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.
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).
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; Epilogue; Abbreviations; Bibliography; Index.