By Martha Himmelfarb
According to the account within the e-book of Exodus, God addresses the youngsters of Israel as they stand sooner than Mt. Sinai with the phrases, "You will be to me a country of clergymen and a holy state" (19:6). The sentence, Martha Himmelfarb observes, is paradoxical, for clergymen are via definition a minority, but the that means in context is obvious: the complete humans is holy. The phrases additionally aspect to a few major tensions within the biblical knowing of the folk of Israel. If the total humans is holy, why does it desire clergymen? If club in either humans and priesthood is an issue no longer of benefit yet of delivery, how can both the folk or its monks desire to be holy? How can one reconcile the gap among the glory due the priest and the particular habit of a few who crammed the function? What can the folk do to make itself really a nation of priests?
Himmelfarb argues that those questions turn into important in moment Temple Judaism. She considers various texts from this era, together with the Book of Watchers, the Book of Jubilees, felony files from the lifeless Sea Scrolls, the writings of Philo of Alexandria, and the publication of Revelation of the recent testomony, and is going directly to discover rabbinic Judaism's emphasis on descent because the fundamental criterion for inclusion one of the selected humans of Israel—a place, she contends, that took on new strength in response to early Christian disparagement of the concept that mere descent from Abraham was once adequate for salvation.
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A Kingdom of Priests: Ancestry and Merit in Ancient Judaism (Jewish Culture and Contexts) by Martha Himmelfarb