Saturday, April 28, 2007
The goal of this guide is to help us build a library of every Jewish and Christian writing currently in existence that could have possibly been originally written or spoken before approximately 100 AD in order to get inside the mind of Jesus, Paul, etc. The date at which they were first redacted would not cause a work to exceed the 100 AD criteria. If it is generally regarded as the least bit possible that the work was originally written or spoken before 100 AD it is included. A lot of the earliest Christian writings are excluded here due to the fact that they are generally held to have very little chance of being written in the 1st century. In fact, many of the works on this list are pushing it but I decided to give you more options rather than less. The amazing thing is that this can be accomplished by purchasing only 10 books!
Though there are many different volumes we could suggest to get us to this goal, there are two primary criteria by which I select which ones to recommend for purchase.
The first criteria is that we want to build this library in as few volumes as possible yet make sure we cover everything. Ideally, every ancient Jewish and Christian writing would be collected into one volume or one series of volumes so we could just purchase it and be done with it. The fact that they are not is, hopefully, what makes this guide helpful. In order to accomplish this, the guide has been divided into the traditional categories of ancient Jewish and Christian writings which typically represent the time in which they are written. This helps us to make sure we've covered every writing and that we don't duplicate anything and make our library too cumbersome.
The second criteria is that we want to select the books with the highest quality introductions and footnotes within the text. Living in the 21st century, it helps to understand a little bit of background behind the texts we are reading to understand the historical setting and textual issues present.
So, here is your guide to collecting and reading every ancient Jewish and Christian writing ever written in as few volumes as possible with the best introductions and footnotes possible. All dates are approximate so as to give a general idea of context and are not meant to be definitive.
The Tanakh, otherwise known as the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, is the collection of writings preserved in both the Jewish and Christian traditions. Tanakh is an acronym in the original Hebrew language which represent the three sections into which it, often called the Old Testament, is divided.
The first section, Torah or "Law", contains the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
The second section, Neviim or "Prophets", contains the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings(1 & 2), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
The third section, Khtuvim or "Writings", contains the book of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles (1 & 2).
The Deuterocanon (400BC-100AD)
The Deuterocanon, otherwise known as The Old Testament Apocrypha, is the collection of writings preserved by the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament.
The books normally contained within the Deuterocanon include Tobit, Judith, The Additions to the book of Esther, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus or the Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, Baruch, The Letter of Jeremiah, The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, 1 Maccabees, 2 Macabees, 3 Macabees, 4 Macabees, 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, 3 Esdras, 4 Esdras, Prayer of Manasseh, and Psalm 151.
The number varies due to some lists including certain writings in the Pseudepigrapha (i.e. 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Prayer of Mannasseh, Psalm 151) and counting the additions to the book of Daniel (i.e. Azariah, Susanna, Bel) as one book.
The Pseudepigrapha is the collection of writings, preserved by Christian scribes, but fragments of which have also been found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, confirming the notion that they were originally Pre-Christian Jewish compositions.
The Apocalyptic Literature and Related Works include I Enoch, II Enoch, III Enoch, Sibylline Oracles, Treatise of Shem, Apocryphon of Ezekiel, Apocalypse of Zephaniah, The Fourth Book of Ezra, Greek Apocalypse of Ezra, Vision of Ezra, Questions of Ezra, Revelation of Ezra, Apocalypse of Sedrach, II Baruch, III Baruch, Apocalypse of Abraham, Apocalypse of Adam, Apocalypse of Elijah, and Apocalypse of Daniel.
The Testaments include Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Testament of Job, Testaments of the Three Patriarchs, Testament of Moses, Testament of Solomon, and Testament of Adam.
The Expansion of the Old Testament and Legends include Letter of Aristeas, Jubilees, Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah, Joseph and Aseneth, Life of Adam and Eve, Pseudo-Philo, The Lives of the Prophets, Ladder of Jacob, 4 Baruch, Jannes and Jambres, History of the Rechabites, Eldad and Modad, and History of Joseph
The Wisdom and Philosophical Literature include Ahiqar, Pseudo-Phoclydes, and The Sentences of the Syriac Menander
The Prayers, Psalms, and Odes include Psalms of Solomon, Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers, Prayer of Joseph, Prayer of Jacob, and Odes of Solomon
The Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works include Philo the Epic Poet, Theodotus, Orphica, Ezekiel the Tragedian, Fragments of Pseudo-Greek Poets, Aristobulus, Demetrius the Chronographer, Aristeas the Exegete, Eupolemus, Pseudo-Eupolemus, Cleodemus Malchus, Artapanus, and Pseudo-Hecataeus.
