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In the treatise On the Change of Names (part of his magnum opus, the Allegorical Commentary), Philo of Alexandria brings his figurative exegesis of the Abraham cycle to its fruition. Taking a cue from Platonist interpreters of Homer’s Odyssey, Philo reads Moses’s story of Abraham as an account of the soul’s progress and perfection. Responding to contemporary critics, who mocked Genesis 17 as uninspired, Philo finds instead a hidden philosophical reflection on the ineffability of the transcendent God, the transformation of souls which recognize their mortal nothingness, the possibility of human faith enabled by peerless faithfulness of God, and the fruit of moral perfection: joy divine, prefigured in the birth of Isaac.
A Historiographical Analysis of Autobiographical Discourse in the Judaean War
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The Jewish War describes the history of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66-70 CE). This study deals with one of this work's most intriguing features: why and how Flavius Josephus, its author, describes his own actions in the context of this conflict in such detail. Glas traces the thematic and rhetorical aspects of autobiographical discourse in War and uses contextual evidence to situate Josephus’ self-characterisation in a Flavian Roman setting. In doing so, he sheds new light on this Jewish writer’s historiographical methods and his deep knowledge and creative use of Graeco-Roman culture.
Judaism and Spatiality in Hasmonean and Herodian Galilee
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We understand the world around us in terms of built spaces. Such spaces are shaped by human activity, and in turn, affect how people live. Through an analysis of archaeological and textual evidence from the beginnings of Hasmonean influence in Galilee, until the outbreak of the First Jewish War against Rome, this book explores how Judaism was socially expressed: bodily, communally, and regionally. Within each expression, certain aspects of Jewish identity operate, these being purity conceptions, communal gatherings, and Galilee's relationship with the Hasmoneans, Jerusalem, and the Temple in its final days.
Martin Goodman’s forty years of scholarship in Roman history and ancient Judaism demonstrates how each discipline illuminates the other: Jewish history makes best sense in a broader Greco-Roman context; Roman history has much to learn from Jewish sources and evidence.
In this volume, Martin’s colleagues and students follow his example by examining Jews and non-Jews in mutual contemplation. Part 1 explores Jews’ views of inter-communal stasis, the causes of the Bar Kochba revolt, tales of Herodian intrigue, and the meaning of “Israel.” Part 2 investigates Jews depiction of outsiders: Moabites, Greeks, Arabs, and Roman authorities. Part 3 explores early Christians’ (Luke, Jerome, Rufinus, Syriac poetry, Pionius, ordinary individuals) views of Jews and use of Jewish sources, and Josephus’s relevance for girls in 19th century Britain.
Essays on the Comparative Study of Jewish and Christian Parables
The Power of Parables documents the surprising ways in which Jewish and Christian parables bridge religion with daily life. This 2019 conference volume rediscovers the original power of parables to shock and affect their audience, which has since been reduced by centuries of preaching and repetition. Not only do parables enhance the perspective on Scripture or the kingdom of heaven, they also change the sensory regime of the audience in perceiving the outer world. The theological differences in their applications appear secondary in view of their powerful rhetoric and suggest a shared genre.
The powerful poetry of the Hebrew Psalms articulates a unique range of experience, even in translation. They explore the deepest concerns of individuals and communities. They are central to the performance of religion for both Jews and Christians. New discoveries, such as the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, have transformed our view of their role in Judaism, as has modern re-evaluation of the complicated relationship between Judaism and Christianity. Here a group of leading scholars sheds fresh light on the uses of the Psalms in post-biblical Jewish life in a multi-cultural world.
Reading Josephus’ Antiquities through Plutarch’s Lives
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Josephus’ Antiquities introduces Moses as the Jewish lawgiver, adapting the biblical account for a new audience. But who was that audience, and what did they understand by the term lawgiver (νομοθέτης)? This book uses Plutarch’s Lives as a proxy for an imagined audience, providing a historically grounded but flexible model of a lawgiver, against which some of the otherwise invisible forces shaping Josephus’ choices are thrown into sharp relief. This method reveals patterns of appeal and challenge in Josephus’ intriguing and lively account of Moses’ legislative activities.
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Edwards explores how Josephus in Antiquities adapts the scriptural stories of Joseph and Esther in unexpected ways as models for accounts of more recent Jewish figures. Terming this practice “subversive adaptation,” Edwards contextualizes it within Greco-Roman literary culture and employs the concept of “discourses of exemplarity” to show how Josephus used narratives about past figures to engage Roman elites in moral reflection and pragmatic decision-making. This book supplies analysis of frequently overlooked accounts as well as Josephus’ broader literary strategies, and shows how ancient Jews appropriated imperial historiographical conventions and forms of discourse while countering Greco-Roman claims of cultural superiority.