Josephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism  -     By: Jonathan Klawans
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Josephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism

Oxford University Press, USA / 2016 / Paperback

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Product Description

Though considered one of the most important informants regarding first century Judaism, Josephus's testimony is often overlooked or downplayed. Were ancient Jewish sectarian disputes primarily about ritual law and cultic practices, or as Jewish historian Flavius Josephus asserts, due to disagreements on theology, such as determinism and free will; the afterlife; scriptural authority?

Without denying the importance of Jewish law—and recognizing Josephus's embellishments and exagerations—Professor Jonathan Klawan's Josephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism calls for a renewed focus on Josephus's testimony, and models an approach to Ancient Judaism that offers theological questions a deserved place alongside matters of legal concern. Klawan analyzes Josephus's descriptions of sectarian disagreements in light of his works' general concerns as well as relevant biblical, rabbinic, and Dead Sea texts. In this way, Klawan demonstrates that ancient Jewish theology was indeed significant, diverse, and sufficiently robust to respond to the crisis of its day.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Vendor: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: 2016
ISBN: 0190646187
ISBN-13: 9780190646189

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Author Bio


Jonathan Klawans is Associate Professor of Religion at Boston University. He is the author of Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism and Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple: Symbolism and Supersessionism in the Study of Ancient Judaism.

Editorial Reviews


"As a work that 'is primarily addressed to those who engage in the work of reconstructing the history of ancient Judaism', it provides plenty of food for thought. The book includes very substantial endnotes, a fairly full bibliography, and helpful indices." --Journal of Semitic Studies


"As in his previous books, Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism and Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple, Professor Klawans displays his enviable skill in absorbing, digesting, and presenting with clarity a vast amount of material on a complicated subject: the theologies of ancient Judaism. Perhaps only a scholar who has already demonstrated his expertise in the area of Jewish law and observance could treat with complete credibility the tricky and touchy topic of 'theology' in ancient Judaism. His achievement is all the more admirable because he focuses upon that protean Talleyrand of first-century Judaism, Josephus."--John P. Meier, William K. Warren Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame


"Erudite, deeply thoughtful, and engagingly written... an important and largely persuasive book that should be read by anyone interested in the theological and religious landscape of first century Palestine." --Religious Studies Review


"This learned and engaging volume provides an expertly executed corrective to several common misconceptions about ancient Judaism and replaces them with a nuanced and convincing picture. It offers a much-needed defense of the importance of theology, clarifies our understanding of sectarian division, and counters the notion that after the destruction of the temple in 70 CE, Judaism went into eclipse, and the Jews into despondency. It illuminates ancient Judaism and Christian origins alike."--Jon D. Levenson, author of Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam


"Over the past couple of decades there has been an understandable move to put special emphasis on legal interpretation of second temple Jewish documents. But as Klawans shows in his latest book, this has come at the cost of taking seriously the theological commitments of the various Jewish groups themselves. This volume is a very sophisticated re-appraisal of the role such commitments played in the shaping of Jewish identity in this crucial period. As we have come to expect from the work of Klawans, he provides a necessary corrective to long held assumptions."--Gary A. Anderson, Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Notre Dame


"A well-written work... Klawans's arguments are worth reading, whether they bring us to give up long-held opinons or only to re-examine their foundations." --Journal of Jewish Studies


"This volume will be a valuable addition to libraries with collections on the Roman world, Judaism, the New Testament, and early Christianity. Summing Up: Highly recommended." --CHOICE


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