Tag Archives: Palestine

Horsley and Hanson, Bandits, Prophets and Messiahs (1985)

In Bandits, Prophets and Messiahs: Popular Movements in the Time of Jesus (Minneapolis: Winston, 1985), Richard A. Horsley and John S. Hanson read Josephus to examine the peasant-level revolutionary movements of first-century Palestine. They argue against the idea that a single unified anti-Roman resistance group operated in Palestine at that time, instead showing that Rome, the Jewish elites, and several peasant-level groups were all in conflict.

Marcus Borg has a good synopsis and review of the book in JBL 107 (1988): 135-137.

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Humphrey, ed., The Roman and Byzantine Near East, vol. 3

H. Humphrey, ed., The Roman and Byzantine Near East: Some Recent Archaeological Research, vol. 3 (2003).

1. Yoram Tsafrir and Boaz Zissu, “A Hiding Complex of the Second Temple Period and the Time of the Bar-Kokhba Revolt at ‘Ain-‘Arrub in the Hebron Hills”: Between the two Jewish revolts, Judeans dug tunnels between disused underground installations (like cisterns, columbaria, etc.) in order to use them as hiding places in the case of Roman assault. Bar Kokhba was possibly born about 2 km south of ‘Ain-‘Arrub, ‘Ain-‘Arrub may also be the Kiryat ‘Arbayyah mentioned in one of Bar Kokhba’s letters.

2. Alla Kushnir-Stein, “New Inscribed Lead Weights from Gaza”: An edition of 7 previously unpublished lead weights from Roman Gaza. Five bear the Phoenician mem (the first letter of the name of Marnas, who was the patron deity of Gaza).

3. Doron Bar, “Was There a 3rd-c. Economic Crisis in Palestine?”: Even though the Western Roman Empire saw an economic crisis between 235 and 284 CE, archaeological evidence shows that Palestine experienced a period of growth then. The rabbinic writings record nothing that unambiguously points to economic decline in the 3rd century.

4. Zeev Weiss and Rina Talgam, “The Nile Festival Building and Its Mosaics: Mythological Representations in Early Byzantine Sepphoris”: The two artists who created the mosaics were probably from Alexandria. The main mosaic shows scenes from the Nile Festival, which was still practiced in Egypt (although in a Christianized form) as late as the 7th century. The Nile scenes were chosen for the main mosaic “because of [the Nile’s] fertility, abundance, and prosperity, the exotic appeal of the theme, and the decorative value of the composition” (72). Similarly, another mosaic shows Amazons dancing, not as part of a ritual (as in Callimachus’ Hymn to Artemis), but as part of a banquet. The mosaics are another example (along with the mosaics at Madaba, for instance) of Byzantine culture not being afraid of Classical themes.

4a. Leah Di Segni, “Appendix: Greek Inscriptions in the Nile Festival Building”: Editions of and commentaries on the Greek inscriptions from the mosaics at the Nile Festival building.

5. Douglas R. Edwards, “Khirbet Qana: From Jewish Village to a Christian Pilgrim Site”: Kh. Qana was inhabited off and on from the Neolithic through the Ottoman periods. Its population grew from the 1st century BCE through the Roman period, and it flourished during the Byzantine period, after Christian pilgrims identified it with Cana of Galilee in the 5th century. A shrine was built in a series of caves on the south slope of the hill, which “saw considerable foot traffic” (126), as evidenced by the high polish on the steps leading into the shrine and on the top of the altar inside one of the caves.

6. Cèsar Carreras Monfort and David F. Williams, “’Carrot’ Amphoras: A Syrian or Palestinian Connection?”: Opens the question whether carrot amphorae, which are only found at sites from the western Roman Empire, may have been produced in Syria or Palestine, owing to similarities in fabric between carrot amphorae and Syrian-Palestinian ceramics and that they typically contained dates of a type produced near Jericho.

7. Peter Fabian and Yuval Goren, “A New Type of Late Roman Storage Jar from the Negev”: Elusa jars were produced at a single site (Elusa) and used all over the Negev during the late Roman period.

