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Patrick J. O’Kernick

Abstract

The opening verses of 3 Maccabees set the story in the aftermath of the Battle of Raphia (217 bce); the significance of this historical setting has been overlooked. The Battle of Raphia is intimately related to the narrative at large in at least three ways. First, 3 Maccabees advocates for a counter-tradition to a stele tradition that arises out of Ptolemy’s victory at Raphia. Second, the story reworks the famous incident of Ptolemy’s elephant retreat at Raphia into a tale of praise for the God of the Jews. And finally, the book is invested with the irony already present in the historical realities of Ptolemy’s short-lived victory.

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Amram Tropper

Abstract

A handful of rabbinic texts famously oppose things Greek but the force, object, scope, rationale, and alleged origins of the opposition vary from text to text. Although these texts often clash with one another, they also share kindred ideas and rare wording. Making sense of the sources’ similarities and differences poses the central challenge in tracing the history of the rabbinic opposition to Greek. If we harmonize sources, we risk minimizing their differences and if we isolate sources, we risk sidelining their similarities. In light of the drawbacks of the harmonizing and isolating approaches, I hope to decipher the relationship between the sources, acknowledging both similarities and differences, by viewing them developmentally. Once we recognize that rabbinic texts opposed to Greek belong to a shared literary trajectory, their similarities attest to a common literary tradition while their differences embody modifications and additions introduced over the course of time.

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Kanade, di Goldene Medine?

Perspectives on Canadian-Jewish Literature and Culture / Perspectives sur la littérature et la culture juives canadiennes

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Kanade, di goldene medine: Perspectives on Canadian Jewish Literature and Culture offers a broad study of its field, with equal attention to English- and French-language materials and contexts. The volume’s essays highlight the fundamental link between the culture and life of Canadian Jews and their Polish roots. This focus brings Yiddish to the fore, in essays focusing on the history of Canadian Yiddish literature, and the relevance of the language for contemporary Canadian Chasidic communities. However, essays in this volume also highlight the writings of contemporary authors, working both in French and English. Thus, the collection explores culture at the borderlands of three languages, with an eye for the link between New Worlds and Old. Kanade, di goldene medine: Perspectives sur la littérature et la culture juives canadiennes apporte une contribution importante à l’étude de la littérature et la culture juives canadiennes, tout en étant attentif aux textes et contextes anglophone et francophone ainsi qu’à l’univers particulier des juifs hassidiques de Montréal. Le volume tient également compte du lien fondamental entre la créativité des juifs canadiens et leurs racines est-européennes, en particulier polonaises, et de la présence de la langue yiddish − ou de son imaginaire − dans leurs textes sous forme de traduction ou autotraduction. Le lecteur pourra cerner dans ce livre des perspectives transversales qui mettent en relation des itinéraires multiples et diversifiés noués entre le Nouveau Monde et le Vieux.
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Elisa Uusimäki

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This article explores the emergence of the sage as an exemplar in Greek and Jewish antiquity. Greek philosophical writings and Jewish literary accounts are analysed, the latter including texts written in both Hebrew and Greek. The Greek and Jewish sources are compared in order to highlight (dis)similarities between them. It will be argued that the conception of the sage as an idealized figure and object of emulation originates from the classical Greek world, but it becomes integrated into the Jewish discourse on wisdom and good life in the later Hellenistic period. In spite of this shared element, the portrayals of the sage vary regarding the amount of concreteness and the discursive strategies in which his exemplarity is constructed.

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Religions and Education in Antiquity

Studies in Honour of Michel Desjardins

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Religions and Education in Antiquity gathers ten essays on teaching and learning in the contexts of ancient Western religions, including Judaism, early Christianity and Gnostic Christian traditions. Beginning with an overview of religious education in the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean worlds, editor Alex Damm and the contributors together demonstrate the mutual influence of religion and education on each other; the relevance of educational traditions in addressing (for instance) historical or exegetical issues; and the thoroughgoing importance of education to religious life across time and space in antiquity. Highly useful to scholars of religion, theology, classics and education, this volume affords a state of the art study on pedagogy and learning in ancient religious contexts.
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Naomi S.S. Jacobs

In Delicious Prose: Reading the Tale of Tobit with Food and Drink, Naomi S.S. Jacobs explores how the numerous references to food, drink, and their consumption within The Book of Tobit help tell its story, promote righteous deeds and encourage resistance against a hostile dominant culture. Jacobs’ commentary includes up-to-date analyses of issues of translation, text-criticism, source criticism, redaction criticism, and issues of class and gender. Jacobs situates Tobit within a wide range of ancient writings sacred to Jews and Christians as well as writing and customs from the Ancient Near East, Ugarit, Greece, Rome, including a treasure trove of information about ancient foodways and medicine.
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Converts in the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Gēr and Mutable Ethnicity

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Carmen Palmer

Converts in the Dead Sea Scrolls examines the meaning of the term gēr in the Dead Sea Scrolls. While often interpreted as a resident alien, this study of the term as it is employed within scriptural rewriting in the Dead Sea Scrolls concludes that the gēr is a Gentile convert to Judaism. Contrasting the gēr in the Dead Sea Scrolls against scriptural predecessors, Carmen Palmer finds that a conversion is possible by means of mutable ethnicity. Furthermore, mutable features of ethnicity in the sectarian movement affiliated with the Dead Sea Scrolls include shared kinship, connection to land, and common culture in the practice of circumcision. The sectarian movement is not as closed toward Gentiles as has been commonly considered.
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The Origins of the Canon of the Hebrew Bible

An Analysis of Josephus and 4 Ezra

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Juan Carlos Ossandón Widow

In The Origins of the Canon of the Hebrew Bible: An Analysis of Josephus and 4 Ezra, Juan Carlos Ossandón Widow examines the thorny question of when, how, and why the collection of twenty-four books that today is known as the Hebrew Bible was formed. He carefully studies the two earliest testimonies in this regard—Josephus’ Against Apion and 4 Ezra—and proposes that, along with the tendency to idealize the past, which leads to consider that divine revelation to Israel has ceased, an important reason to specify a collection of Scriptures at the end of the first century CE consisted in the need to defend the received tradition to counter those that accepted more books.
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Lindsey A. Askin

In Scribal Culture in Ben Sira Lindsey A. Askin examines scribal culture as a framework for analysing features of textual referencing throughout the Book of Ben Sira (c.198-175 BCE), revealing new insights into how Ben Sira wrote his book of wisdom. Although the title of “scribe” is regularly applied to Ben Sira, this designation presents certain interpretive challenges. Through comparative analysis, Askin contextualizes the sage’s compositional style across historical, literary, and socio-cultural spheres of operation. New light is shed on Ben Sira’s text and early Jewish textual reuse. Drawing upon physical and material evidence of reading and writing, Askin reveals the dexterity and complexity of Ben Sira’s sustained textual reuse. Ben Sira’s achievement thus demonstrates exemplary, “excellent” writing to a receptive audience.
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The essays in Reading the Gospel of John’s Christology as Jewish Messianism: Royal, Prophetic, and Divine Messiahs seek to interpret John’s Jesus as part of Second Temple Jewish messianic expectations. The Fourth Gospel is rarely considered part of the world of early Judaism. While many have noted John’s Jewishness, most have not understood John’s Messiah as a Jewish messiah.
The Johannine Jesus, who descends from heaven, is declared the Word made flesh, and claims oneness with the Father, is no less Jewish than other messiahs depicted in early Judaism. John’s Jesus is at home on the spectrum of early Judaism’s royal, prophetic, and divine messiahs