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Aseneth of Egypt: The Composition of a Jewish Narrative
Patricia D. Ahearne Kroll
EJL 53
Publication Date
October 2020



An exploration of Aseneth’s beginnings

In Aseneth of Egypt: The Composition of a Jewish Narrative, Patricia D. Ahearne-Kroll challenges reliance on reconstructed texts in previous scholarship on the book of Joseph and Aseneth. After outlining the problems with previous prototypes of the Hellenistic narrative, she proposes a way to talk about the story in its initial setting without ignoring the manuscript evidence. Her thorough analysis of the evidence reveals how Joseph and Aseneth reflects the literary impulse of Greek-speaking Jewish writers to redescribe their identity in Egypt and Judean connections to the land of Egypt, while incorporating Ptolemaic strategies of legitimation of power. In the end, Ahearne-Kroll concludes that the base storyline preserved in all the copies of this story demonstrates that it was written for Jewish communities living in Hellenistic Egypt.


  • A focus on Hellenistic stories of heroic ancestors
  • A discussion of the possible lives of Jews in Hellenistic Egypt drawn from the narrative of Aseneth
  • An examination of the complexities involved in dating the composition of literary texts

Patricia D. Ahearne-Kroll is Assistant Professor in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Minnesota. She translated and authored the commentary on Joseph and Aseneth in Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture (2013).

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This is Early Judaism and Its Literature 53.See more available volumes in the EJL series.