Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review of Ehrenkrook, Sculpting idolatry in Flavian Rome

Jason Ehrenkrook, Sculpting idolatry in Flavian Rome: (An)Iconic Rhetoric in the Writings of Flavius Josephus. Early Judaism and its literature, 33. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011. Pp. xiv, 226. ISBN 9781589836228. $29.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Nadejda Popov, University of West Georgia (


“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth,” declares the second commandment (Exodus 20:4, KJV). But how strictly did Hellenized Jews living in the Roman Empire interpret this commandment while living in a world saturated with statuary and artistic images? To what extent did their cultural milieu influence their interpretation of this commandment, and how did it affect their often uneasy interactions with their conquerors? These are the questions that Jason von Ehrenkrook approaches in this insightful revision of his University of Michigan dissertation, using Josephus, a Hellenized Jew turned distinguished Roman citizen, as his point of departure and main source of evidence for Jewish attitudes towards images during the Second Temple period.