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The Book of Jubilees

Kelly J. Murphy
Emory University

Course: Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
Syllabus Section / Lecture: Pseudepigrapha
Audience: Undergraduate


1. Objectives and; Outline of Lesson Plan


The following lesson plan is intended for use in an undergraduate level "Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament" or "Introduction to the Bible" course, and provides a brief introduction to both the Pseudepigrapha in general and the Book of Jubilees as a specific example of such a non-canonical text. Generally speaking, the lesson plan assumes that students already have a basic familiarity with issues of canon, the canonical books of the Hebrew Bible (especially the books of Genesis and Exodus), and methodological approaches to the biblical texts.

Objectives:

  • To introduce students to non-canonical (i.e., "pseudepigraphal") texts and the idea of "rewritten Bible";
  • To offer students a brief overview of the second century B.C.E. book of Jubilees as a specific example of "rewritten Bible";
  • To provide insight into the religious and literary imagination of some second century B.C.E. Jewish authors as well as the pressing social and historical issues of the time; and
  • To provide students with an opportunity to engage critically with both the canonical and non-canonical scriptural texts in order to develop their skills in textual comprehension and analysis.

Outline of Lesson Plan:


  • Pre-Class Readings and Assignments
  • Class Session
    —Wait, There's More?: An Introduction to Pseudepigrapha
    —Background Material for a Lecture on the Book of Jubilees
    —Major Themes in the Book of Jubilees: A Journey into the Text
  • Additional In-Class Exercises
  • Further References

2. Pre-Class Readings and Assignments


Prior to the class session, instructors might assign a selection of the following relevant OBSO essays that present the necessary background material for students. The background material is of two kinds: articles that provide information on the so-called pseudepigrapha in general and articles that introduce students to the book of Jubilees in particular. Encourage students to search/explore the related links on OBSO to learn more about specific topics/issues/figures that interest them or about which they have questions.


Optional Pre-Class Assignment:


Ask students to read the story of Adam as it appears in both Genesis 2–3 and Jubilees 3:1–31, and to compile a list of the differences between the Jubilees' account and the narrative found in the canonical text. Students should pay particular attention to the rearrangement of verses, expansions, and any variations in the Jubilees account. Ask students to reflect on why the author(s) of Jubilees might have made these changes.


3. Class Session


The following material is presented as a possible outline for a lecture, interspersed with various discussion questions. Suggestions for in-class activities follow. Relevant OBSO links are included so that instructors can flesh out their lectures per their specific goals and/or interests.


a. Wait, There's More?: An Introduction to Pseudepigrapha


Begin class by reminding students that there is really not one "Bible"—rather, different religious traditions include different books in their official canon. (It may be helpful to display the chart found here in order to invoke a discussion about the different books found in the Jewish, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant canons.) Many of these "extra" books make up what is called the Apocrypha (or Deuterocanonical Books) —books that are included in the Roman Catholic or Orthodox canons (though ascribed a secondary status), but are not found in the Jewish or Protestant canons. However, there are also other books that apparently enjoyed some popularity in antiquity but never made it into any canon. These books are called the Pseudepigrapha—literally, Greek for "false writings" or "false subscriptions." The Pseudepigrapha are designated as such because they are falsely attributed to various, often famous, biblical figures (like Moses) who did not in fact write them.

Although the exact process by which the contents of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament were decided remains a mystery, biblical scholars now recognize that what makes up contemporary Bibles was not decided at one fixed point—rather, the status of certain books as sacred scripture continued to be debated while other texts were never included in the biblical collection but nevertheless appear to have been largely circulated and popular among certain groups in antiquity. This includes the Pseudepigrapha: a diverse set of Jewish or Jewish-Christian writings that are not included in the canonical Hebrew Bible, New Testament, early rabbinic writings, or the Apocrypha. These books—often written under an assumed name, usually that of an important biblical authority—were composed largely between 250 B.C.E. and 200 C.E.. The attribution of texts to "false" authors was a well-known phenomenon in the ancient world. Examples of pseudepigraphal writings include the book of Jubilees, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and the books of Enoch, among many others.

