Significance of Yavneh & Other Essays in Jewish Hellenism

Texts & Studies in Ancient Judaism, No.136


By Shaye J. D. Cohen
September 2010
Mohr Siebeck
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.
ISBN: 9783161503757
630 pages
$325.00 Hardcover

This volume collects thirty essays by Shaye J.D. Cohen. First published between 1980 and 2006, these essays deal with a wide variety of themes and texts: Jewish Hellenism; Josephus; the Synagogue; Conversion to Judaism; Blood and Impurity; the boundary between Judaism and Christianity. What unites them is their philological orientation. Many of these essays are close studies of obscure passages in Jewish and Christian texts.

The essays are united too by their common assumption that the ancient world was a single cultural continuum; that ancient Judaism, in all its expressions and varieties, was a Hellenism; and that texts written in Hebrew share a world of discourse with those written in Greek. Many of these essays are well-known and have been much discussed in contemporary scholarship. Among these are: “The Significance of Yavneh” (the title essay), “Patriarchs and Scholarchs,” “Masada: Literary Tradition, Archaeological Remains, and the Credibility of Josephus,” “Epigraphical Rabbis,” “The Conversion of Antoninus,” “Menstruants and the Sacred in Judaism and Christianity,” and “A Brief History of Jewish Circumcision Blood.”

Survey of contents:

Jewish Hellenism 
The Beauty of Flora and the Beauty of Sarai – Sosates the Jewish Homer – The Destruction: From Scripture to Midrash – The Significance of Yavneh – Patriarchs and Scholarchs – False Prophets (4Q339), Netinim (4Q340), and Hellenism at Qumran 

Josephus, Jeremiah, and Polybius – History and Historiography in the Against Apion of Josephus – Masada: Literary Tradition, Archaeological Remains, and the Credibility of Josephus – Parallel Historical Tradition in Josephus and Rabbinic Literature – Alexander the Great and Jaddus the High Priest According to Josephus – Respect for Judaism by Gentiles in the Writings of Josephus – Ioudaios to genos and Related Expressions in Josephus

Synagogues and Rabbis 
Epigraphical Rabbis – Pagan and Christian Evidence on the Ancient Synagogue – Were Pharisees and Rabbis the Leaders of Communal Prayer and Torah Study in Antiquity? The Evidence of the New Testament, Josephus, and the Early Church Fathers – The Place of the Rabbi in the Jewish Society of the Second Century

Conversion and Intermarriage 
Was Judaism in Antiquity a Missionary Religion? – Adolf Harnack’s The Mission and Expansion of Judaism: Christianity Succeeds where Judaism Fails – Is ‘Proselyte Baptism’ Mentioned in the Mishnah? The Interpretation of M. Pesahim 8:8 – The Conversion of Antoninus – On Murdering or Injuring a Proselyte – Solomon and the Daughter of Pharaoh: Intermarriage, Conversion, and the Impurity of Women

Women and Blood 
Menstruants and the Sacred in Judaism and Christianity – Purity, Piety, and Polemic: Medieval Rabbinic Denunciations of ‘Incorrect’ Purification Practices – A Brief History of Jewish Circumcision Blood

Judaism and Christianity 
Judaism without Circumcision and ‘Judaism’ without ‘Circumcision’ in Ignatius – Between Judaism and Christianity: the Semi-Circumcision of Christians According to Bernard Gui, his Sources, and R. Eliezer of Metz – Does Rashi’s Torah Commentary Respond to Christianity? A Comparison of Rashi with Rashbam and Bekhor Shor – A Virgin Defiled: Some Rabbinic and Christian Views on the Origins of Heresy

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