Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation

Poème judéo-hellénistique attribué à Orphée : Production juive et réception chrétienne

Abstract : Orpheus is renowned as the legendary poet whose song was able to move even the stones, as Eurydice's lover who descended into the underworld for her and as the lyrist torn into pieces by the Bacchantes. During the 3rd and the 2nd centuries B. C., the Jews of Alexandria added to his portrait: they made him into the pagan Prophet of the biblical revelation. Their intention was twofold. Ideally, they aimed at convincing the Greeks to give up their traditional polytheism and embrace the monotheistic religion: indeed their favourite theologian would have already converted. More concretely, they hoped to strengthen the faith of their fellow Jews, who were in close contact with the Pagans, by showing them that their own religion was at the origin of the Greek culture — a culture they valued all the more highly, since mastering it acted as a springboard for acquiring a better place in society. To achieve both these purposes they composed a poem they attributed to Orpheus by rewriting ancient pagan verses already ascribed to him. In this piece of work, Orpheus, allegedly converted, praises in song the one and only God and unveils his attributes to his pupil Musaeus. This poem, sometimes entitled the Testament of Orpheus, was revised and completed two or three times, not only by the Jews, but also by the Christians who handed it down to us. Through their quotations, we own a series of fragments of this poem, which enables us to reconstruct its different versions. Fabienne Jourdan examines the context in which these verses were produced and received. More precisely, she deals with the following topics: 1. The Judaeo-Hellenistic literature and the Jewish pseudepigraphy. 2. The Christian sources and the apologetic motives for quoting the poem. 3. The reconstruction of the writing stages and transmission of the verses. 4. The title Testament of Orpheus whose genuineness and suitability can be challenged. This study is followed by a French translation and a thorough commentary of each version of the poem.
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Fabienne Jourdan <>
Submitted on : Thursday, January 7, 2010 - 4:20:31 PM
Last modification on : Friday, September 18, 2020 - 2:35:00 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-00445069, version 1


Fabienne Jourdan. Poème judéo-hellénistique attribué à Orphée : Production juive et réception chrétienne. Alain Segonds. LEs Belles Lettres, pp.312, 2010, Fragments, Michel Casevitz. ⟨hal-00445069⟩



Record views