The title "false writings" carries with it a negative connotation—as though these texts are somehow less worthy of attention because they are not "really" by whom they claim to have been written by. This, though, is misleading since most biblical scholars no longer maintain that all of the canonical biblical writings can authentically be attributed to certain authors. It is probably better to speak of the so-called pseudepigrapha as "non-canonical" writings—texts that stem from the period after most of the canonical biblical texts had already been composed. In fact, many of these non-canonical texts probably vied for inclusion in the final canon of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament—a fact that is evident by the apparent use of some of them as authoritative texts at Qumran as well as in the New Testament. In fact, a large number of fragments of the book of Jubilees have survived among the Dead Sea Scrolls—in many cases more than that of the canonical books of the Bible. This suggests that Jubilees may have been considered a canonical text for that community, and that the book was popular and widely used during this important period in the formation of early Judaism. Thus, though the term pseudepigrapha is often still used for these various writings, many scholars think that it is misleading (because of the issue of authorship mentioned above) and anachronistic (because it assumes an idea of authorship that was not in place when these texts were composed). It is probably better to think of these books more like the Apocrypha; in other words, as Jewish writings that largely resemble the Apocrypha in genre and character and which were written during the late Second Temple period. As such, the books provide insight into the religious and social setting of that period—and into the religious and literary imaginations of the authors of that time.

Questions for Discussion:

Before covering the book of Jubilees as a specific example of a pseudepigraphal work, instructors might pause for a brief discussion on issues of canon, offering students a chance to reflect on why particular texts were canonized while others were not (drawing both on their reading from before class and their general musings on the subject). Record their initial responses to these questions so that you can return to this discussion following an introduction to Jubilees as a specific example of an important pseudepigraphal work. Questions could include:

  • Why might some texts (the Apocrypha) have been included in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox bibles but not in the Jewish bible? Why did other writings only survive as Pseudepigrapha?
  • Early Christian writers often invoked some of these non-canonical writings—what does that tell readers about their continued use?
  • How does canonical status reflect a community's views on a book's authority, sacredness, or divine inspiration?

b. Background Material for a Lecture on the Book of Jubilees


The Book of Jubilees is a "biblical retelling" (for more, see "Genre" below) of the story found in Genesis 1—Exodus 24, stretching from creation to the escape of the Hebrews from Pharaoh in Egypt and their entrance into the wilderness. The book claims to be a record of a revelation given to Moses by an angel, and is thus set on Mt. Sinai, both beginning and ending there (for the canonical setting see Exodus 24).

Jubilees 1 begins with God speaking to Moses, while Jubilees 2–50 continues the revelation via the "angel of the presence," who reveals to Moses the contents of the heavenly tablets (books or tablets that exist in heaven and which otherworldly beings dictate to human beings who then transcribe their contents). The narratives found in Jubilees originate in the idea that in Exodus 24:4, "Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD." According to the book of Jubilees, this written record is Jubilees itself. In the Jubilees' account, the author(s) delete some of the original biblical material, add other details and stories unknown to the biblical narrative, and divide time into periods of 49 years or Jubilees (cf. Lev 25). The retold stories are therefore set in a chronological framework of jubilees, each of which is subdivided into seven units of seven "weeks" of years. Woven throughout the stories are formulaic introductions to events from Genesis and Exodus that set the scene within the context of a jubilee. For example, "At the end of the nineteenth jubilee, during the seventh week—in its sixth year—Adam died" (Jubilees 4:29). Alternative titles for the book include The Book of the Division of the Times (taken from the Prologue and Jubilees 1:4) and "Little Genesis."

Briefly, the book can be outlined as follows:

Introduction: Jubilees 1
Creation and Stories about Adam: Jubilees 2–4
Stories about Noah: Jubilees 5–10
Stories about Abraham: Jubilees 11:1–23:10
Israel's Eschatological Salvation: Jubilees 23:9–32
Stories about Jacob: Jubilees 24–25
Stories about Moses: Jubilees 46–50

i. Text and Dating

Although not found in the Jewish, Roman Catholic, or Protestant canon, the book of Jubilees is included in some Orthodox canons—namely, that of the Ethiopian Church. The only complete manuscript of Jubilees, dating back to the fifteenth century, is in Ethiopic (Ge'ez), and was apparently translated from a no longer extant Greek version, though evidence for an earlier Greek version is buttressed by references to the book of Jubilees found in various Greek writers. There is also an incomplete text of Jubilees in Latin. The Damascus Document cites the book of Jubilees as an authoritative text (for more see here).

Early scholarship on the book argued that Jubilees was composed originally in Hebrew (the book itself claims that Hebrew was the language of creation—cf. Jubilees 12:26) and later translated into Greek, which served as the basis for both the Latin and Ethiopic versions. Scholars thought that nothing survived of the original Hebrew. This changed with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. At Qumran, at least fourteen Hebrew language fragments from Jubilees were discovered. Not only does this confirm that Jubilees was originally composed in Hebrew, but the number of fragments discovered also makes Jubilees one of the most copied books in the Qumran community.

