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Johns Hopkins University Press
The Jews among the Greeks and Romans: A Diasporan Sourcebook / Edition 1

The Jews among the Greeks and Romans: A Diasporan Sourcebook / Edition 1

by Margaret Williams


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The Jews among the Greeks and Romans: A Diasporan Sourcebook / Edition 1

As one of the few groups in the Greco-Roman world to resist cultural assimilation, the Jews remained an object of fascination throughout antiquity. Greek and Roman writers devoted much space to them, but few bothered to learn the facts about Jews, preferring to report stereotypes and rumor. Evidence does exist, however, to show what real Jews were like in antiquity and how they interacted with the Greeks and Romans, both pagan and Christian.

In The Jews among the Greeks and Romans, Margaret Williams assembles, assesses, and contextualizes literary and archaeological evidence relating to Jewish communities outside the land of Israel. The sourcebook covers the period beginning with the Diaspora that resulted from the chaos of Alexander the Great's death in 323 BCE and concluding with the demise of the Jewish Patriarchate around 420 CE. This was a time which saw, first, the rapid opening up of opportunities for Jews and then, in the century after Constantine, the gradual but inexorable raising of barriers against them.

Newly translated from the Greek and Latin, the documents cover a broad array of topics, including religion, customs, festivals, repression, citizenship, military service, economics, intermarriage, and conversion from Jew to Gentile and Gentile to Jew. While previous collections have concentrated on literary texts, the present volume gives prominence to papyrological and epigraphic source material. Composed in accordance with Greco-Roman epigraphic conventions but written by Jews, these texts—some only recently discovered—constitute an extraordinarily rich source of information about the values and practices of Jews in antiquity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801859380
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 06/19/1998
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 975,403
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Margaret Williams is a research associate at the Open University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Table of Contents

I.The Jewish Diaspora in the Hellenistic and early Roman imperial periods1
1.Its extent in prophecy and actuality1
2.Reasons for the diffusion of the Jews4
3.Evidence for Jewish mobility within the Graeco-Roman world10
4.Statistical information about Diasporan Jews13
5.Location of Jewish communities15
6.Occupations of Diasporan Jews19
7.Terminology for Diasporan communities27
II.Life inside the Jewish Diasporan community33
1.The synagogue as the focal point of community life33
2.Officials and dignitaries37
3.Community structures other than the synagogue50
4.Community values51
5.Distinctive Jewish practices54
6.Jewish festivals59
7.Divisions within the Jewish community64
III.Diasporan Jews and the Jewish homeland67
1.Pilgrimage to Jerusalem67
2.Payment of ancestral dues and taxes68
3.Offerings to the Temple by Diasporan Jews70
4.Diasporan charitable and military aid to Palestinian Jews71
5.Diasporan Jews and the transmission of information to Jerusalem72
6.Immigration to Judaea of Diasporan Jews73
7.Diasporan burials in Judaea75
8.The Judaean authorities and the Diasporan synagogue78
9.The Patriarchs and the Diaspora81
10.Palestinian influence on the language of Diasporan inscriptions83
IV.Jewish interaction with Greek and Roman authorities87
1.Jewish honours for Ptolemaic rulers87
2.Ptolemaic and Seleucid privileges for the Jews87
3.Jews in the service of the Seleucids and Ptolemies88
4.Jewish honours for Roman Emperors91
5.Privileges for Jews who were Roman citizens92
6.Roman protection of the Jewish way of life93
7.Jews in the service of the Roman government95
8.Measures taken or threatened against the Jews by the Roman authorities98
V.The Jews among the Greeks107
1.Jews as citizens of Greek cities107
2.Jews as councillors, magistrates and official envoys109
3.Jewish influence upon Greek civic life111
4.Jewish involvement in Greek cultural life112
5.Greek cultural influences on the Jews116
6.Intermarriage between Jews and Greeks131
7.Friction between Jews and Greeks131
8.Jewish relations with Christians in the Greek East137
VI.The Jews among the Romans143
1.Jews and the Roman citizenship143
2.Jewish involvement in local government in the West146
3.Jewish involvement in Roman cultural and religious life148
4.Roman cultural influence on the Jews148
5.Jewish interaction with Christians in the Roman West153
VII.Pagans and Judaism: academic and real-life responses161
1.Two academic views of the Jews and Judaism161
2.Pagans sympathetic to Judaism163
3.Pagan converts to Judaism - the proselytes169
4.Other adherents to Judaism - instances of disputed status172
5.Syncretist cults176
1.Main events mentioned in this sourcebook203
2.Select list of rulers205
3.Egyptian months and their Julian equivalents207
4.Glossary of selected names207
Concordance of sources217
1.Literary texts217
4.Legal texts222
6.Modern collections of ancient legal and literary texts223
3.Jewish community terminology230
4.Jewish occupations231
5.Miscellaneous topics232

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