Eerdmans Books on Judaism

Eerdmans publishers has four books about Judaism that have come out in the last year or so.

Anathea E. Portier-Young, Apocalypse Against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011).

This volume looks at how sections of 1 Enoch and the Book of Daniel represent responses – political, religious, cosmological, and epistemological – to foreign empires by Jewish groups. “In an age of foreign domination, war, and terror, early Jewish apocalypses prompted their readers to look through and beyond visible, familiar phenomena to apprehend God’s providential ordering of space, time, and created life. While exposing the violence and deceit of empire and its collaborators, they revealed powerful angelic, semi-divine, and divine actors at work in and beyond human experience and history. Shared memory, interpretation of past and present, and a new vision of the cosmos shaped hope for a transformed future. The apocalypses asserted a threatened identity and covenant and empowered their readers for resistance.”  Very interesting read and it shows that the roots of anti-imperial rhetoric are rooted in Jewish narratives and worldview.

Daniel C. Harlow, Karina Martin Hogan, Matthew Goff, and Joel S. Kaminsky, The “Other” in Second Temple Judaism: Essays in Honor of John J. Collins (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011).

This is a festschrift for John Collins that covers the Hebrew Bible and its Reception, Wisdom, Apocalypticism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Jews among Greeks and Romans. Particularly enjoyable was Martin Goodman’s essay “Romans, Jews, and Christians on the Names of the Jews”.

Michael E. Stone, Ancient Judaism: New Visions and Views (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011).

In this volume, Stone questions standard approaches to the study of ancient Judaism. Particularly notable are his discussions of the origins and motivations of Jewish pseudepigraphy and also the multiform transmission of Jewish texts.

Joseph Blenkinsopp, Judaism, the First Phase: The Place of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Origins of Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009).

Having just finished a commentary on 1 Esdras (forthcoming with Brill), I was naturally interested in this book. Blenkinsopp defends four main propositions: (1) The sectarianism of Judaism emerged in the Perisan-Iranian empire and resulted in conflicting claims in Judean and diasporan communities. (2) Conflict over continuity and discontinuity with the past was strongest in the Babylonian diaspora. (3) The return of Ezra/Nehemiah to Jerusalem was not so much a return to Zion, but a Diaspora in reverse, as Judah was colonized with Mesopotmian Jewish groups that had a definite vision, inspired by Ezekiel, for a new temple and a new society. (4) Nehemiah’s project, slightly different from the priest-scribe Ezra, sought to constitute a sovereign Judean state independent of foreign influences. A goal that achieved with mixed results by the Hasmoneans.

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