Book Review: Early Jewish Literature

Wright, Archie T., Brad Embry and Ronald Herms. Early Jewish Literature: An Anthology. 2 Volumes. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2018. Click Here To View

This book is an anthology that is made up of two separate volumes.  Each volume is well over 500 pages long and includes early Jewish works from the second Temple period.  For those unfamiliar with this period, it extends from 516 BC to 70 AD with the destruction of the temple by the Roman empire.  It is a crucial period, not only in Jewish history, but in the development and early years of Christianity.

Volume one details scriptural texts and traditions, this includes additions to Daniel, danielic texts recovered in Qumran, and the Maccabean books.  Each book has a detailed introduction detailing how it relates to the second temple period, who the likely authors are, and the theology behind it.  It is very fascinating a  must read for scholars of the Old and New Testament.  This volume also details the romanticized texts such as Tobit, and lastly delves into the Dead Sea scrolls and their importance during this period.

Volume two begins right away with ancient wisdom texts like Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon.  Next it describes ancient apocalyptic literature such as the books of Enoch.  Lastly delving into Testamentary literature.  Volume two is laid out the same at volume one with detailed introductions, theologies, and excerpts that the reader can enjoy.

Works like this are important because it gives us an idea of what shaped Jewish thought during these pivotal years of the Second Temple period.  Students and scholars will benefit from the brief, but detailed introductions that this anthology provides.  If you like big books, then this one is for you.  It is well worth it.

{Note:  This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]


Book Review- New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures…Volume 1.

This book review is different than some I have done recently.  There are many reasons for this, but the main reason is this volume consists of a collection apocryphal literature.  This volume consists of thirty works, many of which are not very well known.  The book is edited by scholars Tony Burke and Brent Landau and was published by Eerdmans in December 2016.

Over the past few years there have been many books published that boast to contain the “lost” gospels, and other apocryphal works.  Those volumes almost undoubtedly contain the gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, etc.  This volume is different as it contains lesser known volumes such as On the Priesthood of Jesus, The Legend of the Thirty Pieces of Silver, and The Epistle of Christ from Heaven. 

The work is a good collection, and is recommended for those who have an interest in studying Christian origins.  These works contain ideas that some may have had early in Christianity, and even though they may not be orthodox, are important to understand as some of these ideas are making a comeback.

In the introduction (page xx) the editors state, “Based upon the best current scholarly understandings of the canonization process, a great many writings present in the volume came into being long after a canonical New Testament had solidified (roughly in the fourth century).”  This volume breaks the mold of the others who published works from the second and third centuries.

In addition to the works, this volume boasts a superb introduction to each book.  The introductions begin with an overview, a breakdown of the contents, how the work was originally transmitted, the timeframe in which it was written, and its theological importance.  These introductions are worth the price of the volume alone.

[Note:  This books was received free of charge from Eerdmans publishing in exchange for an honest review.]

If interested, you can purchase the book here.

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