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Anders Klostergaard Petersen


The first section describes the major progress in the study of Second Temple Judaism during the past fifty years, since A.S. van der Woude founded the Journal for the Study of Judaism. This part—the whence—comprises the main bulk of the argument. It also paves the way for the conclusion—the wither. There, I present some ideas potentially leading to new advances in the field. I call for an engagement with the social and natural sciences based on a gene-culture coevolutionary paradigm. In particular, adopting a biocultural evolutionary perspective makes it possible to situate the field and its empirical focus in a much larger context. Thereby, we shall be able to tackle some of the pivotal questions with which our scholarly predecessors wrestled. Finally, I discuss emotional studies that may help us to get a better grasp on a traditionally moot question in the texts we study.

John J. Collins


There has been an explosion of interest in Second Temple Judaism over the last fifty years. In the first half of the period under review, the Pseudepigrapha were at the cutting edge. This period culminated in the publication of the new enlarged edition of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. Beginning in the 1980s, interest shifted to the Dead Sea Scrolls, culminating in the rapid publication of the corpus under the editorship of Emanuel Tov. At the same time, new discoveries shed light on the encounter of Judaism with Hellenism, both in Judea in the Maccabean period and in the Egyptian diaspora. Few scholars would now defend an idea of “normative Judaism” in this period, but that idea still casts a shadow on the ongoing debates.

Hindy Najman and Tobias Reinhardt


This article sets up a dialogue between two bodies of ancient texts, i.e. Jewish wisdom literature and Greco-Roman didactic of the Hellenistic period, with an awareness of the scholarly and interpretive communities that have studied, taught and transformed these bodies of texts from antiquity until the present. The article does not claim direct influence or cross-pollination across intellectual, religious or social communities in the Hellenistic period. Instead, the article suggests four discrete frameworks for thinking about comparative antiquity: creation, the law, the sage and literary form. The comparative model proposed here intends to create the conditions for noticing parallels and kindred concepts. However, the article resists the temptation to repeat earlier scholarly arguments for dependency or priority of influence. Instead, the essay demonstrates remarkable alignments, suggestively similar developments, and synergies. Perhaps, the ideal first reader for this article is none other than Philo of Alexandria.

Steve Mason


In Ag. Ap. 1.41, after stressing that the Jewish holy books are rightly trusted because only prophets wrote them, Josephus remarks that Judaeans do not trust later writings in the same way. The reason he gives is usually translated as “the failure of the exact succession of the prophets.” Whereas older scholarship played down this reason to insist on the absence of prophecy in post-biblical Judaism, the prevailing view today holds that Josephus meant only to qualify later prophecy, not to exclude it. This essay broaches the more basic question of what an ἀκριβὴς διαδοχή means. Arguing that an exact diachronic succession of prophets makes little sense, it offers two proposals that better suit Josephus’ argument. It further contends that Josephus is talking about the ancient Judaean past, the subject of this work, not about the work of later historians including himself. He distinguishes sharply between prophecy and historical inquiry.

Benjamin G. Wright


As a response to the tradition of scholarship that focused on questions of LXX origins, translation techniques and textual criticism, this article looks at how the LXX translations in antiquity were already in certain respects marked as Greek texts at their production, constructed as Greek literary texts in their origins, and subsequently employed in the same ways as compositional Greek texts by those who engaged them. It shows how the author of Aristeas constructs the LXX as a Greek text, how it functioned as such for Aristobulos and Philo. Already the translators demonstrate in their use of poetic language that they could produce literary Greek. Subsequently, Jewish Hellenistic authors employed the LXX alongside other Greek texts, and treated it with the methods of Hellenistic scholarship.

Françoise Mirguet


This article reviews recent research on emotions in the field of early Judaism, mostly in literature. The article starts with an example from the biblical story of Joseph, to illustrate the need for a culturally sensitive understanding of emotions. Various approaches to emotions are then examined: philology and the history of the self, the construction of identity, structures of power (including gender), experiences with the divine, and emotions as adaptive practices. Each section starts with a brief outline of the scholarship conducted in other fields and serving as a background for research on early Judaism. The conclusion considers several facets of emotions, as they are highlighted by various disciplines; cultural manipulations of emotions often harness the tensions that may result from these multiple facets. The article closes with a brief assessment of the contribution of emotion research to the broader study of early Judaism and with perspectives for further research.

Descenders to the Chariot

The People Behind the Hekhalot Literature


James Davila

The Hekhalot literature is a bizarre conglomeration of Jewish esoteric and revelatory texts in Hebrew and Aramaic, produced sometime between late antiquity and the early Middle Ages and surviving in medieval manuscripts.
These texts claims to describe the self-induced spiritual experiences of the "descenders to the chariot" and to reveal the techniques that permitted these magico-religious practitioners to view for themselves Ezekiel's Merkavah as well as to gain control of angels and a supernatural mastery of Torah.
Drawing on epigraphic and archaeological evidence from the Middle East, anthropological models, and a wide range of cross-cultural evidence, this book aims to show that the Hekhalot literature preserves the teachings and rituals of real religious functionaries who flourished in late antiquity and who were quite like the functionaries anthopologists call shamans.