The notion that wisdom and apocalypticism represent fundamentally different and mutually exclusive categories of genre and worldview in early Jewish and Christian literature persists in current scholarship. The essay in this volume, the work of the Wisdom and Apocalypticism Group of the Society of Biblical Literature, challenged that generally held view as they explore the social locations and scholarly constructions of these literatures and discover an ancient reality of more porous categories and complex interrelationships. The volume draws on a broad range of Jewish and Christian texts, including 1 Enoch, Sirach, 4Qinstruction, Psalms of Solomon, James, Revelation, and Barnabas. The contributors are Ellen Bradshaw Aitken, Patrick J. Hartin, Richard A. Horsley, Matthew J. Goff, George W.E. Nickelsburg, Barbara R. Rossing, Sarah J. Tanzer, Patrick A. Tiller, Rodney A. Werline, Lawrence M. Wills and Benjamin G. Wright III.

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

Abstract

Although Jewish novellas (Esther, Daniel, Tobit, Judith, and Joseph and Aseneth) have received more attention recently as a distinct genre within ancient Jewish literature, their relation to Greek and Roman novels is still debated. This article argues that, although some of the Jewish novellas arise earlier, they should be considered part of the same broad category of novelistic literature. The rich research on the cultural context of Greek and Roman novels applies to the Jewish as well. But a further question is also explored: if the Jewish texts were originally considered fictional, how did they come to be considered biblical and historical? Two suggestions are proposed: the protagonists of the narratives first came to be revered as heroes of the faith aside from the texts, and the rise of “biblical history” required the use of Esther and Daniel to fill in the gaps in the chronology.

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism

Applying the terms “Jew” and “Judaism” in the ancient period has recently been challenged by a number of scholars. First, the terms translated as Jew and Judaism are rare in the ancient period, and second, it is argued that these terms retroject later understandings of Judaism as a religion back into a period when Israelites and Yehudim/Ioudaioi are rather understood as an ethnic group. “Judeans” is preferable as a designation to “Jews.” Two challenges have arisen. Some argue that the ethnic meaning of Yehudim/Ioudaioi changed to a more religious meaning in about 100 B. C. E.. Others insist that “Jew” and “Judaism” have always communicated both an ethnic and religious meaning – and still do – and so to insist on an ethnic-only meaning (“Judeans”) in the ancient period is misleading. Here I take up a number of the previous arguments and modify them to form an alternative proposal: Yehudi (feminine Yehudiyah) and related terms arose as assertive, emotive identity terms to reflect a strong affirmation of identity in an international situation. Much as “Quaker” or “American” can be assertive, emotive identity terms relative to the default Society of Friends or United States respectively, so Yehudi/Yehudiyah was used occasionally, then more often, as a strong identity term relative to the default Israel/Israelite.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
In: Bridging between Sister Religions