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.
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

Abstract

This study investigates the Agrippesioi and Augustesioi synagogues of ancient Rome. Known from inscriptions found primarily in the Monteverde Catacombs, the synagogues are conventionally dated to the first century CE. Common opinion is that they were named directly after Marcus Agrippa and the emperor Augustus, both of whom, it is thought, played some part in founding the synagogues. Based on the chronology of the catacombs and the inscriptions, I assign the synagogues to the third and fourth centuries. Taking into account the linguistic and epigraphic comparanda of that period, I argue that the synagogue names were toponyms. They signaled where in Rome the Jewish synagogues were. The analysis has further implications for the history and social setting of Roman Jews. Like other groups at the time, they were identifying themselves based on areas or features in the late antique urban landscape that had been associated with Agrippa and Augustus for centuries.

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism

Abstract

This article examines Judith’s prayer in chapter 9 of the book of Judith from the perspective of the guidelines on speech-in-character found in Aelius Theon’s Progymnasmata (mid/end of the first century CE). According to the guidelines, it is important for an author of prose to achieve correspondence between the literary persona and the actual speech-in-character. This article examines the extent to which Judith’s prayer in chapter 9 observes Theon’s guidelines, as well as the theological implications of this.

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism

Abstract

Josephus offers one of our most extensive sources for the study of ancient Judaism, and his treatment of the Samaritans is no exception. In this article, I synchronize attention to Josephus’ representations of Samaritans with the turn in Biblical Studies and Jewish Studies towards the contestation of ancient “Israel” throughout antiquity. First, I argue that we see more clearly how Josephus actively constructs Samaritan identity by comparison to shared contestation of Israelite genealogy and geography in the Martyrdom of Isaiah, 4 Baruch, Pseudo-Philo, and Megillat Taʿanit. Second, I suggest that such an approach develops an alternative way to write ancient Jewish history with Josephus, incorporating his work into discussions of ancient Jewish self-representation beyond the choice between historical reality check or self-sustaining rhetoric.

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism