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Volume Editors: Samuel Adams, Greg Goering, and Matthew J. Goff
In Sirach and Its Contexts an international cohort of experts on the book of Sirach locate this second-century BCE Jewish wisdom text in its various contexts: literary, historical, philosophical, textual, cultural, and political. First compiled by a Jewish sage around 185 BCE, this instruction enjoyed a vibrant ongoing reception history through the middle ages up to the present, resulting in a multiform textual tradition as it has been written, rewritten, transmitted, and studied. Sirach was not composed as a book in the modern sense but rather as an ongoing stream of tradition. Heretofore studied largely in confessional settings as part of the Deuterocanonical literature, this volume brings together essays that take a broadly humanistic approach, in order to understand what an ancient wisdom text can teach us about the pursuit of wisdom and human flourishing.
Essays on the Deuteronomistic History, Chronicles, and Ezra-Nehemiah
Shortly before his untimely death Gary Knoppers prepared a number of articles on the historical books in the Hebrew Bible for this volume. Many had not previously been published and the others were heavily revised. They combine a fine attention to historical method with sensitivity for literary-critical analysis, constructive use of classical as well as other sources for comparative evidence, and wide-ranging attention to economic, social, religious, and political circumstances relating in particular to the Persian and early Hellenistic periods. Knoppers advances many new suggestions about significant themes in these texts, about how they relate one to another, and about the light they shed on the various communities’ self-consciousness at a time when new religious identities were being forged.
Author: Rami Schwartz

Abstract

This article analyzes the portrayal of the matriarch Sarah in the fifth-century Palestinian rabbinic midrash Genesis Rabbah. The midrash not only dedicates a large number of derashot to the matriarch, but it repeatedly depicts her as a model of personal and religious excellence. In order to understand this development, I turn my attention to the portrayal of Sarah in the works of Origen of Alexandria. Continuing New Testament themes, Origen presents her as the spiritual mother of Christianity and a prefiguration of Jesus’ mother Mary. Various textual and thematic parallels help demonstrate that the rabbis were both aware of this rhetoric and responded to it. Based on this, I conclude that the rabbis used their portrayal of Sarah to combat the Christian appropriation of the matriarch on the one hand, and to establish her as a Jewish alternative to the Virgin Mary on the other.

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
Author: Matan Orian

Abstract

Within the Herodian temenos in Jerusalem, a warning inscription prohibited non-Jews, under penalty of death, from proceeding any further inward. This was mounted on a low stone balustrade that encircled an area larger than the actual holy ground. As suggested in research, the underlying pentateuchal law for the inscription was הזר הקרב יומת, “the unauthorized encroacher shall be put to death.” The subjection of gentiles to this law, in particular, and its application even when they had not, de facto, trespassed on holy ground remain, however, unexplained. The article suggests that the inscription applied הזר הקרב יומת to a זר, in the sense of “a foreigner,” who merely קרב, “draws near” to sacred ground. A further suggestion is that this reading and implementation of the biblical law reflects a preemptive endeavor to blunt Jewish objection to a major cultic innovation by Herod: granting gentiles access to the Jerusalem temenos.

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
Volume Editors: René Brouwer and Emmanuele Vimercati
This volume, edited by René Brouwer and Emmanuele Vimercati, deals with the debate about fate, providence and free will in the early Imperial age. This debate is rekindled in the 1st century CE during emperor Augustus’ rule and ends in the 3rd century CE with Plotinus and Origen, when the different positions in the debate were more or less fully developed. The book aims to show how in this period the notions of fate, providence and freedom were developed and debated, not only within and between the main philosophical schools, that is Stoicism, Aristotelianism, and Platonism, but also in the interaction with other, “religious” movements, here understood in the general sense of groups of people sharing beliefs in and worship of (a) superhuman controlling power(s), such as Gnosticism, Hermetism as well as Judaism and Christianity.