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‘Say You Are My Sister’: Danger, Seduction and the Foreign in Biblical Literature and Beyond

Published: Oct 2013
£50.00
Throughout biblical and Jewish literature we encounter a repeated story of a Hebrew or Jewish character who becomes involved in a dangerous erotic relationship. The sexual tension in these tales articulates the ambivalence between the national identities of the character and of the foreign other. The first exemplification of the topos occurs in Genesis, where the matriarchs Sarah and Rebekah are handed over (or almost so) by their husbands to a foreign king. The other biblical cases are those of Joseph, who experiences the danger of seduction by Potiphar's wife, and Esther, who is taken by force into the harem of the Persian emperor. In modern Hebrew literature, the theme reappears in the short story by the Nobel Prize winner S.Y. Agnon, 'The Lady and the Pedlar' from 1943, in which the Jewish pedlar is at risk of becoming the prey of a foreign cannibalistic woman, and in the novel Inta Omri (1994) by the poet-author Smadar Herzfeld, which describes a desperate love affair between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man against the backdrop of the Intifada in the late 1980s. Between the chapters devoted to these works lies a discussion of the film by the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, The Touch (1971), the story of a Jewish archaeologist who falls in love with a Swedish woman, which Keshet reads as another instance of the same theme, but this time as a metaphor of Jewish —Christian relations from the perspective not of the Jewish character but of the foreign other.
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‘Say You Are My Sister’: Danger, Seduction and the Foreign in Biblical Literature and Beyond

£50.00
Throughout biblical and Jewish literature we encounter a repeated story of a Hebrew or Jewish character who becomes involved in a dangerous erotic relationship. The sexual tension in these tales articulates the ambivalence between the national identities of the character and of the foreign other. The first exemplification of the topos occurs in Genesis, where the matriarchs Sarah and Rebekah are handed over (or almost so) by their husbands to a foreign king. The other biblical cases are those of Joseph, who experiences the danger of seduction by Potiphar's wife, and Esther, who is taken by force into the harem of the Persian emperor. In modern Hebrew literature, the theme reappears in the short story by the Nobel Prize winner S.Y. Agnon, 'The Lady and the Pedlar' from 1943, in which the Jewish pedlar is at risk of becoming the prey of a foreign cannibalistic woman, and in the novel Inta Omri (1994) by the poet-author Smadar Herzfeld, which describes a desperate love affair between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man against the backdrop of the Intifada in the late 1980s. Between the chapters devoted to these works lies a discussion of the film by the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, The Touch (1971), the story of a Jewish archaeologist who falls in love with a Swedish woman, which Keshet reads as another instance of the same theme, but this time as a metaphor of Jewish —Christian relations from the perspective not of the Jewish character but of the foreign other.
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The Joseph of Genesis as Hellenistic Scientist

Published: July 2013
£75.00
To today's confrontations between religion and science Jovanovic contrasts the vibrant collaboration that characterizes Jewish, Christian, and Islamic beginnings. Designation of the patriarch Joseph as both a dream interpreter and a diviner (Gen. 44.4, 15) is a specific example of biblical appropriation of the ancient Mediterranean understanding of cup divination and dream interpretation as among the scientific activities of its social, spiritual and academic elite. Jovanovic argues that the image of Joseph as a Hellenistic scientist nourished the popularity of early Jewish and Christian literature on Joseph. The works of Josephus and Philo, Rabbinic midrashim, and the newly discovered The Ethiopic Story of Joseph, as well as Jubilees, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and Joseph and Aseneth, hold that Joseph's profession was that of a scientist of vision. The interpretation of the symbolic images in dreams and cup divination was a scientific method of communication with the divine and of prediction of the future, which Jovanovic calls 'revelation by visual effects'. Joseph's image as an Egyptian academic provoked varied responses in Hellenistic Jewish circles. The dismay expressed by Jubilees and Philo arose from Joseph's perceived betrayal of religious and traditional values. The acclamation of Josephus and The Ethiopic Story of Joseph demonstrates that a number of Hellenistic Jews believed that their creative integration into the vibrant Hellenistic culture could be successful and deepen their own Jewish identity. While previous scholarship has focused on representations of Joseph either as an ethical model or as a type of Christ, this is the first major work that explores the image of Joseph as an ancient scholar and spiritual expert.
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The Joseph of Genesis as Hellenistic Scientist

