Joseph and Aseneth shows us that we need to expand our categories of inclusion if we want to capture accurately the full range of ways in which ancient Jews, including those affiliated with the Jesus Movement, imagined the possibility of gentile access. “Jewishness” was not the only end goal of gentile inclusion and, correspondingly, circumcision was not the only mechanism of accomplishing incorporation. We also miss what is important about Joseph and Aseneth for conversations about shifting Jew-gentile boundaries in antiquity if we focus only on Aseneth’s own movement from the veneration of “idols” to the worship of Israel’s “living God”—that is, if we see her merely as an intended model. For Joseph and Aseneth, the heroine’s acceptance marks a moment in Israel’s story in which God-worshiping gentiles can not only see themselves but see their own mythic protector who mediates God’s mercy to them.
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