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Based on a previously unexplored source, this book transforms the way we think about the formation of Jewish identity This book tells the story of the earliest Jewish diaspora in Egypt in a way it has never been told before. In the fifth century BCE there was a Jewish community on Elephantine Island. Why they spoke Aramaic, venerated Aramean gods besides Yaho, and identified as Arameans is a mystery, but a previously little explored papyrus from Egypt sheds new light on their history. The papyrus shows that the ancestors of the Elephantine Jews came originally from Samaria. Due to political circumstances, they left Israel and lived for a century in an Aramean environment. Around 600 BCE, they moved to Egypt. These migrants to Egypt did not claim a Jewish identity when they arrived, but after the destruction of their temple on the island they chose to deploy their Jewish identity to raise sympathy for their cause. Their story-a typical diaspora tale-is not about remaining Jews in the diaspora, but rather about becoming Jews through the diaspora.
We think of the Hebrew Bible as the Book--and yet it was produced by a largely nonliterate culture in which writing, editing, copying, interpretation, and public reading were the work of a professional elite. The scribes of ancient Israel are indeed the main figures behind the Hebrew Bible, and in this book Karel van der Toorn tells their story for the first time. His book considers the Bible in very specific historical terms, as the output of the scribal workshop of the Second Temple active in the period 500-200 BCE. Drawing comparisons with the scribal practices of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, van der Toorn clearly details the methods, the assumptions, and the material means of production that gave rise to biblical texts; then he brings his observations to bear on two important texts, Deuteronomy and Jeremiah.
Traditionally seen as the copycats of antiquity, the scribes emerge here as the literate elite who held the key to the production as well as the transmission of texts. Van der Toorn's account of scribal culture opens a new perspective on the origins of the Hebrew Bible, revealing how the individual books of the Bible and the authors associated with them were products of the social and intellectual world of the scribes. By taking us inside that world, this book yields a new and arresting appreciation of the Hebrew Scriptures.
The subject of this book is ritual behaviour, in particular of
groups with a distinctive religious, ethnic or other identity which
use rituals to pursue strategic ends "ad intra and "ad extra.
This volume deals with the religious practices of the family in the
ancient Babylonian, Syrian, and Israelite civilizations. On the
basis of a wealth of documents from both the private and the
literary realm, the book gives an exhaustive description and
analysis of the rites of the ancestor cult and the devotion to
local gods. The author demonstrates the role of these two aspects
of family religion in the identity construction of its followers.
The section dealing with Israel pays particular attention to the
relationship between family religion and state religion. The
emergence of the state religion under King Saul marked the
beginning of a competition between civil and private religion.
Though the two had great influence upon each other, the tension
between them was never resolved. A study of their interaction
proves to be a key for the understanding of the development of
Israelite religion during the monarchic period.
This volume, edited by Tzvi Zbusch and Karel van der Toorn, contains the papers delivered at the first international conference on Mesopotamian magic held under the auspices of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS) in June 1995. It is the first collective volume dedicated to the study of this topic. It aims at serving as a bench-mark and provides analytic and innovative but also sythetic and programmatic essays. Magical texts, forms, and traditions from the Mesopotamian cultural worlds of the third millennium BCE through the first millennium CE, in the Sumerian, Akkadian and Aramaic languages as well as in art, are examined.
"The Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible is the single
major work of reference on the gods, angels, demons, spirits and
semi-divine heroes whose names occur in the biblical books. First
published in 1995 and chosen by "Choice as Best Reference Work of
1996, it is now republished in a new extensively revised edition.
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