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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Circumcision as a Malleable Symbol
Livesey, Nina E.

Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010 pp. x + 198. €49.00

Series Information
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2/295


Description: Through a detailed evaluation of treatments of circumcision in the primary authors of the second century BCE to the first century CE, Nina E. Livesey demonstrates that there is no common or universally recognized meaning for the Jewish rite of circumcision. The meaning of circumcision is contingent upon its literary context. The strength of this volume is in its detailed textual analysis of circumcision, attending to the nuances within each text's treatment of circumcision. At the same time, it provides ample evidence of each author's unrestricted use of the rite of circumcision. Ancient authors employed the term freely and in a number of literary senses, as a literal rite, in a metaphoric sense, and as a metonym to confer meanings on this rite. A final chapter provides a brief history of the interpretation of circumcision within the Christian tradition shedding light on its understanding from the second century to the present era.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Pauline Epistles, Romans, Galatians, Phillipians, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Old Testament Apocrypha, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Literature

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Review by Matthew Thiessen
Published 9/4/2011
Citation: Matthew Thiessen, review of Nina E. Livesey, Circumcision as a Malleable Symbol, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2011).


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