In this Book

Imperialism and Jewish Society
summary

This provocative new history of Palestinian Jewish society in antiquity marks the first comprehensive effort to gauge the effects of imperial domination on this people. Probing more than eight centuries of Persian, Greek, and Roman rule, Seth Schwartz reaches some startling conclusions--foremost among them that the Christianization of the Roman Empire generated the most fundamental features of medieval and modern Jewish life.

Schwartz begins by arguing that the distinctiveness of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and early Roman periods was the product of generally prevailing imperial tolerance. From around 70 C.E. to the mid-fourth century, with failed revolts and the alluring cultural norms of the High Roman Empire, Judaism all but disintegrated. However, late in the Roman Empire, the Christianized state played a decisive role in ''re-Judaizing'' the Jews. The state gradually excluded them from society while supporting their leaders and recognizing their local communities. It was thus in Late Antiquity that the synagogue-centered community became prevalent among the Jews, that there re-emerged a distinctively Jewish art and literature--laying the foundations for Judaism as we know it today.

Through masterful scholarship set in rich detail, this book challenges traditional views rooted in romantic notions about Jewish fortitude. Integrating material relics and literature while setting the Jews in their eastern Mediterranean context, it addresses the complex and varied consequences of imperialism on this vast period of Jewish history more ambitiously than ever before. Imperialism in Jewish Society will be widely read and much debated.

Table of Contents

  1. Series Page, Title Page, Copyright Page
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. v-vi
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Abbreviations
  2. pp. ix-xii
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-16
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  1. Part I: The Jews of Palestine to 70 C.E.
  2. pp. 17-18
  1. One: Politics and Society
  2. pp. 19-48
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  1. Two: Religion and Society before 70 C.E.
  2. pp. 49-100
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  1. Part II: The Jews in Palestine from 135 to 350
  2. pp. 101-102
  1. Three: Rabbis and Patriarchs on the Margins
  2. pp. 103-128
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  1. Four: Jews or Pagans? The Jews and the Greco-Roman Cities of Palestine
  2. pp. 129-161
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  1. Five: The Rabbis and Urban Culture
  2. pp. 162-176
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  1. Part III: Synagogue and Community from 350 to 640
  2. pp. 177-178
  1. Six: Christianization
  2. pp. 179-202
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  1. Seven: A Landscape Transformed
  2. pp. 203-214
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  1. Eight: Origins and Diffusion of the Synagogue
  2. pp. 215-239
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  1. Nine: Judaization
  2. pp. 240-274
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  1. Ten: The Synagogue and the Ideology of Community
  2. pp. 275-290
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  1. Conclusion
  2. pp. 291-292
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  1. Selected Bibliography
  2. pp. 293-316
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 317-320
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