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Early Judaism and Its Modern Interpreters
Robert A. Kraft, George W. E. Nickelsburg,
Publication Date
January 1997


This volume documents the major developments in the study of “early Judaism” (ca. 330 B.C.E. to ca. 138 C.E.) from about the mid-1940s. After a lengthy introduction that discusses the field itself and current interest in it, new tools and approaches, major topics and problems, and the types of study needed in the future, the bulk of the volume is organized into three sections. The first deals with “synthetic approaches” to the political, social, and religious history of the period. Part 2 focuses on the recent discoveries that have stimulated and enriched the renewed study of early Judaism. Part 3 surveys work on the literature of early Judaism organized according to different types (form and/or content) of material.

“Among the many reference works now available Early Judaism and Its Modern Interpreters performs a truly vital function by reviewing and assessing an immense amount of recent scholarly writing.”
—James C. VanderKam, Religious Studies Review

“This is a solid, well-edited, and useful volume. It not only provides an overview of recent scholarship, but it also provides excellent bibliographies for those who wish to pursue particular topics. It succeeds admirably in informing the reader of ‘the state of the questions’ relative to Early Judaism.”
—John R. Spencer, Interpretation

“This book is most welcomed in that it provides an excellent introduction to the data that contributes to what we know of the vast world of early Judaism and the recent analysis of that data. The editors are to be commended for undertaking this project and making the information hidden away in a wide variety of specialized books and journals available in a more accessible form.”
—David E. Garland, Review & Expositor


Introduction: The Modern Study of Early Judaism
— George W. E. Nickelsburg, with Robert A. Kraft

Part 1: Early Judaism in Its Historical Settings

1. The Political and Social History of the Jews in Greco-Roman Antiquity: The State of the Question
— Shaye J. D. Cohen

2. Diversity in Postbiblical Judaism
— Gary G. Porten

3. The Samaritans and Judaism
— James D. Purvis

4. Judaism as Seen by Outsiders
— John G. Gager

Part 2: Recent Discoveries

5. The Judean Desert
— Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P.

6. Other Manuscript Discoveries
— Sebastian P. Brock

7. Archaeology, Iconography, and Nonliterary Written Remains
— Eric M. Meyers and A. Thomas Kraabel

8. Jewish Numismatics
— Yaakov Mershorer

Part 3: The Literature

9. Jewish Greek Scriptures
— Emanuel Tov

10. Palestinian Adaptations of Biblical Narratives and Prophecies
I. The Bible Rewritten (Narratives)
— Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.

II. The Bible Explained (Prophecies)
— Maurya P. Horgan

11. Testaments
I. The Literary Genre “Testament”
— Anitra Bingham Kolenkow

II. The Testamentary Literature in Recent Scholarship
— John J. Collins

12. Narrative Literature
— Robert Doran

13. Jewish Historiography
— Harold W. Attridge

14. Apocalyptic Literature
— John J. Collins

15. Wisdom Literature
— Burton L. Mack and Roland E. Murphy, O.Carm.

16. Jewish Hymns, Odes, and Prayers (ca. 167 B.C.E.-135 C.E.)
— James H. Charlesworth

17. Reconstructions of Rabbinic Judaism
— Anthony J. Saldarini