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Outside the Bible, 3-Volume Set
Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture

By Lawrence H Schiffman (editor), James L Kugel (editor), Louis H Feldman (editor)

About the Book

The Hebrew Bible is only part of ancient Israel’s writings. Another collection of Jewish works has survived from late- and post-biblical times, a great library that bears witness to the rich spiritual life of Jews in that period. This library consists of the most varied sorts of texts: apocalyptic visions and prophecies, folktales and legends, collections of wise sayings, laws and rules of conduct, commentaries on Scripture, ancient prayers, and much, much more.

While specialists have studied individual texts or subsections of this vast library, Outside the Bible seeks for the first time to bring together all the major components into a single collection, gathering portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint, the biblical Apocrypha, and Pseudepigrapha, and the writings of Philo of Alexandria and Josephus.

The editors have brought together these diverse works in order to highlight what has often been neglected; their common Jewish background. For this reason the commentaries that accompany the texts devote special attention to references to Hebrew Scripture and to issues of halakhah (Jewish law), their allusions to motifs and themes known from later Rabbinic writings in Talmud and Midrash, their evocation of recent or distant events in Jewish history, and their references to other texts in this collection.

The work of more than seventy contributing experts in a range of fields, Outside the Bible offers new insights into the development of Judaism and Early Christianity. This three-volume set of translations, introductions, and detailed commentaries is a must for scholars, students, and anyone interested in this great body of ancient Jewish writings.

The collection includes a general introduction and opening essays, new and revised translations, and detailed introductions, commentaries, and notes that place each text in its historical and cultural context. A timeline of the Second Temple Period, two appendixes (Books of the Bible; Second Temple Literature), and a general subject index complete the set.

Praise

“Breathtaking in its scope and eminently satisfying in its execution, Outside the Bible will prove to be an indispensable reference for every scholar of the Hebrew Bible, Second Temple Judaism, the New Testament, and early Christianity. With introductions to and translations of the mass of noncanonical Jewish writings produced from the Exile up to the Mishnah, by an eminent group of internationally renowned scholars, here we have a resource that will meet scholarly needs for generations to come.”
—Bart D. Ehrman, James A. Gray Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“Outside the Bible is a well-conceived and magnificently executed answer to the question of what Jews were reading in the centuries before and after the Common Era. High-quality English translations appear for each document, along with sufficient material to place these documents within their original contexts and to provide insight into their meaning. We are thus able, as it were, to enter into arguments and expositions from antiquity, many of which are virtually unknown within today’s Jewish communities and even within academic circles. Such far-reaching scholarship may lead us not only to rethink our past but also to reconsider our present and future possibilities.”
—Leonard Greenspoon, Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization and professor of classical and Near Eastern studies and of theology, Creighton University

Awards

Publication of this volume was assisted by the Virginia Faulkner Fund, established in memory of Virginia Faulkner, editor in chief of the University of Nebraska Press.

Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this book do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Related Articles

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How the early Christians helped save Chanukah, by Rabbi Barry Schwartz

Download this Study Guide for Outside the Bible

Videos

View video of a JPS interview with Lawrence Schiffman.

View video of launch event with Yeshiva Univ featuring Lawrence Schiffman and Alex Jassen.

View video of Lawrence Schiffman's lecture at the Skirball Center.

View video of James Kugel's lecture at the Skirball Center.

Book Reviews

Recovering Jewish History: Lawrence H. Schiffman

Jewish Book World reviews Outside the Bible

New books offer fresh perspective on ancient texts

About Lawrence H Schiffman

Lawrence H. Schiffman is professor of Judaic studies and vice provost for undergraduate education at Yeshiva University. He is former chair of New York University’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, where he is Ethel and Irvin A. Edelman Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. Schiffman is a leading scholar of ancient Judaism with special interest in study of the Dead Sea Scrolls. In addition to his many publications, he is the coeditor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls and editor of The Dead Sea Scrolls: Fifty Years after Their Discovery.

About James L Kugel

James L. Kugel is professor of Bible at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and the former Starr Professor of Hebrew Literature at Harvard University. Kugel specializes in the Hebrew Bible, the history of biblical exegesis, and ancient Judaism. His many books include How to Read the Bible; The God of Old; and The Bible as It Was.

About Louis H Feldman

Louis H. Feldman is Wouk Family Professor of Classics and Literature Emeritus at Yeshiva University, where he has taught since 1955. His many publications include Josephus and Modern Scholarship; Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World; and Josephus’s Interpretation of the Bible. A leading scholar of ancient Judaism and Hellenistic culture, Feldman has served as associate editor of Classical Weekly, managing editor of Classical World, and editor of Hellenistic literature for the Encyclopedia Judaica.