Glossary / Terms and Text Families


An allusion is an indirect reference to or a partial representation of another text. Allusions do not generally specify the source they are drawing from and may only use a small part of a source where they are used. Allusions are used where the writer and the reader share a common knowledge of other texts. Allusions are also commonly known as echoes, tracings, and hints.


Intertextuality has been described as, "a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another." It is the term used to describe how the ideas in texts are often re-used and re-imagined by both authors and readers over time. Intertextuality is a broad term used to describe the many kinds of relationships between written texts and other media.


A quotation is a direct reference and reproduction of another text. Quotations are generally (but not always) faithful, word-for-word representations of a source used to communicate authority in the texts where they are used. Qutations will often follow a popular formula that directly tells the reader exactly where and why the text is being used.

Ancient Near East

The Ancient Near East represents early civilizations and their literature dating back as far as 4500 BCE through the 6th century BCE. The geographical area covers a wide region correlating to modern day Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Israel, and Palestine. The individual civilizations of this era include ancient Egpyt, the Hittites, Ugarit, Sumeria, Babylon, and Canaan.


Classical literature refers to Greek and Latin/Roman literature typically dated between the 8th century BCE through the 3rd century CE. Notable Greek authors include Homer, Aristotle, Aesop, Menander, Hippocrates, Plato, and Euclid. Notable Roman authors include Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Seneca, and Tacitus. For simplicity sake, this can also include some Jewish authors, such as Josephus and Philo, among Classical literature becase they often wrote to Greco-Roman audiences.

Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls is a name given to a collection of Jewish/Hebrew literature written primarily from the 3rd century BCE to the 1st century CE. Discovered among a series of caves near the Dead Sea, the collection includes full copies of books of the Hebrew Bible, other Second Temple literature, and also thousands of fragmentary texts. These texts include sectarian literature representing the unique theologial developments of a Jewish subculture from the Second Temple period.


Also known as the Apocrypha, the Deuterocanon is a collection of Jewish literature dating from the 4th century BCE to the first century CE considered to be canonical by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Assyrian churches. They are not, however, considered canonical by most Protestant churches. Unlike the Hebrew Bible, but with a few exceptions, the Deuterocanon represents literature primarily written in Greek.

Hebrew Bible

Also known as the Tanakh and the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible is a collection of Hebrew literature, with a few small portions written in Aramaic, considered canonical by Jews and Christians. The Hebrew Bible is often divided into three sections: the Torah, the first five Books, the later Prophets, and the Writings, representing wisdom and proverbial literature. The current consensus among Biblical scholars is that the texts were written from approximately the 9th century BCE through the 2nd century BCE. However, portions of the Hebrew Bible likely originated as oral traditions dating centuries earlier.

New Testament

The New Testament is a collection of texts considered canonical by almost all major sects of Christianity. The New Testament is primarily divided into the Gospels, written accounts of the life of Jesus, early Christian history in Acts, letters written to early Christian communities from the earliest Apostles including Peter, James, Peter, and Paul, and lastly a specfically apocalyptic book commonly known as Revelation. While representing a distinct community of faith, the New Testament is still widely considered to be a product of a Jewish milieu and is often categorized as a part of the late Second Temple Jewish period.


The Patristic literature, typically dated from the late 1st century CE to the 4th centry CE, represents early writings and theological developments of the first few centuries of Christianity. With a few minor and early exceptions, these books are not considered canoncial by any Christian groups and were primarily written after the completion of the New Testament. Notable Patristic authors include Irenaeus, Tertullian, Augustine, Clement, and Ignatius.


The Pseudepigrapha ("false name") is a collection of Jewish and Christian books written primarily between the 3rd centry BCE and 3rd century CE that are distinct from each tradition's canonical and deuterocanonical texts. These books were often traditionally considered to be written by a notable Biblical figure or author but later rejected as inauthentic. Examples include 1 Enoch, 2 Enoch, 2 Baruch, 4 Ezra, and also texts claimed to have been written by notable Christian authors such as the Apostles Peter and Paul. While the canonical status of these books were often highly contested in their early histories, most Christian and Jewish canons eventually excluded them.


Rabbinic literature is a broad family of Jewish literature written from the 3rd century CE through the 8th century CE. The traditions behind these texts may, in some cases, predate their written counterpart by many centuries. This literature is commonly divided among the Midrash, Mishnah and Gemara (constituting the Talmuds), the Tosefta, Jewish liturgy, and many collections of other commentaries on the Hebrew Bible. The Rabbinic literature came to define the essence of Jewish identity and liturgy after the dispersion of Jewish communities in the first and second centuries and after the destruction of the Jewish temple.


The Septuagint, also known as the Greek Old Testament and often abbreviated as the LXX, is the earliest known translation of books from the Hebrew Bible and deuterocanonical books into Greek. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch, were translated in the mid-3rd century BCE. The remaining books of the Greek Old Testament are presumably translations of the 2nd century BCE.


A targum, an Aramaic word meaning 'translation', was an originally spoken translation of the Hebrew Bible that a professional translator would give in the common language of listeners. The earliest known written Targums date back to the 1st century BCE by which time the common language had long shifted from Hebrew to Aramaic. These translations frequently expanded the original Hebrew Bible with paraphrases, explanations, and commentaries often organized as early forms of sermons. The Targums are commonly divided into separate families of translations known as Targum Jonathan, Pseudo-Jonathan, Onkelos, and the Jerusalem Targum.