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How can humans ever attain the knowledge required to administer and implement divine law and render perfect justice in this world? Contrary to the belief that religious law is infallible, Chaya T. Halberstam shows that early rabbinic jurisprudence is characterized by fundamental uncertainty. She argues that while the Hebrew Bible created a sense of confidence and transparency before the law, the rabbis complicated the paths to knowledge and undermined the stability of personal status and ownership, and notions of guilt or innocence. Examining the facts of legal judgments through midrashic discussions of the law and evidence, Halberstam discovers that rabbinic understandings of the law were riddled with doubt and challenged the possibility of true justice. This book thoroughly engages law, narrative, and theology to explicate rabbinic legal authority and its limits.
The Old Testament as Authoritative Scripture in the Early Churches of the East represents the latest scholarly research in the field of Old Testament as Scripture in Eastern Christianity. Its twelve articles focus on the use of the Old Testament in the earliest Christian communities in the East. The collection explores the authoritative role of the Old Testament in the churches of the East and its impact on the church's doctrine, liturgy, canon law, and spirituality.
For hundreds of years, scholars have debated the meaning of Jesus' central theological term, the 'kingdom of God'. Most of the argument has focused on its assumed eschatological connotations and Jesus' adherence or deviation from these ideas. Within the North American context, the debate is dominated by the work of Norman Perrin, whose classification of the kingdom of God as a myth-evoking symbol remains one of the fundamental assumptions of scholarship. According to Perrin, Jesus' understanding of the kingdom of God is founded upon the myth of God acting as king on behalf of Israel as described in the Hebrew Bible. Moving Beyond Symbol and Myth challenges Perrin's classification, and advocates the reclassification of the kingdom of God as metaphor. Drawing upon insights from the cognitive theory of metaphor, this study examines all the occurrences of the 'God is king' metaphor within the literary context of the Hebrew Bible. Based on this review, it is proposed that the 'God is king' metaphor functions as a true metaphor with a range of expressions and meanings. It is employed within a variety of texts and conveys images of God as the covenantal sovereign of Israel; God as the eternal suzerain of the world, and God as the king of the disadvantaged. The interaction of the semantic fields of divinity and human kingship evoke a range of metaphoric expressions that are utilized throughout the history of the Hebrew Bible in response to differing socio-historical contexts and within a range of rhetorical strategies. It is this diversity inherent in the 'God is king' metaphor that is the foundation for the diversified expressions of the kingdom of God associated with the historical Jesus and early Christianity.
The Trickster Revisited: Deception as a Motif in the Pentateuch explores the use of deception in the Pentateuch and uncovers a new understanding of the trickster's function in the Hebrew Bible. While traditional readings often «whitewash the biblical characters, exonerating them of any wrongdoing, modern scholars often explain these tales as significant at some earlier point in Israelite tradition. But this study asks the question: what role does the trickster have in the later pentateuchal setting? Considering the work of Victor Turner and the mythic function of the trickster, The Trickster Revisited explores the connections between tricksters, the rite de passage pattern, marginalization, and liminality. Marginalized individuals and communities often find trickster tales significant, therefore trickster stories often follow a similar literary pattern. After tracing this pattern throughout the Pentateuch, specifically the patriarchal narratives and Moses' interaction with Pharaoh in the Exodus, the book discusses the meaning these stories had for the canonizers of the Pentateuch. The author argues that in the Exile and post-exilic period, as the canon was forming, the trickster was the perfect manifestation of Israel's self-perception. The cognitive dissonance of prophetic words of hope and grandeur, in light of a meager socio-economic and political reality, caused the nation to identify itself as the trickster. In this way, Israel could explain its lowly state as a temporary (but still significant) «betwixt and between, on the threshold of a rise in status, i.e. the great imminent kingdom predicted by the prophets.
