Interpretations of the Name Israel in Ancient Judaism and Some Early Christian Writings: From Victorious Athlete to Heavenly Champion

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Ancient peoples regarded names as indicative of character and destiny. The Jews were no exception. This is a critical study of ancient exegesis of the title 'Israel' and the meanings attributed to it among Jews down to Talmudic times, along with some early Christian materials. C. T. R. Hayward explores ancient etymologies of 'Israel', and the utilization of these very varied explanations of the name in sustained works of exegesis like Jubilees; the writings of Ben Sira, Philo, and Josephus; and selected Rabbinic texts including Aramaic Targumim. He also examines translational works like the Septuagint, to illuminate those writings' sense of what it meant to be a Jew.