Introduction to DI3216: The OT Pseudepigraph (1997)

Greetings, members of the OT PSEUD list!

Today (4 February, 1997) marks the first realtime session of our seminar at the University of St. Andrews and the opening of the list for discussion. For now the list will be unmoderated, although I reserve the right to switch to a moderated format anytime I judge the noise level to be too high. Let me remind you that all list discussion is to be governed by our Community Rule, which has been distributed to all members. If for some reason you deleted it without reading it, you may get a copy by sending the message:

get otpseud community.rule


Note that this command is case sensitive; it must be sent in small letters exactly as it appears above. (It’s best just to copy the phrase and paste it into a new message.)

In general to post to the list you should (1) have read the assignments in the Charlesworth volumes, (2) have kept up with the list discussion thus far, and (3) adhere to the rules in the Community Rule. In particular, please remember to begin the subject header of each posting to the list with OTP and to sign your name and e-mail address at the end of the message.

This course module is an experiment inspired by the fine models provided by James J. O’Donnell in his online courses on Augustine and Boethius and Robert Kraft in his online course on the Dead Sea Scrolls (both at the University of Pennsylvania.) Our discussion list currently has approximately 155 people signed on and I want to thank all of you for your interest. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank publicly John Henderson, the Head of User Services for the Information Technology Services at St. Andrews, for the enormous amount of time and effort he has invested (and continues to invest) in setting up the technical side of this course.


The OT Pseud web page is available at:

This page contains information on the OT Pseud list, a collection of links to related sites on the World-Wide Web, information on textbooks, and a schedule of classes and assignments. It also has links to our Community Rule and to the Annotated Basic Bibliography for the course. A copy of this bibliography can also be obtained by sending the (again, case sensitive) message:

get otpseud bibliography


To get a list of all the files available on the OTPSEUD archive send the (case sensitive) message:

get otpseud contents



The schedule of classes is essentially the same as the one distributed with the welcome message for the course. The only change is that we will be doing 3 Maccabees instead of 4 Maccabees. I will be lecturing (and posting lecture summaries to the list for discussion) for the first three and one-half weeks. After today’s session I will spend a week on basic issues of background and methodology, then fill out these generalizations with a week of lectures on the book of Jubilees, followed by a week of lectures on the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. We will then move on to the student seminar papers and online discussion of a wide range of texts.

Our first class meeting took place this morning and focused mainly on technicalities such as the course syllabus, instructions for writing the seminar papers, and discussion of fruitful approaches to seminar topics. The class will be meeting informally on Wednesday in the Psychology computer cluster for some introductory exploration of the World-Wide Web. My first formal lecture will be on Thursday.

For those of you who want something to discuss in the meantime, let me throw out a question that has been picked over quite a lot on Ioudaios-L, but that might receive a little new illumination by our placing it alongside the OT Pseud. Of what use is the concept of a biblical canon to the historical study of Second Temple Judaism and earliest Christianity? Can we speak of canons of scripture at all in, for example, the Qumran literature or the New Testament? If so, what were the writers of the OT Pseud and other quasi-scriptural texts thinking when they composed their works? If not, then what kind of model of divine inspiration was at work in early Judaism and Christianity?

We will want to tackle this question again periodically and especially at the end of the course, but there’s no harm in getting a start now.

(c) 1997
Reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the author.

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