The Origins and Objectives of Onias’ Temple

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Erich S. Gruen


The temple of Onias in Leontopolis in Egypt was founded in the mid 2nd century BCE. On the usual interpretation, as presented by Josephus, it represents a schismatic foundation, a challenge to the priestly establishment in Jerusalem, and a refuge for Palestinian Jews who fled from the authority of the Hasmoneans. This article takes sharp issue with that analysis. It exposes the chronological confusions and conflicting accounts in Josephus’ works, thus questioning the reliability of his narrative. And it offers an alternative reconstruction that sees mutual support rather than competition between the temples in Jerusalem and Leontopolis.

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