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Hebrew Studies 39 (1998) 248 Reviews allows one to identify it with the God of Israel. This seems to be at odds with the fact that there is no reference to God in the book, and Levenson does not fmd convincing any attempt to explain this phenomenon. But he rejects the conclusion that Esther is a secular book. The absence of religious rites is also disturbing, but, he comments, this should not be pressed unnecessarily, because Esther serves as the etiological legend for a festival, Purim. Levenson correctly points out that God seems to be responsible for the patterns of coincidences and the resulting reversals found in Esther. A unique characteristic of this commentary is that the author includes the Greek additions to the Hebrew text and provides a commentary for each one of them. He argues that the Septuagint of Esther is a translation of a lost Hebrew text similar, but not identical to the Masoretic Text. In agreement with David J. A. Clines (The Esther Scroll [Sheffield, 1994]), he argues that the additions, with their explicit use of religious language, have the purpose of assimilating the story to a scriptural norm. Yet, he leaves the door open for the possibility that the Masoretic Text might have been the innovator by eliminating all references to God from the story. This is a very useful volume for theologians, teachers, and pastors. Angel Manuel Rodriguez Biblical Research Institute Silver Spring MD 20904 HEROD: KING OF THE JEWS AND FRIEND OF THE ROMANS. By Peter Richardson. Pp. xxv + 360. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996. Cloth, $34.95. Herod: King 0/the Jews and Friend 0/the Romans has an introduction, thirteen chapters, a list of maps and abbreviations, a preface, acknowledgments , a chronology of Herod's life, a select bibliography, and indices of references to ancient texts, modem authors, places, and subjects. It is an interesting, well written, albeit poorly formulated biography of Herod. Richardson seems unaware of relevant aspects of Roman History or the modem understanding of Second Temple Judaism, depending on normative interpretations of Judaism rather than descriptive analysis of the data. Consequently, this work is not as useful as it could have been. Nevertheless, some chapters are well done, some conclusions are extremely good, and Richardson has amassed a great amount of well-collated and informative data about Herod for the reader's consideration. Hebrew Studies 39 (1998) 249 Reviews Although the work is replete with examples of flawed scholarship, only a few will suffice to illustrate the problems. Richardson claims to be objective (p. xii), but, when evaluating Josephus' material, his objectivity is only manifest when he disagrees, even tentatively, with the text (e.g., pp. 52-53. 60.69, 76-77. 110, etc.) or hesitantly agrees with it (e.g., pp. 129-130. etc.). For the most part. he uncritically accepts Josephus' interpretation of events. Many things Richardson accepts as correctly interpreted by Josephus or any of his sources and treats as "Jewish" are only to be so construed from a normative vantage, even today. Therefore, Richardson refers to "observant Jews" (p. 31), "Jewish tradition" (p. 40) and "practices of Judaism" (p. 73) as if there were one standard for all Judaeans. Ignoring the variant practices much less the existence of various sects of Jews in Judaea and the diaspora, he assumes that "Jerusalem" was "the cult center of all Jews everywhere " (p. 135); that there was a "heartland of Judaism" that was "more thoroughly Jewish" than other areas (p. 137); that "Jewish territory" was "governed by the laws and customs of Judaism" (p. 137), which Herod had breached (p. 237). He distinguishes between Jews and Hellenists as if some of the latter were not Jews (p. 214). Additionally, Richardson makes numerous unwarranted assumptions about the Romans. For example: "The rise of new Imperial forms of governance changed the Mediterranean world" (p. xiii); and "This was a period of transforming societal change. Class boundaries were altered during the transition from Republic to Empire" (p. xii). He refers to the Romans as creating "profound cultural and social changes altering forever conditions " (p. xiii). He suggests that the Romans viewed the unrest in...


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