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Daily Archives: February 2, 2017

ERC project “Judaism and Rome”

Due to a brief note on Larry Hurtado’s blog I became aware of an interesting project on Judaism and Rome, which I would like to point to here too.

The project has its own website here: Judaism and Rome. Re-thinking Judaism’s Encounter with Roan Empire, and is led by professor Katell Berthelot. She has an impressive lot of publications, which also include some dealing with Philo of Alexandria. I think this project should be of interest also to Philonic scholars.

I present here a section from the presentation on the web page: ” In the last decade, scholarship (on the history of the relationship between Rome and the Jewish people in Antiquity) has turned to a new research agenda less focused on conflict, along two intertwined lines of enquiry: 1) the Romanness of the Jews who lived in the Roman empire, and, in particular, that of the Palestinian Rabbis; 2) the impact of Roman values, norms, and institutions upon Judaism, mainly through the study of Jewish literary texts.

The ERC project “Judaism and Rome” builds upon this new trend of scholarship. Its starting point or fundamental hypothesis is that Roman imperialism—and, more specifically, Roman imperial ideology—represented a particular challenge for the Jews, even if the history of Israel was already rich in episodes of imperial domination, from the Assyrian empire to the Hellenistic kingdoms, via the Neo-Babylonian and Persian empires. What made the encounter with Rome special was the paradoxical similarity between Roman and Jewish self-perceptions, which from a Jewish perspective resulted in a sense of rivalry between Israel and Rome, which the rabbis adequately expressed through the identification of Rome with Esau, Israel’s twin brother. This identification can be traced back to a period during which Rome was still a “pagan” empire, and is thus not to be interpreted, originally, as a response to Christianity.

The ERC project “Judaism and Rome” examines how, because of this paradoxical similarity, Roman imperialism challenged Judaism —both rabbinic and non-rabbinic—on a political-religious level, and tries to assess how the Jewish encounter with (the pre-Christian) Rome contributed to shaping Judaism itself.”

The website provides, furthermore, a presentation of the project, links to pages containing lists of ‘Resources,’ ‘Events’, the ‘ERC Team’, ‘Collaborations’, a ‘Search’ function and a form for ‘Contact’.

All in all, a very nice and informative website presenting an interesting project.