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Goyim: Gentiles and Israelites in Mishnah-Tosefta (Brown Judaic Studies) Paperback – January 1, 1988
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JEWISH UNIVERSALISM: GENTILES WELCOMED INTO THE TEMPLE
Gentiles had access to the Temple, though it was limited, (quote) The two relevant meanings for our purposes are the Temple as YHWH’s residence and the Temple as the Israelites’ ethnic shrine. (unquote). (p. 303). Though author Gary Porton does not put it this way, this situation reflects the ambivalence of YHWH as a Jewish tribal Deity, and YHWH as the God of all peoples. [This corresponds to Polish scholar Feliks Koneczny’s idea of Judaism consisting of both monolatry and monotheism. See my review of his Jewish Civilization].
While there is no doubt that Jews considered YHWH genuinely accessible to the GOYIM, one must also be careful not to read too much into the Jews’ acceptance of gentile participation in the Temple. Porton comments, (quote) However, one scholar [Schurer] has suggested that gentiles participated in the Jerusalem cult because “the originally very close connection between faith and worship often turns out to be [superficial],” and to “offer sacrifice at some famous sanctuary was very often no more than an expression of a piety that had become cosmopolitan, an act of courtesy towards the nation or city concerned….” Thus, one could argue that when Mishnah-Tosefta permit gentiles to bring sacrifices to the Israelite Temple, the texts reflect a general Hellenistic phenomenon, for foreigners regularly brought offerings to the deities of cities which they visited, without exhibiting any long term or profound allegiance to these gods.Read more ›