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Zephaniah, Apocalypse of

(240 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] A prophecy or apocalypse of Zephaniah (Sophonias) is mentioned in ancient and medieval lists of the Old Testament Apocrypha. A Greek quotation is preserved in Clement of Alexandria’s Stromata (V 11.77); a Coptic text is also preserved in two fragmentary 5th-century manuscripts, one Sahidic, the other Akhmimic. The extant manuscript evidence is insufficient to determine with certainty whether we are dealing with portions of a single work or several works composed under the same name (Diebner, 1158). The Akhmi…


(288 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] was the author of a work (possibly fragmentary) on biblical history from Adam to Saul and ¶ David, which was traditionally attributed to Philo of Alexandria. The version preserved in numerous manuscripts was translated from Greek in the 4th century into pre-Jerome Latin, and goes back to an original Hebrew text, as is shown by the use of notions and terms close to the Hebrew Bible and Targum literature. The narrative embellishments and additions to the biblical text also indicate a close relations…


(185 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] epic poet, known only through quotations of his Greek epic on the Samaritan city of Shechem (Hellenistic foundation myth, events involving Jacob, Dinah, Simeon, and Levi, circumcision, murder of the Shechemites [Gen 34]) in Alexander Polyhistor’s On the Jews, another lost work. Only six fragments (47 hexameters) of Theodotus’s work are preserved in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Praeparatio evangelica. The epic was produced in Palestine or Alexandria before the 1st century bce; its clear interest in the topic of forced conversion to Judaism suggests that it…

Ascension and Martyrdom of Isaiah

(368 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] The apocryphal apocalypse “Ascension of Isaiah” consists of two distinct parts: the “Martyrdom of Isaiah” (1–5) and the “Vision of Isaiah” (6–11). The Martyrdom of Isaiah was very likely written in Hebrew in Palestine. The original language of the Vision of Isaiah is Greek; however, where it first originated and the location of the final editing process (3rd–4th cent. ce) are unknown. A complete version of the Vision of Isaiah is only available in an Egyptian translation (4th–6th cent. ce); additionally, some Greek and Latin fragm…

Noachic Laws

(378 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] In Jewish theology, the seven Noachid (Noahide) laws (Heb. sheva mizwot bene Noach) are the commandments (Mitzvot) binding on all human­king, including Gentiles – in contrast to the commandments and prohibitions of the Torah, revealed exclusively to the Jews. This idea goes back to the rabbinic interpretation of the revelations to Adam and Noah, the forefathers of all humankind (Gen 2:16; 9:1–7). In principle observing the Noahide laws enables Gentiles to live lives pleasing to God and incorp…


(298 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] 1. Rabban Gamaliel (Gamaliel I) was active in Jerusalem c. 25–50 ce as an outstanding Torah scholar ( Midr. Sota 9:15) and member of the Sanhedrin ( bet-din; Acts 5:34ff.). The traditional view that he was the son or grandson of Hillel is presumably legendary ( b. Šabb. 15a), but does, indeed, suggest continuity in doctrine. The historicity of the teacher-student relationship attributed to him and Paul in Acts22:3 and his intervention ¶ before the Sanhedrin on behalf of releasing the apostles (Acts 5:34–39) is also unclear. 2. Gamaliel II , the son of Simeon and grands…


(324 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] (Heb. כְּתוּבָּה, “that which is written”), marriage contract in which the financial livelihood of the wife is secured in the event of divorce or widowhood (Marriage: IX). The Talmud tractate Ketubbot (“marriage contracts”) deals with the rights and duties of spouses resulting from the marriage contract, but also with other topics such as dowry, divorce, etc. Since the minimum amounts of money to which a wife is entitled in these cases are also specified by law ( m. Ketub. 4:7–12; b. Ketub. 16b), the drawing up of a ketubbah could be waived in talmudic times. …

Philo the Epic Poet

(195 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] was the Jewish author of a Greek epic on the city of Jerusalem, in the Hellenistic tradition of praise of cities. Eusebius of Caesarea ( Praep. 9.20, 24, 37) transmits 24 hexameters, divided into six fragments, and attributes them to Alexander Polyhistor’s On the Jews, who himself cites them as taken from the epic On Jerusalem. Subjects treated in the fragments are Abraham, the binding of Isaac, the abode of God, Joseph and the dream interpretation, and Jerusalem’s water supply. The epic comprised at least 14 chapters, and was probably written between 200 and 100 bce in Hel…

Early Judaism

(234 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] The term refers to the period roughly between (a) the end of the Babylonian Exile (539 bce), the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (520), and the completion of the Hebrew Bible, and (b) the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (70 ce) and the beginnings of rabbinic Judaism. The term “early Judaism” thus covers a period that historians, depending on where the focus of their interest lies, also refer to as the Hellenistic-Roman period (300 bce–200 ce), lately also as “Middle Judaism” (Boccaccini) or the Second Temple Period (520 bce–70 ce). It …

Zerubbabel, Apocalypse of

(172 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] The pseudepigraphic Hebrew Apocalypse of Zerubbabel (Apocalypticism: III, 2), probably written in Palestine in the early 7th century ce, reflects the messianic hopes (Messiah: III, 1) of the Palestinian Jews, who – threatened by the anti-Jewish laws of the Byzantine rulers – set their hopes on a Persian conquest during the Persian-Byzantine wars between 604 and 630 ce. Embedded in a framework that recounts the revelation of messianic redemption by Metatron/Michael to Zerubbabel, the last ruler of the Davidic line and builder of the seco…


