Comparing: New Testament / Pseudepigrapha

The Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament

Texts devoid of an historical context have little meaning or, worse, can mean whatever someone wants them to mean. Texts reveal their author's meaning (or range of meanings) when we understand their original contexts. The context of the writings in the New Testament is the world of Early Judaism; that is so because Jews composed almost all the writings collected into the New Testament. To perceive what Jesus may have meant, according to Paul or the authors of the gospels, requires studying what he reputedly said and did within his context; that is, within the world of Early Judaism.

If we seek to understand the origins of Christianity, then we must recreate for perception and understanding the Jewish world of Jews who lived before the burning of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E. and especially within ancient Palestine. How do we do that? And, how do the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha help us in recreating first-century Judaism?

Along with other experts I am convinced that a definition of "Pseudepigrapha" is not possible; one can only describe its contours. Thus, I would define the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha as ancient documents composed by Jews (and sometimes by Christians or expanded by them) that date from approximately 250 B.C.E. to about 200 C.E. While the provenience of most of the works in the Pseudepigrapha is uncertain, many were certainly composed in ancient Palestine ... Since the New Testament evolves out of this ethos and world, and since its works were written almost always by Jews, the origins of Christianity lie deeply planted within Judaism.