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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Life after Death in Early Judaism: The Evidence of Josephus
Elledge, C. D.

TŁbingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006 pp. xiv + 224. Ä44.00

Series Information
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2.208

Description: The historian Flavius Josephus remains crucial for understanding numerous problems central to the study of Judaism and Christian origins. C.D. Elledge's book provides a comprehensive analysis of what Josephus reveals about Jewish hope in life after death, including such crucial passages of Josephus' works as his portrayal of Abraham, the Essenes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and Eleazar ben Jair. When cross-examined by other accounts of the afterlife in contemporary Judaism, Josephus' treatment of this important topic presents the conspicuous marks of interpretatio graeca - an apologetical translation of Jewish beliefs into Hellenistic conceptions that obscure their original forms. Instead of literally reporting the actual content of Palestinian Jewish beliefs in life after death, Josephus has instead brought together an eclectic blend of mythological, philosophical, and noble death traditions that acclaims Judaism in the eyes of Greek and Roman audiences. When viewed as a recurrent motif throughout his writings, Josephus uses life after death as a device that offers apologetical praise of Judaism to outsiders, addresses the problem of theodicy, and reinforces the moral ideals of his presentation of history.

Subjects: Methods, Historical Approaches, History, History of Judaism

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Review by Daniel Maoz
Published 8/11/2007
Citation: Daniel Maoz, review of C. D. Elledge, Life after Death in Early Judaism: The Evidence of Josephus, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2007).

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