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I've been reading the book of Jasher (supposedly the one quoted in the book of Samuel) and its quite amazing.

But I ask - what is the proof or lack of proof on it's authenticity?

There are however a few seemingly sensationalized accounts, like a wolf talks to Jacob, sons of Jacob leaping up walls, strange humanoid creatures stealing donkeys, Joseph's mother speaking from the grave, and so forth. Unless I misread, it even states that it took a year to bring bricks to the top of the tower of Babel, which leads me to believe they must have had space-suits in those days :D.

Although I greatly appreciated the back-story of Nimrod vs Abraham, I found the passing-through-the-fire account (as well as the attempted infanticide) to be mirrors of other accounts in the scriptures. While repeats of events are known to happen, this seemed derived to a degree.

There is also the seeming God-evolution of Enoch, the "skins" of Adam and Eve which gave Nimrod power (which did not seem to have a symbolic purpose other than a super-hero story).

I also found it interesting that Esau killed Nimrod during a hunting expedition fulfilling a prophecy voiced in Jasher, but the bible simply states that Esau came back hungry from routine hunting.

Of course stories such as Jonah and the fish leave much to faith, which one could take Jasher on, but I was curious what proofs might exist for or against the book of modern day.

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    What sort of authenticity are you questioning? Whether the claimed author is indeed the author? If the book is the one quoted by Samuel? Or if the events described actually took place? – Flimzy Jul 30 '14 at 13:38
  • The authenticity of the book as a whole. I didn't think to specify - but if any main element of the book is unauthentic (author, events) then the whole book would be unauthentic. Unless of course standards for authenticity go deeper than that...I had never thought to specify. – user9485 Jul 30 '14 at 19:59
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    It could be an authentic work of fiction. That is to say, it could be by the claimed author, from the claimed date, but be fiction. This would be the same way that the original manuscript of Lord of the Rings is authentic. It was written by Tolkein's hand, and has been authenticated as such. But the events described never happened. – Flimzy Jul 31 '14 at 12:46
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The Book of Jashar is mentioned in two places in the Bible:

2 Samuel 1:18 (NASB)

and he told them to teach the sons of Judah the song of the bow; behold, it is written in the book of Jashar.

Joshua 10:12-13 (NASB)

Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,

“O sun, stand still at Gibeon,
And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.”
So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.

Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

It's not clear, from your question, to which specific modern version of the Book of Jasher you are referring. There are several different books by that name. However, of that list, there are only two likely candidates for the one about which you are asking:

Neither of those two books are considered by most people to legitimately be the book mentioned in the Bible.

Pseudo-Jasher

This book was first published in 1751 by Jacob Ilive. It claimed to be an English translation of a Hebrew text which was found (and translated) by Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus. It was widely criticized as being a forgery by its contemporaries. It's author, Jacob Ilive, was sentenced to three years in jail for publishing it. You would be hard pressed to find anyone serious today who considers this book to be authentic.

Sefer haYashar

This is a Hebrew midrash of unknown origin. It was supposedly first published in Naples in 1552, but the oldest extant copies are from a later reprinting in Venice in 1625. The 1625 edition claims that the text from a manuscript which was found in the ruins of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but many people believe that it was likely written at a later date. Although it has sometimes been presented as the Book of Jasher that is referenced by the Bible (most notably by Moses Samuel's English translation in 1840), rabbinical Judaism does not accept that claim and the book does not itself make that claim either. Unlike Pseudo-Jasher, however, many people do believe that Sefer haYashar at least does contain legitimate Jewish legends.

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  • This will likely be the answer I accept. Although I was wondering if a study was ever done for consistency - putting aside other things - if the book was ever judged strictly on adherence to the scriptures. If not, this seems like a good answer. – user9485 Jul 30 '14 at 20:00
  • Which book? The midrash? – Steven Doggart Jul 30 '14 at 20:01
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    Sefer haYashar is the one I'm reading, and it seems mostly plausible when read the greatest amount of leniency. Thank you for the answer, it helps a bit. Too bad so much has been swallowed up in history. – user9485 Jul 31 '14 at 1:58
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    Well, by definition, as a midrash, it would be unusual for any of its content to be contradictory to the Old Testament texts, if that's what you mean. If you're reading a midrash, I would think you'd be surprised if you were to find an inconsistency like that. That consistency, of course, doesn't mean that it's actually the original Book of Jasher, nor does it mean that it's stories are necessarily accurate historical accounts. It just means it's a midrash, which, by their nature, are intended to be consistent with the OT and complimentary to it. – Steven Doggart Jul 31 '14 at 13:04
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It is important to realize that there are several places in the Bible where other works are mentioned. The mention of any given work in the Bible that is outside of the Bible does not mean that the Authors of the Bible endorse such works. Jude mentions Enoch, but this does not mean he endorses this work. Paul mentions things in his letters, but these do not mean he is giving his stamp of approval on what he is mentioning (see praying for the dead, or what the prophets of Crete say about their own people). Many works that people are drawn to are also fake. The book of Jasher comes to mind. This book was written at earliest in the 1500's. No ancient manuscript of this book exists, yet it is mentioned twice in the Old Testament. From my research, I believe there may actually be two different books of Jasher mentioned in the Bible, but that is a point for a different discussion.

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