Friday, December 31, 2010

Reading through the Pseudepigrapha in a year

First year students in a New Testament Introduction class will often be introduced to a wealth of ancient literature that is not found between the covers of their Bible. Even if they are among the few who have a Bible with an apocrypha, they will not have those books normally categorized as the "Old Testament Pseudepigrapha." This corpus includes such books as Enoch, which although mentioned in the book of Jude, is not to be found anywhere in the Bible.

Yet, as many students of the New Testament soon discover, in order to understand much of the theology of the New Testament you must also be familiar with the thought and theology of the "intertestamental period" which is contained in the "Apocrypha," "Pseudepigrapha" and the Dead Sea Scrolls. But unless you take an elective in this vast corpus of literature, chances are you will only hear references here and there and never have a chance to read it. Many students will leave seminary having never seen a copy of the Pseudepigrapha much less read it. This is unfortunate, but understandable. This literature is not part of the Jewish or (Protestant) Christian canon. And there much more of it to read than there is Bible.

Whenever a student tells me that she or he wants to do a Ph.D. in New Testament I always recommend that they become familiar with the literature in the Pseudepigrapha. But this can be a daunting task in itself.

Thankfully, Joseph Kelly over at Kol-Ha-Adam has provided a calendar for reading through the Pseudepigrapha in a year (see below). It breaks down the books found in Charlesworth's two volume set and lists what to read on a given day. I may try this myself since, although I work in this literature constantly, I have not sat and read through it in quite a long time.

So here is a new year's resolution for you with a link to the calender and here is to a year of reading strange and esoteric literature.

Thanks to Joel Watts for pointing this out.


  1. Interesting post. Does anyone at ATS teach a course on the Intertestamental Period? These books are all new to me. I am currently reading the Apocrypha (thanks). Do you have Charlesworth's set? Is there a book you recommend that contains the Dead Sea Scrolls?

  2. Beth,

    Yes, DeSilva currently teaches the course, but myself and Dr Mournet cold also teach it. I have the Charlesworth set, see the link above in the blog. You can get it off of Amazon. Here is a link to online version that you can use.

  3. I have this set as well and have not read through it in its entirety. This schedule is very helpful. Thanks for this.