Study of Prophetic, Rabbinic and Jewish Literature before Christ
OVERVIEW – JEWISH WRITINGS
There are many different literary works, before Christ, that were written as historic documents by the Jewish community. As other books that where non-canonized into the Jewish scripture, they were still regarded as books of great value.
The oldest among the Jewish writings is dated to approx. 400 b.c., i.e. the book of Enoch; and some of the newest books range as early as decades after the turn of the century. These documents were mostly written in Israel in either Hebrew or Aramaic. These copies do not specifically prove how old the original manuscripts where, because they are simply copies of the originals, however it does mean they at least date this far back.
These documents provide evidence of what the Jewish culture was like along with other literary works during these periods, specifically, what it was like during the centuries that lead to the coming of the Messiah (33 A.D). They show the transition between the traditional writing styles into the rabbinic literary periods, as they reveal the cultures surrounding the origins of Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity.
APOCRYPHA OF JEWISH WRITINGS
Apocrypha means secret or hidden, and many different Jewish sects had within their communities’ collections of ‘secret’ literature. The Pharisees of the Old Testament where familiar with these texts, and a large part of this literature where these Apocrypha writings. The Jewish Apocrypha includes texts that were written within the inter-testament period or during the early Christian era. Select List of Jewish Apocrypha:
- History of Johannes Hyrcanus
- Book of Jubilees
- History of the Captivity in Babylon
- Paralipomena Jeremiae [Rest of the Words of Baruch]
- Martyrdom of Isaiah
- Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum
- Jannes and Jambres
- Joseph and Aseneth
LOST BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
There is a specific list of books mentioned in the Jewish Canonical Bible that have never been recovered, at least not in their entirety. Fragments of some books may have been found but could not be properly identified. A comprehensive list of such books are as follows:
- The Book of Jasher – mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18.
- The Book of the Wars of the Lord – mentioned in Numbers 21:14.
- A Book of Songs – mentioned referenced at 1 Kings 8:12–13
- “The Book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the Seer – mentioned in II Chr 9:29, 12:15, 13:22
- The Manner of the Kingdom – mentioned in 1Samuel 10:25.
- The Acts of Solomon – Referenced at 1Kings 11:41.
- The Annals of King David – Referenced at 1Chronicles 27:24.
- The Book of Nathan the Prophet – Referenced at 1Chronicles 29:29, and also 2Chronicles 9:29.
- The Book of Gad the Seer – Referenced at 1Chronicles 29:29.
- The Prophecy of Ahijah – Referenced at 2Chronicles 9:29.
- The Book of Jehu- Referenced at 2Chronicles 20:34.
- The Story of the Book of Kings – Referenced at 2Chronicles 24:27.
- The Vision of Isaiah – Referenced at 2Chronicles 32:32.
- The Sayings of the Seers – Referenced at 2Chronicles 33:19.
- The Laments for Josiah – Referenced at 2Chronicles 35:25.
- The Chronicles of King Ahasuerus – Referenced at Esther 2:23, Esther 6:1
- Apocalypse of Elijah
- Book of Jasher
- Book of Jubilees
- Book of Enoch
- Book of Noah
- Psalms of Solomon
- Testament of Job
- Testament of the 12 Patriarchs
A general introduction to the Bible: from ancient tablets to modern translations By David Ewert
The Old Testament pseudepigrapha and the New Testament: prolegomena for the, James H. Charlesworth