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A Conversion of the Inner Being? The Philology of Shuv in the Hebrew Bible and Beyond

My paper will look at the evidence for conversion in the Hebrew Bible, particularly as it pertains to the root, shuv, which is picked up later on in rabbinic literature as the basis for the concept of “repentance,” teshuva. It will be argued that attestations of shuv in the Hebrew Bible point to significant development in the connotations of the term, which has a long history in Israelite literature, as it appears already among the eighth-century prophets. However, it is only in postbiblical literature with the emergence of a discourse around interiority that shuv comes to be understood as a process of inner conversion. It, therefore, comes to be seen as equivalent to the Greek, metanoeo, especially as it is used in Middle Platonism, of the sort attested in Philo and Plutarch.

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