Название:Middle Judaism: Jewish Thought, 300 B.C.E. to 200 C.E.
Gabriele Boccaccini, who teaches Oriental studies at the University of Turin in Italy, calls on scholars to study biblical and other books in the context of their larger historical and literary environment, even if it means violating canonical boundaries. With that call in mind, he here tries to write the beginnings of a history of Jewish thought from 300 B.C.E. to 200 C.E.—a period that he prefers to designate Middle Judaism because those five centuries stand as a historical midway point between the Hebrew Scriptures and later religious movements such as rabbinic Judaism and Christianity. Boccaccini sees these later movements as having grown from specific predecessors within the multifaceted period of Middle Judaism.
In much of the book, Boccaccini provides examples of how to pursue his program of studying literature in context by examining several works from the period in tandem: Sirach, Ecclesiastes and Apocalyptic (texts that contain divine revelations about the end of time and/or secrets of the unseen realm); Daniel paired with Dream Visions of Enoch (1 Enoch 83–90); and the Letter of Aristeas juxtaposed with Greek educational theories. In the last part of the work, he studies Philo, James, Paul and Josephus—all viewed within their wider setting and with special emphasis on their differing views of God’s mercy and justice.
It is not clear, however, against whom Boccaccini is arguing. No one in critical scholarship would maintain that Daniel, for example, should be studied in isolation from extra-canonical apocalypses. Also, it is difficult to see the advantage of labeling the period in question “Middle Judaism” rather than, say, “Early Judaism,” since the latter need not imply that nothing came before it. Readers will find Middle Judaism’s value in Boccaccini’s treatment of the theological or philosophical ideas that arise in the texts under study, not in his claims to an original approach to those texts.
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