In the Greco-Roman period there arose among the Jews a new genre for re-telling Bible stories and for composing new religious stories as well. This genre was the novel. This volume brings together for the first time and in fresh, lively translations of all the ancient Jewish novels and fragments of novels. Included are texts from the Old Testament Apocrypha, several historical novels, and selections from the Testaments of the twelve Patriarchs. Arising at about the same time as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament, but before the period of Rabbinic Judaism, these texts exhibit a worldliness that reveals the ambiguities and conflicts encountered by Jews in this period. Taken together they constitute a marvellous laboratory for uncovering how popular novels arose in the ancient world, and contribute greatly to our understanding of Jewish culture and classical civilisation.
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