Book Notice: A Companion to Biblical Interpretation in Early Judaism

Book Notice: A Companion to Biblical Interpretation in Early Judaism July 23, 2015

Matthias Henze (ed.)
A Companion to Biblical Interpretation in Early Judaism
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012.
Available at

This is a very useful volume about Jewish interpretation of the Hebrew and Greek Bibles. The introductory chapter by James Kugel describes the origins of biblical interpretation in post-exilic Israel. Interestingly enough he points out that all biblical interpreters, despite their diversity, shared four basic tenets: (1) The Bible is a cryptic document that needs to be explained; (2) The Bible is a book of  instruction; (3) The Bible is perfectly consistent and free of error or contradiction; and (4) Every word of Scripture comes from God. Thereafter comes sections on the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (inner-biblical exegesis, LXX translation, interpretation in the Targums); Re-written Bible (Jubilees, Genesis Apocryphon, Philo); Qumran literature (Community Rule, Pesharim, Hodayot); Apocalyptic literature (Daniel, 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, Testament of the 12 Patriarchs); Wisdom literature (Ben Sira, Wisdom of Solomon),; Hellenistic Judaism (Philo, Josephus); Biblical interpretation in antiquty (Qumran to the Rabbis). The volume does not cover Christian readings of the OT, but is necessary reading for anyone who is about to embark on a study of the OT in the NT. Knowing about this stuff helps explain some of the seemingly odd things we seen done with the OT by Paul in places like Gal 4.21-31 and 1 Cor 10.4.

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