Additionally, early scholarship on Jubilees posited that the book was composed at Qumran, but more recent studies suggest that Jubilees predates the Qumran community. Arguments for the exact dating of Jubilees' composition vary, but most agree on a second century B.C.E. dating (see Chronologies). Support for this comes from three factors. First, fragments of the book were discovered at Qumran, the earliest of which can be dated from before 100 B.C.E. Second, the passage concerning Enoch found in 4:16–19 appears to be familiar with 1 Enoch, some parts of which are generally dated to no later than 164 B.C.E. Finally, the book of Jubilees exhibits no significant interest in separation from the larger Jewish population, which hints that it must predate the founding of Qumran and the various sectarian concerns prominent in the writings composed there.

Questions for Discussion:

  • What does the number of fragments from Jubilees at Qumran suggest about the book's importance in that community?

ii. Genre

The book of Jubilees fits into the category of "rewritten Bible" (more commonly now called "rewritten Scripture"). "Rewritten Bible" is a phrase used for writings that revise (by either deleting from or adding to) the canonical books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Scholars generally agree that these "rewritten" books were composed to make them more relevant and/or pertinent to a later generation of readers. Within the canonical biblical texts, 1–2 Chronicles "rewrite" the stories of Samuel and Kings, highlighting and focusing on David in ways that the original narratives do not. Other, non-canonical examples include parts of the books of Enoch, Josephus' Antiquities 1–10, and Pseudo-Philo's Biblical Antiquities. For all of these works, the canonical biblical texts provide a framework to which later authors have added and subtracted their own words per their own interests. The rewriting may have served a number of different purposes, including: making a text more intelligible, removing inconsistencies, encouraging the practice of particular laws giving previous texts more contemporary appeal, and so forth.

For the author(s) of Jubilees, the narrative retelling appears to have been done in order to emphasize national identity and the importance of maintaining boundaries between various groups of people (namely, Jews and non-Jews), to describe how the patriarchs and matriarchs observed later laws, and to promote a solar calendar by illustrating how all of history unfolds according to a series of Jubilees periods. By working with the original biblical texts, the authors of these "rewritten bibles" invoked the authority of the original text while adding their own insights. Namely, Jubilees uses the authority of Genesis-Exodus. Overall, the book of Jubilees introduces several motifs absent from the original texts of Genesis-Exodus, including questions of calendar, a focus on priests, an expanded role for female characters, and attention to questions of eschatology.

Questions for Discussion:

  • How does the literary setting of Jubilees (i.e., on Sinai with Moses as the transcriber; cf. Exodus 24) situate its claim as an authoritative text vis-à-vis Genesis and Exodus?
  • How is the reader supposed to understand the relationship between the stories found in Genesis and Exodus and those retold in Jubilees? (See especially Jubilees 6:22 and 30:12!) Does Jubilees present itself as a supplement or as something better?

c. Major Themes in the Book of Jubilees: A Journey Into the Text


The following material outlines some of the major themes in the book of Jubilees—especially as they relate to the religious and literary interest of its author(s). Instructors might briefly outline all of the themes, or choose to focus on only one or two and then lead a more in-depth discussion with the included discussion prompts. For all themes, some places in the text where the themes appear are noted so that students can work directly with the primary material.

i. Calendar

The book of Jubilees, as indicated by its title, displays an avid interest in time and calendar. Unlike the more commonly accepted lunar calendar of the period, Jubilees advocates a solar calendar. From its beginning, Jubilees stresses that it knows the divinely ordained way to measure time—the prologue opens by reporting that the calendar was transmitted to the generation of Moses and was engraved on the "heavenly tablets" that were given to him on Sinai along with the Ten Commandments: "This is the account of the division of the days of the law and of the testimony, of the events of the years, according to their year-weeks and their jubilees, through all the years of the world, as the Lord gave it to Moses on Mount Sinai, when he went up to receive the stone tablets of the law and of the commandment, in accordance with God's command, as he said to him, Go up to the top of the mount." Likewise, instructors might point out how Jubilees 1:4 includes "And Moses was on the mount forty days and forty nights; and God taught him the first things and the last things, and the division of all the days of the law and of the testimony" (also cf. 1:25, 29). All significant events are marked by their place within the jubilee calendar, from the creation of the world, to Adam and Eve's creation and expulsion from the garden, to the end days. Thus, one of the most prominent themes in the book of Jubilees is the author(s)' interest in chronology and calendar.