The list varies for the same reasons as stated above.
Dead Sea Scrolls (200BC-100AD)
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of writings found in a cave in 1946 by a Shepard looking for a lost sheep and thus not preserved by either the Jewish or Christian tradition. The Dead Sea Scrolls are made of two sections, the writings of the Qumran community and the earliest copies of the Tanakh.
The Qumran community writings include the writings found in the 11 caves and are typically denoted as follows: 1Q, 2Q, 3Q, 4Q, 5Q, 6Q, 7Q, 8Q, 9Q, 10Q, and 11Q.
Philo of Alexandria (20BC-50AD)
Philo was a Hellenized Jewish philosopher born in Alexandria Egypt. He was a contemporary of both Jesus and Paul.
His works include On the Creation, Allegorical Interpretation I, Allegorical Interpretation II, Allegorical Interpretation III, On the Cherubim, On the Birth of Abel, Worse is Wont to Attack Better, On the Posterity of Cain and His Exile, On the Giants, On the Unchangeableness of God, On Husbandry, Concerning Noah’s Work as a Planter, On Drunkenness, On Sobriety, On the Confusion of Tongues, On the Migration of Abraham, Who is the Heir of Divine Things?, On Mating, On Flight and Finding, On the Change of Names, On Dreams, On Abraham, On Joseph, On the Life of Moses I, On the Life of Moses II, The Decalogue, The Special Laws I, The Special Laws II, The Special Laws III, and The Special Laws IV.
Flavius Josephus (37AD-100AD)
Flavius Josephus was a first century Jewish Historian and Roman citizen.
His works include Antiquities, Wars of the Jews, Against Apion, and Life of Josephus
While the Talmud is made up of the Mishnah and the Gemara, the Mishnah is the part that was written before 200AD and thus is what concerns us here. The rabbis who wrote these down are also known as the tannaim. The Mishnah is divided into six orders.
The first order, Zeraim or “Seeds”, contains the tractates of Berakhot, Peah, Demai, Kilayim, Sheviit, Terumot, Maaserot, Maaser Sheni, Hallah, Orlah, and Bikkurim.
The second order, Moed or “Festival Days”, contains the tractates of Shabbat, Eruvin, Pesahim, Shekalim, Yoma, Sukkah, Beitzah, Rosh Hashanah, Taanit, Megilah, Moed Katan, and Hagigah.
The third order, Nashim or “Women”, contains the tractates of Yevamot, Ketubot, Nedarim, Nazir, Sotah, Gittin, and Kiddushin.
The fourth order, Nezikin or “Damages”, contains the tractates of Bava Kamma, Bava Metzia, Bava Batra, Sanhedrin, Makkot, Shevuot, Eduyot, Avodah Zarah, Avot, and Horayot.
The fifth order, Kodashim or “Holy Things”, contains the tractates of Zevahim, Menahot, Hullin, Bekhorot, Arakhin, Temurah, Keritot, Meilah, Tamid, Middot, and Kinnim.
The sixth order, Tohorot or “Purities”, contains the tractates of Keilim, Oholot, Negaim, Parah, Tohorot, Mikvaot, Niddah, Makhshirin, Zavim, Tevul Yom, Yadayim, and Uktzim.
The New Testament (50AD-90AD)
The New Testament is the set of writings traditionally recognized by the Christian church as being either by the original witnesses of Jesus Christ or the closest historians to the original witnesses.
The New Testament includes Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, I & II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I, II, & II John, Jude, & Revelation.
The Apostolic Fathers (50AD-150AD)
The Church Fathers includes the set of writings historically recognized by Christians as representing the earliest views of post-New Testament orthodox Christianity.