The Narrative Effect of Book IV of the Hebrew Psalter takes seriously the canonical form to the text and suggests that there is a narrative effect that occurs as a reader of the Hebrew Bible encounters the canonical Psalter. Rather than reading the book of Psalms as an anthology, the reader can find lexical and thematic connections within the text that tell a story. The turning point of that story comes in Book IV (Psalms 90-106) when the text emphasizes the kingship of YHWH rather than David and a return to the covenant of Moses.
This book focuses on the controversy recorded in 1 Corinthians 15 regarding the denial of the resurrection of the dead. Many attempts and proposals have been made to understand the background of Paul's opponents. By focusing on the possible impact of Stoicism, Albert V. Garcilazo argues that the internal evidence of the letter indicates that some of the Corinthians had adopted a realized eschatology as well as an antisomatic view of the resurrection, which in turn prompted them to reject the future resurrection of the dead. Garcilazo suggests that the higher status members of the congregation were influenced by the cosmological, anthropological, and ethical teachings of the Stoa, especially the tenets of the Roman Stoics. He demonstrates this possibility by first considering the similarities between the doctrines of the Corinthian dissenters and the teachings of the Stoic philosophers, particularly the teachings of Seneca. Following a brief overview of Stoicism, the author concentrates on some of the theological issues revealed in the letter and examines how other scholars have interpreted 1 Corinthians 15. Finally, he provides a detailed analysis of 1 Corinthians 15: 12-49. In short, Garcilazo argues that the philosophy of the Stoics seemingly contributed to the resurrection controversy recorded in 1 Corinthians 15.
This book offers a careful study of biblical texts on menstruation and childbirth in the light of their ancient Near Eastern background. Close reading of the biblical texts, based on classical and feminist biblical interpretation, and supported by comparative study of ancient Near Eastern sources and anthropology, reveals a rich and varied picture of these female events. Fertility and impurity are closely connected to menstruation and childbirth, but their place and importance are different in priestly and nonpriestly writings of the Bible, which are therefore separately dealt with. This book contributes to a better understanding of physiological, social, cultural, and religious aspects of menstruation and childbirth in the larger context of body and society and women and men.
Scripture as Logos Rabbi Ishmael and the Origins of Midrash Azzan Yadin "This is perhaps the most significant and innovative scholarly work on the halakhic midrashim in the past thirty years. The claims are extremely convincing, the scholarship is rigorous, and the writing is engaging. The conclusions repeatedly break new ground and dispel mistaken ideas that have been accepted among scholars. Most impressive, Yadin consistently displays a command of both textual expertise and theory."--Jeffrey L. Rubenstein, New York University The study of midrash--the biblical exegesis, parables, and anecdotes of the Rabbis--has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. Most recent scholarship, however, has focused on the aggadic or narrative midrash, while halakhic or legal midrash--the exegesis of biblical law--has received relatively little attention. In "Scripture as Logos," Azzan Yadin addresses this long-standing need, examining early, tannaitic (70-200 C.E.) legal midrash, focusing on the interpretive tradition associated with the figure of Rabbi Ishmael. This is a sophisticated study of midrashic hermeneutics, growing out of the observation that the Rabbi Ishmael midrashim contain a dual personification of Scripture, which is referred to as both "torah" and "ha-katuv." It is Yadin's significant contribution to note that the two terms are not in fact synonymous but rather serve as metonymies for Sinai on the one hand and, on the other, the rabbinic house of study, the bet midrash. Yadin develops this insight, ultimately presenting the complex but highly coherent interpretive ideology that underlies these rabbinic texts, an ideology that--contrary to the dominant view today--seeks to minimize the role of the rabbinic reader by presenting Scripture as actively self-interpretive. Moving beyond textual analysis, Yadin then locates the Rabbi Ishmael hermeneutic within the religious landscape of Second Temple and post-Temple literature. The result is a series of surprising connections between these rabbinic texts and Wisdom literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Church Fathers, all of which lead to a radical rethinking of the origins of rabbinic midrash and, indeed, of the Rabbis as a whole. Azzan Yadin teaches in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion 2004 248 pages 6 x 9 ISBN 978-0-8122-3791-7 Cloth $69.95s 45.50 ISBN 978-0-8122-0412-4 Ebook $69.95s 45.50 World Rights Religion, History
