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Historical and Religious Memory in the Ancient World$
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Beate Dignas and R. R. R. Smith

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572069

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572069.001.0001

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Memory and Its Uses in Judaism and Christianity in the Early Roman Empire: The Portrayal of Abraham

Memory and Its Uses in Judaism and Christianity in the Early Roman Empire: The Portrayal of Abraham

Chapter:
(p.69) 4 Memory and Its Uses in Judaism and Christianity in the Early Roman Empire: The Portrayal of Abraham
Source:
Historical and Religious Memory in the Ancient World
Author(s):

Martin Goodman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572069.003.0004

Jews and Christians referred to the biblical past as one of divine authority that was not to be changed. Changes were disguised by reinterpreting the past and by selective forgetting. This chapter exemplifies general ideas on these techniques of dealing with the past by looking at the portrayal of Abraham in sources of the early imperial period. In portraying Abraham as the ancestor to the gentile Christian community, Paul's letter to the Galatians worked from a vague memory of Abraham as a wise man of the past but created a powerful vehicle for the Christian mission and for a celebrated part of the Christian past: if Christians are the children of Abraham, God's call to seek and appropriate the holy land becomes their own.

Keywords:   Abraham, biblical past, Christians, divine authority, holy land, Jews, Paul, memory, mission, selective forgetting

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