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Ezekiel the Tragedian [Fragment] (Researcher: Robert Hayward):
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1.1 [The text refers to itself as verbal entity (with implied or explicit boundaries): The poetic composition named Exagoge ascribed to Ezekiel in antiquity survives only in fragments preserved in Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica IX.28-29, Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis I.23.155f., and Pseudo-Eustathius of Antioch, Commentarius in Hexaemeron, Patrologia Graeca 18.729. Eusebius, to whom we owe the preservation of the bulk of the text of Ezekiel, has derived his quotations from the work of Alexander Polyhistor, who excerpted passages from Ezekiel's work. The work consists wholly of poetry; and the excerpts made by Polyhistor probably (as far as we can determine) preserve the original wording and versification with some accuracy. This analysis, however, at every point has to take into account the fragmentary nature of the textual evidence, and the part played by Alexander Polyhistor, which cannot now be determined with certainty, in its transmission to Eusebius. The following inventory profile is based on Howard Jacobson's edition of the Exagoge.]

Full profile (Bibliography at the bottom):
1.1 [The text refers to itself as verbal entity (with implied or explicit boundaries): The poetic composition named Exagoge ascribed to Ezekiel in antiquity survives only in fragments preserved in Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica IX.28-29, Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis I.23.155f., and Pseudo-Eustathius of Antioch, Commentarius in Hexaemeron, Patrologia Graeca 18.729. Eusebius, to whom we owe the preservation of the bulk of the text of Ezekiel, has derived his quotations from the work of Alexander Polyhistor, who excerpted passages from Ezekiel's work. The work consists wholly of poetry; and the excerpts made by Polyhistor probably (as far as we can determine) preserve the original wording and versification with some accuracy. This analysis, however, at every point has to take into account the fragmentary nature of the textual evidence, and the part played by Alexander Polyhistor, which cannot now be determined with certainty, in its transmission to Eusebius. The following inventory profile is based on Howard Jacobson's edition of the Exagoge.]

1.1.1 [The text refers to itself using a genre term, speech act term, verb or other term implying verbal constitution: The generic description "tragedy" is given, either by Alexander Polyhistor or Eusebius (scholars disagree on this point) in an editorial note inserted between lines 31 and 32 of the text as quoted by Eusebius. Following line 192, Eusebius quotes Polyhistor, who speaks of Ezekiel's work as a "drama". It should be noted that these generic descriptions are given by Alexander Polyhistor or Eusebius, and not by Ezekiel himself. Likewise Clement, Strom. I.23.155, described Ezekiel as a writer of "tragedies".]

1.1.2 [The text speaks of itself as dealing with an overall theme (subject matter) or purpose, or as consisting of coordinated parts making a whole: The ancient writers who preserved fragments of Ezekiel's work (and on whom we depend for knowledge of his name) give the title of his tragedy or drama as Exagoge, thereby indicating that his work treated the subject of Israel's Exodus from Egypt. This title "Exagoge" is found in Polyhistor's words introducing the quotations beginning at lines 132 and 193; and also in editorial words introducing the place Elim and the eventual description of the phoenix bird, at line 243. That classical Greek tragedy might properly deal with historical events is indicated by Aeschylus' composition of the Persae; and students of Greek drama generally suggest that Hellenistic playwrights felt less constrained than their classical predecessors about which subjects might be treated in tragedy. In the case of the Persae, the chorus of Persian elders plays a central role in giving out information and supplementing the words of the four characters, namely Atossa, the mother of Xerxes; a messenger; the ghost of king Darius; and Xerxes himself. Ezekiel's drama, insofar as it survives, seems to have virtually nothing in the way of a chorus, however; and the action appears limited in scope. We are informed of a possible total of seven characters, namely Moses, Sepphorah (Zipporah), God, Moses' father-in-law, a messenger, an unnamed character telling Moses about the location Elim, and an individual named Chus who speaks in dialogue with Sepphorah: the identity of this last character is unclear, and scholars propose differing explanations of his presence and his precise role in the dialogue.]

1.1.5 Important text witnesses attest to a heading which is not integrated with the body of the text or with any introductory frame, implying one or more of the kinds of information under 1.1.1–4: As noted under 1.1.2, the quotations of this text which have been preserved by Alexander Polyhistor and others are provided with the general title "Exagoge". This title "Exagoge" is used in the excerpts from the drama provided by Eusebius quoting Polyhistor, without further explanation, on four separate occasions.

1.3 The text overall is shaped by a poetic or rhetorical-communicative pattern that is self-bounding (see further section 3).

