Sanchoniathon

, is the name of a reputed Phoenician author, as old as the Trojan war, about 1274 B. C.

* The first edition was patronized originally written with a view to pubiiby a subscription not known since the cation. She declared, therefore, “that days of the Spectator. The work was no such idea was ever expressed by published for the benefit of the author’s Mr. Sancho; and that not a single letfamily, by Miss Crewe, an amiable ter was printed from any duplicate young lady, to whom many of the let- preserved by himself, but all were co!­ter< are addressed, and who is since lected from the various friends 10 whom married to John Phillips, esq. surgeon they were addressed.” Her reasons of the household to the Prince of Wales, for publishing them were “the desire From the profits of the first edition, and of shewing that an untutored African a sum paid by the booksellers for li- may possess abilities equal to an Euberty to print a second edition, Mrs. ropean and the still superior motive Sancho, we are well assured, received of wishing to serve his worthy family, more than 500l. The editor did not And she was happy,” she declared, venture to give them to the public till “in publicly acknowledging phe had she had obviated an objection which not found the world inattentive to the had been suggested, that they were voice of obscure merit.| and of great reputation for diligence and faithfulness. He is said to have collected out of the most authentic records he could procure, the “Antiquities of Phoenicia,” with the help of some memoirs which came from Hierombaal, [Hierobaal, or Gideon,] a priest of the God Jeuo or Jao. He wrote several things also relating to the Jews. These “Antiquities of the Phoenicians,” Philo-Byblius, in the same Phoenicia, in the days of Adrian, translated into Greek; and Athenseus soon afterward reckoned him among the Phoenician writers. A large and noble fragment of this workj Eusebius has given us, verbatim, in his first book of “Evangelical Preparation,” cap. ix. x. and has produced the strong attestation of Porphyry, the most learned heathen of that age, to its authenticity. Upon these authorities, many learned men have concluded that the genuine writings of Sanchoniathon were translated by Philo-Byblius, and that Sanchoniathon derived a great part of his information from the books of Moses, nay, some have supposed that Thoth, called by the Greeks, Hermes, and by the Romans, Mercury, was only another name for Moses; but the inconsistencies, chiefly chronological* which the learned have detected in these accounts, and especially the silence of the ancients concerning this historian, who, if he had deserved the character given him by Porphyry > could not have been entirely over-looked, create a just ground of suspicion, either against Porphyry or PhiloByblius. It seems most probable, that Philo-Byblius fabricated the work from the ancient cosmogonies, pretending to have translated it from the Phoenician, in order to provide the Gentiles with an account of the origin of the world, which might be set in opposition to that of Moses. Eusebius and Theodoret, indeed, who, like the rest of the fathers, were too credulous in matters of this kind, and after them some eminent modern writers, have imagined, that they have discovered a resemblance between Sanchoniathon’s account of the formation of the world and that of Moses. But an accurate examination of the doctrine of Sanchoniathon, as it appears in the fragment preserved by Eusebius, will convince the unprejudiced reader, that the Phoenician philosophy, if indeed it be Phoenician, is directly opposite to the Mosaic. Sanchoniathon teaches, that, from the necessary energy of an eternal principle, active but without intelligence, upon an eternal passive chsiptic mass, or Mot, arose the visible world; a doctrine, | of which there are some appearances in the ancient cosmogonies, and which was not without its patrons among the Greeks. It is therefore not unreasonable to conjecture, that the work was forged in opposition to the Jewish cosmogony, and that this was the circumstance which rendered it so acceptable to Porphyry. Such is the opinion of Brucker on this history; and Dodwell and Dupin, the former in an express treatise, have also endeavoured to invalidate its authenticity. 1

1

Vossius de Hist. Graec. —Moreri. Brucker.’ Dodwell’s “Discourse concerning the Phoenician History of Sanchoniathon,” added to the second edition of his “Two Letters of Advice,1631. Gebelm’s Allegories Oriental**,“Paris, 1773, 4to. Cumberland’s Sanchoniathon,