In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Book of Judith

  • Introduction
  • Texts of Judith and Reviews of Scholarship
  • Commentaries
  • Original Language of Judith
  • Reception of Judith

Biblical Studies Book of Judith
Lawrence Wills
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 November 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0237


Judith is one of the books of the Apocrypha, the Jewish texts that were included in the Catholic and Orthodox Old Testaments (including Armenian, Syrian, and Ethiopian Orthodox Bibles), but not in the Protestant Old Testament or Jewish scriptures. Judith was placed with the history texts of the Old Testament, and, more specifically, it was located with Tobit and Esther, texts that were probably also seen as entertaining or didactic history. (The question of why Judith was not canonized as part of the Hebrew Bible is raised in Why Wasn’t the Book of Judith Included in the Hebrew Bible? [Atlanta: Scholars, 1992] and Esther not Judith: Why One Made it and the Other Didn’t (Crawford 2002), [Bible Review 18 [2002]: 22–31, 45] both cited under Texts of Judith and Reviews of Scholarship.) That Judith seemed to be inaccurate “history” was noticed in the ancient church, but the genre is now much discussed. It is sometimes taken as didactic or parabolic history, but it (along with Tobit, Esther, Susanna, and Joseph and Aseneth) is compared also with the developing genre of short and long novels (see Das Buch Judit (Haag 1995) [Dusseldorf, Germany: Patmos, 1995] cited under Commentaries and The Jewish Novel in the Ancient World (Wills 1995) [Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press] cited under Comparative).

Texts of Judith and Reviews of Scholarship

Hanhart 1979 is the best critical edition of the Greek text of the Septuagint, or the Old Testament in Greek (but see also Brooke, et al. 1940; Rahlfs 1952), and Weber and Gryson 2007 is a critical edition of the Vulgate (Latin text). To the English translation in the New Revised Standard Version, found in many study Bibles, one can compare the translation in Pietersma and Wright 2007. The latter is an attempt to recreate the actual intention of the ancient Greek version to provide an exact Greek equivalent to the presumed Hebrew or Aramaic words of the original; as a result, it reads as a very literal translation. Craven 2003 provides a review of scholarship in the twentieth century.

  • Brooke, Alan E., Norman McLean, and H. St. John Thackeray, eds. Esther, Judith, Tobit. The Old Testament in Greek, III, Part 1. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1940.

    A thorough edition of the Septuagint or Old Testament in Greek, although for Judith the edition of Hanhart 1979 (cited under Texts of Judith and Reviews of Scholarship) is generally regarded as superior.

  • Craven, Toni. “The Book of Judith in the Context of Twentieth-Century Studies of the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books.” Currents in Biblical Research 1 (2003): 187–229.

    DOI: 10.1177/1476993X0300100206

    An excellent review of the most important research on Judith in the twentieth century.

  • Crawford, Sidnie White. “Esther Not Judith: Why One Made It and the Other Didn’t.” Bible Review 18 (2002): 22–31, 45.

    A fascinating reflection on why Esther was canonized in the Hebrew scriptures and Judith was not.

  • Hanhart, Robert, ed. Iudith: Septuaginta, Vetus Testamentum graecum. Vol. 8.4, Judith. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979.

    The scholarly standard for the reconstruction of the Greek text of Judith. The ancient texts are thoroughly catalogued, with many variants clearly presented. All discussions of the original text of Judith reference the text presented in Hanhart.

  • Moore, Carey A. “Why Wasn’t the Book of Judith Included in the Hebrew Bible?” In “No One Spoke Ill of Her”: Essays on Judith. Edited by James C. VanderKam, 61–71. Atlanta: Scholars, 1992.

    With Crawford 2002, an excellent discussion of why Judith was not included in the Hebrew Scriptures.

  • Pietersma, Albert, and Benjamin G. Wright. A New English Translation of the Septuagint. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

    An interesting project to create an English version of the Greek Old Testament that retains its guiding principle: to use Greek equivalents for Hebrew or Aramaic terms. That is, this translation retains the awkward and artificial style that is found often in the Greek Old Testament. In the case of Judith, this results in a literal-sounding translation, but the modern reader should be aware of the goals of this project.

  • Rahlfs, Alfred. Septuaginta, id est Vetus Testamentum graece iuxta LXX interpretes. 2 vols. 5th ed. Stuttgart, Germany: Württ. Bibelanstalt, 1952.

    A very good two-volume edition of the Greek Old Testament. Scholarly in its execution, it is simply shorter and less complete than Hanhart 1979.

  • Weber, Robert, and Roger Gryson. Biblia Sacra Vulgata. 4th ed. Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2007.

    This is the latest edition of the standard scholarly Vulgate, the Bible in Latin that became the accepted version in the Catholic Church.

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