Fifty years of scholarship concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls have brought clearer understanding concerning a fascinating stream of Jewish piety which existed during the final days of the Second Temple.
Archeologists and other scholars have not written prolifically about ancient mikvaot (or ritual immersion baths). Nevertheless, ritual immersion in the first century A.D. constitutes an important element of the overall historical, social and religious background of the New Testament. Here, Ronny Reich explains in non-technical language the intricacies of the design and maintenance of ancient mikvaot.
After reading Marvin Wilson’s “Jewish Laws of Purity in Jesus’ Day” (Jerusalem Perspective 37 [Mar.-Apr. 1992], 11, 17), I must admit to finding the reality of the situation of women (e.g., anyone touching anything she sits on during menstruation, to be also unclean) depressing. How did women express their spirituality? Did they have any power?
In the infancy narrative found in chapters one and two of Luke’s gospel, Luke has provided excellent character references for Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Jesus’ mother and father show piety far beyond the usual, and the young Jesus is eager to be in the temple studying Torah with the teachers of Israel.
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