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The Second Temple Jews – between tradition and the Greek world. The influence of Greek culture on the Jews of the Second Temple period and its dynamics

Head: dr hab. Łukasz Niesiołowski–Spanò

Examples demonstrating the similarities between Greek and biblical literature have long been known. They are connected by both large narrative plots and stylistic analogies, such as historiographical works or biographical texts. So far, however, scholarship has tended to limit itself to pointing out similarities without offering an explanation of how they should be explained. The project aims to fill this gap. It is clear that it was Greek literature that arose earlier, and since this is the case, it must be considered that it was the Jews who were inspired by Greek tradition. The analogies are too numerous, and at the same time too deep, to speak of an accidental convergence of themes.

The essence of the project is to examine how elements of Greek culture were adopted by the authors of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, as well as texts that did not enter the biblical canon (i.e. the apocrypha). By examining what narrative elements, literary themes, forms of expression and literary genres inspired Jewish authors during the Second Temple period (5th century BCE – 1st century AD), and how those inspirations changed over time, we will learn what the process of exchange between Greek and Jewish culture looked like. The project aims to investigate, for example, where contacts took place, which enabled the adoption of Greek models, and in what language communication took place.

In this way, we will know more about the Jewish elites who compiled the Bible. We will learn what their attitude was toward Greek culture, and Greek literature in particular, and how that attitude changed over time. In this way we will better understand the circumstances of the creation of the Bible, its authors and recipients, as well as the process of exchange between cultures, a phenomenon important not only in antiquity but also today.

Project funded by the National Science Center in the competition “Opus 12” under the decision: UMO-2016/23/B/HS3/01880.