The first two volumes of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, translated with commentary by Daniel C. Matt, cover more than half of the Zohar's commentary on the Book of Genesis (through Genesis 32:3). This is the first translation ever made from a critical Aramaic text of the Zohar, which has been established by Professor Matt based on a wide range of original manuscripts. The extensive commentary, appearing at the bottom of each page, clarifies the kabbalistic symbolism and terminology, and cites sources and parallels from biblical, rabbinic, and kabbalistic texts. The translator's introduction is accompanied by a second introduction written by Arthur Green, discussing the origin and significance of the Zohar. Please see the Zohar Home Page for ancillary materials, including the publication schedule, press release, Aramaic text, questions, and answers.Further information on the Zohar:Sefer ha-Zohar, "The Book of Radiance," has amazed and overwhelmed readers ever since it emerged mysteriously in medieval Spain toward the end of the thirteenth century. Written in a unique Aramaic, this masterpiece of Kabbalah exceeds the dimensions of a normal book; it is virtually a body of literature, comprising over twenty discrete sections. The bulk of the Zohar consists of a running commentary on the Torah, from Genesis through Deuteronomy. This translation begins and focuses here in what are projected to be ten volumes. Two subsequent volumes will cover other, shorter sections. The Zohar's commentary is composed in the form of a mystical novel. The hero is Rabbi Shim'on son of Yohai, a saintly disciple of Rabbi Akiva who lived in the second century in the land of Israel. In the Zohar, Rabbi Shim'on and his companions wander through the hills of Galilee, discovering and sharing secrets of Torah.On one level, biblical figures such as Abraham and Sarah are the main characters, and the mystical companions interpret their words, actions, and personalities. On a deeper level, the text of the Bible is simply the starting point, a springboard for the imagination. For example, when God commands Abraham, Lekh lekha, Go forth... to the land that I will show you (Genesis 12:1), Rabbi El'azar ignores idiomatic usage and insists on reading the words more literally than they were intended, hyperliterally: Lekh lekha, Go to yourself! Search deep within to discover your true self.At times, the companions themselves become the main characters, and we read about their dramatic mystical sessions with Rabbi Shim'on or their adventures on the road, for example, an encounter with a cantankerous old donkey driver who turns out to be a master of wisdom in disguise.Ultimately, the plot of the Zohar focuses on the ten sefirot, the various stages of God's inner life, aspects of divine personality, both feminine and masculine. By penetrating the literal surface of the Torah, the mystical commentators transform the biblical narrative into a biography of God. The entire Torah is read as one continuous divine name, expressing divine being. Even a seemingly insignificant verse can reveal the inner dynamics of the sefirot-how God feels, responds and acts, how She and He (the divine feminine and masculine) relate intimately with each other and with the world.
Searching for Meaning in Midrash explores the fascinating body of Jewish literature called Midrash-creative interpretations of the Bible that are designed to reveal hidden or deeper meaning in Scripture. Each of the over 50 midrashim sit next to its corresponding biblical text so that readers can compare them, along with commentary on the times and insights of the Rabbis who wrote each midrash. Readers are given guidance for answering "What does this text mean to me?"
Areligion or a culture like Judaism, at least three thousand years old, cannot be expected to be all of one piece, homogeneous, self-contained, consistent, a neatly constructed system of ideas. If Judaism were that, it would have died centuries ago and would be a subject of interest only to the historian and archaeologist. Judaism has been a living force precisely because it is a teeming, thundering, and clamoring phenomenon, full of contrary tendencies and inconsistencies. Although there are no words or phrases in Hebrew Scriptures for "human rights," "conscience," or "due process of law," the ideals and values which these concepts represent were inherent in the earliest Jewish texts.
