Hellenism, Judaism, Christianity: Essays on Their Interaction
In 1990 the author published two volumes of collected essays. The first one, Essays on the Jewish World of Early Christianity, focused on the relevance of Jewish themes and writings for the study of early Christianity; the second one, Studies on the Hellenistic Background of the New Testament, centered on pagan Hellenistic material, elucidating various aspects of the New Testament and Early Christianity. In the present volume these threads come together. In 20 essays, most of them published over the last few years, some of them new, several aspects of pagan Hellenistic and Judeo-Christian cultures are investigated in their various forms of interaction. Disparate though the copies may seem at first sight, the underlying unity is to be found in the fact that the author wrote all these essays in the framework of the Utrecht University Faculty of Theology's research project: 'The Cultural Milieu of Early Christianity'. The study of the New Testament was the starting point and remains the impetus for the research that lies behind most of all of these contributions. In the Utrecht tradition, inaugurated by W.C. van Unnik, New Testament problems are studied in their ancient context in the widest sense of the word. This inevitably leads to thorough research of both Jewish and Hellenistic cultures in the period from Alexander the Great to Justinian, in their various interactions. This is why the book has a fourfold division: (1) Hellenism and Judaism, (2) Judaism and Christianity, (3) Hellenism and Christianity, and (4) Hellenism-Judaism-Christianity. The author hopes that reading these studies will create a greater awareness of how much there is yet to be discovered in these still largely unexplored areas of the interrelationships of Graeco-Roman, Jewish and Christian cultures in antiquity. Whatever important research has already been done in this field, there is little doubt that this kind of investigations is still very much in its infancy. If these contributions, however modest, make other scholars and students enthousiastic for pursuing this line of research, the author will have attained his goal.
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