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Empire and Religion

Religious Change in Greek Cities under Roman Rule

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Edited by Elena Muñiz Grijalvo, Juan Manuel Cortés Copete and Fernando Lozano Gomez

This volume explores the nature of religious change in the Greek-speaking cities of the Roman Empire. Emphasis is put on those developments that apparently were not the direct result of Roman actions: the intensification of idiosyncratically Greek features in the religious life of the cities (Heller, Muñiz, Camia); the active role of a new kind of Hellenism in the design of imperial religious policies (Gordillo, Galimberti, Rosillo-López); or the locally different responses to central religious initiatives, and the influence of those local responses in other imperial contexts (Cortés, Melfi, Lozano, Rizakis). All the chapters try to suggest that religion in the Greek cities of the empire was both conservative and innovative, and that the ‘Roman factor’ helps to explain this apparent paradox.

Early Mesopotamian Divination Literature

Its Organizational Framework and Generative and Paradigmatic Characteristics

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Abraham Winitzer

In Early Mesopotamian Divination Literature: Its Organizational Framework and Generative and Paradigmatic Characteristics, Abraham Winitzer provides a detailed study of the Akkadian Old Babylonian (ca. 2000-1600 BC) omen collections stemming from extispicy, the most significant Mesopotamian divination technique for most of that civilization’s history. Paying close attention to these texts’ organizational structure, Winitzer details the mechanics responsible for their origins and development, and highlights key characteristics of a conceptual framework that helped reconfigure Mesopotamian divination into a literature in line with significant, new forms of literary expression from the same time. This literature, Winitzer concludes, represents an early form of scientific reasoning that began to appreciate the centrality of texts and textual interpretation in this civilization’s production, organization, and conception of knowledge.

Frederick E. Brenk on Plutarch, Religious Thinker and Biographer

“The Religious Spirit of Plutarch of Chaironeia” and “The Life of Mark Antony”

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Frederick E Brenk

Edited by Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta

The present book Frederick E. Brenk: Plutarch, Religious Thinker and Biographer, “The Religious Spirit of Plutarch of Chaironeia” and “The Life of Mark Antony” includes the updated and revised version of two seminal articles on Plutarch by F. E. Brenk published thirty years ago in ANRW. Edited by Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta, both articles cover the two sides of Plutarch’s corpus, the Lives and Moralia.

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Vaia Touna

Taking seriously critiques of historiography produced in recent decades, Vaia Touna advocates for an alternative approach to the way the past is studied. From Euripides’ tragedy Hippolytus, to the notion of voluntary associations in the Greco-Roman world, to the authenticity of traditional villages in Greece, Fabrications of the Greek Past argues that meanings (and thus identities) do not transcend time and space, and neither do they hide deep in the core of material artifacts, awaiting to be discovered by the careful interpreter. Instead, this book demonstrates that meanings are always relative to their present-day context; they are historical products created by social actors through their ever-contemporary acts of identification.



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“By disturbing the notion of an easily knowable Greek past, Touna makes an invaluable contribution to critical scholarship regarding ancient cultures and to contemporary theory about ideological uses of history.”

- Naomi Goldenberg, University of Ottawa



“From an insider to Greek tradition, expert in its modern appropriations and translations, Fabrications is an important stimulus to metatheory and self-reflexivity in the study of religion, ancient and contemporary.”

- Gerhard van den Heever, University of South Africa



“Vaia Touna expertly dissects modern discourses on the past, arguing that our contemporary interests don't just color our accounts of the past, they constitute them. A fantastic book.”

- Brent Nongbri, author of Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept

The Metaphor of the Divine as Planter of the People

Stinking Grapes or Pleasant Planting?

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Jennifer Metten Pantoja

In The Metaphor of the Divine as Planter of the People Jennifer Metten Pantoja traces the emergence of the conceptual metaphor YHWH IS THE PLANTER OF THE PEOPLE in ancient Hebrew poetry and follows its development throughout biblical history and Second Temple literature, in order to illustrate how the deep connection to the land shaped ancient thought and belief. Within this broader, primary metaphor, the complex metaphor YHWH IS THE VINTNER OF ISRAEL is also analyzed as an image predominant in the pre-exilic prophetic literature. Recent advances in cognitive linguistics, coupled with traditional historical-critical methods, as well as a survey of the material culture, work in tandem to illuminate one snapshot of ancient Israel’s conception of the divine.

