Book of Jasher (Pseudo-Jasher)
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The Book of Jasher, also called Pseudo-Jasher, is an 18th-century literary forgery by Jacob Ilive. It purports to be an English translation by Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus of the lost Book of Jasher. It is sometimes called Pseudo-Jasher to distinguish it from the midrashic Sefer haYashar (Book of the Upright, Naples, 1552), which incorporates genuine Jewish legend.
Published in November 1751, the title page of the book says: "translated into English by Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus, of Britain, Abbot of Canterbury, who went on a pilgrimage into the Holy Land and Persia, where he discovered this volume in the city of Gazna." The book claims to be written by Jasher, son of Caleb, one of Moses' lieutenants, who later judged Israel at Shiloh. Jasher covers biblical history from the creation down to Jasher's own day and was represented as being the Lost Book of Jasher mentioned in the Bible.
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In Alcuinus' supposed translation, the Law is not given to Moses on Mount Sinai by God, but near to the mountain by Moses' father-in-law Jethro as the basis for civil government. The Creation occurs in the first chapter by natural process out of the ether and God only appears in Eden after the plants and animals, at the human stage of creation. Adam and Eve do not transgress, and, later on, Noah is credited only with the invention of shipping. The adjustments to the biblical narrative clearly promote Deist and Rationalist viewpoints from the 18th century, when the book was published, and the noble innocence of primitive humanity untarnished by original sin.
Alcuin was indeed a famous 8th-century English abbot, but he would not have produced a translation in the English of the King James Bible, living as he did in the era of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) and ecclesiastical Latin, so the provenance of the text was immediately suspect. There is an implausible introductory account by Alcuin of his discovery of the manuscript in Persia and its history since the time of Jasher, and an equally unlikely commendation by Wycliffe, the pre-Reformation Bible translator.
The supposed lost book was declared an obvious hoax by the Monthly Review in the December of the year of publication, and the printer Jacob Ilive was sentenced in 1756 to three years in jail for this fraud and for his radical anti-religious pamphlets.
In 1829, a slightly revised and enlarged edition was published in Bristol, provoking attacks against it. A photographic reproduction of this 1829 edition was published in 1934 by the Rosicrucians in San Jose, California, who declared it an inspired work.
- Sefer haYashar for other books with similar titles.
- Constitutional free speech defined and defended Theodore Schroeder - 1970 JACOB ILIVE — 1756.63 Jacob Ilive (1705-1763) was a type founder, printer, publisher of a magazine and a voluminous author, ... fictitious, and chimerical, and as a gross Piece of Forgery and Priestcraft, and thereby to weaken, enervate
- The Book of Jasher: One of the Sacred Books of the Bible Long Lost or Undiscovered, Flaccus A. Alcuinus (translator) (Kessinger Publishing Company, 1993) ISBN 1-56459-340-1
- The Book of Jasher: with Testimonies and Notes by Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus of Britain (CPA Books, 1998). ISBN 0-944379-20-6