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

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  • Louis H. Feldman (editor)
  • James L. Kugel (editor)
  • Lawrence H. Schiffman (editor)
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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.

This title is a JPS classic! View the full list here.


2014 National Jewish Book Award for Scholarship

Judaica Reference Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries


This publication is a gold mine. The series is beautifully printed and bound. On display are the creative geniuses of Second Temple Judaism who have excited both Jews and Christians. The insights shared in the commentaries are superb.
—James H. Charlesworth, Bible History Daily

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

Louis H. Feldman

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

James L. Kugel

Visit James L. Kugel's website

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 the study of ancient Judaism. His many books include How to Read the BibleThe God of Old;and The Bible as It Was.

Lawrence H. Schiffman

Visit Lawrence H. Schiffman's website

Lawrence H. Schiffman is professor of Judaic studies and vice provost of undergraduate education at Yeshiva University. Schiffman is former chair of New York University’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and Ethel and Irvin A. Edelman Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. Schiffman is a leading scholar of ancient Judaism with special interest in the 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.

Read article about Prof. Schiffman in Publisher’s Weekly, Recovering Jewish History: Lawrence H. Schiffman.

Book Reviews


  • View interview with Lawrence H. Schiffman on The Jewish Channel. Interview begins at 4:50.

  • View video of author Lawrence Schiffman at the JPS/Skirball Author Series at the Temple Emanu-El Skirball Center in New York City, Messages from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

  • View video of launch event at Yeshiva University Museum, Center for Jewish History, New York City with Lawrence Schiffman, Alex Jassen and Louis Feldman.

  • View video of James Kugel’s lecture at the JPS-Skirball Author Series at the Temple Emanu-El Skirball Center in New York City, Outside the Bible and the Beginnings of Biblical Interpretation.

  • View video of interview with Lawrence H. Schiffman by Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz, JPS director.

Study Guides

  • Download Study Guide. This guide and syllabus was prepared by Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz, JPS director. The guide is based on several hundred selected pages from the full 3-volume set, which revisits biblical personalities with Second Temple literature.

    The selected readings are now available as an ebook. You can purchase it here. 


Read Table of Contents.

Read an Excerpt.

Read article in The Jewish Exponent by Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz, 'Unabridged' Bible Links Rabbinic and Biblical Periods.

Read article in The Jewish Standard by Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz, How the Early Christians Helped Save Chanukah.

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