Baker Academic

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Paradise in Antiquity Review - Le Donne

I recently reviewed Paradise in Antiquity: Jewish and Christian Views (eds. Markus Bockmuehl and Guy G. Stroumsa) for Reviews in Religion and Theology. I will not reproduce the entire review here, but here are the first and last paragraphs:

Paradise in Antiquity: Jewish and Christian Views, (eds.) Markus Bockmuehl and Guy G. Stroumsa, Cambridge University Press, 2010 (ISBN 978-0-521-11786-9), xi + 260 pp., pb $95.00

This multi-authored book provides a number of masterfully framed windows into the worlds of post-biblical Judaism(s) and Early Christianity(ies) by analyzing the varied, but often overlapping, developments of the concept of paradise. It includes (1) an introduction by Guy G. Stroumsa, (2) thirteen chapters that explore the concept as manifested in Jewish and Christian thought with emphasis on those contemporary with Second Temple and rabbinic Judaism(s) and (3) an epilogue by Alessandro Scafi. This review will highlight a handful of chapters, observe a few shared themes, and offer an appreciative critique of this very fine work.


Students of biblical literature and those of Second Temple Judaism in particular will find this volume thoroughly stimulating, judiciously innovative, and meticulously presented. In this reviewer’s opinion, only two minor deficiencies warrant mention. (1) While almost every author mentions Luke’s unique dominical word from the cross concerning paradise, there is no attempt to connect this with Luke’s Adam typology elsewhere (cf. Luke 3:38). Given that there is a concerted effort to connect eschatological hopes with the myth of origins in this book, such a discussion might have proven valuable. (2) Several of the chapters might have been helped by the multiple (at least six) references to the Garden of Eden in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Moreover the repeated emphasis on Second Temple Jewish eschatology might have considered 1QHa 16:6 or the intriguing phrase ‘Garden/Paradise [prds] of Truth’ in 4Q206 f.1 26.19. But it is the mark of a good book when it points beyond itself and suggests further study.

Anthony Le Donne

No comments:

Post a Comment