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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Creation, Covenant, and the Beginnings of Judaism: Reconceiving Historical Time in the Second Temple Period
Mermelstein, Ari

Leiden: Brill, 2014 pp. xii + 216. Ä99.00

Series Information
Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, 168


Description: This study examines the relationship between time and history in Second Temple literature. Numerous sources from that period express a belief that Jewish history began with an act of covenant formation and proceeded in linear fashion until the exile, an unprecedented event which severed the present from the past. The authors of Ben Sira, Jubilees, the Animal Apocalypse, and 4 Ezra responded to this theological challenge by claiming instead that Jewish history began at creation. Between creation and redemption, history unfolds as a series of static, repeating patterns that simultaneously account for the disappointments of the Second Temple period and confirm the eternal nature of the covenant. As iterations of timeless, cyclical patterns, the difficult post-exilic present and the glorious redemption of the future emerge as familiar, unremarkable, and inevitable historical developments.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Historical Books, Ezra, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Other Methods

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Review by Stewart Moore
Published 8/18/2016
Citation: Stewart Moore, review of Ari Mermelstein, Creation, Covenant, and the Beginnings of Judaism: Reconceiving Historical Time in the Second Temple Period, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2016).


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