This volume begins with four essays on the concept of man's being born "free and equal," in the image of God. The underpinning of this concept in Jewish law is explored in Section 2, entitled "The Rule of Law." Section 3, "The Democratic Ideal," traces the foundations of democracy in the Jewish teachings in the Bible and the Talmud, which in turn influenced the whole body of Western political thought. Relations between man and man, man and woman, employer and employee, slave and master are all spelled out. Section 4 presents essays analyzing man's freedom of conscience, and his God-given rights to dissent and protest. Section 5 deals with aspects of personal liberty, including the right of privacy. Section 6, entitled "The Earth is the Lord's," deals with the Jewish view of man's transient tenancy on God's earth, his obligations not to destroy anything that lives or grows, and to share the earth's bounty with the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned. Section 7 delivers an analysis of the "end of days" vision of Micah and man's continuing need to strive for peace and not for war. The volume concludes with three new essays, dealing with contemporary issues: "In God's Image: The Religious Imperative of Equality under Law"; "The Values of a Jewish and Democratic State: The Task of Reaching a Synthesis"; and "Religious Freedom and Religious Coercion in the State of Israel."
This enlarged edition is accessibly written for a general and scholarly audience and will be of particular interest to political scientists, historians, and constitutional scholars.
"Web of Life" weaves its suggestive interpretation of Jewish
culture in the Palestine of late antiquity on the warp of a
singular, breathtakingly tragic, and sublime rabbinic text,
"Lamentations Rabbah." The textual analyses that form the core of
the book are informed by a range of theoretical paradigms rarely
brought to bear on rabbinic literature: structural analysis of
mythologies and folktales, performative approaches to textual
production, feminist theory, psychoanalytical analysis of culture,
cultural criticism, and folk narrative genre analysis.
Now in paperback
A personal meditation on the meaning of Judaism today and a vision for revitalizing Jewish community and tradition in America.
"Arnold M. Eisen offers a personal plea for and a vision of the revitalizing of American Judaism through a renewed relationship to Jewish tradition and the strengthening of Jewish communities." Jewish Book News
..".required reading for Jewish communal professionals, Taking Hold of Torah] spells out the discontents and dreams of the baby boomers and their children who are reinventing Jewish communal life for the modern world." Jewish Exponent
"Melding autobiography with biblical exegesis, philosophical speculation and a program for Jewish educational reform, the book is an unbuttoned riff on what's ailing modern Jews." Forward
..".a personal story of a modern Jew trying to make sense of Judaism in a time when Jews can choose whether and how to be Jewish...." The Jewish Advocate
Jews, like other Americans, have both benefitted and suffered from the fraying of traditional loyalties that has come to characterize modern American culture. In each of the five chapters, Arnold M. Eisen examines a major issue or theme related to his vision for the renewal of Jewish communities in terms of one of the five books of the Torah. What is the meaning and purpose of Jewish tradition? What is the significance of faith and covenant? What are the contemporary uses of ritual? What should a new agenda for politics in American Jewish life include? What legacy is to be left to future generations? This encouraging work is essential reading for anyone concerned with questions of Jewish faith and the future of Judaism in America.
Arnold M. Eisen is Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at Stanford University, a frequent speaker on issues related to contemporary Jewish life before lay and scholarly audiences throughout North America, and an active participant in communal discussions concerning the future of American Judaism. His publications include The Chosen People in America (Indiana University Press) and Rethinking Modern Judaism: Ritual, Commandment, Community, winner of a Koret Jewish Book Award.
