About Blog

This blog (or weblog) is ancillary to a one-semester undergraduate course (DI4716) that we are teaching in 2007 at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Our names are Dr. Jim Davila, Reader in Early Jewish Studies and Dr. Grant Macaskill, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow. This course (or “module,” as they say in the British system) explores the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, a loose collection of ancient quasi-Biblical writings fictionally attributed to biblical characters or set in the Old Testament period but rejected from the mainstream scriptural canons of both Judaism and Christianity.  We shall study the orthodox and heretical interests and concerns of these documents; the reasons for their exclusion from the major canons; the problem of sorting out who wrote and edited them, when, and why; and the influence of these works after antiquity.  The focus this year will be on texts preserved in exotic ancient church languages including Coptic, Ethiopic, Latin, Slavonic, and Syriac), but all texts will be read in English translation and no knowledge of any ancient languages is required or assumed.

The course meets as a seminar every week on Friday from 2:00 to 4:00 pm (British time). The provisional schedule of classes is given on the web page and will be updated as the semester progresses. The blog opens on 9 February 2007 and will close sometime in May.

The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Blog and the St. Andrews Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Website constitute the online presence for the course. The Pseudepigrapha website contains the course schedule and reading assignments; textbook information; a classified and annotated bibliography; and information on and archives of a no-longer-operative e-mail discussion list that Davila ran alongside this course in the past. The blog will run only for the duration of the course and will close sometime in May. (When the course is taught again in the future, the blog may or may not be revived, depending on time constraints and how useful it turned out this time around.) If you want to see more St. Andrews blogging in this area, please have a look at Davila’s ancient Judaism blog, PaleoJudaica, which has been running for several years and which will continue concurrent with the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha blog.

We assume all readers of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Blog have access to the following books and article.

James H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1, Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments vol. 2, Expansions of the “Old Testament” and Legends, Wisdom and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms, and Odes, Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1983, 1985). (These volumes can be purchased from Amazon (follow the links) and should be available at any large public library.)

Robert A. Kraft, “The Pseudepigrapha in Christianity,” in Tracing the Threads: Studies in the Vitality of Jewish Pseudepigrapha (ed. John C. Reeves; SBLEJL 6; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1994), 55-86. This article is also available on Professor Kraft’s website and can be accessed by clicking here.

It would be helpful if you can read the following article as well:

James R. Davila, “The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha as Background to the New Testament,” Expository Times 117.2 (2005): 53-57.

It is available online, but requires a paid personal or institutional subscription to access. You can also find this journal in hard copy in any research library. But if you can’t get access to it, alternate online readings will be provided which will cover much of the same ground.

Other bibliography can be found on the bibliography page of the St. Andrews Dead Sea Scrolls website.

We will try to post something on this blog every weekday. Weekend posting is optional and will depend on what we happen to find in the news, and also on our schedule and our whim. In the first few weeks we will post summaries of the introductory lectures on Friday. From the fourth week on we will move to discussion of student seminar papers. An abstract of each student essay will be posted on the Pseudepigrapha blog on Tuesday. After the seminar, normally early in the following week, we will post a summary of the class discussion, plus any additional reflections that occur to us. We may occasionally allow students to post to the blog as well. We will also publish notes on coverage of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha in the news and in the media in general (including the “cultural icon watch,” which points to references to the Pseudepigrapha in popular culture), and occasional notes on Pseudepigrapha-related websites on the Internet. The latter may be keyed to some degree, but not necessarily always, to material being covered that week in the course.

Comments will not be enabled on the Pseudepigrapha blog. It is intended as a University classroom in public view rather than a public forum per se. You are welcome to e-mail either or both of us about anything you read on this blog. If we choose to, we may post your e-mail here. We am under no obligation to do so. Whether we do or don’t will be on the basis of our own good judgment and we may or may not explain our reasons for doing either. If you write to us about a Pseudepigrapha-blog-related matter, we assume that you don’t mind our posting what you say and mentioning you by name, unless you tell us otherwise. We am always interested in what readers think, but if you persistently pester us about topics in which you are interested but we am not, we may stop reading your messages. Pseudepigrapha are sometimes also discussed at online venues, such as the Ioudaios-L, g-MegillotAramaic, and Hugoye e-mail lists and on various blogs. Readers are, of course, welcome to comment on Pseudepigrapha blog postings in these venues as well. We try to keep an eye on such things and will often make note them on the blog when we notice them, but we may or may not respond.

Finally, please note that all opinions expressed here are either ours (in which case we take responsibility for them) or those of someone else. Posting of views not identified as our own does not imply that we agree with them. Although this blog is intended to provide “added value” to our University of St. Andrews Old Testament Pseudepigrapha course, the University is not in any way responsible for any views expressed in this blog. This blog is offered “as is,” with no warranty of accuracy or correctness and no endorsement of any sites linked to. We blog, you decide.

Thanks for visiting this site and for sending us items of potential interest. Please visit the Old Testament Pseudeipgrapha blog often.

Contact details

St Mary’s College
The School of Divinity
University of St Andrews
South Street
St Andrews
Fife KY16 9JU
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 462850 
Fax: +44 (0)1334 462852