This compilation is based mainly on more or less ready available texts that are relevant to this theme,
therefore less well known sources like The book of the cave of treasures have been omitted.
I will make comments on peculiarities and errors in the various text fragments as far as I am able to do so and whenever this seems relevant.
Only after acquiring a very elementary skill in reading Hebrew, I have added the Hebrew text, in an attempt to visualize the roots of the story.
I used an extract from a masoretic mid 16th century text Quinque libri legis and removed all the vowel codes (or at least most of them),
in order to approximate the original text.
The names (with vowels) of Jabal (),
Jubal (;) and
Tubalcain () are relatively easy to spot.
The two versions of genesis 4: 19-22 (KJV & LXX) are without doubt the origin
of the Tubalcain & Jubal story. Notice the absence of any relation between Tubalcain and music in these two texts.
Philo approaches the two brothers from a linguistic angle and introduces several new elements in the story of Tubalcain.
Both Philo and LXX seem to be the source for Josephus' text.
Notice the shortening of Tubalcain to Thobel in the LXX.
Notice also the correction of Jubel as is written by Josephus to Tubal in the translation by Whiston.
Josephus copies from Philo the martial aspect of Tubalcain, that later is copied again by Petrus Comestor.
For the origin of this feature of Tubalcain, see personal communication of professor L. Feldman.
It was only after some time that I realized that the Greek version of Josephus text would have been unusable
because of lack of knowledge of the Greek language in the middle ages or perhaps even unavailable.
I learned that there was a Latin translation of the work of Josephus (the Old Latin Josephus),
that was ascribed to Rufinus of Aquileia (AD 345-410) until the 16th century.
The modern convention assumes that translators directed by Cassiodorus are the authors of the Old Latin Josephus.
I therefor also add the Latin translation to present a clearer picture of what was probably read in the middle ages.
Notice that Jubal is now called Tubal.
Notice the toned down description in the Old Latin Josephus of Tubalcain's experience in warfare (decenter)
in contrast to the Greek text.
This description of Tubalcain is repeated in the Vulgate glossa Ordinaria.
Also the reference to Noemma is more like a paraphrase of LXX than a translation of the Greek Josephus text.
Hieronymus (347-420) wrote several books on names and places that were mentioned
in the Bible. These books also served as commentaries on the texts in the OT.
Notice that Hieronymus uses the name Tubal in stead of Jubal seemingly following the Old Latin Josephus
To bring order in the chaos of various bible translation in Latin Hieronymus (347-420)
produced the Editio Vulgata, a compilation of both new translations from the Hebrew (OT) and old Latin translations (NT) checked against the LXX.
For the next three centuries both the Vetus Latina and the Vulgate were used,
with the Vulgate steadily gaining in influence until it was the only accepted text.
The version of the text that Augustinus (354-430) uses in his De Civitate Dei
seems a translation of the LXX. He notes that it exists in writing ('Sic enim legitur').
It probably is a quote from an existing Vetus Latina version.
Boethius presents in his Graeco Roman view on the origin of musical scales the story of Pythagoras and the forge.
He either used as source Iamblichus's Life of Pythagoras or Nicomachus' book on Music.
Although the 'outsider' Pseudo-Methodius text dates from the same period as
Isidore's Ethymologiae, it probably became famous only after it was translated into latin.
Comestor was the first to quote from this apocalyptic work (the 'Jonitus' story).
Notice the negative way the invention of music (by both brothers) is treated.
The invention of forging by Tubalcain is not mentioned at all.
The Pythagoras story is retold by Isidore together with the biblical story.
Here we notice that an error is introduced in Isidore's text by substituting Tubal for Jubal. It is probably caused by inferior copying of the original correct text.
This error is copied by e.g. Rabanus Maurus, who might seem somewhat redundant
in this compilation, but can be considered a fine example of how medieval compilers worked or perhaps better put: how they copied.
The glosses on gen 4:20-22 by Walafrid Strabo (?-846) were an authorative commentary on the text of the Vulgate. They show several things:
- they mention Tubal (following Hieronymus) as wel as Jubal (following Josephus).
- they mention Josephus as the source of a story that makes Jubal the inventor of music and the one who wrote this knowledge down on two pillars, one of white marble and one of bricks. Josephus however tells this story about the children of Seth who do this to save their knowledge from the two judgements by fire and water that were prophesied by Adam (as described in the Latin Vita Adae et Evae en the Ethiopian Testament of Adam).
Professor Feldman's reference points to the source of this story: the Chronicles of Jerahmeel. From Orlov who provides the text of the story of Jubal and the pillars (2001; page 153) I learned that it appears twice with small variations (chapter 24:6-9, 26:15-20).
- they mention Tubalcain as being 'decenter' in warfare as can be read in the Old Latin Josephus.
The fragment of the Micrologus of Guido of Arrezo shows how the Pythagoras story by Boetius is repeated in a condensed form.
The Jubal/Tubal error also crept into Petrus Comestor's Historia Scholastica, where we see how
the Pythagoras story is grafted unto the Tubalcain & Jubal story by
letting Tubal (=Jubal) reenact the role of Pythagoras.
[This 'Pythagoras graft' is also visible in pictures of Jubal
watching Tubalcain hammering iron on an anvil, that can be found in various editions of the Speculum Humanae Salvationis].
Comestor then ridicules the Greek claim to this invention. Petrus Comestor appears to copy the glosses by seemingly quoting from Josephus when he tells how Tubal (=Jubal) constructed two pillars of marble and brick, in which he describes his newly invented art. He mentions the marble pillar that is not mentioned in the glosses.
This would imply that Comestor's story is influenced by both the glosses and the chronicles of Jerahmeel. He calls Tubalcain 'prudenter'in warfare stead of 'decenter' as one should expect
About a hundred years later Vincent de Beauvais compiles his Speculum Historiale in which he correctly
names Jubal as the inventor of music or more precisely of musical tones, in which he follows Comestor's story.
He does not mention Pythagoras, the blacksmith story or a possible relation between Jubal's discovery and Tubalcain's forging.
The Flores Musice of Hugo Spechtshart von Reutlingen is not only important as an educational text
but also (in print in 1488 and later) as the source of an early picture of the Pythagoras story.
An anonymous compiler of an early 15th century commonplace book of music theory,
must have heard some of the stories about Pythagoras, Jubal and Tubalcain and welded them into one story
in which a blacksmith named Tubal was visited by Pictagoras. In this story it is Tubal who writes the science of music on two columns, one made of bronze and one made of bricks.
The second oldest Masonic text known as the Cooke Manuscript, has the Comestor story which it attributes to Isidore.
It adds nothing new to the story but seems to hesitate between Tubal and Jubal as the name of the inventor of music.
The second last text fragment by Franchino Gaffurio shows a shift in interest: Pythagoras gets full
attention after a short note on the biblical view on the origin of music that
seems to be copied from Isidore with an addition related to the sound of the hammers that is (probably) based on Comestor.
The last part of this chapter refers to the story of the two pillars made by Jubal as told in the chronicles of Jerahmeel,
from which we can infer that Gaffurio probably used Comestor as his source.
The final text fragment is by Gregor Reisch from his Margarita Philosophica, which helped me to identify the figure in the Typus Musice picture.
Reisch' dialogue between the master and his pupil starts with the reference to Genesis 4, continues with a didactic version of the Pythagoras' story and also
mentions Petrus Comestor by name as he concludes his story with the version that is found in the Historia Scholastica
Last Update: februari, 8, 2003
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