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The Jewish Annotated Apocrypha

Edited by Jonathan Klawans and Lawrence M. Wills

Publication Date - October 2020

ISBN: 9780190262488

744 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

Each book of the Apocrypha is annotated by a recognized expert in the study of ancient Judaism.


Building on the success of the Jewish Annotated New Testament (JANT) and the Jewish Study Bible (JSB), Oxford University Press now proceeds to complete the trilogy with the Jewish Annotated Apocrypha (JAA). The books of the Apocrypha were virtually all composed by Jewish writers in the Second Temple period. Excluded from the Hebrew Bible, these works were preserved by Christians. Yet no complete, standalone edition of these works has been produced in English with an emphasis on Jewish tradition or with an educated Jewish audience in mind. The JAA meets this need.

The JAA differs from prior editions of the Apocrypha in a number of ways. First, as befits a Jewish Annotated Apocrypha, the volume excludes certain texts that are widely agreed to be of Christian origin. Second, it expands the scope of the volume to include Jubilees, an essential text for understanding ancient Judaism, and a book that merits inclusion in the volume by virtue of the fact that it was long considered part of the canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (the text is also revered by Ethiopian Jews). Third, it has restructured the order of the books so that the sequencing follows the logic that governs the order of the books in the Jewish canon (Law, History, Prophecy, Wisdom and Poetry).

Using the NRSV translation (plus Jubilees), each book of the Apocrypha is annotated by a recognized expert in the study of ancient Judaism. An Introduction by the editors guides readers though the making of the volume and its contents. Thematic essays by an impressive array of scholars provide helpful contexts, backgrounds and elaborations on key themes.


  • First edition of the Apocrypha addressed to a Jewish audience in the English language
  • The first edition of the Apocrypha to include the book of Jubilees
  • The first stand-alone Oxford Study Apocrypha to include an Introduction, essays, and sidebars

About the Author(s)

Jonathan Klawans is Professor of Religion at Boston University. He is the author of Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism, Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple, Josephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism, and Heresy, Forgery, Novelty .

Lawrence M. Wills is visiting professor of Judaic Studies and Religious Studies at Brown University. His books include The Jewish Novel in the Ancient World, which was named an Outstanding Academic Book of 1995 by Choice magazine for academic librarians, and also Not God's People: Insiders and Outsiders in the Biblical World.


"It deserves to be part of the library of all scholars of Second Temple Judaism. It will also be particularly helpful in the classroom, presenting as it does a non-Christian interpretation of what most students know as Christian scripture. In that regard, it fulfills its mission admirably, as did the other volumes in this outstanding trilogy." -- Sidnie White Crawford, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, Dead Sea Discoveries 29

"Overall, this volume is an excellent reference book. It targets a Jewish audience, offering guidance for learning the Second Temple heritage which shaped later Judaism. But it would also be a valuable book for Christian students of the bible, not only because the so-called apocryphal texts are part of Scripture in Church tradition, but also because it is important to know the Judaic heritage that formed the foundation of Christianity." -- Lydia Gore-Jones, Phronema

"...excellent essays..." -- Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern, The Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought

Table of Contents

    Maps, Charts, and Diagrams
    Alphabetical Listing of the Books of the Apocrypha
    List of Abbreviations
    The Editors' Preface
    To the Reader



    Histories and Stories

    1 Esdras
    1 Maccabees
    2 Maccabees
    3 Maccabees


    Letter of Jeremiah
    Additions to Daniel [3 Pieces]
    Prayer of Azariah/Song of the Three
    Bel and the Dragon
    4 Ezra

    Poetry and Wisdom

    Psalm 151
    Prayer of Manasseh
    Wisdom of Solomon
    Ben Sira
    4 Maccabees

    Social Contexts
    The Babylonian and Persian Period: History and Culture
    The Hellenistic Period: History and Culture
    The Roman Period
    Ancient Jewish Sectarianism
    The Archaeology of Second Temple Judaism
    The Hasmonean State and Ancient Jewish Nationalism
    The Apocrypha, Canon, and Literary Contexts
    The Septuagint
    Dead Sea Scrolls
    The Peshitta and the Syriac Biblical Context
    The Apocrypha in Rabbinic Literature
    Apocrypha in Medieval Hebrew Literature
    Wisdom in the Apocrypha
    Literary Approaches to the Apocrypha
    The Incredible Expanding Bible: From the Dead Sea Scrolls to Haile Selassie
    The Apocrypha and Jewish Life
    Torah, Law, and Commandments
    Prayer in the Apocrypha
    Hanukkah in the Apocrypha
    Jewish Heroes and the Apocrypha
    Jewish Theology and the Apocrypha
    Evil and Sin
    Jewish Identity in the Apocrypha
    Truth and Lies in Apocryphal Tales