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Edited by Alan Avery-Peck, Craig A. Evans and Jacob Neusner

Twenty-two essays, written by top scholars in the fields of early Christianity and Judaism, focus on methodological issues, earliest Christianity in its Judaic setting, Gospel studies, and history and meaning in later Christianity. These essays honor Bruce Chilton, recognizing his seminal contribution to the study of earliest Christianity in its Judaic setting. Chilton’s scholarship has established innovative approaches to reconstructing the life of Jesus, a Jew whose religious ideology developed and therefore must be understood within the Judaism of the first centuries. Following upon Chilton’s approaches and insights, the essays collected here illustrate the centrality of the literatures of early Judaism to the critical exegesis of the New Testament and other writings of early Christianity.

The Book of Conviviality in Exile (Kitāb al-īnās bi-ʾl-jalwa)

The Judaeo-Arabic Translation and Commentary of Saadia Gaon on the Book of Esther

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Michael G. Wechsler

This volume presents a critical edition of the Judaeo-Arabic translation and commentary on the book of Esther by Saadia Gaon (882–942). This edition, accompanied by an introduction and extensively annotated English translation, affords access to the first-known personalized, rationalistic Jewish commentary on this biblical book. Saadia innovatively organizes the biblical narrative—and his commentary thereon—according to seven “guidelines” that provide a practical blueprint by which Israel can live as an abased people under Gentile dominion. Saadia’s prodigious acumen and sense of communal solicitude find vivid expression throughout his commentary in his carefully-defined structural and linguistic analyses, his elucidative references to a broad range of contemporary socio-religious and vocational realia, his anti-Karaite polemics, and his attention to various issues, both psychological and practical, attending Jewish-Gentile conviviality in a 10th-century Islamicate milieu.

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Walter Homolka

Historical Jesus research, Jewish or Christian, is marked by the search for origins and authenticity. The various Quests for the Historical Jesus contributed to a crisis of identity within Western Christianity. The result was a move “back to the Jewish roots!”
For Jewish scholars it was a means to position Jewry within a dominantly Christian culture. As a consequence, Jews now feel more at ease to relate to Jesus as a Jew.
For Walter Homolka the Christian challenge now is to formulate a new Christology: between a Christian exclusivism that denies the universality of God, and a pluralism that endangers the specificity of the Christian understanding of God and the uniqueness of religious traditions, including that of Christianity.

Fighting Over the Bible

Jewish Interpretation, Sectarianism and Polemic from Temple to Talmud and Beyond

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Isaac Kalimi

Fighting over the Bible explores the bitter conflicts between main stream Jews and their internal and external opponents, especially between particular Jewish groups such as Pharisees, Sadducees, Qumranites, Samaritans, Rabbanites and Karaites, as well as with Christians and Muslims regarding their interpretations of Jewish Scripture. The Hebrew Bible/Old Testament is an important sacred text for all branches of the Abrahamic faiths, but it has more often divided than unified them. This volume explores and exemplifies the roots of these interpretive conflicts and controversies and traces the rich exegetical and theological approaches that grew out of them. Focusing on the Jewish sources from the late Second Temple period through the high Middle-Ages, it illustrates how the study of the Bible filled the vacuum left by the Temple’s destruction, and became the foundation of Jewish life throughout its long conflicted history.

"This is a rich and engaging volume, one of impressive erudition and sound scholarship. It demonstrates a deep understanding of the history that it seeks to unravel and document. I especially appreciate the attention given to primary sources in their original languages (usually accompanied by English translation) and the balanced and fair-minded handling of controversial issues." - Richard A. Taylor, DTS (Dallas Theological Seminary) Voice, 2017