Pseudo-Phocylides is an apocryphal work claiming to have been written by Phocylides, a Greek philosopher of the 6th century BC. The text is noticeably Jewish, and depends on the Septuagint, although it does not make direct references to either the Hebrew Bible or Judaism. Textual and linguistic studies point to the work as having originally been written in Greek, and having originated somewhere between 100BC and 100AD, although the oldest surviving manuscripts date from the 10th century AD.
Pseudo-Phocylides consists of a series of aphorisms, and these refer indirectly to each of the Noachide Laws, as well as the so-called unwritten laws of the Greeks. There are about 250 in total, and these are written as a series of hexameter verses, in the form of a teaching manual; each maxim directly commanding the reader to obey it:
- Remain not unmarried, lest you die nameless
- Cut not a youth's masculine procreative faculty
- And let not women imitate the sexual role of men
- Long hair is not fit for men, but for voluptuous women
Some of the maxims in Pseudo-Phocylides were copied directly into one of the Sibylline Oracles, found in Book 2.
The text of "Pseudo-Phocylides" is published in volume 2 of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha edited by James Charlesworth. The most recent translator and commentator on the work is Pieter van der Horst, The Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides (SVTP 4; Leiden: Brill, 1978).
Some authors, including Luke T. Johnson, believe that the way in which the work utilizes Leviticus 19 has an analogy with the way that the NT Letter of James employs that passage (Brother of Jesus: Friend of God, pages 123 ff.).
- line 175, p. 99, The sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides, translated by Pieter Willem van der Horst
- line 187, p. 101, The sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides, translated by Pieter Willem van der Horst
- line 192, p. 101, The sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides, translated by Pieter Willem van der Horst
- line 212, p. 101, The sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides, translated by Pieter Willem van der Horst
French translation: http://remacle.org/bloodwolf/poetes/phocylide/sentences.htm
- K.-W. Niebuhr, 'Life and Death in Pseudo-Phocylides,' in Alberdina Houtman, Albert de Jong, Magda Misset-van de Weg (eds.), Empsychoi Logoi: Religious Innovations in Antiquity. Studies in Honour of Pieter Willem van der Horst (Leiden, Brill, 2008) (Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, 73).