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Old Testament:
Jewish Literature

Ancient Jewish writers are another important source. The two major ones are Josephus and Philo. There are also pseudepigrapha writings, apocryphal writings, and Rabbinic literature.


Josephus Flavius was born about 37 AD in Jerusalem. He was a general in Galilee in the Judean army in 67-68 AD. He went over to the Roman army to avoid death. He became a Roman prisoner and interpreter for the Roman army. He wrote The Jewish War around 75 AD, Jewish Antiquities in 93 AD, Against Apion, and The Life around 95 AD. In Jewish Antiquities Josephus starts from Genesis chapter one to explain the history of the Jews to his present time. He offers interesting insight on how the Jews understood Genesis around the time of Christ and his apostles.


Philo the Jew or Philo of Alexandria lived from about 20 BC to about 50 AD. He came from a wealth prominent family in Alexandria, Egypt. He was well educated. His brother Alexander held various offices for Rome. Alexander's son Marcus, Philo's nephew married Bernice, the daughter of Herod Agrippa I. Bernice is mentioned in Acts 25:13, 23; 26:30. Alexander's other son Tiberius became procurator of Judaea from 46 to 48 AD.

Philo is important in understanding first century AD Hellenistic Judaism and NT writings of Paul, John (logos) and Hebrews (shadow; see Williamson 1970; Attridge 1989, 29). Philo is considered to be a Middle Platonist (Philo 1993). He is also know for his allegorical interpretations. Philo wrote On the Creation (De Opificio Mundi) which helps us understand his view of Genesis. He also wrote Questions and Answers on Genesis, but this only starts with chapter two of Genesis.

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