The aim of the present article is twofold. The first task is to provide a survey of the parallels to the title “Lord of spirits” in the Parables of Enoch (1 En. 37–71) to understand the background of the divine epithet. The studied parallels include titles in the Ancient Near Eastern literature, Biblical and Early Jewish texts, including Dead Sea Scrolls, magical compositions, and Christian texts (New Testament, Patristic and liturgical texts). The second task is to analyze the concept of “spirit” and its cognates in 1 Enoch to provide some clues to the function of the epithet within the composition. The survey aims to demonstrate that a generally accepted interpretation that associates the “spirits” with “angels” should not be overemphasized, since the basic meaning of the title “Lord of spirits” was to indicate God’s authority over human spirits.
The name of God – the “Lord of the sheep” – and when he is first mentioned in the sketch of history, as well as the relationship of the so called “house” and “tower” are much debated points in the research on the Animal Apocalypse. This article takes a closer look at these two topics and compares them with the Pentateuch. A close intertextual reading will highlight striking similarities between their two narratives of history and show that in both compositions the time in the desert is constitutive for the characterization and perception of God and for the idea of his sanctuary.
This essay examines the variants that were caused by the interchange of letters bearing graphic similarity between the Masoretic text and the Samaritan Pentateuch. Through a paleographic analysis of the shapes of the interchanging letters, it aims to carefully propose a paleographic framework for the interchanges. This process reveals that the scribal activity in the transmission of the Pentateuch increased after the middle of the second century BCE, reaching its peak in the middle of the first century BCE. This essay discusses the significance of these findings in light of further material and textual evidence for the role that the Pentateuch played in Second Temple Judaism.
In this essay I investigate the place of agricultural commandments, the significance of priestly authorities, and the concept of cosmic-historical order in the Qumran composition Instruction (a.k.a. Musar LaMebin) based on new reconstructions and improved readings of two agricultural passages. In the first part of the article, I present the passages and examine their connections with broader sapiential and exegetical traditions. Next I investigate the theme of priesthood and demonstrate the priests’ social authority and conceptual significance for the author of Instruction. Lastly I reconsider the relationship between Torah commandments and raz nihyeh, “the mystery of that which comes into existence,” and show how Instruction develops “Qumranic” ideas concerning the mysteries of both God’s predetermined cosmic-historical plan and God’s Law in a manner reminiscent of popular Hellenistic speculations concerning the Law of Nature.
A significant amount of literature was composed in the late Persian and Hellenistic periods that demonstrates a marked interest in priestly and priestly-adjacent matters. This literature has typically been analyzed with an assumption that the Pentateuch serves as a kind of “base text” that these authors used to create their texts. In this article, I pose what is normally taken as the starting point for the analysis of this material as the question to be answered: do Persian and Hellenistic-era Jewish authors writing about priestly-related matters draw on the Pentateuch? And if so, how are they engaging with it in their own compositions? To answer these questions, I examine three compositions: Chronicles, the Letter of Aristeas, and the Aramaic Levi Document. My analysis of these three texts shows that they have a broad range of engagement with the pentateuchal priestly writings.
The Bible contrasts the righteous ones and the sinners, however, biblical thought recognizes that there are righteous who are punished and sinners who prosper. The Psalms of Solomon expand on the difficulty of distinguishing the righteous from the sinner. Firstly, sinners are presented as having benefited from the same blessings as the righteous. Secondly, the righteous are punished as if they were sinners. How then does the Psalms of Solomon differentiate between a righteous “sinner” and a “true” sinner? Ps Sol 13 responds by linking Deut 8:5 and Mal 3:17–18: the righteous are the object of God’s fatherly love. This sonship mixes divine discipline and salvation. This could shed new light on two cruces interpretationum of Ps Sol 13 as well as illuminate the place of the Messiah in this system of thought.
Rigorous scholarship relies on evidence. But in the case of Jews in antiquity, absence of evidence has often been taken to be evidence of absence. An abundance of caution has frequently meant the erasure of Jews from antiquity. Using the test case of a tombstone from Roman Britain, I suggest that a methodology of imagination can be helpful in making sure Jews in antiquity are not invisible.
This study explores how Josephus presents the plural marriages of the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob in Antiquities of the Jews. It examines three aspects of Abraham and Jacob’s family relationships: polygyny, sexual relationships with slave women, and the status of children born to slaves. The article demonstrates that Josephus has modified the depiction of these relationships as found in Genesis, and argues that he is apologetically shaping these stories in order to better appeal to the cultural values of his Greco-Roman audience.