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Dositheus

(947 words)

Author(s): Schwemer, Anna Maria (Tübingen) | Folkerts, Menso (Munich) | Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Rist, Josef (Würzburg) | Gatti, Paolo (Trento)
(Δωσίθεος; Dōsítheos). [German version] [1] Jewish apostate Son of Drimylos, Jewish apostate. He is supposed to have saved the life of Ptolemy IV Philopator before the battle at Raphia (217 BC)(3 Macc. 1,3). Around 240 BC he was one of the two leaders of the royal secretariat and accompanied Ptolemy III in 225-24 on a trip in Egypt; he held the highest priestly office in Hellenistic Egypt around 222 as the priest of Alexander [4] the Great and the deified Ptolemies. PP 1/8,8; 3/9,5100. Schwemer, Anna Maria (Tübingen) Bibliography V. Tcherikover, A. Fuks, Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum…

Nehemiah

(342 words)

Author(s): Liwak, Rüdiger (Berlin) | Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
(Νεεμιας/ Neemias, hebräisch Nehæmjāh). [German version] I. Old Testament According to the book of the same name, of which the so-called ‘Nehemiah-Memoir’ in Neh 1-7 and 11-13 forms the historical basis, Nehemiah is the cupbearer of the great king of Persia (Neh 1:11). In 445 BC (Neh 1:1; 2:1ff.), he came to Jerusalem on the instructions of Artaxerxes' [1] I. Amidst opposition (e.g. Ezr 4:8ff.), he supervised the rebuilding of the walls, which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II,  in only 52 days (Neh 6:15). He administered the settlement in Jerusalem in accordance with a type of syn…

Masorah, Masoretes

(494 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Since the Hebrew alphabet is a consonantal alphabet and thus does not write any vowels, written words can often be pronounced and interpreted in various ways. In order to solve this problem, individual consonant letters were used also as vowel letters ( matres lectionis) from early on (so called plene writing; cf. Aramaic documents from as early as the 9th century BC or the Shiloah inscription from the 7th century BC). Furthermore, in order to secure the pronunciation of the holy text definitively, the so-called Masorah (‘tradition’, from Hebrew msr, ‘to pass down’) w…

Sura

(441 words)

Author(s): Elvers, Karl-Ludwig (Bochum) | Eigler, Ulrich (Zürich) | Kessler, Karlheinz (Emskirchen) | Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Wiegels, Rainer (Osnabrück)
[German version] [1] Roman cognomen Roman cognomen ('calf bone'), recorded for L. Cornelius [I 56] Lentulus S. etc. Elvers, Karl-Ludwig (Bochum) Bibliography Degrassi, FCIR, 269  Kajanto, Cognomina, 63; 226. [German version] [2] Aemilius S. Author of a work of history In a gloss on Vell. Pat. 1,6,6, an excerpt from a work by a certain Aemilius S. with the title De annis populi Romani is cited as a supplement to Velleius' presentation of the genealogical derivation of the Macedonian royal house. The excerpt contains an account of the successive five empires…

Death, angel of

(231 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew Malakh ha-mawet). Figure of Rabbinical angelology, can be identified with  Sammael or  Satan (e.g. bBB 16a). The angel of death, given by God the power over life and death, stands at the side of someone who is dying. If that person opens his or her mouth in fright, the angel casts a drop of gall from his sword into the open mouth, whereupon death occurs (bAZ 20b). Up until the sin of the golden calf (Ex 32,1-24), the angel was intended only for the peoples of the world, beca…

Gerousia

(995 words)

Author(s): Welwei, Karl-Wilhelm (Bochum) | Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
(γερουσία; gerousía, ‘Council of Elders’). [German version] I. Graeco-Roman In Sparta the gerousia was probably originally an assembly of representatives from leading families. There it gained its institutional character from early on and consisted of the two kings and 28   gérontes (γέροντες), who were appointed for life and were at least 60 years old. Election took place on the basis of the volume of the acclamation in the   apélla (ἀπέλλα), with ‘electoral officials’ in a closed room deciding who got the strongest applause (Plut. Lycurgus …

Elisha ben Abuja

(158 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Eliša b. Abuja). Jewish scholar of the first half of the 2nd cent. AD, in the Rabbinic literature considered a prototypical apostate and probably therefore bearing the name Aḥer (Hebrew ‘the Other’). However, Rabbinic legendary tradition attributes to him a number of very different heresies: the reference in bHag 15a, according to which he believed in the existence of two heavenly powers, seems to point to Gnostic ideas ( Gnostics); according to yHag 2,1 (77b), he is supposed to …

Diaspora

(418 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] The term diaspora (Greek διασπορά; diasporá, ‘scattering’) refers to Israelite or rather Jewish settlements outside Palestine. The main reason for their formation was the  deportation of the population as a consequence of military conquest; but alongside that, flight for political reasons, emigration in response to economic hardships, as well as expansion of trade also played a part. Despite considerable cultural differences, the country of Israel and in particular the temple in Jerusa…

Aqiba

(149 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Rabbi A. ( c. AD 50-135), an important Jewish teacher in the time of  Jabne, often appears as an opponent of rabbi Yishmael in discussions on the interpretation of Scriptures. He plays a significant role in the context of early esoteric traditions (see the tale of the four who entered Paradise; bHag 14b par.). He allegedly proclaimed Bar Kochba the Messiah of Israel (‘Star of Jacob’; cf. Num 24,5), which provoked objections because of the primarily anti-apocalyptic tendency of the ea…

