Josephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism

Paperback | December 15, 2016

byJonathan Klawans

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Though considered one of the most important informants about Judaism in the first century CE, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus's testimony is often overlooked or downplayed. Jonathan Klawans's Josephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism reexamines Josephus's descriptions of sectariandisagreements concerning determinism and free will, the afterlife, and scriptural authority. In each case, Josephus's testimony is analyzed in light of his works' general concerns as well as relevant biblical, rabbinic, and Dead Sea texts. Many scholars today argue that ancient Jewish sectarian disputes revolved primarily or even exclusively around matters of ritual law, such as calendar, cultic practices, or priestly succession. Josephus, however, indicates that the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes disagreed about matters oftheology, such as afterlife and determinism. Similarly, many scholars today argue that ancient Judaism was thrust into a theological crisis in the wake of the destruction of the second temple in 70 CE, yet Josephus's works indicate that Jews were readily able to make sense of the catastrophe inlight of biblical precedents and contemporary beliefs. Without denying the importance of Jewish law-and recognizing Josephus's embellishments and exaggerations-Josephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism calls for a renewed focus on Josephus's testimony, and models an approach to ancient Judaism that gives theological questions a deserved placealongside matters of legal concern. Ancient Jewish theology was indeed significant, diverse, and sufficiently robust to respond to the crisis of its day.

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Though considered one of the most important informants about Judaism in the first century CE, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus's testimony is often overlooked or downplayed. Jonathan Klawans's Josephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism reexamines Josephus's descriptions of sectariandisagreements concerning determinism and fre...

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.

other books by Jonathan Klawans

Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.07 inPublished:December 15, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190646187

ISBN - 13:9780190646189

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"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