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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…

Šekinā

(271 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (literally the 'inhabitation [of God]' from Hebrew šāḵan, 'dwell, inhabit'). Rabbinical term for the presence of God in the world; follows notionally from the description of God's dwelling in the Temple (Jes 8,18; Ez 43,7-9) or in his people (Ex 29,45) (cf. also the comparable reception of the concept in John's theology of incarnation, Jo 1,14). The concept of Šekinā is used to describe the immanence of an intrinsically transcendental deity. Proceeding from the idea of the continuous presence of the Šekinā in the Temple (according to [1] …

Sandalphon

(187 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew sandālfōn). Name of one of the most important angels in rabbinic angelology. S.'s size spans from earth into the heavenly realm and he surmounts his angel companions by 500 years 'while making wreaths for his creator' (bHag 13b with the interpretation of Ez 1:15; PesR 20 [97a]). Related traditions identified these wreaths with the prayers of Israel that S. presents to God (Bet ha-Midrasch 2,26 Jellinek). It is highly probably that his name is derived from the Greek συνάδελφος/ synádelphos, 'fellow brother' (in the community of angels or specifically o…

Adonai

(107 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Literally: ‘my Lords’. The plural suffix presumably recurs as an adjustment to the Hebrew word for God, Elohim, which is grammatically a plural form. When early Judaism tabooed the divine name Yahweh for fear of an abuse of its utterance (cf. i.a. Ex 20.7), adonai became a substitute. Thus, the Septuagint expresses the name ‘Yahweh’ as the divine predicate ‘Lord’ (κύριος; kýrios). The  Masoretes ( c. 7th-9th cents. AD), who initially set the text of the Hebrew Bible which only consisted of consonants and supplied its vowels, vocalized the tetra…

Exilarch

(195 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] The Exilarch (Aramaic rēš alūṯā, ‘Head of the diaspora’) was the leader of the Babylonian Jews and the official representative at the court of the Parthian king in the Talmudic and Gaonic periods ( c. 3rd-10th cents. AD). This institution, which claimed its origins in the House of David, was probably introduced during the administrative reforms of Vologaeses. I. (AD 51-79) [3]. The first certain details about the office date from the 3rd cent. (cf. yKil 9,4ff [32b]). The Exilarch had authority primarily in juridic…

Tannaites

(157 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (from Aramaic  tenâ = Hebrew šānāh 'repeat, teach, learn',  cf. also the technical term  Mishnah). In the traditional periodization of rabbinical literature, a term for the rabbinical teachers who worked in the period of the edition of the Mishnah, and therefore between Hillel and Shami (around the beginning of the Common Era), up to Yehudah ha-Nasi (Jehuda ha-Nasi) and his sons (beginning of the 3rd cent. AD). According to Joseph ibn Aqnin, a pupil of Maimonides (who died in 1204), the era of …

Nazirite, Nazir

(226 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] According to biblical records (Nm 6:1-21), a male or female (cf. Jos. BI 2,313: Berenice) nazirite vowed - normally for a limited period of time - to take up certain ascetic rules of behaviour: abstention from vine products and haircutting, ban on getting impure by touching a dead person (Nm 6:3-12; cf. also the rules in the Mishnah, or Talmud and Tosefta tract Nazir). If the nazirite vow was not, as in the case of Samson (Judges 13,5), taken for life, then it ended, after the deadline set in the vow, with offers of various sacrifices (cf. Ac…

Toledot Yeshu

(239 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew for ‘Life of Jesus’), a Jewish popular pseudo-history of the life of Jesus (A.1.), describing his birth, life and death in a satirical and polemic manner. The mediaeval compilation, which was in circulation in numerous different versions in several languages (including Hebrew, Yiddish, Judaeo-Arabic and Judaeo-Persian) and whose roots can be traced back as far as Talmudic tradition (cf. e.g. bSot 47a; bSan 43a; 67a; 107b), tells e.g. of Jesus's ignominious origin, since hi…

Saboraeans

(71 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (from Hebrew śābar, 'consider', 'verify', 'reason' ). Term for those Jewish Talmud scholars of the 6th/7th cents. AD who carried out the final editing of the Babylonian Talmud (Rabbinical literature) and copiously amplified it with more extensive chapters. The Saboraeans followed the Tannaites (late 1st - early 3rd cents. AD) and the Amoraim (3rd-5th cents. AD). Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) Bibliography G. Stemberger, Einleitung in Talmud und Midrasch, 81992, 205-207.

