Hebraism and Hellenism

Erich Gruen

in The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199286140
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Hebraism and Hellenism

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Turning back to the conjunction made famous by Matthew Arnold, this article observes that the stark dichotomy implied in the expression ‘Hellenism and Hebraism’ is, in fact, built on methodologically shaky foundations and perhaps stems from tendentious readings of 2 Maccabees. The concepts of Hellenism and Hebraism are complex and cannot be easily reduced to pure essences, though Greeks and Jews may have maintained a distinctive sense of their ethnic identities. The discussion holds that Greek writings about Jews, and Jewish writings about Greeks, points to the ‘comfort’ that each had in forging a link or connection with the other. The ancient writers clearly show that Hellenes and Hebrews should not only be opposed to each other, but that they participate in overlapping, as well divergent, cultures and traditions.

Keywords: Matthew Arnold; 2 Maccabees; Hebraism; Greeks; Jews; ethnic identities

Article.  5081 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Greek History

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