Philosophers have often described theism as the belief in the existence of a “perfect being”—a being that is said to possess all possible perfections, so that it is all-powerful, all-knowing, immutable, perfectly good, perfectly simple, and necessarily existent, among other qualities. But such a theology is difficult to reconcile with the God we find in the Bible and Talmud. The Question of God’s Perfection brings together leading scholars from the Jewish and Christian traditions to critically examine the theology of perfect being in light of the Hebrew Bible and classical rabbinic sources. Contributors are James A. Diamond, Lenn E. Goodman, Edward C. Halper, Yoram Hazony, Dru Johnson, Brian Leftow, Berel Dov Lerner, Alan L. Mittleman, Heather C. Ohaneson, Randy Ramal, Eleonore Stump, Alex Sztuden, and Joshua I. Weinstein.
Complete Editions, Tractates, and Other Works and the Associated Presses from the Mid-17th Century through the 18th Century
Marvin J. Heller
Printing the Talmud: Complete Editions, Tractates and Other Works, and the Associated Presses from the Mid-17th Century through the 18th Century is a profusely illustrated major work describing the complete editions of the Talmud printed from about 1650 to slightly after 1800. Apart from the intrinsic value of those editions, their publication was often contentious due to disputes, often bitter, between rival publishers, embroiling rabbis and communities throughout Europe. The cities and editions encompassed include Amsterdam, Frankfort am Main, Frankfurt on the Oder, Prague, and Sulzbach. This edition of Printing the Talmud addresses these editions as an opening to discuss the history of the subject presses, their other titles and their general context in Jewish history.
The seventeen studies in Golden Calf Traditions in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam explore the biblical origins of the golden calf story in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and 1 Kings, as well as its reception in a variety of sources: Hebrew Scriptures (Hosea, Jeremiah, Psalms, Nehemiah); Second Temple Judaism (Animal Apocalypse, Pseudo-Philo, Philo, Josephus); rabbinic Judaism; the New Testament (Acts, Paul, Hebrews, Revelation) and early Christianity (among Greek, Latin, and Syriac writers), as well as the Qur’an and Islamic literature. Expert contributors explore how each ancient author engaged with the calf traditions—whether explicitly, implicitly, or by clearly and consciously avoiding it—and elucidate how the story was used both negatively and positively for didactic, allegorical, polemical, and even apologetic purposes.
Bogdan G. Bucur
In Scripture Re-envisioned Bogdan G. Bucur discusses the relatively under-researched early Christian appropriation of the Hebrew Bible as Old Testament by means of a christological exegesis of theophanies. The Emmaus episode in Luke 24 and its history of interpretation serve as the methodological and hermeneutical prolegomenon to the early Christian exegesis of theophanies. Subsequent chapters discuss the reception history of Genesis 18; Exodus 3 and 33; Psalm 98/99 and 131/132; Isaiah 6; Habakkuk 3:2 (LXX); Daniel 3 and 7. Bucur shows that the earliest, most widespread and enduring reading of these biblical texts, namely their interpretation as "christophanies"— manifestations of the Logos-to-be-incarnate—constitutes a robust and versatile exegetical tradition, which lent itself to doctrinal reflection, apologetics, polemics, and, perhaps especially, liturgical anamnesis and doxology.
Engaging the Hebrew Bible in Early Judaism and Christianity
Jewish Experiences with Water in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt
In Waters of the Exodus, Nathalie LaCoste examines the Diasporic Jewish community in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt and their relationship to the hydric environment. By focusing on four retellings of the exodus narrative composed by Egyptian Jews—Artapanus, Ezekiel the Tragedian, Wisdom of Solomon, and Philo of Alexandria—she lays out how the hydric environment of Egypt, and specifically the Nile river, shaped the transmission of the exodus story. Mapping these observations onto the physical landscape of Egypt provides a new perspective on the formation of Jewish communities in Egypt.
An Analysis of Job’s Spatial Metaphors
Johan Joode, de
Metaphorical Landscapes and the Theology of the Book of Job demonstrates how spatial metaphors play a crucial role in the theology of the book of Job. Themes as pivotal as trauma, ill-being, retribution, and divine character are conceptualized in terms of space; its imagery is thus dependent on spatial configurations, such as boundaries, distance, direction, containment, and contact. Not only are spatial metaphors ubiquitous in the book of Job—possibly the most frequent conceptual metaphors in the book—they are essential to its theological reasoning. Job’s spatial metaphors form a metaphorical landscape in which God’s character and his creation are challenged in unprecedented ways. In the theophany, God reacts to that landscape. This book introduces a pragmatic synthesis of both conceptual metaphor theory and spatial semantics and it demonstrates their exegetical and hermeneutic potential.
Tracing the Origins of Legal Obligation from Ezra to Qumran
In The Authority of Law in the Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism, Vroom identifies a development in the authority of written law that took place in early Judaism. Ever since Assyriologists began to recognize that the Mesopotamian law collections did not function as law codes do today—as a source of binding obligation—scholars have grappled with the question of when the Pentateuchal legal corpora came to be treated as legally binding. Vroom draws from legal theory to provide a theoretical framework for understanding the nature of legal authority, and develops a methodology for identifying instances in which legal texts were treated as binding law by ancient interpreters. This method is applied to a selection of legal-interpretive texts: Ezra-Nehemiah, Temple Scroll, the Qumran rule texts, and the Samaritan Pentateuch.
Studies of Open-Ended Discourse on Wisdom in Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes, also known as Qohelet, is a fascinating text filled with intriguing contradictions, such as wisdom’s beneficial consequences, God’s justice, and wisdom’s superiority over pleasure. Under the paradigm of modernism, the contradictions in the book have been regarded as problems to be harmonized or explained away. In Reanimating Qohelet’s Contradictory Voices, Jimyung Kim, drawing on Mikhail Bakhtin’s insights, offers an alternative reading that embraces the contradictions as they stand. For Kim, Qohelet’s or the protagonist’s contradictory consciousness is dialogically constructed by his contact with a complex web of discourses. Instead of harmonizing them or explaining them away, Kim identifies various dialogic voices available to Qohelet and demonstrates how those voices constitute Qohelet’s contradictory utterances and construct his unfinalizable identity.
Visions of Hope and Consolation
Hanneke van Loon
In Metaphors in the Discussion on Suffering in Job 3–31, Hanneke van Loon offers a new approach to the theme of suffering in the book of Job. Her analysis of metaphors demonstrates that Job goes through different stages of existential suffering in chapters 3–14 and that he addresses the social dimension of his suffering in chapters 17 and 19. Van Loon claims that Job’s existential suffering ends in 19:25, and that chapters 23–31 reflect a process in which Job translates his own experience into a call upon the audience to adopt a new attitude toward the unfortunate ones in society. The theoretical approach to metaphors is based on insights from cognitive linguistics.