Jacob Neusner (vols. 1, 2, and 3) and his colleagues Alan Avery-Peck (vol. 2) and Bruce Chilton (vol. 3) have assembled a stellar team of scholars in producing what has already become an essential reference work for the study of Judaism in Late Antiquity. Originally written in nine separate volumes, Judaism in Late Antiquity now appears, unabridged, in three. The entire work seeks to offer readers both a broad perspective on the shape of Judaism while also opening the way to understanding unique issues. It does not disappoint.
VOLUME 1, including contributions by Paul Flesher, William Scott Green, Günter Stemberg, James F. Strange, looks at the literary and archeological sources to answer the question, “What are the sources for the study of Judaism in Late Antiquity.” Part two of this volume then guides the reader into how those sources help in the reconstruction of the history of “various Judaic systems in antiquity.” VOLUME 2 concentrates on the issues and debates in ancient Judaism, that is, those topics that animate scholarly dialogue today. Thus volume 2 , under the expert tutelage of Philip Davies, Lester Grabbe, and, among others, Louis Feldman, Steve Mason, James D. G. Dunn, challenges the reader with “systematic presentations of a distinctive viewpoint and very particular results” (preface, vol. 2) on such hot topics as the Law in Judaism, the use of rabbinic sources, and the place of groups within Second Temple Judaism, such as the Pharisees and Sadducees or the Samaritans. Scholars like Eric Meyers, Jodi Magness, and Joseph Naveh devote roughly 180 pages to the thorny question of the special problem of the synagogue.Using the technique of debate and response the articles bring the reader to the nub of the issues quickly and decisively. VOLUME 3 takes a look from a variety of sources and points of view at topics and themes at the center of scholarly debate, namely, resurrection and aferlife in the various writings of Judaism: Wisdom literature, Psalms, Apocalyptic Literature, Pseudepigraph, Philo and Josephus, and Qumran, among others. Again, top scholars like George Nicklesburg, John J. Collins, Roland Murphy, Richard Elliot Friedman, and Leon Rutgers bring to bear on these topics years of experience. The second half of volume 3 looks at Qumran with the same intensity. Editors Neusner, Avery-Peck, and Chilton must be commended for this generous gift both to the scholarly guild and to the general reader looking for a thought-provoking overview of the main issues in the central academic conversations.
Judaism in Late Antiquity, I, II, III
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