A Guide to Ancient Texts for NT Studies
In a supervision meeting today with one of my current PhD students, I drew attention to a book that deserves wider notice, especially by those aspiring to do advanced work in NT studies: Craig A. Evans, Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005).
As Evans notes in the opening sentences of the introduction, one of the principal demands that must be engaged in NT studies is “becoming familiar with the myriad of cognate literatures.” This book, however, will be a help. Within a modest compass, it lists and gives brief introductions to a wide spectrum of evidence useful in reading the NT writings in their historical context. The material covered includes the “Apocrypha” and “Pseudepigrapha” (second-temple era Jewish texts), the Dead Sea Scrolls, the various versions of the OT (Masoretic text, Samaritan Pentateuch, Greek, Latin and Syriac OT), Philo and Josephus, Targums, Rabbinic Literature, early Christian apocrypha, early church Fathers, Gnostic texts, and Greco-Roman (pagan) authors. There is even a brief introduction to “papyri, inscriptions, coins, and ostraca.” In addition to the introductory comments, there are also bibliographies of editions and scholarly works on the texts in question.
It’s a useful tool to have on one’s shelf, and a guide to what advanced students in NT need to know about. Kudos to Evans for producing it!