8. Yizhar Hirschfeld, “Deir Qal’a and the Monasteries of Western Samaria”: “The monasteries of W Samaria have a number of common characteristics. They are all coenobia with walls generally enclosing a church, refectory, and living quarters. They are all built of large ashlars, usually with dressed margins, and decorated with crosses and classical motifs. It is a compact group, with a distance of no more than 2-3km between them” (187), founded near a Christian pilgrimage route to Jerusalem, probably after the Samaritan revolt (529/530) was put down and Christian sites were rebuilt with tax revenue.

9. Zbigniew T. Fiema, “Late-Antique Petra and Its Hinterland: Recent Research and New Interpretations”: “The most important conclusion derived from recent archaeological work and the Petra papyri is that Petra continued to exist through the 6th c.” (213). It was capital of Palaestina Tertia through the 6th century, and the Petra papyri attest to the administrative infrastructure there. The church (specifically the bishop) was an integral part of government in Byzantine Petra. However, Petra’s residents also held to traditional Nabataean practices. Residents of Petra spoke pre-Islamic Early Arabic, and Greek was the language of the administration. The settlement grew smaller from the 3rd century to the 6th century; an earthquake in 363 accelerated the process. During the same time, Petra “lost its importance as a major market for goods exchanged between regions” (225), though local trade still occurred. As in Palestine, Petra saw an economic downturn in the 5th century. Petra’s economy rallied briefly in the early 6th century, before a collapse in the mid-to-late 6th century. By the 6th century, major trade routes had shifted away from Petra. The population may have ruralized by the 7th century, since the Crusaders found the area inhabited by small villages.

10. David Stacey, “The Later Synagogues at Hammath Tiberias and Problems of Dating the Islamic Phases and Pottery”: A review of Moshe Dothan (ed. By Barbara L. Johnson), Hammath Tiberias vol. 2: The Late Synagogues.

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Humphrey, ed., The Roman and Byzantine Near East, vol. 1 (1995)

J. H. Humphrey, ed., The Roman and Byzantine Near East: Some Recent Archaeological Research, vol. 1 (1995).

1. Alla Kushnir-Stein, “The Predecessor of Caesarea: On the Identification of Demetrias in South Phoenicia”: The city of Demetrias, attested only on coins, was the Seleucid name for the city of Strato’s Tower, a well-established polis that Octavian gave to Herod, who renamed it Caesarea.

2. Yosef Porath, “Herod’s ‘Amphitheatre’ at Caesarea: A Multipurpose Entertainment Building”: The building that Josephus calls an “amphitheatre” is closer in form to a hippodrome; “in Herod’s day there was no clear functional distinction between the institutions that we call today the canonical amphitheatre, stadium, and hippodrome” (25).

3. Yizhar Hirschfeld, “The Early Roman Bath and Fortress at Ramat Hanadiv Near Caesarea”: The city was a Hasmonean fortified village (a chorion), which Herod inherited, and which persisted as a Judean fort until the Great Revolt. The bath was a public bath near Caesarea that was in use by Jewish residents from the end of the 1st century BCE until the 67 CE revolt. In the Byzantine period, an aqueduct ran from the spring (at that point considered magical) to Shuni, where it was used for the Maiumas (Shuni’s water festivities).

4. Boaz Zissu, “Two Herodian Dovecotes: Horvat Abu Haf and Horvat ‘Aleq”: The towers at these two sites were columbaria that also probably functioned as watchtowers. Pigeons were raised as a source of food and fertilizer, and were very valuable. Columbaria are attested in Roman and Jewish literature.

5. Adam Zertal, “The Roman Siege-System at Khirbet al-Hamam (Narbata)”: The tel (located in northwest Samaria) was partially surrounded by a circumvallation wall with three (possibly four) Roman camps situated along it. The siege ramp made partial use of the road that ran into the town. Narbata was an influential regional capital. In 66 CE, Jews from Caesarea garrisoned themselves in the city, prompting the Roman general Gallus to lay siege to (and defeat) the city before heading to Jerusalem.

