Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to ScriptureEdited by Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel and Lawrence H. Schiffman (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press and Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2103), 3 vols., 3361 pp., $275 (hardcover)
By the strangest quirk of fate respecting literature that I know of, large numbers of writings by Jews were completely lost from the transmitted Jewish heritage. These documents stem roughly from 200 B.C. to A.D. 200. Not only the so-called Pseudepigrapha, but even such important and extensive writings as those by Philo and Josephus have not been part of the Jewish inheritance from its past; these were preserved and transmitted by Christians. It was rather only in the backwash of the Renaissance that Jews began to encounter Philo and Josephus. A 16th-century Italian rabbi, Azariah de Rossi, in a book called Me-or Enayim (“Light for the Eyes”), inaugurated this rediscovery of the “lost” literature.1
These words were published in 1983 by my friend Samuel Sandmel of Hebrew Union College. Long ago we worked together for many years to help Christian leaders appreciate Judaism.