This work explores the relationship between religion, social patterns, and the perception of the character of scripture in four modes of Ancient Judaism: (1) the Jerusalem community of the fifth to fourth centuries B.C.E. (ie, the Early Second Temple Period); (2) the Judaism of the Graeco-Roman Disapora down to the end of the fourth century of the Christian Era; (3) earliest rabbinic Judaism in the second century C.E> in the land of Israel; (4) Late Antique Talmudic Rabbinism, primarily inn Babylonia, down to the sixth century of the Christian Era. Lightstone attempts not only to describe these perceptions and relationships but also to account for them, to explore why scripture should be thus perceived. His imaginative approach to the challenging descriptive and theoretical tasks is influenced by literary and form-critical methods as well as by the methods and perspectives of social anthropology and sociology of the mind.
This unique attempts at revising the perception of the character of scripture should arouse the interest of scholars and students of Ancient Judaism.
''The work abounds with so many keen perceptions, brilliant insights, and felicitous applications of sociological method that it remains highly recommended.''