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In this book, Ari Mermelstein examines the mutually-reinforcing relationship between power and emotion in ancient Judaism. Ancient Jewish writers in both Palestine and the diaspora contended that Jewish identity entails not simply allegiance to God and performance of the commandments but also the acquisition of specific emotional norms. These rules regarding feeling were both shaped by and responses to networks of power - God, the foreign empire, and other groups of Jews - which threatened Jews' sense of agency. According to these writers, emotional communities that felt Jewish would succeed in neutralizing the power wielded over them by others and, depending on the circumstances, restore their power to acculturate, maintain their Jewish identity, and achieve redemption. An important contribution to the history of emotions, this book argues that power relations are the basis for historical changes in emotion discourse.
In this book, Daniel Stulac brings a canonical-agrarian approach to the Elijah narratives and demonstrates the rhetorical and theological contribution of these texts to the Book of Kings. This unique perspective yields insights into Elijah's iconographical character (1 Kings 17-19), which is contrasted sharply against the Omride dynasty (1 Kings 20-2 Kings 1). It also serves as a template for Elisha's activities in chapters to follow (2 Kings 2-8). Under circumstances that foreshadow the removal of both monarchy and temple, the book's middle third (1 Kings 17-2 Kings 8) proclaims Yhwh's enduring care for Israel's land and people through various portraits of resurrection, even in a world where Israel's sacred institutions have been stripped away. Elijah emerges as the archetypal ancestor of a royal-prophetic remnant with which the reader is encouraged to identify.
The Cambridge Companion to the Hebrew Bible and Ethics offers an engaging and informative response to a wide range of ethical issues. Drawing connections between ancient and contemporary ethical problems, the essays address a variety of topics, including student loan debt, criminal justice reform, ethnicity and inclusion, family systems, and military violence. The volume emphasizes the contextual nature of ethical reflection, stressing the importance of historical knowledge and understanding in illuminating the concerns, the logic, and the intentions of the biblical texts. Twenty essays, all specially commissioned for this volume, address the texts' historical and literary contexts and identify key social, political, and cultural factors affecting their ethical ideas. They also explore how these texts can contribute to contemporary ethical discussions. The Cambridge Companion to the Hebrew Bible and Ethics is suitable for use in undergraduate and graduate courses in liberal arts colleges and universities, as well as seminaries.
Tucked away at the end of the Minor Prophets, the Books of Haggai and Zechariah offer messages of challenge and hope to residents of the small district of Yehud in the Persian Empire in the generations after the return from Babylonian exile. In this volume, Robert Foster focuses on the distinct theological message of each book. The Book of Haggai uses Israel's foundational event - God's salvation of Israel from Egypt - to exhort the people to finish building the Second Temple. The Book of Zechariah argues that the hopes the people had in the prophet Zechariah's days did not come true because the people failed to keep God's long-standing demand for justice, though hope still lies in the future because of God's character. Each chapter in this book closes with a substantive reflection of the ethics of the major sections of the Books of Haggai and Zechariah and their implications for contemporary readers.
The aggression of the biblical God named Yhwh is notorious. Students of theology, the Bible, and the Ancient Near East know that the Hebrew Bible describes Yhwh acting destructively against his client country, Israel, and against its kings. But is Yhwh uniquely vengeful, or was he just one among other, similarly ferocious patron gods? To answer this question, Collin Cornell compares royal biblical psalms with memorial inscriptions. He finds that the Bible shares deep theological and literary commonalities with comparable texts from Israel's ancient neighbours. The centrepiece of both traditions is the intense mutual loyalty of gods and kings. In the event that the king's monument and legacy comes to harm, gods avenge their individual royal protégé. In the face of political inexpedience, kings honour their individual divine benefactor.
Literary histories of the novel tend to assume that religion naturally gives way to secularism, with the novel usurping the Bible after the Enlightenment. This book challenges that teleological conception of literary history by focusing on scenes in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century fiction where the Bible appears as a physical object. Situating those scenes in wider circuits of biblical criticism, Bible printing, and devotional reading, Seidel cogently demonstrates that such scenes reveal a great deal about the artistic ambitions of the novels themselves and point to the different ways those novels reconfigured their readers' relationships to the secular world. With insightful readings of the appearance of the Bible as a physical object in fiction by John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Sarah Scott, Frances Sheridan, and Laurence Sterne, this book contends that the English novel rises with the English Bible, not after it.
In this book, Isabel Cranz offers the first systematic study of royal illness in the Books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. Applying a diachronic approach, she compares and contrasts how the different views concerning kingship and illness are developed in the larger trajectory of the Hebrew Bible. As such, she demonstrates how a framework of meaning is constructed around the motif of illness, which is expanded in several redactional steps. This development takes different forms and relates to issues such as problems with kingship, the cultic, and moral conduct of individual kings, or the evaluation of dynasties. Significantly, Cranz shows how the scribes living in post-monarchic Judah expanded the interpretive framework of royal illness until it included a message of destruction and a critique of kingship. The physical and mental integrity of the king, therefore, becomes closely tied to his nation and the political system he represents.
