Saturday, May 11, 2024

Litwa, Simon of Samaria and the Simonians (T&T Clark)

Simon of Samaria and the Simonians

Contours of an Early Christian Movement

M. David Litwa (Author)

$115.00 $103.50

Ebook (PDF)
$103.50 $82.80

Ebook (Epub & Mobi)
$103.50 $82.80

Product details

Published Apr 04 2024
Format Hardback
Edition 1st
Extent 224
ISBN 9780567712950
Imprint T&T Clark
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing


Who were the Simonians? Beginning in the mid-second century CE, heresiologists depicted them as licentious followers of the first “gnostic,” a supposedly Samarian self-deifier called Simon, who was thought to practice “magic” and became known as the father of all heresies.

Litwa examines the Simonians in their own literature and in the literature used to refute and describe them. He begins with Simonian primary sources, namely The Declaration of Great Power (embedded in the anonymous Refutation of All Heresies) and The Concept of Our Great Power (Nag Hammadi codex VI,4). Litwa argues that both are early second-century products of Simonian authors writing in Alexandria or Egypt. Litwa then moves on to examine the heresiological sources related to the Simonians (Justin, the book of Acts, Irenaeus, the author of the Refutation of All Heresies, Pseudo-Tertullian, Epiphanius, and Filaster). He shows how closely connected Justin's report is to the portrait of Simon in Acts, and offers an extensive exegesis and analysis of Simonian theology and practice based on the reports of Irenaeus and the Refutator. Finally, Litwa examines Simonianism in novelistic sources, namely the Acts of Peter and the Pseudo-Clementines. By the time these sources were written, Simon had become the father of all heresies. Accordingly, virtually any heresy could be attributed to Simon. As a result-despite their alluring portraits of Simon-these sources are mostly unusable for the historical study of the Simonian Christian movement. Litwa concludes with a historical profile of the Simonian movement in the second and third centuries.

The book features appendices which contain Litwa's own translations of primary Simonian texts.

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Friday, May 10, 2024

The Exagoge of Ezekiel is playing in New York

THEATRE: Exagoge Review. The oldest Jewish play, PLUS (Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater).
“Exagoge,” inspired by the oldest known Jewish play, is a wildly ambitious, complicated but largely accessible new work of immersive theater: a play, opera, and Passover seder all in one – and all in just 100 minutes, which (if you know seders) is itself an achievement. There is much else besides its comparative brevity to recommend this latest work by the reliably erudite Edward Einhorn and his Untitled Theater Company No. 61., which began at La MaMa in the middle of Passover and is running through May 12 (two weeks past the holiday.) The play, which is thought-provoking in itself, provides a modern frame both for the opera, which has moments of exquisite singing and vivid stagecraft, and for the seder, which is more or less for real, and fun, if unorthodox (thus, for some, possibly problematic.)

A Jewish dramatist named Ezekiel the Tragedian wrote the original “Exagoge” some 2,200 years ago in Alexandria, Egypt. Although only a fragment of Ezekial’s play remains (269 lines), that’s plenty enough for scholars to know it was a drama written in Greek about the exodus of the Jews from Egyptian bondage, influenced by the tragedies written several centuries earlier by Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles. It retells the story from the Exodus book of the Bible, but incorporates non-Biblical elements, such as a phoenix that rises up at the end – which some (such as Einhorn) speculate was Ezekiel’s effort (as Einhorn puts it in a note) “to reach out to the pagan community. We know that, historically, the Jews of Alexandria were surprisingly integrated into Alexandrian society” (which at the time was what we would now call multicultural.)


Another adaptation of Ezekiel's Exagoge was performed in 2016. I noted it here and links. The outside links have rotted or were glitched, but you can now read the missing review of it by Rabbi John Rosove here.

A new Oxyrhynchus fragment of the Exagoge was also discovered in 2016, noted here and here. Presumably that was too late to be taken into account by the 2016 production. I don't know about the current one.

