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Abstract

This article examines the meaning and the development of the terms used to introduce baraitot transmitted by amoraim in the Bavli: “Tannei Rav X.” Why are these baraitot not introduced with the more usual terms used for citing a baraita, “tanya” and “tannu rabbanan?” I will argue that the term “tannei Rav X” was created in the generations that followed the named amora, as an alternative to the usual citation formula employed by the sage himself when he first quoted the baraita. A sage later to Rav X (or the “stam”) who wished to refer to a baraita quoted earlier by Rav X, used the term “tannei Rav X” to do so. These baraitot (around 80%) have parallels in tannaitic compositions or in the Yerushalmi. This finding bears additional weight on the question of the origins of the terminology used to quote baraitot in the Bavli.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism

Abstract

Many diaspora communities identify not only with a distant homeland but also with others distant from the homeland. How exactly do these intercommunal connections take place and contribute toward a shared identity? What specific aspects of diasporan identity are created or strengthened? What practices are involved? This study will begin to answer these questions through investigating two practices which were widespread among diaspora Jewish communities during the last two centuries of the Second Temple period (1st cent. B.C.E.–1st cent. C.E.). First, we will show how sending offerings and making pilgrimages to the Jerusalem temple from these communities enabled regular intercommunal contact. Then, we will suggest some ways in which these voluntary practices reinforced a cohesive Jewish identity and the importance of the homeland, especially the city of Jerusalem and the temple, for many diaspora Jews, whether they lived in Alexandria, Rome, Asia Minor, or Babylonia.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Author: Jennifer Eyl

Abstract

The first century sees a substantial rise in the frequency with which Greek speaking authors discuss pistis (here, understood as fidelity, trust, confidence, proof). The authors who use pistis the most include Philo, Paul, and Josephus. This suggests that while many people are thinking about fidelity, ethnic Judeans are thinking about it disproportionately. This essay focuses on two such authors, Philo and Josephus. I argue that both Judeans claim fidelity to be a foundational national-ethnic characteristic, from the patriarchs to their own day. Furthermore, the article argues that this image of enduring Judean fidelity can be better understood within the context of living under the colonizing power of Rome – a principate that is equally preoccupied with fidelity (fides).

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Author: David Katzin

Abstract

This study posits that the Temptation pericope of Matt 4:1–11 and the Psalm Pesher (4QpPsa, 4Q171) are based on a common tradition. Underlying this tradition is a dual-tripartite construct of testing/temptation. This is based on the three Pentateuchal wilderness tests encountered by Israel which are identifiable through the root נ–ס–ה/“test:” keeping the law, false prophecy leading to idolatry, and testing God. Conflated, and individually correlated with this, are the three nets of Belial: “fornication,” “wealth,” and “profanation of the Temple,” respectively. Also going beyond the biblical narrative are the Devil acting in circumlocution for God, the venues, forms of testing, and lexicon used in corresponding testing sections of these two texts. Only through Psalm 37, together with its exegesis in 4Q171, is this shared tradition recognized. In conclusion, the provenance and diachronic history of this tradition, which resulted in differing understandings of it, is investigated.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism

Abstract

Recent studies demonstrate the Dead Sea Scrolls attest to a wide variety of methods of technical divination. While scholars have analyzed these techniques, women’s involvement in them has not been addressed. I argue that by choosing a methodological perspective that allows women’s presence in the texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide an important witness to women’s involvement in various divinatory techniques. By focusing on three avenues to inquire about the divine will: the oracle of the lot, astronomy, and physiognomy, I suggest that apart from being objects of these methods, women were involved in their practice. Women’s participation in technical divinatory techniques is the most noticeable in inquiries that concern their own bodies and matters related to procreation.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism

Abstract

Use of rock-cut stepped pools for immersion in harvested rainwater is first attested in Judean source material of the second century BCE and on archaeological record shortly thereafter. As argued here, the practice became widespread due to the impact of Greco-Roman ideas about health and well-being. Immersion of the body in water was seen in the Greek medical tradition as a beneficial activity; it balanced the humors, opened harmful blockages in the skin membrane, and helped facilitate unction. Once these ideas became widespread in Judea, local purification rituals followed, and began incorporating immersion in water. The rabbinic dichotomy between purification and cleansing was likely irrelevant for most Judeans in the late Second Temple period, who probably also saw immersion as beneficial for personal hygiene. For this reason, stepped pools nearly disappear from archaeological record with the rise of public bathhouses, which offered the convenience of large and well-maintained immersion pools in exchange for a fee.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism

Abstract

A limestone plaque KhQ2207 from Khirbet Qumran contains an inscription which has not been fully deciphered. The revised transcription of the stone proposed in this study indicates that it contains a first-person address, perhaps by the deity, referring to a future judgment. As a literary text inscribed by a trained scribe, KhQ2207 stands in sharp contrast to other scribal exercises found at and near Qumran, suggesting that its initial classification as an exercise should be reconsidered.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism

Abstract

Scholars have long debated whether Josephus learned Scripture while he was in Jerusalem or only once he got to Rome. The question intersects with, and is hard to answer without, a more general assessment of language use and the education of the (priestly) elite in Jerusalem at that time. This paper argues that Josephus knew little Hebrew and never learned to read Scripture in the original; he was, in this respect, typical of the Jewish elite. His introduction to written Scripture was in its Greek translation, in Rome.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Author: Samuel L. Boyd

Abstract

Overt statements regarding a remnant are strikingly absent in the book of Amos, leading many scholars to find sentiments therein that might lend credence to Amos’ vision for an Israel that survives judgment. In this paper, I analyze the manner in which Amos 3:12 has functioned in this endeavor to find a remnant of Israel in the book. I argue that no such remnant is in view in Amos 3:12 specifically, nor in the book generally. I examine the rhetorical context of Amos 3:12, as well as the syntactical properties of the verse, which help to underscore the role of divine judgment. I place the verse in the setting of ancient Near Eastern legal culture to show how Amos 3:12 functions in terms of Israelite guilt and punishment relative to divine innocence. Finally, I explore how the reading herein is consistent with the rest of the book of Amos.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism

Abstract

Most studies of the law of the priesthood in Aramaic Levi have focused on comparing its individual laws to those in the Torah/Pentateuch. This article argues that these types of comparisons are anachronistic and obscure the distinctive portrayal of sacrifice in Aramaic Levi. The law of the priesthood does not merely respond to, expand, or revise earlier ideas about sacrifice found in “biblical” texts. Rather, the practice and function of sacrifice in Aramaic Levi is constructed around the deity’s senses of sight and smell. Inasmuch as the law of the priesthood presents a fundamentally different idea of sacrifice than the one presented in Leviticus, it speaks to the continuum of distinct Jewish ideologies of sacrifice in the mid-Second Temple period.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism