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Jews and Samaritans: The Origins and History of Their Early Relationsby Gary N. Knoppers
Synopses & Reviews
Covering over a thousand years of history (from the Assyrian exile in the eighth century BCE to late Roman times), this book makes an important contribution to the fields of Jewish studies, biblical studies, ancient Near Eastern studies, Samaritan Studies, and early Christian history by challenging the oppositional paradigm that has traditionally characterized the historical relations between Jews and Samaritans. The approach is multi-disciplinary, engaging exciting new discoveries in archaeology, such as the site surveys of ancient Samaria and the major excavations at the holy site of Mt. Gerizim in central Israel; new discoveries in epigraphy, such as the publication of the Samaria papyri dating to the late-Persian period (375-335 BCE), the publication of hundreds of late-Persian period Samarian coins, and the publication of hundreds of fragmentary Mt. Gerizim inscriptions (dating mostly to the late-third and early-second centuries BCE); as well as new discoveries in biblical studies, such as the diverse collection of Pentateuchal manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Only by recognizing the close ties that developed between Samaria and Judah during the much of the first millennium BCE can one explain how the two communities became so similar in belief and practice, even sharing a common set of foundational scriptures (the Pentateuch). Paradoxically, accounting for how two such similar groups as the Samaritans and Jews became alienated from one another during the Maccabean and Roman periods involves explaining how the two were so closely related in the first place. The solution to this puzzle is to be found in earlier Israelite history.
Winner of the R.B.Y. Scott Award from the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies
Even in antiquity, writers were intrigued by the origins of the people called Samaritans, living in the region of ancient Samaria (near modern Nablus). The Samaritans practiced a religion almost identical to Judaism and shared a common set of scriptures. Yet the Samaritans and Jews had little to do with each other. In a famous New Testament passage about an encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman, the author writes, "Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans."
The Samaritans claimed to be descendants of the northern tribes of Joseph. Classical Jewish writers said, however, that they were either of foreign origin or the product of intermarriages between the few remaining northern Israelites and polytheistic foreign settlers. Some modern scholars have accepted one or the other of these ancient theories. Others have avidly debated the time and context in which the two groups split apart.
Covering over a thousand years of history, this book makes an important contribution to the fields of Jewish studies, biblical studies, ancient Near Eastern studies, Samaritan studies, and early Christian history by challenging the oppositional paradigm that has traditionally characterized the historical relations between Jews and Samaritans.
About the Author
Gary Knoppers is the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Religious Studies, and Jewish Studies at The Pennsylvania State University. He is a past president of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies (2003-2004) and currently serves as President of the Biblical Colloquium. He serves on the editorial boards of a number of journals, professional societies, and institutes, including Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel, the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, Studia Samaritana, Vetus Testamentum, the Internationaler Exegetischer Kommentar zum Alten Testament, and the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research. His scholarly specializations include Hebrew scriptures, ancient historiography, ancient Near Eastern and biblical law, inner-scriptural exegesis, textual criticism, and early Jewish and Samaritan relations.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
1. Samaritans, Jews, and the Contested Legacy of Classical Israel
2. The Fall of the Northern Kingdom and the Ten Lost Tribes: A Reevaluation
3. God and Country: The Revival of Israelite Religion in Postexilic Samaria
4. The Fall of the Northern Kingdom as a New Beginning in Northern Israelite- Southern Israelite Relations
5. A Distinction without a Difference? Samarian and Judean Cultures during the Persian and Early Hellenistic Periods
6. Ethnicity, Communal Identity, and Imperial Authority: Contextualizing the Conflicts between Samaria and Judah in Ezra-Nehemiah
7. The Torah and "the Place[s] for Yhwh's Name": Samarian-Judean Relations in Hellenistic and Maccabean Times
8. An Absolute Breach?
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