Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World: Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian

Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World: Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian


By (author) Louis H. Feldman

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  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 696 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 226mm x 38mm | 930g
  • Publication date: 14 October 1996
  • Publication City/Country: New Jersey
  • ISBN 10: 069102927X
  • ISBN 13: 9780691029276
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 617,529

Product description

Relations between Jews and non-Jews in the Hellenistic-Roman period were marked by suspicion and hate, maintain most studies of that topic. But if such conjectures are true, asks Louis Feldman, how did Jews succeed in winning so many adherents, whether full-fledged proselytes or 'sympathizers' who adopted one or more Jewish practices? Systematically evaluating attitudes toward Jews from the time of Alexander the Great to the fifth century A.D., Feldman finds that Judaism elicited strongly positive and not merely unfavorable responses from the non-Jewish population.Jews were a vigorous presence in the ancient world, and Judaism was strengthened substantially by the development of the Talmud. Although Jews in the Diaspora were deeply Hellenized, those who remained in Israel were able to resist the cultural inroads of Hellenism and even to initiate intellectual counterattacks. Feldman draws on a wide variety of material, from Philo, Josephus, and other Graeco-Jewish writers through the Apocrypha, the Pseudepigrapha, the Church Councils, Church Fathers, and imperial decrees to Talmudic and Midrashic writings and inscriptions and papyri. What emerges is a rich description of a long era to which conceptions of Jewish history as uninterrupted weakness and suffering do not apply.

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Review quote

"The most comprehensive recent study of relations between Jew and Gentile in the ancient world. It will take its place with the classic works ... as an indispensable resource for the study of Judaism in the Hellenistic and Roman world."--John J. Collins, Journal of Biblical Literature

Back cover copy

"Feldman is a world-class expert in the difficult but vitally important area of the intersection of Jewish and Gentile cultures in the Greco- Roman world. His encyclopedic knowledge of pagan, Jewish, and Christian writings of the period is nothing less than breathtaking. Scholars are deeply indebted to his writings, which are unfailingly accurate and unfailingly fair. Our ... debt to him is only increased by this latest exciting work."--"John P. Meier, The Catholic University of America"

Table of contents

PrefaceCh. 1Contacts between Jews and Non-Jews in the Land of Israel3Ch. 2The Strength of Judaism in the Diaspora45Ch. 3Official Anti-Jewish Bigotry: The Responses of Governments to the Jews84Ch. 4Popular Prejudice against Jews107Ch. 5Prejudice against Jews among Ancient Intellectuals123Ch. 6The Attractions of the Jews: Their Antiquity177Ch. 7The Attractions of the Jews: The Cardinal Virtues201Ch. 8The Attractions of the Jews: The Ideal Leader, Moses233Ch. 9The Success of Proselytism by Jews in the Hellenistic and Early Roman Periods288Ch. 10The Success of Jews in Winning "Sympathizers"342Ch. 11Proselytism by Jews in the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Centuries383Ch. 12Conclusion416Abbreviations447Notes461Bibliography587Indexes621Names and Subjects646Geographical Place-Names662Greek, Latin, and Hebrew and Aramaic Words664Modern Scholars672