An Introduction to Early Judaism

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One of today's most respected scholars of biblical history and the Dead Sea Scrolls, James C. VanderKam here offers a superb new introduction to early Judaism.Based on the best, most recent archaeological research, this illustrated volume explores the history of Judaism during the Second Temple period (516 B.C.E. - 70 C.E.), describing the body of Jewish literature written during these centuries and the most important groups, institutions, and practices of the time. Particularly interesting are VanderKam's depiction of events associated with Masada and the Kokhba revolt, and his commentary on texts unearthed in places like Elephantine, Egypt, and Qumran.Written in the same accessible style as VanderKam's widely praised Dead Sea Scrolls Today, this volume provides the finest classroom introduction to early Judaism available.
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Editorial Reviews

Alan J. Avery-Peck
"A scholar at the forefront of today's flourishing interest in the study of ancient Judaism, James VanderKam clearly explains Second Temple history and religion, including the period's main groups and institutions and the entire range of literature they produced, from the Apocrypha to the Dead Sea Scrolls. The period VanderKam covers is vital to understanding all subsequent Jewish and Christian history, and his introduction to it is complete, accessible, and overall top-notch."
Amy-Jill Levine
"Combining meticulous historical reconstruction with detailed commentary on literary productions and archaeological remains, James VanderKam here offers a comprehensive introduction to early Judaism that places texts within their proper contexts. His accessible, engaging style and helpful organization make this volume ideal for classroom use."
Frank Moore Cross
James VanderKam has written a superb introduction to early Judaism, including its history, literature, and religious institutions—a handbook that will be useful to every student or scholar who is interested in this period. VanderKam's sketch of the history and literature of the period is written simply and precisely, unencumbered by footnotes. His book, however, reveals a full, critical knowledge of the field. His epitomes of the literature of the period are particularly well done—brief, generally conservative in discussing debated issues, leaving out little of importance. New lore from the Dead Sea Scrolls and data from recent excavations are also well treated. I recommend this volume without qualification.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802846419
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 11/28/2000
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 713,539
  • Lexile: 1300L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface xi
1. The Time of the Second Temple 1
The Persian Period (538-332 BCE) 1
Beginnings 2
Events in Yehud (Judah) 3
The Work of Ezra and Nehemiah 3
Jaddua and Alexander the Great 6
Events in Egypt 7
Events in Babylon and Persia 9
The Hellenistic Age (332-63 BCE) 11
Ptolemaic Control of Egypt and Judea (ca. 305-198 BCE) 12
Ptolemy I and Judea 12
Ptolemy II and the Greek Translation of the Torah 13
The Tobiad Romance 14
Seleucid Control/Influence in Judea (198-63 BCE) 16
Antiochus III (223-187 BCE) 16
Antiochus IV, High Priests, and Hellenism 18
The Hasmonean State (ca. 140-63 BCE) 24
Simon (142-134 BCE) 25
John Hyrcanus (134-104 BCE) 27
Aristobulus I (104-103 BCE) and Kingship 28
Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 BCE) 29
Salome Alexandra (76-67 BCE) 30
Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II (67-63 BCE) 31
The Roman Period (63 BCE and Beyond) 32
The Early Years (63-37 BCE) 32
Herod (37-4 BCE) and Archelaus (4 BCE-6 CE) 36
Direct Roman Rule (6-66 CE) 39
The First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66-73 CE) 41
The Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135 CE) 48
Appendix on Egyptian Judaism 49
2. Jewish Literature of the Second Temple Period 53
Second Temple Texts in the Hebrew Bible 53
The Classification of Second Temple Literature 54
Apocrypha 54
The Catholic Deuterocanonical Books 55
Works in Greek Bibles but Not in the Hebrew Bible 55
Pseudepigrapha 56
Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period 59
Narrative Works 59
Histories 59
(1) 1 Esdras 59
(2) 1 Maccabees 62
(3) 2 Maccabees 65
Tales 69
(1) Tobit 69
(2) Judith 72
(3) Susanna 75
(4) 3 Maccabees 78
(5) Letter of Aristeas 81
(6) The Greek Esther 85
Rewritten Scripture 88
1 Enoch 88
(1) The Astronomical Book of Enoch (1 Enoch 72-82) 89
(2) The Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36) 91
Aramaic Levi 94
The Book of Jubilees 97
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs 100
Apocalypses 102
The Apocalypse of Weeks (1 Enoch 93:3-10; 91:11-17) 103
The Book of Dreams (1 Enoch 83-90) 105
Sibylline Oracles 107
The Similitudes or Parables of Enoch (1 Enoch 37-71) 110
The Testament of Moses 113
Wisdom Literature 115
The Wisdom of Ben Sira 115
The Epistle of Enoch (1 Enoch 91-107 [108]) 119
Baruch (or 1 Baruch) 121
The Wisdom of Solomon 124
Poetic Works 128
The Psalms of Solomon 128
The Prayer of Manasseh 132
The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men 133
Mockery of Idols 135
The Letter of Jeremiah 135
Bel and the Dragon 136
Philo and Josephus 138
Philo of Alexandria 138
Josephus 142
Great Archeological Discoveries 147
The Elephantine Papyri 147
The Dead Sea Scrolls 150
(1) The Manuscripts and Fragments 151
(2) Archeological Evidence 158
(3) The Qumran Community and Its History 160
Masada 166
(1) The Story 166
(2) Archeological Evidence 170
3. Synthesis: Leaders, Groups, and Institutions 175
Rulers and Leaders 176
The Priests 176
High Priest 176
Leading Priests 181
Ordinary Priests 182
Civil Rulers 183
Sanhedrin/Council 184
Groups 186
Early Second Temple Period 186
Late Hellenistic and Roman Times 187
Pharisees 187
Sadducees 189
Essenes 191
Others 192
Worship 193
The Temple 194
The Temple Structure 194
The Sacrificial System 203
Festivals 204
(1) Passover 204
(2) The Festival of Unleavened Bread 204
(3) Second Passover 205
(4) The Festival of Weeks 205
(5) The First of the Seventh Month 206
(6) The Day of Atonement 206
(7) The Festival of Tabernacles (or Booths) 207
(8) Hanukkah 207
(9) Purim 208
Other Forms of Worship 208
(1) Music 208
(2) Prayer 210
The Synagogue 211
Scriptures 213
Groups of Authoritative Writings 213
Versions 215
Interpretation 216
Bibliography 219
Index 225
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