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The Religious Worldviews Reflected in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, 28–30 May, 2013

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Edited by Ruth A. Clements, Menahem Kister and Michael Segal

The Dead Sea Scrolls offer a window onto the rich theological landscape of Judaism in the Second Temple period. Through careful textual analysis, the authors of these twelve studies explore such topics as dualism and determinism, esoteric knowledge, eschatology and covenant, the nature of heaven and / or the divine, moral agency, and more; as well as connections between concepts expressed in the Qumran corpus and in later Jewish and Christian literature. The religious worldviews reflected in the Scrolls constitute part of the ideological environment of Second Temple Judaism; the analysis of these texts is essential for the reconstruction of that milieu. Taken together, these studies indicate the breadth and depth of theological reflection in the Second Temple period.

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Naomi S.S. Jacobs

In Delicious Prose: Reading the Tale of Tobit with Food and Drink, Naomi S.S. Jacobs explores how the numerous references to food, drink, and their consumption within The Book of Tobit help tell its story, promote righteous deeds and encourage resistance against a hostile dominant culture. Jacobs’ commentary includes up-to-date analyses of issues of translation, text-criticism, source criticism, redaction criticism, and issues of class and gender. Jacobs situates Tobit within a wide range of ancient writings sacred to Jews and Christians as well as writings and customs from the Ancient Near East, Ugarit, Greece, Rome, including a treasure trove of information about ancient foodways and medicine.

The Authority of Law in the Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism

Tracing the Origins of Legal Obligation from Ezra to Qumran

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Jonathan Vroom

In The Authority of Law in the Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism, Vroom identifies a development in the authority of written law that took place in early Judaism. Ever since Assyriologists began to recognize that the Mesopotamian law collections did not function as law codes do today—as a source of binding obligation—scholars have grappled with the question of when the Pentateuchal legal corpora came to be treated as legally binding. Vroom draws from legal theory to provide a theoretical framework for understanding the nature of legal authority, and develops a methodology for identifying instances in which legal texts were treated as binding law by ancient interpreters. This method is applied to a selection of legal-interpretive texts: Ezra-Nehemiah, Temple Scroll, the Qumran rule texts, and the Samaritan Pentateuch.

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Anthony Keddie

In Revelations of Ideology, G. Anthony Keddie proposes a new theory of the social function of Judaean apocalyptic texts produced in Early Roman Palestine (63 BCE–70 CE). In contrast to evaluations of Jewish and early Christian apocalyptic texts as “literature of the oppressed” or literature of resistance against empire, Keddie demonstrates that scribes produced apocalyptic texts to advance ideologies aimed at self-legitimation. By revealing that their opponents constituted an exploitative class, scribes generated apocalyptic ideologies that situated them in the same exploited class as their constituents. Through careful historical and ideological criticism of the Psalms of Solomon, Parables of Enoch, Testament of Moses, and Q source, Keddie identifies an internally diverse tradition of apocalyptic class rhetoric in late Second Temple Judaism.

Waters of the Exodus

Jewish Experiences with Water in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt

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Nathalie LaCoste

In Waters of the Exodus, Nathalie LaCoste examines the Diasporic Jewish community in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt and their relationship to the hydric environment. By focusing on four retellings of the exodus narrative composed by Egyptian Jews—Artapanus, Ezekiel the Tragedian, Wisdom of Solomon, and Philo of Alexandria—she lays out how the hydric environment of Egypt, and specifically the Nile river, shaped the transmission of the exodus story. Mapping these observations onto the physical landscape of Egypt provides a new perspective on the formation of Jewish communities in Egypt.

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Matthew S. Goldstone

In The Dangerous Duty of Rebuke Matthew Goldstone explores the ways in which religious leaders within early Jewish and Christian communities conceived of the obligation to rebuke their fellows based upon the biblical verse: “Rebuke your fellow but do not incur sin” (Leviticus 19:17). Analyzing texts from the Bible through the Talmud and late Midrashim as well as early Christian monastic writings, he exposes a shift from asking how to rebuke in the Second Temple and early Christian period, to whether one can rebuke in early rabbinic texts, to whether one should rebuke in later rabbinic and monastic sources. Mapping these observations onto shifting sociological concerns, this work offers a new perspective on the nature of interpersonal responsibility in antiquity.

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Lindsey A. Askin

In Scribal Culture in Ben Sira Lindsey A. Askin examines scribal culture as a framework for analysing features of textual referencing throughout the Book of Ben Sira (c.198-175 BCE), revealing new insights into how Ben Sira wrote his book of wisdom. Although the title of “scribe” is regularly applied to Ben Sira, this designation presents certain interpretive challenges. Through comparative analysis, Askin contextualizes the sage’s compositional style across historical, literary, and socio-cultural spheres of operation. New light is shed on Ben Sira’s text and early Jewish textual reuse. Drawing upon physical and material evidence of reading and writing, Askin reveals the dexterity and complexity of Ben Sira’s sustained textual reuse. Ben Sira’s achievement thus demonstrates exemplary, “excellent” writing to a receptive audience.

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Edited by Ariel Feldman, Maria Cioată and Charlotte Hempel

This volume is offered as a tribute to George Brooke to mark his sixty-fifth birthday. It has been conceived as a coherent contribution to the question of textuality in the Dead Sea Scrolls explored from a wide range of perspectives. These include material aspects of the texts, performance, reception, classification, scribal culture, composition, reworking, form and genre, and the issue of the extent to which any of the texts relate (to) social realities in the Second Temple period. Almost every contribution engages with Brooke’s own remarkably wide-ranging, incisive, and innovative research on the Scrolls. The twenty-eight contributors are colleagues and students of the honouree and include leading scholars alongside promising new voices from across the field.

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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Edited by Koert van Bekkum, Jaap Dekker, Henk R. van den Kamp and Eric Peels

Since ancient times Leviathan and other monsters from the biblical world symbolize the life-threatening powers in nature and history. They represent the dark aspects of human nature and political entities and reveal the supernatural dimensions of evil. Ancient texts and pictures regarding these monsters reflect an environment of polytheism and religious pluralism. Remarkably, however, the biblical writings and post-biblical traditions use these venerated symbols in portraying God as being sovereign over the entire universe, a theme that is also prominent in the reception of these texts in subsequent contexts.
This volume explores this tension and elucidates the theological and cultural meaning of ‘Leviathan’ by studying its ancient Near Eastern background and its attestation in biblical texts, early and rabbinic Judaism, Christian theology, Early Modern art, and film.