Are there helpful OT-era Jewish extra-biblical books?

En Hakkore

Well-known member
Pseudo Ezekiel is a good example of what I mean and thank you for mentioning it because it sounds like it is the earliest text in the collection although I don't know if that is the case.
Yes, it is dated to about the mid-2nd century BCE while the others are from the second half of the 2nd century BCE and later.

With these writings we are talking about about Traditions about the prophets and Patriarchs that were written centuries later. And so it creates this uncertainty for me about how reliable they are.
Writings in the Tanakh about the patriarchs and exodus event date many centuries later than the purported events.

In the case of the Torah we are talking about a text that was carefully copied over many centuries by a community that valued it.
While the Masoretes were relatively meticulous with the tradition they inherited, their procedures cannot be projected back into the past. Indeed, the evidence from the Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch and biblical scrolls at Qumran converge to reveal a pluriform text tradition for the Torah in the centuries before the turn of the era. What happened in the centuries before that stretching back to the kingdom period is pure conjecture.

So the Bible, both Testaments, is reliable in a way that the apocryphal writings like pseudo Ezekiel are not.
That conclusion is unwarranted, particularly since a number of 'apocryphal' texts were revered by communities alongside those books that were later 'canonized'.

There are actually many places where the Bible helps to explain itself, where one book in the Bible helps a lot to explain another book.
This is known as a 'canonical reading' and it is not a hermeneutic I ascribe to... in fact, I view it as a distorting lens that leads to misinterpretation of the earlier texts.

Jeremiah ... was a student of Isaiah.
I presume you mean that Jeremiah was aware of whatever Isaianic texts that had been written prior, not that he was literally his contemporary student.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
Certainly over the centuries there have been many writers who wrote about real famous events and gave moral commentaries about Society but who couched their writings in allegorical or cryptic images and terms in order for their message to travel farther. Some examples that come to mind are the famous Russian writers under Stalin who were not arrested but who included social commentary like Sergei Eisenstein and Mikhail Bulgakov. Most Scholars of the latter seemed to think that some of his famous non-fiction works were commenting on the situation following the Russian Revolution, and I strongly agree that he was. But on a Russian language literary forum this year when I presented this information about Bulgakov, I got 5 to 10 "down" votes on my comments and my comments were then hidden from view or removed. People on the forum were calling what I wrote absurd.
I'm not familiar with Bulgakov, but certainly with Eisenstein... at least in general terms concerning his role in film history and montage editing. I'm a bit more familiar with the surrealist approach of Tarkovsky during the post-Stalinist 'thaw' period since I covered Ivanovo detstvo (briefly) in a conference paper I presented a couple years back...

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

rakovsky

Active member
I presume you mean that Jeremiah was aware of whatever Isaianic texts that had been written prior, not that he was literally his contemporary student.
I meant that Jeremiah was Isaiah's student, but I was mistaken on that score, probably confused because of Baruch being the student of Jeremiah and there being books of both Baruch and Jeremiah, the Baruch books being outside the Tanakh. Plus, I think that I read something along the lines of Jeremiah having used Isaiah's writings or ideas.
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
Do we have similar writings outside the Bible from the Old Testament period? For instance, if Ezekiel wrote in the 7th-6th century BC, do we have Jewish writings from 400 BC or earlier that can help us understand Ezekiel?
The Babylonian Talmud records a vast amount of information that dates at least as far back as the Babylonian captivity. A complete collection is quite expensive, but you can download the whole thing online. I made my way through about half of it years ago. I'd recommend wading into a Stone's Chumash before diving into the Talmud itself.
 
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