6. Benny Arubas and Haim Goldfus, “The Kilnworks of the Tenth Legion Fretensis”: The site served as the Roman army factory for pottery, bricks, and roofing tiles when Jerusalem was rebuilt as Aelia Capitolina. It was in use from the 1st through 3rd centuries CE.

7. Rivka Gersht, “Seven New Sculptural Pieces from Caesarea”: 1) A male figure that is probably Antoninus Pius (r. 138-161; the first sculpture of a Roman emperor from Caesarea); 2) A 4th-century woman, a private individual; 3) Aphrodite; 4) The base of a standing male; 5) The base of a standing figure; 6) and 7) Fragment of two garland sarcophagoi.

8. Moshe Fischer, with Antje Krug and Ze’ev Pearl, “The Basilica of Ascalon: Marble, Imperial Art, and Architecture in Roman Palestine”: The monumental decorations of the basilica show various deities. Four pilasters show Victory in various poses. Another shows Isis and a priest of Sarapis, “who seems only just to have emerged from childhood” (136). The building also likely housed Roman imperial cult.

9. Yoram Tsafrir, “The Synagogues at Capernaum and Meroth and the Dating of the Galilean Synagogue”: The synagogue at Capernaum was built in the 3rd century, during the time that the Galilean style of synagogue flourished. The synagogue at Meroth is in imitation of the Galliean-style synagogue and dates to the late 4th or early 5th century.

10. Ze’ev Weiss and Ehud Netzer, “New Evidence for Late-Roman and Byzantine Sepphoris”: During the Byzantine period, Sepphoris was a flourishing city. Most of the population was probably Jewish. One house (the “Nile festival house”) contains several mosaics, one of which commemorates the flooding of the Nile. At the intersection of the cardo and decumanus, under Bishop Eutropius, “the sidewalks were renovated and repaved with mosaics that featured geometric designs, and some changes were made to the entrances of the shops” (171); Eutropius also built a church. Several synagogues were also built in the city; one contains an ornate mosaic floor, the features of which all point along the axis that leads to Jerusalem. The city burned down toward the end of the Byzantine period.

11. David Adan-Bayewitz, “A Lamp Mould from Sepphoris and the Location of Workshops for Lamp and Common Pottery Manufacture in the Northern Palestine”: Lamp and figurine workshops were predominately located in cities, as is the pattern in the broader Roman world, whereas other pottery was produced, by and large, in rural areas. Rural areas certainly had the raw materials to make lamps and figurines, so it is likely that the smaller items were in higher demand in cities than in villages.

12. Rachel Hachlili, “Late Antique Jewish Art from the Golan”: The motifs in the art of Late Antique Jewish Golan were those of Jewish art more generally. They include:

  • Menorah (more common in synagogues than private houses)
  • Animals (including eagles, a peacock, a few birds, lions and lionesses, fish, and a snake)
  • Human figures (including people and mythological figures)
  • Geometric designs (rosettes, vine scrolls, wreaths, stylized “Trees of Life”)
  • Local variations on classical column capitals (mostly Ionic)

Most of the sculpture is carved out of basalt, as was the local tradition. The styles were in use for a long time, and no chronology can be established. In synagogues, the Torah shrine followed the style of the aedicula, with “a stone platform with columns surmounted by a lintel usually decorated by a Syrian gable” (189), inside of which a wooden Ark was placed. The aedicula pointed towards Jerusalem.

13. Clive Foss, “The Near Eastern Countryside in Late Antiquity: A Review Article”: A review of one work on Byzantine Syria and two on the Byzantine Negev. Syria flourished in the Byzantine period until the late 6th century, when it collapsed due to plague and the Persian invasion. The Negev, on the other hand, saw a peaceful transition between the Byzantine and Arab periods

14. Peter Fabian, “The Late-Roman Military Camp at Beer Sheba: A New Discovery”: Previously thought lost, the Roman military camp was located at the center of Byzantine Beersheba. In the Roman and Byzantine periods, it was a major fort (likely a headquarters) guarding the roads from the northern Negev to the Gulf of Eilat.

