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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. Cohen, ShayeJ. D. From the Maccabees to the Mishnah / Shaye J.D. Cohen.— 2nd ed. From the Maccabees to the Mishnah has ratings and 31 reviews. Tsun said: REVIEW AND CRITIQUE Shaye J. D. Cohen, S. From the Maccabees to the. In this new edition of a best-selling classic, Shaye Cohen offers a thorough analysis of Judaism’s development from the early years of the.

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From the Maccabees to the Mishnah by Shaye J.D. Cohen

Families in Ancient Israel. The first two editions lacked this section, but that was not an oversight it was intentional as the book is about the culture and history of Israel before the advent of Christianity. For most people what is found in this book should be more than sufficient to inform and revise many commonly held assumptions about Jews, Judaism: Cohen defends his decision to treat the rabbinic period as a whole, rather than breaking it into the tannaic Mishnah and the amoraic Talmud periods.

That name which seems to come from a word for “separation” functioned to name a party, clearly, but that party’s members never identified with it, either at the time or in retrospect. Another reason, I suspect, is that the Jews saw that their infighting had led to their military defeat. Rather, Cohen seeks to usher readers into the very heart of the social, cultural, and religious environment of Judaism as it was shaped and molded by the world and events around it.

This was the most interesting part of the chapter – a comparison of pre-exilic and second temple people and religion. In Jesus’ day, for example, the categories were fixed, most of the books were, but major textual variants existed. It was interesting that rabbinic thought was so cut off from the world that some rabbis hadn’t even heard of Plato or Aristotle. Perhaps the problem is that Jewish sects and individuals had such diverse approaches to canonization that we cannot speak of them as a monolith, as Cohen seems to try to do.


Though they disagreed with other Jews, they had a common identity vis a vis Gentiles. He traces some of this back to Ezekiel’s proclamation that each person is rewarded according to his own works.

The author begins by establishing definitions and a basic description of the history of the times. Jesus in the Jewish World. The more I learn about apocalyptic ideas, the more I see their importance in the New Testament. Cohen defends his choice of a historical framework that has no theological i.

Cohen does not suggest a better term. I appreciated the distinction between Sicarii and Zealots; I already suspected that brigands were nonreligious highway robbers.

The council of Jamnia did not have the authority to dictate a canon. Unity is often achieved by the emergence of a common rival. May 07, Tommi Karjalainen rated it liked it.

Now completely updated and revised, this book remains the clearest introduction to the era that shaped Judaism and provided the context for early Christianity. He notes that esoteric texts were not canonized since canonization requires recognition of authority by the communitybut in the end he concludes that we do not know why some books were canonized and others were not. I prefer to admit ignorance” p. Josephus is primarily a secular work, and he even claims to have written in Aramaic first.

However, Cohen does far more here than provide a mere historical survey of Judaism and its development into the rabbinic period. Sectarian grounds in Judaism often clash on three points: More a textbook than a monograph—which does not stop it from advancing an argument.


From the Maccabees to the Mishnah

Canonization and Its Implications. I like his working definition of a sect entailing social separation and claim for exclusive truth p.

Each region might have its own distinctive ideas or sects. He contrasts the OT anthropomorphic God with the philosophers’ abstract god, but did not explain the result of the conflict between these two concepts. Some takeaways—perhaps not new to you, but new to me: The most frustrating decision must be the omission of footnotes. Oct 01, Jonathan rated it it was amazing Shelves: This diversity provided a religious environment in which Christianity could grow.

This work is significant to Christian biblical scholarship because Cohen in his research and presentation completely stands away from the current debate regarding early Judaism and unsurprisingly he presents a complete different picture of the history from that offered by the “New Perspective” scholars such as James Dunn and N.

Cohen argues that the benediction against heretics was actually a curse against sectarianism. The righteous and the wicked were not always the direct recipients of God;s attentions, because God could reward or punish their offspring in their stead emphasis on the collective.

True, the council of Jamnia did not have authority throughout Judaism and could not effect a complete separation. There seems to be several concepts involved in canonization: