Sortilege—the making of decisions by casting lots—was widely practiced in the Mediterranean world during the period known as late antiquity, between the third and eighth centuries CE. In My Lots are in Thy Hands: Sortilege and its Practitioners in Late Antiquity, AnneMarie Luijendijk and William Klingshirn have collected fourteen essays that examine late antique lot divination, especially but not exclusively through texts preserved in Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac. Employing the overlapping perspectives of religious studies, classics, anthropology, economics, and history, contributors study a variety of topics, including the hermeneutics and operations of divinatory texts, the importance of diviners and their instruments, and the place of faith and doubt in the search for hidden order in a seemingly random world.
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.
Discipleship as Moral Progress
In Ethics in the Gospel of John Sookgoo Shin seeks to challenge the dominant scholarly view of John’s ethics as an ineffective and unhelpful companion for moral formation. In order to demonstrate the relevance of John’s ethics, Shin argues that the development of discipleship in John’s Gospel should be understood as moral progress, which was a well-known moral concept in the ancient Mediterranean world. Having drawn an ethical model from the writings of Plutarch, this study aims to identify the undergirding ethical dynamic that shapes John’s moral structure by bringing out the implicit ethical elements that are embedded throughout John’s narratives, and thus suggests a way to read the whole Gospel ethically and appreciatively of its literary characteristics.