Seth Schwartz

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211524
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History


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To what extent and in what ways were the Jews integrated in the Roman world? Why was their integration initially so fraught (there were three cataclysmic revolts between 66 and 135 CE), but subsequently so successful? Without prejudging the complex question of the relation between Judaism as a religious ideology and the actual cultural practices of the Jews, it will be helpful to begin with a brief account of what is known about Judaism in the Roman Empire. Judaism was monistic: its god was unique; he had a single holy place, the temple of Jerusalem; and his nation, Israel, was bound to him by an apparently indissoluble contract, whose terms were set out in the Pentateuch (or, Torah) – the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. This article looks at Judaism in ancient Rome, the successful integration of the Jews into the Roman world, the situation of the rabbis in post-revolt Palestine, the Jewish diaspora, and how the gradual Christianisation of the empire in the fourth and fifth centuries affected the Jews.

Keywords: Roman Empire; Jews; Judaism; Israel; Palestine; rabbis; diaspora; Christianisation; Jerusalem; Torah

Article.  6694 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Religion in the Ancient World ; Classical Philosophy

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