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The Concept of Intention in Philo and ….

April 2011
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Another volume is out, comparing Philo and Early rabbinic literature. A comparison like this was for some decades almost very rare, but has by now been much more common and even fruitful for both fields of study:

Aurelian Botica,
The Concept of Intention in the Old Testament, Philo of Alexandria and the Early Rabbinic Literature
A study in human intentionality in the area of criminal, cultic and religious and ethical law.
Perspectives on Hebrew Scriptures and its Contexts 9. Gorgias Press, 2011. ISBN:978-1-59333-653-0. $218.75.

According to the publishers anouncement (I have not yet seen the book), “In this book the author askes what did the Old Testament, Philo of Alexandria and the Early Rabbinic literature thought about human intention. Did intention truly matter in the areas of criminal or cultic law? Does God take into account only the physical act, or does He also consider the inward motivation? Were there differences between the biblical, hellenistic and rabbinic views on intention? The book explores a number of practical cases in which human intention was deemed important. In the area of criminal law, the biblical legislators took intention very seriously, as they distinguished between accidental and premeditated homicide. They also paid close attention to the motives that guided the worshippers when they approached God with their sacrifices (cultic law). And they distinguished among different aspects of actions and attitudes that led to sin, employing a surprisingly wide variety of terms (religious and ethical law). Yet not only the Old Testament, but also Hellenistic authors such as Philo of Alexandria and Rabbinic authors showed a profound familiarity with the vocabulary of intent. They too asked how did God and the fellow human beings view intentionality? Would a human court or God punish the mere thoughts of, say, adultery, idolatry or hate? Would thoughts and intentions such as these remain unpunished, if not followed by the actual deeds? The book surveys a wide number of texts in order to answer these and other difficult questions.”


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