Biblical Antiquities of Philo (trans. M.R.James)

Written by jdarlack on April 21st, 2012

For a few versions now, BibleWorks has included R.H.Charles’ edited translation of Old Testament pseudepigraphal writings from vol. 2 of his 1913 Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (APOT). This collection of pseudepigrapha related to the Old Testament has since been ‘replaced’ by James Charlesworth’s Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (OTP), which provides more modern translations based on new manuscript evidence. APOT still retains a great deal of usefulness - especially for its notes, etc. (as are available in the BibleWorks module). One text that is present in Charlesworth’s OTP, but not in Charles’ APOT, is the work commonly referred to as “Pseudo-Philo.” In 1917, a few years after the publication of Charles’ APOT, M.R.James translated this Latin text wrongly attributed to Philo of Alexandria. The Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum or (Biblical Antiquities) is now often referred to as Pseudo-Philo, and is often abbreviated either Ps.-Philo or L.A.B. (or LAB). This translation made a previously overlooked piece of early Jewish literature available to the English speaking world.

LAB is a fascinating retelling of the biblical story from Genesis through the reign of King Saul. Manuscripts only exist in Latin, though it is believed by several scholars to originally have been composed in Hebrew. It is thought to predate the destruction of the temple (70 AD). Because of this early date, LAB is extremely significant for its representation of first century Jewish interpretation of Scripture.

This BibleWorks version provides the English translation of M.R.James’ 1917 Biblical Antiquities of Philo. The footnotes have been retained throughout (and will display in the Analysis Tab in BibleWorks. Cross references to the Old Testament have been omitted from this version for formatting reasons (though a CHM file of this text may be released in the near future that will retain OT cross references and include James’ introduction).

To install the files, download the archive and unzip the files to your /BibleWorks 9/databases folder. If you want the book name to display properly in your browse window, then you will need to append the following line to your default bookname file (typically books.bna in your /BibleWorks 9/init folder:

LAB,Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum,L.A.B.,Ps-.Philo

NOTE: Because of some of the features in this version, the text will best display in the latest update of BibleWorks 9. It has not been tested on earlier versions of BibleWorks (and will certainly not work on versions earlier than 8.)


This version is converted from the electronic text made available freely on the Internet Sacred Text Archive, where James’ Biblical Antiquities of Philo was scanned and edited by Bruno Hare (2004). The site states that these files are free for public domain use as long as proper attribution is retained.

Scans of the original publication of James’ translation are available via the Internet Archive:

James’ translation was republished in 1971 with an extensive prolegomenon by Louis H. Feldman, providing commentary and corrections on James’ translation and introduction. It is highly recommended that one consults Feldman’s notes when using this translation for research. Alas, it is not in public domain, so the notes cannot be fully incorporated into BW. Daniel J. Harrington produced a fresh translation of Pseudo-Philo in Charlesworth’s OTP 2:297-377. Howard Jacobson wrote A Commentary on Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum (1996) and provides the Latin text, a new translation, and copious notes.

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