For the author(s) of Jubilees, the beginning of calendrical knowledge occurs in the story of Enoch (4:17–18, 21), with more details found in the story of the flood (6:20–38). The revealed calendar is a solar one of 364 days (exactly fifty-two weeks), with each quarter having ninety-one days (thirteen weeks). Within this arrangement each festival has an exact time when it is to be celebrated. Weeks are marked by the Sabbath, which has been observed since creation by the angels. Thus, the period from the first day of creation to the future entry into Canaan extends exactly fifty jubilee periods of forty-nine years each. This reminds the reader of the biblical jubilee legislation—in the fiftieth year, according to Leviticus 25:8–17, slaves were to be freed and land was to be returned to its original owners. In the book of Jubilees this happens on a national scale—early in the jubilee period the Hebrew slaves are freed from Egypt, and at the end of it they enter the Promised Land of Israel.

Importantly, the book of Jubilees is very clear that lunar movements play no role in establishing the calendar and can lead to celebrating the festivals on the wrong day. Indeed, according to Jubilees, observing the lunar movements causes one to follow the calendar of the nations—in other words, to sin and thus be cut off from the chosen line. Jubilees 6:35–38 explains:

35For I know, and I tell you now, and it is not something I have imagined; for the book lies written before me, and on the heavenly tablets the division of the days is ordained, so that they should not forget the feasts of the covenant and keep the feasts of the Gentiles, and show themselves equally misguided and ignorant. 36There will be those who make careful observations of the moon (despite the fact that it upsets the seasons and comes in from year to year ten days too soon). 37Thus the years will come to them all wrong: they will make the day of testimony a day of no consequence and an ordinary day a feast day; and they will mix up all the days, the holy with the ordinary, and the ordinary with the holy, and go wrong about the months and sabbaths and feasts and jubilees. 38This is why I am giving you this command and solemn warning, so that you may pass it on to them; for after your death your sons will upset everything through not making the length of the year three hundred and sixty-four days only, and so they will go wrong about the new moons and seasons and sabbaths and festivals; and they will eat all kinds of flesh with the blood still in it.

This discussion of a solar versus a lunar calendar places Jubilees in the midst of the debate found in documents composed at Qumran, in which the community there attempted to separate from the mainstream Judaism of the time, which followed a lunar calendar, by promoting a solar calendar (For more see Jubilees-Introduction and Calendars and Mishmarot.)

Questions for Discussion:

  • What is the relationship between Leviticus 25 and the calendar in the book of Jubilees?
  • How does the author of Jubilees propagate the calendar used throughout its pages? In what stories does it show up? What does this tell readers about the importance of the calendar for the author(s) of Jubilees?

ii. Laws and National Identity

Two other important themes in Jubilees include attention to matters of law and to matters of national identity, particularly as the two issues intersect. Repeated throughout the book of Jubilees is proof (absent from the stories of Genesis-Exodus) that the patriarchs and matriarchs followed the divine laws that, according to the Pentateuch, were revealed only after their lives. The observance of these laws marks the patriarchs and matriarchs as Jews, and, as such, the chosen people. Jubilees 25:4–10 particularly emphasizes the separation of the Israelite people from other nations, especially regarding issues of marriage.

By stressing the observance of the laws, the writer(s) of Jubilees may have been combating a then current idea that there had once been a time when the laws that came to separate Jewish people from others were not in existence. For the author(s) of Jubilees, there was never such a time—God's people had always followed the special laws. For instance, Noah celebrated Shavu'ot (6:17–18), and Abraham observed both Shavu'ot (15:1–10) and Sukkot (16:15–31).

Questions for Discussion:

  • What might Jubilees' insistence that the earliest Jewish ancestors followed the laws of the Torah tell readers about issues of national/ethnic identity during the period contemporary to Jubilees' composition? Does it give readers any clues about the importance of maintaining boundaries between various groups of people for the writer(s) of Jubilees?

iii. Priests

Additionally, there are several prominent priestly themes running throughout the book. These include an interest in the origins of festivals (cf. 6:17–22, 18:18–19), in ritual details (cf. 21:7–16), in laws concerning the Sabbath (cf. 50:1–13), in calendrical matters (cf. 4:17–18), in proscriptions about blood (cf. 6:7–14), and in the separation of the Israelite people from other nations (cf. 25:4–10). In Jubilees, the priestly line extends back to Adam, who offered sacrifices when he left Eden (cf. 3:27) and continues to Levi, to whom the sacred writings are given. Levi's story, found in Jubilees 30–32, emphasizes and portrays Levi much more favorably than in the stories found in Genesis.