The Church Fathers include The Didache, I Clement, II Clement, The Shepherd of Hermas, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, The Martyrdom of Polycarp, Epistle of Barnabas, Epistle to Diognetus, Fragments of Papias, Quadratus of Athens
The Nag Hammadi Texts (100AD-300AD)
The Nag Hammadi Texts are some of the earliest Christian writings not included in the New Testament and found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945. There are thirteen codices on which writings were found. Some writings are found repeated on multiple codices while others are spread across sequential codices. To make it simple I categorize them based on the codex in which they first appear or begin.
The first codex, Codex I, includes The Prayer of the Apostle Paul, The Apocryphon of James, The Gospel of Truth, The Treatise on the Resurrection, and The Tripartite Tractate.
The second codex, Codex II, includes The Apocryphon of John, The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Philip, The Hypostasis of the Archons, On the Origin of the World, The Exegesis on the Soul, and The Book of Thomas.
The third codex, Codex III, includes The Gospel of the Egyptians, Eugnostos the Blessed, The Sophia of Jesus Christ, and The Dialogue of the Savior.
The fourth codex, Codex IV, includes copies of texts already found on other codices.
The fifth codex, Codex V, includes The Apocalypse of Paul, The (First) Apocalypse of James, The (Second) Apocalypse of James, and The Apocalypse of Adam.
The sixth codex, Codex VI, includes The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles, The Thunder/Perfect Mind, Authoritative Teaching, The Concept of Our Great Power, Plato/Republic 588A-589B, The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth, The Prayer of Thanksgiving, and Asclepius 21-29.
The seventh codex, Codex VII, includes The Paraphrase of Shem, The Second Great Treatise of Seth, The Apocalypse of Peter, The Teachings of Silvanus, and The Three Steles of Seth.
The eighth codex, Codex VIII, includes Zostrianos, and The Letter of Peter to Philip.
The ninth codex, Codex IX, includes Melchizedek, The Thought of Norea, and The Testimony of Truth.
The tenth codex, Codex X, includes Marsanes.
The eleventh codex, Codex XI, includes The Interpretation of Knowledge, A Valentinian Exposition, Allogenes, and Hypsiphrone.
The twelfth codex, Codex XII, includes The Sentences of Sextus, and Fragments.
The thirteenth codex, Codex XIII, includes Trimorphic Protennoia.
Other Nag Hammadi texts include The Gospel of Mary, and The Act of Peter.
The Books You Need in Chronological Order
Please leave me comments debating the dating of any of these items. Dating these works is obviously a highly subjective endeavor. I want this to be as good of a resource as it can be so if you feel something needs to be included that isn’t, then let me know.
That’s it! All of the above should cover every writing available to us today that was potentially written related to Jews or Christians before 100 AD. It’s pretty amazing that you’ll actually only need to buy 10 books to have the entire collection! They are as follows:
1. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Augmented Third Edition, New Revised Standard Version, Indexed is one volume which contains The Tanakh, The Deuterocanon, and The New Testament.
2. Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments (The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol. 1) (Anchor Bible) is the first of two volumes that contain the Pseudepigrapha.
3. The Old Testament: Pseudepigrapha Volume 2 is the second of two volumes that contain the Pseudepigrapha.
4. The Dead Sea Scrolls - Revised Edition: A New Translation is one volume which contains The Dead Sea Scrolls.
5. The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition is one volume which contains the works of Philo of Alexandria.
6. New Complete Works of Josephus, The is one volume which contains the works of Flavius Josephus.
7. The Mishnah: A New Translation is one volume which contains The Mishnah.
8. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations is one volume which contains the potential 1st century Church Fathers.
9. The Nag Hammadi Library is one volume which contains the entire Nag Hammadi collection.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Thanks for the comment. It's been a busy month at work but I'm glad to finally be getting around to this blog and your comment in particular. Interesting that you, and not I, bring up the acronym WWJD, because the incarnation of the Word of God is precisely the impetus for why I feel the way I do. In order to redeem those in the miry muck, Jesus entered the miry muck. This he did not only in the incarnation but in his actions and who he spent his time with.
Furthermore, this isn't so much about reminding ourselves of reality as it is about forcing ourselves to face what our fellow man is struggling with, whether that be a gay man created in the image of God and loved by God, or a straight man created in the image of God and loved by God.