£75.00
To today's confrontations between religion and science Jovanovic contrasts the vibrant collaboration that characterizes Jewish, Christian, and Islamic beginnings. Designation of the patriarch Joseph as both a dream interpreter and a diviner (Gen. 44.4, 15) is a specific example of biblical appropriation of the ancient Mediterranean understanding of cup divination and dream interpretation as among the scientific activities of its social, spiritual and academic elite. Jovanovic argues that the image of Joseph as a Hellenistic scientist nourished the popularity of early Jewish and Christian literature on Joseph. The works of Josephus and Philo, Rabbinic midrashim, and the newly discovered The Ethiopic Story of Joseph, as well as Jubilees, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and Joseph and Aseneth, hold that Joseph's profession was that of a scientist of vision. The interpretation of the symbolic images in dreams and cup divination was a scientific method of communication with the divine and of prediction of the future, which Jovanovic calls 'revelation by visual effects'. Joseph's image as an Egyptian academic provoked varied responses in Hellenistic Jewish circles. The dismay expressed by Jubilees and Philo arose from Joseph's perceived betrayal of religious and traditional values. The acclamation of Josephus and The Ethiopic Story of Joseph demonstrates that a number of Hellenistic Jews believed that their creative integration into the vibrant Hellenistic culture could be successful and deepen their own Jewish identity. While previous scholarship has focused on representations of Joseph either as an ethical model or as a type of Christ, this is the first major work that explores the image of Joseph as an ancient scholar and spiritual expert.
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Joseph and Aseneth: A Christian Book

Published: Feb 2012
£55.00
Joseph and Aseneth , a book of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, is a love story about the biblical Joseph and his Egyptian wife Aseneth which, in richly symbolic language, tells how the idol worshipper Aseneth was converted to belief in the one God. In recent decades, it has featured prominently in discussions of Second Temple Judaism as a testimony to a Hellenistic diaspora Judaism that neither observed the rules of conversion to Judaism ( giyyur ) nor cared much for the laws of the Torah. Rivka Nir offers a completely different understanding. Joseph and Aseneth , she argues, teaches us nothing about Second Temple Judaism. Rather, its vocabulary, ideas, symbols and structure become fully comprehensible only when viewed against the background of Syriac Christianity of the third and fourth century. In this setting, Aseneth and Joseph are symbolic and typological images: Aseneth symbolizes the church, Joseph is a prototype of Christ, and their marriage is a symbolic representation of the eternal marriage between Christ and the church. Aseneth's religious transformation should be understood as conversion to Christianity, an example for polytheists to follow. Turning our attention to the central role virginity plays in the story, Nir addresses the problematic scene of the honeycomb and the bees, reading it as a call to those joining the church to take a vow of virginity and resolve to lead a life of sexual abstinence. Through Nir's detailed analysis of the symbols and metaphors of Joseph and Aseneth in a Christian context, the book coalesces into a tightly integrated and meaningful whole, on both the theological and the symbolic levels.
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Joseph and Aseneth: A Christian Book

£55.00
Joseph and Aseneth , a book of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, is a love story about the biblical Joseph and his Egyptian wife Aseneth which, in richly symbolic language, tells how the idol worshipper Aseneth was converted to belief in the one God. In recent decades, it has featured prominently in discussions of Second Temple Judaism as a testimony to a Hellenistic diaspora Judaism that neither observed the rules of conversion to Judaism ( giyyur ) nor cared much for the laws of the Torah. Rivka Nir offers a completely different understanding. Joseph and Aseneth , she argues, teaches us nothing about Second Temple Judaism. Rather, its vocabulary, ideas, symbols and structure become fully comprehensible only when viewed against the background of Syriac Christianity of the third and fourth century. In this setting, Aseneth and Joseph are symbolic and typological images: Aseneth symbolizes the church, Joseph is a prototype of Christ, and their marriage is a symbolic representation of the eternal marriage between Christ and the church. Aseneth's religious transformation should be understood as conversion to Christianity, an example for polytheists to follow. Turning our attention to the central role virginity plays in the story, Nir addresses the problematic scene of the honeycomb and the bees, reading it as a call to those joining the church to take a vow of virginity and resolve to lead a life of sexual abstinence. Through Nir's detailed analysis of the symbols and metaphors of Joseph and Aseneth in a Christian context, the book coalesces into a tightly integrated and meaningful whole, on both the theological and the symbolic levels.
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