By Martha Himmelfarb
According to the account within the ebook of Exodus, God addresses the youngsters of Israel as they stand ahead of Mt. Sinai with the phrases, "You can be to me a state of clergymen and a holy country" (19:6). The sentence, Martha Himmelfarb observes, is paradoxical, for monks are by way of definition a minority, but the which means in context is obvious: the complete humans is holy. The phrases additionally element to a few major tensions within the biblical knowing of the folk of Israel. If the complete humans is holy, why does it want clergymen? If club in either humans and priesthood is an issue now not of benefit yet of start, how can both the folks or its clergymen desire to be holy? How can one reconcile the space among the consideration due the priest and the particular habit of a few who stuffed the function? What can the folks do to make itself actually a nation of priests?
Himmelfarb argues that those questions turn into primary in moment Temple Judaism. She considers more than a few texts from this era, together with the Book of Watchers, the Book of Jubilees, criminal records from the lifeless Sea Scrolls, the writings of Philo of Alexandria, and the ebook of Revelation of the recent testomony, and is going directly to discover rabbinic Judaism's emphasis on descent because the basic criterion for inclusion one of the selected humans of Israel—a place, she contends, that took on new strength in response to early Christian disparagement of the concept that mere descent from Abraham used to be enough for salvation.
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A Kingdom of Priests: Ancestry and Merit in Ancient Judaism (Jewish Culture and Contexts) by Martha Himmelfarb