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The Stars in Genesis 15:5 in Rabbinic and Patristic Exegesis: Similar Concerns, Divergent Interpretations

Sonek, Kris (2019) The Stars in Genesis 15:5 in Rabbinic and Patristic Exegesis: Similar Concerns, Divergent Interpretations. In: To Gaul, to Greece, and Into Noah’s Ark. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 209-226. ISBN to be determined (In Press)

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Abstract

There is a dialectical tension between Jewish and Christian exegesis in late antiquity. The interpretation of Genesis 15:5 by ancient theologians is an excellent case in point. The mesmeric beauty of the image of a starry sky in Gen 15:5 created a flurry of conflicting interpretations as soon as it began its journey through the ages. Hence a study of the reception history of Gen 15:5 in rabbinic and patristic works of late antiquity not only uncovers a complex cultural world, where rabbis and church fathers are in dispute with each other, but it also helps understand the impact of scriptural interpretation on the subsequent development of Western culture. This article looks at chosen Jewish and Christian biblical commentaries written between 200 and 500 CE: the Talmudim, Genesis Rabbah, and the exegetical works of Origen, Ambrose of Milan, and John Chrysostom. The article argues that biblical interpretation in late antiquity profoundly shaped the imagination of ancient authors for whom Scripture was the principal source of knowledge about the universe. The article shows that Jewish and Christian interpreters understood Gen 15:5 in a very different way. The difference in interpretation stemmed from their respective theological presuppositions, canonical context, and a contrasting understanding of the role played by Abraham.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Repository Version: Author's Final Manuscript
Keywords: Jewish and Christian exegesis in late antiquity, Genesis 15:5, reception history, rabbinic and patristic interpretation,Talmudim, Genesis Rabbah, Origen, Ambrose of Milan, John Chrysostom, Abraham
Fields of Research: 21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210306 Classical Greek and Roman History
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220402 Comparative Religious Studies
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220404 Jewish Studies
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies
Type of Activity: Pure Basic Research
Subjects: B - Biblical Studies, general
C - Church History
B - Old Testament
College/Association with University of Divinity: CTC: Catholic Theological College
Depositing User: Dr K P Sonek
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2019 01:43
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2019 01:56
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/3594

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