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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.
Three Introductions to Psalms on Poetry, Translation, and Music by Joel Bril (Berlin 1791). A Bilingual Edition, translated with Commentary and an Introduction
This annotated bilingual edition presents to readers for the first time a key Hebrew book of Jewish Enlightenment. Printed in Berlin in 1791, Joel Bril’s Hebrew introductions to Psalms constitute the earliest interpretation of Moses Mendelssohn’s language philosophy, translation theory, and aesthetics. In his introductions, Mendelssohn emerges as a critic of Maimonides who located eternal felicity not in union with the Active Intellect but in the aesthetic experience of the divine through sacred poetry. Bril’s theoretical insights, the broad range of his myriad textual sources, and his linguistic innovations make the Book of the Songs of Israel a touchstone of modern Hebrew literary theory and Jewish thought.
This is the story of the great and final city of John’s Revelation. Plumbing the first three centuries of Christian literature, this careful narrative highlights the early significance of one of the most influential, evocative, and controversial images in Christian scripture. Chronicling how dozens of early writers, from Justin and Irenaeus to Origen, Victorinus, and the Montanists imagined and applied the coming New Jerusalem, the study demonstrates how the city, regardless of its myriad and often competing interpretations, always pointed to the highest possible union of God and humanity both here and now and in the age to come.
These last three books of Josephus’s Antiquities detail Jewish history between the establishment of direct Roman rule in Judea in 6 CE and the outbreak of the Judean rebellion against Rome in 66—a rebellion that culminated in 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. Along the way, these books also constitute the main source for the context in which Christianity was born. This volume offers a translation of Josephus’s Greek text, along with a commentary that aims to clarify the history to which Josephus testifies and also its meaning for him as an exiled Jerusalemite and rebel-turned-historian.