Hellenistic Judaism

Lester L. Grabbe

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:
Hellenistic Judaism


The term “Hellenistic Judaism” is a conventional one, long used, but a misnomer according to many contemporary scholars. Traditionally, “Hellenistic Judaism” was a designation for Judaism in the Greek-speaking world, including those Jews who spoke Greek and adopted (to some extent) a Greek way of life. It has been argued, however, that all Judaism after the conquests of Alexander was Hellenistic Judaism. The Hellenistic period begins with the conquests of Alexander, but when did it end? In one sense, it continued under the Romans and even encompassed the Byzantine period, ending only with the Islamic conquest. For practical purposes, however, the bibliography given here covers primarily the period from Alexander to the Roman conquest under Pompey, circa 335 to 65 bce, a period of almost three centuries. From the point of view of the region or province of Judah, it takes in first Ptolemaic, then Seleucid, and finally Hasmonean rule. The last is very important as almost a century of rule by a native Jewish dynasty of priest-kings. Although many have seen the Maccabean revolt as opposing Hellenistic culture, this is to be very much doubted. Hellenistic Judaism is part of a wider historical period and phenomenon known as “Second Temple Judaism,” which refers to Judaism from Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon to the fall of the Jerusalem temple in 70 ce, or the Persian, Greek, and early Roman periods. Many of the major developments of Judaism during this time actually began in the Persian period, but they sometimes accelerated under Greek rule, and Greek rule brought its own influences and contributions to the Jewish people. This has been most discussed with regard to Hellenization and the so-called Hellenistic reform preceding the Maccabean revolt. See Hellenism and Hellenization and Maccabean Revolt and Hasmonean Rule.

Article.  8299 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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