Commerce of the Sacred: Mediation of the Divine Among Jews in the Graeco-Roman Diaspora

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Jack Lightstone's "Commerce of the Sacred" remains an original and influential contribution to Judaic studies. Lightstone offers critical perspectives on the practices and beliefs of Greco-Roman Jews who lived outside of Palestine and beyond rabbinic control or influence. He investigates their influence on early Christians and examines how the two communities defined themselves in relation to each another. He challenges the view of Judaism as a single set of practices and beliefs and argues that Jews of the Greco-Roman Diaspora did not retain a shared, biblical 'perception of the world' centered on the Jerusalem temple. Rather, they believed multiple points of contact between God and man could be made through particular rites: prayer in the presence of the sacred scrolls, pleas for help at the tombs of dead saints and martyrs, and the interventions of holy men with alleged supernatural powers, to name a few.Many early Christians also participated in this Judaic 'commerce of the sacred', blurring the social and religious boundaries that distinguished Jews and Christians. Lightstone innovatively combines approaches from the history of religions and social anthropology to provide a different picture of Judaism during this period. Featuring a new foreword and an updated bibliography, "Commerce of the Sacred" resituates the Jews in the Greco-Roman world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231128575
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 5/16/2006
  • Edition description: New
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Lightstone is professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal. He is the author of a number of books, most recently Mishnah and the Social Formation of the Early Rabbinic Guild: A Socio-Rhetorical Approach.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 Magicians and divine men 12
3 The dead and their tombs 41
4 The life of Torah in the diaspora 63
5 The synagogue 78
6 The synagogue and the church : remarks on the sociology of Jewish-Christian interaction 87
7 Christians, Jews in the Greco-Roman diaspora, and rabbis 98
8 Conclusions : the commerce of the sacred and the social anthropology of knowledge 110
App Philo and philosophic mysticism 119
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