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.
Demons, Angels, and Writing in Ancient Judaism
In Demons, Angels, and Writing in Ancient Judaism, Annette Yoshiko Reed expertly discusses a subject that is rarely studied but is of great interest to many. This book explores angelology and demonology during the period of ancient Judaism rather than the biblical epoch; it existed in the earlier time, but it was in the Hellenistic Age (starting in the third century BCE) that there was a burgeoning Jewish interest in the subject. This is not a cataloguing or source book, rather it is an examination of what Reed calls transmundane powers. It is through this exploration Reed is able to reconstruct the scribal settings that led to the study and discussion of these forces. This exceptionally well-researched and compellingly written book considers both the Hebrew and Aramaic texts of early Judaism and how they work within the cross-cultural trends of the ancient world.
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