Midrash, theology, and history: Two powers in heaven revisited

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This paper seeks to re-contextualize and re-interpret the earliest rabbinic polemic against the concept of 'Two Powers in Heaven.' In contrast to previous interpretations that view that polemic as aimed at rejecting Christian or Gnostic concepts, the present paper suggests that Two Powers was conceived by Tannaitic sources as an expression of existential giving up on God, which stemmed from His inability to demonstrate His power, as was exposed in the military defeat of the Jews in their wars against the Roman Empire.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-254
Number of pages25
JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008


  • Christianity
  • Gnosticism
  • Heresy
  • Minut
  • Tannaitic midrash
  • Two powers in heaven


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