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As allegiance to Jesus Christ spread across the Roman Empire in the second century, writings, practices, ideas erupted in a creative maelstrom. Many of the patterns of practice and belief that later become normative emerged, in the midst of debate and argument with neighbours who shared or who rejected that allegiance. Authoritative texts, principles of argument, attitudes to received authority, the demands of allegiance in the face of opposition, identifying who belonged and who did not, all demanded attention. These essays explore those divergent voices, and the no-less diverse and lively debates thay have inspired in recent scholarship.
This series fosters the exegesis of biblical texts through engagement with Eastern Orthodox interpretive traditions. This focus includes historical analysis, as well as critical reflection on Eastern patristics, ancient philosophy, Orthodox liturgical and artistic practice, and modern Orthodox theologians to stimulate theological interpretation.
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 these 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.