Demons, Angels, and Writ­ing in Ancient Judaism

Annette Yoshiko Reed

  • From the Publisher
January 14, 2020

What did ancient Jews believe about demons and angels? This ques­tion has long been puz­zling, not least because the Hebrew Bible says rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle about such trans­mun­dane pow­ers. In the cen­turies after the con­quests of Alexan­der the Great, how­ev­er, we find an explo­sion of explic­it and sys­tem­at­ic inter­est in, and detailed dis­cus­sions of, demons and angels. In this book, Annette Yoshiko Reed con­sid­ers the third cen­tu­ry BCE as a crit­i­cal moment for the begin­nings of Jew­ish angelol­o­gy and demonolo­gy. Draw­ing on ear­ly pseude­pigrapha’ and Ara­ma­ic Dead Sea Scrolls, she recon­structs the scrib­al set­tings in which trans­mun­dane pow­ers became a top­ic of con­cert­ed Jew­ish inter­est. Reed also sit­u­ates this devel­op­ment in rela­tion to shift­ing ideas about scribes and writ­ing across the Hel­lenis­tic Near East. Her book opens a win­dow onto a for­got­ten era of Jew­ish lit­er­ary cre­ativ­i­ty that nev­er­the­less deeply shaped the dis­cus­sion of angels and demons in Judaism and Christianity.

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