Aseneth between Judaism and Christianity: Reframing the Debate

Aseneth between Judaism and Christianity: Reframing the Debate The question of whether Joseph and Aseneth is “Jewish or Christian?” is the central frame in which the provenance of this tale has traditionally been sought. Yet, such a formulation assumes that “Judaism” and “Christianity” were distinct entities without overlap, when it is now widely acknowledged that they were not easily separable in antiquity for quite some time. I suggest that the question of whether Joseph and Aseneth is Jewish or gentile is more profitable for contextualizing Aseneth’s tale. This article offers fresh evidence for historicizing its origins in Judaism of Greco-Roman Egypt. Placing the narrative’s concerns for boundary-regulation alongside the discursive projects of other ancient writers (both Jewish and gentile Christian) who engaged the story of Joseph suggests that the author of Joseph and Aseneth was likely a participant in a Hellenistic Jewish interpretive tradition in Egypt that used Joseph’s tale as a platform for marking and maintaining boundaries. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal for the Study of Judaism Brill

Aseneth between Judaism and Christianity: Reframing the Debate

Journal for the Study of Judaism, Volume 49 (2): 34 – Apr 5, 2018

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0047-2212
eISSN
1570-0631
D.O.I.
10.1163/15700631-12492208
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The question of whether Joseph and Aseneth is “Jewish or Christian?” is the central frame in which the provenance of this tale has traditionally been sought. Yet, such a formulation assumes that “Judaism” and “Christianity” were distinct entities without overlap, when it is now widely acknowledged that they were not easily separable in antiquity for quite some time. I suggest that the question of whether Joseph and Aseneth is Jewish or gentile is more profitable for contextualizing Aseneth’s tale. This article offers fresh evidence for historicizing its origins in Judaism of Greco-Roman Egypt. Placing the narrative’s concerns for boundary-regulation alongside the discursive projects of other ancient writers (both Jewish and gentile Christian) who engaged the story of Joseph suggests that the author of Joseph and Aseneth was likely a participant in a Hellenistic Jewish interpretive tradition in Egypt that used Joseph’s tale as a platform for marking and maintaining boundaries.

Journal

Journal for the Study of JudaismBrill

Published: Apr 5, 2018

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