1.6 The approximate word count or other indication of comparative size is: 269 lines of Greek text.

1.7 The text’s Inventory profile should be seen in the light of the following further information on completeness, thematic progression, aesthetic effects, etc.: Overview of Parts: There are indirect markers for beginning, middle, or end. This would seem to be so, although we depend entirely on the evidence of Polyhistor, Eusebius, and others regarding these markers (especially those relating to changes of speaker and theme). Although the Aristotelian "canon" of unity of time, place, and action in respect of tragedy is not precisely observed, all ancient reports about the theme of Ezekiel's play indicate that it was held in order to treat a single theme, that of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt and its attendant circumstances. The ancient designation of the text as "tragedy" is supported by the appearance in line 148 of the word "hubris", a character trait conventionally associated with tragic plays, and the theme of the exposure of infants (see line 16, where Moses is said to have been "exposed" as an infant), which features in a number of Greek tragedies. As regards the historical context in which the text was produced, it is possible that the description of the phoenix bird in lines 254-269 given in the speech of a messenger may reflect reports that the bird had been observed in the time of Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-221), and that the drama was composed around or after this time; but this suggestion remains uncertain.

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2.4 The governing voice defines a horizon of knowledge as shared with the projected addressee by taking for granted the following linguistic usages or references (in selection):

2.4.1 Persons or unique objects referred to by proper name or by technical expression: Biblical persons, as designated by the LXX, are named and taken for granted, as follows: Abram; Isaac; Jacob; Aaron; Miriam; Sepphorah; and the Pharaoh, along with the ethnic designations "Egyptian" (once), Aithiops (once),and "the Hebrew race" (eleven times). Moses is mentioned at line 26 as an addressee (God being the speaker); at line 224 as a character in events reported by a messenger; and at line 243 as an addressee, the speaker being a messenger. [In editorial comments by Eusebius and others, Moses is again mentioned; and we also encounter the names Raguel and Chus (the latter non-biblical), who are said to have parts in the drama. The fragments, however, do not contain their names.]

2.4.1.1 for persons mentioned or presented in narrative usage; as characters; or topics, for example: These are as noted at 2.4.1.

2.4.1.3 for Gods/mythical figures/supernatural beings, etc., for example: The God of Israel is designated "The Most High" at line 239. At line 217, the sun is described as Titan.

2.4.1.4 for locations, for example: Locations named in the Bible are Egypt, Canaan, Libya, Sinai, the Red Sea, and Baalzephon. The editorial passage preceding line 243 mentions Elim.

2.4.3 The text as a whole routinely employs the following language(s), knowledge of which is taken for granted: Greek.

2.4.3.1 Additional language(s) taken for granted in quoted speech or certain parts of the text are: [If at line 184 the word Pascha is restored, this Greek form (see LXX Exod. 12:11) of Hebrew Pesah is to be noted.]

2.4.4 Special linguistic usages occur pervasively or prominently:

2.4.4.1 Technical expressions for a particular subject matter: The section relating to Passover, lines 157-192, contains some special terminology.

2.4.4.4 Biblicizing language, such that the text may be assumed to project itself as having a link to texts today known as biblical (see 7.1.4.1): The influence of the language of LXX of Exodus 1-15 is discernible throughout the fragments.

2.4.5 knowledge in any of the above categories is explained, not taken for granted. This category applies particularly to the regulations regarding Passover, lines 157-192. The Festival of Passover is said to take place in "the first month of your years", and is discussed along with further calendar dates at lines 157, 175, and 178.

2.5 The text contains deictic or other expressions referring to the governing voice’s time or place, or place it after/before some key event:

2.7 The epistemic stance, knowledge horizon, moral stance and identity of the governing voice, and of the projected addressee, do not become thematic in the text.

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3.2 The text is bounded by a formal, communicative or poetic (poetic-thematic) formation, constituting a single piece: The quotations of the text transmitted to our day appear to indicate that it was a stage play, a drama composed in Greek following the dramatic conventions of its time, involving at least a general acknowledgement of the requirement for unity of time, place and action as regards the play - even though the precise Aristotelian "canon" of unity of time, place and action is not rigidly adhered to. The absence in the extant fragments of lines ascribed to a chorus, and our consequent ignorance of whether the original text included a chorus, significantly limits our attempts to describe this play in terms of the Inventory. [The ancient writers who have transmitted to us quotations of the Exagoge, Alexander Polyhistor, Eusebius, and others, speak of it as a "tragedy" (so either Eusebius or Polyhistor in the editorial comment introducing lines 32 ff.) or "drama" (so Polyhistor in the editorial comment preceding line 193).]

