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Recasting Moses

The Memory of Moses in Biographical and Autobiographical Narratives in Ancient Judaism and 4th-Century Christianity


Finn Damgaard

The political and social changes that occurred with the transformation of the Roman Empire into a Roman Christian Empire and with the bishops’ new social position as imperial bishops called for new literary representations of the ideal Christian leader. In this struggle, the figure of Moses turned up as a suitable figure intimately connected with questions of authority and power and, related to this, with the risk of dissension and discord. While the portrait of Moses as a political figure was hardly applicable in Christian discourses of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, it became the centre of interest during the 4th century. This new emphasis was, however, no more new than that it actually revived traditions of 1st-century Jewish biographical and autobiographical narratives.


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This work is a slightly revised version of my PhD-thesis which was handed in to the Faculty of Theology at the University of Copenhagen in February 2010. I want to express my sincere thank to my supervisors: Henrik Tronier whose inspiring teaching made me interested in doing a PhD in the New Testament Studies and who supervised the first year of my PhD studies with much care. Samuel Rubenson for his constructive co-supervision on espe- cially my chapters on Eusebius and the two Gregories, and, last but not least, Troels Engberg-Pedersen for his readiness always to read a new draft and for his valuable comments and suggestions on major as well as minor aspects of the project. I would also express my gratitude to Margaret M. Mitchell for sharing her time and knowledge during my stay at the Divinity School, University of Chicago in autumn 2006. I am also grateful to the members of the assessment committee, William Horbury, Tomas Hägg and Mogens Müller, for their help- ful criticism and to Anders-Christian Jacobsen, David Brakke and Jörg Ulrich for accepting my work for the ECCA series. Also thanks to the anonymous reviewer for constructive comments and to Beate Gienke for her qualified assistance in making the manuscript ready for printing. An earlier version of chapter 5 appeared in the Journal of Jewish Studies 59/2 (2008), 218–235. I thank the editor and publisher for permission to publish this chapter here. Portions of chapter 3, 6 and 7...

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