Abstract

Recent scholarship on Jewish and Christian authors from the turn of the era often emphasizes the influence of Greek philosophical terms and concepts, but there is still some question as to how early this influence can be discerned, especially in Judea as opposed to Egypt. The Greek notion of ἐγκράτεια, or self-mastery, has been a central part of this investigation. After a consideration of ἐγκράτεια in Greek philosophy and of analogous approaches in Israelite moral psychology as found mainly in Proverbs and in the transitional case of Ben Sira, it is argued that four aspects of the book of Judith reflect Greek philosophical influence: (1) Judith’s determination suggests Greek self-mastery (ἐγκράτεια); (2) the angry foreign tyrants suggest ἀκρασία, or lack of self-mastery; (3) Judith’s division of time into past, present, and future reflects Greek philosophical discourse about time; and (4) Judith’s criticism of the Bethulians’ prayer calls to mind the Greek philosophical reflections on rational prayer. Greek philosophical expressions are not unambiguously present, however; this text likely reflects the changing conditions of the interrelations of Israelite and Greek discourse in Judea.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-3876
Print ISSN
0021-9231
Pages
pp. 753-773
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-30
Open Access
No
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