The Helen and Martin Schwartz Lectures in Jewish Studies
Critical scholarship on the Qur'an and early Islam has neglected the enigmatic earliest surahs. Advocating a more evolutionary analytical method, this book argues that the basal surahs are logical, clear, and intelligible compositions. The analysis systematically elucidates the apocalyptic context of the Qur'an's most archaic layers. Decisive new explanations are given for classic problems such as what the surah of the elephant means, why an anonymous man is said to frown and turn away from a blind man, why the prophet is summoned as one who wraps or cloaks himself, and what the surah of the qadr refers to. Grounded in contemporary context, the analysis avoids reducing these innovative recitations to Islamic, Jewish, or Christian models. By capitalizing on recent advances in fields such as Arabian epigraphy, historical linguistics, Manichaean studies, and Sasanian history, a very different picture of the early quranic milieu emerges. This picture challenges prevailing critical and traditional models alike. Against the view that quranic revelation was a protracted process, the analysis suggests a more compressed timeframe, in which Mecca played relatively little role. The analysis further demonstrates that the earliest surahs were already intimately connected to the progression of the era's cataclysmic Byzantine-Sasanian war. All scholars interested in the Qur'an, early Islam, late antique history, and the apocalyptic genre will be interested in the book's dynamic new approach to resolving intractable problems in these areas.
"The editors have performed a great service in making widely available a documentary history of the interpretation of the Eve and Adam story." Publishers Weekly
"This fascinating volume examines Genesis 1-3 and the different ways that Jewish, Christian, and Muslim interpreters have used these passages to define and enforce gender roles.... a 'must'... " Choice
"Wonderful A marvelous introduction to the ways in which the three major Western religious traditions are both like, and unlike one another." Ellen Umansky, Fairfield University
No other text has affected women in the western world as much as the story of Eve and Adam. This remarkable anthology surveys more than 2,000 years of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim commentary and debate on the biblical story that continues to raise fundamental questions about what it means to be a man or to be a woman. The selections range widely from early postbiblical interpretations in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha to the Qur an, from Thomas Aquinas to medieval Jewish commentaries, from Christian texts to 19th-century antebellum slavery writings, and on to pieces written especially for this volume."
Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19) and Haftarah (1 Kings 5:26-6:13): The JPS B'nai Mitzvah Torah Commentary shows teens in their own language how Torah addresses the issues in their world. The conversational tone is inviting and dignified, concise and substantial, direct and informative. Each pamphlet includes a general introduction, two model divrei Torah on the weekly Torah portion, and one model davar Torah on the weekly Haftarah portion. Jewish learning-for young people and adults-will never be the same. The complete set of weekly portions is available in Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin's book The JPS B'nai Mitzvah Torah Commentary (JPS, 2017).
"In this almost painfully beautiful book... Fishbane... explores thequestion of the kind of canon, privileged status, or Logos, the Torah actually hasfor the post-modern Western Jew. " -- Theology Today
"Abook well worth reading." -- The Jerusalem Post
"Thiswonderful volume documents the intellectual and spiritual odyssey of one of NorthAmerica's foremost Jewish biblical scholars." -- Shofar
In this volume Wright trains a penetrating historical and theological spotlight on first-century Palestinian Judaism. By describing the history, social make-up, worldview, beliefs, and hope of Palestinian Judaism, Wright familiarizes the reader with the 'world of Judaism' as situated within the world of Greco-Roman culture.
Biblical interpretation and theological speculation are inseparable: each has constantly influenced the other for good or for ill. But which of the two is the final criterion? Though universally the church has given lip-service to the Scriptures as the source and norm of its theology, it has nonetheless allowed its theological commitment to shape and at times distort its principles of biblical interpretation. It has used the Bible more as a support for its dogmas than as a basis for testing and correcting them. This has proven to have been truce in liberal as well as in orthodox circles, and nowhere so clearly as in the Dutch modernist controversy of the late nineteenth century. The present study attempts: (1) to outline the major theological movements in The Netherlands previous to and following the crucial year 1850, bringing this forward to the early years of the present century; (2) to enter into a description and analysis of Dutch biblical criticism during this same period, paying special attention to the interpretation of the Old Testament, where the problems have been the greatest and the influence of Dutch scholars has been the most lasting; (3) to draw from this analysis conclusions regarding the relationship between theology and biblical exegesis that are valid not only for theological scholarship in one land and in one particular period but for the entire ongoing theological endeavor throughout the world. The greatest lesson that emerges from this study is that respect for the integrity of the biblical text is an indispensable prerequisite to genuine and lasting theological progress.
