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Jewish Exegesis and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria


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  • Date Published: July 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107414846

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About the Authors
  • Systematically reading Jewish exegesis in light of Homeric scholarship, this book argues that more than 2000 years ago Alexandrian Jews developed critical and literary methods of Bible interpretation which are still extremely relevant today. Maren R. Niehoff provides a detailed analysis of Alexandrian Bible interpretation, from the second century BCE through newly discovered fragments to the exegetical work done by Philo. Niehoff shows that Alexandrian Jews responded in a great variety of ways to the Homeric scholarship developed at the Museum. Some Jewish scholars used the methods of their Greek colleagues to investigate whether their Scripture contained myths shared by other nations, while others insisted that significant differences existed between Judaism and other cultures. This book is vital for any student of ancient Judaism, early Christianity and Hellenistic culture.

    • Connects features of Alexandrian Bible interpretation to subsequent phenomena in the Greek tradition as well as with Judaism and Christianity
    • Contains references to the nature and conception of the Septuagint as a basis of Jewish Bible interpretation in Alexandria, of interest to specialists in Septuagint studies
    • Analyses Jewish interpretations of Scripture, providing an introductory view of Homeric scholarship
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    • Winner of a 2011 Hebrew University Polonsky Prize for Creativity and Originality in the Humanistic Disciplines

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Niehoff's work clearly and carefully situates the work of Philo in its broader Alexandrian context. Her consistent use of sources largely unavailable to many scholars, particularly for those concerned with the history of Jewish biblical interpretation, makes her work an invaluable touchstone for future studies of Philo.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    'This learned volume defines a challenging and important topic and investigates it from a fresh and original angle. … this energetic volume drives home effectively and emphatically a number of points that we would do well to keep in mind. … a fine achievement and a significant contribution to our understanding.' Tessa Rajak, Journal of Jewish Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107414846
    • length: 238 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Setting the stage
    Part I. Early Jewish Responses to Homeric Scholarship:
    2. A conservative reaction to critical scholarship in the letter of Aristeas
    3. Questions and answers in Aristotelian style: Demetrius' anonymous colleagues
    4. Aristobulus' questions and answers as a tool for philosophical instruction
    Part II. Critical Homeric Methods in the Fragments of Philo's Anonymous Colleagues:
    5. Comparative mythology
    6. Historical perspectives on Scripture
    7. Traces of text criticism among Alexandrian Jews
    Part III. The Inversion of Homeric Scholarship by Philo:
    8. Literal methods of Homeric scholarship in Philo's allegorical commentary
    9. Philo's questions and answers as a manual of instruction
    10. Philo's exposition of the law at a significant distance from Alexandrian scholarship

  • Author

    Maren R. Niehoff, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    Maren R. Niehoff is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the author of Philo on Jewish Identity and Culture (2001).


    • Winner of a 2011 Hebrew University Polonsky Prize for Creativity and Originality in the Humanistic Disciplines

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