Diaspora and Homeland

Erich S. Gruen

in Diasporas and Exiles

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780520228641
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520926899 | DOI:
Diaspora and Homeland

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This chapter challenges the presumption that a positive conception of diaspora comes into its own with modernity and Jewish Emancipation, that until modern times, Jews lived under the cloud of galut. It distinguishes a so-called gloomy approach to Jewish dispersion, which is more common, from a positive approach. The former resolves diaspora into galut and sees salvation exclusively in terms of homecoming, the reacquisition of a homeland. The latter sees Jews as “the people of the Book,” the text as a “portable temple,” and restoration to a homeland as superfluous. It suggests that both approaches are too simple, too stark. Jewish dispersion did not begin with the destruction of the Temple in 70 c.e. For a host of reasons, largely including voluntary migration, Jews lived outside the Center. Indeed, there was a vibrant diaspora of some three to five million Jews in the roughly four centuries from Alexander the Great to Titus. Jerusalem was no more a home for them than it is for many diaspora Jews today.

Keywords: Jews; diaspora; Jewish Emancipation; galut; migration; Jerusalem

Chapter.  14254 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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