Penitential Theology in East Late Antiquity: Talmudic, Zoroastrian, and East Christian Reflections

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
Author: Yishai Kiel1
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  • 1 Judaic Studies Program, Yale University, 451 College St., Rm. 305, PO Box 208282, New Haven, Conn.
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The study attempts to situate the Talmudic theological discussion of repentance—particularly in its Babylonian representations—within the context of Zoroastrian and East Christian traditions. In this regard, the study seeks to provide a cultural framework, in light of which the Talmudic theology of repentance can be seen in the broader context of the penitential discourses that pervaded the cultures of East Late Antiquity. The study focuses on two issues in particular, which underscore the congruent theological engagement of the rabbis and their East Christian and Zoroastrian interlocutors in penitential theology: 1) the relative status of the penitent as opposed to the perfectly righteous. 2) The relative roles of psychological repentance and objective measures of penance and expiation in the process.

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