Pseudo-Philo: Rewriting the Bible

By Frederick J. Murphy | Go to book overview

Preface

Like many Christians, I first came to the study of Judaism because of my interest in the historical and religious origins of Christianity. Early in my studies I came to appreciate the richness and beauty of Judaism for its own sake, not merely as a background for Christian beginnings. Indeed, most scholars now recognize that if we ask only those questions about ancient Judaism that are of direct interest for the early church, we end up with a distorted picture of Judaism of the first century. Paying due attention to ancient Judaism in its own right will be more useful in the end, even to those whose primary interest is in Christianity, because it will make possible a more balanced appreciation of the dynamics of first-century Judaism and earliest Christianity.1.

I first became fascinated with Judaism through the Hebrew Bible, the major source for Israelite religion and one of the sources for Early Judaism. It seemed clear that to understand the New Testament one needed a deep appreciation of the Hebrew Bible. Further study made obvious the sizable gap, chronological and religious, between the Hebrew Bible and later Jewish literature. My interests turned to the late Second Temple period, for which the primary sources are the collection of texts now usually referred to as the Pseudepigrapha. I did my dissertation on 2 Baruch, now published in the Society of Biblical Literature dissertation series. I also had the pleasure as a graduate student of directing Susan Berman's Harvard undergraduate dissertation on 4 Ezra, and of conducting a tutorial on the Pseudepigrapha with Harvard undergraduates.

Several years ago, I decided to turn my attention to the Biblical Antiquities of Pseudo-Philo, a rewriting of the Bible from Adam to Saul's death composed

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1.
It is in this spirit that I wrote Religious World.

-vii-

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