Fortress Press

Jubilees: A Commentary in Two Volumes


A Commentary in Two Volumes

James C. VanderKam (Author)


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Jubilees--so called because of its concern with marking forty-nine-year periods (or "jubilees") in Israel's history--is an ancient rewriting of Genesis and the first part of Exodus from the point of view of an anonymous second-century BCE Jewish author. Its distinctive perspective--as well as its apparent popularity at Qumran--make it particularly important for any reconstruction of early Judaism. James C. VanderKam, the world's foremost authority on Jubilees, offers a new translation based on his own critical editions of all the available textual evidence, including the Hebrew fragments preserved at Qumran (which he first published in Discoveries in the Judean Desert, vol. 13), as well as the first full running commentary on the book in the English language. Jubilees approaches the book as a rewriting of scripture but also as a literary work in its own right. The commentary explains the text and the teachings of the author with comprehensive coverage of the modern scholarship devoted to them. The introduction sets the book in its second-century BCE context, traces its sources in the Bible and in other early Jewish texts, and describes its influence on Jewish and Christian writers.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9780800660352
  • eBook ISBN 9781506438481
  • Dimensions 8.25 x 9.25
  • Pages 1625
  • Publication Date November 1, 2018


A landmark achievement

“James C. VanderKam’s masterful commentary on the Book of Jubilees is a landmark achievement. It has all the qualities we hope for in a scholarly commentary–and much more. The sheer learning is stunning. The research is painstaking. The coverage of the secondary literature is exhaustive and balanced. The textual analysis is careful and perceptive. And not least, the writing is cogent, accessible and jargon-free. Certain to become the standard reference-work, VanderKam’s commentary is a fitting tribute to a scholar who has devoted a lifetime of study to one of the most fascinating, challenging, and influential documents from Judaism of the Second Temple period.”

William Adler | NC State University

This exemplary work will set the standards for all future studies in the book of Jubilees.

“James C. VanderKam is the leading expert in the study of the book of Jubilees. As a crown on his work this detailed and extensive commentary in the Hermeneia series is published. It combines the fruits of the earlier studies with new insights important for future research. The translation is provided with detailed textual notes based on all the manuscript evidence of the book we have in Hebrew, Syriac, Greek, Latin, and Ethiopic (Ge’ez). Important issues in the study of the book, such as literary composition, date and author, teachings, sources and reception are presented in an unsurpassed lucid written style. The attention for the literary composition and structure adds tremendously to the thorough verse-by-verse commentary, which digests all relevant scholarly discussions. This exemplary work will set the standards for all future studies in the book of Jubilees.”

Jacques van Ruiten, | University of Groningen

The most complete treatment of Jubilees one will find

“James C. VanderKam’s commentary on Jubilees is a joy to read. It is the most complete treatment of the book one will find. Beginning with textual and historical studies, his years immersed in study of the Book of Jubilees bears fruit: translations are based on Ethiopic (Ge`ez), Latin and Hebrew (Qumran) witnesses–and occasional Syriac readings. The scope of his study includes the entire history of scholarship on Jubilees since the book became available to Western scholars in 1840. His positions on authorship, literary coherence, historical, and religious issues are clearly drawn and reflect the history of scholarship on each of these issues. VanderKam's focus always lands on the text itself, especially on its relationship to the Hebrew Bible texts which it ‘rewrites’. He demonstrates a marvelous ability to present differing opinions judiciously and fairly: disagreements with other scholars are characterized by gentility and they always lead to a deeper understanding of the issue contested. Fascinating glimpses of the reception history of the book–Jewish and Christian--tantalize the reader. Finally, his way of proceeding provides an amazing picture of Judaism and its literature of the last two centuries BCE.”  

John C. Endres, SJ | Santa Clara University

The most thorough and most authoritative commentary on Jubilees ever written

“James C. VanderKam has studied the Book of Jubilees for more than forty years, beginning with his dissertation at Harvard. He has edited the Ethiopic text and the Hebrew fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls. No scholar has ever been so well qualified to write a commentary on this major document of Judaism between the Bible and the Mishnah. This magisterial volume is simply the most thorough and most authoritative commentary on Jubilees ever written.”

John J. Collins | Yale Divinity School

This will serve as a foundation for all subsequent scholarship on Jubilees

“James C. VanderKam has been at the forefront of scholarship on Jubilees for four decades, and throughout that time has produced sophisticated tools and erudite studies that have paved the way for all others in the field. His new comprehensive commentary is the culmination of these efforts, combining his earlier body of research with fresh insights, interacting with other scholars' work on Jubilees, and analyzing every aspect of the book, from textual discussion of words and phrases to broader questions regarding the book as a whole. The fields of biblical and postbiblical studies, Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient Judaism and early Christianity, have been in need of this kind of commentary for some time, and VanderKam has provided one that will serve as a foundation for all subsequent scholarship on the book.” 

Michael Segal | Hebrew University of Jerusalem