The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

Synopsis

The Dictionary of Early Judaism is the first reference work devoted exclusively to Second Temple Judaism (fourth century b.c.e. through second century c.e.).

The first section of this substantive and incredible work contains thirteen major essays that attempt to synthesize major aspects of Judaism in the period between Alexander and Hadrian. The second -- and significantly longer -- section offers 520 entries arranged alphabetically. Many of these entries have cross-references and all have select bibliographies. Equal attention is given to literary and nonliterary (i.e. archaeological and epigraphic) evidence and New Testament writings are included as evidence for Judaism in the first century c.e. Several entries also give pertinent information on the Hebrew Bible.

The Dictionary of Early Judaism is intended to not only meet the needs of scholars and students -- at which it succeeds admirably -- but also to provide accessible information for the general reader. It is ecumenical and international in character, bringing together nearly 270 authors from as many as twenty countries and including Jews, Christians, and scholars of no religious affiliation.

Excerpt

The field of Second Temple Judaism has emerged as a major area of study only in this generation. in large part, the flowering of the field has been due to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which made available for the first time a wealth of primary sources for the period between the Bible and the Mishnah. There has also been a resurgence of interest in the Pseudepigrapha, the large and loosely defined corpus of literature transmitted by Christians that includes many works of Jewish origin. Despite the proliferation of studies, however, there has not hitherto existed a major reference work devoted specifically to this period. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the time is ripe to take stock of this burgeoning field.

Naming and delimiting the field have been a problem. the old German label Spätjudentum (“Late Judaism”) had pejorative connotations, and in any case was largely based on the rabbinic literature, from a later period. Second Temple Judaism, strictly defined, includes most of the Hebrew Bible, while several major nonbiblical, nonrabbinic works were composed after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. (e.g., the writings of Josephus, some of the apocalypses). “Early Judaism” has been the accepted name for the Judaism of the Hellenistic and early Roman period in the Society of Biblical Literature for some time, and that is the name we have adopted here. the boundaries of the period are admittedly fuzzy. the primary focus falls on the period between Alexander the Great in the late fourth century B.C.E. and the Roman emperor Hadrian and the Bar Kokhba Revolt in the early second century C.E. It is impossible to study this period, however, without taking some account of the Persian period and the postexilic biblical books, on the one hand, and of the subsequent development of rabbinic Judaism, on the other.

This Dictionary has two parts. the first part contains thirteen major essays that attempt to synthesize major aspects of Judaism in this period. the second, substantially longer part offers 520 entries arranged alphabetically. Many of these entries have crossreferences, and all have select bibliographies. Equal attention is given to literary and nonliterary evidence. the New Testament writings are included, as evidence for Judaism in the first century C.E. This volume does not attempt full treatment of the Hebrew Bible or rabbinic Judaism, but it does contain some entries on these areas that provide the reader with at least initial reference information.

The volume is intended to meet the needs of scholars and students, but also to provide accessible information for the general reader. It is ecumenical and international in character. Two hundred and sixty-six . . .

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