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5.0 out of 5 stars A TREASURY OF FACT AND INTERPRETATION,
This review is from: The Dictionary of Early Judaism (Hardcover)
This encyclopedic Dictionary covers Judaism in the Greco-Roman age, and has thirteen penetrating essays which treat of Judaic matters in the period between Alexander the Great and the Bar Kokhba Revolt. The chronolgy covered is from the rebuilding of what is known as the Second Temple, roughly the period 538 B.C.E. to 135 C.E.and with special reference to the Mishnah, the colection of rulings or instructions which were authorative as Jewish Oral Law,
and whose compilation was completed in written form in 200 C.E.
There is an interesting time-line to be observed, because Simeon Bar Kokhba was a Jewish military Commander who led the Second Revolt against Rome in 132 C.E., which ended three years later with his inglorious death at Betar.
His surname meaning 'Son of a Star' was a messianic title (Num. 24:17), and his followers regarded him as the warrior chief sent by God, although Rabbis of the period satirised him as an eater of straw.
As in the First Revolt in 70 C.E.,the common belief held by ordinary Jew and Zealot was that the Messiah's initial task was to destroy the World Powers of which Rome was the prime example (2 Esdras 11:1-45 [Septuagint/Apoccrypha]).
There are well over 500 single entries in this massive tome of 1359 pages to peruse or study in detail.
In the leading out of the major thirteen essays John D. Collins takes us into a survey of Early Judaism as portrayed by modern scholarship.
Setting out his stall (p.2) he invites the reader to consider that 'in this volume we are mainly concerned with the evidence for Judaism between the Bible and the Mishnah', because in Western culture there was a paucity of Sources between the Biblical period and Mishnaic codification.
Scholars such as Emil Schurer, Wilhelm Bousset and George Foot Moore are cited as well as other 20th century writers luminaries, F.C. Porter, E.P. Sanders and the celebrated Jacob Neusner (p.5).
Collins, one of the co-editors makes this plaint: 'No doubt our current picture of Early Judaism is...incomplete.Despite the important documentary Papyri from the Judean Desert, dating from the Bar Kokhba period' (p.19).
Jewish History from Alexander the Great to Hadrian is examined by
Chris Seeman and Adam Kolman Marshak who between them split responsibility and divide this into two distinct catchment areas, From Alexander to Pompey, and from Pompey to Hadrian.
Other pivotal essays can be enumerated as 'Judaism in the Land of Israel,'
'Judaism and the Diaspora,' 'The Jewish Scriptures,' 'Early Jewish Interpretation,' 'Apocrypha and Pseudipigrapha,' 'Dead Sea Scrolls,'
Early Jewish Literature Written in Greek,' 'Archaology Papyri and Inscriptions,' 'Jews Among Greeks and Romans,' 'Early Judaism and Early Christianity,' finishing with 'Early Judaism and Rabbinic Judaism.'
It is as the jacket blurb states, 'the first reference work devoted exclusively to Second Temple Judaism and features 270 writers from 20 countries'.
Intended primarily for Research scholars and biblical Students, the general reader has not been forgotten either, and original language phrases and quotes are transliterated.
Here in this Dictionary, you have a compendium of knowledge about the Greco-Roman world and its effect on normative Judaism, erudition that might be sought elsewhere in books and learned Journals, but is immediately accessible,with copious bibliographical references to make your labours light.
The Editors, John D. Collins, and Daniel C. Harlow are to be congratulated
for overseeing a mighty Resource that will surely stand the test of time.
In clear, readily understood prose, all of the contributors to this volume
illuminate its pages, to create a better appreciation of the Greco-Roman age.
When Judaism found itself in a social bind, hemmed-in by an alien culture which dominated but could never quite subdue the Jewish spirit and religious ethos, this constraint which should have stifled only led to the flowering of the Jewish genius which gave us the Mishnah and accompanying literature.
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The Dictionary of Early Judaism by John J. Collins (Hardcover - 1 Dec 2010)