An exploration in the Baha'i Writings of the dual nature of human relationships. (World Religions)
Vishwa Adluri and Joydeep Bagchee undertake a careful and rigorous hermeneutical approach to nearly two centuries of German philological scholarship on the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita. Analyzing the intellectual contexts of this scholarship, beginning with theological debates that centered on Martin Luther's solefidian doctrine and proceeding to scientific positivism via analyses of disenchantment (Entzauberung), German Romanticism, pantheism (Pantheismusstreit), and historicism, they show how each of these movements progressively shaped German philology's encounter with the Indian epic. They demonstrate that, from the mid-nineteenth century on, this scholarship contributed to the construction of a supposed "Indo-Germanic" past, which Germans shared racially with the Mahabharata's warriors. Building on nationalist yearnings and ongoing Counter-Reformation anxieties, scholars developed the premise of Aryan continuity and supported it by a "Brahmanical hypothesis," according to which supposedly later strata of the text represented the corrupting work of scheming Brahmin priests. Adluri and Bagchee focus on the work of four Mahabharata scholars and eight scholars of the Bhagavad Gita, all of whom were invested in the idea that the text-critical task of philology as a scientific method was to identify a text's strata and interpolations so that, by displaying what had accumulated over time, one could recover what remained of an original or authentic core. The authors show that the construction of pseudo-histories for the stages through which the Mahabharata had supposedly passed provided German scholars with models for two things: 1) a convenient pseudo-history of Hinduism and Indian religions more generally; and 2) a platform from which to say whatever they wanted to about the origins, development, and corruption of the Mahabharata text. The book thus challenges contemporary scholars to recognize that the ''Brahmanic hypothesis'' (the thesis that Brahmanic religion corrupted an original, pure and heroic Aryan ethical and epical worldview), an unacknowledged tenet of much Western scholarship to this day, was not and probably no longer can be an innocuous thesis. The ''corrupting'' impact of Brahmanical ''priestcraft,'' the authors show, served German Indology as a cover under which to disparage Catholics, Jews, and other ''Semites.''
This commentary demonstrates that the Gospel of Mark is a result of a consistent, strictly sequential, hypertextual reworking of the contents of three of Paul's letters: Galatians, First Corinthians and Philippians. Consequently, it shows that the Marcan Jesus narratively embodies the features of God's Son who was revealed in the person, teaching, and course of life of Paul the Apostle. The analysis of the topographic and historical details of the Marcan Gospel reveals that they were mainly borrowed from the Septuagint and from the writings of Flavius Josephus. Other literary motifs were taken from various Jewish and Greek writings, including the works of Homer, Herodotus, and Plato. The Gospel of Mark should therefore be regarded as a strictly theological-ethopoeic work, rather than a biographic one.
The Poor and poverty-related issues and questions are in vogue. Humanitarianism is in. Yet so many mouths are hungry and poor - even "more hunger" than never. What is responsible? Aren't there enough theories to end poverty like that of Jeffery Sachs: The End of Poverty. How we can make it happen in our Lifetime? Or those of Dambisa Moyo and others? Are resources not really enough and those directly concerned not doing enough in "doling out" help? Are we not donating enough? This author has x-rayed the theories of poverty and world poverty in particular through the purview of Jeffery Sachs. The author discovered that we need to go beyond witnessing today in order to really make true and lasting impact on the lives of humans. As he suggests through a combination of what he calls the "Christian Metannarrative hermeneutics" and the Mother Teresa of Calcutta model: "We are called to live the love of God, not to feel the love of God. We live this love through prayer and action. Our work is the fruit of our prayer, so that if our work is not going well, we must examine our prayer life. If we neglect our work or are harsh, proud, moody, and angry, then we should examine our prayer life. We will see that something has gone wrong there."
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