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Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 313 Reviews In conclusion, this book provides an excellent summary of insights into different aspects of our knowledge of Jerusalem. However, it falls considerably short of the jacket's claim "to portray the full significance of Jerusalem in the First Temple period." Chapters on Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Minor Prophets would have been needed to move toward that coverage. But it does significantly add to the availability of convenient sources of knowledge, especially in the articles on Jerusalem in Chronicles and Zion in Ezekiel. John D. W. Watts Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Louisville, KY 40280 711532221@compuserve.com WHEN ASENETH MET JOSEPH: A LATE ANTIQUE TALE OF THE BmLICAL PATRIARCH AND HIS EGYPTIAN WIFE, RECONSIDERED. By Ross Shepard Kraemer. pp. xviii + 365. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998. Cloth, $60.00. One of the more intriguing works of ancient religious fiction is the tale of the biblical patriarch Joseph and his wife Aseneth, based on the report of Oen 41:37-52. The most important witnesses to the tale, usually entitled Joseph and Aseneth, are Greek manuscripts, the earliest of which dates to the tenth century. Versions also exist in Syriac, Armenian, Rumanian, and modem Greek. The Greek manuscripts fall into two sets or recensions, one of which contains a much longer version of the story. The plot of this novella centers on the relationship between Joseph, in his capacity as vice-regent of Egypt, and the chaste virgin Aseneth, daughter of the high priest of Heliopolis. Although their initial encounter is not promising, since Aseneth spums men, they eventually do become man and wife, but only after Aseneth repents of her idolatry and has an encounter with an angelic visitor who feeds her with heavenly food. She goes on to bear Joseph his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen 46:20), and survives a plot against her by the son of Pharaoh, aided and abetted by her brothersin -law, Naphtali and Asher. The tale ends with the family feud resolved and Joseph sitting happily on the throne of Egypt. The general scholarly consensus about this novel holds it to be a creation of Greek-speaking Jews of the late second Temple, that is, Hellenistic or early Roman period, dealing perhaps with issues of proselytism and relations between Judaism and the wider world. The consensus also holds the Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 314 Reviews longer version attested in the Greek manuscripts to be the more original and the shorter to be simply an abridgment. Professor Kraemer's extremely learned and lively study calls some elements of the consensus into question. Kraemer begins with a literary analysis of the two Greek recensions and the relationships between them. Her position revives the stance of the original editor of the Greek text, Marc Philonenko, who held that the shorter recension was the more original. Kraemer convincingly shows how the tale as a whole, and this recension in particular, builds on the data of scripture and fills in blanks left by the scriptural account. She further argues persuasively that the longer version, whose position of prominence was defended by Christoph Burchard, expands and supplements the tale in the shorter version, with even greater attention to scriptural parallels. With the relationship between the recensions established, Kraemer offers an insightful commentary on the text that brings the reader through the world of late antique religion in all of its complexity. Thus, the initial encounter between Aseneth and Joseph, who arrives in Heliopolis on a quadriga decked out in brilliant garb, evokes widespread late antique solar imagery, attested in media from coins to synagogue mosaics. Similarly, the intriguing encounter between Aseneth and the angel contains elements reminiscent of magical adjurations of heavenly helpers attested in Greek, Coptic, and Hebrew (the Sepher Ha-Razim) compilations from late antiquity. The story also evokes Greek philosophical speculation associated with Neo-Platonism and Jewish mystical literature, especially Hekba10t texts. the study of which has made much progress in recent years. The points of similarity with each of these cultural spheres are complex, and Kraemer's treatment is carefully nuanced. The congruence of the piety and the symbolism of the text thus points for Kraemer to a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 313-316
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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