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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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Eighth-Day Circumcision in Jubilees

Eighth-Day Circumcision in Jubilees

Chapter:
(p.67) 3 Eighth-Day Circumcision in Jubilees
Source:
Contesting Conversion
Author(s):

Matthew Thiessen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199793563.003.0003

This chapter discusses Shaye Cohen’s argument that Jewishness, which up until the second century b.c.e. had been defined in terms of ethnic descent, came to be defined in a religious sense. The Hasmoneans helped redefine Jewishness in terms that permitted people who were not born Jews to convert to Judaism. This chapter argues that some Jews rejected this redefinition of Jewishness and reasserted a genealogical definition of Jewishness. The author of the book of Jubilees holds to a genealogical definition of Jewishness. Thus it is important to see how he treated the rite of circumcision. This chapter argues that for Jubilees, covenantal circumcision is eighth-day circumcision—a rite practiced only by Jews. Those who had a Gentile genealogy but underwent circumcision were therefore not becoming Jews, because they were not undergoing the rite at the proper time.

Keywords:   Jubilees, Jewishness, circumcision, conversion, genealogy

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