Rabbis as Romans

Rabbis as Romans : The Rabbinic Movement in Palestine, 100-400 CE

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Conventionally, the history of the rabbinic movement has been told as a distinctly intra-Jewish development, a response to the gaping need left by the tragic destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 CE. In Rabbis as Romans, Hayim Lapin reconfigures that history, drawing attention for the first time to the extent to which rabbis participated in and were the product of a Roman and late-antique political economy. Lapin discusses how rabbis as a group were relatively well off, literate Jewish men, a kind of sub-elite in most provinces of the Roman empire. That rabbis were deeply embedded in a wider Roman world is clear from their marriage choices, the rhetoric they used to describe their own group (often mirroring that used for Greek philosophical schools), their open embrace of Roman bathing habits, and their ambivalence towards theaters and public entertainments. Rabbis also form one of the most accessible and well-documented examples of a 'nativizing' traditionalist movement in a Roman province. It was a movement committed to articulating the social, ritual, and moral boundaries between an Israelite 'us' and everyone else.
To attend seriously to the contradictory position of rabbis as both within and outside of a provincial cultural economy, says Lapin, is both to uncover the historical contingencies that shaped what later generations understood as simply Judaism and to reexamine in a new light the cultural work of Roman provincialization itself.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 157.48 x 236.22 x 27.94mm | 544.31g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 0195179307
  • 9780195179309
  • 880,123

About Hayim Lapin

Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies, and Director of the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies, University of Maryland
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Review quote

a dazzling study. * B. Weinstein, CHOICE * The book constitutes a significant contribution to the study of judaism in late antiquity. * Catherine Hezser, Theologische Literaturzeitung *
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Table of contents

Acknowledgements ; Introduction ; Chapter 1: Setting the Stage: The Making of a Roman Province ; Chapter 2: Rabbis in Palestine: Texts, Origins, Development ; Chapter 3: The Formation of a Provincial Religious Movement ; Chapter 4: Provincial Arbitration: Cases and Rabbinic Authority ; Chapter 5: Romanization and Its Discontents: Rabbis and Provincial Culture ; Chapter 6: Epilogue: Rabbis in Palestine, Fifth to Eighth Century ; Appendix: Rabbinic Cases ; Bibliography
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