Aristotle and Hippocrates in the Book of Jubilees

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
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This article explores undetected Greco-Roman backgrounds to three texts in Jubilees: the map of the world (8:10-12, 29-30), the introduction of Jacob and Esau (19:13-15), and Esau’s speech and its aftermath (37:18-38:3). The presence of Greco-Roman physiognomy and ethnography in these texts yields insight into the author’s purpose for including Esau’s otherwise unattested speech, his changes to the base text of the Jacob and Esau narratives, and the function of the map of the world. External to the text proper, the results are significant for uncovering the author’s understanding of the Judeans and Idumeans in his own time and is suggestive for the debate concerning whether Jubilees is polemicizing within a sectarian Jewish context or against external powers. These backgrounds are also significant in the broader discourse concerning how the author of Jubilees, among other late-Second Temple Jewish authors, navigates his relationship with contemporary Hellenistic frameworks.

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