The Forbidden Books

TH3301, undergraduate level, taught spring 2011, spring 2012, spring 2014


This course explores the Jewish books that were excluded from the Jewish Bible, even though many considered them authoritative. They were written between 200 BCE and 100 CE, and preserved among the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Greek Bible, and in the remote monasteries of Ethiopia. We will focus on reading primary sources, proceeding through four major units based on literary genre. First we will read ancient historiography, which presents a polemical version of history (1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Josephus). We then proceed to apocalyptic literature, which claims access to secret revelation about hidden realms and the imminent end of the world as we know it (Animal Apocalypse, Apocalypse of Weeks, Daniel). Wisdom literature stands at the center of the encounter between Greek philosophy and Jewish ethics (Sirach, Wisdom of Solomon, Philo). Finally, Rewritten Bible claims to recover what the Bible really meant to say, but didn't (Jubilees).

Required texts


TH2301 "Foundations of Theology" or SMC1314W "Foundation of Reflection: God"