Sacred and non-sacred: divine names in early rabbinic traditions

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Several early rabbinic sources list verses that contain potential divine names. These names are classified as sacred when they refer to the Jewish God, and as not sacred when they refer to other entities, such as false gods or angels. This article argues that the core of the list was based on ancient Second Temple traditions that were modified. These changes were motivated by developments within Jewish thought and the shifting of conceptions and beliefs. Some of these changes were the result of internal rabbinic developments and others were the sages’ ambition to define the boundaries of Judaism, which sometimes carried a polemical response to Christian commentaries. This article proposes that analysis of these lists and the relationship between them can serve as an example for rabbinic attempts to reframe, rather than erase, their literary inheritance.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)323-344
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Jewish Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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