Judaic Religion in the Second Temple Period: Belief and Practice from the Exile to Yavneh

Judaic Religion in the Second Temple Period: Belief and Practice from the Exile to Yavneh

Judaic Religion in the Second Temple Period: Belief and Practice from the Exile to Yavneh

Judaic Religion in the Second Temple Period: Belief and Practice from the Exile to Yavneh

Synopsis

The developments in Judaism which occurred during the Second Temple period (c. 550 BC to 100 AD) were of great importance for the nature of Jewish religion in later centuries, yet few studies have examined the era in full. Now Lester L. Grabbe's lucid and accessible volume provides a much-needed encyclopedic study and holistic interpretation of the period.Topics examined include:* views about God and the spirit world* the temple and priesthood* scripture and synagogue* the main religious sects and revolutionary movements* eschatology and messianism* magic and predicting the future* religion in the Jewish diaspora* converts and 'Godfearers'.With an extensive, up-to-date bibliography, plus numerous helpful cross-references, summaries and syntheses, this book is essential reading for scholars and students of the history of Jewish religion. It will also be of great value as a reference tool.

Excerpt

As will be explained in Chapter 1, this is a companion to my book Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian (JCH). That 1992 work had as its primary aim to be a history of Second Temple Judaism. To cover such a large entity, even in two volumes, required that much be treated only in concise form, but the work was intended to be a contribution of synthesis and to take its place alongside parallel one-volume histories of ancient Israel. Unfortunately, in describing my aims, I took for granted the main aim and only explicitly mentioned the subsidiary aim of providing a handbook for students and scholars. The result is that a number of reviewers, perhaps not wishing to wade through nearly 800 pages, assumed the work was meant to be only a textbook and dealt with it accordingly. Some further comments and a list of the main reviews are given below.

The present work has had to be written under some constraints. Given the ideal conditions of time and space, I would have written a much more standalone volume, or perhaps even have incorporated the contents of this book into a enlarged version of the earlier history since I do not believe that Judaic religion can ultimately be isolated from the rest of Jewish history. We never work under ideal conditions, however; this book has been written with too many other distractions, not least the pressures of university administration. Also, despite the generosity of the publisher, some restrictions had to be placed on the length of the book. In other circumstances, the length here might be considered more than adequate, but not for such a large topic as Second Temple religion. Thus, I have had to omit planned chapters on the Samaritans (but see JCH: 502-7, and Grabbe 1993b), Gnostic and mystical trends (but see JCH: 507-11, 514-19, and Grabbe 1996a:94-110), and gender and sexuality (though some of this is included in the text at various points). In a number of cases, I would have included a treatment of some relevant subjects here that I had also discussed elsewhere, but in order to keep to the prescribed length I have had to refer the reader to my other studies for details. Thus, there are more cross-references to JCH (and other studies) than I would have liked.

The reviews of JCH that have come to my attention are the following:

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