Questions for Discussion:

  • What might the focus on priests and the interest in priestly themes tell us about the author(s) of the book of Jubilees?

iv. Women

In Jubilees, the female characters play a much more prominent role than they do in the book of Genesis-Exodus. For instance, the author(s) of Jubilees name the wives of all the patriarchs and supplies genealogical information about them absent in the original biblical narratives. Some scholars argue that identifying the genealogical details of the mothers allows the author(s) of Jubilees to demonstrate the proper family connections of both mother and father—again, highlighting how important issues of national identity and boundary maintenance were for the author of Jubilees. Additionally, in some places the matriarch has a much more prominent role in the Jubilees text than does her husband—for instance, Rebekah plays a bigger role than does Isaac, blessing Jacob (25:11–23) and later making peace with Jacob, Isaac, and Esau (35:1–26).

Questions for Discussion:

  • What is the role of women in Jubilees, especially when compared to the stories in Genesis-Exodus?
  • Where do readers see the role of women highlighted in Jubilees? In what capacities/ways?
  • What might have caused the author(s) of Jubilees to rewrite the stories so that women played a more important role?

v. Eschatology

Finally, Jubilees shows some interest in eschatology that is absent in the original Genesis-Exodus narratives. In particular, two texts within Jubilees assure the readers that Israel will be saved despite wrongdoing—this is found in the story of the revelation to Moses at Sinai in 1:4–29 and in a short text that describes the coming apocalypse in 23:14–21. In both texts, the deity—after punishing Israel—will restore them. Additionally, human life will then last for as long as it did pre-flood.

Question for Discussion:

  • How does the inclusion of eschatological reflections change the overall narrative found in Jubilees when compared to its counterpart in Genesis-Exodus (which lacks any significant interest in eschatology)?

4. Additional In-Class Exercises


a. Genesis/Exodus vs. Jubilees


Divide students into groups of 3–4, and assign each group a particular passage or story from the book of Jubilees and its corresponding story from Genesis/Exodus. Ask students to compare/contrast the different narratives and to speculate on why the author(s) of Jubilees made any changes or additions to the Genesis/Exodus accounts. Following the group work, have the students present their findings to the class. By contrasting and comparing these texts, students can work with the primary material and deduce for themselves some of the particular points of interest for the Jubilees author(s). Possible texts include:

  • Jubilees 4 and Genesis 5 (Adam and his descendants)
  • Jubilees 11–12 and Genesis 11–12 (Abraham's youth)
  • Jubilees 13–19 and Genesis 16:4–14 (Sarah's treatment of Hagar)
  • Jubilees 24:21–33 and Genesis 26:23–33 (Isaac's covenant with Abimelech)
  • Jubilees 25–35 and Genesis 24–27 (Rebekah—also see below "Women in Jubilees")
  • Jubilees 33 and Genesis 35:22 (Reuben's sin)
  • Jubilees 48 and Exodus 11–15 (Escaping Egypt and the role of Mastema)

b. Women in Jubilees


Ask students to spend some time considering the ways in which the female characters play a much more prominent role in Jubilees than they do in the book of Genesis (see notes above). Divide students into three groups, and ask them to prepare short presentations on their assigned topics. Following group work, have each group present their findings, and then lead a class discussion on how those findings combine to help readers understand Jubilees focus on women.

Focus on Genealogies: Ask students to read several of the genealogies found in the book of Jubilees (and, when applicable, compare those to the genealogical record from Genesis). What is new in the Jubilees genealogies? What might that suggest? Guide students into recognizing that the role of women in Jubilees is related to the importance of the purity of the chosen line—by naming women in the genealogies and specifying their pedigree/correct family connections, the book is able to document that the chosen line is indeed pure.

Focus on Characters: Rebekah plays a bigger role than does Isaac in Jubilees, blessing (Jacob (25:11–23) and later making peace with Jacob, (Isaac, and (Esau (35:1–26). Assign the pertinent passages from both Genesis and Jubilees (see above), and ask students to reflect on the differing characterization of Rebekah in each account—and what happens to Isaac in the Jubilees narrative. How would they characterize Rebekah in Genesis? In Jubilees? How would they characterize Isaac in Genesis? In Jubilees?

