As a result of Abraham Ibn Ezra’s increasing popularity after his death, there were repeated waves of translation of collections of his Hebrew astrological treatises into Latin and into the emerging European vernaculars. A study of these versions affords us a golden opportunity to shed light on a significant missing link in our knowledge of Ibn Ezra’s astrological oeuvre. The present volume offers the first critical edition, accompanied by an English translation, a commentary, and an introductory study, of three Latin texts on the astrological doctrines of elections and interrogations, written by or attributed to Abraham Ibn Ezra: the
Liber electionum, the
Liber interrogationum, and the
Strategies of Persuasion in Herodotus’ Histories
and Genesis–Kings, Eva Tyrell comparatively analyzes narrative means in two monumental ancient texts about the past. Combining a narratological approach with insights of modern historical theory and biblical scholarship, she investigates patterns of narrative persuasion as a trans-cultural phenomenon and their connection with ancient concepts of reality and truth. The study contrasts differences in fundamental narrative structures of both narratives, such as mediacy and discursive versus diegetic text portions. It explores the role of material remains mentioned in the accounts to evoke or even create the reality of a past.
On the Life of Abraham displays Philo’s philosophical, exegetical, and literary genius at its best. Philo begins by introducing the biblical figures Enos, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as unwritten laws. Then, interweaving literal, ethical, and allegorical interpretations, Philo presents the life and achievements of Abraham, founder of the Jewish nation, in the form of a Greco-Roman bios, or biography. Ellen Birnbaum and John Dillon explain why and how this work is important within the context of Philo’s own oeuvre, early Jewish and Christian exegesis, and ancient philosophy. They also offer a new English translation and detailed analyses, in which they elucidate the meaning of Philo’s thought, including his perplexing notion that Israel’s ancestors were laws in themselves.
Uncovering Jewish Creativity in Book III of the Sibylline oracles, Ashley L. Bacchi reclaims the importance of the Sibyl as a female voice of prophecy and reveals new layers of intertextual references that address political, cultural, and religious dialogue in second-century Ptolemaic Egypt. This investigation stands apart from prior examinations by reorienting the discussion around the desirability of the pseudonym to an issue of gender. It questions the impact of identifying the author’s message with a female prophetic figure and challenges the previous identification of paraphrased Greek oracles and their function within the text. Verses previously seen as anomalous are transferred from the role of Greek subterfuge of Jewish identity to offering nuanced support of monotheistic themes.
Early Christians Adapting to the Roman Empire: Mutual Recognition Niko Huttunen challenges the interpretation of early Christian texts as anti-imperial documents. He presents examples of the positive relationship between early Christians and the Roman society. With the concept of “recognition” Huttunen describes a situation in which the parties can come to terms with each other without full agreement. Huttunen provides examples of non-Christian philosophers recognizing early Christians. He claims that recognition was a response to Christians who presented themselves as philosophers. Huttunen reads Romans 13 as a part of the ancient tradition of the law of the stronger. His pioneering study on early Christian soldiers uncovers the practical dimension of recognizing the empire.
What, in Matthew’s view, should a human being become and how does one attain that ideal? In
The Sermon on the Mount and Spiritual Exercises: The Making of the Matthean Self, George Branch-Trevathan presents a new account of Matthew’s ethics and argues that the evangelist presents the Sermon on the Mount as functioning like many other ancient sayings collections, that is, as facilitating transformative work on oneself, or “spiritual exercises,” that enable one to realize the evangelist’s ideals. The conclusion suggests some implications for our understanding of ethical formation in antiquity and the study of ethics more generally. This will be an essential volume for scholars studying the Gospel of Matthew, early Christian ethics, the relationships between early Christian and ancient philosophical writings, or ethical formation in antiquity.
Chapter six, the conclusion, summarizes the results of chapters one through five and presents the study’s implications for our understanding of Matthew’s ethics, the history of self-transformation in antiquity, and the study of ethics more generally.
The introductory chapter names the general question the book will engage (How do people become able to realize ethical ideals?) and the specific text it will study (the Gospel of Matthew from the New Testament). It explains that the work will focus on Matthew because while that gospel is widely considered ethically formative, descriptions of how it is formative remain vague and that, to offer a more precise description of how Matthew portrays ethical formation, it will examine the gospel’s depiction of regimented practices, specifically its depiction of the function of the sayings collection that constitutes chapters 5–7, the Sermon on the Mount.
Chapters three, four, and five argue that evidence comparable to that for the Kyriai Doxai and the Encheiridion exists for Matt 5–7 and that therefore it is reasonable to conclude that Matthew portrays the Sermon on the Mount as the basis for spiritual exercises intended to transform practitioners into the moral ideal articulated in Matthew’s gospel. Chapters three and four describe Matthew’s character ethic, or ideal self, chapter three by tracing this gospel’s use of the metaphor of trees and their fruits for the source of conduct and conduct itself and showing that particular inward traits and states make right actions possible and that right intentions must accompany those actions.
Chapter four examines Matthew’s treatment of purity in 15:1–20, eschatological preparation and judgment in chs. 24–5, and hypocrisy throughout the gospel and finds in these passages the same ethic that animated the metaphor of trees and their fruits studied in chapter three. Together chapters three and four show that Matthew’s narrative idealizes the person who is humble enough to repent and, in turn, become Jesus’ disciple and who maintains the imperturbability and perspective necessary to persist in doing the good deeds God wills and will repay and the right intentions required to make those deeds truly good. They show that Matthew idealizes proper interiority.