This article discusses how the study of the history, literature, and religious beliefs and practices of ancient Jews in the Land of Israel and the Diaspora provides the proper background and context for the study of the later books of the Hebrew Bible, the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, and the New Testament writings. From the time of the Babylonian exile, and especially from Hellenistic times ... [Show full abstract] onwards, a vibrant Jewish Diaspora existed alongside the Jewish community in the Land of Israel. During the time of the Second Temple (520 BCE to 70 CE) and throughout rabbinic times, Israel remained the centre of world Jewry. The books of the Hebrew Bible and the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha were written by Jews who lived in the Diaspora or the Land of Israel; the books of the New Testament were written by Jewish and Gentile Christians in various Diaspora locations that also had Jewish communities. Thus, the direct experience of Jewish life or the indirect knowledge of and interaction with Jews would have had an impact on the literature that the biblical authors created.