The Spirit within Me: Self and Agency in Ancient Israel and Second Temple Judaism

October 1, 2021|
The Spirit within Me: Self and Agency in Ancient Israel and Second Temple Judaism by Carol A. Newsom

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The first full-length study of the evolution of self and agency in ancient Israelite anthropology

Conceptions of “the self” have received significant recent attention in philosophy, anthropology, and cultural history. Scholars argue that the introspective self of the modern West is a distinctive phenomenon that cannot be projected back onto the cultures of antiquity. While acknowledging such difference is vital, it can lead to an inaccurate flattening of the ancient self.

In this study, Carol A. Newsom explores the assumptions that govern ancient Israelite views of the self and its moral agency before the fall of Judah, as well as striking developments during the Second Temple period. She demonstrates how the collective trauma of the destruction of the Temple catalyzed changes in the experience of the self in Israelite literature, including first‑person-singular prayers, notions of self‑alienation, and emerging understandings of a defective heart and will. Examining novel forms of spirituality as well as sectarian texts, Newsom chronicles the evolving inward gaze in ancient Israelite literature, unveiling how introspection in Second Temple Judaism both parallels and differs from forms of introspective selfhood in Greco‑Roman cultures.

Title:The Spirit within Me: Self and Agency in Ancient Israel and Second Temple Judaism
Format:Kobo ebook
Published:October 1, 2021
Publisher:Yale University Press
Language:English
Appropriate for ages:All ages
ISBN - 13:9780300262964

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