[Note: I tweeted summaries of all the pseudepigrapha in this book (using the #MoreOTP hashtag) while reading it. To see them all, check the posts here and here. When I received the book from Eerdmans (thanks again for the review copy), I mentioned it here with a short introduction.]
As a reader of Jim Davila’s blog PaleoJudaica for years, I’ve known of this book as he’s mentioned it frequently during its development. And I have been itching to read it. I was not disappointed. What Bauckham, Davila, and Panayotov have accomplished is no small feat: Modern, readable translations of some important yet difficult to find works that have some relation to the Bible. Further, each of these works have introductions that provide the proper context and setting for reading the material. As the pseudepigrapha themselves are diverse, this short review will focus instead on the introductions and the indexes.
Each work is capably introduced. The plan of the volumes includes discussion of standard material where possible — some pseudepigrapha are small and therefore, where appropriate, sections are skipped.
Introduction sections include:
- Manuscripts, Versions, Editions, etc.
- Relation to Other/Earlier Literature
- Genre, Structure, Prosody, etc.
- Date and Provenance
- Literary Context
The above listing is not comprehensive, but covers most major sections. Authors were free to provide any other material they felt relevant to the subject matter.
The pseudepigrapha themselves are, of course, valuable; but without a good introduction to set the proper context for evaluating the material, they are of dubious value. The introductions interact with the latest literature, but they often dig into older sources to trace the development of scholarship around the pseudepigraphon. In many cases, the most recent literature is one hundred years old, or older — proving yet again the need for a volume like this.
The indexes to this volume are also valuable, spanning nearly 60 pages. At around 750 pages of main body text, with 60 pages of index, that’s around 12.5 pages for each index page — not bad. There are two indices:
- Index of Modern Authors
- Index of Scripture and Other Ancient Texts
If you’re like me, it is that last index that will get the most mileage. Indexes are the unsung heroes of volumes like this. Tedious to put together, hugely difficult to error check, and the necessary point of entry for most folks to actually use the work. While many will no doubt read through the material, this is a reference work. Without an index, it would be useless in the long run. With a poor index, it would be frustrating to use. But a well-assembled index is a thing of beauty, and this volume appears to deliver in this regard.
I can’t recommend this volume enough. Buy it and use it, and you should find it useful for years to come.