"We offer this collection of essays as a tribute to Ben on the occasion of his 65th birthday, which falls on January 19. Ben has been a teacher to us not out of institutional obligation, but out of a genuine interest in younger scholars and a true pedagogical gift. Ben has taught all of us how to think better about early Jewish languages and culture, but he has also modeled a way of being a scholar that goes deeper: a look at his CV, with its many co-written and co-edited works, shows that our scholarship is better when it is collaborative. And despite the intimidating length of that CV, Ben has also boldly modeled that an openness to new ideas and methods can continue apace throughout a distinguished career. Ben defies the stereotypes we might associate with some senior scholars: he actively seeks out ways to interact with—and to shape--emerging ideas in the field."
"The “I” voice has a power in these ancient texts that modern readers have not yet fully understood. The first person voice, as Wright’s work on Second Temple wisdom texts has productively explored, can draw—indeed, in his words, “coerce”—the reader into a relationship with the text’s speaker."
"Where so-called pseudepigraphical texts utilize the premise of (re)discovery, the third-person outermost frame allows for the possibility of new writing and a comedy that might be otherwise inappropriate in the voice of a (sometimes) revered author-hero."
by James Tucker
"On the one hand, how do texts like Serekh ha Yaḥad and Damascus Document help us understand Second Temple Jewish scribalism? On the other hand, how do our philological frameworks and hermeneutical tendencies already predispose us to certain conclusions about texts like Serekh ha Yaḥad and Damascus Document?
"This also demonstrates that formal translation per se was not a strategy of resistance for these Egyptian priests. When they wanted to make a different point in the demotic, they simply wrote a different text."
"A fundamental element of the book of Ben Sira is, therefore, best understood as reflecting and participating in a wider ancient Mediterranean wisdom discourse; it probably resulted from creative cultural collaboration in which various cultural influences floating in the Eastern Mediterranean region intermingled. The idealized nature of Ben Sira’s sage only brings the figure closer to the Greek world where the process of becoming a virtuous person always involved an aspirational element."
"This means that Judaism as practiced in Alexandria by Philo’s nephew is no less authentic than the Judaism of Judas Maccabeus. Ultimately it means that Judaism can only be “Hellenistic” insofar as the term is used to describe the range of expressions of Judaism observable throughout the Hellenistic period."
"While from our viewpoint, what else could the Mosaic law be but Jewish or the encyclical preliminary curriculum be but Greek, Philo, tellingly, does not delineate according to such a simplistic ethnic dichotomy. The Mosaic law is indeed a superior form of education but not because of any sort of proprietary Jewish provenance."
by James Nati
"Why, then, might the Miscellanies be interesting to study beyond textual criticism and the reconstruction of Vorlagen? I want to suggest that they represent a pair of interpretive traditions--among many others--surrounding the figure of Solomon in the first centuries BCE. We might study them as pieces of evidence for diverse ways people imagined and expanded the tales of biblical characters."
by Sean Adams
"I would argue that the literary form of symposia, and philosophical texts more broadly, also influence the construction of Aristeas, particularly some important parallels. These include the blurring of narrator and participant, the theme of learning, the importance of piety, and, most importantly, the asking and answering of questions."