Social identity in the letter of Aristeas

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Abstract

The Letter of Aristeas has long been considered the work most emblematic, elucidatory and declarative of Jewish identity in Hellenistic Egypt. The work embraces emphatically Jewish content alongside a profound identification with Hellenistic concepts, ideas and frameworks. This complexity has intrigued scholars and it continues to do so as they attempt to qualify the essential identity that the author of the Letter of Aristeas seeks to promote and to transmit. The question of identity is two-faceted: First, it explores the nature of the affinity between the Jewish and Hellenistic components in the doctrine advocated by the Letter of Aristeas. Second, it strives to identify the threat and the danger that the author confronts and deplores. In our discussion we aim to provide answers to these questions. Furthermore, we introduce a new conceptualization of the way the Letter of Aristeas combines and “manages” the various identities and their constituent details. For that aim, we draw on models from the realm of social psychology, which we have found to be eminently useful in understanding the complex and dynamic nature of the identities of Antique Jewry. We reason that considering models of social identity could provide us with a fresh perspective of the text, which allows for a new understanding of the complex and dynamic nature of the identities as they appear in the Letter of Aristeas.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)325-343
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Ancient Judaism
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 [2019] Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht GmbH & Co. KG, Göttingen

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