15. David F. Graf, “The Via Nova Traiana in Arabia Petraea”: Petra, not the Roman provincial capital Bostra, was the head of the Trajanic road. Two routes exist between Petra and Ṣadaqa, both of which attest milestones, either of which could be the Trajanic road. The road then continues south from Ṣadaqa to ‘Aqaba, again attested by milestones as well as by preserved stretches of pavement,

15. [sic] J. Wilson and Eleanor E. Myers, “Low-Altitude Aerial Photography at Petra”: A collection of photographs taken from an unmanned, tethered blimp at Petra showing archaeological features that were not otherwise visible.

16. Zbigniew T. Fiema, Robert Schick, and Khairieh ‘Amr, “The Petra Church Project: Interim Report, 1992-1994”: The church at Petra was built in the late 5th century and was in use until the mid-6th century, when it collapsed and burned down. It was subsequently robbed. The church contained several mosaics and a library of papyrus scrolls dating from the 5th-6th century (the Petra Papyri). Excavation also recovered extensive finds (metal building materials, some pottery dating to the 5th-7th centuries, stone and marble furnishings, wall mosaics and plaster, glass windows panes and lamps, some epigraphic finds dating from the Nabatean period to the Byzantine period, and animal remains).

17. Jean-Pierre Sodini, “L’organisation liturgique des églises en Palestine et Judée”: A review of Yoram Tsafrir, ed., Ancient Churches Revealed (1993).

18. Leah Di Segni, “The Involvement of Local, Municipal and Provincial Authorities in Urban Building in Late Antique Palestine and Arabia”: In Late Antiquity, churches were built by bishops and priests, but also by village officials. Municipal and provincial authorities usually built civil buildings; work was overseen by various aristocrats and local and military officials. Funding for public buildings came from city or provincial treasuries.

19. Kenneth G. Holum, “Inscriptions from the Imperial Revenue Office of Byzantine Caesarea Palaestinae”: Editions of three of the six inscriptions from the imperial revenue office at Caesarea Maritima. One is the text of Rom 13:3 (“If you would not fear the authority, then do good and you will receive praise from it” [339]). The second mentions two classes of civil servants working in the same administrative bureau. The third mentions another officer in the same bureau. One of the officials named is a numerarios (an accountant in the civil administration), meaning that the bureau dealt with the revenue and expenditures of Byzantine Palestine.

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Saldarini, Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees in Palestinian Society: A Sociological Approach (1988)

Anthony J. Saldarini, Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees in Palestinian Society: A Sociological Approach (1988)

Thesis: In Roman Palestine, the Pharisees and scribes were low-level bureaucrats (members of the retainer class, not the middle class, which did not exist in antiquity), and the Sadducees were members of the governing class (though not all members of the governing class were Sadducees).

Chapter 1, “The Problem of Jewish Groups in Palestine,” situates Saldarini’s work among other scholarly reconstructions of the Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees. He argues that previous work has been misled by the assumption that people in antiquity saw religion and politics as two separate spheres of life (they did not) and that ancient societies had an upper, middle, and lower class like modern industrial societies (they had an upper class and a lower class; most people lived within the lower classes).

Chapter 2, “A Sociological Approach,” outlines Saldarini’s methodology. He uses social functionalism as his theoretical framework, though he acknowledges its faults. He then examines the nature of class and power in ancient society, adapting Weber’s triad of class, status, and power to Roman society, where classes were “legally defined categor[ies] which possessed clearly defined privileges and disabilities and which stood in hierarchical relationship to other orders” (27), though they declined in importance over time.

