Out­side the Bible, 3‑Volume Set: Ancient Jew­ish Writ­ings Relat­ed to Scripture

Louis H. Feld­man, James L. Kugel & Lawrence H. Schiff­man, eds.
  • Review
By – October 6, 2014

Outside the Bible is prob­a­bly the most am­bitious project under­tak­en by The Jew­ish Pub­li­ca­tion Soci­ety in many years. It aims to present an acces­si­ble edi­tion of vir­tu­al­ly every sur­viv­ing work writ­ten by Jews after the Bible and before the Tal­mu­dic peri­od. It is defined as a col­lec­tion of Jew­ish writ­ings relat­ed to Scrip­ture — a def­i­n­i­tion that aims to reclaim books from the Apoc­rypha and Pseudepigra­pha, the Qum­ran scrolls and the writ­ings of Phi­lo and Jose­phus as part of Jew­ish tra­di­tion. Although not all of these works are clear­ly relat­ed to the Bible, they are tra­di­tion­al­ly asso­ci­at­ed with it and are stud­ied togeth­er with it in aca­d­e­m­ic set­tings. The edi­tors, all high­ly accom­plished schol­ars and prac­tic­ing Jews, gath­ered con­tri­bu­tions from a long list of experts includ­ing the acknowl­edged experts in their respec­tive fields along­side younger researchers in an attempt to present the cut­ting edge of cur­rent schol­ar­ship to a lay audi­ence. Every com­po­si­tion received its own chap­ter, with major works like the Sep­tu­agint or Jew­ish Antiq­ui­ties by Jose­phus cov­er­ing sev­er­al chap­ters, each devot­ed to a dif­fer­ent sec­tion. Each chap­ter com­pris­es an introduc­tion fol­lowed by a text trans­lat­ed into Eng­lish with inter­pre­tive foot­notes and ref­er­ences in end­notes. Some of the texts are pre­sent­ed in their full extent while oth­ers are excerpts; some of the trans­la­tions are new while oth­ers are adapt­ed from exist­ing trans­la­tions. The book is mas­sive, with three vol­umes and more than three thou­sand pages. An e‑book ver­sion is also avail­able, but unfor­tu­nate­ly the com­plex lay­out of the foot­notes and end­notes was not repro­duced clear­ly in this ver­sion. Rarely does a sin­gle title pro­vide access to an entire lit­er­a­ture so com­pre­hen­sive­ly and com­pre­hend­ably. Index.

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