Second Temple Judaism

Annette Yoshiko Reed

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online January 2012 | | DOI:
Second Temple Judaism

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“Second Temple Judaism” is a common designation for the Jewish traditions that flourished between the return of exiles from Babylon and the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple under Persian patronage from 538 to 515 bce, and the destruction of the Temple by Roman forces in 70 ce. In practice, research on the period often focuses on the 4th century bce and following, and stretches into the 2nd century ce. Sometimes referred to erroneously as “intertestamental,” Second Temple Judaism has attracted sustained attention since the late 19th century as a transitional age between the ancient Israelite religion reflected in the early strata of the Hebrew Bible and the emergence of Christianity and classical rabbinic Judaism in their characteristically postsacrificial forms in late Antiquity. In relation to the former, it has been called “postexilic,” “post-biblical,” or “late Judaism,” and, in relation to the latter, “prerabbinic” or “early Judaism.” Particularly since the discovery and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it has been studied increasingly for its own sake and on its own terms. By the 1970s, a nascent subfield was taking form, energized by a new emphasis on the diversity of the Judaism from within which Christianity arose. In the late 20th century, studies of the Dead Sea Scrolls revealed new insights into the significance of this period for the development of Judaism as well. Long deemed critical for Jewish engagement with Greek language and literature and for the spread of Jewish communities throughout the Mediterranean world, the Second Temple period has also become a new locus for research on halacha, purity, and biblical interpretation. In addition, its study continues to create a space for discussion and collaboration among specialists in the Hebrew Bible, Classics, New Testament, Jewish studies, and rabbinics. This entry focuses on the literary evidence for Second Temple Judaism, selectively treating themes and issues that cross the large span of periods and places encompassed by this scholarly designation; for material and documentary evidence for Jews in the Second Temple period, the reader is referred to the Oxford Bibliographies articles on specific locales and time periods. Please see also Inscriptions, Papyri, Coins, and Seals in the Oxford Bibliographies article Hellenistic Judaism.

Article.  8529 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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