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Matthew Thiessen

Abstract

It has been argued that the fragment 4Q372 1 contains polemic against the Samaritans and their temple cult at Gerizim. While allusions to Samaritans are found in the text, their presence signifies to the restored southern tribes that their restoration is not yet complete. Since the northern tribes, represented by the person of Joseph, remain in foreign lands, the promised deliverance of Deut 32 remains unfulfilled. In contrast to those in the south who might be tempted to conclude, with Ps 78, that God had rejected Joseph, 4Q372 1 suggests that the south's fate is inextricably intertwined with Joseph's fate.

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Matthew Thiessen

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The author of Joseph and Aseneth writes a lengthy narrative about Aseneth’s conversion, thereby providing a justification for Joseph’s marriage to an Egyptian woman. The author explicitly connects her seven-day period of withdrawal to creation, thus portraying her conversion as a divinely wrought new creation. In addition, her eight-day conversion process imitates two similar processes from Jewish scripture. First, Aseneth’s transformation parallels the circumcision of the newborn male eight days after his birth. Second, on the eighth day Aseneth partakes of an angelic existence, conversing with an angel, eating the food of angels, and being dressed in angelic garb. This elevation in her status parallels the consecration of the priestly class in Lev 8, which goes through a period of seven days before it can serve as priests on the eighth day. This process thus stresses the distance between non-Jew and Jew, while at the same time providing a scriptural rationale for how Aseneth overcame it.

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Matthew Thiessen

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Matthew Thiessen

Abstract

In Luke 2:22 Luke attributes parturient impurity to both Mary and Jesus (and/or Joseph). Interpreters have often concluded that this verse demonstrates that Luke misunderstands the levitical legislation pertaining to childbirth impurity (Leviticus 12), which discusses only the impurity of the new mother. This article argues that, despite the apparent contradiction between Leviticus 12 and Luke 2, Luke has not misunderstood Jewish conceptions of impurity after birth. Not only is it possible to conclude that Leviticus 12 implicitly ascribes impurity to the newborn child, but some Second Temple Jewish writers, such as the authors of Jubilees and 4Q265, also believed that the newborn child suffered the same manner of impurity as the new mother. Luke’s gospel, therefore, demonstrates familiarity with contemporary Jewish purity beliefs and practices.

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Matthew Thiessen

The majority of interpreters conclude that in Rom 2:17-29 Paul addresses an ethnic Jew. In contrast, Runar M. Thorsteinsson has argued recently that Paul addresses a gentile, specifically a gentile who has judaized and now thinks of himself as a Jew. This article provides further support for Thorsteinsson’s argument, contending that Paul, contrary to virtually all translations, does not redefine Jewishness in 2:28-29. Additionally, in vv. 21-27 Paul insists that, despite being circumcised, the gentile judaizer fails to keep the very law in which he boasts.

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Matthew Thiessen

Abstract

Interpreters have provided numerous unsatisfactory reasons for why priestly literature stipulates that women endure a longer impurity after the birth of a girl than they endure after the birth of a boy. This article situates Leviticus 12 within a wide range of medical discourses, found in Hittite, Greek, Roman, Jewish, and Christian literature, in order to illuminate the priestly rationale behind this legislation. It demonstrates that these differing periods of ritual impurity relate to ancient medical beliefs that females developed more slowly than did males. These different articulation rates were believed to result in different lengths of postpartum lochial discharge, which meant that the new mother suffered different lengths of ritual impurity based on the sex of the newborn child.

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Matthew Thiessen

Abstract

The book of Judith employs the narrative of Genesis 34 in order to depict Judith’s actions as an imitation of the violent slaughter of the Shechemites. Through his skillful retelling of the story in her prayer (Judith 9) and then his repeated allusions to this story throughout the narrative, the author portrays Judith’s trust in God to protect both her body and her nation’s temple from the impurity, profanation, and disgrace of foreign aggression. Her deceitful words and actions are based on her belief that God would strengthen her hand, just as he had previously strengthened the hand of Simeon, to bring down vengeance upon Israel’s adversaries.