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Appropriating Ancient Authorities: Second Temple Judaism & Apocalyptic Authority

Appropriating Ancient Authorities: Second Temple Judaism & Apocalyptic Authority

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For almost two hundred years, scholars have been assigning the roots of apocalyptic literature to Ancient near Eastern, Egyptian, or Hellenistic literature and traditions. Still, other scholars have explored links to the prophetic, priestly, and wisdom movements for the roots of apocalyptic writing. But, the question remains: Why start with an assumption that apocalyptic literature is rooted singularly in another movement or culture? This book considers whether such links exist based upon the apocalyptic author’s use of authority. The research begins with an assessment of authoritative topoi—i.e., places where an author may have borrowed authority from an earlier text—in Jewish apocalyptic literature. The second step searches the external ancient world (EAW) literature and the texts now known as the Tanakh for possible connections called parent-child relationships. A parent-child relationship occurs when three points of verbal contact exist between an EAW or Tanakh passage and the topoi of authority in the apocalyptic text. Using this research, Wilder next presents the nine topoi of authority most likely to garner a parent-child relationship and thus most-likely revealing the roots of apocalyptic literature. Wilder concludes by positing that no parent-child relationships existed between authoritative topoi in Second Temple apocalyptic literature and EAW or Hebraic material. As a result, this research suggests the roots of Jewish apocalyptic literature are not in literature from the surrounding cultures, nor are they in the priestly, prophetic, or wisdom movements of Israel. Instead, they lay in the historical and political milieu of Second Temple Judaism.

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