Prolific author Andrei A. Orlov, Professor of Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity at Marquette University, has completed another exciting new book that is to be published by the prestigious biblical studies publisher, Brill, in the near future. (See here for updates on publication status.)

I have to say that I am very excited about this book as it will cover, among other things, two very important topics.

First, it will analyze the development of the atonement rituals of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) that involved the two goats, the one “for YHWH” and the other, the scapegoat, “for Azazel.” Orlov will look at a number of Jewish and Christian texts, following the application of this ritual tradition of the two goats as it is interpreted over time in the form of written narratives, from the story of Cain and Abel to that of Barabbas and Jesus and beyond.

This material will certainly be of interest to those looking to better understand the concept of the Atonement in the Scriptures, including the rituals of the Jerusalem Temple and how these were understood to play out in history and in people’s lives.

The second point of interest, for me, is that of Orlov’s continued exploration of the early Jewish text known as The Apocalypse of Abraham (ApAb). Orlov has been able to glean so much intriguing material from this text in previous publications and this book promises new perspectives and insights. He looks, here, into the imagery presented in ApAb that seems to depict Azazel, the leading demonic being, as the scapegoat, the one that is taken off into the desert and thrown into the abyss, and Abraham as the goat “for YHWH,” the goat that is sacrificed on the Day of Atonement.

Again, this is powerful stuff for those wanting to understand how later Jews understood the mechanics of the atonement rituals of the temple. It is apparent (my thoughts without the benefit of being able to read Orlov’s full research here) that Abraham is being presented as both the sacrificial goat and also the high priest that takes the goat’s blood (which should likely be understood as the high priest’s own blood) into the temple (the text presents Abraham entering into heaven).

Because I know Professor Orlov’s work quite well, I am already willing and eager to highly recommend this volume to anyone with any interest in these topics.

Below is a brief abstract of the book, including a summary of the three main sections.


Andrei A. Orlov

The Atoning Dyad: The Two Goats of Yom Kippur in the Apocalypse of Abraham (Studia Judaeoslavica, 8; Leiden: Brill, 2016) ISBN: 13-9789004308213; €93,00 ($120.00) (forthcoming).

The study explores the eschatological reinterpretation of the Yom Kippur ritual found in the Apocalypse of Abraham where the protagonist of the story, the patriarch Abraham, takes on the role of a celestial goat for YHWH, while the text’s antagonist, the fallen angel Azazel, is envisioned as the demonic scapegoat. The study treats the application of the two goats typology to human and otherworldly figures in its full historical and interpretive complexity through a broad variety of Jewish and Christian sources, from the patriarchical narratives of the Hebrew Bible to early Christian materials in which Yom Kippur traditions were applied to Jesus’ story.

Part I



Cain and Abel

Isaac and Ishmael

Jacob and Esau


The Angel of the Divine Name and Satan in the Book of Zechariah

Asael in the Book of the Watchers

Barabbas and Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew

Jesus as the Immolated Goat in the Epistle to the Hebrews

Jesus as the Scapegoat and the Immolated Goat in Second- and Third-Century Christian Materials


Part II



The Sacerdotal Vision of the Slavonic Apocalypse

Azazel as a Demonic Being

The Lot of Azazel

The Crimson Band and the Placement of the Garment of Human Sins on Azazel

The Ritual Maltreatment of the Scapegoat: Azazel’s Accursing

Azazel’s Exile into the Wilderness and the Abyss

Goats to Azazel: The Antagonist as the Recipient of the Scapegoats


Part III



Abraham as a Sacrificial Offering

The Lot of God and Abraham

Yahoel’s Right Hand

The Garment of Abraham

The Antagonistic Movements of the Goats: Abraham’s Entrance in the Celestial Holy of Holies

Abraham’s Fiery Trials

Abraham as the Purification Offering for the Polluted Sanctuary

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