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Judaism In The Roman World Collected Essays

Second and third, to what degree was the social identity practiced in Pauline assemblies compatible with social expressions in Diaspora Jewish communities in the Mediterranean world? How did Pauline churches invent and maintain durable identity? What are distinct Christian practices? The essays in the second major section of the collection address these issues (ch. 9-13). For example, Christian non-practice of idolatry had significant social impact for Gentile converts. Breaking with family gods would cause deep social offense and the early Christian movement would look like a dangerous superstition to outsiders. In addition, Christianity lacked the trappings of normal religion in the Roman world: there were no altars, sacrifices, or priesthood.

judaism in the roman world collected essays

Conclusion. Volumes of collected essays are always welcome since the draw together articles from often obscure journals or expensive volumes. By making this collection available in a less expensive volume, Eerdmans has provided scholars with a rich collection of stimulating essays on how early Christianity interacted with the Roman world.

Goodman is also editor of Jews in a Graeco-Roman World, which presents sixteen short essays answering Goodman's question: "How different from other people in the Graeco-Roman world were the Jews?" "The result is a series of revealing images of the ways in which Hellenistic/Roman-era Jews interacted with dominant contemporary cultures," wrote Daniel B. Levine in the Historian. Levine noted: "This collection will stimulate students of every discipline. Its bibliography is a bonanza of up-to-date scholarship, and its dazzling array of ancient sources is a model for future investigation." Shofar contributor John J. Collins wrote that "there is much to be learned from all these essays, and if they are characterized more by diversity than by thematic unity, they suggest that the same may be true of Judaism in the Greek and Roman periods."

Also published in 2007, Judaism in the Roman World: Collected Essays presents nineteen essays about the enduring place of Judaism in the ancient Roman world even after the growth of Christianity. The essays focus on a wide range of topics and issues, from the new rabbinicism to the Jewish image of God. A Reference & Research Book News contributor called the final essay, on the diaspora in the late Roman period, "fascinating."

The Introduction (pp. 1-12) provides an overview of the collected essays, which are arranged under four headings. Part 1, "Jews and Christians in the Graeco-Roman World," contains the following essays: "'Yes', 'No', "How Far?': The Participation of Jews and...

"A community of the evangelical academy's best historians have gathered together to produce this fine collection of essays that will surely become a standard introduction to the world behind the New Testament. The various institutions, practices, groups, writings, and beliefs of both Second Temple Judaism(s) and Roman Hellenism are fluently and carefully covered, with notes and bibliographies added to extend each essay. The editors should be commended for guiding the production of a highly readable, useful volume. Not only will these studies break fresh ground for more advanced research, but together they construct a richly textured context that will produce a more wakeful study of the church's Scripture."

"The breadth and scope of these essays will help the reader to appreciate the distinctive character of the New Testament world and to learn how understanding these differences can enhance or even unlock the message of the New Testament. . . . Green and McDonald have presented their material in a readable, modern format. . . . Pastors and students alike will benefit from reading this systematic introduction to New Testament backgrounds. . . . This volume can aid the process of studying the New Testament within its cultural, social, and historical backgrounds. For those who have already begun studying New Testament backgrounds, this volume will fill in the gaps in their knowledge and provide guidance for further research. Even those who have done significant study on the topic may benefit from an overview of current scholarship and new ways of looking at the ancient world. . . . An enjoyable, easy, and enlightening read that will benefit those who want a more accurate understanding of the New Testament."

"A local guide is the best resource for gaining intimate knowledge of a place; its mores, assumptions, beliefs, culture, social struggles, sacred objects, and literature. No one can tell you the story about your destination better than a person who has lived there. In The World of the New Testament this is precisely what you receive. More than 30 scholars--each of whom has spent decades studying their respective areas of expertise--lead you on a tour of the most decisive cultural influences that impacted the New Testament's authors. . . . A complete, comprehensive tour. Accompanied by extensive bibliographies and prepared by scholars who are both seasoned and distinguished, these vignette-essays are your personal guide into a broader and deeper journey of the New Testament world."

