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This work sketches the many portraits of the Pharisees that emerge from ancient sources. Based upon the Gospels, the writings of Paul, Josephus, the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and archeology, the volume profiles the Pharisees and explores the relationship between the Pharisees and the Judaic religious system foreshadowed by the library of Qumran. A great virtue of this study is that no attempt is made to homogenize the distinct pictures or reconstruct a singular account of the Pharisees; instead, by carefully considering the sources, the chapters allow different pictures of the Pharisees to stand side by side.
Sermons and Prayers of Walter Brueggemann
"This volume contains the most recent collection of Walter Brueggemann's sermons and prayers. That would be notable in itself: another dazzling set of words from a man whose sheer energy and creativity make us wonder if he is climbing Sinai every morning, for dictation.
"Students and readers of Brueggemann will hear cadences of familiar themes: in the scribe, we hear poet and prophet, testimony and resistance, truth and power, exile and captivity....
"The sermons and prayers of this particular scribe...will linger to re-text and re-ignite another generation of preachers." — from the Foreword by Anna Carter Florence.
Melvin traces the emergence and development of the motif of angelic interpretation of visions from late prophetic literature (Ezekiel 40–48; Zechariah 1–6) into early apocalyptic literature (1 Enoch 17–36; 72–82; Daniel 7–8). Examining how the historical and socio-political context of exilic and post-exilic Judaism and the broader religious and cultural environment shaped Jewish angelology in general, Melvin concludes that the motif of the interpreting angel served a particular function. Building upon the work of Susan Niditch, Melvin concludes that the interpreting angel motif served a polemical function in repudiating divination as a means of predicting the future, while at the same time elevating the authority of the visionary revelation. The literary effect is to reimagine God as an imperial monarch who rules and communicates through intermediaries—a reimagination that profoundly influenced subsequent Jewish and Christian tradition.
Bible, Philosophy, and the Art of Translation
Jews from all ages have translated the Bible for their particular times and needs, but what does the act of translation mean? Aaron W. Hughes believes translation has profound implications for Jewish identity. The Invention of Jewish Identity presents the first sustained analysis of Bible translation and its impact on Jewish philosophy from the medieval period to the 20th century. Hughes examines some of the most important Jewish thinkers -- Saadya Gaon, Moses ibn Ezra, Maimonides, Judah Messer Leon, Moses Mendelssohn, Martin Buber, and Franz Rosenzweig -- and their work on biblical narrative, to understand how linguistic and conceptual idioms change and develop into ideas about the self. The philosophical issues behind Bible translation, according to Hughes, are inseparable from more universal sets of questions that affect Jewish life and learning.
Was God being ironic in commanding Eve not to eat fruit from the tree of wisdom? Carolyn J. Sharp suggests that many stories in the Hebrew Scriptures may be ironically intended. Deftly interweaving literary theory and exegesis, Sharp illumines the power of the unspoken in a wide variety of texts from the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Writings. She argues that reading with irony in mind creates a charged and open rhetorical space in the texts that allows character, narration, and authorial voice to develop in unexpected ways. Main themes explored here include the ironizing of foreign rulers, the prostitute as icon of the ironic gaze, indeterminacy and dramatic irony in prophetic performance, and irony in ancient Israel's wisdom traditions. Sharp devotes special attention to how irony destabilizes dominant ways in which the Bible is read today, especially when it touches on questions of conflict, gender, and the Other.
Polemic and Exegesis in Rashi and the Glossa Ordinaria
Devorah Schoenfeld's new work offers an in-depth examination of two of the most influential Christian and Jewish Bible commentaries of the High Middle Ages. The Glossa Ordinaria and Rashi's commentary were standard texts for Bible study in the High Middle Ages, and Rashi's influence continues to the present day. Although Rashi's commentary and the Glossa developed at the same time with no known contact between them, they shared a way of reading text that shaped their interpretations of the central religious narrative of the Binding of Isaac. Schoenfeld's text examines each commentary unto itself and offers a detailed comparison, one that illustrates the similarities between Rashi and the Gloss that derive not merely from their shared late antique heritage but also from their common twelfth-century context, and the Jewish-Christian polemic in which they both, implicitly or explicitly, take part.
Africana Perspectives on Early Hebrew Verse
Noting that Israel's earliest responses to earth-shaking changes were cast in the powerfully expressive language of poetry, Hugh R. Page Jr. argues that the careful collection and preservation of these traditions—now found in every part of the Hebrew Bible—was an act of resistance, a communal no to the forces of despair and a yes to the creative power of the Spirit.
Further, Page argues, the power of these poems to craft and shape a future for a people who had suffered acute displacement and marginalization offers a rich spiritual repertoire for Africana peoples today, and for all who find themselves perennially outside the social or political mainstream. Here Page offers fresh translations and brief commentary on the Bible's fifteen earliest poems, and explores the power and relevance of these poems, and the ancient mythic themes behind them, for contemporary life at the margins.
Pain and Promise
Whether dealing with collective catastrophe or intimate trauma, recovering from emotional and physical hurt is hard. Kathleen O'Connor shows that although Jeremiah's emotionally wrought language can aggravate readers' memories of pain, it also documents the ways an ancient community-and the prophet personally-sought to restore their collapsed social world. Both prophet and book provide a traumatized community language to articulate disaster; move self-understanding from delusional security to identity as survivors; constitute individuals as responsible moral agents; portray God as equally afflicted by disaster; and invite a reconstruction of reality.
In Jeremiah and God's Plans of Well-being, Barbara Green explores the prophet Jeremiah as a literary persona of the biblical book through seven periods of his prophetic ministry, focusing on the concerns and circumstances that shaped his struggles. Having confronted the vast complexity of scholarly issues found in the Book of Jeremiah, Green has chosen to examine the literary presentation of the prophet rather than focus on the precise historical details or the speculative processes of composition. What Green exposes is a prophet affected by the dire circumstances of his life, struggling consistently, but ultimately failing at his most urgent task of persuasion. In the first chapter Green examines Jeremiah’s predicament as he is called to minister and faces royal opposition to his message. She then isolates the central crisis of mission, the choice facing Judah, and the sin repeatedly chosen. Delving into the tropes of Jeremiah’s preaching and prophecy, she also analyses the struggle and lament that express Jeremiah’s inability to succeed as an intermediary between God and his people. Next Green explores the characterizations of the kings with whom Jeremiah struggled and his persistence in his ministry despite repeated imprisonment, and, finally, Green focuses on Jeremiah’s thwarted choice to remain in Judah at the end of the first temple period and his descent into Egypt after the assassination of Gedaliah. In Jeremiah and God's Plans of Well-being, Green shows the prophet as vulnerable, even failing at times, while suggesting the significance of his assignment and unlikelihood of success. She explores the complexities of the phenomenon of prophecy and the challenges of preaching unwelcome news during times of uncertainty and crisis. Ultimately Green provides a fresh treatment of a complex biblical text and prophet. In presenting Jeremiah as a literary figure, Green considers how his character continues to live on in the traditions of Judaism and Christianity today.