Zion

(288 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Ζιών/Ziṓn or Σιών/Siṓn, fem.; Lat. Zion, masc., fem. or neutr.). The Hebrew proper noun Z. was originally the name for the citadel of the Jebusite city of Jerusalem on the southeastern karst hill above the source of the Gihon, which was conquered by David [1]. The Hebrew text explains the phrase 'Fortress of Z.' ( meṣudat ṣijjōn) as 'David's City' (2 Sam 5:7; cf. 1 Kg 8:1; for the distinction from the remainder of the city cf. 2 Sam 6:10; 6:12; 6:16). After the expansion of Jerusalem under Solomon the name could also be applied to th…

Judith

(331 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Ιουδιθ, Iudith, Iudit). The Book of J., which has come down to us only in Greek and (dependent on it) in Latin and belongs to the Apocrypha ( Apocryphal literature), goes back to a Hebrew original. In a politically and militarily difficult situation, with the inhabitants of the mountain city of Betylia besieged by Nebuchadnezzar's commander  Holofernes, and consequently suffering from lack of water, Judith, a young, rich and pious widow, appears. After admonishing the people to tru…

Genizah

(356 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] In Judaism, a genizah (‘safekeeping’, from Aramaic gnaz, ‘to hide’) is a repository for books which are no longer in use but which contain the name of God, or for ritual objects, in order to prevent misuse or profanation. Such rooms were frequently found in synagogues; if the synagogue itself was demolished, the books and objects were ‘interred’ in the cemetery. Of particular importance amongst the multitude of genizahs in the Jewish world is the genizah of the Esra synagogue in Fusṭāṭ (Old Cairo), whose academic evaluation was due mainly to the British…

Mamre

(392 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Mentioned in the Bible (probably from the Hebrew root mr, ‘become fat, fatten’, as ‘place that is fat/fattens’; Greek Μάμβρη/ Mámbrē; Latin Mambre) as an oak grove where Abraham [1] built an altar (Gn 13:18), and where, as he played host to three men, interpreted as a divine apparition, the birth of his son Isaac [1] was announced to him (Gn 18). According to Biblical indications, the place is identical with Hebron (thus Gn 23:17 etc.; but cf. Gn 13:18: ‘in’ or ‘near Hebron’). M. has been located in t…

Eliezer ben Hyrkanos

(214 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrkanos ( c. end 1st/early 2nd cent.) is one of the most frequently mentioned Tannaites in the Mishnah and Talmud. Records of his life have survived in numerous legends: he only found his way to the Torah after the age of twenty and left the home of his wealthy parents to devote himself to studying the Torah as one of the disciples of Rabbi Jochanan ben Zakkais. There he was noted because of his outstanding exegetical abilities, which were so remarkable that they eve…

Archisynagogos

(93 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebr. rosh ha-knesset). Title of the head of the synagogue who was responsible for the conduct of services. There is literary (i.a. Mk 5,21-43; Lk 13,14; Acts 18,8) and epigraphic (i.a. CIJ II 991; 1404; 741; 766; CIJ I 265; 336; 383) documentation for the office from Palestine and the diaspora. Since the title was later applied to women and children as well, there is some discussion if women could hold the office or if the designation was merely an honorary title. Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) Bibliography Schürer, vol. 2, 434-436.

Paradise

(1,180 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Heimgartner, Martin (Halle) | Toral-Niehoff, Isabel (Freiburg)
[German version] I. Concept The Greek word parádeisos (παράδεισος/ parádeisos, Latin paradisus) or Hebrew pardēs comes from the ancient Iranian pairidaeza, meaning “surrounding walls, round enclosure, something that is enclosed,” and originally referred to an enclosed park. In the ancient Orient, gardens, particularly in conjunction with palace and temple grounds, “epitomized a wholesome living space” as well as representing a “visible domestication of "chaotic" powers” [4. 705] (especially when wild animals were k…

Haggadah

(396 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] The term Haggadah (the Hif'il of the Hebrew root ngd ‘say, tell’) or its Aramaic equivalent Aggada refers to all non-Halachic traditions from Rabbinic literature and is therefore a collective term for all in the widest sense narrative materials in this extensive corpus of literature. Such a negative definition of the term can already be found in the Middle Ages in Šmuel ha-Nagid (993-1055): ‘Haggadah is any interpretation in the Talmud on any topic which is not a commandment.’ Quite particular im…

Apocalypses

(490 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Beginning with the self-attribution of the Revelations of John as ἀποκάλυψις ( apokálypsis; Rev 1,1), the term Apocalypses became the generic name for this and related works. A chosen recipient of revelations is informed by visions, ecstatic experiences, dreams of honourable founders (Enoch, Moses, a prophet, an apostle), heavenly journeys or instruction by angels about the course of history (past, future and esp. the end of the world) or the afterlife with its entire geography (Heavenly Jeru…

Noah

(340 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Νῶε/ Nôe, Lat. Noa, Noe; Hebr. Nōaḥ). In the Bible, Noah is the main character in the story of the Flood in Gn 6,5-9,29. This story originated in Mesopotamia (cf. the Gilgamesh Epic and the Atraḫasis Epic; legend of the Flood). As a righteous man Noah is spared God's punishment and thus he became the father of mankind, as father of Shem, Ham und Japheth (Gn 6,10; 9,18), who represent the three continents. According to the traditional interpretation of the Pentateuch, the Biblical story…

Theodotion

(133 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Θεωδοτίων/ Theodotíōn; according to Epiphanius, De mensuris et ponderibus 17; 2nd cent. AD), in the view of the ancient Church a proselyte from Ephesus (Iren. Adversus haereses 3,21). T. did not produce (in contrast to Aquila [3] and Symmachus [2]) a new Greek translation of the Old Testament, rather he revised a Greek translation in accordance with the Hebrew text. Whether his model was identical with the Septuaginta is debatable, since there are also 'Theodotionic' readings in texts earlier than T. [1] identified T. with the author of the k aige- or Palestinian rece…
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