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Simon the High Priest in Sirach 50

An Exegetical Study of the Significance of Simon the High Priest as Climax to the Praise of the Fathers in Ben Sira's Concept of the History of Israel

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Otto Mulder

The present exegetical study in the Hebrew and Greek versions of Sirach 50 deals with the wisdom tradition, personified in Simon the High Priest, who is called "the Just" in the rabbinical tradition. As a genuine eyewitness Ben Sira offers proof of Simons significance in the re-building of Jerusalem as climax of the Praise of the Fathers on Rosh Hashanah. His re-writing of Israels history ends with a polemic against the legality of the Samaritan temple and a direct allusion to the author's name.
The volume examines three new pictures of the original Geniza-fragments found in 1896. The comparison of both versions provides an impressive picture of the development of Israels religion in the Second Temple period from 200-132 BCE.

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van Loon

In his previous fascicle (XV, 12) the author showed that the native Anatolian nature goddess and her son, the hunting god, remained much more popular throughout the second millennium B.C. than one might deduce from the written sources.
The present fascicle permits comparison of the iconographies of Neo-Hittites, Uratians, Phryigans, Lydians and Lycians. Inherited beliefs manifested themselves in widely differing ways. Thus the old nature goddess Kubaba or Cybele appears in the Neo-Hittite pantheon alongside many other deities; her cult among the Phyrgians, while emphasizing motherhood, seems to have been almost monotheistic.
With much information on new finds from Sardis, Gordion and easten Turkey this volume is a comprehensive survey of the religious iconography of Anatolia on the eve of its absorption into the Hellenic world.

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Dennis Pardee

The Ugaritic ritual texts provide the only extensive documentary data for Late Bronze cultic practice in the greater Syro-Palestinian region. These texts, in a West-Semitic language that belongs to the same family as Hebrew and Aramaic, reflect the actual practice of a sacrificial cult in the city of Ugarit in the late twelfth–early eleventh centuries B.C.E. Based on new collations of the tablets, these texts and translations provide ready access to this direct witness to the form taken by one of the predecessors of the biblical sacrificial cult. In addition to the narrowly ritual texts, which were composed in prose and in a very laconic form of expression, a number of poetic texts are presented that reveal the ideological link that existed between cultic practice and the concept of royalty. While the prose ritual texts document a regular system of offerings to the great deities of the pantheon, related directly to the lunar cycle and less directly to the solar year, some of the poetic texts reveal the desire on the part of the kings of Ugarit to maintain ties with their departed ancestors. The kings saw their effective power as consisting of a continuum from the royal ancestors through to the reigning king and the passage of this power as being effected by ritual practice. More mundane concerns were also addressed ritually, such as protecting horses or other equids from snakebite, finding a cure for a sick child, or defending people from attack by sorcerers. The practice of divination at Ugarit is documented by other texts, both in the form of “manuals,” collections of omens from past practice, and in the form of accounts of real-world consultations of a divinatory priest by someone seeking guidance.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org)

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Edited by W.H. Keulen and Ulrike Egelhaaf-Gaiser

After more than three decades since the publication of Gwyn Griffiths’ 1975 commentary, which concentrated mainly on Egyptological aspects and represents an outdated, positivistic approach to the literary evidence on Isis, this new commentary presents a new and thorough assessment of Apuleius’ Isis Book, elucidating and interpreting the narrative in its literary, religious, archaeological and cultural context. Reflecting the recent innovative approach to the interaction of literature and religion (Literarisierung von Religion) and the important developments in the research on the Second Sophistic (e.g. ‘Self-fashioning’; Cultural Identity), the volume offers a new, detailed interpretation of the Isis Book in the easy-to-use form of a fully-fledged commentary, including Latin Text and monographic Introduction.

