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.