Book of anniversaries

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The Book of Jubilees , Book of Jubilees ( Hebrew ספר היובלים, Old Ethiopian መጽሃፈ ኩፋሌ Mezchafe Kufale , "Book of Classifications"), formerly also called Little Genesis ( Leptogenesis ), is a Jewish script from the 2nd century BC. BC, which is still considered canonical today in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Beta Israel , but is counted among the pseudepigraphs of the Old Testament by the other Christian denominations . The oldest fragments of the Book of Jubilees, the plot of which largely parallels the Book of Genesis and the first half of the Book of Exodus , were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls . The central concern, which also gave the book of jubilees its name, is the calculation of the times of seven, with anniversaries of 49 years each.


The book of anniversaries begins with an account of God's revelation to Moses on Sinai (Jub 1, cf. Ex 24.15-18  EU ). It is there that the “angel of the face” is commissioned to write down the entire history of the world for Moses, from its creation to the construction of the sanctuary (Jub 1:27). The rest of the book (Jub 2–50) then contains this story from the perspective of the angel, from the creation story that establishes the Sabbath (Jub 2: 17–33, cf. Gen 2: 1–3  EU ) up to Moses Sinai, who receives the detailed prescriptions about the Sabbath (Jub 50, cf. Ex 31.12–17  EU ). Compared to the Torah , a lot is shortened, but some are also decorated with additional details. Above all, every event is classified according to a calendar that begins with creation and is divided into weeks of the year and anniversaries , often with precise details of the year, month and day. Eve's seduction by the snake is said to have taken place “after the seven years have passed (...) in the second month, on the 17th day” (Jub 3:17). Adam died "at the end of the 19th anniversary, in the 7th week of the year, in her 6th year" (Jub 4,29).

Seven years make up a week of the year , seven weeks of the year make up an anniversary . An anniversary is therefore 49 years. The basic chronological unit, however, is the seven-day week with the Sabbath. In the anniversary book, a calendar with a year of 364 days is propagated (Jub 6,32). This year consists of 4 quarters with 13 Sabbaths each (Jub 6.29), so a total of exactly 52 weeks. This has the practical advantage that every festival always falls on the same day of the week, but the disadvantage that neither the length of the year corresponds to the real solar year nor the resulting months of 30 or 31 days with the actual lunation . The authors of the anniversary book were also aware of this. You therefore blame the moon itself:

“And there will be people who will watch the moon closely, paying attention to the moon. Because it spoils the times and goes ahead ten days from year to year. "

- Jub 6.36

The work also contains numerous food and purity regulations, including the prohibition of exogamy (Jub 30:11).

The angels occupy a large space . Four classes are mentioned: "angels of the face", "angels of sanctification", "angels of nature" and "guardian angels". Among other things, the creation of angels on the first day of creation is reported, but also the sinful connection of apostate angels with human daughters, from which the giant Nephilim family, later destroyed during the flood, emerged . (In the Ethiopian version, however, it is said that in this case "angels" mean the descendants of Sets and "humans" mean the descendants of Cain .)

According to the author of the anniversaries, Hebrew was the language originally spoken by all creatures, humans and animals, and also in heaven. After the destruction of the Tower of Babel it was forgotten before it was taught to Abraham by the angels again. Enoch was the first person they taught the art of writing, after which he wrote down all the secrets of astronomy , time measurement and world history .


The original language of the book is Hebrew. Fragments of 16 different manuscripts from the book were found in five different Qumran caves : 1Q17–18; 2Q19-20; 3Q5, 4Q176a and 4Q216-224; 11Q12. So it was one of the most widely read books in the Qumran community. A quotation from the book of jubilees in the Damascus script (CD 16.3f.) Shows that it was also viewed as canonical.

The Hebrew jubilee book was translated into Greek at an early stage, according to James C. VanderKam no later than AD 200, according to Klaus Berger probably already before AD 70. However, there are only fragmentary Greek texts that go back to a work by Epiphanius some Latin fragments whose textual critical value is usually highly valued. An additional Syrian fragment in the British Museum entitled Names of the Patriarchal Wives according to the Hebrew Book of Anniversaries suggests that a Syrian version must also have existed.