3.6 The language of a text whose boundaries are not determined by poetic formation or by contrast in adjacency (3.2–4 does not apply) exhibits poetic formation as follows: The fragments of Ezekiel are all preserved and transmitted in Greek poetic form.

3.6.1 There is pervasive use of rhyme and/or metre: The 269 lines of Greek text are all composed in iambic trimeter, which was particularly associated with monologue and dialogue in Attic plays, and was used by Apollodorus for his Chronica.

3.6.3 There is pervasive use of other features that can be interpreted as defining poetic formation, such as heightened or figurative language, repetitions of key phrases, short or otherwise poetically defined lines, etc: Although iambic metre was often associated with comic verse, it could be used for moral and philosophical subjects, particularly in Greek plays from the fourth century BCE onwards.

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4.1 The text narrates events which are strongly emplotted, making reference to interlocking happenings, characters, motivations, causes, times or locations: Although iambic metre was often associated with comic verse, it could be used for moral and philosophical subjects, particularly in Greek plays from the fourth century BCE onwards.

4.1.2 All subordinate events are presented as preparing one crisis and its solution, or as addressing one unified timespan/location, or as telling the fate of one character or a group of characters: The text foregrounds the rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and the difficulties involved in this, with Moses taking the place of the central human character.

4.1.2.1 The narrative builds up one central narrative tension as having special intrinsic interest, or unites in some other way a number of narrative strands: The struggle which develops between the Egyptian authorities and the Israelites under Moses' leadership and the outcome of that struggle, is the key narrative element.

4.1.2.2 The action pivots around one character or a small set of inter-connected characters: The narrative pivots around Moses as the central character, with a small set of interconnected characters. [If the Exagoge is, as the ancient writers described it, a tragedy, then the number of characters in the drama apart from Moses will have been limited, since at the most three actors will have been involved in the play. Whether there was a chorus for the Exagoge is debated; but it is difficult to see how it could have been described as a tragedy if there had been no chorus.]

4.1.3 The narrative provides a clear closure, or dwells on the closure: [If the Exagoge were in truth a tragedy, it would have possessed an exodos which closed the play.]

4.1.4 The narrative foregrounds apparently exact information on the absolute and relative timing of events: See lines 1-11, employing the outlines of biblical narrative telling of the Israelites' descent to Egypt, their increase in numbers, and the Pharaoh's subsequent hostility to them. Note also the chronological details supplied regarding the celebration of Passover in Egypt, lines 175-192, following the biblical account.

4.2 The event sequence is projected as related to the sequence of text parts as follows: This is represented in the speeches which are preserved by Polyhistor and other ancient witnesses. If these reports can be relied upon, event sequence would have been reported in the sequence of the speeches of the drama.

4.2.3 There are chronological gaps which are explicitly managed or signposted: [Of this, we can say little. Speeches might have made gaps explicit, or, indeed, have glossed over them. The fragmentary nature of the evidence demands caution here, as with 4.2.4.]

4.8 The text provides scene-setting information, other than the introduction of an I-narration: )[Framing is supplied by editorial introductions to the fragments of the Exagoge supplied by Alexander Polyhistor, Eusebius, or Clement.]

4.8.1 There is an explicit introduction of the chronological and/or spatial setting of the action: Whether or not lines 1-13 of the surviving fragments actually represent the original opening of the Exagoge, they nonetheless provide a definite chronological and spatial setting for the subsequent narration and action.

4.8.2 There is an explicit introduction of the main character(s): The editorial passage preceding line 32 speaks of Ezekiel "introducing" Moses. [If the Exagoge followed the traditions of Greek tragedy, characters would have routinely been introduced as the action developed.]

4.9 There is prominent or sustained characterization of key figures in the narrative.

4.9.2 All characterization is achieved only through reporting the actions, speech or thoughts of the characters ("dramatic"): This is achieved in the surviving fragments mainly through speech, which is basic to the nature of a stage play or drama .

4.9.3 A figure is characterized by her or his moral or religious traits: These emerge clearly in the fragments' descriptions of the Hebrew race and Moses, worshippers of the supreme deity and victims of persecution, set over against the oppressive Pharaoh and the Egyptians.

4.9.3.1 Moral/religious traits are manifestly linked to the ethnicity and/or gender of the figure: The state of affairs categorized as 4.8.3. above involves certain clear religious traits which are bound up with "the Hebrew race": see especially Ezekiel's account of Moses at the burning bush, lines 96-112.

