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.
"Gary Knoppers is uniquely qualified to write this book because of his impressive breadth of expertise with the historical literature of the Hebrew Bible (especially Kings and Chronicles) and with the Persian period. This synthesis of Samari(t)an history is thoroughly argued, clearly written, and destined to become the standard resource on the subject. Scholars and students alike owe Knoppers a large debt of gratitude." --Steven L. McKenzie, Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Spence L. Wilson Senior Research Fellow, Rhodes College
"Knoppers presents a fresh and original answer to the challenging question of the origin of the Samaritans. Basing himself on the results of the latest literary and archaeological research, he offers a new reading of the history and interdependence of Jews and Samari(t)ans in antiquity. Indispensable for the understanding of the dynamic relationship between the two communities and requisite reading for students of the Samaritan tradition, early Judaism, and the Bible." --Reinhard Pummer, author of The Samaritans in Flavius Josephus
"Traditionally, Biblical scholarship has explained the rise of the Pentateuch as an inner-Judean process that took place during the Persian period. It is only recently that the important role of the Samaritans in this process has become obvious. Knoppers's book, which contains several case studies on the relation between Jews and Samaritans, is an important contribution to this new field of research. As a world-leading specialist on the history of the Levant in the Persian period, Knoppers convincingly demonstrates that there existed a strong relation between the two groups which deteriorated only during the Roman period. This book provides new fascinating insight in the history of Jews and Samaritans and is a must-read for all scholars and students interested in the early history of Jews and Samaritans." --Thomas Römer, Professor of Hebrew Bible, Collège de France and University of Lausanne
"In sum, this ambitious volume is a valuable introduction to the field of early Samarian/Samaritan studies. Knoppers provides a broad, sound synthesis of the scholarship in the area, enriched by his own sensitive analysis... Knoppers offers an accessible treatment oriented towrds those materials most likely to interest the more general reader." --Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology
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?