Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature

Posted: February 26, 2012 in General

In my research and teaching involvements I was always searching for a fine book that provides a comprehensive overview about the Ancient Texts and New Testament documents. Usually, I consult at least ten thick books in order to prepare for a lecture or for a discussion group meeting pertinent to this subject matter. I think that it will be great to get information about “Apocrypha”, “Pseudepigrapha”, “OT Versions” and other texts (including Philo and Josephus, Targums, Rabbinic Literature, early Christian apocrypha, early church Fathers, Gnostic texts, and Greco-Roman [pagan] authors) from a single whole book. A recent post by Larry Hurtado about Craig A. Evans’ book Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005) inspired me to go through this important piece of writing. Let me tell you that it is a fine book that deserves our attention. Larry Hurtado comments (February 24, 2012) about this work as follows:

[In a supervision meeting today with one of my current PhD students, I drew attention to a book that deserves wider notice, especially by those aspiring to do advanced work in NT studies:   Craig A. Evans, Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies:  A Guide to the Background Literature (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005). As Evans notes in the opening sentences of the introduction, one of the principal demands that must be engaged in NT studies is “becoming familiar with the myriad of cognate literatures.”  This book, however, will be a help.  Within a modest compass, it lists and gives brief introductions to a wide spectrum of evidence useful in reading the NT writings in their historical context.  The material covered includes the “Apocrypha” and “Pseudepigrapha” (second-temple era Jewish texts), the Dead Sea Scrolls, the various versions of the OT (Masoretic text, Samaritan Pentateuch, Greek, Latin and Syriac OT), Philo and Josephus, Targums, Rabbinic Literature, early Christian apocrypha, early church Fathers, Gnostic texts, and Greco-Roman (pagan) authors. There is even a brief introduction to “papyri, inscriptions, coins, and ostraca.”   In addition to the introductory comments, there are also bibliographies of editions and scholarly works on the texts in question. It’s a useful tool to have on one’s shelf, and a guide to what advanced students in NT need to know about.  Kudos to Evans for producing it!]

Thanks, both to Craig A. Evans and Larry Hurtado.

You can buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Texts-New-Testament-Studies/dp/0801046173

By Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

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