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The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism Hardcover – November 11, 2010
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 6.05 pounds
- Hardcover : 1406 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780802825490
- ISBN-13 : 978-0802825490
- Dimensions : 7.5 x 2.27 x 10 inches
- Publisher : Eerdmans (November 11, 2010)
- ASIN : 0802825494
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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It is a shelf-resource, plain and simple. It has about fourteen hundred (large) pages of content. Each page is dual columned for easy reading. Topics are arranged in alphabetic order as expected.
The dictionary (this word seems quite insufficient) begins with a dozen or so major essays on everything from Judaism in modern scholarship to biblical interpretation in early Judaism to the Dead Sea Scrolls to the relationship between early and rabbinic Judaism.
The list of contributors is ten pages long. Authors include the most respected scholars in a variety of sub-fields that relate to early Judaism.
The beginning of the book includes a list of topics under headers such as “Literary Genres”, “Josephus”, “Groups in Society:, “Religious Institutions”, and much more. There is also a list of maps (hence, the encyclopedia includes maps), a chronological outline, and a list of important abbreviations.
It is hard to “review” a dictionary on a blog in such a way that the reader can recognize the worth of the volume, especially one as good as this one. (I recommend following the above link to Amazon.com so that you can preview the book.) Let me say again, if early Judaism interest you, or even rabbinic Judaism, Christian origins, or later Christianity, you will want this book. It is worth the price. It is the work of the best scholarship has to offer.
For those who are familiar with IVPs Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels and the like, this volume will surely be a welcome addition. There is much to praise here.
First, and unlike the aforementioned IVP "Dictionary of ..." series on the OT & NT, DEJ begins with thirteen full-length (20-40pp) essays on critical topics such as:
"Early Judaism in Modern Scholarship" (John Collins)
"Jewish History in the Land of Israel" (James VanderKam)
"Early Judaism and Early Christianity" (Daniel Harlow)
as well as the one I am looking forward to sinking my teeth into soon: "Early Jewish Biblical Interpretation" by James Kugel. Side note: I use Kugel's "The Bible as it Was" in my seminary courses. My seminarians' heads usually explode (in the good sense) when they read early Jewish interpretations of Gen 3 - interpretations that are divergent and surprising - like the Book of Jubilees, or the apocryphal "Life of Adam and Eve," which posits a conversation between Eve and Satan outside of Eden. In LA&E, Eden is depicted as a temple - and it could be argued that for the audience of Jubilees, Gen 3 is "used" to promote Levitical purity - especially conjugal abstinence before priests enter the temple for temple service. I say this because in the text of LA&E, Adam and Eve consumate their relationship OUTSIDE the garden - and abstain in its sanctuary - interesting. (Again, heads explode.)
As an orthodox Catholic, I should add that my goal is not to conjure up such interpretations as consistent with Catholic theology, or to propose that they "replace" orthodox interpretations of Gen 3 - not in the least. If anything, I hope my seminarians will better appreciate what I call the "Christian innovation." Specifically, when we read Paul in Rom 5 ("Just as sin entered the world through one man ...") in light of such early Jewish texts, it is not hard to see just how "radical" Paul (and later, Augustine's) developing notion of Original Sin really was. It was in light of the Easter event - and only this, I'd argue, that the new interpretations of the OT can be understood. And so, grasping these earlier Jewish interpretations of the OT can help Christians better appreciate our own traditions - while learning a ton about early Judaism in all of its splendor and variety of biblical thought. (I hope that makes sense.) For all these reasons, the Kugel essay should be an important contribution - though in fairness, I have not reviewed this essay - yet.
After these thirteen longer essays, the dictionary-proper begins. Here, we can read over 500 articles from a considerable array of scholars. A few examples: John Collins (on a whole bunch of apocalyptic-related topics; Michael Stone, James VanderKam, David Aune ("miracles"), Dale Allison [!] (on "Abraham" - wow, can't wait to read that one; "Kingdom of God"); John Barclay ("Josephus"); Carol Newsome ("Job"); Craig Evans ("Gospel of Mark"); George Nickelsberg ("Resurrection") and on and on.
Another side note: One of my own professors from my doctoral program at Loyola Univ. Chicago, Fr. Thomas Tobin contributes on "Logos." Having had this leading Philonic expert in class, I can assure you that this article will be quite well done.
This is a cursory "review" - as I just purchased DEJ. After it arrives, and I peruse it, I may have a few additional comments. In the meantime, at 1400+ pp, DEJ looks to be a worthy volume - and one all scholars / students should at least consider - if not grab. Why not do so today?
Afterthought on different (but related) volume of biblical interest. I have read some negative reviews of Brant Pitre's brand-new volume "The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist." Let me dispel those critiques as erroneous and unfair. I suppose that some Protestant readers may not follow through Pitre's argument to its eucharistic end - fine; but his clarity of writing and grasp of early Jewish and Christian sources cannot and should not be overlooked. This is a good (introductory) volume on an interesting - and important topic. Pitre is on-point ... so read and enjoy!