Indeed, central to the volume are two implicit acknowledgements: 1) that the ancient urban “realities” are inaccessible to the modern scholar except by means of imaginative approaches, and 2) that urban “dreams” no less “real” than their material counterparts.
Divine Deliverance contributes to the rich variety of scholarship that examines ancient texts not for historical detail but for rhetorical effect.
Joshua Matson with a summary of the edited volume On Prophets, Warriors, and Kings, which contains conference papers from "various scholars who explored how the Former Prophets have been read, interpreted, and utilized throughout the ages."
Joshua Blachorsky with a book note of Burns' The Christian Schism in Jewish History and Jewish Memory: "Burns continues the trend of eschewing the traditional parting model and envisioning a split only after the beginning of the 4th century. But he does so with a novel lens, focusing on the rabbinic evidence."
"Lenski’s book thus offers not a picture of Constantine at all, but a series of portraits artfully arranged – some by Constantine himself, some by his image-makers, and some by contemporary scholars trying to make sense of this complex, enigmatic, kaleidoscopic character. "
"Where others might be deterred by the paucity of evidence, the range of languages and disciplines required to make heads or tails of the area, or the lack of any preceding comparable work, Rezakhani refreshingly admits these difficulties and treks on despite – and perhaps even because of – them."
"Jörg Rüpke, Vice-director for Religious Studies at the Max Weber Centre of the University of Erfurt, argues that an analysis of Roman conceptions of religious deviance such as the celebration of Bacchanalia can illuminate normative Roman religion and aid in identifying individual religious behavior in the Roman world."
"Griffith opens a window onto an earlier scholarly world, showing how the production of the earliest Arabic Bibles—and indeed the production of Arabic Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as a whole—has been from the beginning a thoroughly interreligious endeavor."
"In a useful introduction, Shoemaker lays out the problem and the gap he wishes to solve and fill: scholars have tended to look at doctrinal texts on Mary and have all but ignored the presence of Marian piety in the first centuries. By charting a devotional rather than theological survey about the Virgin Mary, he aims to create a new narrative about her import in the early Church."
"With careful attention to detail and broad usage of a wealth of sources, Payne systematically deconstructs this idealistic bifurcation between Christianity and Sasanian culture. However, Payne dismantles this historiographical narrative, while simultaneously offering a completely new perspective on Persian Christianity by examining the various ways that Christians participated in, transformed, and even claimed Iranian culture as part of Christian identity."
"While we cannot say that the text reflects actual debates that proponents of a virginal life were having, we can certainly point to it as an example of debates that they imagined they could or would have had similar confrontations. A close engagement with The Life of Saint Helia might therefore provide some insight into how the community—whether it be Priscillianist, Jeromian, or otherwise—attempted to locate themselves within the tradition of Scripture and its interpretation."
Zachary Domach with an overview of Wilson's translation and commentary of The Sentences of Sextus: "his commentary exemplifies how a study of Sextus—and wisdom literature in general—reveals the intertwining of Greek, Jewish, and Christian thought as “actual ‘life’” in Late Antiquity."
"One of Berzon’s constant reminders is that powerful ideologies and strategies of representation often strive to hide their own seams and points of tension, but that it is in the process of highlighting these very points of tension that they find themselves at their most reproducible but also at their most frail. The late ancient heresiologists cultivated strong rhetorics of exceptionality and mastery—the heresy hunter excelled at making discoveries and at flaunting erudition—but also rehearsed a discourse of fear of contagion, vulnerability, and epistemic overload."
"With one eye on Barr’s critiques and another on Guy Deutscher’s more recent linguistic work, she avoids a lexical-based approach and posits that a better method for identifying reflective thought on time is to appeal to an author’s syntax and “habital use” of language—ways by which the author directs the reader to concentrate on certain aspects of the world—and an author’s ability to do this transcends the sum of her lexical stock.
"Marx-Wolf demonstrates that these Platonist thinkers were closely connected despite the fact that one is a Christian and the other three are non-Christian. To this end, she reads these Platonists not in terms of different social or religious affiliations, but in terms of a shared paideia (2-3). She contends that this common formation explains elements of their thought that might otherwise be “surprising” such as Porphyry’s rejection of animal sacrifice."
"Stroumsa makes a subtle move here, however: rather than suggesting, as many before him have, that there was a transition from cult-centered religion to book-centered religion, he argues that book becomes cult."
"Of course, explaining the rise of an Islamic empire as a response to decline in the Roman and Sasanian empires is not a novel approach. Hoyland departs in analyzing the Arabs as a “peripheral people” that had specific political ties to both the Roman and Sasanian empire and thus gained a broader perspective for their own political ambitions."
"Himmelfarb’s incisive reading of Sefer Zerubbabel greatly enriches our understanding of Jewish messianism between the Second Temple period and the rise of Islam. By exploring common themes and figures in a wide range of sources, Himmelfarb works “backward” to uncover a vibrant “Judaism” that actively appropriates key elements of the Christian messianic narrative, much to the consternation of the rabbis."
"This is the theoretical point Morgan is interested in proving with this volume – that in the endless growth of language into new meanings, there are very few grand leaps and very many infinitesimal steps. The earliest Christians did not (yet) redefine faith, Morgan insists, but changed its focus – toward God and Christ alone, rather than that “shared circle of reasoning” that pistis/fides spun among gods and humans (p. 123)."
"How does an orientation towards “a people’s history,” following Howard Zinn, help scholars ask new questions about the context and content of Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, a brief but important text in the Pauline corpus?"
"Much as we write about the Talmud itself, we pay far less attention to the significance and contribution of writing about our teaching. With our book, Learning to Read Talmud, we aim to expand the research agendas of Talmudists to include scholarship on the teaching of rabbinic literature."
"What these essays offer instead are provocative and stimulating inroads into the task of recognizing just how different the late ancient world may have actually been."
Jillian Stinchcomb booknotes Eva Mroczek's The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity, developing how Mroczek "presents a convincing native theory of text production."
"By destabilizing the observer’s gaze, the Babylonian Talmud provides a means to counter outsider perceptions of the relationship between the Jews and their God."
Since the 1980s, the story and figure of Thecla have featured in vibrant currents in scholarship. This new publication brings a fresh perspective to Thecla’s depiction in light of social expectations for women in the Greco-Roman world.
Crucifixion and Death as Spectacle argues that "the crucifixion that happened in the Umayyad era was undergirded by meaningful Islamic ideas that nevertheless had important precedents in late antiquity."
City of Demons "explores how demonically embattled cityscapes in the late Roman world were creatively structured and restructured by Christian ecclesiastical leaders."
Smoak argues that in writing the Priestly Blessing in the literary space of the book of Numbers, the authors – likely priests – found a novel way to solidify their ritual authority in blessing Israel.
Neis’s book stands as a corrective to a long tradition that has assumed “a Jewish resistance to, or even incapacity for, vision” (p. 1).
John Gager's Who Made Early Christianity? The Jewish Lives of the Apostle Paul makes the case for Paul's commitment to Judaism.