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MENANDER:

  • 1. Putative author of a collection of proverbs, in a Syriac manuscript in the British Museum, edited in 1862 by Land, and bearing the superscription, "The sage Menander said." Either this Menander was a real person, a Hellenistic Jew whose proverbs, probably written originally in Greek, are now extant only in this Syriac translation, or the name is a pseudonym, as Schürer assumes; similar collections of proverbs were frequently ascribed to the famous Attic comedian.Frankenberg has recently proved that these Syriac sentences are of Jewish origin, and has pointed out numerous instances of relationship between them and sentences in the canonical Book of Proverbs and in Ecclesiasticus. A few sentences quoted from Land's edition may serve to make this kinship clear.(p. 68, line 13; comp. Prov. x. 1; Ecclus. [Sirach] xxv. 7, xxx. 4). "Rejoice with thy children, O father, for these are the [true] joys"(p. 71, line 5; comp. Ecclus. [Sirach] xli. 22). "Whosoever wrongeth his maid servant doth not escape the vengeance of God"(p. 69, line 12; comp. Prov. ii. 18, vii. 27). "Whoever committeth adultery perisheth"(p. 66, line 3; comp. Prov. vi. 9-11, xix. 15, xx. 13). "He who sleepeth at an untimely season hateth counsel and guidance; for such sleep bringeth death and destruction"(p. 66, below; comp. Ecclus. [Sirach] xxv. 13, 19). "If thou art about to take a wife, see that she hath no evil tongue, for a quarrelsome woman is hell, and an evil man is death"(p. 67, line 2; comp. Prov. xxiv. 16). "Fear God, and He shall save thee if thou shalt call upon Him in time of need"(p. 68, lines 7-9; comp. Ecclus. [Sirach] viii. 12; xxix. 4, 14). "If thou sittest at meat with many, show them not thy filled purse, lest they borrow from thee without thought of repayment; or if thou remindest them, lest they provoke strife with thee, so that thou losest thy money and becomest their enemy"(p. 72, line 10; comp. Ecclus. [Sirach] vi. 14, xxxvii. 2). "Friendship is good and useful, since it endureth even to the house of death"(p. 70, line 6; comp. Ecclus. [Sirach] xxxi. 1). "The heart of the fool rejoiceth in witchcraft, and the Chaldean art besotteth the understanding of the simple"(p. 70, below; comp. Ecclus. [Sirach] xi. 29). "Eat not with the wicked; for he filleth himself at thy table, and then speaketh evil of thee"(p. 71, lines 25 et seq.; comp. Prov. x. 22; Ecclus. [Sirach] xi. 10, 11). "Work diligently in youth, that thou mayest have wealth in thine age"(p. 71, line 22; comp. Eccl. ix. 4). "Better one day under the sun than a hundred years in sheol"(p. 72, line 8; comp. Eccl. vii. 1). "Desirable are life, money, and the blessing of children; but of more worth is a good name"The entire work consists of single disconnected sentences. There are no theoretical maxims on the value of wisdom, as in Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus, but only guides to practical life; concerning this there is hardly a theme in Menander that is not treated in the same spirit as in the two Biblical books. The ritual aspect of religion, however, is hardly mentioned.The entire lack of Christian allusions in the collection may be held to confirm its Jewish origin. Pagan references are found only in the mention of Homer and in the rather long polemic against impious priests who despise their own gods and are gluttonous at banquets (p. 69). Frankenberg interprets this passage as referring to Jewish conditions, while Schürer regards it as a Gentile interpolation.The only allusions to the date of composition point to the period of Roman rule, for gladiators are mentioned (p. 65, line 14) and crucifixion is declaredto be the punishment for theft (p. 70, line 8), although the mention of priests and tithes implies the time of the Temple.Bibliography: Land, Anecdota Syriaca, i., Leyden, 1862; Frankenberg, Die Schrift des Menander ein Produkt der Jüdischen Spruchweisheit, in Stade's Zeitschrift, 1895, xv. 226-277; Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., iii. 476-478.
  • 2. Historian; a native of Ephesus; lived probably at the time when the kingdom and the school of Pergamos were at their zenith, whence he was called also "the Pergamonian"; apparently, one of the pupils of Eratosthenes (276-195 B.C.). Menander wrote a history of Phenicia, taking his material from the original documents in the archives at Tyre. As he mentions the fact that King Hiram had wood taken from the forests of Lebanon for the building of the Temple, he is cited by Josephus ("Ant." ix. 14, § 2) as a witness for the verity of Biblical history; and also in connection with Assyrian history Menander has a curious reference, unknown elsewhere, to the younger son of a certain Abdemon, who is said to have vanquished Solomon in guessing riddles (Josephus, "Contra Ap." i. 18; idem, "Ant." viii. 5, § 3).Bibliography: C. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Grœcorum, iv. 445; Th. Reinach, Textes d'Auteurs Grecs et Romains Relatifs au Judaïsme, i. 44-46, Paris, 1895.J. S. Kr.
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