Chapter 3, “Social Classes in Palestinian Jewish Society and the Roman Empire,” summarizes Gerhard Lenski’s model of the social classes of agrarian empires (like the Roman Empire). Lenski sees nine classes in agrarian imperial societies, which Saldarini uses as a guide to Palestinian society under the Romans:

  1. The ruler, who “had far reaching power and was sometimes considered to be the owner of all the land” (40).
  2. The governing class: 1-2% of the population; “made up of both hereditary aristocrats and appointed bureaucrats” (40). The Sadducees were members of this group.
  3. The retainer class: “perhaps 5% of the population” (41) who served the elites but were not elites themselves. The Pharisees and scribes belonged to this class, as did low-level officials like tax collectors.
  4. The merchant class, which was somewhat liminal; merchants were not landowners (and, thus, were not elites), but were not under the direct authority of the elites, like peasants were.
  5. The priestly class, which was landless, but which controlled significant wealth and had power independently of the governing class.
  6. The peasants: “the bulk of the population” (43), who were very strictly controlled by the governing class. Their main role was to produce food for the high-ranked members of society, who taxed their food production “typically at the rate of 30-70% of the crop” (43).
  7. The artisan class, about 3-7% of the population, were not a middle class (as in industrial societies), but rather earned low wages and enjoyed very little power. Jesus, Paul, Peter, Andrew, James, and John were from this class.
  8. The unclean class: essentially artisans who performed “noxious but necessary tasks” (44) like tanning or mining.
  9. The expandable class (5-10% of the population): people who had been forced off their land and who lived as outlaws on the fringes of society. Most messianic claimants and their followers were from this class.

Chapter 4, “Social Relations and Groups in Palestine,” examines the nature and origins of social groups in Hellenistic/Roman Palestine. Saldarini gleans from social network theory to show how honor-shame and patron-client relationships were at work both within and between social groups. He also argues that the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes probably formed in the same way as Hellenistic voluntary associations—though, after they formed, they also had sectarian features. Saldarini explains Palestinian groups via Bryan Wilson’s typology of sects:

  1. The conversionist seeks emotional transformation now, with salvation presumed to follow in the future after evil has been endured. Because of alienation from society a new community is formed. Early Christians fit this type.
  2. The revolutionist awaits the destruction of the social order by divine forces. Apocalyptic groups fit this type.
  3. The introversionist withdraws from the world into a purified community. The Essenes fit this type.
  4. The manipulationist seeks happiness by a transformed subjective orientation which will control evil. The gnostics fit this type.
  5. The thaumaturgical response seeks relief from specific ills by special, not general dispensation. Magicians and healers with their followers fit this type.
  6. The reformist seeks gradual, divinely revealed alterations in society. The Pharisees and Jesus with his disciples probably fit this type.
  7. The utopian seeks to reconstruct the world according to divine principles without revolution (72; emphasis original; list formatted for readability).

Chapter 5, “The Pharisees and Sadducees as Political Interest Groups in Josephus”: Saldarini begins with Josephus’ biography, before surveying Josephus’ treatment of the Pharisees and Sadducees in the War, Antiquities, and Life. He concludes that the Pharisees and Sadducees were both small political interest groups, and that the Pharisees belonged to the retainer class, while the Saducees were from the governing class. Not all retainers were Pharisees, however, nor were all governors Sadducees.

Chapter 6, “Josephus’ Descriptions of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” builds off of the previous chapter’s argument, giving further information about the Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ roles as political action groups. This chapter also argues, contra Neusner, that Josephus did not have a pro-Pharisaic bias in the Antiquities.

Chapter 7, “Paul the Pharisee”: This brief (10-page) chapter complements the picture of the Pharisees drawn from Josephus. Paul’s identity as a Pharisee shows that Pharisaism was present in the Diaspora, whereas Josephus only places the Pharisees in Jerusalem. Paul also mentions Pharisaism in conjunction with disputes about purity laws, showing that the Pharisees probably made purity regulations one of their defining boundary markers. Paul’s letters show him to be a decently well-educated member of the artisan class with some connections to the upper classes; Acts moves him up to the retainer class.