In this book, Brett Maiden employs the tools, research, and theories from the cognitive science of religion to explore religious thought and behavior in ancient Israel. His study focuses on a key set of distinctions between intuitive and reflective types of cognitive processing, implicit and explicit concepts, and cognitively optimal and costly religious traditions. Through a series of case studies, Maiden examines a range of topics including popular and official religion, Deuteronomic theology, hybrid monsters in ancient iconography, divine cult statues in ancient Mesopotamia and the biblical idol polemics, and the Day of Atonement ritual in Leviticus 16. The range of media, including ancient texts, art, and archaeological data from ancient Israel, as well theoretical perspectives demonstrates how a dialogue between biblical scholars and cognitive researchers can be fostered.
In this book, Tyson Putthoff explores the relationship between gods and humans, and between divine nature and human nature, in the Ancient Near East. In this world, gods lived among humans. The two groups shared the world with one another, each playing a special role in maintaining order in the cosmos. Humans also shared aspects of a godlike nature. Even in their natural condition, humans enjoyed a taste of the divine state. Indeed, gods not only lived among humans, but also they lived inside them, taking up residence in the physical body. As such, human nature was actually a composite of humanity and divinity. Putthoff offers new insights into the ancients' understanding of humanity's relationship with the gods, providing a comparative study of this phenomenon from the third millennium BCE to the first century CE.
The campaign of Sennacherib against Judah is one of the most widely researched in biblical studies and Ancient Near East studies, and one that also poses scholarly challenges. Allusion to the event is found in Isaiah, Kings, and Chronicles, but there is no correlation between the Assyrian and biblical descriptions of the same event. Dan'el Kahn offers a text-critical analysis of these biblical passages that allude to the military events. Detecting repetitions, breaks in the narrative, and contradictions and inconsistencies in the texts, he traces and reconstructs different and discrete sources. Kahn demonstrates that the biblical passages are based on earlier sources that were later edited and revised by a third hand. Based on historical events that are found in non-biblical texts, he also offers new dates for the sources. He claims that the narrative was written for the book of Isaiah, arguing that it predates the version found in Kings.
The Hebrew Bible is permeated with depictions of military conflicts that have profoundly shaped the way many think about war. Why does war occupy so much space in the Bible? In this book, Jacob Wright offers a fresh and fascinating response to this question: War pervades the Bible not because ancient Israel was governed by religious factors (such as 'holy war') or because this people, along with its neighbors in the ancient Near East, was especially bellicose. The reason is rather that the Bible is fundamentally a project of constructing a new national identity for Israel, one that can both transcend deep divisions within the population and withstand military conquest by imperial armies. Drawing on the intriguing interdisciplinary research on war commemoration, Wright shows how biblical authors, like the architects of national identities from more recent times, constructed a new and influential notion of peoplehood in direct relation to memories of war, both real and imagined. This book is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
This book is designed to serve as a textbook for intermediate Hebrew students and above. Sung Jin Park presents the fundamental features of the Tiberian Hebrew accents, focusing on their divisions and exegetical roles. Providing innovative methods for diagramming biblical texts, the volume explores the two major rules (hierarchy and dichotomy) of disjunctive accents. Students will also attain biblical insights from the exegetical application of the biblical texts that Hebrew syntax alone does not provide. Park's volume shows how the new perspectives on Hebrew accents enhance our understanding of biblical texts.
In this book, Molly Zahn investigates how early Jewish scribes rewrote their authoritative traditions in the course of transmitting them, from minor edits in the course of copying to whole new compositions based on prior works. Scholars have detected evidence for rewriting in a wide variety of textual contexts, but Zahn's is the first book to map manuscripts and translations of biblical books, so-called 'parabiblical' compositions, and the sectarian literature from Qumran in relation to one another. She introduces a new, adaptable set of terms for talking about rewriting, using the idea of genre as a tool to compare and contrast different cases. Although rewriting has generally been understood as a vehicle for biblical interpretation, Zahn moves beyond that framework to demonstrate that rewriting was a pervasive textual strategy in the Second Temple period. Her book contributes to a powerful new model of early Jewish textuality, illuminating the rich and diverse culture out of which both rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity eventually emerged.
Most studies on violence in the Hebrew Bible focus on the question of how modern readers should approach the problem. But they fail to ask how the Hebrew Bible thinks about that problem in the first place. In this work, Matthew J. Lynch examines four key ways that writers of the Hebrew Bible conceptualize and critique acts of violence: violence as an ecological problem; violence as a moral problem; violence as a judicial problem; violence as a purity problem. These four 'grammars of violence' help us interpret crucial biblical texts where violence plays a lead role, like Genesis 4-9. Lynch's volume also offers readers ways to examine cultural continuity and the distinctiveness of biblical conceptions of violence.