The book of jubilees has only been handed down in full in the Ethiopian language , as it is part of the Ethiopian Bible . The oldest known Ethiopian manuscripts in the Jubilee Book date from the 14th and 15th centuries.

History of origin

The time of origin of the anniversary book cannot be given with certainty. While a dating to the time of the Hasmonean John Hyrcanus I (135–104 BC) was occasionally represented, especially in older research , a majority of researchers today believe that the book was written in the pre-Hasmonean period. Corresponding dates fall into the early 2nd or even the 3rd century BC. The most important arguments for dating to the Hasmonean period are alleged statements within the book that refer to events surrounding the Maccabees uprising (e.g. Chapter 15 on the refusal of circumcision by Hellenic circles in Jerusalem, or the treatment of Esau as a reflection of the conquest of Idumea under Hyrcanus I.). But such interpretations are uncertain. For the early dating, the status of the jubilee book is given in the Qumran writings . It is cited there (i.e. in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC) as an authoritative script, which makes it likely that it was written much earlier. In addition, due to content-related similarities, especially with the temple scroll (which in turn is considered to be one of the oldest Qumran texts), a development in content is assumed, at the relative beginning of which is the anniversary book. The oldest manuscript of the Hebrew original comes from Qumran and is palaeographically dated to 125–100 BC. Dated. This made some late dates questionable, as the anniversary book was probably not written in Qumran and must have been in circulation some time before.

Nothing is known about the author; older theses on Pharisaic authorship are outdated today. Usually today a fringe group of Judaism is assumed to be the origin context, which is sometimes also referred to as "proto-Qumran" or "proto-Essenian".

Impact history

In Judaism and Christianity

Among the scrolls of Qumran, the Jubilee Book is documented in numerous manuscripts and was therefore of great importance for the grouping behind the texts. The book of jubilees was not included in the Jewish canon . The same applies to Christianity. Although the book was highly regarded by the church fathers, it did not become part of the canon of the imperial church. The fact that the book has survived the times is therefore only thanks to the Oriental Orthodox Churches , especially the Ethiopian Church, and the Dead Sea Scrolls . Influenced by its use in Ethiopia, the book has recently gained some reputation in parts of the Jamaican Rastafarian movement.

In Islam

Andrew Rippin and Roberto Tottolio in their work “Books and Written Culture of the Islamic World” assume that the anniversary book had an influence on the emergence of Islam . In doing so, they compare the Koran suras 19: 41–48 and 21: 51–73 with the jubilee book and point out whether there is any contact in terms of content, but also specific differences between the Abrahamic traditions in the Koran and the jubilee book.

While in the book of anniversaries Abraham only wants to dissuade his father from idolatry (Jub 12), in the Qur'an Abraham acts as a God-appointed prophet for his people and speaks accordingly to his people in order to dissuade them as a collective from idolatry. In the book of jubilees, Terah , the father of Abraham, agrees with his son that the other gods are the work of man, but advises Abraham to keep quiet in order to save his life. In the Koran, however, Abraham's father and the people willingly indulge in idolatry and reject Abraham's attempt at proselytizing with the threat of violence. When Abraham then breaks all but one of the idol statues, he is accused by his people. He defends himself by blaming the remaining statue. He is then exposed to fire by the crowd, but before he is harmed, God protects him. According to the book of jubilees, the story is said to have been different: after talking to his father, Abraham sets a fire at the temple of idols and escapes from his hometown unrecognized, while his brother Haran, who does not appear in the Koran, is killed while extinguishing the fire . However, there are parallels to the above-mentioned Koranic narrative motifs in the rest of the Judeo-Christian tradition, sometimes even in the Bible.

The interpretation of Abraham as a prophet is not only self-evident in the book of jubilees, since Abraham meets here several times as the recipient of divine revelations (Jub 12.22-24; 13.19-21; 18.15-16 etc.), but already in Gen 20.7  EU .

On the one hand, there are phenomenological similarities, such as the literary form of the divine revelation conveyed by an angel and the effort to date important events in the past to known feast days. After Jub 14 and 15, God concludes his covenant with Abraham in the third month, i.e. at the time when later the revelation on Sinai is commemorated for the feast of weeks . The binding of Isaac is dated in Jub 17: 15–18: 3) on the 15th day of the first month, the date of the later Passover feast, when the salvation of the firstborn is remembered. Find similar z. B. in Ibn Ishaq's biography of the prophets, many important events take place on the same date. And on the other hand there are substantive contacts, for example in the story of Abraham.