(227 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] is the name given to the author of a Hellenistic Jewish didactic poem of 230 aphorisms written between 100 bce and 100 ce, possibly in Alexandria. It combines material borrowed from the Septuagint – though specifically Jewish beliefs are not much evidence, there is no departure from monotheism – with Hellenistic “popular ethics” (Walter, 191). There is no evidence of Christian influence or use of the New Testament. The work belongs to the wisdom genre of practical guidance on living characteristic of t…

Judith/Book of Judith

(481 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] The book of Judith, named for its protagonist, Judith (“Jewess”), forms part of the Old Testament Apocrypha (II). The original, probably composed in Hebrew (for Gk as the original language, see Engel), from which the extant Greek translation in its various recensions stems, has not been preserved. The old Latin, Syriac, Coptic and Armenian translations were prepared from original Greek texts. Several Hebrew versions of the text exist which are based on a free rendition of the Sept…

Ascension of Moses

(315 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] Other than a few quotations from the church fathers (e.g. Or. Princ. III 2.1), the only known version of the “Ascension of Mose” ( As.Mos. or T.Mos.) is an incomplete Latin manuscript from the 6th century (palimpsest; 1st ed. 1861 by Ceriani). This Latin translation (5th cent.) of a Greek translation probably goes back to a Hebrew or Aramaic original (Tromp favors a Greek original) written in Judea before the destruction of the temple (original version probably 2nd–1st cent. bce; final version early 1st cent. ce, because Herod the Great is identifiable; …


(1,088 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] The designation “Zealots” (ζηλωταί/ zēlōtaí, from Gk ζηλόω/ zēlóō, “to be zealous, to strive after”) for those Jews who rebelled against Roman rule in Palestine during the 1st century ce and especially during the First Jewish Revolt is encountered in the works of Flavius Josephus ( Bell. II 651; IV 160f.; VII 268–270), whose Bellum Judaicum (II–VII) and Antiquitates constitute the most important sources for the Zealot movement and its ideology. The Hebrew designation qannaʾim (“zealous ones”) is attested, among other places, in b. Sanh. 82a. Their name goes back …


(1,858 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph | Wandrey, Irina | Graf, Fritz
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Responses I. History of Religions 1. Orphic-Dionysian mysteries. The earliest Greeks anticipated a short and active life without any form of existence after death. The 6th century bce saw the appearance of religious alternatives that promised an afterlife in the beyond. One of these spread anonymously under the name of Orpheus; myths of Orpheus speak of deliverance from a senseless and cheerless netherworld. There was never a coherent religion practiced by Orphics, but there is discu…

Sibylline Oracles and Books

(1,066 words)

Author(s): Hornauer, Holger | Wandrey, Irina | Bauckham, Richard
[German Version] I. Greco-Roman Sibylline Material The Sibylline oracles of antiquity were oracles ascribed to Sibyl, always in Greek hexameters (Pseudepigraphy); the earliest date from the 5th century bce. Two corpora need to be distinguished: (1) the Sibylline Oracles (Gk οἱ Σιβύλλης χρησμοί/ hoi Sibýllēs chrēsmoí, “the oracles of Sibyl,” or τὰ Σιβύλλεια/ tá Sibýlleia, “the sibylline material”) and οἱ χρησμοὶ Σιβυλλιακοί/ hoi chrēsmoí Sibylliakoí, Lat. oraculaSibyllina), a primarily Judeo-Christian collection (see II and III below); and (2) the Sibylline Boo…


(1,656 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina | Carlebach, Elisheva | Grundmann, Christoffer H. | Voss, Gerhard
[German Version] I. Early Judaism The Septuagint uses προσήλυτοι/ prosḗ lytoi, literally “those who have come over,” to translate Hebrew גֵּר/ gēr (“resident alien” [Stranger: II] in the land of Israel, enjoying a special legal status). Toward the end of the ¶ second temple period, proselyte came to denote primarily a convert to Judaism (e.g. Jos. Apion. II 28), with almost the same rights in the Jewish community as someone born a Jew. In early Judaism, three conditions for conversion (VIII) to Judaism were laid down: offering sacrifice (dropped af…


(1,534 words)

Author(s): Vollmer, Ulrich | Hutter, Manfred | Wandrey, Irina | Egelhaaf-Gaiser, Ulrike
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. History of Religion I. Religious Studies The term “oracle,” derived from the Latin noun oraculum, denotes, (1) in close connection with the original meaning of the word, the oracle site, i.e. the place at which a divine statement ( orare, “to speak”) was communicated to a person (see II, 3 below); (2) also common in ancient usage, the oracular statement itself; (3) the oracle as an institution; (4) in individual cases also a specific person involved in issuing the oracle (e.g. the medium of Nechun…


(2,436 words)

Author(s): Stausberg, Michael | Cancik, Hubert | Seidl, Theodor | Kollmann, Bernd | Schneider-Ludorff, Gury | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies As with many animals, purification is a basic area of human behavior. Mutual purifying implies and generates expectations, trust, solidarity, and hierarchy. Religious actions (e.g. the purifying of statues and pictures of gods) go back to identical structures. Purifying is a fundamental element of ritual actions. Ritual objects, but also the actors themselves, are purified. This process is often self-referential: purification happens not with regard to something unclean, but for the ritual. Purifica…

Pure and Impure

(4,031 words)

Author(s): Stausberg, Michael | Seidl, Theodor | Kollmann, Bernd | Schneider-Ludorff, Gury | Wandrey, Irina | Et al.
[German Version] I. Comparative Religion In differentiated religious systems or cultures, the categories of clean and unclean, or purity and impurity, represent a key classificatory-communicative distinction which determines the course of inner boundaries (e.g. those between clergy and laity or women and men) and outer boundaries (e.g. between believers and “pagans,” in-group/out-group). It enjoys particular plausibility in the context of dualistic models such as Zoroastrianism, for example (Zarathu…
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