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An Introduction to Early Judaism, 2nd ed.
PAPERBACK; Published: 1/6/2022
ISBN: 978-0-8028-8016-1
Price: $ 28.99
253 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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Based on the best archaeological research, this volume explores the history of Judaism during the Second Temple period (516 BCE–70 CE), describing the body of Jewish literature written during these centuries and the most important groups, institutions, and practices of the time. Particularly interesting are VanderKam’s depiction of events associated with Masada and, more briefly, the Bar Kokhba revolt—as well as his commentary on texts unearthed in places like Elephantine and Qumran.

Now in its second edition, with additional material and updated throughout, this book remains the preeminent guide to early Judaism for anyone looking for a text that is concise and accessible while still comprehensive—and written by one of the foremost experts in the field.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
1. The Time of the Second Temple
2. Jewish Literature of the Second Temple Period
3. Great Archaeological Discoveries
4. Synthesis: Leaders, Groups, and Institutions

“The second edition of James VanderKam’s Introduction to Early Judaism undoubtedly will enhance the impact of his first edition. His emphasis on archaeological discoveries and inclusion of more ancient literature are welcome additions, and the overall readability and organization of this work still makes it the most comprehensive and useful introduction to Second Temple studies. This resource is ideal for students and lay readers alike, whether interested in historical details or Jewish literary traditions. As one of the most respected Second Temple scholars today, VanderKam has done us a great service with this work by helping to sustain interest in our important discipline.”
— Patricia D. Ahearne-Kroll
University of Minnesota
“VanderKam’s Introduction to Early Judaism is a standard in the field—a wide-ranging, popular, informative, and accessible volume. A newly revised and expanded edition of it is a welcome addition, for students and teachers alike.”
— Matthew Goff
Florida State University
“A fine and accessible introduction to early Judaism. . . . Elementary but elegant, this primer is perfect for classroom or individual use.”
— Publishers Weekly
“One of the best-written exemplars of its genre. Both its didactic structure and enjoyable style make it capable of being a widely read scholarly best-seller.”
— Journal for the Study of Judaism
“Combining meticulous historical reconstruction with detailed commentary on literary productions and archaeological remains, James VanderKam here offers a comprehensive introduction to early Judaism that places texts within their proper contexts. His accessible, engaging style and helpful organization make this volume ideal for classroom use.”
— Amy-Jill Levine
Vanderbilt University
“A scholar at the forefront of today’s flourishing interest in the study of ancient Judaism, James VanderKam clearly explains Second Temple history and religion, including the period’s main groups and institutions and the entire range of literature they produced, from the Apocrypha to the Dead Sea Scrolls. The period VanderKam covers is vital to understanding all subsequent Jewish and Christian history, and his introduction to it is complete, accessible, and overall top-notch.”
— Alan J. Avery-Peck
College of the Holy Cross
“James VanderKam has written a superb introduction to early Judaism, including its history, literature, and religious institutions—a handbook that will be useful to every student or scholar who is interested in this period. VanderKam’s sketch of the history and literature of the period is written simply and precisely, unencumbered by footnotes. His book, however, reveals a full, critical knowledge of the field. His epitomes of the literature of the period are particularly well done—brief, generally conservative in discussing debated issues, leaving out little of importance. New lore from the Dead Sea Scrolls and data from recent excavations are also well treated. I recommend this volume without qualification.”
— Frank Moore Cross
author of Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic
“[T]his edition, like its predecessor, will be the standard introductory textbook for Second Temple Judaism, especially for conservative Protestant students.”
Reviews in Religion & Theology
“The texts under discussion here have influenced Judaism and Christianity (hence millions of human beings) far more than many realize. An up-to-date, readable guide is desirable, and this work provides such. Students and their professors, as well as interested laypeople, owe the author a debt of gratitude.”