How can we love the sinner without understanding the sin and the culture in which it is cultivated? How can we comfort the hurting and turn a blind eye to the worst of what they go through? How can we help the sinner if we don't truly understand the temptations they experience? God the Father knew this was impossible and so sent his only son. See my post, #82 Cherry-Picking Theologians, for more of my thoughts on this topic.
Be sure to take the "cursed is the man who is condemned by what he approves" comment in context. If I remember correctly from reading Wright's commentary yesterday, this comes from one of the later Romans chapters where Paul is instructing the Roman church on division that were being created between Gentiles and Jews over customs such as food laws. I'm not even exactly sure how this verse applies to our conversation as I never approved homosexuality or any of the other, maybe even more damaging sins the show highlights.
What I did suggest is to not turn a blind eye to the suffering stranglehold that sin has on the gay creatures of God. The gay man may have a speck in his eye, but get to know what causes the speck, love the one who has the speck stuck in his eye, and to answer your question, lower yourself to the least common denominator of society in order to help remove that speck, if possible.
He absolutely calls us to be holy and He came and taught us what holiness looks like with two feet. Holiness is not lobbing polemic mortars to the other side. Holiness is going to the other side, guns laid down, chest open to mourn with those that mourn and offer our lives. This is ultimately the best metaphor I can come up with for what Jesus did at the cross.
As you said, he also calls us to be in the world but not of it, and for me, not being one to frequent the ghettos, the drug scene, or so much as a public high school in my days, this is my way of doing just that. This is the way I think it is best for me and perhaps for you or whoever else to see and understand what, for those who suffer, is God's creation, God's painful, scary, confusing, real creation that Christians so often contain themselves from. It will not do to be the boy in the bubble when ministering to the leprous. It wasn't the way for the holy incarnated God, it certainly will not do for those who follow this Lord.
To respond to the other text you bring, I think it's message is misplaced. To run with them would be to participate in their sin, something I never suggested. And this isn't about adjusting appearances so as not to look haughty. That's not what the incarnation was about. His fleshiness was not a smokescreen to teach us a childish lesson about humility. His temptation in the wilderness was not a fraudulent method of coercing us into some spiritual truth. His was a real joining in the battle, where life and purity were literally on the line.
One of your most interesting comments is when you say that keeping our standards, (which let me remind you that I have broken no standards which I would consider to be the best of the orthodox tradition) can "thus open up discussion when people are curious as to your standard of purity." I have heard this notion before in very legalistic settings, Southern Baptists, fundamentalist colleges, etc. This is a common conception that people have and it's not new to me. But I'd point this out. If that were God's best, Jesus best, Paul's best method of evangelism, then the Pharisees would have been absolute heroes. Jesus was damaging his own cause when he spoke against the temple and gave first place in his kingdom to the likes of children. This was an absolute reversal of the norms of the day for one thing, but what's more, the temple was the ultimate symbol of purity.
But this was not how evangelism was done. Not for Jesus, not for Stephen, not for Peter, not for Paul, and not for countless saints of today who, unlike me, are willing to go the the front lines of the battle to overcome evil with good and offer life to others by offering the death of themselves.
So in conclusion, thanks for the awesome comment! As it took exception to a view I hold I chose to take a debate tone with a response. But nonetheless, I appreciate you making me think and look forward to hopefully more comments from you.
Monday, April 02, 2007
One of the Last: WWI vet recalls Great War from USA Today - This is a really fascinating article about one of four surviving American World War I veterans. There are only four left! Once they are gone, it becomes something for the books. Less of reality and more of history. This is sad. The article is really well done and has several features about the war and the longest surviving veterans of other wars.
Early Jewish Writings & Early Christian Writings - These are very helpful and well organized sites which are attempting to collect all of this information in one central place. Usually full text is available for the writings.
Google: "Alex Silva" from Google - Well, I did the inevitable. I googled myself. It turns out I am a music producer who has worked on albums with Bon Jovi, Imogen Heap, Duran Duran, and the Eurythmics and movies such as Showgirls. I am also central defender for the Sao Paulo football club who is on loan from Iraty until June. I am also a 21 year old girl with "all sass and more ass than you can handle." But in the strangest turn of events of all, it turns out I am dead, and have been for two years now.