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The Quest For Perfection In Ancient Judaism

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Chapter Summary

The importance of the Hellenistic context for ancient Judaism and Christianity cannot be emphasized enough. This chapter shows an intimacy - both intellectual and religious - between texts of our period, in spite of cultural and linguistic divides. It considers two Platonic paths to perfection and then considers two ancient Jewish examples which imagine the experience of exile to be redemptive - perhaps even salvific. The question is whether it is possible for Jews in forced or self-imposed exile to find it possible to recover that which is lost to Judaism in a post-destruction environment. The two examples considered are the corpus of Philo of Alexandria and 4 Ezra. The chapter intends to think about what the aspiration to be perfect is - whether it means to be god-like, live in a pure or holy way, or to live in accordance with Mosaic law. Author's goal in adducing these examples is to raise and explore them.

Keywords: 4 Ezra; ancient Judaism; Christianity; Jewish; Mosaic law; Philo of Alexandria



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