For more posts on the Exagoge, follow the links in the ones above. Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

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Gross, Babylonian Jews and Sasanian Imperialism in Late Antiquity (CUP)

Babylonian Jews and Sasanian Imperialism in Late Antiquity

AUTHOR: Simcha Gross, University of Pennsylvania
FORMAT: HardbackISBN: 9781009280525

£ 100.00


From the image offered by the Babylonian Talmud, Jewish elites were deeply embedded within the Sasanian Empire (224-651 CE). The Talmud is replete with stories and discussions that feature Sasanian kings, Zoroastrian magi, fire temples, imperial administrators, Sasanian laws, Persian customs, and more quotidian details of Jewish life. Yet, in the scholarly literature on the Babylonian Talmud and the Jews of Babylonia , the Sasanian Empire has served as a backdrop to a decidedly parochial Jewish story, having little if any direct impact on Babylonian Jewish life and especially the rabbis. Babylonian Jews and Sasanian Imperialism in Late Antiquity advances a radically different understanding of Babylonian Jewish history and Sasanian rule. Building upon recent scholarship, Simcha Gross portrays a more immanent model of Sasanian rule, within and against which Jews invariably positioned and defined themselves. Babylonian Jews realized their traditions, teachings, and social position within the political, social, religious, and cultural conditions generated by Sasanian rule.

  • Challenges a pervasive historical paradigm in the study of ancient Jews that treats them as siloed and isolated from their surroundings
  • Models how to make an often opaque and rhetorically narrow religious text – the Talmud – speak to its own larger historical context
  • Explores different ways to study Jews alongside Christians and other religious communities outside the binary of contact or conflict

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Thursday, May 09, 2024

On the Leviticus Holiness Code

PROF. JULIA RHYDER: Israel, Be Holy! A Command for Religious Conformity (
The sanctification of all Israel in Leviticus 17–26—expanding the obligation to be holy from the priests to a collective requirement for all Israelites—further elevates the priesthood to a hegemonic social position.
I noted the publication of the author's book on the Leviticus Holiness Code here.

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Review of Yarbro Collins, Paul Transformed

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Paul Transformed: Reception of the Person and Letters of Paul in Antiquity (D. Clint Burnett).
Adela Yarbro Collins. Paul Transformed: Reception of the Person and Letters of Paul in Antiquity. The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2022.

Yarbro Collins’s goal in Paul Transformed is to capture the multiple images of Paul that early Christ-confessors created from reading the apostle’s letters. In the process, she examines five areas of Paul’s theology, which Yarbro Collins derives from his so-called undisputed letters,[1] and tracks the various interpretations of these theological tenets in Christian writings from the first to the fourth centuries CE (and sometimes beyond). ...

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia latest

THE AWOL BLOG: Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia Chronological List of Recent Entries (23 April 2024).

It's been a few years since I mentioned the online, open-access Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia, so this is a good excuse to do so again. It is an important ongoing work in progress.

Cross-file under Coptic Watch.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Review of Huber & O'Day, Wisdom Commentary: Revelation

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Life Goes On? Temporality, Resistance, Excess: A response to Lynn Huber’s and Gail O’Day’s Commentary on Revelation (Jennifer Wright Knust).

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

A new Jesus horror movie?

CINEMA: Nicolas Cage Will Play The Father Of Christ In A New Horror Movie (Chris Evangelista,

Looks like Mel Gibson has some competition. Reportedly "The Carpenter's Son" will be based on the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which certainly does have its moments of horror.

For some PaleoJudaica posts on or involving the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, see here and links, here, here, and here.

Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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Sunday, May 05, 2024

The Apocalypse of Peter in Context (Peeters, open access)

The Apocalypse of Peter in Context

Studies on Early Christian Apocrypha, 21

Maier D.C., Frey J., Kraus T.J.

PRICE: 96 euro
YEAR: 2024
ISBN: 9789042952089
E-ISBN: 9789042952096
PAGES: XVI-402 p.

“The Apocalypse of Peter in Context” offers scholarly inquiries into this complex and frequently overlooked early Christian text from different angles. By extending the boundaries of traditional analyses, this collection of essays elucidates the eschatological beliefs prevalent in nascent Christian communities and the formative influences that gave rise to perceptions of heaven and hell. Through new approaches to authorship, transmission, and materiality, it explores this early apocryphal text’s complex relationship with Jewish literature of the Second Temple period and its reception in (Late) Antiquity and the Middle Ages in various branches of Christianity. It also presents the first comprehensive English translation of the entire Ethiopic transmission context and further possible Ethiopic witnesses never critically edited and translated before. The result of a multidisciplinary conference, this collection provokes new insights and stimulates further research on this captivating witness to a distinct branch of apocalyptic thought within early Christianity. This book is published open access.

Go to the Peeter page for the link. HT the AWOL Blog.

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