Over at realclearreligion, I have a new column on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and particularly the very important Slavonic texts that have turned up over the past 150 years.
These Slavonic materials are extraordinarily important. They represent a collection of truly ancient documents, mainly from Second Temple Judaism. Through the Byzantine Empire, they found their way to the Slavic world, to Bulgaria and Serbia, where they were translated. In many cases, these texts were utterly forgotten elsewhere, so their modern rediscovery has transformed the academic study of early Judaism, Christian origins, and the roots of Jewish mysticism.
As I wrote:
Just suppose that those apocrypha themselves started East European clerics thinking in Dualist directions, and laid the foundations for the heretical movements we see emerging no later than the tenth century. That would mean a direct influence from the long-destroyed fringes of Second Temple Judaism through the heresies of medieval Europe. So were the Inquisitors of the thirteenth century actually struggling against ideas that originated in Alexandria and Jerusalem over a thousand years before? It’s a stunning thought.
Dan Brown, eat your heart out.