R608 2nd Temple Jewish Sources

Instructor: Dr. Vered Hillel
Dates: October 27, December 29, 2019
Location: Orbund (server11.orbund.com)

This course presents an overview of the Jewish literature from the Exile to the Mishnah. The many Jewish texts that have survived from late- and post-biblical times exemplify the rich life of the Jewish People from this time and provide vital information for understanding the world from which both Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity emerged. Special attention will be devoted to each texts historical and cultural contribution, as well their references to Hebrew Bible, relationship to other texts, influences on the Apostolic Writings and later Rabbinic and Christian writings, as well as on methodological issues and the implications for their study.

This course is an elective for all matriculated students (Jewish Studies and Rabbinic Studies)

A grasp of the basic content and relationship of 2nd Temple Period Jewish literature is seminal for the Messianic Jewish community to be able to understand the Apostolic Writings from a non-supersessionist theology. This course will provide such a grasp and will equip students to use these text in a responsible and critical manner for the development of Messianic Jewish theology, outreach, halakah, and congregational life in the Messianic Jewish community.


Students must have a computer and high-speed internet access.

Podcasts and asynchronous online discussion threads.

The student will listen to all podcasts and complete all readings before participating in the weekly online
discussion threads, complete weekly reading quizzes, fully participate in the discussion threads, and submit a
research paper that includes a class presentation.


  • Charlesworth, James, ed. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 2 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1983, 1985.
    There is a newer paperback edition available. Volume 1 is downloadable at:
    20and%20Testaments%201983.pdf .
  • deSilva, David. Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context and Significance. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002.
  • Nickelsburg, George W.E. Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah: A Historical and Literary
    Introduction. 2nd Ed. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011.
  • VanderKam, James and Peter Flint, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance for Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus and Christianity. New York: HarperOne, 2004.
  • Articles or book excerpts provided by the instructor.

The literature in this area is vast. Below is a small sample of recommended reading. More bibliography will be made available in appropriate lessons.

  • Charles, R.H. ed. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. Oxford, 1913.
  • Feldman, L.H., Kugel, J.L., Schiffman, L.H., eds. Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture. 3 vols. Philadelphia: JPS, 2013.
  • Kraft, R.A. “The Multiform Jewish Heritage of Early Christianity.” Christianity, Judaism and other Greco-Roman Cults: Studies for Morton Smith at Sixty. Leiden: Brill, 1975, 3:174-199.
  • Nicklesburg, G.W.E. and Stone, M.E. Early Judaism: Texts and Documents on Faith and Piety. Rev. ed. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009.
  • Schürer-Vermes-Millar. History of the Jewish People at the Time of Jesus Christ. Vol. 3.1. Rev. ed. G. Vermes, F. Millar and M. Goodman, eds. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1986.
  • Sparks, H.F.D., ed. The Apocryphal Old Testament. Oxford: Clarendon, 1984.
  • Stone, M.E., ed. Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period (CRINT 2). Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.
  • Vermes, G. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (Penguin, 1997).

Completion of all reading and participation in the asynchronous online discussion are crucial to learning in this course and to your course grade. In order to sustain a meaningful asynchronous discussion, students normally log on to the course blog and post three or more times between Sunday morning and Thursday night.
The topic of the final research project is to be submitted to the instructor for approval on or before Thurs. Nov. 14. The student will present a working version of this project on the asynchronous blog for the class to discuss and comment upon. The online reports will be presented during the last two lectures of the course (Dec. 8–19) depending on the number of students registered. The exact date of each student’s presentation will be determined during the second week of class. The final paper is due by 11:55 pm Eastern, Sunday, Dec. 29.

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