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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores a central tension in Jewish writings of the era broadly defined as Second Sophistic. Many Jewish authors were deeply immersed in and regularly employed the genres, forms, and themes that long had characterized Greek literature and thrived once more (or still) in the age of the Roman Empire. At the same time, however, the homage paid to Jewish traditions and the sense of distinctiveness, even exceptionalism, retained a strong hold. The chapter discusses four very different authors or texts, Philo, 4 Maccabees, Pseudo-Phocylides, and Joseph and Aseneth, illustrating philosophy, history, gnomic poetry, and the novel. In each case, the author utilizes the Hellenic genres that were an ingrained part of his cultural makeup while conveying the sense of his people’s own distinctive character and contribution. And in each case the blend, smooth on the surface, betrays the signs of strain beneath it.

Keywords: Philo, 4 Maccabees, Pseudo-Phocylides, Joseph and Aseneth, Second Sophistic, genre, exceptionalism, tension

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