Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster , at sacred-texts.com
The present volume contains a collection of old-world legends and tales. The heroes are mostly biblical personages; hence the name given to it by me, 'Bible Historiale.' It resembles in tendency and spirit these mediæval compilations, and is their oldest representative. The Hebrew text exists only in one single manuscript. My translation is as faithful and literal a rendering as such a subject requires. Unlike others, I have followed the older example and have added a full index. It is a complete digest of the whole matter contained in the book. No incident of any importance has wilfully been omitted. For the purpose of preparing it and of facilitating critical and bibliographical investigations, I have divided the text into chapters and paragraphs. Indications in the manuscript guided me.
In a long introduction I have investigated firstly the question as to the date and authorship of the chronicle as a whole; then discussed the place of its composition; the relation in which the chronicle of Jeraḥmeel stands to the Book of Yashar and to Yosippon. I have laid bare the connection with the 'Genesis Rabba Major' of Moses ha Darshan; and drawn attention to the parallelism between this chronicle, the 'Historia Scholastica' of Comestor, and other similar Christian compilations.
In a second part of the introduction I have studied each chapter and each text separately, and I have minutely investigated each paragraph and smaller incident. Parallels have been adduced by me not only from the Hebrew but also from non-Hebrew literatures. An attempt has been
made to ascertain the probable age of each of these legends, to show the historical background of some, and the value for textual criticism of the other texts contained in this chronicle.
Five pages of the Hebrew manuscript of decisive importance for the date and for the original character of this compilation have been added. In short, no pains have been spared to make this book a worthy contribution to the study of Biblical Apocrypha, and to place in the hand of the student the means of testing the truth and cogency of the conclusions to which I have arrived.
It remains now for me to fulfil a pleasant duty in thanking my friends Dr. W. H. Greenburg and Dr. H. Barnstein for the assistance they have rendered me, and above all Mr. F. F. Arbuthnot, to whose generosity the book owes its appearance.
June 16, 1899.
Tammuz 8, 5659.