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Abstract

The study of exempla and exemplarity in Mediterranean antiquity touches the methodological borderlines and interest areas of several distinct academic disciplines. Earlier studies focused on semantics and the development from the Greek παράδειγμα to the Roman exemplum. More recently, the field of Classics has tended to examine exemplarity as a phenomenon with a distinctively Roman edge. At the same time, scholars in adjacent disciplines like ancient Judaism and early Christianity have engaged Classics scholarship on this topic in their own work. This paper extends this arena by clarifying aspects of exemplarity within two paradigmatic texts of Hellenistic- and Roman-era Judaism. We examine 1 Maccabees 2:49–68 and Josephus’ Jewish War 6.99–110, both speeches set within “contemporary” histories written by Jewish authors. By examining these ancient Jewish passages, written within the Greco-Roman world, we help add clarity and meaning to what could be “Jewish” about exemplarity in ancient Mediterranean contexts.

Open Access
In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
Author:

Abstract

This article argues (1) that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that a or the “gnostic heresy” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.11.1) referred to a specific social group whose theology is witnessed in Against Heresies 1.29 and (2) that the aeonology in this passage influenced Valentinus. There is no evidence that the aeonology in Against Heresies 1.29 existed prior to 160 CE, the approximate date of Valentinus’s demise; thus this material could not have shaped Valentinus’s theology. Instead of thinking with Irenaeus in terms of unidirectional influence (Irenaeus’s constructed “gnostic heresy” inspiring Valentinus/Valentinians), future theories ought to account for multiple directions of influence and entanglement between various early Christian theologians in the late second century CE.

Open Access
In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

Yair Furstenberg, in his article “The Rabbinic Movement from Pharisees to Provincial Jurists” (DOI: 10.1163/15700631-bja10070), draws parallels between the rise of the rabbinic movement and jurists in other Eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. This response considers how far we may push the comparison, especially with regard to the stimuli behind the changes in rabbinic activities that Furstenberg posits.

Open Access
In: Journal for the Study of Judaism

Abstract

While previous scholarship has shown that the rhetorical figure of the “heretical woman” was important in Jerome’s slandering of male rivals, this article argues that the “orthodox woman” played a just as important role in his self-presentation as an orthodox teacher. The “orthodox woman” is characterized by true asceticism which, according to Jerome’s ascetic theology, implies that she transcends her sex. Rather than being a “woman”, in the ordinary sense of the word, she is an angelic being with a supernatural understanding, which allows her to discern the spiritual meaning of the Scriptures and to distinguish between orthodoxy and heresy. It is argued that the presentation of the “orthodox woman” as very learned, independent and strong-willed makes her the direct opposite of Jerome’s “heretical woman”, and that such a portrayal suited Jerome’s purposes, as his great reliance on women readers called for a defence of female spiritual authority.

Open Access
In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

Previous research on the Teachings of Silvanus has led to the generally accepted conclusion that the present form of the work is the result of a long textual development. Because of the text’s close relationship with the biblical and Hellenistic-Jewish Wisdom literature, it has been suggested that its earliest form was a Jewish sapiential writing, which over a long period of time was Christianised by the addition of New Testament material and Christian theological speculations. In the present study, the problem of the Teachings’ textual development is approached from a literary analysis of the text. It is argued that the work contains many instances of parallelismus membrorum, which in some cases are closely interwoven with biblical and Jewish sapiential texts and in other cases are abruptly broken up by Christian interpolations.

Open Access
In: Vigiliae Christianae
Author:

Abstract

The article deals with a commentary on the Akkadian composition Marduk’s Address to the Demons from the city of Assur. The first part of the article discusses the unique religious view found in Marduk’s Address and its commentary, in which the āšipu priest is identified with the god Marduk. The second part presents a new philological edition of the commentary.

Open Access
In: Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions

Abstract

This essay introduces new evidence for an eschatological Phoenician motif that alludes to a final sailing and its perils, represented by a monstrous lion attacking or sinking a boat. The lion-and-boat motif was, so far, only documented in a Phoenician funerary stela from late classical Athens, the Antipatros/Shem stela. Excavations at the fifth-century BCE Tartessic site of Casas del Turuñuelo in southwestern Spain has revealed a set of ivory and bone panels that decorated a wooden box, bearing relevant iconography in the so-called orientalizing style. Additional comparanda from the Levant, Iberia, and Tunisia in various media (coins, ivories, amulets), add weight to this interpretation. Our analysis highlights how the artists behind the Athenian and Tartessic artifacts were innovative in their way of representing a theme that was not codified iconographically. Most remarkable is the use of an ivory-carving convention (the Phoenician palmette motif) to portray the stylized boat, a choice corroborated by a painted pottery sherd from Olympia. This “palmette-boat” depiction, in our view, is coherent with Egyptian Nilotic boats, but also with the use of flat or shallow river-boats in the Tagus and Guadiana region, illustrating mechanisms of local adaptation of Phoenician sailing and life-death “passing” symbolism. If, as we suggest, this representation can be added to that in the Athenian document, we now have testimonies of two different local adaptations of a Phoenician theme at the two ends of the Mediterranean oikoumene between the archaic and late classical periods.

Open Access
In: Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions
Author:

Abstract

No myth about the origin of writing is known so far for Mesopotamia (only a legend). By applying the new Hylistic methodology for research into mythology, the first known myth of the creation of writing can be reconstructed. The myth we call Nissaba Creates Writing for the Sacred Song of Enlil narrates the creation of writing, which serves to immortalise the divine song at the very moment when the supreme god is creating it orally.

Results of this investigation bear important implications for two phenomena, concerning sacred texts and the origin of writing. (1) From an emic perspective, texts created by the gods turn out to be sacred, even numinous, in their conception. Further analysis of the subscript “Nissaba praise!” or of the subscript ka enim-ma, the latter properly understood as “wording of the divine words,” demonstrates that many Sumerian and Akkadian texts were indeed regarded as sacred texts. Ancient Mesopotamia thus proves to be a culture based on sacred texts. (2) The myth Nissaba Creates Writing for the Sacred Song of Enlil sheds new light on the origins of writing as perceived from the culture of the inventors of writing: the decisive function of the creation of writing was seen not in overcoming economic challenges, but in coping with ritual needs. Re-examining the historical evidence from this perspective opens up new possibilities for a cultural history of the origins of writing.

Open Access
In: Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions
Author:

Abstract

This essay responds to the four essays concerning the portrays of Mary Magdalene in film and television for the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus.

Open Access
In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
In: A Handbook of the Aramaic Scrolls from the Qumran Caves