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…

Pesah

(491 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew psḥ; Greek πάσχα, LXX, explained in Phil. De sacrificiis Abelis et Caini 63 and Phil. Legum allegoria 3 as διάβασις/ diábasis; German Passah; English Passover). Annual spring celebration from 15 to 22 Nisan according to the Jewish calendar. It is one of the most important Jewish festivals and commemorates the Exodus and the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt (cf. Ex 7-14). A central symbol is unleavened bread (Hebrew maṣṣōt), which is supposed to recall the haste of the Exodus (Ex 12:34; 14:39). Hence any leavened bread has to be remov…

Sammael

(188 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew Sammāel). Negative angel figure in Jewish tradition, often identified with Satan. S. is mentioned for the first time in Ethiopic Henoch 6, where he is one of a group of angels that rebels against God (cf. the name Σαμμανή/ Sammanḗ or Σαμιήλ/ Samiḗl in the Greek version). According to Greek Baruch 4,9, he planted the vine that led to the fall of Adam; S. was therefore cursed and became Satan. In the 'Ascension of Isaiah', S. is identified with the figure of Beliar (4,11). Rabbinical literature represents S. in the s…

Adam

(322 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] The early Jewish and rabbinic traditions of A., the first man whom God created from the dust of the Earth (Hebr. adama) and gave the breath of life (see the Yahwistic account of creation), mainly revolved around the original sin. Early Jewish writing emphasized A.'s original glory (Wisdom 10,1 f.; Sir 49,16; 4 Ezra 6,53 f.) and beauty (Op 136-142; 145-150; Virt 203-205), occasionally even describing him as an angel (slHen 30,11 f.). However, his sin brought death to his descendants (4 Ezra 3,7,21; 7,…

Baruch

(193 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] According to Biblical tradition, he was Jeremiah's companion and scribe. A highly significant figure in early Jewish tradition. In the apocryphal Book of B., he appears foremost as a preacher who calls Israel to penance but also promises consolation. In the B. writings (for instance in SyrBar and GrBar, Ethiop. B. apocalypse), B. predominantly acts as a prophetic recipient of revelation, who can even be superior to Jeremiah when telling him about God's decision (SyrBar 10,1ff). B.…

Pumbedita

(140 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew pwmbdyt). Babylonian (Babylonia) city on the Euphrates. According to rabbinical tradition, it was distinguished by the fertile land around it (cf. bPes 88a), and because of its flax production, it represented an important site for the textile industry (bGit 27a; bBM 18b). The epistle of Rav Šerira Gaon indicates a centre for studying the Torah (Pentateuch) there by the time of the Second Temple (520 BC - AD 70). The destruction of Nehardea by the Palmyrans (Palmyra) in AD…

Aaron

(228 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Post-Biblical traditions of A. are designed to idealize this figure, who appears ambivalent in the Biblical tradition (e.g. the Golden Calf episode), against a background of disputes starting with  Menelaus over the office of High Priest, which had abandoned hereditary succession, and thus affirming that A. (and his successors) were worthy of the office. The  Qumran community, which broke with the Jerusalem community of worship in protest over the progressive desacralization of th…

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…

Levites

(434 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] According to the Chronistic History ( Bible), the Levites - clearly distinguished from the priests - form a type of clerus minor who are entrusted with the supervision of the Temple courtyards, provision rooms with cult equipment, sacrifices and offerings as well as being active as singers, musicians and gatekeepers and assisting the priests in the sacrificial service. Various genealogies document internal disputes and rivalries. The details of the history of the Levites can be clarified only with dif…

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…

Raphael

(177 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Literally 'God heals', Gr. Ραφαήλ/ Rhaphaḗl; cf. the personal name in 1 Chr 26:7). In Jewish angelology, one of the four (or seven) archangels who have a special role in the celestial hierarchy for their praise and glorification of God before His throne (1 Enoch 9,1; 20,3; 40,9). True to his name, R. is the angel of healing (cf. Hebr. rāfā, 'to heal'), ruling over "all illnesses and all torments of the children of men" (1 Enoch 40,9). He plays a significant role in the Book of Tobit, where, disguised as Tobias' travelling companion, he d…
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