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In the Greco-Roman period there arose among the Jews a new form for retelling Bible stories and for composing new religious stories—the novel. Written around the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls and New Testament, these worldly texts reveal the ambiguities and conflicts encountered by Jews of that period. Some of the texts here are well known, while others will be totally new to modern readers. Some are developed novels, while others are rudimentary fragments. Taken together, they constitute a marvelous laboratory for uncovering how popular novels arose in the ancient world, and contribute greatly to our understanding of Jewish culture and classical civilization.
In fresh, lively translations by Professor Lawrence M. Wills, included are texts from the Jewish apocrypha such as Judith and Tobit, several historical novels and selections from the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.