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Nicklas, Tobias, Verheyden, Joseph, Eynikel, Erik M. M., and Florentino García Martínez [Eds.]


Other Worlds and Their Relation to This World. Early Jewish and Ancient Christian Traditions.


Leiden u. a.: Brill 2010. XI, 402 S. m. Abb. = Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, 143. Lw. EUR 141,00. ISBN 978-90-04-18626-2.


Gerbern S. Oegema

This collection of essays asks the ancient Jewish and Christian texts and images about another world: Is there a future after death and what does this future look like? What kind of life can we expect, and in what kind of world? Is there another, hopefully better world than the one we live in? The articles collected in this volume, all written by leading experts in the field, deal with the question how ancient Jewish and Christian authors describe »otherworldly places and situations«. They investigate why various forms of texts were created to address the questions above, how these texts functioned, and how they have to be understood. It is shown how ancient de- scriptions of the »otherworld« are taking over and reworking existing motifs, forms and genres, but also that they mirror concrete problems, ideas, experiences, and questions of their authors and the first readers.
Table of contents: Approaching afterlife imagery: a contemporary glance at ancient concepts of otherworldly dimensions, by Daria Pezzoli-Olgiati, 1–15, asks about ancient otherworldly images from an European history of religion approach, asks what it means hermeneutically to make comparisons at all, and reflects on the different uses of media of communication; The »God of heaven« in Persian and Hellenistic times, by Stefan Beyerle, 17–36, follows a study of Beate Ego on the motive of YHWH’s throne in heaven in exilic and post-exilic prayers, which came to the conclusion that God’s heavenly dwelling place does not imply his distance and inaccessibility; this is also true of the studied texts of 1 Enoch, where the »God of heaven« is elaborated upon even more, with apocalyptic eschatology given it even more the aspect of sitting in judgment; The heavenly temple, the prison in the void and the uninhabited paradise: otherworldly sites in the Book of Watchers, by Kelley Coblentz Bautch, 37–53, discusses three different otherworldly sites in 1Enoch: the heavenly Temple as eternal home for the divine with a clear adaptation of Biblical traditions, the prison as temporary holding for the disobedient celestial beings with a clearly eschatological background, and the Paradise of Righteousness for the ancestors with some affinities with Genesis 3; Four worlds that are »other« in the Enochic book of parables, by George W. E. Nickelsburg, 55–77, discusses the Parables of Enoch: the heaven, the sky, those parts of the earth that are inaccessible for humans, and the earth as it will be transformed into a place of blessings; The »otherworld« and the Epistle of Enoch, by Loren T. Stuckenbruck, 79–93, discusses the Epistle of Enoch that has some otherworldly traditions that are rooted in the earlier Enochic literature; The otherworld in the Dead Sea Scrolls, by John J. Collins, 95–116, with the interesting observation that Josephus’ account of the de-scription of the otherworld of the Essenes in JW 2.154–6 only partly corresponds with what one finds in the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves, e. g. the Community Rule; The character of the city and the temple of the Aramaic New Jerusalem, by Eibert Tigchelaar, 117–131, finds that the composition New Jerusalem mainly describes the new temple of the new creation as referred to in Jub 1:27–29 and 11QT XXIX 8–10, and not the city of Jerusalem itself; The heavenly world and its relationship to this world according to rabbinic literature: some main outlines, by Beate Ego, 133–149, with a helpful and systematic overview of the various aspects of the heavenly world in Rabbinic literature: from pre-scientific, to temple-cult, to liturgical, and ethical to eschatological; Between heaven and earth: liminal visions in 4Ezra, by Hindy Najman, 151–167, states that understanding and entering the otherworld becomes Ezra’s way out of the destruction; only the law has survived the past; Omnia mutantur, nihil interit? Virgil’s Katabasis and the ideas of the hereafter in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, by Meinolf Vielberg, 169–187, showing how much Ovid is indebted to his predecessors in developing his ideas about death and afterlife; The otherworld and the new age in the letters of Paul, by Adela Yarbro Collins, 189–207, making a strong case for interpreting Paul’s views of the otherworld and the new age being radically different from this world and this age with respect to their form and substance: they will be heavenly and spiritual and have little resemblance with their earthly counterparts; The otherworld and this world in 2Cor 12:1–10 in light of early Jewish Apocalyptic tradition, by Albert Hogeterp, 209–228, dealing with the difficult passage 2Cor 12:1–10; The rich, the poor, and the promise of an eschatological reward in the Gospel of Luke, by Outi Lehtipuu, 229–246; Diesseits aus der Sicht des Jenseits: Die Sendschreiben der Offenbarung des Johannes (Offb 2–3), by Tobias Nicklas, with a very detailed study of the seven letters to the seven communities, which address issues of life before death from the perspective of the afterlife; Asceticism and otherworlds in the Acts of Paul and Thecla, by Korinna Zamfir, 281–303, dealing with an apocryphal text that is future-oriented, deeply influenced by the ascetic doctrine and at the same time very well informed by New Testament traditions; Orphic, Roman, Jewish and Christian tours of hell: observations on the Apocalypse of Peter, by Jan N. Bremmer, 305–321, dealing with the many traditions that come together in the Apocalypse of Peter; the final articles are: Hell in the Latin Vision of Ezra, by Richard Bauckham, 323–342; Himmlischer Aufstieg im Apokryphon des Jakobus (NHC I,2), by Boudewijn Dehandschutter, 343–352; Purgatory: worldly functions of an otherworldly notion, by Andreas Merkt, 355–368; »The holy contest«: competition for the best afterlife in The Apocalypse of Paul and late antique Egypt, by Kirsti Barrett Copeland, 369–389. There are no indices or summaries, and there is also no substantial introduction. For the rest, this is an important collection of essays on a relevant topic.