When Aseneth Met Joseph: A Late Antique Tale of the Biblical Patriarch and His Egyptian Wife, Reconsidered

ISBN : 9780190253998

Ross Shepard Kraemer
384 Pages
157 x 236 mm
Pub date
Jul 2015
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This is the study of an anonymous ancient work, usually called Joseph and Aseneth, which narrates the transformation of the daughter of an Egyptian priest into an acceptable spouse for the biblical Joseph, whose marriage to Aseneth is given brief notice in Genesis. Kraemer takes issue with the scholarly consensus that the tale is a Jewish conversion story composed no later than the early second century C.E. Instead, she dates it to the third or fourth century C.E., and argues that, although no definitive answer is presently possible, it may well be a Christian account. This critique also raises larger issues about the dating and identification of many similar writings, known as pseudepigrapha. Kraemer reads its account of Aseneth's interactions with an angelic double of Joseph in the context of ancient accounts of encounters with powerful divine beings, including the sun god Helios, and of Neoplatonic ideas about the fate of souls. When Aseneth Met Joseph demonstrates the centrality of ideas about gender in the representation of Aseneth and, by extension, offers implications for broader concerns about gender in Late Antiquity.


1 Introduction
Part I: Reinterpreting Aseneth
2 Composing Aseneth: The Construction of Aseneth out of Traditional Elements and Techniques
3 Recasting Aseneth: The Enhancement of Traditional Elements in the Longer Reconstruction
4 Aseneth and the Adjuration of Angels
5 Aseneth and Mystical Transformation in the Hekhalot Traditions
6 Aseneth and Late Antique Religious Sensibilities
7 Why Is Aseneth a Woman? The Use and Significance of Gender in the Aseneth Stories
Part II: Relocating Aseneth
8 The Dating of Aseneth Reconsidered
9 The Authorial Identity of Aseneth Reconsidered
10 The Provenance of Aseneth Reconsidered
11 Aseneth Reconsidered
Appendix: Aseneth in Rabbinic Traditions
Index of Ancient Sources
Index of Modern Authors
Index of Subjects

About the author: 

Ross Shepard Kraemer is Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at Brown University.

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