4.10 A character’s relations to her/his community are foregrounded, including any two-fold social environment (e.g. a diaspora setting).

4.10.1 A main character is portrayed as being integrated in one societal environment but as in conflict with a second environment: Moses is finally integrated into Israel, and in conflict with Egyptians and Pharaoh, although to begin with he is integrated into the Egyptian court (lines 14-38).

4.11 Supernatural characters appear in the narrative, whether introduced casually, or accounted for elaborately: e.g. the God of Israel brings about and controls the action described in the Exagoge; it seems that his title "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (line 105) is apparently not explained, although this cannot be determined with certainty given the fragmentary nature of the text.

4.12.1 There is extended description of one or more static objects.

4.12.1.1 There is extended description of a heavenly object, e.g. God’s throne, chariot, etc: There is a brief description of God's throne contained in lines 68-80.

4.12.2 There is extended description of the outward appearance of persons or other animated beings: The appearance of God seated on His throne is described at lines 70-71; and of the phoenix bird at lines 254-269.

4.12.3 There is extended description of the physical or architectural setting/landscape: At lines 243-253, which editorial comment identifies as the place Elim mentioned at Exod. 15:27.

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7.1 Narrative or thematic correspondences, or overlap of specific wording, occur between a non-biblical text and one or more biblical texts in a manner that is prominent or pervasive: The biblical text concerned is Exod. 1-15.

7.1.1 Characters correspond between the non-biblical narrative and the narrative of a biblical text or texts: Narrative-chronological ground is shared through character overlap

7.1.1.1 Some or all main characters of the text correspond to main characters in a biblical partner text: The main character is Moses, identical with the biblical character of that name; and other speaking characters in the fragments include other biblical figures, such as Moses' father-in-law [=Raguel, according to the editorial notes] and Zipporah.

7.1.1.1.1 A main character shared with a biblical partner text is also the first-person narrator of the text: Moses speaks in the first person when required, as leading character in the drama. Although the surviving fragments of the drama do not explicitly name Moses as speaker, the text's correspondence with chapters of Exodus allow the reader to deduce that the speaker in particular instances is Moses.

7.1.2 Chronology, physical setting or emplotment correspond between the non-biblical narrative and the narrative of a biblical text or texts:

7.1.2.1 The narrative’s chronological and spatial framework, as well as certain events, are co-extensive with that of a biblical partner text, or with some extended part of it: The events narrated in Exodus 1-15 are mirrored, in broad outline, in the Exagoge. The events narrated, and the sequence in which they occur, correspond almost exactly with those of the biblical narrative; and to the events within this sequence the text adds non-biblical information described under 7.1.2.1.2 below.

7.1.2.1.2 The narrative is told in more detail than that of a biblical partner text, or contains more components that slow down the narrative pace (4.6, 4.12 or 4.13): The surviving fragments strongly suggest that many details not present in the biblical narratives have been included in the Exagoge.These include a dream (including a theophany) ascribed to Moses, and its interpretation by his father-in-law (lines 68-89); speeches by Zipporah (lines 60-65); the introduction of a non-biblical character Chus, as indicated by editorial notes preceding line 66; a description of the Egyptian army pursuing Israel to the Red Sea, lines 197-203; an account of the place of the twelve palms trees, lines 243-253; and the description of the phoenix bird, lines 254-269 .

7.1.2.1.4 Some of the narrative’s sub-plots or episodes, mostly corresponding to those of a biblical text, differ from each other in the amount of detail provided if compared to the biblical text.

7.1.2.1.4.1 Among the sub-plots or episodes with more detail are some or all of the ones that have no biblical counterpart.

7.1.4 The text shares features of language with the Hebrew Bible, or exhibits tacit overlap with specific biblical wording, whether narrative or not.

7.1.4.1 There are pervasive biblical linguistic features (vocabulary, morphology or syntax) or a pervasive use of unspecific biblical language, such as generic biblical phrases or single words: There is consistent allusive language relating to the earlier text (not necessarily only Bible). Language alludes to LXX Pentateuch for the most part, although there are occasional hints that the text may have had access to the Hebrew Bible directly. Thus at line 2 it is said that seventy ancestors of Israel went down to Egypt (so MT of Gen. 46:27; Exod. 1:5), whereas LXX give the number as seventy-five; and at line 113 the description of Moses as not eloquent closely corresponds to the Hebrew of Exod. 4:10, where LXX have "not sufficient".