Overall, however, the similarities between the Jubilee Book and the Koran are not specific enough to demonstrate direct dependency. Rather, they show how deeply the Koran is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition.


  • Klaus Berger : The book of anniversaries. In: Werner Georg Kümmel ; Hermann Lichtenberger (ed.): Jewish writings from Hellenistic-Roman times. Volume 2: instruction in narrative form. Gütersloh 1973-1999, pp. 273-575.
  • Paul Rießler: Old Jewish writings outside the Bible. Augsburg 1928 (translation of the Jubilee Book, pp. 539–666).
  • Harold Attridge et al. (Ed.): Qumran Cave 4 VIII. Parabiblical Texts 1. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert XIII. Oxford 1994.
  • James C. Vander Kam : The Jubilees Fragments from Qumran Cave 4. In: Julio Trebolle Barrera; Luis Vegas Montaner (Ed.): The Madrid Qumran Congress. Proceedings of the International Congress on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Madrid 18-21 March 1991. Leiden, New York, Cologne, Madrid 1992 (Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah, 11), pp. 635-648.
  • Cana Werman: Jubilees in the Hellenistic Context. In: Lynn LiDonnici, Andrea Lieber (Ed.): Heavenly Tablets. Interpretation, Identity and Tradition in Ancient Judaism. Leiden, Boston 2007 (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, 119), pp. 133-158.
  • Eyal Regev: Jubilees, Qumran, and the Essenes. In: Gabriele Boccaccini, Giovanni Ibba (eds.): Enoch and the Mosaic Torah: The Evidence of Jubilees. Grand Rapids 2009, pp. 426-440.
  • Christoph Berner:  Anniversaries Book. In: Michaela Bauks, Klaus Koenen, Stefan Alkier (Eds.): The Scientific Biblical Lexicon on the Internet (WiBiLex), Stuttgart 2006 ff.
  • Jan MF van Reeth, Le Prophète musulman en tant que Nâsir Allâh et ses antécédents: le "Nazôraios" évangélique et le livre des jubilés, in: Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica (OLP) (1992) vol. 23, pp. 251-274.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Retrieved March 30, 2019 .
  2. See Erno Littmann, The Book of Jubilees, in: Emil Kautzsch, Die Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen des Alten Testament. Second volume: Die Pseudepigraphen, Tübingen 1900, pp. 31–119.
  3. Berger, Jubilees, 361
  4. ^ A. Lange and U. Mittmann-Richert, Annotated List of the Texts from the Judaean Desert Classified by Content and Genre, DJD 39, p. 124.
  5. See Berger, Jubilees, 295.
  6. Berger, Jubilees, 289, with note 9.
  7. An overview is provided by Berger, Jubilees, 289–293.
  8. Jan MF van Reeth, Le Prophète musulman en tant que Nâsir Allâh et ses antécédents: le "Nazôraios" évangélique et le livre des jubilés, in: Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica (OLP) (1992) vol. 23, pp. 251-274. See also: Klaus Berger, Die Urchristen (2008) p. 340; Andrew Rippin, Roberto Tottoli (Eds.), Books and Written Culture of the Islamic World: Studies Presented to Claude Gilliot on the Occasion of his 75th Birthday, Brill (2015) p. 280 ff.
  9. Koran. Retrieved March 30, 2019 (Sura 19: 41-48).
  10. Koran. Retrieved March 30, 2019 (Sura 21: 51-73).
  11. “And remember Abraham in the scriptures! He was a true one and a prophet. ”Translation Paret, Sura 19:41.
  12. Quran, Sura 21:52 .
  13. Jub 12,5–7 (translation by Littmann ; translation by Rießler ).
  14. “He (Abraham) said: No! This one, the greatest of them did it [...]! ”(Translation Paret 21:63)
  15. Quran, Sura 21:69 .
  16. Jub 12: 12-14 (translation by Littmann ; translation by Rießler ).
  17. Cf. the motif of Abraham's ancestors serving other gods in Jos 24,2  EU .