The very title of this journal reflects a commonplace in scholarly discourse. We want to understand "Judaism" in the Persian and Graeco-Roman periods: the lives and religion of ancient Jews. Some scholars in recent years have asked whether Ioudaioi and its counterparts in other ancient languages are better rendered "Jews" or "Judaeans" in English. This essay puts that question in a larger frame, by considering first Ioudaismos and then the larger problem of ancient religion. It argues that there was no category of "Judaism" in the Graeco-Roman world, no "religion" too, and that the Ioudaioi were understood until late antiquity as an ethnic group comparable to other ethnic groups, with their distinctive laws, traditions, customs, and God. They were indeed Judaeans.
The author discusses the confusing fact of numerous differing Josephus editions being available at present. Thus it is no longer clear which edition to use for correct citation. The relatively best edition (Niese's Editio maior critica, 1885-1895) is obsolete in various respects but can not really be replaced by the Editiones minores published since. A completely new major critical edition is required though impossible to make at present. However, as a realistic alternative, "Niese" could be revised, an update to be managed in a fairly short time. As a result, we would get a reliable Textus receptus serving itself as a temporary basis for future translations and Editiones minores.
Tôrâ, rendered as "the law" in the extant versions, is a central theme of 4 Ezra. The author of 4 Ezra had a much broader concept of tôrâ than simply the Mosaic law. While for Ezra it is bound up with the covenant, in Uriel's speeches, tôrâ is a highly abstract concept associated with wisdom, the natural order, and "the way of the Most High." Understanding the term tôrâ broadly as divine "instruction," the author of 4 Ezra extends it to all of Scripture and by implication to the seventy additional books revealed to Ezra in the epilogue.
Previous studies of the story of Abraham's visit to Ishmael in Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer (PRE) focus on its relationship to Islamic versions and read it either as polemical or apologetic. It is also assumed that either the author of PRE reworked an Islamic version of the story, or that the story is of Jewish origin. Such readings, however, are based largely on notions of Ishmael's character in the story that overlook other references to Ishmael and the Ishmaelites in PRE. This article thus examines the story in light of all references to Ishmael and the Ishmaelites in PRE.