Examples of Terminological Choices for Bible-like Materials

NOTE: as of 20 September 2002, "parabiblical" does not occur in the OED

[Tallies from google.com searches on 19 September 2002:
"Rewritten Bible" yielded 225 hits;
"Expanded Bible" gave 285 (many of them irrelevant, I suspect);
"Paraphrased Bible" had 240 (again, probably mostly irrelevant);
"Parabiblical literature" had 17; "parabiblical texts" had 223; "parabiblical writings" only one]

H. L. Ginsberg, Review of Joseph A. Fitzmyer's The Genesis Apocryphon of Qumran Cave 1: A Commentary, Theological Studies 28 (1967) 574: "I ... approve of his rejection of such labels as 'targum' and 'midrash' .... To the question of literary genre, I should like to contribute a proposal for a term to cover works, like GA, Pseudo-Philo, and the Book of Jubilees, which paraphrase and/or supplement the canonical Scriptures: parabiblical literature. The motivation of such literature -- like that of midrash -- may be more doctrinal, as in the case of the Book of Jubilees, or more artistic, as in at least the preserved parts of GA, but it differs from midrashic literature by not directly quoting and (with more or less arbitrariness) interpreting canonical Scripture" [highlighting is mine: RAK; thanks to Steven Fraade for calling attention to this reference].

Nickelsburg, George W. E.: "The Bible Rewritten and Expanded," in: Stone, Michael Edward (ed.): Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period: Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran Sectarian Writings, Philo, Josephus, Assen / Philadelphia 1984 (CRI 2/2), 89-156.

H. W. Attridge, T. Elgvin, J. Milik, S. Olyan, J. Strugnell, E. Tov, J. VanderKam and S. White, in consultation with J. C. VanderKam. Qumran Cave 4.8. Parabiblical Texts, Part 1 (DJD 13; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994). x + 470 pp. + xliii plates."Within these volumes the parabiblical texts hold a special place since some of the literary genres represented by Qumran are becoming known only now, with the publication of the volumes. The volumes of the parabiblical texts contain various compositions which have in common that they are closely related to texts or themes of the Hebrew Bible. Some of these compositions present a reworking, rewriting, or paraphrase of biblical books. Some of these compositions were very extensive, such as 4QRP (4Q364-367) which, together with the already published 4Q158, covered the entire Pentateuch. Others probably covered merely a limited number of chapters; thus 4Q422 dealt with only a few chapters of Genesis and Exodus. The various compositions which present a reworking of biblical books display various gradations of such reworking. Of these texts, 4QRP is probably closest to the biblical books, followed by cols. LI-LXI of 11QT\a/. Of the compositions which are somewhat more removed from the text of the Hebrew Bible, the present volume contains 4Q216-228 (Jubilees and pseudo-Jubilees). Furthest removed from the biblical text in this volume are 4Q369 (Prayer of Enosh), and 4Q382 (pap ParaKings et al.)" [emphasis mine; RAK].

Florentino Garcia Martinez, The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated (Brill 1994) 218: [It is] "literature that begins with the Bible, which retells the biblical text in its own way, intermingling it and expanding it with other, quite different traditions. Every one of these compositions has its starting point in specific texts of the Torah or of the Prophets but, unlike the exegetical literature, rather than interpreting the biblical text, they elaborate on it, augmenting it with other material." [Then he distinguishes three types: (1) relatively close to the biblical text (e.g. Paraphrases of the Pentateuch, Genesis Apocryphon, Jubilees); (2)] "Other compositions seem, rather, to be self-contained developments around certain biblical characters. The starting point continues to be the biblical text, but the development results in independent compositions. [(3)] In the last texts to be included, such as those with the title 'proto-Esther,' the connection is even more tenuous and remote. It is really literature which is parallel to, earlier than, or simultaneous with, the biblical text, but with no direct connection to it" [emphasis mine].

M. Broshi, E. Eshel, J. Fitzmyer, E. Larson, C. Newsom, L. Schiffman, M. Smith, M. Stone, J. Strugnell
and A. Yardeni, in consultation with J. C. VanderKam. Qumran Cave 4.14. Parabiblical Texts, Part 2
(DJD 19; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995).

G. J. Brooke, J. J. Collins, P. Flint, J. Greenfield, E. Larson, C. Newsom, É. Puech, L. H. Schiffman, M.
Stone, and J. Trebolle Barrera, in consultation with J. Vanderkam, partially based on earlier transcriptions
by J. T. Milik and J. Strugnell. Qumran Cave 4.17: Parabiblical Texts, Part 3 (DJD 22; Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1996). xi + 352 pp. + xxix plates.

Michael Wise, Martin Abegg jr, Edward Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation (Harper 1996) 12: "The discovery of the scrolls has uncovered the existence in this period of anthologies of biblical excerpts, of 'rewritten Bibles,' and of lost sources used, perhaps, by the writers of the biblical books [e.g. The Healing of King Nabonidus]. The first two of these categories were apparently methods of interpreting the Bible.... Whether people understood these types of texts as less authoritative than the Bible itself is a legitimate question, given that the final contours of the Bible were not fixed."

Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (Penguin 1997) 505: [Section title, without additional general comment] "Biblically Based Apocryphal Works."

S. Talmon, “Textual Criticism: The Ancient Versions,” pp. 141-170 in Text in Context: Essays by Members of the Society for Old Testament Study (ed. A.D.H. Mayes; Oxford University Press, 2000) 157: "… it is my thesis that the presumably ‘re-told,’ re-read,’ ‘re-written,’ etc. Bible-related works should mostly be viewed as crystallizations of ‘living’ literary traditions, which parallel presentations of these same traditions in the books of the Hebrew Bible, but do not necessarily spring from them."

George W. E. Nickelsburg, 1Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36; 81-108 (Fortress 2001) 29: heading Rewritten Biblical Narrative: "The story of the watchers and the women (chaps. 6-11) is the mythic core for the rest of the corpus except the astronomical material. It is also significant because it is one of the oldest preserved examples of a form of biblical ixposition that interprets a narrative by retelling it in an elaborated form. ... Its purpose is to expound sacred tradition so that it speaks to contemporary times and issues. In its present form, the elaboration of Gen 6:1-4 in 1 Enoch 6-11 reflects several moves. First, the Hebrew story is retold in Aramaic. ...Thus the rewritten form of the biblical text has two dimensions. It has become an eschatologically colored myth; a story about the origins of evil in primordial times is, in reality, an explanation of the author's time, which is situated at the threshold of the end time, its judgment, and the new age. [new paragraph] Later examples of rewritten biblical narrative, composed variously in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, include: the Book of Jubilees, the Genesis Apocryphon, the Testament of Moses, some of the narratives in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Testament of Abraham, the Testament of Job, the Book of Biblical Antiquities (Pseudo-Philo), Josephus's Antiquities, and the Books of Adam and Eve."

John C. Reeves, "Toward a Rapprochement of Bible and Qur’an," abridged as "The Flowing Stream: Qur’anic Interpretations and the Bible," Religious Studies News: SBL Edition 2.9 (Dec 2001): "The conceptual problem for modern researchers is further aggravated by a largely unreflective use of popular classificatory terminology like that of ‘rewritten Bible’ for works like Jubilees or 1 Enoch. One must first have ‘Bible’ before one can ‘rewrite’ it: the category presupposes and subtly endorses both a chronological sequence and an intertextual relationship. ... Our descriptive language should be altered in order to express this ‘revisioning’; instead of biblical ‘expansions’ or ‘rewritings,’ we should perhaps speak of ‘biblically allied,’ biblically affiliated,’ or ‘biblically related’ literatures. Moreover, our accustomed way of perceiving and categorizing how Bible interacted with parallel literary corpora will require a serious overhaul. Instead of measuring all biblically allied or affiliated literatures against the Bible and then assigning labels like ‘expanded Bible,’ ‘rewritten Bible,’ ‘paraphrased Bible,’ ‘distorted Bible,’ and the like to those exemplars which depart textually and/or thematically from the Bible of the Masoretes, we should rather consider the bulk of this material, both biblical and non-biblical, as one culturally variegated literary continuum which juxtaposes a number of alternative or parallel ways of recounting a particular story or tradition."

Devorah Dimant, Partially based on earlier texts by John Strugnell. Qumran Cave 4.26. Parabiblical Texts, Part 4; Pseudo-Prophetic Texts (DJD 30; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001).

John P. Meier, "The Historical Jesus and the Historical Law: Some Problems within the Problem," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 65 (2003) 57 n.10: The phrase "rewritten Bible" has become common in discussions about the intertestamental writings that, in one way or another, reworked, paraphrased, or added to books that later formed the canon of Scripture. However, the phrase is, technically speaking, inaccurate since no "Bible" with an agreed-upon list of all the books accepted as inspired and normative existed in the last centuries B.C.; hence, there was no Bible to "rewrite." On the problem of evaluating the intent of authors of the "Rewritten Bible" during the intertestamental period, see Gary A. Anderson, "Law and Lawgiving," Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Oxford University Press 2000) 1.475-77; and Florentino Garcia Martinez, "Temple Scroll," ibid., 2.927-33. Especially problematic are the fragments from Cave 4 of Qumran that are given telling labels like Reworked Pentateuch (4Q158, 4Q364, 365, 366, 367), Apocryphon Pentateuch A (4Q368), Apocryphon Pentateuch B (4Q377), and the Apocryphon of Moses (4Q375, 376). To what extent these texts should be considered variant textual traditions of the Pentateuch, early targums of the Pentateuch, or attempts to replace the traditional version(s) of the Pentateuch with a new version remains unclear; the fragmentary nature of the evidence makes a final decision very difficult. On the questionable propriety of using phrases like "para-biblical," "apocryphal," "expanded biblical text," or "rewritten Bible" for these works, see Bruno Chiesa, "Biblical Texts from Qumran," Henoch 20 (1998) 131-51.