Where Dreams May Come (2 vol. set)

Incubation Sanctuaries in the Greco-Roman World

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Gil Renberg

Where Dreams May Come was the winner of the 2018 Charles J . Goodwin Award of Merit, awarded by the Society for Classical Studies.

In this book, Gil H. Renberg examines the ancient religious phenomenon of “incubation", the ritual of sleeping at a divinity’s sanctuary in order to obtain a prophetic or therapeutic dream. Most prominently associated with the Panhellenic healing god Asklepios, incubation was also practiced at the cult sites of numerous other divinities throughout the Greek world, but it is first known from ancient Near Eastern sources and was established in Pharaonic Egypt by the time of the Macedonian conquest; later, Christian worship came to include similar practices. Renberg’s exhaustive study represents the first attempt to collect and analyze the evidence for incubation from Sumerian to Byzantine and Merovingian times, thus making an important contribution to religious history.

This set consists of two books.

Talmudic Transgressions

Engaging the Work of Daniel Boyarin

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Edited by Charlotte Fonrobert, Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Aharon Shemesh and Moulie Vidas

Talmudic Transgressions is a collection of essays on rabbinic literature and related fields in response to the boundary-pushing scholarship of Daniel Boyarin. This work is an attempt to transgress boundaries in various ways, since boundaries differentiate social identities, literary genres, legal practices, or diasporas and homelands. These essays locate the transgressive not outside the classical traditions but in these traditions themselves, having learned from Boyarin that it is often within the tradition and in its terms that we can find challenges to accepted notions of knowledge, text, and ethnic or gender identity. The sections of this volume attempt to mirror this diverse set of topics.


Contributors include Julia Watts Belser, Jonathan Boyarin, Shamma Boyarin, Virginia Burrus, Sergey Dolgopolski, Charlotte E. Fonrobert, Simon Goldhill, Erich S. Gruen, Galit Hasan-Rokem, Christine Hayes, Adi Ophir, James Redfield, Elchanan Reiner, Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Lena Salaymeh, Zvi Septimus, Aharon Shemesh, Dina Stein, Eliyahu Stern, Moulie Vidas, Barry Scott Wimpfheimer, Elliot R. Wolfson, Azzan Yadin-Israel, Israel Yuval, and Froma Zeitlin.

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N.J.C. Kouwenberg

A Grammar of Old Assyrian describes the language contained in a very large corpus of cuneiform tablets mainly found in Anatolia in the middle of Turkey and dating to ca 1900-1700 BC. These tablets come from the archives of a community of Assyrian merchants who conducted a long-distance trade between Assyria and Anatolia and eventually settled in Anatolia. Alongside Babylonian, Assyrian is one of the main branches of Akkadian, the Semitic language spoken in Mesopotamia (roughly present-day Iraq) in the third, second and first millennium BC, and Old Assyrian is its oldest attested stage. Old Assyrian is also one of the oldest and largest corpora of texts in any Semitic language.

Synagogues in the Works of Flavius Josephus

Rhetoric, Spatiality, and First-Century Jewish Institutions

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Andrew R. Krause

In Synagogues in the Works of Flavius Josephus, Andrew Krause analyses the place of the synagogue within the cultural and spatial rhetoric of Flavius Josephus. Engaging with both rhetorical critical methods and critical spatial theories, Krause argues that in his later writings Josephus portrays the Jewish institutions as an important aspect of the post-Temple, pan-diasporic Judaism that he creates. Specifically, Josephus consistently treats the synagogue as a supra-local rallying point for the Jews throughout the world, in which the Jewish customs and Law may be practiced and disseminated following the loss of the Temple and the Land. Conversely, in his earliest extant work, Bellum judaicum, Josephus portrays synagogues as local temples in order to condemn the Jewish insurgents who violated them.

From Jesus to his First Followers: Continuity and Discontinuity

Anthropological and Historical Perspectives

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Adriana Destro and Mauro Pesce

From Jesus to His First Followers examines to what extent early Christian groups were in continuity or discontinuity with respect to Jesus. Adriana Destro and Mauro Pesce concentrate on the transformation of religious practices. Their anthropological-historical analysis focuses on the relations between discipleship and households, on the models of contact with the supernatural world, and on cohabitation among distinct religious groups. The book highlights how Matthew uses non-Jewish instruments of legitimation, John reformulates religious experiences through symbolized domestic slavery, Paul adopts a religious practice diffused in Roman-Hellenistic environments. The book reconstructs the map of early Christian groups in the Land of Israel and explains their divergences on the basis of an original theory of the local origin of Gospels’ information.