Towards a New Map of Second Temple Literature: Revelation, Rewriting, and Genre Before the Bible

A Forum Organized Around New Work by Molly M. Zahn

Part 1 of a 2-part series curated by James Nati: Ancient Hebrew Literature Beyond “The Bible”

For Second Temple Jewish readers and writers, there was no “Bible;” instead what we find in the literature from this period is a broad spectrum of sacred texts from Genesis and the Books of Enoch to Chronicles, Jubilees, and hundreds of different Davidic Psalms. While the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls along with decades of new research has proven that “Bible” is a misleading anachronism for the Second Temple period, scholarship is still without consensus on how exactly we might classify, or “map” this corpus.

Molly Zahn will discuss how we could form useful new categories, based on her new book, Genres of Rewriting in Second Temple Judaism: Scribal Composition & Transmission (Cambridge University Press, 2020). Responses will be offered by Elena Dugan, Nathan Mastnjak, and Eva Mroczek, followed by open discussion.


Date & Time: Thursday, 8/20 @ 2:00pm EST on Zoom.

Please register here to get the link and short pre-circulated paper by Molly Zahn.


Molly Zahn is interested in the complex intersections of composition, interpretation, and authority in the literature of Second Temple Judaism. She is the author, most recently, of Genres of Rewriting in Second Temple Judaism: Scribal Composition and Transmission (Cambridge, 2020).

Elena Dugan works at the intersection of apocalyptic literature and manuscript studies, and is fascinated by new ways of imagining textuality in the Second Temple period and beyond.

Nathan Mastnjak writes on the prophetic corpus of the Hebrew Bible. His research focuses on notions of authority, theories of prophecy, and the materiality of the prophetic books.

Eva Mroczek is interested in early Judaism, book history, and native theories of literary production. She is the author of The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity (2016), and is working on a book about manuscript discovery stories, old and new.

Part 2 of Ancient Hebrew Literature Beyond “The Bible” will focus on David Lambert’s forthcoming “What is Scripture? Redescribing the Bible, its Formation and Interpretation,” with Chontel Syfox, Laura Carlson Hasler, and Seth Sanders.

James Nati, series curator, is interested in ideas of authenticity in biblical and Second Temple literature. He is currently putting some finishing touches on his first book, Textual Criticism and the Ontology of Literature in Early Judaism: An Analysis of the Serekh ha-Yahad.

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