Chapter 8, “The Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees in Mark and Matthew”: In Mark, the Pharisees are located almost exclusively in Galilee (as opposed to Josephus’ portrait of them living exclusively in Jerusalem) and have connections with other groups, like the Herodians. They are a politically active group, and are concerned with purity regulations. The scribes appear both in Jerusalem and in Galilee, but are more often located in Jerusalem; they were teachers who were known and esteemed among the people in both places, and their disputes with Jesus mostly concerned Jesus’ authority to teach. The Sadducees appear once, as members of a controversy over the doctrine of resurrection. In Matthew, the Pharisees are present both in Judea and the Galilee. The scribes, as in Mark, are teachers who are concerned with Jesus’ authority to teach; however, as “spokesmen for Judaism” (160) rather than for specific Jewish groups, the scribes are less politically active than in Mark.

Chapter 9, “The Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees in Luke-Acts and John”: In Luke, the Pharisees are a Galilean group that is disconnected from other Jewish political groups; the scribes have no clearly defined role; and he introduces a new Jewish group, the lawyers. In Acts, Pharisees appear as members of the Sanhedrin, where they argue with Sadducees over the concept of resurrection. The scribes again have no clearly defined role other than opposing the apostles. The Sadducees are leaders in Jerusalem. In John, “the Pharisees function both as government officials and as the learned doctors of the law who are interested in Jesus’ teaching and dispute its truth” (188). They are located in both Jerusalem and Galilee. The scribes and Sadducees do not appear in John.

Chapter 10, “The Pharisees and Sadducees in Rabbinic Literature,” critiques using rabbinic sources to describe the historical Pharisees and Sadducees, because the rabbinic authors use those groups for their own polemical purposes. Nevertheless, some information can be gleaned from these texts, for instance that Pharisaic leaders, like Hillel and Gamaliel, very probably existed, though they did not have the wide-reaching power that has been ascribed to them. Next, Saldarini discusses the origins and meanings of the names Pharisee and Sadducee, arguing that the typical etymologies do not sufficiently explain how the groups got their names. He also briefly discusses the Boethusians, who were probably a priestly group.

Chapter 11, “The Social Roles of Scribes in Jewish Society,” gives a history of scribes in Egypt and Israel, as well as how scribal activity shaped the Hebrew Bible. Scribes appear throughout Jewish literature filling various roles and occupying different social positions. Saldarini argues that, in Roman Palestine, a “scribe” was not a member of a unified political group, but was simply a literate individual in the service of a community leader. In the gospels, most scribes belong to the retainer class.

Chapter 12, “The Place of the Pharisees in Jewish Society,” argues that the Pharisees filled many social roles in Roman Palestine, including:

  • A political action group.
  • A reform movement.
  • A network of people mostly from the retainer class, struggling for power and influence.
  • A religious sect focused on ritual purity, using written texts and oral traditions as the basis of their beliefs.
  • A Greek-style philosophical school.

As a whole, they held beliefs that were distinct from other Jewish groups of the time, like the Sadducees and Essenes. However, they were also divided into factions—for example, the houses of Hillel and Shammai. It is also likely, contra Josephus, that some Pharisees lived in Galilee.

Chapter 13, “The Sadducees and Jewish Leadership,” argues that “the Sadducees were an established and well recognized group of first century Jews” (302) who were members of the governing class. However, not all governors were Sadducees. The Sadducees held to tradition more tightly than the Pharisees, using only the Torah as their sacred text and rejecting doctrinal innovations from the Persian and Hellenistic periods, like the doctrine of resurrection. The Sadducees’ history is “obscure” (305), and the sources available do not permit definite conclusions about the group’s origins.

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Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah, 2nd ed. (2005)

George W. E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah: A Historical and Literary Introduction (2nd ed.)

