Andrew Monson, "The Jewish high priesthood for sale: farming out temples in the Hellenistic Near East," 15-35
During a period of turmoil in Jerusalem, c.175–145 BCE, Antiochus IV and his successors repeatedly sold the Jewish high priesthood rather than observing the customary hereditary succession. According to 2 Macc. 11:1–3, the Seleucid governor intended to institute an annual sale, so that the temple would generate revenue ‘like the sacred enclosures of the other peoples’. In Egypt and Babylonia it was common since the sixth century BCE to farm out to wealthy notables the financial management of large temples, whose administrative structure was not unlike that of the Jerusalem temple. The Ptolemies inherited the Egyptian practice, modifying the annual appointment of high priests with Greek tax-farming procedures, while the Seleucids probably adopted tax farming on Babylonian temple estates as well. This article suggests that Antiochus IV attempted similar reforms of the Jerusalem temple in response to fiscal pressure, exploiting intra-elite competition for the high priesthood.
Joseph R. Dodson, "Death and idols in the Wisdom of Solomon," 36-45
This note considers the implications of the textual variant ‘θάνατος’ in Wisd. 14:13–14. Whether ‘death’ serves as the explicit subject of v. 14 or as a given idea associated with ‘idols’, it makes the parallels between 14:10–14 and chs 1–2 even more conspicuous and thereby underlines a pattern of thinking about creation and corruption that continues throughout Wisdom. Whereas in chs 1–2 death entered by the hands of humanity and through the envy of the devil, in 14:10–14 death entered by handmade idols and through the conceit of evil people. The inclusion of the textual variant shows not only solidarity of thought but also clarity and expansion.
Albert I. Baumgarten, "Sacred scriptures defile the hands," 46-67
This article takes up the paradoxical crux of sacred scriptures defiling hands and offers a solution based on tKelim, BM 5:8, which discusses the protection offered by the Temple courtyard against certain texts defiling hands. While just which texts enjoyed this protection depends on the interpretation of this source, that the Temple courtyard offered some sort of protection against sacred scriptures defiling hands is beyond doubt. I propose that sacred scriptures defiled hands when they were in the profane world, but in the sacred context of the Temple courtyard they did not defile: the interplay of sacred and profane, as elaborated in particular by Mary Douglas in Purity and Danger, was responsible for sacred scriptures defiling the hands. Finally, since sacred scriptures defiling hands was apparently an exclusively Pharisaic practice, I discuss its place and purpose by applying Cultural Theory to understanding the dynamics of the Pharisees and their practices.
Sacha Stern, "A primitive rabbinic calendar text from the Cairo Genizah," 68-90
A hitherto unnoticed fragment from the Cairo Genizah, T-S K2.27, describes two methods for calculating the calendar that ignore the molad and differ in further ways from the later, fixed rabbinic calendar. These ‘primitive’ rabbinic calendars, which I would date to the eighth century at the latest, are based on calendar rules attested in the Palestinian Talmud but also attempt, not very accurately, to turn the Jewish calendar into a fixed cycle. These calendars represent an early attempt to fix the Jewish calendar. They may be seen as a missing link between the empirical, new moon-based calendar of Mishnaic and Talmudic sources and the molad calendar that became standard in the later medieval period. They also suggest that the fixed rabbinic calendar was originally formed in the early Middle Ages by emulation of the Christian Easter cycles.
Karin Hedner Zetterholm, "Isaac and Jesus: a Rabbinic reappropriation of a ‘Christian’ motif?," 102-120
If, as recent scholarly insights suggest, adherence to Jesus was a largely intra-Jewish affair during the first few centuries CE, it increases the likelihood of interaction and exchange of ideas between such Jesus-oriented Jews and Jews of other inclinations. This article argues that the motif of the atoning power of the death of the beloved son – developed within first-century Judaism, as evidenced by Paul and the Gospels, and embraced by Jesus-oriented groups – was later reappropriated by Rabbinic Judaism through interaction with Jesus-oriented groups with a Jewish self-identity, and applied by Rabbinic Jews to Isaac. The presence of the aqedah motif in synagogues from the third to six centuries may testify to the reappropriation by non-Jesus-oriented Jews of the motif of the atoning power of the death of the beloved son, and possibly also to the presence and impact of Jesus-oriented groups or individuals in the synagogue of late antiquity.
Michael Rosenberg, "Penetrating words: a Babylonian Rabbinic response to Syriac Mariology,"121-134
Recent research has emphasized the extent of a shared cultural context for Rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity, especially in the Roman East and the western portions of the Sasanian Empire. This article argues that a challenging passage in Tractate Ketubot of the Babylonian Talmud is best explained in light of tropes about the Virgin Mary and the Annunciation that were particularly common and beloved in Syriac Christian texts. This finding not only supplements the growing body of evidence for cultural ties between these two communities, but also suggests that the character Mary and questions around virginity were particularly appealing and/or contested topics for the rabbis and/or their audience.