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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Washing in Water: Trajectories of Ritual Bathing in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Literature
Lawrence, Jonathan D.

Atlanta/Leiden: Society of Biblical Literature/Brill, 2006 pp. xix + 294. $47.95/$129.00

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Description: Although most scholars recognize that Christian baptism is related to Jewish ritual bathing, many assume that Christians transformed and rejected Jewish bathing practices. To correct this overly simplistic view, Lawrence mines archaeological and textual materials to outline a larger context for Jewish and Christian bathing. Using archaeological data from Jerusalem, Judea, Qumran, and the Galilee, as well as his own close reading of the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other Second Temple literature, Lawrence identifies a spectrum of functions—ritual, metaphorical, or initiatory—that bathing served during the Second Temple period. He thus offers a new approach to the study of ritual bathing and suggests that, despite the polemics of later Christian and Jewish texts, the earliest Christians drew on a tradition shared with the Qumran community and other Jewish groups, in which each group chose its own emphases for ritual bathing.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Literature, Methods, Social-Scientific Approaches, Anthropology, Dead Sea Scrolls

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Review by James W. Watts
Published 9/8/2007
Citation: James W. Watts, review of Jonathan D. Lawrence, Washing in Water: Trajectories of Ritual Bathing in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Literature, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2007).

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