7.1.4.2 The text contains prominently, but not necessarily frequently, the wording of specific biblical passages such as whole sentences or unique biblical phrases, used in a tacit manner. See also 8.1.4.1: There are prominent or functionally important specific allusions (expressive use, 8.1.4.1.) of the earlier text (not necessarily only Bible). The LXX Pentateuch is in view here: especially noticeable are the correspondences between the language of the instructions for observance of the Passover given in LXX Exod. 12:3-15 and the wording of lines 175-192.

7.1.5 The projected persona of the governing voice of the text, whether a narrative or not, is also known from a biblical text, or the governing voice assumes an epistemic stance similar to that of a biblical text: The principal I-narrator is Moses, who is known from the Bible and elsewhere.

7.1.5.1 The projected first-person persona of the governing voice is also a character in a biblical text: The principal I-narrator Moses is known from several biblical books.

7.1.5.1.1 The persona appears to be linked to a character as it specifically appears in the biblical text, not merely as it might be known from diffuse cultural knowledge: Throughout the fragments, there are strong indications that the author of Exagoge is drawing on LXX Pentateuch.

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8.1 Standard forms or contents formulated in set phrases, set sentence formats, or clauses in a standard syntactic connection.

8.1.4.1 The expressive use of unmarked biblical wording whose function in the text’s discourse is enhanced or achieved by it being recognised as coming from a Scripture: the text overall makes considerable use of biblical wording, which is particularly marked in passages such as lines 175-192 (the Passover regulations).

8.1.10 List sentence enumerating items by words or phrases: the twelve plagues imposed on the Egyptians are presented in list form beginning at line 132 ("first" the river will turn red with blood) and concluding with lines 147-148 ("last" God will slaughter the firstborn).

8.1.16 descriptive sentence of a static (ocular) structure or object: There is a description of mount Sinai and its throne in lines 68-82. The extended, graphic description of the phoenix bird (lines 254-269) represents a fine example of ekphrasis incorporated into this drama.

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9.12 Important manuscripts divide the text explicitly into parts by the use of single words or incomplete sentences which constitute sub-headings: [For information on the constituent parts of Ezekiel's drama, we are entirely dependent on the words of Alexander Polyhistor, Eusebius, Clement, and Eustathius as they severally introduce their citations of parts of Ezekiel's work. Thus we rely on them for the attribution of lines 1-31; lines 32-59 to Moses; lines 60-65 to Sepphorah; lines 66-67 to a dialogue between Chus and Sepphorah; lines 68-82 to Moses; lines 83-89 to Moses' father-in-law; lines 90-115 to Moses; lines 116-119 to God, and lines 120-131 to God in dialogue with Moses; lines 132-192 to God; lines 193-242 to a messenger; and lines 243-269 to an unnamed character (messenger?).These attributions are at no point presented as part of the quoted work of Ezekiel's drama.]

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11.1 The non-narrative text projects its thematic concern as being mainly one or more of the following:

11.1.6 Reports of the speech of named characters.

11.2 The text is dominated by the reporting of emplotted events, whether or not in an overarching narrative format (4).

11.2.1 The reported events are those of a biblical past, or of a biblically foretold future.

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12.1 Sampling of genre labels applied to the text in secondary literature: Tragedy; tragic drama; stage play.

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Bibliography:

Text: B. Snell, Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta (Goettingen, 1971), vol.1, pp. 288-301; H. Jacobson, The Exagoge of Ezekiel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982); P. Lanfranchi, L'Exagoge d'Ezechiel le Tragique. Introduction, texte, traduction et commentaire (Leiden: Brill, 2006).

Translations: R. G. Robertson, "Ezekiel the Tragedian", in J. H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, 2 vols (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1983, 1985), vol. 2, pp. 803-819; H. Jacobson, "Ezekiel, the Tragedian", in L. H. Feldman, J. L. Kugel and L. H. Schiffman (eds.), Outside the Bible. Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society/University of Nebraska Press, 2013), pp. 730–742. German: E. Vogt, Tragiker Ezekiel, JSHRZ IV.3 (1983), pp. 121-133.

Studies: J. Strugnell, "Notes on the Text and Metre of Ezekiel the Tragedian's 'Exagoge'", HTR 60 (1967), pp. 449-457; B. Snell, "Ezechiels Moses-Drama", Antike und Abendland 13 (1967), pp. 150-164; E. Starobinski-Safran, "Un poete judeo-hellenistique: Ezechiel le tragique", Museum Helveticum 31 (1974), pp. 216-224; H. Jacobson, "Eusebius, Polyhistor, and Ezekiel", JSP 15 (2005), pp. 75-77.



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