Episode: Anyone who has read sequentially from the Old Testament to the New has a bit of a shock when they arrive at the gospels. New ideas and creatures populate the landscape of Galilee and Jerusalem. Things such as rabbis and synagogues (A Greek term for an “assembly”!) snuck into the center of Jewish life from somewhere off-stage. So too did demons and resurrection of the dead. Though some would argue that we get glimpses of these in the Hebrew Bible, where did these full-figured notions about the spirit realm and afterlife come from? In this episode, Matthias Henze maps out how people approaching the biblical texts from the NT lens can hop into the world of Hellenistic Judaism to better understand the NT literature. Enjoy the episode, and find yourself a copy of Mind the Gap (Fortress Press, 2018).
Guest: Matthias Henze holds the Watt J. and Lilly G. Jackson Chair in Biblical Studies at Rice University. He has written numerous books and scholarly articles in early Jewish and biblical studies. He edited Biblical Interpretation at Qumran (2005), A Companion to Biblical Interpretation in Early Judaism (2012), and authored Jewish Apocalypticism in Late First-Century Israel (2011), and is preparing the Hermeneia commentary on 2 Baruch.
The Book: (from the publisher’s website) Do you want to understand Jesus of Nazareth, his apostles, and the rise of early Christianity? Reading the Old Testament is not enough, writes Matthias Henze in this slender volume aimed at the student of the Bible. To understand the Jews of the Second Temple period, it’s essential to read what they wrote—and what Jesus and his followers might have read—beyond the Hebrew scriptures. Henze introduces the four-century gap between the Old and New Testaments and some of the writings produced during this period (different Old Testaments, the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls); discusses how these texts have been read from the Reformation to the present, emphasizing the importance of the discovery of Qumran; guides the student’s encounter with select texts from each collection; and then introduces key ideas found in specific New Testament texts that simply can’t be understood without these early Jewish “intertestamental” writings—the Messiah, angels and demons, the law, and the resurrection of the dead. Finally, he discusses the role of these writings in the “parting of the ways” between Judaism and Christianity. Mind the Gap broadens curious students’ perspectives on early Judaism and early Christianity and welcomes them to deeper study.
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