Focus on Marriage: The story of Dinah is portrayed differently in Genesis and Jubilees. Jubilees rewrites Genesis 34 in Jubilees 30, clearly outlining how the author(s) of Jubilees felt about exogamy (marriage outside a group). Ask students to read these two texts and to compare/contrast the differences, especially in the portrayal of Levi (cf. Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20). How does this connect with issues of national identity found elsewhere in the book of Jubilees?

Return to the discussion questions listed above:


  • What is the role of women in Jubilees, especially when compared to the stories in Genesis-Exodus?

  • Where do readers see the role of women highlighted in Jubilees? In what capacities/ways?

  • What might have caused the author(s) of Jubilees to rewrite the stories so that women played a more important role?

  • How is the importance of women—especially for marriage—related to the authorial concerns about the purity of Israel as the chosen people?

c. Envisaging the Angels


Angels also play a large role in the book of Jubilees—much larger than in the canonical texts of Genesis-Exodus where they play a much smaller role in human history when compared to the role of the deity vis--vis humans. Additionally, while Genesis does not describe the creation of angels, Jubilees 2:2 does—angels are created on the first day along with the heavens, the earth, and the waters.

Provide students with the following list of questions and ask them to reflect how the book of Jubilees imagines the angelic world—from the different ranks of the angels to the role of angels in matters of theodicy.

  • What are the different ranks given to the angels? (cf. Jubilees 2:2)
  • Are any of the angels named? (Only Mastema—cf. 1:20)
  • How are the angels meant to behave? Do they follow the law? What is their relationship to Israel? (cf. 3:25; 4:6; 12:22; 15:32; 19:3)
  • How are angels in Jubilees related to questions of theodicy? (cf. 10:1ff and 15:31)
  • Are there places in Jubilees where angels play a role that is not ascribed to them in the books of Genesis-Exodus? (cf. Abraham/Isaac in 17:1518:13; the Israelites flight from Egypt in 48:12; Moses on his way to Egypt in 48:2)

Additionally, instructors might present students with different representations of the angels in Genesis-Exodus in art. (For a good website and source of various paintings, see http://www.biblical-art.com.) Ask students to identify what biblical text a piece of art portrays and how the representations adhere to or deviate from the biblical text—and whether it draws on Jubilees.


d. Debating Jubilees


Debate: One significant (if ultimately unanswerable question) is that of why Jubilees was rejected from the later Jewish and (most) Christian canons? Divide students into a "pro-Jubilees" group and an "anti-Jubilees" group and have them debate whether or not Jubilees should be included in the canon. Important points to remember might include:

  • If it was composed in the mid-second century B.C.E, Jubilees is probably as old as at least one biblical book (Daniel) and the Dead Sea Scrolls discoveries indicate it was written entirely in Hebrew (like most of the canonical Hebrew Bible/Old Testament).
  • Although Jubilees is largely a paraphrase of Genesis-Exodus, the same thing can be said of 1–2 Chronicles and Samuel-Kings.
  • While neither the Jewish canon nor the Roman Catholic canon kept Jubilees, certain churches in the Orthodox movement (like the Ethiopic Church) did—yet the work seems to revolve around certain Jewish sectarian issues and conflicting ideas of Mosaic law (especially regarding the calendar).

Return the discussion to the beginning of class and the issues of canon outlined by students then—do students think it is important to know and study the pseudepigrapha? Why or why not?


Further Reading


  • Albani, Matthias, Jörg Frey, and Armin Lange, eds. Studies in the Book of Jubilees. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1997.
  • Amaru, Betsy Halpern. The Empowerment of Women in the Book of Jubilees. Leiden: Brill, 1999.
  • Charlesworth, James A., ed. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 2. New York: Doubleday, 1983.
  • Najman, Hindy. "Interpretation as Primordial Writing: Jubilees and Its Authority Conferring Strategies." Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Periods XXX 4 (1999): 379–410.
  • VanderKam, James C. "Jubilees, Book of." In The Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman, et al., pp. 1030–1032 in vol. 3 of 6 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
  • VanderKam, James C. "The Putative Author of the Book of Jubilees." Journal of Semitic Studies XXVI/2 (1998): 209–217.
  • VanderKam, James C. "Recent Scholarship on the Book of Jubilees." Currents in Biblical Research 6:3 (2008): 405–431.
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