In this volume, Douglas Yoder uses the tools of modern and postmodern philosophy and biblical criticism to elucidate the epistemology of the Tanakh, the collection of writings that comprise the Hebrew Bible. Despite the conceptual sophistication of the Tanakh, its epistemology has been overlooked in both religious and secular hermeneutics. The concept of revelation, the genre of apocalypse, and critiques of ideology and theory are all found within or derive from epistemic texts of the Tanakh. Yoder examines how philosophers such as Spinoza, Hume, and Kant interacted with such matters. He also explores how the motifs of writing, reading, interpretation, image, and animals, topics that figure prominently in the work of Derrida, Foucault, and Nietzsche, appear also in the Tanakh. An understanding of Tanakh epistemology, he concludes, can lead to new appraisals of religious and secular life throughout the modern world.
In this commentary, Michael Bird and Nijay Gupta situate Paul's letter to the Philippians within the context of his imprisonment as well as the Philippians' situation of suffering and persecution. Paul draws the Philippians' attention to the power and progress of the gospel in spite of difficult circumstances. He also warns them about the dangers of rival Christian groups who preach out of poor motives or have a truncated gospel. Bird and Gupta unpack the rich wisdom and theology of the Christ Hymn (2:6-11). Throughout the commentary, they apply a broad range of exegetical tools to interpret this letter including historical, sociological, rhetorical, and literary analysis, and they give attention to the reception of this important Pauline text throughout history. Bird and Gupta also includes short reflections on the meaning of Philippians for today.
As the earliest narrative source for the origins of Christianity, Acts is of unrivalled importance for understanding early Christianity and the mission that originally brought it from Judea and Galilee to gentiles, and even the heart of the Roman Empire. This volume is an abridged version of Keener's monumental, four-volume commentary on Acts, the longest and one of the most thorough engagements with Acts in its ancient setting. Sensitive to the work's narrative unity, Keener's commentary is especially known for its direct engagement with the wide range of ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman sources. The original commentary cited some 45,000 references from ancient extrabiblical sources to shed light on the Book of Acts. This accessible edition, aimed at students, scholars, and pastors, makes more widely available the decades of research that Keener has devoted to one of the key texts of Early Christianity.
Isaiah 24-27 has been an enduring mystery and a hotly contested text for biblical scholars. Early scholarship linked its references to the dead rising to the New Testament. These theories have remained influential even as common opinion moderated over the course of the twentieth century. In this volume, Christopher B. Hays situates Isaiah 24-27 within its historical and cultural contexts. He methodically demonstrates that it is not apocalyptic; that its imagery of divine feasting and conquering death have ancient cognates; and that its Hebrew language does not reflect a late composition date. He also shows how the passage celebrates the receding of Assyrian power from Judah, and especially from the citadel at Ramat Rahel near Jerusalem, in the late seventh century. This was the time of King Josiah and his scribes, who saw a political opportunity and issued a peace overture to the former northern kingdom. Using comparative, archaeological, linguistic, and literary tools, Hays' volume changes the study of Isaiah, arguing for a different historical setting than that of traditional scholarship.
The environmental crisis has prompted religious leaders and lay people to look to their traditions for resources to respond to environmental degradation. In this book, Mari Joerstad contributes to this effort by examining an ignored feature of the Hebrew Bible: its attribution of activity and affect to trees, fields, soil, and mountains. The Bible presents a social cosmos, in which humans are one kind of person among many. Using a combination of the tools of biblical studies and anthropological writings on animism, Joerstad traces the activity of non-animal nature through the canon. She shows how biblical writers go beyond sustainable development, asking us to be good neighbors to mountains and trees, and to be generous to our fields and vineyards. They envision human communities that are sources of joy to plants and animals. The Biblical writers' attention to inhabited spaces is particularly salient for contemporary environmental ethics in their insistence that our cities, suburbs, and villages contribute to flourishing landscapes.
Stories portraying heretics ('minim') in rabbinic literature are a central site of rabbinic engagement with the 'other'. These stories typically involve a conflict over the interpretation of a biblical verse in which the rabbinic figure emerges victorious in the face of a challenge presented by the heretic. In this book, Michal Bar-Asher Siegal focuses on heretic narratives of the Babylonian Talmud that share a common literary structure, strong polemical language and the formula, 'Fool, look to the end of the verse'. She marshals previously untapped Christian materials to arrive at new interpretations of familiar texts and illuminate the complex relationship between Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity. Bar-Asher Siegal argues that these Talmudic literary creations must be seen as part of a boundary-creating discourse that clearly distinguishes the rabbinic position from that of contemporaneous Christians and adds to a growing understanding of the rabbinic authors' familiarity with Christian traditions.