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Edited by Jeroen Temperman

Increasingly, debates about religious symbols in the public space are reformulated as human rights questions and put before national and international judges. Particularly in the area of education, legitimate interests are manifold and often collide. Children’s educational and religious rights, parental liberties vis-à-vis their children, religious traditions, state obligations in the area of public school education, the state neutrality principle, and the professional rights and duties of teachers are all principles that may warrant priority attention. Each from their own discipline and perspective––ranging from legal (human rights) scholars, (legal) philosophers, political scientists, comparative law scholars, and country-specific legal experts––these experts contribute to the question of whether in the present-day pluralist state there is room for state symbolism (e.g. crucifixes in classroom) or personal religious signs (e.g. cross necklaces or kirpans) or attire (e.g. kippahs or headscarves) in the public school classroom.

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Martti Nissinen

Prophecy was a widespread phenomenon, not only in ancient Israel but in the ancient Near East as a whole. This is the first book to gather the available ancient Near Eastern, extrabiblical sources containing prophetic words or references to prophetic activities. Among the 140 texts included in this volume are oracles of prophets, personal letters, formal inscriptions, and administrative documents from ancient Mesopotamia and Levant from the second and first millennia BCE. Most of the texts come from Mari (eighteenth century BCE) and Assyria (seventh century BCE). In addition, the volume provides new translations of the relevant section of the Egyptian Report of Wenamon, by Robert K. Ritner, and of various texts from Syria-Palestine containing allusions to prophets and prophetic activities, by C. L. Seow. By collecting and presenting evidence of the activities of prophets and the phenomenon of prophecy from all over the ancient Near East, the volume illumines the cultural background of biblical prophecy and its parallels. It provides scholars of the history, religions, and cultural traditions of the ancient Near East with important information about different types and forms of transmission of divine words, and makes these valuable primary source materials accessible to students and general readers in contemporary English along with transcriptions of the original languages, indexes, and an extensive bibliography.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org)

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Edited by Christian Frevel and Christophe Nihan

Purity is a cultural construct that had a central role in the forming and the development of religious traditions in the ancient Mediterranean. This volume analyzes concepts, practices and images associated with purity in the main cultures of Antiquity, and discusses from a comparative perspective their parallel developments and transformations. The perspective adopted is both synchronic and diachronic; the comparative approach takes into account points of contact and mutual influences, but also includes major transcultural trends. A number of renowned specialists contribute a large variety of perspectives and approaches, combining archaeology, epigraphy and social history; in addition, particular attention is given to concepts of purity in ancient Israel and early Judaism as a ‘test-case’ of sorts. Through its extensive coverage, the volume contributes decisively to the present discussion about the forming of religious traditions in the ancient Mediterranean world.

The Making of Israel

Cultural Diversity in the Southern Levant and the Formation of Ethnic Identity in Deuteronomy

C.L. Crouch

In The Making of Israel C.L. Crouch presents the southern Levant during the seventh century BCE as a major period for the formation of Israelite ethnic identity, challenging scholarship which dates biblical texts with identity concerns to the exilic and post-exilic periods as well as scholarship which limits pre-exilic identity concerns to Josianic nationalism. The argument analyses the archaeological material from the southern Levant during Iron Age II, then draws on anthropological research to argue for an ethnic response to the economic, political and cultural change of this period. The volume concludes with an investigation into identity issues in Deuteronomy, highlighting centralisation and exclusive Yahwism as part of the deuteronomic formulation of Israelite ethnic identity.

The Prophetic Voice at Qumran

The Leonardo Museum Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls, 11–12 April 2014 

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Edited by Donald W. Parry, Stephen D. Ricks and Andrew C. Skinner

Contrary to the generally held view, the Second Temple Era was not a time of prophetic dormancy, but of genuine activity, though of a different character than that of the pre-exilic age. The conference on The Prophetic Voice at Qumran, held 11–12 April 2014 at the Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City, provided a venue for lively discussions of many of the issues connected with the question of prophecy and prophetic writings in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple texts. Three of the scholars—Emanuel Tov, Eugene Ulrich, and James C. VanderKam—were featured as keynote speakers, and an even dozen scholars made presentations at the conference, of which nine are published in the present volume.