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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.
Proceedings of the Sixteenth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, Cosponsored by the University of Vienna, New York University, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and the Israel Museum
The Sixteenth Orion Symposium celebrated seventy years of Dead Sea Scrolls research under the theme, “Clear a path in the wilderness!” (Isaiah 40:3). Papers use the wilderness rubric to address the self-identification of the Qumran group; dimensions of religious experience reflected in the Dead Sea writings; biblical interpretation as shaper and conveyor of that experience; the significance of the Qumran texts for critical biblical scholarship; points of contact with the early Jesus movement; and new developments in understanding the archaeology of the Qumran caves. The volume both honors past insights and charts new paths for the future of Qumran studies.
A Historiographical Analysis of Autobiographical Discourse in the Judaean War
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The Jewish War describes the history of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66-70 CE). This study deals with one of this work's most intriguing features: why and how Flavius Josephus, its author, describes his own actions in the context of this conflict in such detail. Glas traces the thematic and rhetorical aspects of autobiographical discourse in War and uses contextual evidence to situate Josephus’ self-characterisation in a Flavian Roman setting. In doing so, he sheds new light on this Jewish writer’s historiographical methods and his deep knowledge and creative use of Graeco-Roman culture.
In this volume, Rey and Reymond offer a new critical edition of all the Hebrew manuscripts of Ben Sira from the Cairo Genizah and Dead Sea Scrolls (including the so-called Rhyming Paraphrase). Manuscripts are presented independently to preserve their unique qualities and to emphasize the text’s pluriformity. Readers will discover numerous new readings and restorations, explained in detailed notes, that illustrate Ben Sira’s complex textual composition. French and English translations together with a philological commentary help elucidate the sometimes obscure sense of the Hebrew. This work will form the foundation for future work on the book of Ben Sira.
Two millennia ago, the Jewish priest-turned-general Flavius Josephus, captured by the emperor Vespasian in the middle of the Roman-Jewish War (66–70 CE), spent the last several decades of his life in Rome writing several historiographical works in Greek. Josephus was eagerly read and used by Christian thinkers, but eventually his writings became the basis for the early-10th century Hebrew text called Sefer Yosippon, reintegrating Josephus into the Jewish tradition. This volume marks the first edited collection to be dedicated to the study of Josephus, Yosippon, and their reception histories. Consisting of critical inquiries into one or both of these texts and their afterlives, the essays in this volume pave the way for future research on the Josephan tradition in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and beyond.

Abstract

Written soon after the battle of Panium, the letter of Antiochus III to Ptolemy son of Thraseas is a central piece of evidence in any reconstruction of the Ptolemaic-Seleucid transition in the Southern Levant. Its preservation in Josephus’ Antiquities raises questions of transmission and authenticity that are here discussed in some detail. The article also considers wider questions pertaining to the use of this document as an exemplary source illustrating Seleucid rule in this region and beyond: is what we have here unusual or standard practice? What can we learn about the image of the king, his enemies and his administrative apparatus that was projected to subjects? And can the document shed important light on royal interaction with non-polis communities, as has often been argued?

Open Access
In: Journal of Ancient Judaism

Abstract

The book of Baruch describes a set of penitential rituals ostensibly established early in the exilic period to be performed by worshipping assemblies in Babylon and Jerusalem. Prominence is assigned to the ceremonial recitation of a book composed by Baruch in Babylon, which becomes the basis of a letter sent by the exiles to the priests in Jerusalem for use in temple liturgies (1:1–14). As they hear the first part of the book (1:15–3:8), worshippers develop reflexive modes of awareness as they encounter various configurations of time and space, thereby performing exilic subjectivities through which they internalize “prosthetic” memories of loss, subjugation, and disaffection.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism

Abstract

The article analyzes the names of the Hebrew planets, as transmitted by Epiphanius (4th century C.E.). The names for Sun, Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn are self-evident, but the names for Mars, Venus, and Mercury are more difficult to ascertain. The article engages in philological analysis in an effort to elucidate the underlying Hebrew forms of the terms written in Greek characters. Since these forms are not the ones used in rabbinic literature, the author further suggests that these terms may reflect a non-rabbinic stream of Judaism in late antiquity.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
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Abstract

This article analyzes the proclamation of Antiochus III concerning the temple and city of Jerusalem, quoted in Ant. 12.145–46, in light of three sets of evidence: Greek comparative materials from the broader Mediterranean world; biblical and Second Temple writings; and archaeological remains from Hellenistic Jerusalem, especially those that attest to the presence of non-sacrificial animals in the city. The evidence suggests that Ant. 12.145–46 preserves traces of an authentic proclamation, written in the style of a Greek ritual norm and probably with royal backing. We should not conclude from this, however, that the proclamation reflects the reality of how all Jews in Jerusalem conceptualized the purity of the temple and their obligations when butchering and tanning their animals within the city. I rather argue for a more complex interpretive approach that views royal edicts as fueling local debates surrounding temple purity, the sacred economy, and priestly prerogatives in Hellenistic Jerusalem.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Judaism and Spatiality in Hasmonean and Herodian Galilee
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We understand the world around us in terms of built spaces. Such spaces are shaped by human activity, and in turn, affect how people live. Through an analysis of archaeological and textual evidence from the beginnings of Hasmonean influence in Galilee, until the outbreak of the First Jewish War against Rome, this book explores how Judaism was socially expressed: bodily, communally, and regionally. Within each expression, certain aspects of Jewish identity operate, these being purity conceptions, communal gatherings, and Galilee's relationship with the Hasmoneans, Jerusalem, and the Temple in its final days.