Ancient Jewish Letters and the Beginnings of Christian Epistolography
Ancient Jewish letter writing has been neglected, both as an object of study in its own right and in regard to comparison with early Christian epistolography. Lutz Doering redresses this shortcoming. He discusses all available Jewish letters - documentary, embedded, and literary - from the Persian period until the early rabbinic literature. The author also assesses the ramifications of Jewish letter writing for the development of early Christian epistolary praxis. He argues that Jewish letters contribute in particular in three areas to our understanding of early Christian epistolography: the development of the letter opening and closing; the use of letters in addressing communities as well as the quasi-official setting of some of these letters; and the epistolary reference to group identity and cohesion, which is often supported by salvation-historical motifs.