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Contesting ConversionGenealogy, Circumcision, and Identity in Ancient Judaism and Christianity$
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Matthew Thiessen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199793563

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199793563.001.0001

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Ishmael, Isaac, and Covenantal Circumcision in Genesis 17

Ishmael, Isaac, and Covenantal Circumcision in Genesis 17

(p.17) 1 Ishmael, Isaac, and Covenantal Circumcision in Genesis 17
Contesting Conversion

Matthew Thiessen

Oxford University Press

Chapter One provides a careful treatment of the role circumcision plays in Genesis 17. The first part of the chapter provides a detailed text-critical argument that all modern Bibles and the majority of critical scholarship wrongly follow the Masoretic Text’s reading of Genesis 17:14 instead of the reading preserved by the Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch, and the book of Jubilees, which requires that covenantal circumcision take place on the eighth day after birth. Consequently, modern readers have failed to understand how Ishmael can undergo circumcision, the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham, and yet remain outside of that covenant. This chapter argues that Ishmael’s circumcision at the age of thirteen indicates that he is not a member in Abraham’s covenantal seed, and therefore he has no share in that covenant.

Keywords:   textual criticism, Genesis 17, circumcision, Ishmael, eighth day, covenant, Abraham

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