Those who want to take the study of the Bible seriously will not limit their reading to the Bible alone. The Bible was not written in a vacuum but within historical and cultural contexts that contributed to its shape and content. By reading about this period of history and the cultures within it, the student learns much about the Bible that cannot be learned from reading the Bible alone. The best source material for learning about the contexts that informed and shaped the writing of the Bible is the literature that was written around the same time, by the same or similar cultures, and/or within the stream of tradition to which the Bible belongs.
One such body of literature is The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, a collection of Jewish and Christian literature written subsequent to the literature of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, some written contemporaneous with or subsequent to the literature of the New Testament. This literature helps to fill in the historical and conceptual gap between the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and New Testament, showing the ongoing development of the Jewish tradition and of the emerging development of the early Christian tradition.
The standard collection of this body of literature was edited by James Charlesworth and originally published by Yale University Press (see here and here). While scholars are working to develop supplemental material, the Charlesworth collection will remain the standard collection of this literature for the foreseeable future. In 2010, this collection was republished by Hendrickson Publishers in paperback format, and the set can be acquired from numerous booksellers at an affordable price (approx. $40 from Eisenbrauns, Chritianbook, Amazon).
This more affordable price tag will no doubt facilitate a new generation of Bible students acquiring this resource. In an effort to facilitate the reading of this resource, I have developed a reading schedule that, if followed strictly, will move one through each volume in five months. If you aim to complete the readings in a year, this calendar provides a comfortable two-month cushion for reduced readings on weekends, holidays, or vacations. The titles of the individual texts are abbreviated in the calendar according to The SBL Handbook of Style (74-75). Click on the picture below for a pdf of the entire reading schedule. Happy reading!