This book is a textbook on (mostly) non-canonical Jewish writings from the Hellenistic and Roman periods (i.e., the apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, and the DSS). The Introduction sets forth his interpretive paradigm (he wants to explicate the texts’ internal stories and logic) and contains a brief overview of the problems with the terms apocrypha and pseudepigrapha. The Prologue is a brief overview of Israelite and Judahite history from the sack of Samaria under Shalmaneser V in 722 BCE and the sack of Jerusalem in 586, through Cyrus’ decree in 538, the return from exile, and the establishment of the Jewish diaspora.

Chapter 1, “Tales of the Dispersion,” covers texts written by Jews in the Babylonian and Assyrian diaspora. It includes Daniel 1-6, the additions to Daniel (Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, and the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men), 1 Esdras 3-4 (the Story of Darius’ Bodyguards), Tobit, and the Epistle of Jeremiah.

Chapter 2, “Palestine in the Wake of Alexander the Great,” gives a summary of the foreign powers who ruled over Palestine from the Persian period through the Hellenistic period. The chapter then examines the Book of the Heavenly Luminaries (1 Enoch 72-82), the Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36), and Sirach. This chapter also discusses apocalypticism in 1 Enoch.

Chapter 3, “Reform—Repression—Revolt,” summarizes the events in Palestine from 198 BCE (when Antiochus III defeated the Ptolemies) through the end of the Hasmonean revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 164. In his survey of texts from the period, Nickelsburg discusses the apocalyptic responses to Antiochus IV and the war in Palestine: Jubilees, the Testament of Moses, Daniel 7-12, and 1 Enoch 83-90 (the Animal Vision).

Chapter 4, “The Hasmoneans and Their Opponents,” covers the rulership of the Hasmonean period and the Hasmoneans’ relations with the Seleucids and Romans. The texts from this period are Baruch, Judith, 1-2 Maccabees, and the Epistle of Enoch (1 Enoch 92-105). Nickelsburg also outlines the literary development of 1 Enoch as it stands today.

Chapter 5, “The People at Qumran and Their Predecessors,” covers the major works among the Dead Sea Scrolls, including the Damascus Document; the pesharim to Habakkuk, Psalms, Nahum, and Isaiah; “three thematic exegetical texts” (132), viz. 1QFlorilegium, 11QMelchizedek, and 4QTestimonia; the Thanksgiving Hymns (1QHab and 4QH); the Community Rule; the War Scroll; 4QMMT; the Rule of the Congregation (1QSa); the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice; the Temple Scroll; Aramaic Levi; the non-canonical psalms in 11QPsa; 4QInstruction; the Genesis Apocryphon; and The New Jerusalem. This chapter is by far the longest in the book.

Chapter 6, “Israel in Egypt,” starts with a brief discussion of the Jewish Diaspora in Egypt, then covers the major Jewish texts from Hellenistic Egypt: the LXX, book 3 of the Sibylline Oracles, the Letter of Aristeas, 3 Maccabees, the Additions to Esther, Wisdom of Solomon, Philo’s writings, and 2 Enoch.

Chapter 7, “The Romans and the House of Herod,” gives a significant amount of space to the leadership of Judea under Roman rule, namely Herod the Great and his heirs. The texts from this period are the Psalms of Solomon, the revisions of the Testament of Moses, 1 Enoch 37-71 (the Similitudes of Enoch), and 4 Maccabees.

Chapter 8, “Revolt—Destruction—Reconstruction,” deals with the period between the death of Herod Agrippa I (44 CE) and the end of the Jewish War in 70 CE. Reactions to the events of 70 are the Book of Biblical Antiquities (Pseudo-Philo) and the apocalypses 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, and the Apocalypse of Abraham. The chapter also covers the life and writings of Josephus.

Chapter 9, “Texts of Disputed Provenance,” examines the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Testament of Job, the Testament of Abraham, the Greek and Latin Lives of Adam and Eve, Joseph and Aseneth, and the Prayer of Manasseh. Each of these text have only been preserved in Christian editions, and so it is difficult to date them and to determine which parts of the texts are Christian in origin and which are Jewish.

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