Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

Gottesfurchtige Und Sympathisanten: Studien Zum Heidnischen Umfeld Von Diaspora-Synagogen

Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

Gottesfurchtige Und Sympathisanten: Studien Zum Heidnischen Umfeld Von Diaspora-Synagogen

Article excerpt

Gottesfurchtige and Sympathisanten: Studien zum heidnischen Umfeld von Diasporasynagogen, by Bemd Wander. WUNT 104. Tubingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1998. Pp. xiv + 176. DM 178.00.

Bernd Wanders study, accepted as Habilitationsschrift by the theological faculty of the University of Heidelberg in 1997, takes as its starting point the observation that the term "God-fearer" is used in three different ways in the pertinent literature. It is sometimes used as an honorary title for specific Jews; it sometimes denotes Gentiles who sympathize with the Jewish community; and in other cases it refers to a complex and not clearly defined group. This vague, unsatisfying terminology complicates the scholarly dialogue.

After giving a survey of modern studies, Wander describes the historical interaction between Jewish communities living in the Diaspora and their social environment. He concentrates on questions of separation and participation in social events and touches on Jewish mission endeavors and their relevance for early Christianity. Wander then reviews the literary evidence in biblical and rabbinic passages and concludes with a thorough lexicographic analysis of the Greek terms used. In all of this literature, Wander does not find a solution to the problem of terminology. The various equivalents denoting God-fearers are not even necessarily confined to Jewish communities but appear in many different religious contexts.

Wander then turns to the evidence provided by inscriptions, which has fueled recent debates. …

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