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The Phrase ‘Good Works’ In Early Judaism A Universal Code For The Jewish Law? For Piet Van Der Horst, ‘Doctor Universalis’

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the occurrences of the phrase 'good works' in early Jewish sources. The method is simple: a close reading of the relevant texts, finding out the narrative function of the phrase and/or the references and looking for the legal and theological concepts involved. In doing so, the chapter presents a historical approach based on three premises. First, to let the source texts speak for themselves. Second, to be aware of the variant types of Judaism in the era concerned. Third, to avoid ideologically based divisions between the Greek and the Hebrew/Aramaic branches of early Judaism. The phrase occurs in the opening section of the Community Rule (1QS). The 'letter of Aristeas' presents itself as an eyewitness account in the form of a report or letter, addressed to a certain Philocrates, on the translation of the Hebrew Bible in Greek at the Egyptian court of Ptolemy II Philadelphus.

Keywords: early Judaism; good works; Hebrew Bible; letter of Aristeas



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