Jewish Literature in New Testament Times

The Apocryphal Literature


What was Apocryphal Literature in Judaism?

Jerusalem Temple CoinA SECOND LIST OF WORKS. A second list of works which have never been included in the Scriptures, whether Jewish or Christian, is given below. These consist of writings which were either never of canonical status, or which were considered as representative of individual or group viewpoints.

The Book of Jubilees - 200 - 150 B.C.

The Testimony of the Twelve Patriarchs

The Psalms of Solomon - 100 - 50 B.C.

III Maccabees

IV Maccabees

The Assumption of Moses - 1 - 50 A.D.

Adam and Eve

The Martyrdom of Isaiah

The Books of Enoch

II Baruch

The Sibylline Oracles

In this list several of the books can be dated approximately, whereas others cannot. The Book of Enoch, for example, is apparently composed of sections written at different times, all of which were finally combined not long before the Christian era. Some of its phraseology is paralleled in the New Testament, especially the well-known passage in Jude 14, 15, which is an exact replica of Enoch 1:9:

Jude 14-15 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."

The Book of Enoch, the Assumption of Moses, II Baruch, II Esdras, and parts of the Sibylline Oracles belong to the class of apocalyptic literature. Apocalyptic literature is predictive, generally using symbolism which seems bizarre and often inconsistent with itself. Uniformly it prophesies terrible physical judgments on the wicked, from which the righteous shall be delivered by the supernatural intervention of God. Angels are frequently actors in the drama of apocalypse. Many apocalyptic works are pseudonymous, or are ascribed falsely to eminent men who never could have written them. For example, the Book of Enoch was not written by Enoch, but it was attributed to him because he had a reputation for piety and for wisdom.

In style and in imagery the Old Testament books of Ezekiel and Daniel have been classed as apocalyptic, although they could not rightly be called pseudonymous. Revelation, in the New Testament, is also of the same literary type.

Apocalyptic literature was usually produced in a period of persecution, when men's hopes turned to future deliverance. It was intended to encourage the believers to persist in their allegiance to God, and its imagery discouraged outsiders from attempting to grasp its meaning. The fact that certain books in the canonical Scriptures are apocalyptic does not disqualify them as inspired writings, since the Bible is an inspired Book.


Jewish Literature

Esther Scroll

John 10:34 "Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law.."

Rabbinical Literature and Second Temple Judaism

Jerusalem Temple CoinThe Rabbinic Writings, The Mishnah, and the Talmud. During the first century A.D. the Pharisaic rabbis created many commentaries on the Torah. When Jesus began his ministry He attacked the Pharisees for putting their traditions above the word of God. All the writings and commentaries of the first two centuries A.D. were compiled and organized into a collection by a man named Judah Hanasi around 200 A.D. forming a collection called the Mishnah. The Pharisaic rabbis were known as the "Tannaim" which in Hebrew is translated teachers, and these men were the teachers who regulated the law. There was another collection of their commentary which was much smaller, it was known as the Tosefta which in Hebrew means "enlargement". The later commentaries on the Mishnah were made by "expositors".

Brief Historical Background

The Jews and Torah
The Holy Scriptures
The Apocrypha
The Apocryphal Literature
The Oral Law
The Mishnah
The Gemara
The Halakah
The Haggadah
The Midrash
The Zugoth
The Tannaim
The Amoraim
The Tosefta
The Baraitha
The Talmud
The Tractates of the Mishnah
The Palestinian Talmud
The Babylonian Talmud

The Purpose and Heart of the Law - A Heart Message
Rabbinical Writings Chart

Historical Timeline

The Persian Period 430-332 B.C.
The Greek Period 331-167 B.C.
The Period of Independence 167-63 B.C.
The Roman Period 63 B.C. to the time of Christ
The Old Testament Canon
The Apocrypha
Other Writings
The Septuagint
The Text of the Old Testament
The Aramaic Language
The Targums
The Talmud
The Great Synagogue
The Sanhedrin
The Dispersion
Preparation for Christ




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