Bags of Bran


Since Chuck Asked: Resources for the Intertestamental Period
January 2, 2016, 11:21 am
Filed under: Biography

How do I go about studying the intertestamental period? An Orchard-Keeping friend asked what resources I’ve found helpful, so I’ll try to remember the ones that stood out according to their relative usefulness. Now, you might be more of a researcher than I am, or you might be less. Your mileage with these resources will vary from mine, no doubt.

Here’s my approach: I deliberately shy away from the heavy, scholarly works; mostly because the more time I spend bogged down in such works, the more I start to sound like them. As a pastor, that’s no good. But I also want to stay away from popular fluff that mishandles or neglects to interact with the source materials. Finding a middle way can be difficult: look for books with footnotes (aaah!) or endnotes (BOOO!) that point you to source material (Josephus, Philo, Qumran, Mishnah, etc.) and chances are, you’ve found a responsible piece of work. Then, go and check it out in the original source!

So then, here are a few sources that I found helpful in my studies.

  • Michael Satlow’s podcast, From Israelite to Jew. When Satlow is talking Bible, it’s going to be predictably dismissive; but he’s a good historian and speaks engagingly on his subject. I would not recommend this for people who don’t have a strong filter against academic unbelief.
  • Trever, John C. The Untold Story of Qumran. New York: F.H. Revell Co, 1965. What a story it is! Absolutely riveting, especially if you’re familiar with the difficulties that Tischendorf experienced with Codex Sinaiticus. Spoiler: the good guys win.
  • Wikipedia. Yes, Wikipedia. The articles in Wikipedia will give you a basic outline that you can verify through other sources. As long as you’re not using it for interpretation, you should be fine.
  • The Apocrypha, especially 1 and 2 Maccabees. Here is a boots-on-the-ground interpretation of the intertestamental period from Jewish perspective. Invaluable.
No doubt I’ve forgotten a bunch of things that were helpful week to week (though I try to keep accurate lists of works consulted in my presentations), but this should get you started if you’re thinking about teaching on the background of the New Testament.
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