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-have 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.
Outside the Bible 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.
Outside the Bible is probably the most ambitious project undertaken by The Jewish Publication Society in many years.
—Peter L. Rothholz, Jewish Book Council
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