Jewish writings from the period of Second Temple present a rich and potentially overwhelming variety of first-hand materials. George W. E. Nickelsburg and Michael E. Stone, experts on this formative period, have updated their classic sourcebook on Jewish beliefs and practices to take into account current thinking about the sources and to include new documents—including texts from Qumran not available in the first edition—in a brilliantly organized synthesis. This new edition also includes chapters on Jewish sects and parties, the Temple and worship, ideals of piety and conduct, expectations concerning deliverance, judgment, and vindication, different conceptions of the agents of God’s activity, and the figure of Lady Wisdom in relationship to Israel.
“Especially striking in these lines are the criticisms of the Pharisees as false and lying teachers who lead many astray. The expression ‘seekers after smooth things’ (dôrshê haḥalaqôt; cf. Isa 30:10) plays on the Pharisees’ role as interpreters (lit. ‘seekers’) of the Torah’s prescriptions (ḥalaqôt), depicting them as slippery or facile interpreters. This fits other information about the Pharisees’ attempts to ease prescriptions of the Torah that they felt were not feasible or practicable under present circumstances.” (Page 25)
“and how ‘the Hasideans’ abandoned the revolt after the priesthood of Alcimus was established” (Page 16)
“Scripture for the Samaritans meant only the Five Books of Moses; for the Jews (as the Judeans were later called) it was the broader body of writing that was developing into the Bible at this time. So the rift between Jews and Samaritans was ancient and deep; it touched on the basic issues of the temple and the scope and authority of Scripture.” (Page 11)
“Alexander the Great in 334–323 b.c.e.—and indeed, somewhat earlier—the vital and powerful culture of the Greeks and the age-old cultures of the Near East entered upon a process of contact and conflict and generated varied forms of religious synthesis and self-definition.” (Page 9)
“The idea of the heavenly temple has a considerable influence in later literature and conceptions, both Jewish and Christian.” (Page 62)