Ancient Judaism

NEW BOOK: Introducing the Pseudepigrapha of the Second Temple Period (by Daniel Gurtner)

Daniel Gurtner, one of the most impressive and prolific New Testament scholars working in the field today, has written an important new book introducing the Jewish literature of the Second Temple period. This is a must-read for any serious student of the New Testament. I have already written of the remarkable two-volume work he co-edited with Loren Stuckenbruck, the T&T Clark Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism (London: T&T Clark, 2019). This work is now the gold standard of reference works on period. Suffice it to say, Daniel Gurtner is one of the leading experts on the period. That is why I am so excited about his new book–it is sure to contain important insights and helpful information you won’t find elsewhere.

The New Testament is clearly drawing on the imagery of these such books in various places. I have been especially struck of late by the parallels between 1 Enoch and the Gospel of Matthew. The more I study these ancient Jewish works, the more I see how the New Testament writers are breathing the same air they did.

The publisher’s website has the following to say about the book:

This book introduces readers to a much-neglected and misunderstood assortment of Jewish writings from around the time of the New Testament. Dispelling mistaken notions of “falsely attributed writings” commonly inferred from the designation “pseudepigrapha,” Daniel Gurtner demonstrates the rich indebtedness these works exhibit to the traditions and scriptures of Israel’s past. In surveying numerous of the most important works, Introducing the Pseudepigrapha of Second Temple Judaism shows how the Pseudepigrapha are best appreciated in their own varied contexts instead of reading them as mere “background” to early Christianity or emerging rabbinic Judaism.


The book also has a Foreword from Loren Stuckenbruck.

The Table of Contents looks amazing. Gurtner is going to take the reader through all of the key works, including 1 Enoch, 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, Jubilees, etc.

  • Foreword by Loren T. Stuckenbruck
  • Introduction
  • Section 1: Apocalypses
  • 1. 1 Enoch
  • 2. 4 Ezra
  • 3. 2 Baruch
  • 4. Apocalypse of Abraham
  • 5. Sibylline Oracles 3-5, 11
  • 6. Additional Writings: 2 Enoch, 3 Baruch, Apocalypse of Zephaniah, Testament of Abraham, and Apocalyptic Material in the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Section 2: Testaments and Related Texts
  • 7. Testament of Moses
  • 8. Testament of Job
  • 9. Aramaic Levi Document
  • 10. Testament of Qahat
  • 11. Visions of Amram
  • 12. Additional Writings: Testament of Solomon, Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Testament of Naphtali (4Q215), and Other Testamentary Material in the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Section 3: Legends and Expansions of Biblical Traditions
  • 13. Jubilees
  • 14. Biblical Antiquities
  • 15. Genesis Apocryphon
  • 16. Letter of Aristeas
  • 17. Joseph and Aseneth
  • 18. Additional Writings: Life of Adam and Eve (Greek), 4 Baruch, and Ezekiel the Tragedian
  • Section 4: Psalms, Wisdom Literature, and Prayers
  • 19. Psalms 151-155
  • 20. Psalms of Solomon
  • 21. Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides
  • 22. Additional Writings: Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers, Prayer of Joseph, and Prayer of Nabonidus (4Q242)
  • Conclusion
  • Indexes

The publisher, Baker Academic, also has on its website a long list of impressive endorsements for the book. I have reproduced them here:

“Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls it has become clear that pseudepigrapha are critical for understanding ancient Judaism and Christianity. Daniel Gurtner provides a much-needed new introduction to these writings, deftly synthesizing cutting-edge specialist research into an engaging and accessible book brimming with insights that will challenge and delight. The result is a perfect resource for teaching as well as an ideal entry point for readers interested in learning more about these fascinating but neglected writings.”

Annette Yoshiko Reed, professor of religious studies, New York University

“This is a comprehensive, well-informed, and up-to-date introduction to a large body of literature deriving from early Judaism. Scholars are becoming more cautious about which of the so-called Old Testament Pseudepigrapha we can be confident derive from that milieu. Gurtner rightly gives most attention to those that are generally agreed to be Jewish works from the Second Temple period, but he also discusses others that have often been treated as such so that readers may be aware of the issues of date and provenance that are still uncertain. This is a very helpful reference work, both for those who are new to this field and for those who have already engaged with this fascinating body of literature.”

Richard Bauckham, emeritus professor of New Testament studies, University of St. Andrews

“The collection known as the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha is an indispensable resource for appreciating developments within Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity–but where is one to begin, and what is one to look for in these texts? Daniel Gurtner’s distinguished history of research in this corpus makes him a reliable guide for the uninitiated explorer. He focuses here on a judicious selection of the most influential and illuminating writings within this collection and orients the reader to what each contributes to our knowledge of the varieties of thought among, the multiform challenges addressed by, and the contributions of these writers, while also giving briefer orientations to other works throughout the larger collection. This is now perhaps the premier point of entry into these writings, which might otherwise seem inaccessible.”

David A. deSilva, Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek, Ashland Theological Seminary

“Throughout Introducing the Pseudepigrapha Daniel Gurtner demonstrates his mastery of this important material. I like the way he has organized and arranged these complicated and diverse writings. I like the way he introduces them, and I like the way he explains why they are important and how they assist us in better understanding Judaism and Christianity in late antiquity. Interpreters of the Bible need this book on their desks.”

Craig A. Evans, John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Beginnings, Houston Baptist University

Introducing the Pseudepigrapha of Second Temple Judaism is a work that includes texts from the Hellenistic period that participate in and were composed alongside the biblical corpus. The Pseudepigrapha must be read with the canonical biblical collections because it exemplifies the innovative exegetical imaginations, practices of reading, and emerging beliefs that are essential to understanding the formation of Judaism and Christianity in antiquity. The texts of the Pseudepigrapha are some of our earliest expressions of commentary, hermeneutics, and liturgy from the Hellenistic period. These texts contribute to how we have come to understand performance, pedagogy, and ritual in Jewish antiquity. This is an important new book that integrates new research and new findings with commentaries and introductions to these texts.”

Hindy Najman, Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, Oriel College, Oxford University

“Gurtner has selected for discussion some of the most influential Jewish pseudepigrapha. By offering fresh overviews and mature introductions to each, he draws on recent research and makes them accessible to contemporary readers. This book holds the door open to anyone interested in scripture interpretation and seeks to let the claims of pseudepigrapha speak for themselves. After all, today, as in the past, they invite theological as well as historical and literary engagement.”

Loren T. Stuckenbruck (from the foreword)

I cannot wait to get my copy! Click on the link below to order it from Amazon!


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