[19] Then, as now though, the taxes that people complainedabout and felt most heavily were direct taxes which they had to payon specific occasions. The most significant of these taxes wasplaced on the major source of economic production in the ancientworld: land. Individuals were required to pay taxes on land ownedoutside of Italy. These taxes were assessed bysurveyors who evaluated the tax burden of plots based on geographicfeatures and the quality of the land. In theory this tax as it wasestimated by the government usually should have amounted to aboutten percent of production. Because of the many layers ofprofiteering, in reality the land taxes actually paid were likelyto be much higher for most people and could even be lower for thevery wealthy thanks to their political connections and influence.In addition to the considerable burden of the land tax there wasalso a poll tax collected on individuals who were not citizens. Thecensus that appears prominently in the Gospels during the reign ofAugustus is fundamentally a tool of taxation: tying people to theirland and counting them for purposes of tax collection.

142 SHOFAR Fall 1992 Vol. 11, No. 1 "Judaism" is a recurrent feature of these essays. We are told, for example, that what is important is not what scripture meant, but what "Judaism" has taken it to mean; that midrash has at times forced "astonishingly alien notions" on the Hebrew Bible (p. 2); that Philo had little impact on "mainline Judaism" (p. 21), and the like. These reservations aSide, however, I find that overall the book offers a gold mine of information about the history of Jewish thought and literature and provides a generally useful selection of texts for giving the students the opportunity to confront actual primary sources. As part of a formal class, this book would be a wonderful resource. Peter J. Haas Department of Religious Studies Vanderbilt University Jewish Women in Historical Perspective, edited by Judith R. Baskin. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991. 300 pp. $39.95. It is now almost twenty years since scholarship on Jewish women began to separate what is particularly women's history from what is men's history. In the introductory remarks to this ambitious set of historical essays about Jewish women, the first of its kind, the editor, Judith Baskin, underscores the significance of gender when she writes: "The perception that women's lives and experiences in any particular historical epoch may differ from men's has profoundly affected how many scholars approach and interpret their subjects of study." Each author as well as the t;ditor points out the important awareness that her story is not his story; from this point of view, the scholarship assembled here is impressive. This book is a compilation of twelve original essays that present an historical overview of women throughout Jewish history. Essays cover the Biblical period, Ashkenazic and Sephardic women in late antiquity through the Middle Ages, Italian women, salon women in old Berlin, and women in Imperial Germany, the immigrant woman's experience in the United States, women in the Holocaust, and women's religious lives in twentiethcentury North America. Although so many different aspects of Jewish women's experience over centuries are explored in this kaleidoscopic attempt to retrieve the female past, there is a unity in the collection. The authors share a feminist scholar's faith that 1) the Jewish female past is reconstructable despite centuries of neglect and even willful destruction of evidence; 2) by using unexplored and untraditional sources, ignored, Book Reviews 143 overlooked, or buried bygenerations ofmale historians, androcentrism can be challenged and original insights harvested; 3) by asking new questions of the material, far richer and diverse patterns ofJewish history emerge. At the same time, the authors are quick to point out how little is available about women's lives; how little writing by women themselves has been preserved; and how much ofwhat we have is by and about extraordinary women. They caution us about making too easy generalizations from the available data. It is well to remember this caution. While these essays give us a lot of information, it is ultimately about very few people. While we know a great deal more after reading this book than before, we still do not learn much about most Jewish women through time-the poor, the inarticulate, and those who left no records. Also, there is no one essay which gives us any transhistorical analysis, and therefore the reader is left alone to note which aspects of women's lives have differed greatly in different historical settings, and which have shown remarkable similarity. Some essays present fine overviews of scholarly work done by others in the field, while other essays contain original research which discloses new cultural and societal patterns. For instance, by analyzing the text of a second-century C.E. Greek tomb inscription which says, "Rufina, aJewess, head of the synagogue, built this tomb for her freed slaves and the slaves raised in her household ..." Ross S. Kraemer offers us a vastly more independent portrait of Jewish women in the Greco-Roman world than could ever be obtained by consulting only the early rabbinic sources. However, the essays in this collection are rarely informed by feminist analysis and do not explore the meaning of their...

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