vv. 1, 3, 4, cf. 19:1; 9:6)? Is this an indication of a Jewish Vorlage of the present T. Levi, different from the ALD-text we know? This is a not unlikely supp
osition. "It is difficult to imagine a context in which a Christian translator would have replaced 'wisdom' with 'Law'," say Greenfield and Stone. They are right; yet the Christian authors of T. Levi maintained the word novmo". For them the pa
triarchs belonged to the period before Moses, but they had observed God's law in their lives, before Moses had been ordered to issue extra-commandments especially for the Jewish people. These patriarchs had the necessary authority to exhort Israelites and
Gentiles to live in the true obdience to God - also after the coming of Jesus Christ, as a new lawgiver who had summed up all that is righteous and pious in the two great commandments of love to God and love to one's neighbour.
Finally: As we have seen, it is very difficult to say anything with certainty about the relationship between T. Levi and ALD after T. Levi 13. In this Kugler and I agree. There are very few specific similarities between 4Q
Levia ar 3-5 and T.Levi 14-15. Moreover T. Levi applies the SER-pattern, often used in T.12Patr. It is likely that T. Levi (16:1) 17:1-11 gives extracts from a larger story of the priesthood accor
ding to jubilees and weeks, but that story is changed so drastically that reconstruction of the Vorlage is impossible - and 4Q450, fragment 1 is not of little help here. I see, again, no reason to assume that T. Levi goes back here to Ori
ginal T. Levi that already added such a passage to ALD at this point.. Nor do I think that we have any evidence that this contained the Jewish Vorlage of the much discussed chapter T. Levi 18. Here 4Q541, fragment 9 i 2-4, spe
aking about a new priest, says a number of things about him that are parallel to T.L. 18:2-4, but the similarities are few and of a general nature (see the use of the imagery of light and darkness). As elsewhere, the Christian phrases in T. Levi
18 are found in strategic places. Efforts to reconstruct a pre-Christian version of this chapter have proved a challenge to many scholars, but it should first of all be read in the light of chapters 2-3, 4 and 8 and in the context of Levi's overall v
iew on the Levitical priesthood, as outlined in section 2. To suppose that Original T. Levi already composed this chapter, using themes and phrases already developed elsewhere in this work, is unnecessary.
5. Some Conclusions
a. The Levi-fragments found at Qumran form a welcome addition to the medieval Aramaic material from the Cairo Genizah already known to us and to the Greek text fragments preserved in two additions in the Greek MS e.
b. Eventually all available texts go back to one document (ALD), although they display a number of divergencies where they overlap.
c. Thanks to the fact that we now have fragments from Qumran, we may be certain that this material represents a text current before the beginning of the common era.
d. Our evidence still remains fragmentary, and differences will remain with regard to the reconstruction of the oldest accessible form of text and its structure. On the whole it seems advisable to let T. Levi help determine the order of the
e. The particular features of T. Levi within T.12Patr. can best be explained by assuming that it used, beside other (written) traditions, the text represented by the various fragments - in some, perhaps a Greek, form. Its exact Vor
lage cannot be determined.
f. There is no reason to posit a Jewish intermediate stage between ALD and T. Levi.
g. The redactional activity of the Christian author(s) of T.12Patr. in general and T. Levi in particular was at the same time conservative and drastic. A number of elements in the Vorlage were preserved, others were redacted he
avily; all were fitted into a specific Christian framework. Levi's appointment as priest was acknowledged, but the failing of the Levitical priesthood received much attention. The priest expected to introduce a new era would not be a son of Levi.
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