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Excursus: The social background of the ‘Fair Wage’ interpretation

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Chapter Summary

The chapter examines just why the biblical story of the despoliation of Egypt would have caused both an interpretive difficulty and a homiletic challenge within the church and synagogue. It begins by remembering that the hermeneutic tendency to justify sacred texts has a parallel in the Hellenistic interpretation of Greek literature especially in relation to the interpretation of Homer. The long-standing practice of interpreters of the Hellenistic/Roman period to expurgate the morally problematic passages in their cherished texts, the possibility that the problem presented by the spoliatio tradition was aggravated by the social practices and mores of the Ptolemaic/Roman period, and the fact that the biblical despoliation comes off as something akin to the illicit stripping of dead corpses, make it likely that we have more in view here than apologetic hermeneutic.

Keywords:biblical despoliation; biblical story; Egypt; Greek literature; Jewish interpreters; sacred texts; Septuagint



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