Golden Calf Traditions in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam


The seventeen studies in Golden Calf Traditions in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam explore the biblical origins of the golden calf story in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and 1 Kings, as well as its reception in a variety of sources: Hebrew Scriptures (Hosea, Jeremiah, Psalms, Nehemiah), Second Temple Judaism (Animal Apocalypse, Pseudo-Philo, Philo, Josephus), rabbinic Judaism, the New Testament (Acts, Paul, Hebrews, Revelation) and early Christianity (among Greek, Latin, and Syriac writers), as well as the Qur’an and Islamic literature. Expert contributors explore how each ancient author engaged with the calf traditions—whether explicitly, implicitly, or by clearly and consciously avoiding them—and elucidate how the story was used both negatively and positively for didactic, allegorical, polemical, and even apologetic purposes.

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Eric F. Mason, Ph.D. (2005), University of Notre Dame, is Professor and Julius R. Mantey Chair of Biblical Studies at Judson University, Elgin, Illinois. His research focuses on Hebrews, the Catholic Epistles, and various aspects of Second Temple Judaism.

Edmondo F. Lupieri, Lic. (1973), Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa, Italy, is the John Cardinal Cody Endowed Chair in Theology and Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Loyola University Chicago. His most recent book is Una sposa per Gesù (Carocci, 2017).
"The chapters devoted to the golden calf in rabbinic, patristic, Syriac, and Islamic sources best deliver what the collection’s title promises and will be useful not only to scholars but also to students; each of these chapters would serve as a useful introduction to scriptural interpretation in general."
- Dulcinea Boesenberg, Creighton University, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 82.1, 2020.

"The strength of the collection is that its 17 chapters maintain a very clear focus on a single theme. Its breadth is also impressive, including biblical and post-biblical Jewish, Christian and Islamic texts. (...) The standard of sholarship is high and there are comprehensive indices."
- Jessie Rogers, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 42:5, 2020.

"The strength of the volume is its breadth, as it covers both the (textual) origin of the calf tradition (whether that be located in Exodus, Deuteronomy or 1 Kings) and various interpretive trajectories down to and including the early Islamic period. (…) the editors and contributors are to be congratulated for producing a handsome, interesting, and impeccably edited volume."
- James N. Rhodes, Columbiana, Ohio, Review of Biblical Literature 01, 2021.
Preface and Acknowledgments
List of Contributors

1 The Calf Episodes in Exodus and Deuteronomy: A Study in Inner-Biblical Interpretation
Robert A. Di Vito

2 The “Sin” of Jeroboam
Ralph W. Klein

3 Do the Books of Hosea and Jeremiah Know of a Sinai/Horeb Golden Calf Story?
Pauline A. Viviano

4 The Golden Calf in the Historical Recitals of Nehemiah 9 and Psalm 106
Richard J. Bautch

5 Did the Sheep Worship the Golden Calf? The Animal Apocalypse’s Reading of Exodus 32
Daniel Assefa and Kelley Coblentz Bautch

6 Philo of Alexandria’s Interpretations of the Episode of the Golden Calf
Thomas H. Tobin, S.J.

7 When Silence is Golden: The Omission of the Golden Calf Story in Josephus
Gregory E. Sterling

8 Leaders without Blemish: Pseudo-Philo’s Retelling of the Biblical Golden Calf Story
John C. Endres, S.J.
with the assistance of Peter Claver Ajer

9 Paul and the Calf: Texts, Tendencies, and Traditions
Alec J. Lucas

10 “They Made a Calf”: Idolatry and Temple in Acts 7
Joel B. Green

11 Traces of the Golden Calf in the Epistle to the Hebrews
Eric F. Mason

12 A Beast and a Woman in the Desert, or the Sin of Israel: A Typological Reflection
Edmondo Lupieri

13 “A Good Argument to Penitents”: Sin and Forgiveness in Midrashic Interpretations of the Golden Calf
Devorah Schoenfeld

14 Anti-Judaism and Pedagogy: Greek and Latin Patristic Interpretations of the Calf Incident
Wesley Dingman

15 Justin Martyr and the Golden Calf: Ethnic Argumentation in the New Israel
Andrew Radde-Gallwitz

16 The Incident of the Golden Calf in Pre-Islamic Syriac Authors
Andrew J. Hayes

17 “A Calf, a Body that Lows”: The Golden Calf from Late Antiquity to Classical Islam
Michael E. Pregill

Abstract and Keywords
All interested in reception of golden calf traditions in the Hebrew Bible, Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism, New Testament and early Christianity, and early Islam.
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