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Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature

ISBN: 9781441253415

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One of the most daunting challenges facing the New Testament interpreter is achieving a familiarity with the immense corpus of related literatures. Scholars and students must have a fundamental understanding of the content, provenance, and utility for New Testament interpretation of a wide range of pagan, Jewish, and diversely Christian documents. Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature examines a vast range of ancient literature, masterfully distilling details of date, language, text, and translation into an eminently usable handbook. Craig Evans evaluates the materials’ relevance for interpreting the New Testament and provides essential biographies.

Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature provides descriptions of all ancient literature that is relevant for serious study of the New Testament writings. Readers can quickly survey the literature clustered under various headings (such as the Apocrypha, Dead Sea Scrolls, or early Rabbinic literature), easily access brief definitions and descriptions, and then consider examples of how the literature sheds light on the background and interpretation of specific passages in the New Testament. There are several helpful appendices, including one that lists, beginning with Matthew and ending with Revelation, potentially significant parallels between New Testament passages and the ancient writings treated in the book.

This thoroughly revised and significantly expanded edition of Noncanonical Writings and New Testament Interpretation examines a vast range of ancient literature, masterfully distilling details of date, language, text, and translation into an eminently usable handbook. Although the book is written at an introductory level, its comprehensive scope makes it useful even for the seasoned scholar.

Resource Experts
  • Examines a large portion of ancient literature
  • Expounds upon definitions, syntax, history, and other contextual information
  • Provides an introduction to background literature from a variety of sources

Top Highlights

“The purpose of the additions is to introduce God and religion into a book which originally did not once mention the name of God.” (Page 14)

“As it now stands, 1 Enoch appears to consist of the following five major divisions: (1) The Book of the Watchers (chs. 1–36); (2) The Book of the Similitudes (chs. 37–71); (3) The Book of Astronomical Writings (chs. 72–82); (4) The Book of Dream Visions (chs. 83–90); and (5) The Book of the Epistle of Enoch (chs. 91–107). The materials in 1 Enoch range in date from 200 b.c.e. to 50 c.e. First Enoch contributes much to intertestamental views of angels, heaven, judgment, resurrection, and the Messiah. This book has left its stamp upon many of the nt writers, especially the author of Revelation. First Enoch’s ‘Son of Man’ is important for Jesus research.” (Page 29)

“There are points of coherence between this Testament and Hebrews 10–12.” (Page 42)

“As John Townsend has pointed out, rabbinic writings that are used to aid in the interpretation of early Christianity fall into three categories: Targum, Talmud, and midrash (midraš). The first category is treated in another chapter; the latter two are considered in this chapter. The writings that fall into the category of Talmud are the first four listed above: Mishna, Tosefta, the Jerusalem (or Palestinian) Talmud, and the Babylonian Talmud, along with its several minor tractates.” (Page 217)

“2. Syntax. The grammar of the nt is Koine, not classical. It is also heavily influenced by the Semitic style of the lxx.” (Page 4)

  • The Old Testament Apocrypha
  • The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Versions of the Old Testament
  • Philo and Josephus
  • The Targums
  • Rabbinic Literature
  • The New Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
  • Early Church Fathers
  • Gnostic Writings
  • Other Writings
  • Examples of New Testament Exegesis


  • 1. Canons of Scripture that Include the Apocrypha
  • 2. Quotations, Allusions, and Parallels to the New Testament
  • 3. Parallels between New Testament Gospels and Pseudepigraphal Gospels
  • 4. Jesus’ Parables and the Parables of the Rabbis
  • 5. Jesus and Jewish Miracle Stories
  • 6. Messianic Claimants of the First and Second Centuries Indexes
Evans’ introduction is more than a map to terra incognita; it is a helpful companion for all who study Judaism and Christianity before the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire.

James H. Charlesworth, George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Princeton Theological Seminary

Many doctoral students would have loved to have this reference work on their desks during graduate studies. All of the standard exegetical questions (date, provenance, author, historical situation) are answered in a few enlightened sentences. . . . The bibliographies are classified to aid students at various levels of research. . . . Evans’ book is a success, providing vast amounts of information in a minuscule space with extensive leads for further study. His choice of bibliography to continue research is lean and pointed. The very scope of his introduction to Israelite and rabbinic literature make this book worthy of a place on any shelf.

Review of Biblical Literature

Indispensable for libraries, lay readers, and New Testament readers with all levels of academic training. . . . This book is most certainly worth having.

Biblical Theology Bulletin

This is a superb text for beginning students making their first foray into the jungle of ancient sources as well as for more experienced scholars already familiar with many of the paths. This book will find much use by those interested in including the ancient sources in their study and research. Some will for the first time discover how to connect the wealth of background material now available to the exegetical process.

Restoration Quarterly

This book can be a significant time-saver for anyone who does research in New Testament and/or reads the better commentaries. It is a quick reference to help track down important references.

Bibliotheca Sacra

Evans, a highly credible scholar, has put together an important reference book that will become a standard volume in the libraries of scholars and students alike. . . . This is a most valuable asset in the library of the every serious exegete.

Seminary Studies

  • Title: Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature
  • Author: Craig A. Evans
  • Publisher: Baker Academic
  • Print Publication Date: 2011
  • Logos Release Date: 2013
  • Pages: 576
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Bible. N.T. › Study and teaching; Literature, Ancient › History and criticism; Intertextuality in the Bible › Study and teaching; Literature, Ancient › Bibliography
  • ISBNs: 9781441253415, 9780801048425, 1441253416, 0801048427
  • Resource Type: text.monograph.bibliography
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2023-08-14T16:13:53Z
Craig A. Evans

Craig A. Evans earned his PhD in biblical studies at Claremont Graduate University and received his decretum habilitationis from Budapest. He is Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament; Acadia Divinity College Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada; John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins (Houston Theological Seminary); a New Testament scholar; and a prolific author and popular teacher/speaker.

Evans is well-known for his work on the Gospels, the Historical Jesus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the archaeology of the New Testament. His passion for archaeology has him frequently participating in Middle East digs and leading Holy Land tours. He has regularly appeared in television and radio interviews, such as the History Channel, BBC, and Dateline NBC, served as a consultant on the National Geographic Society's Gospel of Judas project and for The Bible television miniseries, and is featured in documentaries like Fragments of Truth and the Archaeology and Jesus series.

He's written hundreds of articles and reviews and published more than 70 books, including Jesus and His Contemporaries, Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies, Mark in the Word Biblical Commentary, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, God Speaks, and Jesus and the Remains of His Days: Studies in Jesus and Archaeology. He coauthored Jesus, the Final Days with N. T. Wright.


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  1. Matt Mouzakis

    Matt Mouzakis


  2. Samantha Angeles
    great book.
  3. Raymond Sevilla
  4. Elina A.

    Elina A.



Print list price: $45.00
Save $3.01 (6%)